The Significance of Bundy Ranch and Gun Rights

2nd Amendment enthusiasts insist their rights to own firearms and obtain them easily are important not only to preserve their God-Given right to protect their life and property but also and to fend off tyrannical government.

Many people in other nations, and many of our own states find these enthusiasts to be too extreme in many cases. I support 2nd Amendment rights just like I do the rest of our Bill of Rights , but feel the gun situation in this country has gone a little nuts as well. I was even joking with a friend earlier this week that in the states most liberal with gun rights, it is easier to buy a firearm than certain brands of cold medicine!

But then there are cases like that of Clive Bundy that make you think, maybe there is a time and place for the extreme advocates of gun rights.

A quick overview of the Bundy Ranch incident

This article over at The Washington Post seems to be a great synopsis of the case. I’ll give you some quick context related to the case.

The USA has a history of homesteaders in the West. The homesteaders were some of the first in the USA to help tame the Wild Wild West. In the case of the Bundy incident, the Bundy family has a history of homesteading. They’re ranchers, running their cattle across the great wide open spaces of the western US that go largely unused for other purposes. This has been going on since American’s began expanding westward and is very much part of American history and culture.

In the late 1980’s the Federal Government declared large sections of western land in the state of Nevada off limits in the spirit of protecting an endangered specie of tortoise. Many ranchers and homesteaders gave up their rights to graze these lands in exchange for a buyout, but the Bundy family refused to sell out.

Over the last few decades, Cliven Bundy has been fighting the federal government encroachment on his way of life. The system has swatted him down time and time again. It has become apparent that the federal government is set on stopping him from grazing on lands seized to protect the desert tortoise.

The slow encroachment of the Federal Government

During our industrial expansion in this country, we ravished our natural resources and laid waste to many species of animals, including our very own iconic symbol of American prosperity- the Bald Eagle.

Over the last 40 years, America has worked hard to turn the tide on environmental degradation through the Endangered Species Act, Environmental Protection Agency and other mechanisms. But in some people’s eyes, these mechanisms are misused and allow the government unquestioned and unchecked authority to seize land.

In the case of the state of Nevada, the federal government now owns a whopping 87% of the state! The federal government owns 28% of the country as a whole. (PDF Source)

America’s Culture of Individualism

America has a strong history of excelling on the back of individualism. Homesteading is a big part of that. Homesteaders headed out west to sink or swim on their own. There was no welfare system, no safety net. You made your riches, fame and fortune all by yourself. A lot of this is exemplified when reading about the history of rail transport in the US.

I think most people from other modern nations fail to understand this. Europe and its long history of monarchs, royal families and rigid social hierarchy are lost on us and a history of extreme individualism and making your own way for better or worse seems to be lost on most Europeans. I do not say this to be critical of either side, but simply as an observation.

So, when the Federal Government comes to a point that it owns 87% of a single state, I completely understand people getting more than a little pissed off that their way of life is being wiped out, and suddenly it becomes glaringly apparent that if they weren’t allowed to pick up their guns and confront the agents of the federal government face to face, what other recourse of action could they possibly have after failing to win the right to their way of life through our legal system?

Gun Ownership is Important

In March of 2014, the federal government moved forward with intentions to seize the cattle of the Bundy family. This equates to his way of supporting and feeding his family being completely seized from him. Federal agents with guns and dogs begin approaching the Bundy family to seize their property.

In a world where the common man isn’t allowed to arm himself, what happens next?

You’re done. There is no fight. There is no recourse. You line up with sticks and rocks, preparing to fight an armed, militarized police force with Tasers, riot gear and semi-automatic rifles.

In both scenarios, the common man will be squashed by the authorities, but in the scenario where the common man has a gun, things get nasty and loud, and there is nothing our modern media loves more than a blood bath.

Guns and the common man’s determination to unite and stand up to the armed federal agents might be the only thing that preserves this family’s way of life.

24 hours in the car with three women

This past week I went on a splendid vacation to south Florida. I don’t say that being sarcastic or facetious. It was a great trip and thanks to my job and all the frequent traveler points I get, I didn’t have to pay for the hotel or rental car to get there.

The weather was perfect, the beaches were pristine, my kids were for the most part very well behaved and my wife even looked damn fine in her bikini. But after 12 hours of driving each way and seven straight days with my wife and kids, I am exhausted. I want to run for the hills.

Family is a tough proposition for me. I struggle with all this dependence these three girls have on me. I struggle with having so little free time, so little time to think or just be quiet with myself.

My wife asked me recently when I’ll quit my current job, which requires I travel four days a week about three weeks of each month on average. She would like me to take a job that keeps me home. She asked me how I stood dealing with packing, getting on airplanes, endlessly switching projects and getting a completely new boss, set of teammates and place of work every four months or so.

I smiled at her and said I’d look into it but in my mind, how can I ever leave my job? It is my only refuge, my only source of sanity and peace. It is the cornerstone that keeps me intact, the pressure release valve that makes it possible to endure the stress of living with three females.

My job is my legitimate permission to run the hell away a few days and come back renewed.

Is this why history is littered with tales of men running off to war, sailing off into the sunset on long voyages or volunteering to partake in long exhibitions that take them far away for months or even years on end?

Perhaps I am not as much of a monster as I feel I am. Perhaps, I am just your run of the mill, red blooded, bearded and hairy chested man.

Perhaps it is now time to go crack open a cold beer, put on some headphones and block out the fuzz for a while.


Busy Life – New Plan

It has been over a month since I last posted something on my dear old blog and for the past two years I haven’t missed a week. Most times I never missed a day. But life works that way I suppose – you do things to fill your time until that time doesn’t exist anymore. In a positive way that’s what has happened to me. A simple lack of time.

I have a new baby at home, a promotion to manager at work, and a handful of things that are taking up more and more of my time.

Writing is important though and something I will continue to do for the rest of my life. It is a form of exercise. It is a discipline. So going forward I have a new plan to ensure that with all of my new responsibilities I do not neglect myself.

For the next month:

1. Dedicate at least 30 minutes a week to writing.

2. Dedicate 40 minutes 3 times a week to hiking/running/jogging.

3. Dedicate 45 minutes twice a week to exercise at the gym.

4. Dedicate at least 20 minutes a night to leisurely reading.

Well, my thirty minutes are up. See you next week.

Legalized Marijuana will Sweep the Nation!

I predict that pot will be more or less legal most everywhere in the very near future. Why? Because cash is king.

In January, the state of Colorado collected $2 million in recreational pot taxes and $1.5 million in medical marijuana taxes. What state can resist that cold hard cash? It is just waiting to be taken.

Do any of us really believe that marihuana being illegal is stopping anyone from getting high? Hell, I’m a law abiding, tax paying, white collar schmuck and even I know two people I could personally call up and get a dime bag from if I really cared to.

I predict that eventually, even the most socially conservative of states will give way, even if it is a medical marijuana cop out where they’re pretending to be hard on drug use, but still want to collect at least a few dimes from all those dime bag transactions!

2014-03-18 11_35_19-Colorado collects $2M in recreational pot taxes - Yahoo News

Need convincing? Look no further than Lynchburg, TN, home of Jack Daniels!  Lynchburge is a dry city. You can’t buy Jack Daniels in the town it is made. But Jack Daniels still produces barrel after barrel of whiskey and you can buy bottles of Jack Daniels from their overpriced gift shop!

Why? Because cash is king! Jack Daniels produced millions in tax revenue every year. Who can resist all that green?

Weed will be legal soon enough, if for no other reason than collecting a few more tax dollars.–finance.html


Maybe its time for Government to raise Min Wage

Over on one of my favorite blogs, journalist Phil Ebersole has wrote extensively about minimum wage.  Here’s a few recent thoughts on the subject.

My gut tells me government shouldn’t meddle in wage or price fixing. Let the market sort it out. I also feel like opening the door to such a debate would only serve to hurt smaller businesses or worse, open some sort of economic Pandora’s Box. But then I was reminded of past lessons from my grad student days.

When I was in business school, we were taught that it is the nature of a business and even more importantly, its duty to its stakeholders to maximize value.  What the value is, is determined in the corporate mission statement and by the stakeholders themselves.

In the case of most corps, value is profit and stakeholders are those who own the stock/equity of the company, or further those who work for and rely on the company one way or another

In business school, I was also taught that is was pretty much the government’s job to play referee. It isn’t the business’ job to play good guy or make the call as to what serves the public good , but to maximize value for its stakeholders.

If this is what they teach in mainstream, MBA classes and this appears to be the prevailing attitude of big business, I say maybe government does need to be more involved as much as I hate to say it.

The issue of Minimum Wage seems little different than EPA or Anti-trust regulations at this point. If there is no oversight, abuse happens. The power of the common man has been decentralized, party through a poorer/evolving economic environment but also through the ineffectiveness, corruption  and increasingly unpopularity of labor unions. The average laborer has very little power in most cases and no sort of unified voice.

Now find ourselves in a bit of a David vs Goliath situation. And just like in the Biblical story, the only way David will ever have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Goliath is thanks to intervention from a higher power.


Futility and Power

I just finished a book called “War is a Racket” written by a Major General Smedley Butler in 1935. The book is a short critique of war and war profiteering in the years during and after World War I.

War is a Racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes”

This was a conversation going on almost 100 years ago. A conversation brought to the public by the most decorated marine in United States History. Still nothing changed.

Truth be told I am sure these same conversations were happening 1000 years ago.  I see this pattern again in again in almost every philosophical or political subject I take the time to study. History, it seems, is an unstoppable and constantly repeating cycle. We have no control.

Without Control: Finding Happiness With Self

It seems like the only sure thing we can do is to find happiness and justice within ourselves. To live life by our own code. To focus on the self, internally, rather than those things outside our own control. We have to make a conscious decision to live life and pursue our own paths of justice and righteousness.

Mankind taken as a whole is an average. A powerful combination of humanity’s natural inertia that cannot be stopped. That average tumbles along through the years and becomes history and is our future. A timeline of humanity constantly repeating and never straying far from a standard deviation. Repeated again and again, to some degree, in a never ending cycle. Some men rule, some are ruled, some people are good, others are bad. Ad infinitum.

Ultimately, we are the helpless subjects to the king of the inevitable force of history, but the rulers of our own state of mind. Futility and power.

On Purpose

Most of us would like to believe that we are here for a reason. That our life has meaning. Others have come to the realization that there is no such reason. That we are here by chance. Our consciousness a blessing of mother nature and infinite time.

And even if some of us are reasonable enough to admit that we have no supernaturally assigned destiny we still tend to believe that we make our own destiny – if we be so conceited to believe in such a thing. We believe, even if subconsciously, that our reason for existing is somehow of different value than our neighbors.

But if we are truly the creation of mother nature – star dust miraculously combined over billions of years – we must admit to ourselves there is no supernatural meaning behind it all. And if there is meaning, or purpose, it is only because we defined it ourselves.

If we are to conclude, rationally, that all meaning has been defined directly by other humans we must also conclude that each individual has the right to define their own purpose. And furthermore, in a cosmic sense, no one person’s purpose is any more correct or valuable than another person’s.

One person may chase money and fame. Another may dream after women and fancy cars. Yet another may dedicate himself to the cause of morality and the betterment of mankind. And while we, as humans, may arbitrarily define one better than the other it is all ultimately meaningless – until we decide for ourselves to give it meaning.

So it follows – if we define our own purpose and all purposes are cosmically equal – we can and should learn to be satisfied with any pursuit we so choose as long as it increases happiness and decreases suffering.

The ultimate goal: to maximize happiness and to minimize suffering. And the path for achieving this is no doubt different for every individual.

This should be comforting. Knowing that whatever we choose to do is equally as important as what anyone else chooses to do. Regardless of one person’s arbitrary assignment of one thing being more valuable than another.

We can happily work on model planes, write a silly blog, dedicate ourselves to family, or travel the world – and as long as our purpose ultimately increases happiness and decreases suffering – you have been successful.

On Contentment

I’ve always tried to live life with a purpose.  How I interpret what my purpose is changes from time to time, but I adjust and continue pursuing whatever goal I have in mind. That goal always existing on some distant horizon.

I define myself based on that never ending quest to fulfill my purpose. Sometimes I call it passion, preventing complacency, or just zeal for life. An unquenchable desire to learn and grow. Restlessness. Pride.

But another part of me knows that this feeling is directly opposed to true contentment. That I can never be truly satisfied unless I give up this type of passion, ego, and my lust for consumption (of knowledge and of things). This is difficult to accomplish since so much of how I define myself is linked to these desires.

So how does one balance being content without the guilty feeling of stagnation? Maybe it’s all just in your state of mind.

Things Dying People say they Regret

The sure sign of a crap blog is one that is plagued with posts titles that have numbers in them. “10 things you can do today to jump-start your career!” – “25 fat melting foods” – “15 ways to tell is your spouse is cheating”.  BLAH BLAH BLAH!

Today I just so happened to come across a blog post of this type that provoked a bit of thought and maybe added a little value to my life. The post I’m referring to is: Here Are The Top 37 Things Dying People Say They Regret. Learn From It Before It’s Too Late.

I just turned 31, and as someone who is in the sweet spot between youth and middle age, being a good bit wiser than a 20 something but also wise enough to realize there is so much more I can learn from my elders. This makes for the optimal time to change where needed.

Here’s the items on this list that I’ve personally already recognized as possible regrets down the road and proactively taken actions to not regret them in time.

Not traveling in my youth. Atty and I were talking about this on our road trip a few weeks back. It is important to make traveling and exploring a priority when you’re young because as you grow older, responsibility only piles on and I think these experiences really enrich a young person and give them a nice foundation to build on as we age.

Staying in a bad relationship. I almost married my high school sweetheart once upon a time. Luckily she cheated on me with two of my best friends and foiled it all. Thank you so much for that Patricia. Seriously. Thank you.

Seeing your favorite musicians live. I’m proud to say I have seen nearly every band that I love in the flesh at least once. The only ones still on my bucket list to date are A Perfect Circle, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Rage Against the Machine.

Being afraid to do things. I have a strong “Fuck it, let’s have an adventure today” mentality. Sometimes to my detriment. Case in point, the time Atty and I crashed a black fraternity party on a riverboat, without tickets of course. We were the only white boys in the room.

Making physical fitness a priority. There is no joy in being overweight or out of shape. You don’t enjoy looking at yourself, you run out of breath easily, have less energy and as you age, life becomes exponentially more challenging and plagued with other health issues.

Letting yourself be defined by gender roles. Screw that! I’m doing some Pilates today after my spin class. See you there ladies!

Not quitting a terrible job. I quit my first job after college ever… after four years of torture and going nowhere. The next one was terrible too. I got myself fired from that one. Lesson learned. Quit wasting your time in shit work.

Spending your youth being self-absorbed. I used to have a big problem with craving attention. Now if I have an opinion to express, I try to do it here anonymously on a blog no one reads. The rest of the time, I try to realize NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!

Caring too much about other’s opinions. Easier said than done. Still working all the time to respectfully not give a damn.

Holding grudges. I used to have a few against people like my mother and father in law. Let it go. It’s a time, thought and energy waster, and as soon as you do let it go, you won whatever argument you were having anyway.

Missing the chance to talk to grandparents before you die. This should actually be, missing the chance to talk to my dad more before he dies. I’ve recently recognized this and need to take action.

Refusing to let friendships run their course. I used to try too hard to make false friendships last. Sometimes, once the thing we had in common goes away (be it a job, school, going to the same gym, etc) we have nothing left to say to each other anymore. Let it be. Don’t take it personal. Facebook friend them and call it a day.

Check out the post and reflect on it. I found it pretty entertaining and thought provoking.


The military passes a financial audit for the first time

For the first time since 1990, when the Congress approved the Chief Financial Officers Act, which among other things, required all federal agencies and departments to produce what would be regarded as a clean financial statement on their budgets, a branch of the U.S. military passed a financial audit.

As reported by Jamie Dupree:

“It was the first time any branch of the military service had been given an “unqualified favorable audit” for being able to show where billions in funding had gone.

Let me repeat that – it was the first time that any part of the service had been able to fully account for where all of its money was spent.”

This begs the question: What are the consequences for committing fraud, failing audits, and abusing tax dollars? Apparently nothing. What is the point of an audit if there is no enforcement?