The difference between Republicans and Democrats.

This article was published elsewhere previously. It is edited and made more timely for publishing now. – M Schuett


Michael Schuett in New York

M Schuett at Empire St Bldg

“The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats are willing to give up a little freedom in order to achieve fairness; while Republicans are willing to give up a little fairness in order to achieve freedom.”- George Will, Conservative columnist and commentator
Every tax and every law written is an impingement on individual liberty. By definition if you are required to do or to give something by force or threat of negative consequences your liberty has been diminished. And while being a citizen of a nation founded for the first time in history on the concept of respecting individual liberty and democratic (small d) rule loosing ones liberty ought to not be taken lightly. Lately I think it has been.

However, it goes without saying that in order to live happily in a society free from anarchy some surrender of our individual liberties is a requirement. And thus we come to the wedge of which George Will was referring at the top of this writing. When does Government go too far in governing? When does an individual’s right to liberty become TOO detrimental to society as a whole? And where do you stand?

Do you think it’s some kind of accident or freak of nature that we keep bouncing back and forth throughout our nation’s history between Democratic and Republican Presidents and Congress? It’s no accident. It’s a reflection of who we are. Roughly half of us are or lean Republican or Conservative (big C); while the other half is or leans Democrat or Liberal (some would rather I write “Progressive”, to which I respond “Whatever. Call yourselves whatever you wish. A rose by any other name…”) And really the other side is not evil. Though for most of our 234 year old existence many have continued to paint the other side as doing the work of the devil. I think it comes down to what you value.

I like George Will’s definition of Republican vs. Democrat because I think it’s mostly accurate while not intentionally offensive to either side. But I think there is a more clear values oriented definition of America’s two party system that makes the distinctions plainer. Before giving you my definition lets all recognize a truth. Most of us are what we are because of who are parents are and what their beliefs are or were. By no means is this “truth” 100% carved out of granite. But it might define 70-80 percent of us politically. And if I’m right, what does that say about who we are, what our beliefs are, and for whom we vote? It say’s what voter turnout percentages have screamed for decades. Most of us don’t care. Most elections are lucky if 50 percent of eligible voters vote. Again, in terms of literal definition that means MOST of us don’t care.

Being Conservative or being Liberal in my opinion comes down to whether you value an individual’s right to liberty more or whether you value a specified community’s benefit more. If you value society’s well-being over that of a single individual in that society you are more likely to be a Liberal and/or Democrat. The Conservatives have a tougher task because in standing up for an individuals right Conservatives are repeatedly labeled as advocating selfishness. If you are a caring and loving person of course you would advocate society over individual benefits, right? I say, “Hogwash!’. To advocate society’s or a community’s well-being over that of any individual in that group is the height of arrogance and promotes tyranny.

Promoting community benefit promotes the idea that you know best. It says I know better than you what’s best for you and everybody else in your community. And since you are in effect children we will tell you what to do in order to not hurt yourself or your neighbors. And in order that you grow up and live your life to the level that we would call “the fullest”. Again, because we know better. Ladies and gentleman I give you the definition of Liberal. I also grant you that not a single Liberal thinks of themselves in quite that way.

I laugh when I hear Democrats criticizing Republicans by calling them “Do nothing Republicans”. Dear Lord if only it were true. Democrats just don’t get it. Doing “nothing” is the heart of Conservatism. For doing “Anything” involves one more law, or tax or infringement on liberty. Often doing nothing is what is best, is what is called for; is worth defending.

I believe in individuality. I believe in self-determination. And I believe in selfishness. “Ah ha!” you say. “You reveal your evil intent”. On the contrary, as stated by 18th Century writer Adam Smith in his monolithic book, “The Wealth of Nations” a person acting selfishly will by instinct act toward the benefit of community as a whole because to do otherwise injures the individual’s selfish interests. We have to act in the interest of others for any number of reasons, but primarily if we don’t act in the interest of others while serving our selfish needs nobody else will act in our interest. Like Henry Ford defined in building his Model T at the start of the 20th Century. He believed he had to pay his assembly line workers enough so that they could afford to buy his product. Conversely he also believed he had to build a car that a working “man” could afford. Such a view toward serving the “common man” made Ford an extremely wealthy man, and fulfilled his every SELFISH need and desire.

I fondly remember previous employers who all found me a good hard worker but hard to control. I never thought I needed to be “controlled”. But I still remember my one time team leader telling me she was the only one (of other Team Leaders) who could control me (I wish I could go into greater detail…but I won’t). I was always best when left to my own devises. It’s my overwhelming desire for freedom of thought and freedom of choice that led me to be an independent business owner, answerable to no one but the man in the mirror. And our country is loaded with individuals like me who don’t answer to authority as readily or willingly as do others. And it’s our individuality and right to it that needs to be protected. For if my right to speak my mind is ever quashed, yours will be next. The ever-changing flux of that which is popular dictates it so. I still remember news article in the 1980s detailing the coming third “Ice Age”. Not something Global Warming advocates will even acknowledge today.

The Health Care reform law, commonly known as Obamacare, has me and so many others nervous or outright scared to death. Our individuality is threatened. Without debating specific aspects one over riding undeniable fact about what is happening with it becoming law is that our Government will grow in size and scope tremendously. In doing so my liberty again is chipped away further. And I believe deeply.

Isn’t it sad, in my view, that the rights of the individual weren’t kept foremost in mind throughout the debate. Claims by House Democrats that a Government option was necessary in order to create competition flies in the face of competitions definition. There are 306-million Americans. If the health care industry and the health insurance industry had to actually win the precious dollars of each and every one of us individuals you would then have competition and you would then have affordable health care. Instead we have a debate over health care coverage and its cost, rather than a debate over health care and its cost.

As blasphemous as this sounds, WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. Efforts to force us to be equal will only force us into George Orwell’s nightmare “Animal Farm” where the pigs stated without hesitation or fear of consequence that “Some of us are more equal than the others”. The fact that we’re all created equal doesn’t change what we become. Some people and activities are valued more than others. Those who entertain us are valued much more than those who educate us. For reasons that pass understanding those who haul away our garbage are valued considerably less than those who sit in Congress and create additional refuse. The point is an individualized health care system would take into consideration our differences and aim to serve us as individuals instead of as a community.

And when I’m under the scalpel, on the operating table, in a hospital I want my individuality the foremost thought of my care takers…society be damned. That’s my selfish wish. And I defy anyone to embrace anything less.

Comments are welcome. Thanks for visiting.

The Dependency of Dogs and People.

This article was originally written and published on Facebook in February 2010. Since that time my dog Nero has died.- M Schuett

Kid and Old fella

My dogs

I have some pretty smart dogs. Of course, anyone who’s had a dog as a pet feel’s pretty sure of what I write. But a recent demonstration of my dogs’ intelligence had me wondering if humans are more like dogs than the other way around. Or are we cats? Or are some cats and some dogs?

I have two labs. Nero is the old man. He’s a black lab working on his seventeenth year on this planet. Dakoda is a two-year old yellow lab, though really he’s white and tan.

The dogs’ intelligence is demonstrated in many ways from recognizing my moods to communicating that they have to go poop. Most frequently and notably it is demonstrated at feeding time. Once a day, every morning around 8:30am its feeding time. The routine is the same each and every day. I direct them to their respective kennels; though lately they go on their own without me telling them to do so. Upon scooping the food into their bowls from the metal garbage can in which it’s kept I bring them out tell them to heal and sit. These days, with the dogs being so intelligent, and so used to the routine that I actually say VERY little, if anything. Mostly, it’s just hand gestures.

Some 14 years ago my family began to routinely eat pizza for Friday night dinners. It was a tradition began out of necessity. My wife worked a corporate executive position that frequently had her out-of-town Monday through Friday. I would care for our, then, two kids through the week. I don’t mind saying that by Friday afternoon I was as worn out as a clothe rag used to scrub cement. I wasn’t about to cook dinner. So the pizza tradition started.

The dogs benefit from the pizza tradition too. They get treats. They certainly do enjoy their pizza CRUSTS, and are so sad and let down when we get Round Table pizza. Round Table is about the only pizza we have that has a crust that most of my family likes and regularly eats. This leaves the dogs with bupkiss.

As happens very infrequently this past Friday came…and we didn’t get pizza. The dogs are kept outside while we eat. When I let them in they furiously looked around for the pizza and for us to give them crusts. It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed this behavior. It’s happened often, when we don’t get pizza or when the pizza is a Round Table and there are no crusts to pass out. What struck me this time was that the dogs knew it was Friday. They knew it was pizza-day. They always do. Now, it’s easy for me to get my mind wrapped around a dog knowing when it’s feeding time on a daily basis. Their stomachs tell them so, if not their minds. But the realization that they know when its Friday and pizza day at my house just tickled me.

As with any dogs my dogs are dependent on me to feed them. They’re also dependent on me for love, and for petting and occasionally for disapproval. Any dog trainer will tell you this dependency is what enables a dog to be trained. When you consider a cat, you don’t get that dependency. While it’s true that cats are regularly fed by their keepers; they’re not like dogs. For instance, a cat’s food is left out. They eat it when they want. Often, they’ll eat some of it, leave some, and come back to it later when they’re hungry. I’ve never seen a dog leave food in the bowl. And as gruesome as it may seem a house cat can and does get its own food sometimes. Or what do you call the small bird or mouse your feline occasionally brings to your door? Cat’s whole personality is about independence. “Sure Mom and Dad; I like you and I’ll let you pet me and I’ll purr to show my satisfaction. But I can take it or leave it.”

The habits and training of a dog come from routine and the dependency soon follows. So the thought occurred to me are we any different from our fellow mammals? Calling humans “creatures of habit” is a cliché and like most clichés is based on truth. If you regularly have coffee as your morning pick-me-up you’re going to find it difficult to function without your cup of Joe. If you go to bed every night at 10 o’clock it’ll be hard to sleep if you turn-in at 9. Or you might find it hard to stay awake until midnight.

And if you are used to someone giving you something, deserved or not, you are going to develop an expectation and possibly a dependency. You won’t be a cat you will be the domesticated dog. I think of Chevy Chase in the movie “Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

when for the first time in years his boss doesn’t give him the Christmas bonus Clark Griswold has become so expectant of, and dependant on. When he doesn’t get it, he goes a little nuts. As we all know the domesticated dog was not always domestic. Canine’s historically were hunters, scavengers, survivors. Now if Nero and Dakoda were turned loose in the wilderness I fear they wouldn’t survive long. Or at best they would go through an extremely difficult time before learning to fend for themselves. Their knowledge, experience and even their drive to survive has been weaned out of them. They still have the claws, the fangs, and the running and jumping ability to catch and subdue prey. But they are dependent on me, so they use none of their God-given abilities.

When Government gives farmers money for not farming and for crops given a fixed price; when non-working low educated folks are given food and rent; when criminals continue to be let loose in order to re-offend; when the Government gives students all the necessary funds for college; and when corporations can spend money recklessly and still be given more money to fritter away, dependency is created. And though the recipients maintain all the claws, fangs, the running and jumping ability and all else that’s required to survive and thrive, loosing that which they’ve been given leaves them as defenseless as my dogs in the wilderness.

Our superior intelligence over that of Nero and Dakoda and their kind enables us to properly discern those from amongst us that truly need help. And collectively we’re caring and giving enough to see to it that such individuals are well cared for. We’re not animals. And yet we are. For when we rely on the pack to feed and nurture us entirely, like a wolf, we lose our ability to hunt. And soon we die. Or at least, like me, and like my dogs you badly want your pizza.