No resolutions for 2015

For some reason I am not motivated to even think about a New Year’s resolution for 2015. Sure, I could set some easy goals, like to improve my diet and exercise, or to write and draw more, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to feel obligated to any of that. If I have a special goal at all, it is to do a triathlon with my son, Kevin, sometime after my 60th birthday in May. But I can prepare myself for that without any particular resolution.

Usually I like New Year’s resolutions. There’s something about starting things fresh on January first. But I tend to set New Year’s goals that I don’t quite accomplish. I lose interest, or I lose my motivation and energy, or unexpected things get in the way. Then it feels a bit like a failure, even if I tell myself that I had made progress in one way or another.

So this year I will not set specific goals. I do want to eat right, exercise more, etc. But I will do that day in / day out, week in / week out anyway. Instead, I will go with the flow, wherever my energy takes me.

See, the thing is, I have a lot of interests, and there is never enough time in the day to do them all. I tend to go in spurts, too. I’ll focus on this for a while, and then on that. And that’s okay. So I’m just going to accept that.

I have to admit that my looming 60th birthday is working on my mind a bit. Not in a depressing sort of way, but acknowledging that time flies and is running out. I only have so many good, energetic years in me. I don’t want to waste any time at all. I even hate that I have to sleep and eat. I really think that this pressure to live life now, while I can, replaces any need for New Year’s resolutions. I am motivated by the ticking clock, and I am motivated to stay healthy and strong for as long as I can. There are a lot of things I want to do!

So, resolutions or not, here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous, and productive 2015! May all your dreams come true! 🙂

Republican vs Democrat

The upcoming election for President of the United States will be a choice between two very different candidates, with seemingly polar opposite views on the issues. But I believe there are many areas of common ground. For example, I believe good people of both parties don’t want to see poor children starving in the streets. We all want jobs. Most of us want to see equality in the workplace. And I could go on and on with issues that I see as “human” issues, not truly belonging to one party or another. Sure, there are differences that do seem to fit specifically into either the Republican or the Democratic mindset, but  I realize that I am “Republican” in some issues, “Democrat” in others, and sometimes wishy-washy. There is such overlap that I am driven to try to understand why I generally feel so Republican.

I think it boils down to this. I am the son of Mexican immigrants. They moved here legally, by the way. I moved to this great country when I was 6 years old. I remember sleeping on the floor of our first apartment. I remember my mother rationing out food. I remember my mother saving pennies for things we needed. I was acutely aware that they had no nearby extended family to rescue them in case things went bad. Yet they sent me and my brothers to private schools. My two brothers and I became two doctors and a lawyer. We have each in turn had families of wonderful, successful children who are hard-working contributors to society. And my parents did this with no help form anyone. There was no public aid or support. There were no grants or loans for college. My parents did it all through their hard work, as I did for my own family.

I continue to work hard, in a very stressful and responsible job. I have either earned enough money or have taken out loans to send my kids to good schools and to provide them with a decent life growing up. Apart from family support, none of that was given to me, I worked for it, and I have worked hard for it since I was in my teens. The life I have built might even be enviable to some. I live in a nice house, drive a nice car, and go on nice trips. Hard work in a great country has allowed all that to happen.

But if someone invaded my house and tried to take my stuff, that would be illegal. In fact, In North Carolina I could shoot them! Or if someone on the street tried to steal my wallet I might want to punch them in the nose. Maybe they just wanted to have a nice house too, drive a nice car, go on nice trips, but they are not allowed to do it by stealing from me.

So what is all this talk about “sharing prosperity,” or “leveling the playing field?” How does that work exactly? If the way it works is by the government taxing me more in order to provide free stuff to others, I don’t approve! To me it feels just like the guy invading my house or assaulting me on the street. If anyone is going to be charitable with my money I want it to be me! I worked hard for my money and I want to decide how it is spent!

Everyone has to take responsibility for his or her own life, no matter the circumstances. We aren’t all the same. We each are born to a different set of circumstances and that’s just the way it is. It is then up to each of us to navigate through life and fail or succeed as best we can. In the United States, a free society, we should not look to the government to take care of us. We should not expect life to be the same for everyone. We don’t live in a socialist country.

The reality is that everyone is different. Some people are born a genius and some mentally-challenged, with the rest of us falling in between in a roughly bell-shaped curve. Some of us are good students and some are not.  Some of us have a work ethic and some are lazy. Some of us are born to wealthy parents and some are not. Some of us enjoy good health and some do not. So some people are going to succeed in life better than others. That’s just reality. Even if you were to magically redistribute “prosperity” equally to everyone at some imaginary moment in time, it would not take long for the wealth to again find it’s way into the hands of some (probably the industrious) and out of the hands of others.

In this country, there is plenty of opportunity and freedom to have a wonderful life. If you want it, work for it. Go to school. Seek or create your opportunities. Take your calculated risks. Pay your bills. Invest some of what you make in things that are important to you. But don’t expect to reach into my pocket just so you can buy something that you jealously covet. And don’t think that it’s okay for the government to reach into my pocket for you. That amounts to the same thing.

I certainly don’t mind paying my fair share. There are certain things the government provides, on the local, state and federal levels, that are good. But I don’t want a government that forever wants more of the money I worked hard for, to spend in ways I don’t approve. Further, I don’t want the government to spend MORE than it has in its budget, expecting future generations to pay for it. That is immoral. I don’t want the government to hinder me in my pursuits, and I don’t expect it to rescue me either.

Democratic leaders don’t always “tax and spend,” but they tend to do that. Republican leaders generally support people like me. People that have worked hard, created businesses, created jobs for others, have been successful and generous. Even though I live paycheck to paycheck like most people I know, I make enough money that I am demonized by my current Democratic president. He paints me as a bad person, and wants to reach into my pocket to take even more money. Despite whatever deductions are available to me in my tax bracket, I already pay much more in taxes than the average guy. I have always paid MORE than my fair share. The top 20% of income earners account for 80% of all tax revenue. I am a Republican because the party understands that. The Republican Party understands the brave, creative, independent, hard-working America that our founders created.

The right to own a gun did not cause the Aurora massacre

The horrific events at the July 20, 2012 midnight opening of Batman “The Dark Knight Rises” will be forever etched in our collective memory. At the latest count, 12 people have died and 58 are wounded. Details are yet unfolding. As of now, the entire country is sending their love to the victims and their families in terms of attention, a wide range of feelings, and generous gestures. Personally, my own heart also goes out to the victims and their families. I am saddened and angered by what happened. Though I know there is no amount of punishment that will suffice, I do hope justice is meted out swiftly and harshly. The trial has not yet happened, but there is little doubt the shooter was James Holmes, and I will add his name to the list of murderous monsters who have gone before him.

Monster James Holmes, and other criminals, are not like typical, law-abiding gun owners. James Holmes is not the kind of person our founding fathers were thinking about when they wrote the Second Amendment to the Constitution. A simple explanation of the Second Amendment is here. A more thorough treatment is here. In the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms is considered a basic freedom, just as important as the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to privacy, the right to assemble, etc. The ideas that make up our Constitution are precisely why we enjoy enviable freedoms and what makes our country great. When a person thinks he or she is smarter than the founding fathers, and could draft a better Constitution, I doubt it. And when a person compares a criminal monster like James Holmes to a law-abiding citizen gun owner, I believe he or she is essentially wrong.

When a tragedy such as the one in Aurora happens, as they inevitably will, attention is always directed at the idea of gun ownership. The fear and anger relate to the false assumption that more gun ownership leads to more violence and death. In fact, the percentage of people who own a gun has remained fairly stable over time. This October, 2011 Gallup report gives some interesting statistics, breaking the numbers down into various demographics. Most interesting to me is that though Republicans owning guns outnumber Democrats, there is still a sizable number of Democratic households that admit to owing a gun. But if there indeed has been a rise in the absolute number of guns out there, I would not be shocked or surprised, or worried.

I would not be worried because the other part of the assumption, that there is more violence and death, is just wrong. The data that is summarized in this article comes from various sources including the FBI. If one examines the rate of violent crime and homicide for the past 20 years, one sees a steadily diminishing trend.

The Aurora massacre was the work of a deranged monster named James Holmes. He is not the first such monster and will not be the last. He certainly does not exemplify the typical, law-abiding gun owner. Facts do not support the idea that our Second Amendment right to own a gun increases the rate of violence and death.

I am proud to support our Constitution, as wisely defined by our founding fathers. I am glad and grateful for the rights and freedoms we enjoy, for which others have fought. I am against forces that aim to limit my rights and freedoms. I am proud to live in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave!