I enjoy reasonable discussion and debate, often spirited, about issues with truly free and independent thinking individuals. I know several of those, a bunch actually, who are open minded enough to have well reasoned discussions about issues without resorting to bumper sticker slogans, political talking points, obfuscation of facts, or ad hominem attacks of others who are making a point... all of which are frequently used by those whose facts just don't fit their arguments. Additionally, shooting the messenger is oh so messy.
.. and makes others not want to enter into discussions that might otherwise be of value for everyone concerned, as well as those in the participants' circles of friends.
A used car salesman, or a political hack, might use arguments that don't fit fact based discussion, but does that really do anyone any good? Does it ever solve a problem, really solve a problem? Or does it merely make some feel good, give them a temporary warm and fuzzy feeling.
During a recent discussion of college and its value to a young person versus someone who's a bit, shall we say, more mature, someone commented that she learned in college there are complex problems that often require complex solutions. If we consider that each of us is a product of the paths we've traveled, that's a reasonable statement. Our discussion is on-going, but my experience is a bit different.
A scheisster bud once commented that he likes to write out his arguments before going to court, or any other situation in which he'll be required to present an argument during the process of negotiation. That forces him to define his points and then put them in some reasonable, logical order. He said it also forced him to break down what appeared to be a complex situation into separate, individual, and much more easily manageable pieces. He works from the top down to pieces.
Some things we do that seem simple can actually be quite complex. For example, working from the top down, when I took the gang out to watch the sun rise this morning, and so they could chase a rabbit through the frost and tall grass or that buck who likes to hang out down by the edge of the woods, I thought about all the small motions required to perform that seemingly simple operation. Light a cigarette, get out of chair, navigate 3 dog traffic jam to kitchen, make coffee, scratch, light cigarette again because it went out when the cherry hit the carpet glue, pour coffee into mug, navigate doggie traffic jam to front door, open door, walk out on porch, "Sparky, quit trying to eat those day lilies I've been babying," scratch, "Boo, quit chewing on my grape vines," re-light cigarette because it went out again, "quit trying to sneak up on my rose bush Boo," roll and light a cigarette because the store bought one keeps going out, watch sun come up.
Seems I remember there are over 200 muscles required to perform the simple task of walking across a room to open a door. A computer program to go watch the sun rise, breaking each movement down to its most basic commands, would be massive.
Ockham's Razor is a high-faluting way of explaining how to eat an elephant. It's done one bite at a time. In other words, break what ever it is down to its most simple components and then work on those one at a time. The number of bites required can be daunting, but even though there may be a lot of them they can also be quite simple.
It sounds simple to say "we need to get rid of all those smokestacks." It looks very simple, from a top down perspective, and looking from the outside, but smokestacks are big business. A seemingly simple system is actually quite complex. There are instruments attached to those smokestacks to monitor the quality and quantity of the gases being released so the environment isn't polluted. People have to design, manufacture, install, maintain, and operate those. There are often other gases injected into the system to assist with the process of scrubbing those gases that cause the greenies to go crazy, and people have to make those. There are electrostatic precipitators to collect particulates from the exhaust gases much like those used in our homes to remove dust and pollen. Someone must design, build, install, maintain, and operate those. There's a "bag house" that's analogous to the air filter on our home HVAC systems. These, too, must be designed, built, installed, and maintained, operated by people. In the final analysis, a smokestack is a rather complex system but the bits and pieces, the component parts, are simple. There are just a lot of them... and people have jobs making it all work. To get ride of smokestacks would put a lot of businesses out of business, and people out of work, productive and meaningful work.
A seemingly simple action can have quite a few steps, and many ramifications. But there's also the other end of that stick, where a seemingly complex system is nothing more than a collection of simple component parts.
We hear over and over and over again that government systems are too massive for any one congress to fix in a mere two year term. Au contraire mes amis, to quote that little French Dude.
Take, for example, taxes. Let's apply Ockham's Razor for just a moment. Why is there so much complexity to our tax code? Could it be there are so many deductions and deductibles so that politicians can use them as a tool for re-election? What if we did away with deductions and lowered rates, and required that everyone pay income taxes. But then those politicians wouldn't have a stick to beat up their constituents, either business or individuals. Note; lower rates and require everyone to pay, not just a few.
The welfare system could be just as easy. How many kids go to school without pencils and paper, are given free meals, but wear expensive sneakers and designer clothes? How often do we read the Police Blotter column here on the Chattanoogan.com to see that some person's home was broken into and humongous television sets or expensive computer equipment were stolen? Some of those addresses are in government subsidized housing, housing paid for by those of us who pay taxes.
The Book tells us we are to tithe, give ten percent of our income to the church. My accountant told me 30 years ago the average family gives five bucks a week to their church. That might be more now. How many Taj Mahal churches do we see around town? If we use that as a gauge, how much waste must there be in government bureaucracy and how much of that could be eliminated if we just 86 many of the institutions that have no authorization in our Constitution?
Mrs. Obama recently stated that everyone should have an equal chance at the American Dream. But what is that American dream? Is the American Dream, the goal of this grand American experiment laid down for us by our forebears, a house and a car? Is it a job? Is it an el spiffo boat? Would it be fair to presume, because we should never assume, that after reading our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, with side trips over to the Federalist Papers for clarification and context when necessary, the Founders intended for each of us to have equal "stuff" (stuff is good junk)? Or was their intent for each of us to have an equal opportunity to be all that we can be, to do the best we can with a dream and the tools we have available to us, that the job of government is not to invest but to stand back out of the way so we can do what we do best? I submit it was the latter, not the former.
Our almost homie, a neighbor from over in Asheville, Thomas Wolfe, in his novel You Can't Go Home Again, wrote "So, then, to every man his chance - to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining golden opportunity - to every man the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him - this, seeker, is the promise of America. "
Isn't "the promise of America" what brought so many of our forefathers here? It certainly wasn't "stuff" that caused them to leave their families, their ancestral homes, to come here, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs, to make a new life, to seek new opportunities, to become what ever thing their vision and hard work could combine to make them.
Using massive government, and the threat of a government gun, our elected government officials and their appointed functionaries take from one then give to another of their choosing, not the choosing of the person who worked to earn those resources... all in the name of fairness, equity, and as in the case of those wealthy white people with a sense of entitlement (as my favorite TreeHugger is wont to call them) return on investment or investing in the future of our children. By so doing, aren't they using the sweat and labor of those who work to subsidize the dreams of others who have not? Whose promise is realized in that case? Whose family benefits and whose family suffers?
Who's eating whose elephant?
Poor Boo. He's been milking the sympathy deal after slicing a pad on his foot... getting carried outside to play, sleeping in my lap, the works. I better go remind him which foot hurts so he limps on the right one...
Royce Burrage Jr.