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

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Perspective

Ocean dreaming 001More about my “retirement” journey. After I retired in 2011 I bought a 6 month subscription to Ancestry.com with the intention of researching my maternal grandmother’s family. One of my cousins in England has researched my father’s family so I wanted to go in a different direction. I was born in England and, as far back as I know, both sides of my family are English so I was pleased by the vast number of UK records that are available on Ancestry.com. I plunged into my research with great enthusiasm and quickly became immersed in it – it was like solving a puzzle or investigating a mystery. Unfortunately, I reached a wall that I couldn’t break through and I gave up on the research.

I like to read mysteries and, during the past year, I discovered a relatively new sub-genre – genealogical mysteries – and I’ve read quite a few different authors. The feature character in these stories is always either a professional or amateur genealogist who, while doing family history research, becomes embroiled in an unsolved mystery that is still affecting people in the present time. While reading one of these mysteries recently I remembered how much I had enjoyed researching my family history. As I read about all the tools and methods the character used in his/her research, it occurred to me that there is a lot more to genealogical research than I had realized and I decided I should give it another try.

This time I want to study the tools and methods of genealogical research. I bought another 6 month subscription to Ancestry.com and joined the National Genealogical Society so I would have access to the educational resources they offer to their members. Ancestry.com also offers excellent information and tutorials. I’m studying an online “basics” course that NGS offers in order to become familiar with the terminology and validation requirements of this type of research. NGS recommended joining a local genealogical society so I was pleased to discover that there is one here that meets monthly. Who knows, maybe I’ll  do family research for other people at some point. Maybe I’ll write a genealogical mystery! I’m not thinking too far ahead; I’m just following my interest.

I’ve received an unexpected benefit from my research. I call it perspective. A strange feeling comes over me when I’m looking at old documents – birth, death and marriage certificates, military records, obituaries – a simultaneous awareness of both my importance and my complete insignificance. I’m important because I’m doing my part in carrying on a genetic chain and I’m insignificant because, in 50 years, no one will remember me. At my age, most of the things I’ve done in my life are already fading into the mists of history. I can imagine someone in the future looking at one of my drawings or reading something I wrote and wondering what kind of person I was. I like to think it will be a great-grandchild researching our family history – maybe even reading all the information I am gathering now.

Genealogical research gives me a much broader perspective on life than I usually have and reminds me that 99% of the things I worry about are not important. The only thing that really matters is how I experience my daily life – with gratitude, kindness, laughter, love, friendship, and prayer.

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.  ~Omar Khayyam

matanzas-3-29-16

Life is good

See more of my artwork and books 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

 

 

Who I am and why I’m here

How are things on your endThat title sounds like I’m going to get all philosophical and deep, doesn’t it? Well, you can relax because that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m taking a WordPress “Blogging 101” online course and the first assignment is to answer a series of questions. For those like me, who have been writing a blog for a while, it is an opportunity to look back on what we’ve already written, think about why we started a blog, what we have accomplished and what we hope to do in the next year.

Who I am – I’m a 65 year old single (divorced) woman. I have a 38 year old unmarried son who lives in New Jersey and is a web developer for The Blaze media network. I retired after 22 years in social services (10 years in retail sales and management prior to that) and I have lived in Florida since 1993. I love animals and currently share my home with a 2/12 year old female beagle mix named Liberty. I live a quiet life – spend most of my time reading, writing, drawing, listening to talk radio, watching TV, doing some volunteer work and getting together with friends. I still haven’t met the love of my life but, I’m not dead yet!

Why I’m here (in the blogosphere) – I started this blog over 4 years ago, right after I retired. I got the idea from the instructor of a writing class I took (author, teacher, book coach and publisher Michael Ray King) – he said everyone who has a book they want to market should write a blog. I gave my blog the same title as my first book Try Lots of Hats (somehow it ended up with the url “take a personal inventory” due to a mistake I made while setting up the blog!). Aside from hoping to promote my book and greeting cards, I also wanted to document my “reinvention” journey. Writing has always been a way to clarify my thoughts and process my feelings so this blog has been a natural extention of my lifelong habit of journaling. When you’re blogging about your feelings, thoughts and experiences you don’t know if anyone will be interested so I’ve been surprised and honored to have gained 74 followers along the way. One of the things I hope to learn from “Blogging 101” is how to attract more followers and encourage comments. Writing can be lonely – that’s why authors love it when people buy their books (it’s not all about the money!) and bloggers love to get feedback from their followers.

As part of this assignment I went back and read my first few posts and I was pleased to see that I have continued to change and grow in the last 4+ years. I’m glad to know that I haven’t stopped learning and having new experiences just because I retired from the “working world”. My biggest changes have occurred in the areas of political views and religion – something that would have amazed me 4 years ago. My goal from the beginning was to be as honest and authentic in my writing as possible and, dear readers, that is something I will strive to continue as I share my life with you. I’ve discovered that when I’m honest with you it helps me stay in touch with the “real” me.

Christmas 2015

Liberty in deep undercover mode

see more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions 

 

Expectations

HopeI’ve been working on the problem of having expectations for a long time – especially unrealistic expectations – but, I’m still not quite where I want to be. Expectations of myself, of the outcomes of situations, of other people, and expectations that others have of me. Expectations I have had of myself have led me down some dark pathways of romantic idealism, failed perfectionism (alas, all perfectionism fails), self-criticism and doubt. Expectations regarding the outcome of situations have often led to disappointment and unhappiness. Expectations of people have led to feelings of betrayal, disillusionment and sadness. I’ve made a lot of progress on everything except my expectations of other people – maybe the answer is to have very low expectations!.

I just finished a book by author, lecturer, and radio host Dennis Prager titled “Happiness is a Serious Problem”. He devotes an entire chapter to expectations so, I guess I’m not the only person who wrestles with this issue. He states that “in general, expectations lead to unhappiness” and I tend to agree. He defines expectations as “taking for granted that something will happen or regarding something as virtually inevitable”, therefore, with rare exceptions, where we do not have complete control we should not have expectations. And in just how many situations in your life do you have complete control? I don’t know about you, but I realized some time ago that the only things I have any control over are my thoughts and actions – and even that can be a huge challenge at times!

Still, as logical as all that sounds … does it mean we can never have any expectations of other people and our relationships with them? When we marry someone and take vows with them before God, should we not expect them to keep those vows? Should close friends not expect honesty, trustworthiness and loyalty? It is in the area of close relationships that I have the most difficulty in letting go of expectations. I’m not talking about forgiving honest mistakes or tolerating human flaws because I know that no one is perfect, certainly not me, and I always hope (or do I expect?) to receive forgiveness and tolerance from those who are closest to me. We all disappoint each other at times without meaning to, but I’m thinking of much more serious injuries like lying, cheating, betrayal, and other forms of disloyalty. Loyalty and honesty are very important to me. That is what you can expect from me if I’m a friend of yours and it is what I expect in return from you. Needless to say, I’ve had some crushing disappointments but, was it because I expected a certain type of behavior or was it because I trusted someone? Where is the line between trusting and expecting in relationships? Doesn’t a person’s character invite you to expect a certain type of behavior from them?

Another long-held expectation I had was regarding my relationship with my son. I always thought that once he was an adult he would honor and respect me. I didn’t invent this idea – remember the fifth commandment “Honor your father and your mother”? – and yet, this concept seems to be foreign to him. Perhaps I bear some responsibility for not instilling it in him at an early age but, whatever the reason, I recently had to re-evaluate my thinking and begin to let go of my expectation that someday we would have a warm, comfortable and friendly adult relationship. I would love to be able to just enjoy relaxed conversations with him without feeling like I’m walking blindfolded through a mine field. Recent events have forced me to admit that this may never happen and I need to stop waiting for something of which he may not be emotionally capable. I think I need to learn the difference between hope and expectation.

If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed. ~Terrell Owens

Liberty has Great Expectations!

Liberty has Great Expectations!

I fully expect that you will check out my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions

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 

I need a rabbi?

Great pair of shoesIt turns out I needed a rabbi! Who knew?

A couple of years ago I was first introduced to Rabbi Daniel Lapin when he was a guest on Glenn Beck’s TV program and I fell in love with him! He is an amazing biblical scholar and historian and also a gifted teacher. Rabbi Lapin has a way of conveying the complex and heavily symbolic stories of the Bible using plain language and humor that makes them easier to relate to my own life. Even though I have enjoyed seeing Rabbi Lapin on Beck’s program several times since that first appearance, I was moved to visit his website, www.youneedarabbi.com, after seeing him again last week. I ended up watching several of the videos in the archives and then downloading one of his books “Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language” to my Kindle and ordering a 5 cd set of his teachings, “Biblical Blueprints”. His stated mission is to bring ancient Jewish wisdom to people of all backgrounds.

If you are a follower of this blog then you know I’m a strong believer in the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. I’ve had this experience more times than I can count and I’m always amazed by it. Have you ever had the experience of suddenly going to your book-case, pulling out a book that has rested there for years and becoming engrossed in something that previously held no interest for you? I have! Where did the impulse to choose that book come from? Have you ever found yourself listening to someone on TV or the radio – or maybe while having lunch with a new friend – and suddenly hearing a totally different way of thinking about something that challenges you to reconsider a long-held opinion? I have! I love the feeling I get when a new understanding opens up inside me.

I’ve been a spiritual seeker for many years but my search has never been about finding religion. It is about finding my own relationship with God and it is about recognizing that the tools that aid in my spiritual growth can come from many sources. One of the sources I turned to a couple of years ago is the Bible because I know there are important lessons in those pages. Rabbi Lapin says the Bible is just like the manual that comes with a new car – it gives us all the information we need to take care of ourselves so that we can live a healthy, happy life. I was intrigued by that statement. I struggle to understand the Bible and often find the symbolism impenetrable and this is the role Rabbi Lapin will play in my education – I am ready to understand the Bible and he is one of the teachers who has appeared to help me.

Following the student/teacher theme, it’s interesting to me that I was led to the Bible in the first place by a renewed interest in American history and the realization that Judaeo-Christian principles played such an important role in the founding of this country. Anyway, I encourage you to keep an open mind and notice when your teachers appear – life is a journey and you’re never too old to learn something new about the world and yourself.

The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to it’s original size.  ~Albert Einstein

I'm ready to learn more new things!

I’m ready to learn more new things!

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions