This is not a democracy

Have you ever referred to this country as a “democracy”? I have made that mistake in the past but I know better now. I’m not alone – I’ve heard many intelligent, educated people call this country a democracy, including the former occupant of the White House. Actually, our country was founded as a republic and there is a big difference between that and a democracy. Here is an excellent explanation from http://www.whatourforefathersthought.com :

A Republic is representative government ruled by law (in our case, the Constitution). A Democracy is government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A republic recognizes the unalienable (endowed by God, not by government) rights of the individual while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs for the “good of the public” or, in other words, social justice.  Lawmaking is a slow, deliberate process in our constitutional republic requiring approval from the three branches of government – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial – to assure checks and balance. Lawmaking in a democracy occurs rapidly, requiring approval from the majority by polls and/or voter referendums. 50% plus 1 vote takes away anything from the minority. Here is one example: if 51% of the people don’t pay taxes they can vote a tax increase on the 49% that do, which is mob rule.

Democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury. To maintain their power, these candidates must adopt an ever-increasing tax and spend policy to satisfy the ever-increasing desires of the majority. As taxes increase incentive to produce decreases, causing many of the once productive to drop out and join the non-productive. When there are no longer enough producers to fund the legitimate functions of the government and its social programs the democracy will collapse, always to be followed by a dictatorship. 

Mitt Romney famously got in hot water during his 2012 presidential campaign when he said that he knew the 47% of the voting population who were receiving some form of public benefits would not be voting for him (this comment was made at a private fundraising event and was surreptitiously recorded and released to the press by Jimmy Carter’s grandson). The scary thing about this (aside from the fact that no one seems to be allowed to express an opinion anymore) is that 47 is precariously close to a tipping point. Without the serious reform of all public welfare programs, the tax code, and enforcement of immigration laws, we could very easily reach the point where there are not enough taxpaying, productive citizens to pay for the legitimate functions of government and its social programs.

I worked in social services for 22 years – both private non-profit and public sectors – and also did a lot of volunteer work for social service agencies over the years. I was able to help a lot of people who were in need as a result of circumstances beyond their control. I also saw more than my share of people who took any “free” assistance an organization or government program had to offer, whether they actually needed it or not. I was taught there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – someone has to pay for everything you call “free” – and that it is wrong to take a handout when you are perfectly capable of earning a living and getting it for yourself. Even your freedom isn’t free.

I believe in maintaining the legitimate functions of government and its social programs. I believe in helping those who are vulnerable or in true need. I believe in protecting our country. These are the things for which I don’t mind paying taxes. What frightens me is how close our republic is to being turned into a democracy as a result of entitlement programs that foster dependence on the government for everything, and the thousands of regulations that worm into every aspect of our lives. This is the exact opposite of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If you’re interested in reading some intelligent thoughts about the promise of government and the threat it poses to individual freedom I highly recommend Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom”.

Liberty wearing her new bandana 12-25-14

Chew on that for a while

Advertisements

My American Dream

north-carolina-7-2013-028

God Bless America

The “American Dream” is not a three bedroom house in the suburbs with a two car garage. It is not about accumulating vast wealth. It is not about achieving goals. And yet, it incorporates those things and much more because it is an idea. It is a very simple and very complex idea. The American dream is based on individual freedom – the most radical basis for a government the world has ever known.

Our Constitution was designed to protect us from government over-reach and tyranny so that we can pursue our individual dreams in peace. Our rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence seem very simple on their surface – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – but they encompass everything we need to survive or succeed, according to our ambition and ability. Any thinking person understands that we are not equal in intelligence, attractiveness, physical strength, ambition, character or abilities and nothing can make us equal by those measurements. We are all unique individuals and we are equal only in the eyes of God and the rights He has given us, which are protected by our Constitution. Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant, this is the foundation upon which our country was built. We are equal in rights and opportunity under the law, not in achievement or acquisition or ability. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail. We have the right to pursue our happiness as we choose, as long as we don’t infringe upon the rights of others.

The American Dream is what has made this country exceptional. In spite of corrupt, immoral politicians and the army of federal agencies and government bureaucrats that are constantly chipping away at our Constitutional rights with a mountain of regulations, I believe the radical idea of individual freedom is still alive – although currently on life support. These are discouraging times and, although I’m sickened by the presidential campaign, I haven’t given up on the American Dream yet. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to fully appreciate my country and my rights – I really just started paying attention 5 years ago but now I look for and support politicians and organizations who are interested in protecting the Constitution from those who want to undermine or destroy it. Some people who know me think they know my politics but, they really don’t.  In my life I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans; in fact I just voted for a Democrat to be mayor of my town. I have tried to vote for the person I felt was best for the job; however, the Democrat party as a whole has veered way too far left in the past 20 years or so to align with me. 

I’m a Constitutional Conservative (with libertarian leanings), which means I think that conserving the Constitution is of more importance and significance than any one politician or political party. I’ve recently been educating myself about a movement that is growing in strength across the country – Convention of States http://www.cosaction.com/ Whatever your political party, if you’re concerned about the direction in which our country is heading, I urge you to go to their website and learn about their mission. I have signed their petition and I’m considering volunteering in some capacity with my state group. We the people still have rights that are worth fighting for.

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.  ~Patrick Henry (patriot, lawyer, and orator)

Ft. DeSoto dog beach 6-15-16

Freedom is a beautiful thing!

See more of my artwork at Lynda Linke Productions

September 11, 2001

Don't be afraid of storms_edited-1Like most of you, I will always remember certain historical events that have occurred during my life. Some of them I can even remember exactly where I was and how I felt at the time. I was in my 8th grade gym class, sitting on the floor during a break, when the announcement that our president had been shot in Dallas came over the PA system. He was buried on my 13th birthday and I spent the day watching his funeral on TV with my family. In April of my senior year in high school Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in Memphis. I don’t remember where I was when I heard the news, but I do remember the shock we all felt about it. In June of that same year, while we were busy preparing for final exams and graduation, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. In July of 1969, while on my first “grown-up” vacation at the Jersey shore with a friend, we watched the Apollo 11 moon landing and the amazing sight of Neil Armstrong actually walking on the moon.

15 years ago, on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was sitting in the conference room of our county Emergency Operations Center waiting for the start of the weekly department directors meeting. As always, one of the wall mounted TVs was tuned to CNN with the sound muted. I remember chatting with a couple of people when someone suddenly pointed toward the TV and said “Look at that!!” and we all turned to see what had caught his attention. It was a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers, which I soon learned was the North Tower. We were astonished by the sight but we all assumed it was a private plane that had somehow gone off course and lost control. If we saw that today we would immediately think it was a terrorist attack, but 15 years ago that was the last thing on our minds. Just a few minutes later, in real-time, we saw another plane hit the South Tower and someone turned up the sound on the TV. We all sat in shocked silence watching the images and listening to the announcers trying to piece together and report the unfolding events.

Like so many people in Florida, I’m originally from the NYC metropolitan area. I grew up in northeastern New Jersey, and attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC. I made numerous trips into Manhattan over the years to visit museums, shop, or take visitors to see the sights. I used to go to bars with my friends when the drinking age in NJ was 21 and in NY it was only 18! Because I grew up in the shadow of NYC – I can remember looking at the skyline from the upstairs bedroom in my grandparent’s house – I always felt a connection to it but, on that day in 2001, my most important connection was my son because he was working for a company in midtown Manhattan. He was sent out each day to jobs in different parts of the city so I had no idea where he was that morning but, I knew he often worked in the Wall Street area. Like millions of other people, I couldn’t get through to him on his cell phone or on his employer’s phone. I didn’t speak to him for another anxious, heart pounding 7 hours. Thankfully, my son had not been on a job near the World Trade Center that morning so he was physically safe, although emotionally very upset.

Looking back with 15 years of hindsight, I realize that September 11, 2001 was the beginning of a change in some of my attitudes. It still took me another ten years to become fully engaged in politics and news but, 9/11 awakened something in me. I began to have a real appreciation for what a great country we have and how blessed we are in so many ways. I saw many acts of heroism from ordinary people in the days after 9/11 and I felt such pride in the resilience and generosity of the American people. I’m not a naive, flag waving, blind loyalty, “America, love it or leave it” type of patriot and I’m not in lock step with any politician or political party but 9/11 taught me to love my country in a way I didn’t before. I love the flag and the national anthem and what they stand for. I revere the Constitution and I know that, if our elected officials protect and defend it, we will be able to overcome anything. I feel deep gratitude and respect for all who have served, bled and died for our freedoms. Seeing the Twin Towers come down made me realize for the first time how vulnerable those freedoms really are and I don’t take them for granted anymore.

God Bless America.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.  ~Edward Abbey

Liberty wearing her new bandana 12-25-14

She was named Liberty for a reason

 

 

Freedom works for me

In SympathyI try to never criticize or judge the “low information voter” because, up until 3 years ago, I could  be counted among them – and I’m 64 years old! I know what happens to most of us. We are trying to make a living, raise our children, take care of aging parents, spend time with our families, and attend to the myriad of every day responsibilities. We also like to be able to escape from all that responsibility by spending fun time with friends. We might skim the newspaper or online headlines or catch the evening news on TV but who has the time to really investigate their news sources to be sure they’re truthful and accurate in their reporting? Besides, it’s all so complicated, isn’t it?

That brings me to another problem the average person has when it comes to being informed – media bias. I don’t know how long this has been a problem but, in my short 3 years of paying attention, I have noticed that the majority of the so-called “mainstream media” outlets seem to have a left leaning or progressive bias. Naively, I always assumed that the job of the mainstream media was to be our watchdog but I guess I was mistaken. I don’t know about you but I just want to be given truthful information; I don’t want to be told how to think. Also, the 24-7 news cycle of the Internet has created a lot of sloppy journalists who, in trying to either create a story or be the first to break it, do not take the time to check their facts.

Paying more attention to news and politics awakened my interest in American history and that, in turn, has led me to a deeper appreciation of the principles upon which our government was founded. I have been reading about our founding fathers and I have learned about the roots of our Constitution thanks to KrisAnne Hall, Constitutional attorney, author and speaker KrisAnne Hall. Last year I attended her 5 hour seminar “Genealogy of the Constitution” (you can watch a condensed version on YouTube and she also has an excellent lecture called “State Sovereignty) and learned way more than all my high school history classes combined. I also learned that during the past 100 years progressive ideology has gradually chipped away at our freedom until we have reached the point where most of us don’t even realize how much freedom we have already lost. I wanted to understand this ideology so I read “Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America” by Libertarian James Ostrowski and I learned that progressivism exists in both political parties. That explains a lot!

This has been an interesting and unexpected part of my journey and my self-education has helped me to better identify who I am and what is important to me. On September 12th I’m going to the FreedomWorks  9/12 Grassroots Summit in Orlando, FL. There will be many well known speakers – politicians and activists alike – and I’m sure I’ll learn something new. If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be attending an event like this I would have laughed.

Recently a friend said she doesn’t like to get into conversations about politics or religion and I agree with her, especially if you know your companion has very fixed ideas that are different than yours. It’s not worth the stress or the possibility of ruining a friendship. On the other hand, whatever your ideology, I urge you to be educated and informed about your beliefs. Ask yourself what you want from your life and how much of a role you want government to play in it. How much freedom are you willing to give up, knowing you’ll never get it back?

The other day I was thinking about how over regulated we are. Every new administration ads more federal agencies and they, in turn, churn out more regulations that affect every aspect of our lives. I went online to find out how many federal agencies are currently in existence and I was surprised to learn that, when you include sub-agencies and “Offices of …” there is actually no list that gives the exact number! On the bright side, in my search I stumbled across an interesting and well-written blog, which I’m now following – InvestingforOne. Just to give you an inkling of how all these regulations affect us, here is a very partial list (apparently, there are thousands) of things that were legal in 1975 and are illegal now, according to Richard Wenzel, a Liberty Movement blogger:

  1. You could buy an airline ticket and fly without ever showing an ID
  2. You could buy cough syrup without showing an ID
  3. You could buy and sell gold coins without showing an ID
  4. You could buy a gun without showing an ID
  5. You could pull as much cash out of your bank account as you wanted without the bank filing a report to the government
  6. You could have a phone conversation without the government knowing who you called or who called you
  7. You could open a stock brokerage account without having to explain where the money came from
  8. You could open a Swiss bank account with ease

Freedom + Responsibility = Liberty

Liberty

Liberty

See more of my artwork and writing at Lynda Linke Productions 

Memorial Day

Coffee With Vets 5-23-15 (2)Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending the first meeting of a new Haven Hospice program, “Coffee With Vets”. It was a nice thing to be a part of on Memorial Day weekend. Jean, the Volunteer Coordinator; Cathy, a Gold Star mother; and Liberty and I hosted four members of the local chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association for coffee, pastries, and conversation. There was no formal agenda – Jean just wanted to offer a place for veterans to meet and talk. Everyone agreed that it was a success so the guys will invite other veterans and continue to meet us for coffee on the 4th Saturday morning of every month. They also offered to ride along with Haven Hospice as we walk in the July 4th parade! The veterans liked having Liberty there and one Iraq veteran, who suffers from PTSD, said he will bring his dog next time. I’m sure Liberty will enjoy that 🙂 Many patients are veterans so Haven Hospice has been creating special programs designed around their motto “We Honor Vets” (you can learn more at Haven Hospice). I have respect and a deep appreciation for all the men and women who choose to serve our country by joining the military, many of whom put their lives at risk every day, so I’m glad I’ve been offered the opportunity to give back in some small way. Haven Hospice also does “veteran pinnings” in which they give the veteran a “We Honor Vets” lapel pin, a framed certificate of appreciation for their military service and a small US flag. I was happy to be able to participate in this recently with one of the patients that Liberty and I visit.

Although I’m grateful to everyone who has fought in every war, I have a special place in my heart for the veterans of the Vietnam “conflict” because it was the war of my generation. It was the longest war (“undeclared war”) in US history and it eventually split the nation in half. The 58,220 who died there and the approximately 10,000 who are listed as POW/MIA were my contemporaries. 1968, the year I graduated from high school, had the highest number of deaths – 16,899. The young men who returned from combat in Vietnam had a very different homecoming experience than the ones who returned from combat in WWII. Unfortunately, many people could not separate the individuals serving in the military in Vietnam from US policy that was carried out there. At the main re-entry points returning soldiers were often greeted by anti-war protesters screaming insults at them. They quickly learned not to wear their uniforms during commercial travel. A former boyfriend told me that he was followed through an airport by a jeering group of young “hippie-types”. He ignored them and they eventually left him at his gate but, not before one of them spit at him. None of the people nearby tried to defend him or even seemed to notice. He was returning from his second (and final) tour of duty piloting the big Chinook helicopters, which transported wounded soldiers from the battlefields. He said his experiences in Vietnam twisted him in a way that would probably never get straight again – and this was 25 years after he came home. It took many years for his country to heal the emotional wounds of Vietnam but a good start was the Vietnam War Memorial, which was dedicated on November 13, 1982. If you’re in DC it’s definitely worth a visit.

I’m ashamed to admit that the Vietnam conflict is a period in history of which I am woefully uninformed, even though the worst years of it occurred during my teens and early twenties and several of the boys I went to school with served in Vietnam. In honor of Memorial Day this year I have made a promise to myself to finally study the Vietnam War. I feel I owe it to all the boys who died there to at least educate myself about why the US was involved for so many years in an “undeclared war” in a tiny country in Southeast Asia (FYI, Congress has not declared war since 1942 so Iraq and Afghanistan are also considered to be “conflicts”).

One thing I did learn from Vietnam is that, no matter whether you agree with the military actions of our government or not, the men and women of our military always deserve our support and respect and our wounded deserve the very best care we can give them.

We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.  ~Ronald Reagan (Arlington National Cemetery, May 26, 1983)

the appropriate bandana for a dog named Liberty

the appropriate bandana for a dog named Liberty

See my greeting cards and books at Lynda Linke Productions

Liberty

Lynda Linke logoI recently adopted a dog, a young beagle mix, who I named Liberty. Why did I choose that name? Because liberty is a word and a concept that I have only recently come to understand and I wanted to name her in honor of something I hold dear. I also wanted to be constantly reminded of the true meaning of the word. I always thought liberty and freedom had the same meaning but I have learned that freedom is liberty only when personal responsibility and morality are added; in fact, freedom alone can be quite destructive.

For my entire adult life – up until just two years ago – I was woefully ignorant about politics, current events, and even American history. I started my journey of self-education by reading the Constitution (for the first time since 8th grade Civics class) and went on to read biographies of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Next I’ll be reading “1776” by historian David McCullough. I began paying attention to the news and listening to and reading political/current events analysts and I gained a whole new appreciation for the freedoms we all take for granted in this country.

I used to think of myself as “liberal” but that word, as it is currently used, is no longer one with which I can identify. I have discovered that many of my beliefs align with Libertarianism, which is actually very close to the definition of classical liberalism. I try very hard to be true to myself and still respect the right of others to have a different opinion – sometimes I just have to agree to disagree. I have a “live and let live” attitude about most things. The title of Matt Kibbe’s new book “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff” is actually the very simple and basic underlying philosophy of Libertarianism. Here are his “Rules for Liberty”:

1. don’t hurt people
2. don’t take people’s stuff
3. take responsibility
4. work for it
5. mind your own business
6. fight the power

Whether you call yourself liberal, conservative, libertarian, or a combination of all these things, I’m sure you can recognize the common sense behind these rules but he hasn’t invented anything new – in much simpler terms this is the same thing our Constitution tells us. Too bad so many of our politicians in both parties, who all take an oath to uphold the Constitution, have drifted so far from its guiding principles, especially in the last 20-30 years.

Last week I went to a five-hour Constitutional workshop titled “The Roots of Liberty” presented by KrisAnne Hall, attorney, disabled veteran, Russian linguist, and patriot. Trust me, anyone or anything that can hold my interest for five hours has to be pretty good! She presented the 700+ year history that gave us our founding documents and drew parallels between the relevance of those documents and today’s headlines. She calls it “connecting the dots”. She defined liberty as freedom plus morality and that is when a light went on for me.

Our republic was created by men who believed in God and were students of history but, you don’t have to believe in God to recognize that the morality inherent in their religious beliefs is the underpinning of our founding documents and our foundational laws. The founders believed that our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are natural rights given to us by God, not by government (always remember that whatever the government gives you it can also take away), and the founding documents were created to protect them. Freedom is powerful – it requires morality and personal responsibility to be of real value. That is true liberty.

Liberty

Liberty