Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Businessman Versus a Politician, and You

Both a businessman and a politician have that which they are trying to get us to ‘buy.’ A businessman has a literal product to buy – a good or service – and seeks to earn monetary commensuration for what was sold; a politician doesn’t have a good or service to offer, but does offer legislation and wants to get your vote. Let’s analogize; whether as a businessman or a politician, what they have to offer is to be pictured as a bowling ball.

A businessman being in the market, not only wants you to buy the bowling ball he offers, provides quality bowling balls in order for you to purchase the ones he offers. He’ll let you take your new bowling ball as it is your property now, but he will also offer a bowling alley from where you’ll be able to bowl, to keep you as a paying customer. To keep you as a customer, the businessman will maintain his alley so that the alleys themselves are in good repair, services in the building are good and that you continually get your bowling back in good shape as to want to keep bowling. A businessman wants not just a customer, but a returning customer. A returning customer does so because he is a happy customer. If the product fails to be what the customer wants, there will be another businessman offering something better, or he’ll try and make better. Different businessmen sell varying types of bowling balls for their respective customers.

A politician wanting to pass legislation wants to create something new that will be static: a new law. A law once put into effect the law remains, until (more importantly if) it is repealed. A law now in effect, continues in the manner its nature requires regardless of the unintended consequences. The politician’s bowling ball is a glossy one, designed to make it look appealing in order for you to vote for it. After he has enough votes and has been able to get his law passed, it is his standing atop a hill and throwing the bowling ball down a mountainside – the ball rolls, bounces and careens according to its necessary consequences. It exists and cannot be brought back without great effort of many more to get in front, stop and bring back the bowling ball (repealed). Otherwise, it is gone, hitting what is in its path, and damaging that which it strikes. If the law fails or has negative unintended consequences, the law still remains. The same politician will be working on new, and may have passed other, similar laws.

It is up to us in the market, in the audience to remember that these two: the businessman and the politician, though they both come with offers of something for us, what they offer are not the same. A businessman creates wealth that we may partake and exchange with; a politician creates a law that imposes limitations. The businessman is constantly part of the process of his product, the politician is not. The politician will have left the area when the damage his actions are felt, and he will be trying to create again that which he may initiate and leave others to feel the consequences. The businessman continually wants and needs to try and keep his customers; the politician just needed the vote for the moment, and after he throws the ball down the hill the ball exists and continues on without further effort from him and he can leave. A businessman can be held accountable for fraudulent claims about his product, and the customer may be held accountable for misuse of the product. A politician cannot be held accountable for the harm his law may have caused, and the law will still remain as a law to continue harming society.

Bad as it is for someone to release a bowling ball to let it cause damage, and not be accountable for it as the damage will be caused after he has left, there is something worse. What is worse is when the politician teams up with a businessman; that is the politician creating that which remains but also has to be maintained and only maintained through what the co-conspirator businessman is selling. By threat of punishment, that is government fine or imprisonment, the people have to pay for a product not necessarily even wanted, that the businessman doesn’t have to maintain quality of good or service, have a low price as he’ll sell anyway. Other businessmen may even be prevented from competing from the co-conspirator politician.

Let us recognize exactly who is doing what and not allow those who create the damage we feel to get away with it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Fable: Avalanche

One day, as I was walking along through the woods, I came upon a beautiful enclave of magnificent trees. A gentle, sweet smelling breeze called out to me from those trees to walk among them, and so I did. I walked among those trees, and seeing their beauty, I stayed there awhile. Not much longer after that, the sweet smelling breeze called me forth again, deeper among the trees of the beautiful enclave. I walked deeper, and as I walked deeper, I saw that the trees were just the base of a grand mountain.

The sweet breeze called me to start climbing the mountain, and so I did. Every step that I took, I continued to see such beauty, that I took my time to enjoy the walk. I continued to climb, but slowly. After awhile again, the sweet breeze called upon me to climb higher, and so I did. Each time that breeze called me, it moved me from one place of exquisite beauty to an even more beautiful area.

This continued, the sweet breeze calling me to climb higher, and my following the breeze, seeing more and more beautiful things. Many times as I ascended, I thought I had reached the peak, but it was only a ledge. There was more beauty up higher, and I would climb higher, the sweet breeze calling. Often, I would stop for a moment to fully take in all that I saw, and had seen. To rest and enjoy where I was. Especially at those ledges that I thought were peaks.

Seeing the continuing splendor I was heading toward, that I had moved beyond, and that I was in at that time, I felt such grandeur in myself. Only good emotions flowed through me: euphoria, happiness, awe and reverence. That I was called there made me feel all the more godlike, in that such a grand place called me to be there. Higher and higher I climbed, with the sweet breeze calling me. Being there and belonging there filled me with such joy, had me so elated, that I did not want to stop until I reached the peak, until I was on the summit of this glorious mountain.

On this journey I went, until I reached the timberline. There, the sweet breeze stopped calling me to climb. It was beautiful at the timberline, but I saw that there was more to climb. There were even more glorious areas to reach. When I stepped past the timberline, though, another breeze came to me. It was not the sweet breeze, but a cold breeze.

The cold breeze told me not to climb any higher, but to enjoy where I was. Where I was, beautiful above all that I had known before, was not the summit where I felt that the most beautiful of all things would be. So, even with the cold breeze blowing on me, I climbed anyway. I climbed higher and higher.

There was great beauty in those snowy regions, but also a sense of the sacred. I thought, god that I was as I was called there, it was sacred and mine, so higher I climbed. The cold breeze continued to blow. With the brilliance of the snow, forged with my determination to only see the summit, I became snow-blind; only the summit could I see. The cold breeze grew colder and colder, but I pressed on, no longer enjoying where I was, but rushing forward.

Well up high in the mountain, far above the timberline, deep in the snowy regions, I came to where I could see the actual summit. Claiming it as mine, I advanced. But then, no breeze came to me to tell me to stop. The mountain, beautiful as it is, showed me the cruelty of violating it. The mountain shrugged, and the snow came rumbling down from the summit.

I stood, snow-blind by my own doing, right in the path of the falling snow; right in its path for it was for me. Quickly, I was caught up in the avalanche. It went cascading down the mountain, tossing me about in its cold, snowy grasp. The avalanche came to the timberline, and while being tossed about in the snow, I was bashed against those trees.

The avalanche came to those ledges I had passed, and I was bashed against those rocks. Hitting that which was before the avalanche, and being struck by that which was taken up and rolling with the avalanche, I continued down to the bottom of the mountain; not near where I first ascended, but in another spot where, with the destruction brought by the avalanche, anything beautiful was distant, but still visible, for beauty did not leave the mountain.

The snow subsided, and I laid in it. Beaten, bruised, bloodied and broken, I lay prostrate. In pain, though still mercifully numbed somewhat by the cold, I could still move; I did not know when the full pain would be felt. In pain, I got up. In pain, I looked up at the mountain, its summit, its high ledges, its timberline and its glorious trees. The aching in me condemned me 'Look at what you have done! Look at what you lost!' And, in pain, I hung my head in shame. But I looked back up.

Looking back up at the mountain, where I had been, and remembering that which I had experienced on the journey, I looked at that mountain, and though in pain, felt awe and gratitude. It had called me. It did let me climb and experience such wonders that I did not think were possible, or existed. I saw such beautiful things, that I thought I must have been dreaming, but better than dreams those moments were for they were while I was awake, actually experiencing them.

Thinking back to crossing the timberline, I realized that where I thought I was becoming the god of the mountain, I was actually a blessed soul invited to partake in the wonders the mountain had to offer; I was not the god of it. The mountain had its own soul, and in crossing the timberline, I had invaded its soul's lair, trying to claim it as my own, and the mountain showed me that would not be done. It had given me warnings, but I failed to read them, at first ignorantly, but later because of my own blind avarice.

It allowed me to live as a god at one level, but not as a god to be a master of it. I had found where godhood could be touched, but tried to take it with me. In pain, I tried to walk toward it again. Not the sweet breeze greeted me, but the cold breeze told me to leave; regardless of my contrition so great was my sin against it. I do not think it will call me again.

In pain, though still mercifully numb somewhat, and not knowing when the full pain would be felt, I turned to walk away. I limped along, and looked at my wounds, and could see I would have great scars; those would serve as reminders. And so I walked again, through the woods, while trying to heal myself. Always keeping my senses keen for the sweet breeze, should it ever call me again, but, doubting it will. I walk on, keeping aware, knowing how to enjoy the mountain appropriately, but not thinking I will return to it. I still keep my senses keen.

Like, King Midas, who through his avarice became a menace and a danger to that which he loved, so did I. But, as Midas was a fool, his curse was lifted and his damage was undone as he was forgiven by the gods. I, however, am not a fool, though I acted as one. Mine is the greater sin. Youthful naiveté is a partial reason for my error, but it does not excuse the trespass. I should have known better; with all the warnings, I should have read them instead of focusing beyond them to what I wanted.

As I committed the greater sin, so my punishment is not to be lifted; the damage not undone, suffering the penalty. Let this be an admonition to those who walk in the woods, and smell the sweet breeze calling them forward: do not go beyond where the trees and mountain call you. When the breeze blows cold: stop. It may call you forward to a higher place later, and it may not; enjoy where it does call you. Intruding into where it is not ready to accept you will get you thrown down and away, left to wander, beaten, bruised, bloodied and broken, but healing, still able to move, as not to repeat the same mistake, maybe with it again, or elsewhere.