The messaging is now formal and official. In this great contest for the supposed “soul” of America, tonight the RNC formally unleashed its claim. That claim: AMERICA!
This, of course, is in response to the DNC claim: INTELLIGENCE!
And so, it’s on.
Which are you going to vote for?
People who think they’re smarter than everyone?
Or people who think America’s greater than everywhere?
To the Victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting:
“If I had my way they’d take metal altogether out of this world. Every blade, every gun,” says Natalie Portman’s character in the classic film “Cold Mountain.” Maybe I’m just a sucker for movies, but when I watch that one–and that scene in particular–an “Amen!” or “Preach it!” escapes my lips before I know it. I can only imagine that you feel the same way.
I’m writing this letter to you today because I want you to know that I do not believe a letter like this is what is needed at the moment. But, at the moment, I have to write a letter for a class and I wanted to write to you. I’ve been taking undergraduate courses in writing recently, and a large part of writing is rhetoric. Rhetoric is the term used to describe the tools writers use to affect their audience. I’m told a writer uses rhetoric—these tools–to persuade people to agree with him. Sometimes the use of rhetoric isn’t deliberate, sometimes it is very deliberate. Like I said, though, I don’t believe words, especially not the words on this page, can help me persuade you to believe anything at the moment. “So why the letter?” you may ask.
As you know, Colorado, in large part because of the tragic events of July 20, 2012, is currently in the spotlight of a larger movement across the nation. I’m talking, of course, about the state legislature’s recent revisit to its gun policy. There’s no denying that without guns July 20th—more importantly, your lives–would never have been tainted by this unbearable act. Just the same, I can’t help but wonder if changes are being made too quickly.
Here’s what I’m proposing: For the last year I’ve been hosting a dinner series of sorts at my home. I’d like to invite you over to the one scheduled for July 20, 2014. If you can believe it, July 20th is my birthday. As July 20, 2012 approached I’d been excitedly anticipating the movie for a year, knowing it was coming out on my birthday. My brother can confirm that I bawled on the phone that morning as I heard the news. I had called him to discuss whether we should still see the movie that night. He was on I-70, driving to Denver from Kansas City so we could see the movie together as a birthday present. This July 20–July 20, 2014–I’m inviting you to a dinner at my home. The dinner will be a place where we will share ourselves. You don’t know me yet, but rest assured that disrespect has no place at my home. I want to know what you think, and I would like to share some thoughts with you as well.
So, what do you say? I have a little saying that I stole from the Oracle of another blockbuster trilogy: “The only way to get there is together.” I believe my time in the Air Force allows me to own this phrase as it’s essentially the positive way of saying, “You don’t crash in compartments.” I feel like you and I are separated by more than space, and I don’t think that’s necessary or valuable. Please contact me if you agree and would like to join me for an event that your presence will enhance substantively.
I’m excited to tell you all that I had an opportunity to interview A Mugwump this morning. I thought it was a fascinating conversation, but you judge for yourself.
Captain’s Log – How many ways can we spend money?
A Mugwump – Just two. The two ways we can spend our money are by choice or by compulsion.
CL – What is money?
AM – The dictionaries are wrong on this one. Big time. It’s not complicated. Money is a language. Unlike say, English which can communicate the breadth of the human experience, money can only communicate one thing. Money can only communicate value. Money is a language that communicates one thing. Money communicates value. That’s it. All the talk about recessions, depressions, inflation, the 99%, the 1%, Wall Street, Main Street, all of that is meaningless. Money is a language that communicates value.
CL – Are you saying that people with money are more valuable than people without money?
AM – No. This point is tricky, so pay attention. Money is only money when it is in motion. A dollar in my pocket is not a dollar. It is a piece of paper that looks like a dollar. When I take it out to purchase something, as I hand it to the seller, it transforms into money. It transforms into a communication of value. Whether we have a lot of money or no money has nothing to do with our value. When we choose to spend money, we communicate to others what we value. As I said, money in motion is the language we use to express value.
CL – Okay then, let’s return to the two ways we can spend our money, what is communicated when we choose to spend our money?
AM – When we spend our money by our own choice, we come to an agreement with the seller of the goods as to the value of the product or service. In short, when we choose to spend our money we communicate how much we value the product or service. If we think a particular TV is worth $300 and the person with the TV thinks it is worth $300, we hand over the $300 dollars and the seller hands us the TV. The money transferred communicates the agreed upon value of the TV.
CL – And what about when we are compelled?
AM – It is not the same when we talk about being compelled to spend our money. When we are compelled to spend our money, that money does not communicate the value of a product or service. Instead, when we are compelled to spend our money, the money communicates how much we think we’re worth as an individual. The money that an armed-robber forces us to give him was freely given to us in exchange for the value of a specific application of our time, skill, and/or energy. The armed-robber is giving us nothing of value in return for our money. Therefore, when we pay the armed-robber everything we have to stay alive, we’ve just communicated that we think our time, skill, and energy, in other words, our life, has no value. And the act of paying everything–our time, our skill, and our energy (our life)–to stay alive is another way to define slavery.
CL – Slavery, huh? It sounds like you may be describing the government as an armed-robber. What do you think a government is?
AM – No, you misunderstand. The government is not an armed-robber. It does offer certain valuable things, which a private market cannot, in exchange for our money. What do I think a government is? To my mind, a description that fits all governments that have ever existed, in all time periods, for all cultures, for all nations, would have to be, “Other people making some of our decisions for us.” That is what a government is. A government is nothing more than another person or group of people making some of our decisions for us. I say “some” of our decisions because that’s what this is all about. How many of our decisions should a government make for us? That’s what we are constantly deciding in this life. To me, less is better. But I can see how others might not want the responsibility of decision-making, so they might want others to make the decisions for them.
CL – Of all days, why agree to this interview today?
AM – Today, July 4th, 2013, is a fitting day to remind people of the nature of things. America is the only group we’re all apart of today. And if your readers are anything like me, they know they have value. As a matter of fact, even if they’re nothing like me, I believe they have value. I believe this, not because I have any special knowledge, but because in order to secure my freedom, I must believe and act on the idea that everyone has value. I must act on the idea that no matter who we are, no matter what our background, no matter what mistakes we’ve made, we have value. It’s Independence Day. A holiday helping us remember that our country was founded because citizens disagreed with how/how much of their money they were compelled to spend. In other words, they believed they should be making more decisions than their government let them. It was founded because people believed they were worth more than their government thought. If we want to spend our money as we please, if we want the amount of money we’re compelled to spend to be as little as possible, we need to be reminded that we all have value. Everyone has value.