No Restraint

Paul Ryan, the other half of the Romney ticket is an adherent of Ayn Rand and her watershed novel Atlas Shrugged. If you haven’t ever read Atlas Shrugged, you might wonder why this is so frightening and so at odds with his Catholic faith. The problem with the philosophy of Ayn Rand when applied to nations is its failure of compassion. Ayn Rand believed in Free Markets above all else, Free Markets and individualism. The philosophy of objectivism and selfishness, says the wealthy the “makers” have value and worth in society. Others, the “takers” have none. The entire premise of Atlas Shrugged is a nation, no, a world gone mad as the “makers” withdraw their resources leaving the “takers” to their own inept devices, incapable of managing without the direction and firm hand of those at the top in wealth and resource. This premise is of course faulty, it assumes the 95% without great wealth are incapable and unintelligent, but this was the assumption of Ayn Rand and it is also the assumption of Paul Ryan and his cohorts.

Paul Ryan would be Libertarian, except the Libertarian platform allows for the decriminalization of Drugs, Abortion and Gay Marriage. Otherwise, most of the Libertarian platform is based on the Ayn Rand philosophy of Free Market without regulations, no taxes and no government supports or safety nets. The other problem for Paul Ryan and those of his ilk, within the houses of Congress, those within the various state legislatures and within the various Governorships; well they simply can’t win without the support of their far right Christian coalitions today. Ayn Rand was an Atheist and the Libertarians believe strongly in keeping religion out of government but individual rights to worship protected from interference.

Paul Ryan’s budget, yes that infamous piece of tripe, the basis of the platform of the Republican Party the ineptly named Path to Prosperity, which has been vetted and rejected by every non-partisan group is based on the philosophies of Ayn Rand and the premise of Atlas Shrugged. It is nothing more or less than a GIFT to those who have no need and a THEFT from those who have great need. The GOP having failed to take heed of the results of the people’s choice in the most recent election have made Paul Ryan their lead negotiator for the next round of Budget talks. We will fall over the Fiscal Cliff; buckle up.

The real issue though, the real problem with all of this is the idea of Free Markets, markets without restraint or restriction. History is a strange thing, we forget if not constantly reminded. We jump up and down with glee, say hallelujah, amen give me unrestrained markets and let them go where they will. We say, Drill baby drill and bring down the cost of gas at the pump. We say, a person or corporation (oh forgive me I forgot they are persons too) should be able to do anything, say anything without restriction, restraint or regulation. We forget, perhaps we want to forget we have been down this road and brought this nation to its knees.

This is one result of the Free Market with no restrictions.

Image from the Dust Bowl, man-made disaster

Want to know about the Dust bowl? The disaster brought about by greed and unrestrained commodity markets, in this case wheat, do some research on the Dust Bowl. It took FDR investing in research and re-development of the region to change the Dust Bowl disaster. I recommend watching the PBS special now airing http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/

Seattle Hooverville, Great Depression

These tent cities were built outside of most large cities across the nation during the Great Depression. People thrown from their homes and migrating to find work, sound familiar? What brought on the Great Depression? All the money and resources held by a very small contingent and unregulated banking. It took a world war, horrifying loss of life and Glass-Stegall and the Securities and Exchange Act to bring an end to the Great Depression.

Cuyahoga River burns due to chemicals and pollution

Unrestrained the Cuyahoga River burned. Chemicals had been dumped for years and finally this river along with others showed the world what happens when man pays no attention.

Just one sign, unrestrained and state supported

Until 1964 business could do whatever they like, whether using public or private lands. Got an idea? Theater, restaurant, how about a water fountain in the deep south? No matter what it is, you only need provide it to White Folks, they are human the rest of humanity not so much. That was the reasoning of Jim Crow and it was not only allowed it was supported by law. Libertarians believe and it is stated in their platform; racism, sexism and gender orientation are perfectly legitimate reasons for bias and any business owner should be allowed to place a sign in their window, like this:

December 2011, Ohio

That date isn’t wrong, in fact both Ron and Rand Paul supported this business owners position.

Floating Pacific Trash Island

It is estimated the floating trash island in the Pacific is bigger than the state of Texas. It is made up mostly of plastics and destructive to sea life. Man could change this, we could replace nearly all plastics with Industrial Hemp products, instead we allow the natural product which has no pharmaceutical use to remain a controlled substance requiring a license to grow from the DEA. It is estimated there are at least 25,000 products possible to make from Industrial Hemp, many of these can be found in the Floating Trash Island.

BP Deepwater spill

This wasn’t the first and it likely won’t be the last as drilling continues off every shoreline where the potential for fossil fuels exist. With minimal regulation or oversight and massive profits just waiting to be pumped to the surface, why worry if a fuel lives are lost. Right?

This is the world, the world of Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan and Free Markets without oversight, regulation or restrictions. But is this the world we want? I can only say this isn’t the world I want to leave for my children or grandchildren.

Growing up Texas-My Fathers Story

My dad was born in 1926 in San Antonio, Texas but spent most of his childhood in South Texas, first in Corpus Christie then finally in Sinton; a small town just north of Corpus. My dad came up rough and tumble with two older siblings, a brother and a beloved sister. I am not sure being the baby of the family got him any special treatment except with his mother, who adored him but I think this might have been because on top of being the baby he was pretty, truly pretty with auburn hair and sparkling hazel green eyes. Yes, my dad in his younger days was a stunner.

During the Great Depression I don’t think pretty got you much of anything, especially with men like my Grandfather. My grandfather was at best rough around the edges, your traditional Texas redneck; perhaps he couldn’t help himself his approach to life and his children, certainly growing up they felt his failure and his fists. My grandfather wasn’t unlike others of his time, he was luckier than many having a skill that allowed him to work more often than his peers. Grandpa was tempered by his times, by poverty and of course by the culture of South Texas. His views and attitudes determined how he treated his wife and children; ultimately they would shape my father but not I think the way his father intended.

Siblings with their grandmother in South Texas
My Dad is the Baby

That my Grandfather was able to work sometimes didn’t change the grinding poverty the family experienced through the years of the Great Depression. What it did accomplish is their ability to build a stable life in Sinton; it led to home ownership and the purchase of my grandfather’s business, a liquor store named after him that would become a hub of activity including sometime poker games with his cronies.  My Grandfather was rattlesnake mean; he was also a bigot and a cheat. I suspect he occasionally abused my grandmother, though I don’t know this and have no proof except my own experience. I only met my Grandfather a few times; one of those times was what led to my intense dislike and fear of him and my identification of his bigotry.

In 1936, when my father was just ten-years old he and his brother were in a car accident. Both of them sustained terrible injuries and while they were home recuperating my grandfather encouraged them to build and fly model airplanes. This would prove to become a life-long interest for my father, becoming his calling and profession. There weren’t many things he followed his father into, amateur photography is one of these; I am the inheritor of his many years of picture taking and his love of recording the world around him on film as well.

Inside with Granddad

My father was different from those around him, he was a thinker, thoughtful and purpose filled. My grandmother once told me he was ‘sensitive’, this wasn’t necessarily a good thing for a boy in South Texas at the time. Although he played football in High School and chased girls, always having the prettiest dates to the dances, my father wanted more than life in small town Texas. He wanted more than what he witnessed around him in his family and his hometown. He watched as his beloved sister fell in love with a boy his father disapproved of and was subsequently disowned, barred from her family. He came to blows, true fisticuffs with his father over minor differences more than once. Ultimately he determined to follow dreams of his own, leaving behind small town bigotry and thinking of a broader world for himself and his future children.

Though my Grandfather was a man of his times, he did instill in his two sons ambition and a work ethic. My father would set his mind to things and achieve them, hobbies or work he did them with single-mindedness. My father carried this through his entire life. He graduated from A&M with a degree and Aeronautical Engineering and ultimately went to work for the premier airplane design and manufacturing company in the world, Boeing. Throughout his career he would be promoted to manager several times and each time would eventually request a return to his true passion, design. He didn’t like management; it wasn’t interesting or engaging (his words).

Dang He was Pretty

When my father met my mother he was following a plan I think.

  1. Finish College – Check
  2. Start Career – Check
  3. Reach Correct age of 25 – Check

He had graduated in 1949, he had his first job at what was then Muroc Army Base (later Edwards AFB); it was time to start looking for a wife. My mother was working at Muroc as a secretary. There weren’t a great number of options; Muroc was extremely remote with little to do and few singles to choose from. Mom must have thought she hit the jackpot with my father’s interest in her. He on the other hand saw a woman who had been raised ‘right’, came from good stock and would be a good mother to his future children (no I am not making any of this up).

The wedding party aka The March to Hell

They dated for just over a year and married in July of 1951. It was a marriage made in Hell, for both of them. I don’t think either were ever truly happy. My mother’s parents, though they attended the wedding, never approved of my father who they did not believe was good enough for their family or their daughter. My father’s family always thought my mother was stuck-up (she was).

Despite the misery they inflicted on each other their marriage remained intact for 22 long years.  I was long gone by the time they separated and did not know they had done so until years later. Perhaps if I had a great deal of pain could have been avoided. The story I heard was this:

Mom:  “When son is 18 I want a divorce”.

Dad: “Why wait?”

Within a week my father had moved out of the house and thus begin a very nasty divorce that saw them duking it out with lawyers for months. The result was my father ended up with custody of my then twelve-year old brother and the home of my childhood. The divorce left both of them bitter for years. Personally, I always asked the question;

“What the hell took so long?”

Thus ends Chapter 2 of my father’s story in Broken Chains. Daddy loved his family; he adored his mother and his sister. He was respectful toward his father and I think he loved his father though didn’t like him very much; he kept us away for a reason. My father created his own hell with his marriage and determined to not divorce, he left his children instead to suffer in silence for his absence. My father remained single for nearly twenty years; it would be his remarriage to the mother of my heart that finally brought about our full reconciliation though we had started this process long before that time.

Part One of my Fathers Story – In Your Absense

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