Sunday, December 29, 2013

Resolutions and rebates...

  Its resolution time again. I try to make a couple every New Years, and if I’m lucky I keep at least one of them. Some I keep longer than others. Exercising more and eating less have never made it past January 18th of any year, but 2013 did mark my 25th year in a row without drinking any alcohol, and my second year without drinking any soda pop. For 2014 I felt that I really don’t have too much that I can or want to give up, so I’ve decided that instead of doing something less, I’m going to start doing something else more.

  While cleaning off my desk a while back, (no dear, I’m not resolving to start cleaning my desk off more often,) I found several rebate coupons from one of those big box stores where I occasionally buy building materials.  I intended to fill them out and send them in before they expired. I didn’t.

  Not being much of a shopper, I never saw the attraction of rebates anyway. I always figured that if a company was going to give me a 10% rebate on something, it would be a lot simpler to just take that 10% off when I bought the item, thereby saving both of us the paperwork and the postage. I suspected they offer rebates because there are probably a lot of people like me whose good intentions of returning them seldom make it to fruition.

  My suspicions were confirmed a couple of weeks ago when a family member who works for a company that offers rebates told me that on average, about 5% of the rebate coupons they hand out are returned with the proper paperwork and by the proper date. I suppose I should take some comfort in the fact that I’m not the only rebate procrastinator out there, but I don’t. I also suppose that if everybody, or just about everybody, started sending all of their coupons back in, the companies would probably decide it would be more economical to just discount the merchandise in the store in the first place.

  We’re sort of in the same situation with our federal government right now. When the Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution about 223 years ago, the founding fathers put in the 10th Amendment, which states that The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  It would no doubt be a lot simpler if the federal government would simply stick to its delegated duties right up front, but it’s becoming more and more apparent in recent years that it has no intention of doing so.

  What that means is we as people and states have to step up and nullify laws and regulations that the federal government is imposing on us without having the Constitutional authority to do so. Legislators in South Carolina and Georgia recently introduced bills to nullify federal attempts at controlling health care and firearms in those states. More states have similar bills on similar issues in the works. It takes a little more effort on our part, just like sending in for a rebate. We shouldn’t have to, but if we want our freedom and our money back, that’s what it takes.

   I’m sure the folks in Washington won’t be overly concerned about a couple of states and a few individuals exercising their 10th Amendment protections, any more than those businesses are about 5% of their customers collecting rebates. But if enough people and states do it, it might just convince them to follow the Constitution in the first place.

  So if you’re still looking for a New Year’s Resolution for 2014, why not consider mailing in those rebate coupons, and putting people in office who will actually uphold the Constitution.

  It’s not about giving something up. It’s about taking something back.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

What's in a name...

  I haven't won many awards in my life. Certainly not many major awards anyway.

  I did manage to win the Thomas Paine Award from the Libertarian Party a few years back, but other than that it was mostly just a few red ribbons and such along the way.

  Back in October of 1968, I was a new member of the Hagerstown Explorer Post #3, and we went on a canoe trip  down the White River. The water was a little high and rough from some fall rains I guess, and at one point all of the canoes except the last one in the group were swirled around a giant tree and capsized.

  Never having attained my merit badge in swimming, I grabbed onto a tree limb in the raging waters and held on for dear life, convinced that the life jacket I was wearing was probably as defective as the guide that had led us into such a hazard in the first place. In a matter of seconds, my tennis shoes were swept from my feet, never to be seen, at least by me, again.

  While the rest of the troop was gather up was gathering whatever equipment and rations they could salvage from the flood waters, one of our scoutmasters, Bob Beeson, was standing on the shore, shouting "Bill! Bill! Just let go and you will float down to us!" I wasn't sure who or where Bill was, but decided it was probably my best bet to hang onto that limb until the water receded.

  It was then that another of our leaders, Floyd Sanders, tapped Bob on the shoulder and informed him that my name was Rex. The new instructions gave me a little more confidence, and in a couple of minutes I was on dry land and ready to resume the adventure.

 At our next meeting, Floyd presented me with a name tag and this:

 He called it "The Barefoot Boy Award." Now that was a major award. I've kept it for 45 years.

 Floyd passed away this morning at the age of 78. I was proud to know him, and I'm awful proud he took the time to know my name. Otherwise, I might still be hanging onto that limb down on the White River.

  Thanks Floyd, it's been good to know you.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Dear Abby...

I’m no stranger to advice. Like most people, I’ve received a good bit of it in my lifetime, sometimes solicited and sometimes not. And like most people, I’ve also given it in both manners. I suppose that also like most people, I’ve rejected some good advice and accepted some bad advice along the way.

  In my younger days, I’d have to say that life was usually easier, even if it wasn’t always as much fun, when I took the good advice, but the lessons learned from taking the bad advice seemed to stay with me a little longer. It also seemed to make a difference if I considered who gave me the advice in the first place. Most of the advice my parents gave me could have been considered sound, but looking back, much of the advice I took from my old buddy Stinky Wilmont resulted in one of those not so enjoyable life lessons.

  One thing about advice, good or bad, is that we can take it or leave it. And what might be good advice for one person might very well be bad advice for another, and sometimes even though the person giving or receiving the advice might consider it good, there is always the possibility that it might end up bad.

  A couple of weeks ago, I drove down to Mississippi to visit my son and his family. Although I’ve made the trip several times, I keep a GPS in the car to remind me of exit numbers and needed lane changes when I get into heavy traffic. Somewhere in Memphis, the device advised me to leave the road I was on and merge onto another road that eventually ended up in Nashville.

  Now, I’m not much of a traveler, and I don’t normally consider myself intelligent enough to question computers and satellites, but I decided this time I was being given some bad advice, so I just ignored it and drove on to my destination. That’s not to say I’ll never accept advice from our GPS again, but I’ll probably be a little more wary it, much like I became more wary of accepting advice from Stinky after a few learning experiences.

  As I mentioned earlier, that’s the good thing about bad advice. You can take it or leave it. Depending on who is giving it, of course.

  Our government spends most of its time giving us advice, and most of the time that advice comes in the form of some law. Laws are a lot like advice in the respect that some are good and some are bad. Of course, they’re not so much like advice when it comes to taking or leaving them.

  Being of the Libertarian persuasion, and a strong advocate of individual freedom and limited government, I tend to give a lot of unsolicited advice concerning the role of government and its laws. Most Libertarians believe government and laws should exist to protect us from force and fraud. It’s generally considered good advice that a person shouldn’t harm their neighbors or take their property, and it always works out better if we all take that advice.

  Laws that exist because someone in Washington thinks they have a better idea on how you should manage your life and affairs, or on who should benefit from your labor or charity, need to be removed from the law column and placed in the advice column, where you can choose to take them or leave them.

  Otherwise, this nation that was founded on the concept of individual freedom and limited government could end up going down a bad road.