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Slumdog Conservative

In Conservatism, Conservative, Politics on 05/18/2009 at 10:31 PM

Do not be deceived, I do not live in an alternatively quixotic reality in which I believe all others, particularly those in entertainment, ascribe to my individual philosophical persuasions.  It is true, however, that successful movies, like Slumdog Millionaire, often communicate deep and exceptionally human messages.  These messages can convey corresponding values and morals, and can sit anywhere on the wide range of human emotion and conscience – much like a childhood bedtime story or an episode of South Park.

The conventional wisdom would assume the makers of Slumdog, should any political or cultural commentary exist beyond the dramatic presentation, to be highlighting the plight of those, especially the children, living in the deplorable slums of Mumbai and similar locales spanning the globe.  One could also say the depiction sheds light on struggles faced by the impoverished in industrialized nations, such as Dev Patel’s native United Kingdom or even the United States.

If experience is indeed the best teacher, then perspective runs a close second.  In the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, rapper Jay Z was quoted following his 2006 trip to Africa as saying, ‘“I come from the Marcy projects, in Brooklyn,” he says, “which is considered a tough place to grow up, but this [showed me] how good we have it. The rappers who say, ‘We’re from the ‘hood,’ take it from me, you’re not from the ‘hood.’ You haven’t seen people with no access to water. It really put things in perspective.”’

Perhaps those who seek to constantly highlight the poverty in the United States would be well served to avail themselves to the perspective provided by Slumdog Millionaire.  Of course, both the Slumdog story and its protagonist are fictional, and any discussion regarding residual morals taught by Slumdog is inherently academic.  It is nonetheless worthwhile to glean truths from the story that can shed light on pertinent discussions of the day.

Decades of government intervention, planning, and micromanagement have wrought irreparable harm on the psyche of the American citizen.  Rather than looking first to his or her individual skills, talents, and abilities, today’s citizen looks to someone else, namely the all caring, all understanding, and all compassionate government seeking to ameliorate every less than desirable condition of life and society.

What Slumdog illustrates, however, is the reality that every human has the inherent God given ability to change his or her circumstances; that the present struggles of life are not irrevocable sentences set before the foundation of the world.  Some, of course, would say that Jamal Malik’s fortune resulted purely from a series of fortunate events, bestowing on him luck unavailable to so many other poor, unfortunate souls.

With persistence, determination, and a willingness to work, any person can be as successful as they want.  Beyond this desire of the individual, success is the responsibility of no one else, and in a society that promulgates what President Bush called the soft bigotry of low expectations, this reality can be easily forgotten.

When the shackles are removed from the natural ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of the American citizen, true prosperity can be realized.  The rising tide does indeed lift all the boats, and every person, just like the impoverished individuals on Slumdog, can lift themselves out of despondency and attain their full potential.       

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Life, Liberty

In Conservatism, Conservative, Politics on 05/11/2009 at 2:21 AM

As the government strives to protect banks and businesses deemed too large to fail, it is evident that Americans now desire, or at least are portrayed to desire, more safety and security in their lives.  And as Uncle Sam seeks to assuage the collective qualms and fears of the citizens (i.e. foreclosures, job losses, and the sniffles), individual liberty hangs in the balance.  The manifest need for national security is not disputed, but safety from all forms of discomfort, pain, and suffering is by no means a constitutionally ordained protection.  In this present crisis, liberty in the face of danger and uncertainty must be defended at all costs.  Consider these quotes:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  – Benjamin Franklin 1755

 “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste, and what I mean by that is that it’s an opportunity to do things you’ve never done before.”  – Rahm Emanuel 2009

The juxtaposition of these diametrically opposed worldviews is representative of the ancient struggle between those who would live as free people and those who would seek to aggregate power to lord over the lives of others.  As the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  When liberty is breached and abridged by those in government, it is almost never restored, and the reasoning presented by Rahm Emanuel is that which is employed by those who seek to usurp it.

There was no income tax in the United States until the Civil War.  Fair enough, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?  But look at your latest paycheck; now look outside your window – is Johnny Reb outside marching to threaten the Union of States?  The first peacetime income tax was instituted in 1894, but it was not until the crisis of Civil War that the Federal Government levied that burden on the citizens.

The next time you are pulled over by one of our nation’s finest for going too fast on the road, remember that no speed limit existed in the United States until World War II, when the government sought to conserve rubber for the war effort.  Yes, our brave men and women are in harm’s way even now, but is anyone prepared to equate the two eras of conflict? Yet the nation’s roads are under the same system as when the “Greatest Generation” was out fighting Nazism and Japanese Imperialism.

These diminutions of liberty are illustrative of the inherent tragedy of government intervention in the lives of individuals: once time has taken its toll, they become assumed components of life and are expected by beneficiaries regardless of their destructive consequences.  Merged with Social Security, Welfare (corporate, farm, and individual), the War on Poverty, Medicaid, Medicare, and the War on Drugs, the omnipotent federal government has constructed quite a track record of intrusion into the private sector.  With the current administration bent on alleviating any and all discomfort from everyday life, the fragile and endangered blessings of liberty – endowed by God and bequeathed by our forefathers – stands in peril.

Thoughts On Specter

In Conservatism, Conservative, Politics on 05/04/2009 at 11:32 PM

Last Tuesday, Senator Arlen Specter (D – Pennsylvania) returned to the political home of his youth as he underwent a partisan tergiversation and became a member of the Democrat caucus in the Senate.

His discomfort with the Republican establishment is not a recent advent, but he saw the handwriting on the wall and realized his vote for the bloated stimulus package exposes his seat in the Senate to vulnerability from conservative Republican opposition, namely Pat Toomey, in the 2010 primary.

He claimed his switch would not result in a filibuster-proof supermajority for the Democrats, but he knows just as well as anyone that someone will eventually be seated from Minnesota; and Republican prospects there are not promising. 

The most concise and accurate analysis of Senator Specter’s decision was articulated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who stated that this move was about “self-preservation, not principle.”