What it Means to be Pro Business

Two popular ways of talking about businesses have creeped into the modern mindset. One is the “you didn’t build that” approach, where businesses shoul...


Tolerance is Tricky

[Originally printed in the Loudoun Times Mirror] Tolerance requires that one disagrees with what one is tolerating. There is no need -- indeed it is ...



Why the Democratic Party Doesn't Represent Most Democrats The Democratic Leadership over the last several years has bailed on everything that its mem...



There are few things harder to understand to a Constitutional Conservative than the left's obsession with gun control.  For those who are sensitive to...

What it Means to be Pro Business

Two popular ways of talking about businesses have creeped into the modern mindset. One is the “you didn’t build that” approach, where businesses should kneel towards the awe-inspiring supremacy of the “Builder-of-Roads-and-Provider-of-Teachers.”  The other is to talk about how businesses fit into an overall communal view of “sustainability” or “diversity” or “community” or “family values” … or pick your buzzword that doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Both viewpoints are dismissive of what business really is and why it is valuable. What these two views have in common, though they often act as if they are in conflict, is the abiding notion that businesses only serve a singular purpose, and though they should be patted on the back (“you have a factory, good for you!”) so that they continue doing what is wanted of them; they should always be mindful of their place in the back of the line behind the all-knowing intelligentsia of the planners.

So first, let me say what I think “pro-business” is not. It’s not a Governor’s Opportunity Fund. It’s not picking winners and losers, even when it is called “economic development” or “comprehensive planning.” When a regulation is designed to “nudge” certain behavior, or attract certain types of businesses, or creatively encourage sustainable lifestyles, the result is never what is intended. For instance, when a new form of zoning is touted as easing restriction on function, so as to focus more on form, then rest assured: there will simply be more control of form AND function.

Being “pro-business” is not pretending that the basis of owners’ social responsibilities lie on their winning an award for being the most “green” or being the most “healthy” or being the most “diverse” — though all those things are great — for these are the trappings of planners seeking what they seek, not what the community seeks.

Being “pro-business” is understanding that at its core, one of the most socially responsible things that anyone can do is to start a business. Running a business well, successfully, is a public good. A good business not only creates jobs, it creates goods and services that the community needs, and forms a central part of the community, while giving employees opportunities to do the same. No bill can create a dry cleaner. No legislation can open up a restaurant. No resolution by council, or board, or assembly can open up a factory. It takes someone willing to take a risk, willing to create something new, and willing to fail at doing it.

And yes, businesses must be free to express their values, and we should not pretend otherwise. First, religious values demand that people follow the law, voluntarily; indeed without “nudging” and force or threats, devoutly religious business owners follow the laws of their community because they know that their faith demands it. Further, when businesses express religiously founded values of generosity, compassion, concern for the environment or the poor, well…we want those values expressed. There is not enough money for police or charity without them, and their values.

If you want to be “pro-business” then start by talking about businesses and business owners as contributors to the community, not simply as agit-props for your political interests. Start with the reality that almost all government spending is a form of taxation, and all forced distribution of income reduces output. Start by eliminating favoritism for certain businesses, and focus on laws which make it easier for all businesses to thrive.  Making it easier for people to promote their business and serve their customers’ needs, instead of the needs of the “plan”; and reducing tax burdens and regulatory intrusiveness and hurdles; these are the things which respect business, and thus understanding, applying and fighting for these things is the only real way to be pro-business.

Local small business owner, Butch Porter, writes on education, culture, and government.

The above first appeared in the print edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Tolerance is Tricky

[Originally printed in the Loudoun Times Mirror]

Tolerance requires that one disagrees with what one is tolerating. There is no need — indeed it is not possible — to tolerate something one agrees with.

But it can get confusing, lately. For instance, a CEO of a California tech firm is shown the door because he supported a state referendum against gay marriage — a referendum that passed, apparently making the majority of the people in California who voted for it unemployable.

A Colorado baker has been forced to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and made to go through “sensitivity training.” No rehabilitation required for those doing the forcing.

There’s a reality TV show, whose producers simply hoped they could make money laughing at rednecks every week until some viewers actually started to identify with the rednecks. A sports team owner is brought down not by his actions, but by a private phone conversation with his mistress — and not because he has a mistress.

And it seems everyone is now terminally “offended”. College professors routinely protest speakers coming to their campuses with views they disagree with. The latest example involved blocking a speech by an African American woman with an undeniably impressive resume, because, of course, her opinions are “offensive.” The Federal Government recently decided a particular brand was offensive, so they eliminated it. It is unclear from either of these examples who is helped or protected by these reductions in offensiveness.

Yet there is little concern about whether those with religious views are offended (I’ll stand corrected when the Saints lose their branding rights). There hasn’t been for a while, since offending the devout — through art, music, dance, drugs, sex…you name it — has been part and parcel of American “culture” for decades. But now it seems that pride and liberty are out the window, and victimization is the rule of the day, closely followed by seeking to make those who object, not only accept a particular point of view, but to change their own point of view. It would be like Kevin Bacon’s character in Footloose, winning the right to dance, but then the whole lot of anti-dancing prudes are forced by the courts to take dance lessons and go through sensitivity training. This isn’t liberty — it is license.

But maybe we are now forced to enter a world where nothing is allowed to offend — unless approved by a government as unoffensive. Nothing is allowed that makes anyone uncomfortable — unless those in power want to be “on the right side of history (aka: popular)”. Maybe many take the view that the devout should be simply encouraged to operate in little ghettos where they can run their businesses exclusively for those of their own faith. “Good riddance” I heard someone express a few months back regarding at least a BILLION people who had a point of view differing from his. Assuming genocide was not implied, “separate but equal” is the way to go, then? It beats the alternative, because the distance, historically, between “sensitivity training” and jail is…short.

It has been said that, “bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions.” The point being that true bigotry is the dishonesty inherent in claiming that we are objective, and that we are not picking a side, therefore we are on the side of justice and righteousness. But amongst all the fervor over tolerance, a side is being picked. Someone is deciding what is tolerable and what is not. As long as someone filing a suit, creating a law, or making certain points of view illegal are honest about their desire to be our high priests, then fine. But let us not kid ourselves by calling it tolerance or fighting bigotry.

It is important to glean from this that the real — and I would describe as quite legitimate — fear of the “religious right” is not only that the government might violate the “free exercise” clause, but that it is clearly violating the “establishment” clause. And if speech in all its forms — even our businesses — is chiefly judged based on its potential to offend or discriminate we not only have ditched religious freedom, but we have sacrificed the entirety of the First Amendment on an altar of faux tolerance, and have turned to the idol of a state religion. In this world that is being forged, there is no job, no brand, no idea, no speech, no transaction, that is safe from the thought police. Sooner or later the “prevailing view” will contradict your views or will affect someone or something you hold dear.


Why the Democratic Party Doesn’t Represent Most Democrats

The Democratic Leadership over the last several years has bailed on everything that its members supposedly hold dear, especially in terms of their distaste for corporatism, power mongering, and fear tactics.

What Democrats Believe

Based on lots of conversations with those who consider themselves “liberal,” I’ve come to the conclusion that most people who consider themselves “liberal” (or “progressive” or “Democrat”) really don’t buy into a lot of the nonsense that many on the right accuse them of: Most Democrats I know are not communists; they’re not supporters of tyrannical government; and they’re certainly not all peaceniks.

However, many of them do, like many of us, instinctively vote for assholes based on the letter beside their name. Their assumption (and ours) is that if they have that letter, then there are some basic beliefs that they hold dear and fight for, and AT LEAST they’ll do those things and we don’t have to worry about the evil schmucks from that OTHER party getting in there and screwing things up.

So, since there are a plethora of conservative Republicans out there who are probably tired of hearing from rebels that they’re fighting a losing battle trying to make the GOP the party of limited and enumerated Constitutional government, I felt it important to turn our attention to Democrats/progressives/liberals….at least for a while..

So Conservatives/Republicans/Tea partiers…you know who you are. Talk amongst yourselves.

Are they gone? Great.

OK, look, we don’t agree on a lot, but let’s just put our differences in ideology aside just for a minute and talk about what YOU believe. If I’m to understand the progressive narrative (and let me tell you…we all know it…media bias and all.)

a) Greedy corporations are a huge part of our problem, in that they don’t pay enough taxes, don’t pay their employees enough, and seek to rip off the American populace in general through their corrupt connections and raw power.

b) Meanwhile, some of the worst are the oil, development, and defense companies who seek to not only rip off the American populace like any Big Corporation bully (see above), but they also deign to use the American military as a tool to boost their stocks through military deployments and securing cheap oil by bombing brown people all over the world.

(Am I right, so far?)

c) Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress seek to distract us. They speak of “freedom” but what they really want to do is simply keep us all focused on “economic growth” (see above Corporations) while the working class suffers under their negligence in looking at the “big picture” of the economy and how it effects REAL PEOPLE.

Obviously there are fair points to counter all of this. But since we’ve put aside our disagreements, let’s just focus on what the Democratic leadership (meaning, the Obama Administration, and Democrats in Congress) are doing about these things.

What Elected Democrats Do

One could list…a very long list…all the ways in which the Democratic Party has been not only negligent, but complicit, in all of these areas. “Green Energy” corporations getting kickbacks based on political contributions. Car dealerships getting special treatment during the car bailouts based on political connections. Don’t get me started on who gets the most money from health insurance and financial firms. Financial regulatory reform? “Too Big to Fail?” It’s pretty a steep climb to wash the Democratic Party’s hands of corporatism and corruption.

But what I want to focus is on is JUST THE LAST 6 MONTHS, and only the THREE BIGGEST betrayals of the Democratic Party to the things that YOU really care about. These are what I would consider the MOST egregious, the most blatant, and the most disappointing to those who believe in and equity and good and sound government:


There are few things harder to understand to a Constitutional Conservative than the left’s obsession with gun control.  For those who are sensitive to the sentiment of less guns somehow magically resulting in less crime, there are a few simple things we need to answer:

guns2Try to pretend what it would be like if we could wave a magic wand and there WERE NO GUNS.  AT ALL.

Think through…practically, what that would mean. What does it mean in terms of self-defense?  Does it mean that the weakest have a better chance to defend themselves or a lesser chance?

The deep, dark little secret that the “gun-control” advocates never tell their useful idiots is that guns are the great equalizer.  Someone who wields a firearm gives themselves a chance to defend against people who would do them or their loved ones harm.  Stronger people.  No amount of physical fitness or self-defense training can truly give a 5′ 3” housewife the ability to defend herself against a determined attacker.  And, regardless of what the movies tell you…enough aggressors will dominate any single person.  Commando and Rambo always had LOTS of ammo.  There is no logic in pretending that living in a world where the strongest are more easily able to dominate the weak is a good thing. It also makes us more reliant on our Government protectors and less on ourselves.

But guns, in one shape or form, have been a part of human life for hundreds of years. There is no magic wand — or laws — which can take them away…which brings us to point two:

Since guns are here and we can’t wish them away, what in God’s name makes sense about only allowing criminals and law enforcement to have the most effective ones?  Some have a tendency to believe that anything past a shotgun or revolver is simply just too militant for us poor citizens to carry. They obsess about the number bullets in a magazine; how hard it is to pull the trigger; the accuracy of the gun; the ease in which it is reloaded; the caliber…you name it.  All of these things are as important in the hands of the defender as they are the aggressor.  Anything else (harking back to the brief little journey in the world of no guns) would be like outlawing swords, and demanding that everyone defend themselves with kitchen knives.  It is frighteningly stupid.

Third. Standing your ground IS self defense.  Laws which only allow people to run and hide if they are attacked, by their very essence, seek to make the aggressor the victim, and the defender the aggressor. It is madness, and it is an invitation to chaos and a forfeit of rule of law. (Another little secret to the Trayvon Martin case is that if the real issue is “stand your ground” laws…and Zimmerman stood his ground, then who was the aggressor?)

Neutering “stand your ground” laws, and depriving citizens of their ability to defend themselves by the most effective available means is to simultaneously invite anarchy and tyranny.

Put more simply. There are three groups of people who seek to carry and use firearms (or weapons, in general):

  • Those who wish to do harm or take for themselves things they have not earned. (In other words: criminals.)
  • Those who wish to defend themselves from the above.
  • Law enforcement and military.

Now dig deep down and ask yourself one last thing:  Which of the three do you want to have most of the guns?  Everything else is just politicking or fear mongering.

Donor State

Had a chance to sit through a “forum” for the Virginia Gubernatorial candidates and heard a classic argument that I’m sure many of us have heard a lot over the last year or two:

“Well, if we don’t take the money, then that means we’re a donor state…we’re paying our taxes and not getting money back. That’s not fair to Virginians.”

The arguer, of course, was the Democratic candidate for Governor, and the issue at hand, was “Medicaid Expansion.” For those of you not “in the know” on Obamacare implementation, “Medicare Expansion” means that if States raise the threshold of who is eligible for Medicaid from 100% to 125%, thus significantly increasing the Medicaid rolls in Virginia and elsewhere, then they get goodies (cash) from the Federal Government.

While the Supreme Court decision last year basically said that as long as the Federal Government calls something a tax, it can extort as much money from individual citizens as it wants — even if it means forcing them to buy a private product or service — SCOTUS also held that the Federal Government could not force States to expand Medicaid. It could bribe them, but it couldn’t force them to accept it by holding the rest of the Medicaid money hostage (which is what they wanted to do).

Everybody clear on that? Bribery is OK, extortion is not.

So States have the choice to take the bribe or not. So here we are with the age-old argument that we HAVE to take the money or we’re just throwing it away, and letting other states live high on the hog from our Donor State generosity.

Four basic responses to this argument:

  1. As far as the Medicaid money in particular, it comes with strings attached. It always does. There is ample evidence that if Virginia, and other States, were left to their own devices for Medicaid that they would do a much better job of managing the systems themselves. The money is also short term. It starts to go away after two years, and it only covers the costs of care and not the extra administration costs that go with it. But the expansion never goes away. It’s like getting your first go at an addictive drug for free.
  2. In general, since when does 30 wrongs make a right? So to follow the logic: if someone stole hundreds of billions of dollars from you and 49 of your friends, and 30 of them were taking a small portion of it back, it would be…well…”wrong” for you not to take your share back. In what world is that morally and ethically good?
  3. What’s wrong with donating? It seems that the “we don’t want to be a donor state” is so aggressively hypocritical as to be laughable. Of course, I realize that the argument is about helping the poor of our great Commonwealth, but shouldn’t we simply ask the question first whether we desperately need it? Are liberals completely shirking the States’ core responsibilities to handle its own poor? What if there was ample evidence that other States are suffering more and need more Medicaid money than Virginia does? Should we just pretend that New York, Mississippi, and New Mexico don’t desperately need more Federal resources?
  4. Now assuming that we CARE about Federal overreach and fiscal ineptitude (which is what is hidden behind this argument — it is always in desperate response to: “The Federal Government has no money, and it shouldn’t be giving us more of what it doesn’t have.” “Yeah, but if we don’t then those OTHER states will…”), then we must first ask the question of where it will end? Do we want to live in a State in which the leaders of said State are willing to take anything the Federal Government will give them whether it’s the right thing to do or not? Do the ends justify the means?

The truth is, we all know that the Federal Government is notorious for not living up to its promises, and there are no guarantees that we’ll get the money we’re promised, or that we’ll get the “flexibility” (usually in the form of waivers) which will allow the Commonwealth Government to administer its health care system for the poor the way it deems fit.

The first question should always be: if it was OUR money — State money, that is…it’s all technically our money — would we expand such a fine-tuned and well-oiled machine as Medicaid any further? The answer is obviously a big fat, “NO.” So why is it OK to take the money that is being printed by the Federal Government, but not directly taxed by the Commonwealth to Virginia citizens?

How is that noble?

And for those Republicans who are pushing for it, using basically the same aforementioned
argument as Democrats, who like to pretend that “reform first” is some super-principled stand, I have a few questions:

Why did it take Obamacare and a SCOTUS decision for you to determine that you need to fight for Medicaid reform (more waivers, etc)? And if reform is so critical, and you intend to use the Federal Government new goodies for “reforms” where is the money going to come from for the new Medicaid recipients? Is there any evidence that your supposed reforms will actually save money? No? Didn’t think so. Here’s the reality:

THE MONEY VIRGINIA WILL GET FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL NOT PAY FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION. It’s that simple. The State budget increases by $200B+ a year (approximately) and we get less than that from the Federal Government….for two years, then we get even less. Our elected representative in Richmond all know good and well that without the Federal cookies they would not be expanding Medicaid…so why do they think it’s a good idea just because someone else (your “donors”) is paying for it.

Don’t buy it. Largesse is largesse. Overreach is overreach. Unconstitutionality is unconstitutionality. Rationales about someone else getting the dirty money should be dismissed for what it is: hypocritical and twisted.