In Search of Loyalty

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To what and whom do we owe loyalty, and how should we express it?

Generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe describe a generation of “nomads” in their prophetic book The Fourth Turning.

“The 13th Generation (Nomad, born 1961-1981) survived a hurried childhood of divorce, latchkeys, open classrooms, devil-child movies, and a shift from G to R ratings. They came of age curtailing the earlier rise in youth crime and fall in test scores—yet heard themselves denounced as so wild and stupid as to put The Nation at Risk. As young adults, maneuvering through a sexual battlescape of AIDS and blighted courtship rituals, they date and marry cautiously.”

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 2810-2812). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

While Strauss and Howe avoid the word “disloyal,” their description hints at a generation of individuals loyal almost exclusively to themselves.

“In jobs, they embrace risk and prefer free agency over loyal corporatism. From grunge to hip-hop, their splintery culture reveals a hardened edge. Politically, they lean toward pragmatism and nonaffiliation and would rather volunteer than vote. Widely criticized as Xers or slackers, they inhabit a Reality Bites economy of declining young-adult living standards [emphasis added].”

I am among the oldest of the current generation of “nomads” in America: Generation X. I bear many tell-tale signs of the generation sandwiched between the idealism of our Boomer brothers and sisters and the “get along” camaraderie of our Millennial children. I have seen loyalty from both sides, now, and the idea still confused me.

I think I recognize disloyalty when I see it, but I lack a ready touchstone for its opposite. Worse, I’m not sure that disloyalty is always wrong or loyalty always right. I stammer over cases where loyalties lie in opposition: a friend to principle; an allegiance to an organization. Politics compounds my confusion.

I believe that government which governs least governs best, that local government is a better guardian of our rights than distant government, and that government has no legitimate powers but for those expressly and narrowly delegated by the people.

Nothing new there. Problem is, others who would stand and lend full-throated, passionate support for the principles expressed in the last paragraph will disagree with me completely on any number of specific cases. When they do, they’re not being disengenuous, I don’t believe; they’re being loyal to the competing principle of pragmatism.

A development tax credit is one example. Credits involve providing private business with taxpayer funding to encourage economic development. Pragmatically, tax credits sound great. In practice, they destroy economies and communities while failing to return the promised benefit for the taxpayers’ dollars. Tax credits boil the blood of small government people like me. Loyalty to my principles means fierce opposition to tax credits, always and everywhere (more or less).

Supporting credits are many politicians to whom I feel a very strong personal loyalty. They have defended me, my friends, and our cause with little hope of a political ROI for themselves. In some cases, their support for me risked years of bridge-building to particular communities of voters. In other words, they’ve helped me when I could do nothing for them.

So when personal loyalties conflict with principles, which should win? Before you answer, consider this.

To the Generation X nomads, loyalty may be of little value. We’re fierce individualists. But somewhere in our species and in our culture lies an appreciation for loyalty, not to principles, but to people. In fact, I think the concept of loyalty applies first to people, then to ideas. Loyalty buttresses trust, and without trust, no two people can work effectively for a higher purpose.

Loyalty to people, then, must be a noble principle itself. So how do we resolve the conflict between loyalty to people and loyalty to principle?

I think people can reach different answers. Xers might say that principles trump people because, without firm loyalty to principles, no one will ever know where we stand. Besides, people can forgive, but principles can’t. And true friends would never let you abandon your principles for them.

Millennials, and their GI Generation ancestors, would probably answer the opposite. When the chips are down, you need human allies, because principles can’t really protect you. Plus, loyalty to people lets you continue to champion your principles, but once you’ve cast aside friends over principle, there’s no going back.

So how do we choose between two candidates, one whose political principles mirror our own but has shown no personal loyalty, and another who sometimes strays from our strict political principles but has been a fierce and public defender?

I have played this moral dilemma both ways at different times, to be honest. Sometimes, I’ve risked friendships to advance a higher principle. Other times, I’ve let the principle of personal loyalty triumph. Neither choice felt completely right or completely wrong. I felt dissatisfied with both. I still do.

The best answer I can find, for now, provides no more satisfaction. I will try to be loyal to people and true to principle by broadening the field of principles involved. And I’ll try to be understanding of those who disagree. I’ll try to be honest with those who undoubtedly feel betrayed when people choose between competing loyalties.

The specific cases that inspired this post involve various primaries in Missouri. In several of the races, the candidates who have been great champions of causes important to me and to the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition are running against candidates whose approach to government more closely resembles our own.

Friends have taken strong positions on some of these races. Some demand fidelity to the most philosophically perfect candidate. Others demand loyalty to those who’ve stood by us. All the candidates are capable of winning the general election, so electability is no answer. I can’t just say, “I’ll vote Smitherton, since Applebaum doesn’t have a chance in November.” And none of the candidates is so far out of sync or so unscrupulous as to be disqualified.

I have weighed the possibility that past support for me and my friends resulted from a cold political calculation. I believe political calculation was involved sometimes, but in other cases, only a handful knew.

Still, I struggle between loyalty to ideological purity and loyalty to people who’ve proven loyal to me.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’d like to hear your thoughts about loyalty, people, and principles. Specifically, do you consider loyalty to people a principle?


The Economy Is Getting Worse Thanks to Liberalism

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The horror in Aurora, Colorado, gave President Obama a little cover last Friday.  That’s because the Labor Department announced that unemployment rose in 27 states.

President Obama promised to hold unemployment under eight percent if Congress passed the stimulus package in 2009. Congress did, but Obama failed.  Remember all those green jobs?  They’re gone.

The problem isn’t Barack Obama; the problem is liberalism.  

Liberals believe that only experts can make intelligent decisions. They point out that the Beta Max was a superior video cassette technology to VHS, but idiot consumers were too stupid to notice.

Yet, for all their wisdom, the experts seem unable to manage even their affairs.

Liberals often point to China as an example of how fabulous a controlled economy can be. But China’s growth was largely cosmetic. The benefit of central control of the economy and the media was that China could hide its problems; it couldn’t fix them. As a result, we know that Bejieng’s sewer system doesn’t work, state-controlled baby formula causes cancer, Chinese banks have been playing dangerous games with collateralized debt obligations-squared, and China’s totalitarian population controls have produced a demographic cliff that could plunge the planet into a Great Depression.

Liberalism is the original good intention that paves the road to Hell.  

We can’t blame all the problems with central planning on Obama.  But we can and should hold Obama to account for shoving a failed system of misery down America’s throat.  We can point out that the man who claims government, not people, build businesses and create jobs is incapable of keeping even his softest promises of eight percent unemployment and a slowly recovering economy.  We can and should remind everyone that the man who wants to control all of the US economy struggles to manage the economics of his campaign.

Barack Obama did not invent the failed ideology of central planning, but as its leading proponent he deserves to suffer the same fate his policies have given to the US economy.


DESE: The original box of rocks that nothing is dumber than

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According to research from Missouri Education Watchdog, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) agreed to surrender Missouri’s education voice under Obama’s “Race to the Top” scheme.  Race to the Top was a contest in which states agreed to let the federal Department of Education, via two puppet organizations, run all of the state’s education systems.  In exchange, some states were awarded money, but others were not.

Chris Nicastro, chief rock in the DESE box, applied for the grant. To increase her chances of “winning,” Nicastro agreed to surrender control of our schools even if Missouri failed to win a grant.

Missouri failed to win the grant.  Surprise!

How do we regain control?  It won’t be easy.  We’ll need the Missouri legislature to pass a law, then we’ll need permission from the US Department of Education. Arne Duncan won’t grant that waiver, so we’ll need to elect Mitt Romney and hope he appoints an Education Secretary who believes in local governance and state sovereignty.

Let’s get started.  Ask your State Rep, State Senator, and incoming Speaker of the House, Tim Jones, to make it their top priority getting  restoring local–or at least state–control of Missouri’s schools.  Ask Attorney General Koster and incoming Attorney General Ed Martin to investigate Chris Nicastro’s abuse of her office.

And even before all of that, check out this fantastic presentation from Missouri Education Watchdog.

Missouri Education Watchdog — State of Education in Missouri

Here’s Why Tax Credits Kill Society

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Tax credits reward particular businesses or developers with tax dollars from the general population.  They concentrate wealth in a few hands.  Tax credits are the way politicians play the market with someone else’s money.

Worse, Republicans are addicted to tax credits

A Missouri House Republican leader told a constituent that his party gives tax dollars to people who “spend it smarter.”  Bill Clinton said the same thing in about 1992.  That means, in the past 20 years, conservative Republicans have come to adopt the Democrat party’s position on redistribution of wealth.

Republicans dominate Missouri’s legislature. In 2011 and 2012, Republicans led efforts to transfer your tax dollars to the hands of private companies and developers.  Grassroots groups around the state rallied to stop them.  Several brave State Senators became heroes of fiscal responsibility by defying their party’s leaders and wealthy developers to thwart corporate welfare schemes.

What supporters of development and historical tax credits fail to grasp is the bad effect the practice has on society. This effect contributes to our dying economy–an economy that’s put more people into poverty than any time since the Johnson administration.

Here’s how it works.  A developer convinces legislators that his idea will help the region, but short-sighted private investors refuse to put their own money at risk to back the venture.  Playing on legislators’ natural egos, the developer essentially cons them into investing our tax dollars.  The result is a gamble with public money–a gamble that loses nine times out of  ten, according The Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

To increase the chances of success, legislators tend to tip the playing field toward the tax credit recipient.  In Missouri last year, legislators tried to give China Hub developers an unfair advantage over other warehouses with legislative language so narrow as to apply only to their favored developer, shutting out owners of 18 million square feet of unused warehouse space.

When these gambles fail, communities suffer. Disadvantaged competitors close shop and move. City and county planners build infrastructure and increase services in anticipation of jobs and commerce from tax credit financed developments.  But 92 percent of the time, the projects fail, leaving communities and businesses holding the bag.  Meanwhile, the private developers walk away and state taxpayers pay the bills.

As you prepare for the August 7 primary in Missouri, look at the people who’ve stood against corporate welfare at the cost of party and  corporate support.  It’s easy for politicians to say “no” to governors from the other party. It’s real statesmanship when legislators buck the party line to do what’s right for the people and the rule of law.

Distrust Adjectives, and the Politicians Who Use Them

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Missouri’s primary is August 7. Missouri’s Republicans now litter the airwaves and in-boxes with smears against their Republican opponents. What strikes me is the weakness of so many of their pitches.


Every political ad is a pitch. It’s a chance to sell an idea and to volunteer as that idea’s champion in some high office. What a noble calling.

Few politicians take that noble path, sadly. Instead, they bully and vilify their opponents–especially their primary opponents.  Anyone paying casual attention to Missouri’s Republican race for Lieutenant Governor could reach only one conclusion: the two worst human beings on the planet are the two leading GOP candidates.

The campaigns sling mud like it’s an Olympic event, but their proxies are even worse.  The Missouri GOP and its network of consultants have stitched together a patchwork of bloggers and broadcasters who seem to have a simple mission: if our guy loses, may the Democrat win.

Opposing this establishment juggernaut is an alliance of amateur activists who imitate the pros, sometimes achieving new levels of vitriol.  Most of these people on all sides of the crossfire are friends of mine.  If not friends, they’re fellow believers in smaller government constrained by a written Constitution whose intents were settled upon ratification and are no longer open to imaginative judicial rewriting.

So, how to choose a candidate?  Well, like everything of value, it takes a little work.

Hemingway said he was taught to “distrust adjectives.”  He was taught well. Politicians use adjectives, not to inform, but to tell you how to feel.  “Strong conservative,” tells you how to feel, not the ideology of the candidate.

But your feelings are your own. Why would you give another person permission to screw with your feelings?

Pay attention to ads.  Ignore the half-truths about “my opponent.”  Count the adjectives that attempt to dictate your feelings.  Vote for the candidate who respects you enough not to tell you how you should feel about him or his opponent.

If a candidate wants to manipulate your feelings, he’ll happily manipulate your wallet.

The Old Reagan Soviet Jokes Are on US

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Ronald Reagan loved to tell jokes about the Soviet Union. If Obama’s re-elected, though, these same jokes could be turned on the United States.


Some of them already can be.

It’s hard to get an automobile in the United States. They are owned mainly by elite bureaucrats. It takes an average of 10 years to get a car. 1 out of 7 families owned automobiles. You have to go through a major process and put the money out in advance. So this man did this and the dealer said “okay in 10 years come get your car.” “Morning or afternoon?” The man replied. “Well what difference does it make?” Said the dealer. “The plumber is coming in the morning.”

Here’s an old Castro joke updated.

Obama was making a speech to a large assembly. Someone out in the crowd said, “peanuts popcorn cracker jack.” This happened about 4 times. So Obama gets annoyed and says, the next man who says that gets deported to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The entire crowd stands up and yells, “POPCORN! PEANUTS! CRACKER JACK!”

Obama said in 2008, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.” Which reminded me of another of Reagan’s old Soviet joke:

The Commissar came to the collective farms to see how the harvest was doing and asked a farmer and the farmer said “Oh comrade commissar! If we took all the potatoes, they would reach the foot of God.” “Comrade farmer, this is the United States. There is no God.” “That’s okay, there are no potatoes.”

With 111 days until the election, here’s the saddest joke of all.

Two Americans were walking down the street, one asked the other, “Have we really achieved full communism?” The other said “oh no. Things are about to get worse.”

How will you answer your grandchild’s question, “Tell me what you were doing when they took away our freedom?” If you’d like help answering, come to The After Party at Yacovelli’s in Florissant, MO, at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19.

Note: I borrowed these jokes from this Free Republic page.

If the election were held today, there’d be a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth

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Here’s a screen grab from’s presidential tracking poll:

RealClearPolitics - Opinion, News, Analysis, Videos and Polls

RCP aggregates dozens of polls to produce its RCP average. The method has been remarkably accurate, especially at the state level.

It’s time to focus on preventing the unmitigated disaster of a second Obama term.

In 112 days, Americans will vote on whether or not to continue our experiment in self-government.  If the election were held today, that experiment would be aborted.

It gets worse, too.  At this time in 2008, the much weaker John McCain was in a dead heat with Barack Obama.

If you’d like to help continue the experiment, come to Yacovelli’s Restaurant this Thursday at 7:00 pm.