(An annual blog tradition continues - original 2003 post here.)
The US Department of Labor has a webpage on the history of Labor Day. The DoL describes the spirit of the holiday thus: Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Why do we have a holiday dedicated to only one element of commerce? The "strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country" is dependent on five factors:
Liberty. Laws regarding commerce and property rights are relatively fair and consistent. Taxation levels, while far from ideal, are such that (except in a few areas) they do not choke out business startups and growth. The streets are free from warfare and from government pogroms.
Culture. Society generally encourages private-sector employment; in several African nations, by contrast, the college-educated gravitate heavily toward government jobs. The rate of crimes against person and property, except in various urban neighborhoods, is not so high that businesses are driven away.
Entrepreneurs. These are the people responsible for the organization of an entire company, the establishment of its entire product line, and the assumption of the risk inherent in the venture.
Investors. Businesses must be financed. Outside sources such as banking institutions and stockholders routinely invest in established businesses, and occasionally provide capital for startups. Investors assume some degree of risk.
Labor. Traditionally this term is used to signify all non-managerial positions within a company. I use it to refer to include all non-entrepreneurial positions in a company. The common usage of "labor" and "management" insinuates that managers (including entrepreneurs) don't really do anything, that their organizational duties isn't really "work." I use "entrepreneur" and "labor" to distinguish between those responsible for an entire company and those responsible for portions of it.
Happy Commerce Day! Drink a toast to the Bill of Rights, peaceful citizens, Bill Gates, Wall Street, and all your coworkers.
"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." - Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969, 8:17PM GMT (3:17PM EST)
This video shows highlights of the live television coverage of the Apollo 11 mission.
Checking with a U. S. Naval Observatory site on Sun and Moon data (hat tip to Chicago Boyz contributor Jay Manifold), it appears that the moon was visible in all the lower 48 states at the time of the landing. Somebody with enough foresight could have pulled off the ultimate photo-op - a photo of someone's living room with the moon visible through a window, with the TV turned on at the time of the landing.
[UPDATE: If the moon was just rising over California, that means it was setting, or close to it, over the Baikonur Cosmodrome. How's that for timing?]
The space race, however, provided a clear-cut competition. And the Moon was the Big Enchilada, since poorly educated people are not much impressed by low Earth orbital stuff, but even African tribesmen are well aware of the Moon, can easily grasp the concept of walking on it and intuitively understand that it's not an easy feat.
The simple fact that the Americans walked on the Moon and the Soviets did not made both the elites and the populations question Soviet claims of their superiority and boastful promises of the inevitable victory in the Cold War.
One cultural legacy of the 1960s space program was the Major Matt Mason astronaut toys. I owned two action figures and Mattel's concept of a lunar rover - the red tractor-like Space Hauler and accompanying Space Bubble, visible at the top left on this page.
July 20, 1969. The Apollo 11 mission was the first live news coverage of an event I remember watching on TV. I was eight years old and living in Gulf Breeze, a town on the southern edge of Escambia Bay across from Pensacola, Florida. My mom still has a 1969 issue of (either Life or Time, I think) featuring this image on the cover. (Other images available here.) Jay Manifold has some musings here.
I recall someone recently commenting that for the 20 minutes that Michael Collins piloted the command module behind the moon as the LEM was on the surface, he was the most alone that any human had ever been. May there come a day within my lifetime when space travel is far less solitary.
Original posted July 4, 2002. Most years a change is made:
2003 Original image of WTC replaced with mini-collage of WTC, Liberty Bell, and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. 2004 Image of young girl celebrating the liberation Iraq; LOTR quote. 2005 Iraqi girl image replaced by Iraqi voter; Cathy Seipp quote via Samizdata. 2006 Viktor Frankl quote 2007 Oriana Fallaci quote 2008 William F. Buckley quote 2009 YouTube video, scene from "John Adams" miniseries 2010 Tea Party protest sign 2011 YouTube video essay of the Battle of Yorktown
The scene from "John Adams" shows the meeting of the Second Continental Congress, at which the vote for independence from Great Britain is conducted, and (at 3:07) the public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration formally proclaimed our independence - the Battle of Yorktown won it.
Through these fields of destruction Baptisms of fire I've watched all your suffering As the battle raged higher And though they did hurt me so bad In the fear and alarm You did not desert me My brothers in arms
Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms"
"Then I will live in Montana, and I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck, or possibly even a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?"
Vasili Borodin (played by Sam Neill), The Hunt for Red October
"'We hold these truths to be self-evident... That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights... That among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness... That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men ...'. And this paper that from the French Revolution on the whole West has copied, from which each of us has drawn inspiration, still constitutes the backbone of America. Her vital lymph. Know why? Because it transforms the subjects into citizens. Because it turns the plebes into people. Because it invites, no, it orders the plebes turned into citizens to rebel against tyranny and to govern themselves. To express their individualities, to search for their own happiness. (Something that for the poor, for the plebes, means to get rich). The exact contrary, in short, of what the communists used to do with their practice of forbidding people to govern themselves, to express themselves, to get rich. With their practice of installing His Majesty the State on the throne."
Oriana Fallaci, The Rage and the Pride
"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
Martin Luther King
"There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance."
William F. Buckley
"The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden - that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"Funny that the same people to whom diversity is a holy word so often bemoan diversity of opinion as divisive. But in a democracy, politics are naturally divisive: you vote for this candidate and someone else votes for that one; you vote yes (or no) on a proposition and other citizens disagree. What's not divisive? Saddam and his 99.96% of the vote. That's how it went during the previous Iraqi election -- an illustration of the Latin roots of the word fascism, which actually means a bunch of sticks all tied together in one big unhappy unified bunch, and not (despite what many assume) any variation from p.c. received-wisdom regarding gay rights, affirmative action, bilingual education, etc. This election was different because it was divisive, which means it was better."
"It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something...That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
Sam Gamgee (played by Sean Astin), Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
"[W]e recognize that we are living in the middle of the most overwhelmingly successful experiment in human history. Not perfect. Just the best place in the world to live in, that's all."
"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own."
Number Six (played by Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner" TV series)
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
This Tea Party protest sign illustrates Roosevelt's musings on patriotism - and the powers of the citizen as exercised via the ballot box:
"So this Jefferson dude was like, 'Look, the reason we left this England place is 'cause it was so bogus. So if we don't get some primo rules ourselves - pronto - then we're just gonna be bogus, too."
Jeff Spiccoli (played by Sean Penn), Fast Times at Ridgemont High
"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America Vol. 2
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way"
My Father's Day post of 2007 is now an annual blog tradition. It has applications for the relationships revolving around both our earthly fathers and our heavenly Father.
Most Christians have no problem getting along with non-Christians. This may seem confusing to some; after all, Christianity teaches that those who are not reconciled with God will not receive salvation. Why care about people who aren't going to Heaven?
One could say that while a particular non-Christian is alive we really don't know that that person's eternal destination won't make a course change at a later date. That's a valid observation, but not the real reason.
Christianity makes a radical claim about the relationship between believers, nonbelievers and God: we're all family. God created the souls of all, thus he is the father of all, believers and nonbelievers alike. All of the children have gone astray - but some have reconciled with him while others have not.
When one is faced with the earthly parallel - being in good standing with Dad while some of the other siblings aren't - one is charged with three tasks: to build and maintain the relationship with Dad, to build and maintain the relationships with the wayward siblings without doing anything that interferes with the paternal relationship, and to act as a bridge between the wayward siblings and Dad. That third task is tricky; there will be occasions to discuss the rift outright, but most of the time it involves nothing more than being a positive influence to that sibling.
Christianity works the same way. Loving God doesn't mean giving up on non-Christian friends. We may have to reassess what kinds of "fun" we pursue with them, though. (Heck, sometimes we have to reassess the "fun" we pursue with fellow Christians.) Witnessing to nonbelievers isn't all Amway sales presentations. Most of the time it's just bringing good to someone's life.
The hardest part of doing good to others is when it requres criticism. We see them doing something destructive, and we want to help. We need to effectively communicate what the problem is, how it hurts that person, and how the future can be better when that problem is dealth with.
Most Christians grasp all this, even if they haven't thought it out as thoroughly as outlined here. They care about both believers and nonbelievers out of the same human motivations that drive us all, and because they believe in a God who values everyone.
Case Against Party Planner Refusing To Serve Gun Club Heads To The Supreme Court
(Roiters) Baltimore Gun Club v. Stroud has landed on this year's United States Supreme Court docket.
In June last year, members of the Baltimore Gun Club approached freelance party planner Celine Stroud to organize a party planned in honor of the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, the landmark case that struck down several Federal firearms laws and held that the Second Amendment protects the individual's right to possess a firearm. Stroud refused, stating that she could not in good conscience participate in a festivity celebrating an event she rigorously opposed.
The club hired a different party planner, and days after the event filed a discrimination suit against Stroud. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights ruled that Stroud had violated state anti-discrimination law and ordered Stroud to pay several thousand in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs. The Maryland Supreme Court upheld the decision, and Stroud successfully appealed the U. S. Supreme Court, which will hear the case in early May.
Stroud claims that the ruling violates her First Amendment free speech rights. "Party planners aren't like the pizza delivery guy who just drops off food and goes away. We work with the client to put the event together, to create the activities and entertainment and atmosphere the client wants. We - along with cake bakers, entertainers, photographers, and the like - are essentially paid to be part of the celebration. It is unconscionable for the government to determine what its citizens must celebrate."
Her legal team cites Wooley v. Maynard as the key to her defense. The 1977 decision ruled that a state cannot compel motorists against their will to display a state motto (in this case, New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die") on their motor vehicle license plates. An amicus filed regarding a similar case, also also citing Wooley, stating that "speech compulsions are generally as unconstitutional as speech restrictions," and that such a compulsion "invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control...Creating expression...requires sympathy with the intellectual or emotional message that the expression conveys, or at least absence of disagreement with such a message."
Stroud complains about media misreporting of the case. "The talking heads keep saying I'm discriminating against gun rights supporters. I'm not. I've planned parties for some of the club members in the past. I am discriminating against a certain type of event."
Musician Ted Nugent quipped to one reporter that if she loses her case, Piers Morgan should buy out her business. "Second Amendment patriots are boycotting him, so that way she doesn't have to do any more RKBA parties."
In 2006 I mulled over the idea that instead of having a Martin Luther King Day we should have a Civil Rights Day, so that we can have a single holiday for all civil rights crusaders, and, for symbolic reasons, it shoudl be set on July 5, the day after we celebrate out nation's independence. As stated in that post, I had originally considered that Civil Rights Day replace Labor Day, but I have long since settled on the latter holiday giving way to Commerce Day, a day for celebrating all the contributors to our economy and not just labor.
A July 5 holiday for any reason is even a bigger pipe dream than Commerce Day, and the MLK Day tradition is already firmly entrenched, so from this day forward I will recognize the third Monday of January as Civil Rights Day. Dr. King will always get a little extra notice for being the one to inspire the holiday, but the table of honor will feature all civil rights leaders past and present.
For years I'd heard news stories about debates over whether or not to establish an official Martin Luther King holiday, and never did anyone report the arguments against. I always suspected that one was that we had way too many day-off-of-work holidays as it was. Having one three weeks after Christmas does seem a bit superfluous. MLK Day would be only the third national holiday named after a person, the others being Christmas and Columbus Day, commemorating the chief catalyst for Western culture and the chief catalyst for extending Western culture to the Americas. (In the case of the latter, make that Western cultures; English and Iberian influences were vastly different.) Some, I imagine, feel that only those rare individuals who have had such a radical impact should have holidays named for them. Dr. King isn't in that league; the only Americans who are are the Founders; their holiday is July 4.
Here's my argument against making January 15 [Update: MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January, which happens to fall on the 15th in 2003] an official holiday: it's not fair to everyone else involved in the civil rights movement. Independence Day isn't just about one guy. We have a holiday for all those who made the Declaration of Independence happen. We should have a federal holiday called Civil Rights Day. It would be like Memorial Day, honoring leaders of past civil rights struggles instead of soldiers of past wars.
“Since a teacher’s working conditions are a child’s learning conditions, attacking teachers is the same as attacking children.” – Randy Mousley, president of United Teachers of Wichita. (February 9 Wichita Eagle)
I posted this comment at this Facebook post: Here's the problem re fiscal policy. Fiscal leftists accept the Second Theory of Thermodynamics, that a closed system will eventually achieve entropy. They recognize the relevance to economics, that true growth cannot be achieved without inputs from outside the system. Unfortunately, they believe that the wealth of The Rich™ is external to the economy.
And over at Instapundit, which reports that Oklahoma lawmakers are actually going through the effort to propose this law...
Under Kern’s bill, students couldn’t be punished for possessing small toy weapons or using writing utensils, fingers or their hands to simulate a weapon. Students also couldn’t be punished for drawing pictures of weapons or wearing clothes that “support or advance Second Amendment rights or organizations.”
...I said this:
Has anyone noticed that the state of Oklahoma is shaped like a battleship turret?
If the law passes and its constitutionality is successfully challenged, Oklahoma will have to change its map. So will Idaho, BTW.
While Christmas is officially a celebration of the birth of Jesus, for much of the Western world December 25 has come to be a celebration of family and community. No other time of the year is so thoroughly saturated with images pointing to our highest hopes for such relationships - and no other time of the year so effectively highlights the difference between our ideals and the world as it really is. Jesus came to Earth to bridge not only the chasm between humanity and God, but also that rift that separates people from each other. Christmas reminds us that we live in a broken world, and it seeks to encourage us by showing us through religious and even many secular trappings how that brokenness can be fixed.
Rand Simberg links to this Marsblog post, which remarks on American media attitudes toward the general public (emphasis added to this and all following excerpted material):
Bluntly put, there is an elitist expectation [among the media] that the intolerant and easily-led dupes in flyover country might rise up in violence if told the whole truth...that -- like children -- the ignorant public at large must be protected from the unpleasant facts, since they cannot be trusted to integrate such information rationally and formulate a response which these elitists would approve of as sensible and reasonable. The press must therefore act as a gatekeeper, concealing the truth lest the redneck mob draw the "wrong" conclusions and be roused by some jingoistic demagogue to the pogroms and crusades which are its nature.
I was reminded of an incident during the 1992 presidential debate in Richmond, which I quoted in a recent comment thread at Samizdata:
The most notorious example of this [debate] format lending a platform for people who seek to be pampered by the nanny state was that pony-tailed guy from the 1992 presidential debate in Richmond who got up and asked then President George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot: "[H]ow can we, symbolically the children of the future president, expect the two of you – the three of you – to meet our needs."
I also recalled something I once read in a tale told by John Fund, which fortunately I was able to find documented here. He describes an encounter with several teenage girls in a department store during a 1984 trip to East Germany:
"We [Fund and his traveling companion(s), unnamed in the article] showed them our passports; they showed us their identity papers and told us a little about what it was like to live in a small town in East Germany. One of the girls told us, for example, the economy was so run-down that, when she lost an air valve on a bicycle tire, there was no way to replace it. People didn't have much money, but what was worse, there was nothing on which to spend it.
"Our travel visas expired at midnight, so by dusk we were on our way back to the glittering lights of West Berlin. The girls came along to the train station to bid us farewell. They had never seen the Berlin Wall, but they knew it was close. They gradually slowed their pace and stopped on a street corner just before we reached the railyard. One said, "You know, we really shouldn't go any further. We are not Berliners. If we are stopped, the guards will ask us why we are so close to the border zone.
"As we stood in the growing darkness, a feeling of incredible sadness came over me. here I was, in my mid-twenties, free as a bird. I wasn't rich, but I could go anywhere in the world from that street corner. They could not go another one hundred yards. Their world ended at the Wall. They could not go any further.
"... I asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. One said a beautician, one said a nurse, and one said a teacher. But the oldest and wisest, whose name was Monica, looked up at me with the most sorrowful face I have ever seen and said very slowly, 'It doesn't matter what we become when we grow up. They will always treat us like children.'
"... That sentence really defines Soviet communism in its waning years. There were very few knocks in the dead of night; people were rarely taken away to the gulag. There were very few summary executions. Instead, there was an insufferable and widespread paternalism. It was a dark cloud hanging over citizens. It weighed down their spirits and prevented them from maturing. Worse of all, it kept them from becoming that which was best within them.
"We parted almost tearfully. Monica and I exchanged addresses, and every year or so a postcard would come from her, and I would send some little trinket in the mail. She wrote that she had applied to a university, but she was rejected for her unacceptable views. She managed to get a job in a veterinarian's office."
Monica eventually came to the US, and Fund arranged for her to speak to some high schoolers:
"I swallowed my doubts and arranged a talk for Monica. It was a disaster. The students weren't openly disrespectful, but they whispered constantly during her remarks and now and then a spitwad would rocket across the room. Even the quiet students were simply uninterested.
"Finally, Monica opened the session up to questions. A girl asked, 'Why in the world would someone want to build a wall in the middle of a city?' She clearly had no understanding why this had happened or what historical forces were at work, even after Monica had told her story.
"As we walked out of the classroom, I tried to explain to Monica that not all young Americans were like this. She looked at me, and once again I saw that same sad, pensive face I remembered from a street corner in East Berlin. She said, 'John, please don't explain anymore. I've been in America for three weeks now, and I've learned that this is a great and wonderful country. But because you have never lost your freedom, because you have never been conquered, because you have never had all your possessions taken from you, you are now willing to surrender your freedom, independence, and autonomy by inches. You simply don't notice it, but, one inch at a time, it slips away.' She continued, 'Those students in there -- I feel sorry for them. No matter what they do when they grow up, many of them will always be acting like children.'" Update (2/8/2013): Chris Rock furthers this meme (Coincidentally, link via Rand Simberg):
I am just here to support the President of the United States. President of the United States is our boss, but he is also... you know, the President and the First Lady are kinda like the Mom and the Dad of the country. And when your Dad says something you listen, and when you don't it will usually bite you on the ass later on. So, I’m here to support the President.
Update (12/22/2013): Found a currently working link for the John Fund article. The original WND article is a dead link.
Factions can disagree over the conduct of a war and still find much common ground over what to do with its aftermath. The US and Japan set in motion policies that would promote an amicable political bond and deep cultural ties between our nations. We don't always achieve both goals with nations with whom we haven't warred.
Everybody knows the day of infamy. The day of hope is every December 7 of Japanese-American alliance and friendship.