Archive for the ‘Behind Phoenix Republic’ Category

economic-collapse

A big part of writing is talking to readers about your book.  Actually, in my opinion, the most interesting part of writing is about talking to readers about what they think about the world.  As Phoenix Republic is a dystopian novel about a financial collapse of western culture, my discussions tend to be about what inspired me to write such a gloomy novel, or is something like what happened in Phoenix Republic really coming to America?  I often answer by asking people to scan the headlines and ask themselves if what they see gives them a feel for life in America today.  In the last couple of weeks we had some of the following headlines about stories that any one of which would have been earthshaking only a few years ago.  Today they are more or less all happening all at one time.  Here are just a few examples.

US Media Restricted at Border, Federal Agent Cites Safety Concerns

Bobby Jindal: ‘People Are Ready for a Hostile Takeover of Washington, D.C.’

Iraq Update: Air Force Runs Out Of Missiles, ISIS Controls The Border; Shiite Clerics Threaten US Troops

Think about it, there are signs posted in some areas of the US where authorities actually inform American citizens that the area is dangerous to travel in.  Tens of thousands of people are crossing our borders with no way to determine who they are.  As a nation the US has spent trillions of dollars on Iraq, which now appears to be collapsing almost overnight.  The Middle East could descend into civil war any day now.

Zero Hedge Map

If that happens, the price of oil will almost assuredly skyrocket. America burns 15 million barrels of oil a day while only producing 8 million barrels of oil a day.  Obviously we are bringing in 7 million barrels of oil a day from other places.  One of those places is the Middle East.  Instead of Washington DC working feverishly to secure oil from Canada and to dramatically increase our own production, it is working to reduce our capability and has killed the keystone pipeline project.  If war does break out, western nations will be in deep, deep trouble.

If this isn’t enough, consider that our National Debt is growing at an unsustainable rate.  Think about it.  Compare the percentage of GDP American leaders have committed us to now and what we were on the hook for just a few short years ago.  Come on.  Regardless of politics we all know this doesn’t work.  It isn’t magic.  If nothing else, think about it as if the numbers below were personal.  If you had a relative that borrowed $1,000 dollars on a credit cards every month in 2008 and were now borrowing $1,700 dollars a month today, or 99% of what they earned, you would think they were completely delusional and would be thinking about intervening.   Regardless of the scale of the problem, it is the same paradigm.

2008   $10,000,000,000,000,   or about 68% of America’s GDP

2014   $17, 000,000,000,000   or about 99% of America’s GDP

Where am I going with this?  I will tell you.  In my opinion, our country is too broken in too many places to ever fix unless we can find a way to address our issues honestly very soon.  As I have written about in other articles, there are two Americas.  We are dangerously divided and sadly, this is our biggest challenge.

In 2008 the economy came dangerously close to collapsing because crony capitalism / crony socialism is failing.  The federal government encourages people to spend foolishly and lenders are more than happy to borrow money at zero percent interest and loan it out risk free to borrowers.  Prior to 2008, Wall Street was all about selling mortgage derivatives which basically amounts to fractional ownership of a home loan.  The problem with this idea is that things can become unpleasant if the loan isn’t paid, and the owner of said derivative is using their stake in that asset as collateral on yet another loan.  The bottom line is that ownership become hopelessly conflated.  Good loans were packaged together with bad loans, resulting in a mortgage market where no one knew what something was worth.  As the bubble popped and prices plummeted, it became a death spiral.

Companies collapsed, Americans lost jobs, and in an effort to retain political power, politicians rushed in to pass legislation to make it look like they cared and had a plan.  It would not do to have Americans panic. Washington rushed in to create money out of thin air to throw at the problem.  Americans were incentivized not to work as unemployment was extended and extended again.  The thing is this.  As Washington DC desperately tries to retain power by bribing Americans, they mask the real issues so that they become impossible to fix.  Worse yet, they actually contribute to the problem.  As regulations and taxes increase anyone who actually is productive is forced to fail by the additional burden of government.

Let’s face it, America is primarily a statist nation masquerading as a democratic republic.  Beginning in 2008, the United States political leadership was shocked by a near collapse.  Political and corporate elites rushed to the breach.  They realized that their lifestyles depended on convincing Americans of three things.  They had to find ways to maintain the illusion.  (1) As with Rome, a nation in decline must find ways to pretend that things are not as bad as they appear.  (2) In similar fashion these leaders must find ways to blame someone for the problems faced by the country.  (3) Finally, it’s critical to increase federal power in order to maintain order.  Political leaders in a nation in decline must maintain the status quo to retain power.  These so-called leaders must make us all believe that they must increase the size of the federal government in order to be able to solve the problems facing the country.  They of course fail to mention that they are the ones that caused our problems in the first place.

Most Americans are so busy trying to make their individual lives work that they fail to appreciate the situation on the macro level.  In a nation approaching decline, not only must government have a scapegoat to blame citizen’s problems on, it must find reasons to control citizen’s behavior, to control people’s speech and their voluntary interactions, always with democratic sounding titles.  Things like Net Neutrality become a necessity.  Things like The Affordable Care Act must be imposed to not only control what you do, in this case control your health care, but they must control how you do it.  In other words, they must in some way control every thing citizens do because if they for any reason lost control their dominance would quickly be threatened.

In Phoenix Republic three sisters, Catherine, Megan, and Annie experience first hand what happens when an economic disaster strikes. Phoenix Republic is fiction, but the question is how long will the back story remain so.

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Justina Rally

(Photo credit: Keith Mason/Personhood USA)

The interesting thing about writing a blog is that it documents your thoughts, view of life and the world around you from a historical perspective.   In looking back over the past few months, it’s apparent that my outlook is pretty pessimistic.  The truth is there are stories every week about the innate goodness of people.  Americans are standing up for people they don’t even know all the time simply because it is the right thing to do.

Last week thousands of people got involved in the case of Justina Pelletier, a fifteen year-old girl who was essentially kidnapped by Boston’s Children’s hospital because doctors at Children’s disagreed with the doctors at Tufts Medical Center about the girl’s diagnosis.  Regardless that both hospitals are renowned medical institutions Boston’s Children’s Hospital violated the parents’ rights to make decisions for their child.  In an incestuous arrangement with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, custody of the girl was given to Children’s.  Only when thousands of Americans began calling state representatives and the hospital did the Children’s back away.  The world is a dangerous place, but when we stand together we can make miracles happen.

The primary point of writing these articles has been to relate current events to my novel.  Phoenix Republic is economic collapse story and thus it does have some dark moments.  It also has its share of hopeful elements, however.  While I wouldn’t try to make the case that I am Mary Sunshine, I really don’t think of myself as a pessimist either.  I think it’s important to talk about what current events might mean to every day Americans.  Yes, I am very concerned about Americans holding onto our freedom.  I lament that our form of government is being fundamentally transformed.  What was designed as a republic is rapidly morphing into something that resembles an Oligarchy, ruled by elitists, who are quite certain they know what is best for all of us.  Yes, I believe that the United States, as Republic of free men and women is in danger, but I also believe in Divine Providence.  I also believe that more Americans are waking up and standing up every day.  While the present disaster that is our current state of affairs in America is disconcerting and the country is in trouble, Americans are an amazing people.  If we can win enough hearts and minds to embrace freedom over collective coercion, we can once again reestablish America as a free country.

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This week I watched Frank Crapra’s  Meet John Doe.  Watching this wonderful old black and white film, made me realize how there is nothing new under the sun.  The movie is set in the Great Depression.   It is about an elitist progressive class working to corrupt a freedom movement that sprang up out of a newspaper stunt.  What’s wild is that I realized that I was really watching a current events movie.  While the times are dire, Americans, pulling together realize that they can make a difference, regardless of overwhelming odds.

We may be have two distinct cultures as I wrote about in A Tale of Two Americas, but even the approximately forty percent of progressive America still have our traditions in common with those of us who are inclined to be self-reliant and want to be free of government overreach.  The vast majority of us desire the same things.  We want an equitable country where everyone has a chance at living a good life.  Americans differ on how to achieve these goals, but at least the fundamental underpinnings of American life is something with which we can all agree.  My belief is that Americans are basically good, regardless of the superficial arguments made in Washington DC and in the media.  There may be progressives in the establishment political parties that wish to keep Americans at each other’s throats so that they can hold onto power, but I believe the truth will prevail in the end.  The whole reason for writing Phoenix Republic is to remind readers that each of us has it within us to achieve greatness.  Working together, even a small minority of committed men and women, determined to live free, can impact the hearts and minds of a nation.

The issue we run into in the United States is that we are all human, and we all have human weaknesses.   Progressives believe that citizens must be collectively forced to behave in a way that is beneficial to society while the freedom movement is about believing in individuals to make those decisions based on individual morals.  I often mention that the country is too broken in too many places to fix and that the social contract has been shattered.  While I believe this is true I also think that where there is life there is hope.  Over the past few months I have posted and pontificated at length about any number of gloomy news stories.   What I am thinking today is that while Phoenix Republicis about a dark economic future, but it is also about family and pulling together.  It is about standing on principle for what is right.  It is about faith and loving one’s neighbor.  To prevail over really bad outcomes, we must all find common ground and find ways to live and let live.  The good news is that there are stories every week about the innate goodness of people which show that there people doing what’s right for people they don’t even know.

Additional Resources

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/03/good-news-in-the-justina-pelletier-case/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/04/the-8-year-old-boy-who-did-something-incredible-for-a-soldier-now-wants-to-help-other-military-families/

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During my lifetime, politics in the United States has always been left versus right as represented by the Democratic and Republican parties.  Our popular consciousness holds that the “two party system” has always been a part of the American landscape, more or less, since the founding of the republic.  Yes, there have been any number of other parties throughout history, and a few of those have even had their members make it to the White House.   Many Americans are comfortable with the idea of a two party system and to be sure, the fragmented mess and coalitions that result in European governments can produce some strange bed-fellows.  Still, when one speaks of the two-party system, many people assume that what we have today are those two parties.  This has been the case since President Lincoln’s election in 1861, but prior to President Lincoln there were Federalist, Democrats, Democratic-Republicans and Whigs.  Throughout our history the United States has experienced seventeen third-party runs for president of the United States.  The net result of these efforts varied, but the average percentage of the vote gained by a third party  run is eleven percent with Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party taking over twenty-seven percent of the vote.

My point is this.  Political parties in the United States are living things.  Whenever a political movement becomes strong enough in this country, it gets absorbed into an existing political party, or one of the existing parties is defeated and ceases to exist.  People are people, and it’s only human for leaders of and existing establishment party to become arrogant.  The story of the Republicans rise to prominence is an example.  I posit that the Whigs simply refused to do anything meaningful about slavery.  They were more or less opposed to the idea of slavery, but the stakes were high and they preferred for political reasons to dissemble, to offer meaningless votes and act as if they were fighting slavery while all the while placating Democrat’s desire to allow the institution to continue.  That story sounds to me like today’s Republican Party negotiating with the Democrats over immigration, the debt ceiling or Obama-care.

They miscalculated.  Republicans swept to power on the votes of a largely moral and freedom loving public, which realized that the evil that was slavery must end.  The Whigs were destroyed, and their adherents were themselves absorbed into the Democrat or Republican parties.

Only fifty-one years after Lincoln’s election the Republicans were themselves tested by one of their own.  It was a just over a hundred years ago, a new century was dawning, and President Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t done with political office.  He wanted to “transform” the Republican Party into a progressive party.  He was short of money but won over twenty-seven percent of the vote anyway.  Those in power in the Republican Party were alarmed and reacted accordingly by moving sharply towards progressivism in order to capture those voters.  I argue that it was this election that killed the two-party system in the United States.  It wasn’t a quick death to be sure, but the Republicans have moved inexorably towards over regulating big-government since that time.

political modelIn the 1960’s LBJ’s “Great Society” moved culture sharply in the direction of dependency on government.  In the 1970’s the Democrats also had their own watershed moment.   The Vietnam War was raging and protests were both widespread and violent.  The Democratic Party basically “transformed” from being the party of liberal ideals to one of progressive socialist ideals.  What was once a progressive caucus within the Democratic Party seized power.  Like the Republicans before them, the Democrats have steadily moved towards democratic socialism.

Personally, it is my belief that since Lincoln parties have matured somewhat.  Politicians loathe giving up power.  Since Lincoln, the United States has settled into a pattern of Republican versus Democrat.  I don’t think that the American public suddenly stopped evolving politically, but rather that political leaders did a better job at maintaining the status quo.  In the 1860’s entrenched leaders knew well that they could be defeated and set out to make such an occurrence difficult to achieve again.

Now, a century later the progressive paradigm set in motion by President Roosevelt has fully blossomed.  Government controls every aspect of American’s lives, even violating the constitution upon which the republic was founded.  Whether from an honest desire to help citizens or just to obtain and consolidate power, today Americans are ruled by a one party system, the Progressive Party.  It has two wings, Republican Progressives and Democratic Progressives.  They put on a wonderful show and media types are more than happy to accommodate the theatrical performance that plays out in Washington DC or promote the endless debate on some pundit filled news channel.  They may have differences about what they want to control, but believe me, both wings of the party absolutely want the power to force Americans to submit to their all-knowing collective will.  If you have ever wondered why government excess is never dialed back, it is because the other wing of the party is always more than pleased to use the capabilities legislated by their predecessors to force its own will on America.

The problem today is that socialism doesn’t work.  It never has, but America is wealthy and there have always been ample sources of funding for progressives from both wings of the party to enact their schemes, or to buy votes.  The concern is that things are changing rapidly.   The days of the US dollar being the reserve currency may well be numbered.  More and more nations are moving away from the US dollar.  Nations like Germany have asked for their gold reserves to be returned.  OPEC which used to trade only in dollars for its oil is now making side deals with countries like Russia and China in currencies’ outside the dollar.  When Barak Obama campaigned on transforming America he was only putting icing on the cake.  The system is too broken in too many places.  Catastrophe is far too likely for my comfort.  Today’s political topology is not about an argument between the left and right, but about an argument between authoritarianism and freedom.  My concern is that both progressive Republicans and progressive Democrats are well aware that the clock is running out.  If that is true it would explain why leaders from the political class in both parties would fail to investigate the NSA spying on every American.  It explains giving the IRS and EPA a pass when they clearly break the law by illegally targeting political opponents.  It explains the unprecedented procurement by the federal government of literally billions of rounds of ammunition.  It explains why both parties overwhelmingly voted to authorize the indefinite detention of Americans without trial in the National Defense Authorization Act from 2012.  It explains the bailouts of the major corporate interests.  Ask yourself, is it at least possible that elites in the political industrial class are preparing for an economic tsunami.  If one assumes the political class believes this outcome is likely they would certainly need an authoritarian structure to ensure their retaining control.

A nation cannot endure with socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.  The greatest number of people in history have benefited by an economic process where free people served others by serving themselves.  Collectives don’t get out of bed in the morning.  They don’t risk what they have to try and make a better mouse trap.  They don’t work seven days a week, or work late into the night to achieve success.  Individuals do these things.  Where there is no individual incentive to prosper or where a collective steals too great a portion of the fruits of an individual’s work mediocrity is the inevitable result.  Phoenix Republic is a novel about what it feels like for an average American when this progressive leviathan collapses in on itself.  Maybe the Tea Party or some other freedom group will prevail and “transform” the Republican Party back to a political party that represents free Americans.  Maybe, like the Whigs, the establishment lions in leadership positions fail to see what is happening and a new party will be born, restoring two parties to the American political landscape.  The question in today’s rapid paced world is this.  Do we have enough time to avoid disaster?  Take a moment to do a search on Teddy Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose Party.”   History clearly acknowledges that the party was a progressive party.  Incidentally, while researching this week’s article, I noticed that four of the first six presidents, (March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1829,) of the United States of America were Democratic-Republicans…   Ironic, Isn’t it?

Additional Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/dont-cry-for-me-america-comparing-argentina-and-the-united-states/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-11-02/how-world-really-works-documentary

(Editor’s note:  I am not sure how I feel about this video.)

I agree that political and corporate elitist are working together against the best interest of the United States.  I am not sure that this video advocates for collectivism, but I did see some collectivist themes presented.  Regardless, it is good food for thought.  Things are changing fast.  It is imperative that we know what is happening around us.

U.S. Capitol. (Image source: Shutterstock.com)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about two Americas.   Regardless of political persuasion, an honest person would likely agree this is true.  If you are like me, you don’t like that this is true, but it is.  Socialist America is dominant today, but many Americans believe the progressives have pushed too hard.  With over regulation, they have intruded too far into our lives, and with quantitative easing along with trillions (A trillion equals a million millions) of dollars borrowed, they have stolen too much from the American people.

Socialist leaning Americans don’t seem to care, but I suspect that many of these Americans simply don’t understand for what they are advocating.  They are by and large good people who care for others.  Like any of us, these Americans want everyone to have a better life.  They want good paying jobs, healthy food, and safe place to live for people everywhere.  I know that I want these things for everyone.  The problem is how to accomplish this goal, and what the unintended consequences might be.  The real issue is that progressive leaders in both parties have lied for so long and mischaracterized so many issues that honest debate is all but impossible today.  Democrats like Harry Reid and Barack Obama have called leaders of the Freedom Movement any number of names and blamed them for anything and everything negative that has taken place in this country in recent years.  What many Americans may not realize however is that Republicans like John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch are saying the exact same sorts of things about the Freedom Movement and its leaders.   Instead of thinking about the political fabric in America in only dimension, left and right, may I suggest a two dimensional model?  Both Democrats and the Republican establishment are more interested in controlling people than they are about doing what is right for the country.  I believe that what we are seeing is the birth of a new paradigm.  The national conversation of import now, is the debate around authoritarianism versus libertarianism, or if you like, being managed by so-called experts versus freedom and self-governance.

In Phoenix Republic, Americans in the novel were involved in their day to day live to day lives.  Like most of us, those who cared about politics typically thought of it as a Republican versus Democrat team sport.  What is interesting is what happens when people are really pushed up against a wall by circumstances.  Characters in the novel learned that whatever team they supported politically, it did them little good when reality overwhelmed the narrative provided by the media and elites in the political-industrial complex.

We are indeed two Americas!  Unfortunately the media controlled narrative is rarely substantive.  It is a team sport with Americans on either side of the debate more interested in playing gotcha and blaming the other side for all evils, either perceived for real.  America is a great a noble nation, populated by amazing people.  At least Americans are amazing people when we want to be.  Far too often however it is too easy to shirk our duty because we have bills to pay and kids to look after.  Life’s a challenge in the best of times.  All I know is that we are approaching a nexus in history.  I can feel it in the events that take place each day.  I can see it in the attitudes of our countrymen and women.

If we can’t talk honestly about things as men like Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz are trying to do, then I want a divorce!  I am not saying that the country should split up but rather that we need to find a way to give states back more sovereignty.  The federal government should do dramatically less and states whose citizens wish it can do more.  Socialism should be a state by state decision, not something forced on all three-hundred million people at gunpoint.

I don’t bear socialist Americans any ill will, but I cannot live with them. I get that life isn’t perfect, but socialism is slavery. Americas have all been turned into slaves of the corporate / political class. Political elites, acting for GE or Chase bank or any other Wall Street entity have stolen my children and grandchildren’s money and future. Some say what we have isn’t working. That is true. What they don’t realize however is that what we have is socialism and not capitalism. Trillions of government dollars stolen from ordinary Americans and given to bail out the corporate elites and billionaires is just evil. It simply cannot continue.

If you even possibly agree with any of this article, share it with others.  It is so critical that Americans begin really discussing how we can best be governed.  We must find a peaceful way to live free. I refuse to bend to socialist slavery, even if my brother and sister Americans demand it, even if those I love insist on it.  The beauty of the American experiment is that we don’t have to.  The answer to our dilemma was designed into our constitution by the founders.  Federalism is the key.  States whose citizens want government managing their lives can be paternalistic while states that embrace individual freedom can exist free of government overreach.  We just have to accept that we are different people and stop trying to force others to exist under our paradigm.

Additional Resources:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-11-02/how-world-really-works-documentary  (Editor’s note:  I am not sure how I feel about this video.)  I agree that political and corporate elitist are working together against the best interest of the United States.  I am not sure that this video advocates for collectivism, but I did see some collectivist themes presented.  Regardless, it is good food for thought.  Things are changing fast.  It is imperative that we know what is happening around us.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/30/this-is-what-the-fed-had-to-say-today-about-its-multibillion-dollar-policies/  It seems clear that the current system is in trouble.  It is a time in history that we must all be really awake.

Come and Take It I had dinner with a colleague on Friday who was visiting Texas from another state.  With her was her dear friend who was visiting the US from England.  My dinner companions were very nice; we a lovely time and the discussion was lively.  I was intrigued when at one point the discussion moved to the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to defend themselves, if necessary, with deadly force.  This same spirit of self-reliance was seen by freedom loving Americans this week standing up for the Second Amendment  in front of the Alamo.

Our English dinner companion appeared to be a little surprised to learn that in Texas is isn’t at all surprising for average citizens to routinely carry a weapon as they go about daily affairs.  I explained that although many Texans don’t carry a weapon daily, most of us do believe it is our individual and personal responsibility to defend our lives and property.  It is not only our right to defend ourselves, but it truly is a duty to defend not only ourselves, but those around us as well.  In effect, the individual citizen truly is the “First Responder.”  In our republic the citizen is supposed to be an active participant in governance and in self-defense.

She asked a couple of questions before sharing a story about a man in England, who as I write this article, is standing trial for killing someone who broke into his home.  It occurred to me that the difference between this situation happening in England and the same event happening in Texas is all about how citizens in each culture view things.  Moreover, it goes to the root of the disconnect individualist and collectivist Americans have in how we view the world.  In authoritarian governments, such as exist in much of Europe including England, people have become subjects dependent on the government for their needs, including their safety.

From a cultural perspective there really are two Americas today.  While there still are millions of Americans who believe we are individually responsible for ourselves, our prosperity, and in fact for defending the lives of our families, there is an ever increasing number of Americans who see the world very differently.  This other American culture has a collective viewpoint.  This perspective is oriented specifically to the idea that someone else is responsible for their well-being.  These people are comfortable with government defending their lives and property, making economic decisions that impact their lives, and even in making medical decisions regarding who lives and dies.

To be brief, some people are only comfortable in the role of a child and desperately desire to have someone else in the role of the parent.  They want someone else, an expert perhaps, to be responsible.  While this analogy is probably a little derisive to those holding a collectivist viewpoint, I really don’t intend it to be.  I am only using the parent – child metaphor to highlight the relationship regarding who holds responsibility for a person’s well-being.  Going back for a moment to our English connection, consider the historical idea of a King being sovereign over his subjects as contrasted to the American concept of a Republic where citizens are sovereign.  America was constructed around the idea that men and women are capable of ruling themselves.  Think about it.  Regardless of where your comfort level is concerning your individual responsibility for your own welfare you cannot serve two masters.  You are either sovereign or you are not.  At the end of the day you can be responsible for your life, or you can delegate that responsibility.

The problem America has today is that we want to think we are free, but too many of us don’t really want the responsibility.  Face it, life is tough.  Life is scary and bad things can and do happen to good people.  For many of us, it is comforting to think that there is a government safety net for those who need it.  My point today isn’t about how to best achieve the best result with regard to public assistance, but rather about the ownership of decision making.  By its very nature the government accrues to itself the decision making authority that should belong to the individual.  It is only fair for those paying the bills to make the rules, right?  Anyone care to guess how many times we might have heard this line growing up:   “As long as you live under my roof, you will do as I say!”

How many conversations have you had with someone about some tragedy or another, where someone will say, “The government should do something about…”  That is the child within each of us that wants mommy and daddy to make the world right.  When I look at the world today, what I see is a nation, the vast majority of which are nice hard working people who genuinely want to stop others from hurting or in some cases even from facing the consequences from their own behavior.

When debating someone about the Second Amendment and gun-control, I often have someone ask me why I need a weapon, or if not that, why an assault rifle.  The obvious reply is the Constitution of the United States guaranteed my right to any weapon I can afford, but that doesn’t address the person’s core issue.  What they are really saying is that they have trust issues with other people in society having the right to a weapon.  Most of these people are really nice and only want violence to end.  They have ceded the right to self-defense to government and with it their responsibility to defend themselves.  They have faith that someone else will be capable of defending them.  They believe that if only guns were not allowed the violence would end.   Presenting statistics that prove America has an extremely low gun violence rate, once you factor out gang-related murders in cities with absolute gun control in force, is meaningless because of the emotional impact of tragedy’s hyped by the media.  These horrific events are just too great for them to cope with emotionally.  It makes them nervous when they see someone who still embraces their God-given rights.  Regardless that a criminal will not adhere to the law, they simply want mommy and daddy to make them feel safe.  It is tragic to see the results of what a crazy person with a weapon can do, and all of us just want it to end.  Many Americans simply want to feel safe and that someone is caring for them.  The same emotion applies to the government’s so-called war on poverty or the government’s takeover of medical care.  This week’s battle in Washington DC over healthcare clearly illustrates that many Americans have outsourced the responsibility and the duty to care for themselves to government.  They don’t want to have to think about any facts, they just want their lives to continue without any impact from reality.

The differences in this country are not about Republicans or Democrats, they are about world view.  In Phoenix Republic Americans must learn to cope with what to do in a world where mommy and daddy cannot be trusted to help them.  If you pick up the novel, let me know how you would react in the same situation as Megan, Annie or Kate.  The point of the story is about individuals maintaining their dignity and their faith in challenging times.  Even without an economic disaster, all of us face hard times at one point or another.  Maybe it is a good idea to think about how we would want to react as people and as Americans.

Additional Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/19/thats-what-americas-about-armed-gun-rights-activists-rally-at-the-alamo/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/14/food-stamp-glitch-leaves-walmart-shelves-bare-like-a-tornado-had-came-through/

In my novel “Phoenix Republic” readers are witness to Americans doing their best to live their lives.  My characters have family issues, deal with moral dilemmas at work, and worry over how to put food on the table and pay the bills.  Does that by any chance sound familiar?  My thought is that Americans have lives and kids to take care of.  We have to get homework done, take our kids to the doctor, or just complete the grocery shopping.  So, unless you just happen to be a political junkie or a glutton for punishment, the battle for freedom is likely not your highest priority to keep up with.  I sometimes get frustrated with my friends and family who are so completely unaware of what is going on in the country or for that matter, the world.  I have to keep reminding myself that everyone is busy and to be honest, keeping up with what the political class in Washington DC is really more than the average citizen can or wants do.  It would be easier if those in the aforementioned political class were honest enough to act on the promises they make when they are back home.   Sadly, that is just not reality.  Politicians from both parties will say or do almost anything to get elected.  That is just the way life is.  What is dangerous in today’s world is that we are creating a culture where the truth doesn’t matter.  We expect them to lie.  This expectation has grown into something frightening.   It has grown into acceptance.  We no longer care that Anthony Weiner is a dirt-bag.  He was a serious candidate to be Mayor of NYC regardless.  Mitch McConnell has been caught on tape branding senators from the freedom movement as traitors for standing for the constitution.  I guess we shall see if these leaders are driven from office.

Sadly, this isn’t the case.  Whether you are referring to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, or any of the numerous Republican cowards in the Senate or house such as Senator John Cornyn, or Senator Mitch McConnell, the thing these people all have in common is they say what they must to get elected, then they arrogantly disregard the wishes of the American People to continue their lifestyles as Pseudo American Royalty.   Thank God for the instant communication of the internet that is available to everyone.  It is making it harder and harder for these two-faced leaders to effectively lie to us.  Mr. Obama promised “hope and change”, The Republicans all go around promising to do everything they can to stop the destruction of the American healthcare system with the Socialist policies signed into law as a result of “Obama-Care.”

My point, and the point made in “Phoenix Republic” is that throughout history when the social contract is broken, trust is gone, and with the loss of trust we lose the ability to negotiate.  It is critical to avoid the loss of trust because when people are unable to talk reasonably with one another conflict becomes inevitable.  My concern is that those in power have so abused the authority given to them that the American People no longer know who to believe.  News organizations fail to mention key stories, or slant coverage to support an agenda.  Politicians look Americans in the face and tell us bald-faced lies with no consequence.  Is it any wonder that we see our family, friends, and neighbors beginning to fragment along ideological lines?  I don’t think the political elites in Washington DC and the media elites in New York or in LA really understand what time it is.  I fear that they fail to comprehend that Americans get their rights from God, not from Washington.  In the “Phoenix Republic” citizens are forced to stand up for freedom.  Standing up for freedom is something Americans have always done.  I believe that it is something that we will always do.  My thought however is that in real-life it is imperative for Americans to do everything possible to avoid conflict and to work together to avoid a complete break-down in communication.  The news may be covering a story about the government shutdown, but the real story of importance is about Americans as individuals running out of patience with and completely disingenuous ruling elite.  It is imperative that we stand up for our rights and reject the government’s consistent violations of our God-given civil rights, but it is also imperative that we all remain peaceful as we do so.

Click Picture to read story:

The theme of the Phoenix Republic is about decision making in the face of adversity and about one’s perception of the world.  Most Americans live more or less normal lives and progress through their day by doing routine activities.  There is comfort in having a stable environment, and I believe that most of us are willing to give up quite a lot to maintain a comfortable status-quo existence.  We go to work and pay our bills, and do our best for our families and friends.  We all hope for something better and do our best to avoid any of life’s pit-falls, but for good or ill, we live our lives within defined parameters that for the most part, make us feel reasonably safe.

In the novel, my characters, Kate, Megan & Annie, like most Americans, are living normal lives.  The crux of the story is about what choices they make when the course of events destroys the status-quo and their familiar routine is forever altered.  Like us, my characters have a reality-bias that colors their perceptions about what is happening to the world around them.

As I read news stories these days, I find that more and more, I am seeing the elements of a H.W. Bush’s “New World Order” fall into place.  Reading these articles I wonder if I am reading more into a story than there is or am I seeing a glimpse of what is to come?  I would like to think that I’m clever enough to accept my “reality-bias” and move on to judge what I am reading on its merits, but we are all only human.  Probably the best one can hope for is to be awake enough that one is able to recognize disaster before it visits tragedy upon us.  No one wants to be the tourist on that beach in Sumatra in 2004, who actually went to out onto the beach when the sea receded just ahead of the tsunami.  It’s a perfect example of reality-bias.  Tragically, so many of those lost that day just could not imagine what was coming.

Is it possible that so many of our politicians, like the tourists on that beach, are busy wondering why the sea (in this case, our economy) is behaving out of character?  It’s easy to look at the Ivy League credentials on the resumes of today’s elites from the political – industrial complex, and think that they surely understand the scope of our problems and will be able to fix them.  Today’s culture all but demands that we trust the so-called experts, regardless of what our own intuition may be telling us.  Furthermore, part of what seems to come with an Ivy League education and a progressive world view is a notion held by our leaders in government and those leading major corporate entities, that they know what is best for everyone.  In the view of many of these self-appointed elites, the average American is just too dumb to manage their own lives.

Click picture to see interview.

Regardless of the paradigm popular culture presents, that the primary political battle today is between Republicans and Democrats, the real battle is actually between Statists, (Authoritarians if you like) and the Freedom movement, (Libertarians).  Progressives in both parties may quarrel on the surface about any number of issues, but it is becoming more and more apparent both of the GOP and DNC are about maintaining the status quo.  Parties are made up of human beings, and like any human being, they want to maintain their power at any cost.  Do you ever wonder that election after election after election, nothing really changes?  There is a reason for that.  The reason is that neither party really represents average hard working men and women.  While I am sure that they care to some extent, they are more concerned with winning the next election than doing what is right for the country.  They are more concerned with their party staying in control and paying off their supporters than they are with making smart decision for Americans.

Remember that arrogance I referred to earlier?  Many of our leaders today, in and outside of government simply feel that they are just too brilliant to ever risk the American people losing the benefit of their genius should they be defeated for doing what is right over what is popular.  This kind of thinking justifies all sorts of compromises and makes it all but inevitable that disaster will strike.

As the battle over the continuing resolution rages over whether or not to exclude Obama-care from funding, it is more than obvious that the GOP establishment is working hand in glove with Democrats to destroy anyone who opposed the status-quo.  Senator Ted Cruz of Texas along with Senator Mike Lee and a few others realize that America cannot survive unlimited spending.  We cannot retain our freedom if our rights are regulated, (for our own good, of course), more and more every year.  These brave men and women are making a stand and as a result the establishment politicians, down on that beach, are outraged.  How dare these people take it upon themselves, they say, to go against the collective wisdom of their elders?  It’s becoming obvious that the establishment power players in both parties enjoy their perks and are willing to destroy their own colleagues to maintain their power.  This is not a new story, but I think that it is becoming a more visible one.  Hopefully Americans understand what is happening and make political decisions accordingly.

Sara Palin said: “We’re now, once again, subjected to the “anonymous sources” backstabbing game.  The Capitol Hill cowards are rushing to anonymously denounce Senator Cruz to any reporter with a pad and pen.

The question in Phoenix Republic and for each of us is what decisions do we want to make?  Do we go down to the beach, believing what we are told, that the economy is recovering?  Or do we make our own decisions based on what we see before us.  Already businesses are cutting hours for their employees to get around Obama-care.  Americans, who are barely making it now, will soon face the ominous reality that Obama-care is making health care completely unaffordable. If you aren’t in one of the elite groups favored by the Political – Industrial Complex, or on the staff of a congressman who are exempted from this law you will be left to either pay more or do without.

Most of our political leaders in both parties are on the beach trying to figure out where the sea went.  Mr. Bush and now Mr. Obama have created trillions of dollars out of thin air to try and forestall economic disaster.  Perhaps they hope that they can regain people’s trust and get us all spending again.  Possibly Americans borrowing and consuming will reignite America’s economic engine and lead to job creation, but I believe that the truth is that they are just out of their depth.

When I was a senior in high school, in 1979 – the United States had faced a similar, although much less difficult economic challenge.  We had Stagflation…  Wages were not rising but goods and services were.  There were long gas lines and I recall constantly having to help to change prices on food at the grocery store where I worked as a checker.  Fed Chair, Paul Volcker raised interest rates to battle out of control inflation.  He was able to get away with this action because in the 1979 America was vastly stronger than it is today.  Americans were nowhere nearly as in debt.  Today, even without considering United States Government debt, Ben Bernanke is faced with the fact that private sector debt-to-GDP is dramatically higher today than in 1979.  With both government and private debt this out of control, rising interest rates would be very, very painful.  It is an open question if the government would survive this kind of inflation.  All that the Political – Industrial Complex can hope for is that they can continue to increase the quantity of money and pray that Americans are too asleep to notice dramatically rising prices that are vastly reducing purchasing power of our debased currency.

Personally, my plan, as Sara Palin would say, to “Woman up, stand my ground, and fight like a girl!”

Additional Reading

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-09-22/guest-post-gold-and-monetary-inflation-prospects

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/20/unemployment-rose-in-these-states-not-ready

 

The breakdown of a society begins slowly at first but picks up speed as everyday life deteriorates.  Tyranny often begins when free citizens willingly give up their freedom to achieve security.  Visitors to Hitler’s Germany in the 1930’s, prior to World War II, often related tales of how exciting and marvelous Berlin was under the Nazis.  In reading Erick Lawson’s book, In the Garden of Beasts, United States Ambassador, William Edward Dodd’s daughter, Martha Dodd went on and on about how wonderful she thought Germany was at the time.  She was completely blind to the darkness building in people, especially government people, who surrounded her.  If you have Netflix, and like older films, take a look at the 1980’s mini-series, Winds of War, by Herman Wouk.

From a historical perspective, life pretty much goes on normally if you consider your daily experiences from a narrow enough perspective.  It is only when we take a step back that we notice the changes.  In January of 2001, who would have thought that we would have to submit to being felt up or have to get nude scans by government employees just to get on an airplane?  Would you have accepted it if President Clinton suggested a program where the NSA would be capturing every telephone or electronic communication in a massive data-center?  Probably, you wouldn’t.  Although examples of government abuse have always been in the news, would you have been stunned then if you learned that the Federal Government was actively going after political opponents with the IRS to sway an election?  Richard Nixon did that of course, but as I recall he was forced from office in disgrace.  Now a couple of decades later our current president tells us that even worse behavior a “Phony Scandal.”

My point is that if one’s culture degrades slowly enough, like the frog in the being slowly cooked in a pot of water, its only human nature to dismiss behavior that is only incrementally more outrageous than what we have become accustomed to.  The danger that we face is that if things deteriorate too far, the gradual decline can suddenly become a very rapid collapse of our culture.  In Phoenix Republic, my characters live though just such a transition.  At first, things are more or less normal.  The world has problems, but from the point of view of people living in the fictional world of my novel, it has always had problems and always would.  In a matter of weeks, the fictional world of the novel moves past the mundane and into an unprecedented crisis.  People are forced to deal with an unthinkable dissaster.

In preparing to write Phoenix Republic.  I began to take notes from news stories that were actually taking place.  Although fictionalized for the novel, many of the events in Phoenix Republic really did take place in real life.  Yesterday, while at work I thought about how crazy things are in the news these days.  It still gets me when something insane is reported.  I think, wow, that would be a good one to write about – to point out where we are on the road to Gomorrah.  My thought is that the key to surviving drastic upheavals in culture, is to be awake enough to recognize when the gradual change is about to go viral.

Today we see the EPA telling people that are nowhere near water that their property is a wetland.  We see voter fraud cases dropped by the Justice Department regardless that those cases were all but won, while just recently Mr. Holder’s Justice Department decided to go after the state of Texas for voter ID laws.  We see our administration threaten war in Syria, with or without congressional approval, while being outraged by the former progressive president doing the same thing with approval.  We see citizens protesting government intrusion by the NSA, IRS, and other agencies, but could care less that even worse intrusions happen under the political party they support.  As in my novel it appears that that the world is heating up.   Not sure when things go over that proverbial cliff, but I do believe there is too much in our world that is too broken in too many places.

Forever Changed Documentary Chronicles the Horrific Christopher Newsom Channon Christian Murders...and the Years of Injustice That Followed

Have you ever read a news story and shake your head and wonder how something so terrible could happen?  Let’s be honest, human beings have a great propensity for unspeakable violence.  Genghis Khan killed entire villages if they did not immediately surrender to him.  In Rwanda it is estimated that at least five-hundred-thousand people were murdered because they were from the wrong tribe.  Today in the Middle East, the genocide against Christians is sickening.  On the other hand, human beings also have an amazing ability to sacrifice for others, or for the good of the cause.  Many men willingly stepped aside so that women and kids could have a chance to survive aboard the Titanic.  Every day first responders rush into harm’s way as they did on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

In Phoenix Republic my characters, Kate, Megan, & Annie are witness to the result of an American culture which struggles to cope with disaster.  In writing this story, I constantly had in mind what motivates Americans.  I don’t know about you, but in my experience most of us take an action to achieve something we want or we react to actions taken by others.  One’s culture influences one’s behavior and shapes what we consider to be reasonable, right?  What happens when what is right or wrong don’t really matter?

All of this is obvious, right?  The past couple of days however I have been thinking about some of the more noteworthy crimes that have been in the news of late.  I wonder what goes through a criminal’s mind as they commit the most horrific atrocities.  The cases I am referring to have all taken place in the United States and were committed by Americans.  In one instance in Georgia a seventeen year old young man shot an infant in his stroller because the mom didn’t have any money for him to steal.  In another case from 2007, a college couple was car-jacked in Tennessee and beaten, raped, and tortured to death in a manner that Saddam Hussein would have difficulty topping.  More recently, any but the most completely oblivious of us are familiar with the young Australian man that was brutally gunned down because some teenagers were bored.  Notice all of these locations were not in places like Washington DC, New York City, or Chicago where the death rate rivals war zones in the Middle East.  While I’m well aware that Americans have done some truly awful things, I don’t really think that I have seen such a general decline in American values amongst youth in the general population.  The truth is that kids in America today are killing people without remorse.  While reporting is much more intense today that doesn’t account for this level of carnage.  According to FBI statistics murders are down in the US, but while overall quantity is diminished, something has and is changing in fabric of America.  We are seeing atrocities like the ones noted above with much more frequency.

To be clear, when referring to values here, I am not referring to whether someone is in church on Sunday, gives to charity, or supports a particular political party, or religious dogma, but rather I am talking about a fundamental empathy for other people.  In the last month, I have seen news story, after news story, after news story, of teenagers and or young adults’ brutally robbing, raping, and killing people.  These people not only were willing to really hurt others, but these animals even go after babies and the elderly with absolutely no remorse or feeling.  Some people in this country are more than willing to inflict horrific evil on others.  My question is how can one be human and commit such evil?

The only answer that I can come up with is that the range of what people are capable of is really wide open.  What it comes down to is how individuals perceive life, justice, and how they were taught to value or not value human life.  In other words, our culture is what informs a society’s humanity.  I happen to believe that we have at least two cultures in this country.  One culture values the individual and personal responsibility and the other culture values the needs of the collective over the needs of individuals.  When the collective is the important factor, individual crimes become secondary to the need of the collective to push an agenda.  We hear about “Social Justice” not “Justice.”  We are told that we must understand the historical context and the upbringing of criminals.  Who the victim and perpetrator are matter more than blind justice.  Sadly, media and the political elite in America today are more concerned with obtaining power and influence, and of course, making money than with the need to uphold what used to be our core values.  We hand out trophies to everyone regardless of achievement and tell our children that they should feel good about themselves regardless of their actions.  Yes, our kids are entitled to anything they want, they think.   If they happen to be bored, then taking a young man’s life is just something they deserve to get to do.

Should we be surprised then that far too high of a percentage of these kids grow up to be monsters.  In 1930’s Germany, Adolph Hitler prompted much of the same value sets that we see valued by pop-culture today.  I surmise that it is a handy thing to devalue individual worth, God, and moral behavior if you intend to make an all-powerful state into God and the final arbiter of morality.  I would posit that the same darkness of the soul that allowed Germans to watch passively as Hitler took six-million Jewish German citizens from their homes to be murdered is the same darkness that we see coming to a boil around us.  In Phoenix Republic, the much of the story puts on display what it might look and feel like to the average person what evil might look like if good people do not stand up for what is right.  Like us, my characters have to take that look in the mirror and commit as individuals to do the right thing by others.  Media and politics is a powerful influence in our culture, but it is a reflection of society.  The next election will not solve the nation’s problems.  Only we can do that one person, one family, one community at a time.

Additional Reading:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/30/justice-teen-found-guilty-of-shooting-13-month-old-baby-in-the-face-as-his-mother-watched-in-horror/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/13/the-gruesome-story-of-a-murdered-tennessee-couple-you-may-have-never-heard-about-but-that-you-will-never-forget/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/19/student-randomly-shot-dead-by-gang-of-teens-just-for-the-fun-of-it-police-say/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/02/elderly-buddhist-monk-savagely-beaten-and-left-for-dead-in-oklahoma/

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2013/january/early-2012-crime-statistics

ben-bernanke

Phoenix Republic is a story about average people, sisters, overcoming their reality bias and surviving a titanic shift in the economic underpinnings that make modern life possible.  The story is about what it would be like for a normal person to hold on to their faith, to hold on to their ethics when faced with dramatic change to the very fundamentals of the foundation their lives are based upon.  This blog is about relating the novel to every day events.  This week I was intrigued by something called the “Hindenburg Omen.”  What is it exactly?  Well it is basically a set of technical benchmarks that Keith Fitz-Gerald of www.MoneyMorning.com  noted, has predicted every major market inflection point since 1985.   If the omen occurs twice in a 30 day period, it’s up to 90% accurate in predicting market selloffs resulting in at least a 5% correction within 45 days.  Currently, this set of metrics has occurred 5 times in the last 8 trading sessions.  I was sufficiently intrigued to see what articles might be available.   Looking at www.Zerohedge.com I noticed some interesting data points.

People, corporations, and the government at all levels are carrying more debt than they did in 2007.  The Federal government is in fact carrying 60% more debt than it did in 2007.  Interest rates have risen by 80% in only three months and regardless of the media’s pontification, the economy is obviously still in recession.  Stocks are as overvalued today as they in the “Great Depression” or prior to the housing crash in 2008.  As in Phoenix Republic, not only the United States, but the entire world seems to be hanging in the balance, held together by lies, delusion and false promises.  What might be the result when the music stops?

Like the fictional characters in the novel, most of us have a generally optimistic outlook regarding our future.  That is to say we are more or less optimistic until conditions begin to rapidly deteriorate.  As I read through the headlines over the last couple of weeks, I am captivated by the similarities between our current situation and the reality that the Third Century Romans faced.  For them, corruption, over spending, and security pressures caused arrogant leaders to make mistake after mistake as they sought to maintain their power.

Due to political leaders leveraging Rome to maintain their lifestyles they felt entitled to, and as a result of constant attacks by determined enemies, the financial underpinnings of their civilization became untenable.  The Severan emperors continually dealt with increased budget demands by inventing new taxes, debasing the currency, (quantitative easing…), confiscation of property owned by the rich, (paying their fair share…), and eventually selling imperial assets.  As the strained budgets resulted in declining infrastructure within the empire, the military also suffered as increasingly the cash strapped government was forced to begin relying on lesser quality soldiers from outside the empire, (the Barbarians).  As you might expect productive Romans, especially in the provinces, revolted, further weakening the empire.

It is frightening how familiar the story is to our current paradigm.  As Mr. Bernanke announced an end to quantitative easing, what will be the effect on the markets and thus our lives?  Rising interest rates will hit everything from home and car loans to credit card borrowers to people with leveraged investments.   My thought, is just maybe we should all be wide awake and staying frosty as events unfold.

God bless and good luck!