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September 24, 2007


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Bob Ellis

I have a solution, but not too many people will like it: let's play grownup and learn to say "no" when people ask for unreasonable things.

Or better yet, let's act grownup and start doing things for ourselves, and expecting others to do the same if at all possible.

I recall when I was a teenager, a frequent theme among a number of science fiction stories I read back then involved civilizations on other worlds where the people became so lazy (in these sci-fi cases, usually because they had so many capable robots around to do everything for them) that their society--even their whole races--eroded away because they lost the will to do anything at all--even procreate.

Though I have always enjoyed flights of fancy, I used to shake my head at such a notion, finding it incomprehensible that intelligent beings could reach the point that they could no longer do anything for themselves.

But this story of needing government help to become more dependent on government help...maybe those sci-fi writers were onto something, after all.

bill fleming

"Unreasonable things" and "...if at all possible"... those are key phrases, Mr. Ellis. Thanks for including them. (Don't look now, but your collective conscienceness is showing.)

Bob Ellis

You're welcome, Bill. However, "unreasonable" and "if at all possible" are usually defined differently by liberals.

Liberals usually consider no request for aid "unreasonable." And liberals, as the article Sibby cited illustrates, usually consider anything that requires forethought, analysis, effort, responsibility and sacrifice as falling within the realm of "not possible."

What I (and most generations prior to the advent of socialism) consider "unreasonable" is asking others to do for me what I should be doing for myself. It isn't "unreasonable" to expect me to figure out and pay my own bills. It isn't "unreasonable" to expect me to figure out insurance paperwork. It isn't unreasonable to expect me to exercise caution, plan ahead, make sacrifices, and take responsibility for my needs and the needs of my family.

Most reasonable people for most of human history have considered the things I just mentioned to be "possible" except for extenuating circumstances which cannot be foreseen or avoided. For instance, when a primary wage earner in the family suffers a catastrophic illness (one not brought on by substance abuse or other risky behaviors), a family may experience financial devastation. If they are unable through no fault of their own to make ends meet, it then becomes the responsibility of their extended family (1 Timothy 5:4, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 Timothy 5:16) to help them. Family will always be in a better position than government wealth redistribution to (1) determine the need, (2) gauge the veracity of the need, (3) render the required assistance, and (4) help the needy person get back on their feet.

Need which arises because of recklessness, irresponsibility, risky behavior, poor planning, failure to educate oneself, and an expectation that others will bail them out is unreasonable and unnecessary. Those who have failed to understand this due to a bad family background or a rebellious attitude can be taught the better way by other family and private charity, but if they remain unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, then they can and should be left to be taught by the school of hard knocks and the law of consequences.

"Socialized socialism" (or any socialism) is unAmerican, tremendously wasteful, and harmful on many levels, including weakening the family and creating dependence where none need exist.

bill fleming

Thanks Bob. I had a conversation with some friends the other day who were willing to stipulate that some of us, without means, just have to be willing to die earlier than those that have resources. What do you think about that? I thought it was incredibly brave of them. And very, very sad, considering the promise America has made to its citizens. Why? Because in my personal experience, wisdom almost never comes from the wealthy or the young.

Bob Ellis

Again, you're welcome Bill. Though it appears that everything I said previously shot over your head at mach 3.

What promise has America made to it's citizens? To provide their every need from womb (if they live to get out of it) to tomb? If that's the kind of promise to which you're referring, can you point that out to me in any of our founding documents? I don't remember anything in the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence for that matter, though I do recall in the Declaration an acknowledgement that certain unalienable rights (not handouts) came from God (not government), and that the right of pursuit (not guarantee) of happiness was included among these.

Or are you referring to the tremendous OPPORTUNITY America provides? If that's the case, then I feel compelled to point out that "opportunity" has a very different definition than "provision." In America we have equality of opportunity, in that any of us can accomplish whatever we want to, within the bounds of our physical and mental limitations, provided we are willing to invest the time, energy, commitment, dedication and sacrifice to make it happen. Provision, on the other hand, is usually what is given to us, and we have no promise of that beyond what God grants in His benevolence (and then only when we don't behave contrary to what He has told us is productive).

The ones "without means" to whom you refer, I also feel compelled to ask: why are they without means? Did they fail to listen to their elders when their elders tried to teach them wisdom and responsibility? Did they fail to learn when they were in school? Did they take reckless risks that didn't pay off? Did they wait for others to do for them what they could have done themselves? Do they feel cheated because they weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouths? Do they somehow feel it's unfair that another person worked hard and went the extra mile and is now wealthy, while they simply waited for a fortune to fall out of the sky that somehow never fell out of the sky? Are they without means because, despite having the education, training and ability to do a job, someone or some institution irresistibly oppressed them and robbed them of opportunity? Do they lack means because of the family or caste into which they were born? Are they disadvantaged because when they were children their mama put them in a corner and fed them biscuits with a slingshot?

Really, I want to know: why is it these great masses of people "without means" are indeed "without means?"

Perhaps if we knew that, then their families or some private charity could (1) determine their need, (2) gauge the veracity of their need, (3) render the required assistance, and (4) help the needy person get back on their feet.

Then no one would have to "die earlier" than the rest.

bill fleming

Bob. Lets drop the "over your head" shots, ok?
You don't want to go there with me, my friend.

The rest of your post is somewhat less objectionable to me, except that you ask questions of me that could best be answered yourself by your abstractly assuming less and directly observing more.

bill fleming

Bob says, "What promise has America made to it's citizens?"

This one, Bob:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

bill fleming

"PROVIDE for the common defense.... PROMOTE the general welfare.... SECURE the blessings of liberty to ouselves and our posterity.... By this I infer, Bob, that the Founders intended to create a government that nurtures each and every one of its people and their children, and their children's children, individually, to the fullest extent possible. And further, I don't see any other reason the US Government was formed, do you?

bill fleming

"...to form A MORE PERFECT UNION." Hmmm, the first priority. Implicit here is that there was already some kind of UNION in place, but it was not properly serving the people as "perfectly" as the founders were hoping it could. Pop Quiz for Sibby and Bob: What kind of "Union" was in place for Americans before the adoption of the US Constitution? And for extra bonus points, how and why did it need to be "perfected?"

bill fleming

"...to form A MORE PERFECT UNION." Hmmm, the first priority. Implicit here is that there was already some kind of UNION in place, but it was not properly serving the people as "perfectly" as the founders were hoping it could.

Pop Quiz for Sibby and Bob: What kind of "Union" was in place for Americans before the adoption of the US Constitution?

And for extra bonus points, how and why did it need to be "perfected?"

Bob Ellis

I'm sorry if you were offended by my statement that what I had said "went over your head." I didn't set out to offend, just made an assessment based on what I saw.

I'm glad you found the rest of my post less objectionable. However, I abstractly assumed very little, and the vast majority of what I said was based on years of observation.

Just to give you a little background, I grew up pretty poor (I say "pretty poor" because while most people would probably be appalled to know how small our family income was, I never felt deprived) on a rural farm. Sometimes poverty happens in the farming industry (it's one of those few areas where you can bust your butt and still end up with nothing), but while we were poor we were determined not to be trash. We never had much, and while most of the other kids had a lot of things I didn't, and got to do a lot of stuff we couldn't afford to, we never asked the government to take something away from someone else and give it to us.

I had plenty of relatives who did, though, and knew plenty of others outside our family who did, also. They had the same opportunity as anyone else, but squandered it because they chose to be stupid. Chose to. They could have sucked it up and exercised responsibility, but it was too easy to make screwed up decisions based on their animal desires, then expect others to bail them out. And most of them wasted what little they did have on beer, smokes, and an endless procession of wasteful habits. Many of them made bad marriage choices and ended up going from the frying pan into the fire. And most of them are still living in the same place they were when I was a kid: Nowheresville. Because they never learned that if you keep living by a counterproductive lifestyle, things are just never going to magically become productive.

I continued to see this pattern of behavior through my years in law enforcement, usually responding to the same house calls and arresting the same people over and over again. They just never seemed to learn, because there was always some bleeding heart liberal there to make excuses for them, always some "poverty advocate" or other enabler there to get the government to create a safety net for them, so that they never had to deal with the unfiltered consequences of their actions, well-meaning but woefully misguided people were always there to keep the consequences from being bad enough to motivate them to wise up and start acting right.

And as I've tried because of my commitment to Christ to reach out and minister to many people stuck in a cycle of poverty over the years, I continue to see the same things I saw as a cop and when I was a kid. So many people are stuck in that cycle of poverty because as unpleasant as it is, it's less trouble staying there than it is to do what's necessary to break out of it. Our current system of enablement (e.g. socialism) even makes it difficult for someone to help them, because if they become impatient with our efforts to teach them to fish, they can always tell us to take a hike and go find some government program that'll give them the fish without requiring them to work for it.

In our great land of opportunity, there's no reason for anyone to be in want. For most people, if they'll just embrace a positive work ethic (something outlined in the Bible), while they might or might not get rich, they'll never lack the essentials. And for the remaining few hard-hit because of a catastrophic illness or economic reasons beyond their control, there is enough means to spare among their relatives to temporarily aid the person who is genuinely committed to returning to meeting their own responsibilities.

A parent who loves their child doesn't teach them to just accept the lowest common denominator. A loving parent doesn't teach their child, "Go for the low-hanging fruit, Johnny!" A parent who genuinely cares for the well-being of their child doesn't teach them this lesson: "You know, Suzie, this world sucks. Everybody is unfair and will just cheat you. Everything is stacked against you. The "man" is out to keep you down. You can't succeed and do things for yourself anyway, so don't even try. You don't have what it takes to figure out life for yourself, so why bother. Just find someone who can do things for you and make decisions for you. That's how you should live your life."

If we can agree that this isn't the loving, compassionate thing to do in a parent-child relationship, what makes it "compassion" to treat your brother or friend or neighbor or the guy across town the same way?

One final thing, Bill. Somehow, I knew if you could come up with anything from the founding documents of our country to try and support your misguided socialist tendencies, it would be the "General Welfare" clause. Note, however, that it says "promote" the general welfare, not "provide" welfare. Note also that the primary meaning of "welfare" (at least before FDR's Raw Deal) meant "state of well being."

Consider what these Founders had to say about the General Welfare clause:

- Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. - Thomas Jefferson

- With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

- I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison

- Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison

The Founders didn't pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor (and in many cases, their blood) to secure a government handout--they worked for the FREEDOM and OPPORTUNITY to do for themselves, and to live their lives as they saw fit. The U.S. government wasn't formed to provide for the material needs of its citizens, but to provide a safe, just environment in which we can all create our own destinies.

It's very sad, Bill, that you seem to believe the United States was founded simply to provide material benefits to it's citizens. Freedom is worth so much more.

trent dlugosh

Bob and Sibby I'm just wondering if you will acknowledge that what has happened in the past may have some impact on what happens now? Do you really believe that everyone has the exact same opportunities and everyone else? Like it or not Bob oppression has happened in the past in this country and even though it is not as prevelent or outwardly apparent today, it still exists. Just because you don't see doesn't mean it's not there. Do you believe that the way we treated Native Americans and African Ameicans in the past has no affect on the way they are treated today or the way they look at society?

I'm glad I'm not related to either of you by the way. My mother lives 15 hours from both myself and my brother and if she needed help with insurance paperwork after my father passed (which he hasn't thank goodness) I would be grateful for any help available to her. Why is that so objectionable to you?

bill fleming

Bob, I don't really disagree with anything
you said except for one thing:

Freedom is a given, the Constitution doesn't grant it.

On the contrary, it was written
to "Secure the blessings of liberty."

You yourself know this from the DOI.

It is a self-evident truth that we are born free — regardless of our birthplace. Freedom can only be limited, compromised and surrendered, never granted. All men are fundamentally free, even if they are born slaves, that's why they rebel and why revolution happens.

I think in some ways that might be what you're talking about, (poor people somehow voluntarily surrendering their liberty) but I'm not sure if you've ever really looked at it that way.

Most people haven't.

Anyway, you're argument would make a lot more sense and be more coherent if you couched it in those terms, don't you think?

Otherwise, it's just you wagging your index finger at me and my flipping my middle one back at you.

I think we have more in common than that.

Bill Fleming

Sib and Ellis, don't give us "sad". Give us "backbone."

Are you willing to fight for the blessings of your fellow American's liberty, or not?

If not, then just get out of the way, ok?

And try not to confuse the issue.

Steve Sibson

"Secure the blessings of liberty."

Bill, it is:

"Secure the Blessings of Liberty."

Blessings with a capital "B" means our Liberties are from God. Then indeed it does tie to the DOI which states our rights come from "Our Creator".

Steve Sibson

"Sib and Ellis, don't give us "sad". Give us "backbone.""

What are you talking about Bill. It is the Argus Leader report that is talking "sad". It is Bob and myself that has the "backbone" to stand up to the anti-God, anti-American, anti-family left.

Bill Fleming

I don't have a dispute with that, Bob, although I do have a somewhat different context in which to hold it.

For now it is enough that you agree with me that we didn't ask Great Britain to grant us our freedom, we declared to them that we knew — and were willing to die for the fact — that we already had it.

p.s. The capitalizations don't automatically signify the Divine, Bob. But if you want to be romantic, pedestrian, sentimental, quaint, obscure, illiterate, and obtuse, and believe that they do, that's your call. OMHO, it has no relevance to this phase of our discussion whatsoever. I say, let's address it later. We have fresher fish to fry right now.

Steve Sibson


It is Steve Sibson that you have responded too. Your spin has been exposed in regard to the capitalization issue. There is no other way to understand it but that Blessings of Liberty is from God. The DOI made it perfectly clear.

Bob Ellis

Thanks, Steve, for allowing me to share my thoughts on this issue on your blog. I think I've made my point about as clearly as I can, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, as the Master used to say. Our world today never fails to demonstrate the truth of that old saying: you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

Keep standing firm for freedom's sake, my friend!

Bill Fleming

I don't think you guys "exposed" anything other than your desire to change the subject. But thanks for the chat, fellas.

bill fleming

Any student of English literature knows that the rules of capitalization weren't standardized until the late 1700's. In the eyes of the modern reader, 18th century texts are full of excessive punctuation. It is a convention that has its origins in the Germanic roots of the English language and has nothing to do with referencing the divine.

For proof, I offer this link to a copy of two pages from "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine. Surely you don't expect us to believe that every word that is capitalized here is being referenced as coming from God, do you? Notice on the 2nd page the word "Government" is capitalized even as the author writes " but Government in its best state is but a necessary evil..."

And in the introduction where he says "In the following Sheets, the Author hath studiously avoided every Thing which is personal among ourselves."

Clearly Steve, Thomas Paine's own Common Sense writing style reveals the fallacy of your "divine capitalization" theory.


Steve Sibson


Again you argue a minor point and not look at the total picture. The DOI states our rights come from "Our Creator", and that leaves no doubt that the Blessings of Liberty are from God. Blessings of Liberty do not come from man, that would be tyranny.

bill fleming

But that's just it, Steve, I'm not arguing that point. You seem to want me to argue it, but I don't dispute it.

I know what the DOI says. I'm saying that the Constitution was written to "secure" those blessings, not create them.

You're just saying the same thing I'm saying and trying to pretend that I'm saying something different.

Why are you doing that?

I think I know why, but I'd rather have you tell me. That way I won't be putting words in your mouth the way seem to want to put words in mine.

Bill Fleming

In case you missed it, Steve, here's what I said above:

"Freedom is a given, the Constitution doesn't grant it.

On the contrary, it was written
to "Secure the blessings of liberty."

You yourself know this from the DOI.

It is a self-evident truth that we are born free — regardless of our birthplace. Freedom can only be limited, compromised and surrendered, never granted. All men are fundamentally free, even if they are born slaves, that's why they rebel and why revolution happens."

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