Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

President of WHAT?

February 26th, 2008

The President of the United States of America – what a title! But let’s think about it realistically. In spite of the politicians’ conceit that they are leaders of America, do Americans really follow leaders? Is America entirely composed of followers that need guidance and leadership from politicians? Does America have a mission? A Plan? That’s complete nonsense.

This election season there’s a lot of bloviation about “going in the wrong direction” and “change” and “getting things done.” Let Americans live freely and they’ll go in any direction they please, change what they will and get done whatever they want. Government gets in the way of all that.

Most Americans are individuals. Some, if not most, are followers, but do they all march to a band conducted by national government? Some do, but if it’s all we’re lost. I can’t be that pessimistic.

The President is the presiding officer of the U.S. Federal Bureaucracy. He’s the chief public servant. He’s not the leader of the country, much less the whole world. What are we teaching our kids anyway?

Qwest, Inc. – The Pride of Zimbabwe

February 16th, 2008

I’m writing this with my neck crooked over the phone. It hurts. I’ve been on hold for over an hour waiting to report an outage in telephone service from the monopoly landline provider, Qwest, Inc. This type of outage happens regularly, every time it rains here in Southern Arizona. This is why I call Qwest the Pride of Zimbabwe, a real third-world telephone company.

So much for public utilities monopolies! What else should I expect?

Muhammad’s Mad Mobs

February 16th, 2008

Even though it is not reported widely there is muslim rioting in Denmark again this week. It has lasted for over a week. The news reports, such as they are, go out of their way to blame the rioting on “Danish youths.” What a crock! These are North African muslims stirred up by the cartoon depictions of their beloved prophet Muhammad. I urge you to visit The Face of Muhammad to see the cartoons for yourself. Most of the U.S. newspapers haven’t had the balls to publish these cartoons at all, so you may have wondered what all the fuss was about. Now you know.

Grand Monuments and Repressive Regimes

February 11th, 2008

The Romanian tyrant Nikolai Chauchescu built grandly, huge buildings to hold and glorify his brutal regime. His largest building, the People’s House (later renamed Palace of Parliament), unfinished at the time of Chauchescu’s execution, has 3.5 million square feet of indoor space. It is now the world’s second largest building. The largest is the Pentagon.

Before Chauchescu the kings and emperors of Europe and Asia built grand palaces and castles. The Chinese Communists built the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmin Square. The Russians housed their tyrants, royal and communist in the Kremlin, and Rome housed its dictators in palaces. Hitler was a fan of grandiose architecture too. The interesting thing about this is that, as a general rule, the more repressive the regime, the more grandiose is the architecture in which it is housed.

Although we don’t know for sure what motivates this, it is a fairly safe guess that tyrants recognize a link between grandiosity in architecture and intimidation of the populace, a useful ingredient for tyranny.

But another aspect of monumental architecture is that it strokes the egos of those who work there. What member of the U.S. Congress, what staffer, would not have his ego inflated walking up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to go to work. What president wouldn’t feel more powerful and wise when living and working in the splendor of the White House, as compared to a normal home/commute/office experience?

How would you feel each morning walking up these steps to your office?

If you look around, you’ll realize that everywhere in this country the government buildings are larger, more lavish, more monumental than anything else around them. Is this really necessary? Couldn’t government workers and elected officials go about their business in regular commercial space, such as office towers and industrial parks, strip malls and detached office buildings? Wouldn’t this cost a lot less than housing government offices in monuments?

I’ve heard others respond that these monuments also bolster the patriotic pride of citizens. After all, “we are the government,” say my critics. We should take pride in these physical manifestations of American power and glory they say.

But let’s think about it clearly. Are we proud to be Americans because of government power and glory, or are we most proud of our freedoms and achievements as citizens. Do these monuments glorify America or the government they house? Is the government the master, or are government employees “civil servants”? Is there any symbol of patriotic pride more powerful or moving than the stars and stripes?

As for me, I think the monuments do more to destroy democracy than to glorify it. Even though the Lincoln Monument brings a lump to my throat and the capitol building leaves me in awe, I’d gladly see it all bulldozed and the ground salted over so nothing will ever grow there again. As part of that renovation only the essential constitutional functions of government should be relocated. They should be moved to quonset huts located in Kansas corn fields. This would provide government employees and elected representatives with an environment suited to the proper attitude about their importance and true role in American life.

See Quonset Hut below:

Mountain view optional:


At $10,000 per year, is the U.S. Government Worth It to You?

February 4th, 2008

The latest federal government budget or $3.1 Trillion is hard to comprehend unless reduced to bite sized numbers. With about 300 million U.S. population, this amounts to $10,000 per person, man, woman and child. Does the U.S. government provide you personally with $10,000 per year in services? Is it worth $40,000 per year for a family of four?

Or maybe you rationalize that someone richer is paying for it. Your family doesn’t pay that much. So why worry?

If anyone out there gets $10,000 per year (per person) in value from the U.S. Government, I’d like to hear in detail what services you’re getting that are worth that much. And then I’d like to know what portion of that you pay personally.

Reading From Right to Left

February 3rd, 2008

Has anyone else noticed that the press has switched from left-right to right-left? No, not politically, but syntactically. In the past one would write, “The mumbly has increased from 25% to 50%.” Now I’m jarred when this is written “The mumbly has increased to 50% from 25%.” Hunh, what does that mean? Stop and re-read that. Graphs normally start with the early date on the left working to the right, we read from left to right, why the change in the order of “from x to y” to “to y from x”? I’d really like to know how this came about. Was it a decree by some arbiter of journalistic English? Was it Arabic influence? Was it the work of the Brussels EU Bureaucracy?

And while I’m at it, how about another journalistic switcheroo. Since when has the left’s color been blue and the right’s color been red? I’ve always thought of the left as the “red” party and the right as the “true blue” party. What happened here?

There must be forces at work that I’m unaware of. A grand conspiracy perhaps? I hope not.