Robin Koerner's blog
I have just paid my biggest bill of the year. The invoice was for a cool 9% of my entire annual income – or my “Adjusted Gross Income” (AGI) as it appears on my tax returns, which have just been filed. And that invoice was from my accountant who just filed them for me.
I have a pretty modest income - so modest, in fact, that my AGI is of the order of a half of the median household income across the United States - the kind of income that triggers significant subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Even the “top line” of my income falls short of that median: so it’s not as if I’m earning loads and deducting huge amounts.
My financial life last year was pretty simple: my earnings derived from a modest real estate portfolio and some freelance/consulting work. My income is earned through my small business, which, for those who know about these things, is an S-corporation. I have no employees. I do no payroll.
Yet, I have just paid my accountant more than a month’s worth of income to complete my tax returns.
How many pages of tax returns do you think that I, a single individual, and my S-corporation (a small business) had to file, bearing in mind the small amount of income in question?
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are like all other rights: to keep them you have to exercise them - and sometimes that takes courage and involves risk. We should be profoundly grateful to those who help keep that right for us by exercising it.
And today, our thoughts are with our French friends - and especially with the families and friends of those who have been directly attacked for using that most important of freedoms - freedom of speech - to stimulate our use of another - freedom of thought.
And we don't lose sight of the fact that we must stop ceding the moral high-ground in fighting against such an attack on liberty through a foreign policy that makes terrorists by killing innocents. Nor do we forget the impingement on the same liberty by our own politicians.
Offense is Always Taken - Never Given... but if it can be given, it is given by physical aggression against innocent people.
I arrived in England yesterday from my home in the States and the jet-lag had the better of me this morning by 4.45 am.
Dad, whom I have traveled across the Atlantic to spend Christmas with, is still in bed as I write this, and I am sitting alone on his couch in a silent house.
Nevertheless, I have already received my biggest Christmas greeting of the day. A little bird came to give it to me.
"If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” – Mark 3:25
“Politics at its purest is philosophy in action” – Margaret Thatcher
“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” – Thomas Jefferson
Whereas to many outside the liberty movement, including the mainstream media, politicians like Rand Paul seem quite libertarian, many Americans who actually call themselves “libertarians” seem to despise Rand Paul for not being libertarian enough in various areas, and so they call him a “neo-con” or a “shill” or similar.
The promise of America is one immigration policy for all who seek to enter our shores... there must be one set of rules for everybody
- Al Sharpton
In his recent speech on immigration, Obama told us that, "mass deportation is contrary to our character".
Embracing his new standard for executive action, I have a few questions.
If mass deportations are against our character, is locking up 1% of Americans - disproportionately black men - for hurting no one, consistent with our character? No, so what are you doing about the war on drugs, Mr. President?
You know you love someone when you want for them what they want for themselves.
The three little words that really convey this sentiment are not, “I love you “, which can mean all kinds of things to all kinds of people; rather they are, “As you wish”.
Love is kind, expansive, proactive, and fundamentally non-constraining. And although some of us may disagree on a positive definition of love, we can surely all agree about what it is not: restricting, compelling, imposing, or violating the right of another to pursue his own happiness and self-actualization. Those characteristics attach to something altogether incompatible with love - and that is Fear.
Even if you don't need this three-page consent agreement, share it with some frustrated Californian who might!
Free download here... http://www.bluerepublican.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Cam...
(Very funny with a very serious point.)
The politics of our nation since 9/11 have been the politics of fear.
Because of fear that one of us is a terrorist, we've allowed our intelligence services to listen into our private conversations; because of fear of terrorists from abroad, we have killed innocent people in foreign nations (supposedly to protect ourselves here); because of fear that our planes will get blown up, we let government agents put their hands on our children's crotches and look at our naked bodies, and because of fear that the economy will implode, we've given trillions of dollars to organizations that have brought us to that point.
None of it feels very brave or free. None of it feels very American.
Nations confident of their strength don't seek fights. The most powerful nations win without firing a shot. Nations confident of their security and the ability of their agents to maintain it don't compromise the dignity or legal rights of its citizens. Nations confident that the innovativeness and entrepreneurism of its people can provide prosperity don't reward bad custodians of financial resources to "save the system."
Rape may represent the greatest possible violation against a human being except, perhaps, for murder.
Any decent person sympathizes with the intent of those who would seek to prevent it by any reasonable means. Moreover, there are plenty of statistics regarding the prevalence of rape in our society – mostly, but not exclusively against women – that indicate a moral and cultural epidemic that must be addressed. I, like far too many people, am close to more than one victim of this evil and so nothing I write here is written lightly.
But I am genuinely concerned about what has recently occurred in California with a view to tackling the crime of rape on college campuses. As is so often the case when the details of behavior are legislated in reaction to the actions of the worst people among us, the results are likely to be much less noble than the intention, because the legislation eliminates the most general rights that should be enjoyed by everyone at all times, to protect a few people some of the time.
Late last week, the first state bill to require colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model in their sexual assault policies passed the California senate unanimously.
I don't know anyone of any political stripe in the United States who doesn't believe that for exactly the same job, a woman should be paid the same as a man, or that a woman should have the same standing as a man in law; that she should have the same political representation and equal social influence. If these more-or-less ubiquitous truisms are the fruits of feminism, then we all - men and women alike - have much to thank it for.
But I am sensing a tectonic shift away from feminism as an assertive philosophy.
Everyone knows the old saw, attributed to George Bernard Shaw, "Britain and America are two countries, divided by a common language."
Fortunately, there is a simple formula for translating between them: the British understate, while the Americans overstate. (The word, "Everyone" in the preceding paragraph is a nice example of the latter.)
If a Briton finds something to be good, he will declare it "not bad". An American will declare it to be "awesome". A translation table between the two cultures could therefore include,
"Good (Actual) = Not Bad (Brit.) = Awesome (Amer.)"
Last month, I did something I’d done only once before: I went to a range and shot some guns. Lots of guns. All shapes, ages and sizes.
This is a very strange thing to do for a guy born British. Guns feature nowhere in British culture.
Accordingly, I was unsurprised by the reaction of my mother when I called home and told her that I’d had a great time learning about firearms and discovering I wasn’t a bad shot, even with a second-world-war Enfield. “That’s the last thing I’d ever imagine you’d enjoy doing,” she said to me. She wasn’t being judgmental: it was an expression of genuine surprise.
“That’s because you just can’t imagine why nice or normal people would enjoy guns … because you don’t know any… no Brits know any,” I replied.
Mom thoughtfully agreed.
To a first approximation, American political history before the 18th century is British political history. As most American schoolchildren know, in the 17th century, John Locke crystallized the idea that human law should reflect Natural Law, but the idea that Law must serve the well-being of the people on whom it is imposed goes back at least to the Anglo-Saxons.
Since tyranny must shape to itself both the law and the political institutions of its day, it stands to reason that when a governing elite has gone too far in abusing its power, the fight back for liberty by the people at large does not start directly in the political realm or in legislation, itself.
Throughout history, changing a country's politics and statutes has been the final goal of forceful popular attempts to contain power, but mass-refusal to accept political abuses has always begun in the culture. "Culture" is a vague term so let us define it as the sum of actions of the citizens of a country, the attitudes that drive their responses to events, their expectations of what they may do and the memories of what they, and perhaps their ancestors, have always done.
When people hear "UKIP", they usually think of Nigel Farage.
But the Chairman of the party is Stephen Crowther, and eloquent Brit who is referenced in this article.
Blue Republican Radio has an exclusive interview with Crowther, in which I press him on the question, "In what sense is UKIP libertarian?"
The answer is extremely interesting, and shows the importance of culture and history in politics.
I was a boring kid, more concerned with topping out in my next exam than with any sports team or rock band.
I think that was an early manifestation of a tendency I retain in my adult life and will likely take to my grave: a slight disdain for what everyone else thinks is great and, by implication, thinks that I should think is great. In other words, my precociousness as a child was an assertion of my individuality. Maturity as soft rebellion, if you will. In any youth culture, behaving like an adult is good a way to train as a future libertarian.
Although, as a kid, I mostly avoided pop music and sports (and still do), for some years, the music that I could guarantee to hear every day from my friends' desks at school was Nirvana and Guns 'N' Roses. Those bands provided the sonic backdrop of my geography revision and math homework.
Whatever grunge was, I wasn't. The school I went to was an old English manor house (check out the final scene of "If" -- that was our dining hall) and I was being educated among many who would in a few years be wearing academic gowns in the hallowed halls of Cambridge and Oxford Universities. I ended up being one of them. I certainly couldn't even imagine "dropping out" as a psychological possibility, let alone as something that could inform a culture. I mean, I wouldn't even know how to drop out or hate myself, to borrow from one of Nirvana's titles.