Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How Words Die and Take On New Meaning

It's just a word - how much weight can it carry? Can a word's meaning change over the years? Like the word, "gay" for instance - it used to connote joy and wild abandon - like in the "Gay '90's." But now, 100 years later, it's meaning has changed entirely.

Or take "bad." Bad used to mean, well, it meant bad. Now it means, "good." Like saying, 'Man, Randy Moss was baddddd in last night's game," when, in fact, he scored 3 touchdowns.

"Christian" is another changing word. Used to be anyone who believed in Christ was happy to be defined as a "Christian." Now, not so much. It's been commandeered by the extremists - and other religions, such as Catholics, are shying away from using it as an identifier because they do not want to be identified with the fanatics who've claimed it as their own. It makes me feel very sorry for the few remaining real "Christians," - those who carry Christ in their heart and soul and practice doing the things He did in their every day life with joy and personal committment but without the fanfare and self-administered pats on the back we're beginning to distance ourselves from.

The more any one group of people use a word to define themselves the more that word becomes the new definition in the minds of those hearing it.

I have a feeling it is going to be so with the word "Patriot." More and more people are narrowing the definition of the word to suit their own personal needs or beliefs. More and more fringe groups, such as The White Patriot Party, the Tea Party, and numerous extremist militia groups are tossing the phrase around or incorporating it into their selling point as if it belonged to no one but them and anyone who disagrees with them or their views are suddenly "unpatriotic."

Given time, overuse and misuse of the word itself and it will become something to avoid for many people. It will have been co-opted by a few to the distaste of the many. People will still love their country but they will be too disgusted by the ever-narrowing "them or us" mentality of those who incessantly use the word for their own gain (Sarah Palin, The Tea Party and the Oath Keepers come to mind) to continue using it in any old and familiar sense of the word.

It is my personal prediction that the definition of the word "patriot" that we grew up with will become obsolete and come to mean something entirely different - probably within our lifetime - maybe within the next decade.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gun Rally in Gravelly Park & Fort Hunt

The rally in Va. today - the one in which people are carrying their loaded hand-guns and waving around their (supposedly) unloaded assault rifles, is being held in a National Park. (Gravelly Park.)

I've seen a few clips on the news so far - random interviews with the participants - and each of them, when questioned, say they are there to protest a possible repeal of The Second Amendment or they say that they are there because we are in grave danger of losing our rights to own/carry weapons under the current administration and they want to make people aware of that danger.

The rally organizer said he put this all together to protest the Democratic Congress's capitulation to a "totalitarian socialism" that tramples individual rights.

Washington Post

Here's the "you, moron" part:

This is the first year that they've been granted the freedom to assemble at all - thanks to President Obama signing into effect the recent law which permits the carrying of loaded or unloaded weapons into a National Park.

Guns allowed into Federal Parks

Does this really sound like a president they need to be afraid of and a congress which is "trampling the individual's right" or does it sound like a great opportunity to show off how well your internet-ordered green and black fatigue cammie's go with your new AK and, oh yeah, check out this shiny new black leather ankle-holster and my intimidating but classy bandoleer of magazines containing ammunition which I have artfully draped over my shoulder while you're at it?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The High Cost of Less Taxes and the Accompanying Loss of Freedom

It seems very odd to me - like we have a whole nation, that wants to move backwards.....back to the "old days" which were not "the good old days" at all, but rather a time when life expectancy was low, health was poor and life was hard. Back when the average worker had no recourse if he were put at danger, if he were abused by his employers, if his situation was an unhealthy and unhappy one. A time when corporations called all the shots and no one monitored them or watched over them and they could do whatever they wanted, to whoever they wanted, whenever they wanted. A time when people had 12 and 14 children for two reasons - one being that there was no such thing as health insurance and so you had to produce many so at least a few would live. The second reason being that you needed them to live long enough to support you, their parents, because you sure as hell couldn't save enough and there sure the hell was no pension plan or social security to work for or to rely upon.

It was a time of very little "government interference," granted, but it was also a time when children routinely ate lead paint and got brain-damaged. A time when conditions in factories were horrendous and people routinely suffered life-threatening injuries - and were promptly fired without compensation when they did - and all because there was no mandatory insurance protecting them. A time when people went hungry, children of hard working fathers suffered rickets and malnutrition, gainfully employed men died from untreated pneumonia and undiagnosed ulcers, mothers of 10 children died giving birth to their 11th - and all because there was simply no money to pay the doctor and there was no employee-sponsored insurance plans. A time when, because there were no unions to speak for the common man and there were no government agencies making sure safety laws were passed and enforced, men and women worked 16 and 17 hour days, 7 days a week in the most hellish conditions and children under 12 were routinely hired at half the wage of an adult and made to do the same job as the adult would have done.

Is that what we want? All in the name of "freedom" and all in the name of "being mad as hell and not wanting to pay taxes" any longer?

Sometimes, the more laws we have, the more oversight and safety that's provided, the more free we become.

Those days of lower taxes and less government intervention - people weren't "free" then. They were slaves to making a dollar - that and only that. There wasn't much joy to go around, nor was there any "freedom." A person is not free when he worries constantly about a dangerous work place, an illness that he can't afford, a child he cannot feed, an old age he cannot support, a house full of lead paint and asbestos, two parents who are destitute and looking to him for sustenance.

All good things come at a cost - the cost is sometimes taxes. If we were to suddenly have all taxes repealed, as well as the loss of all those things that government provides us by virtue of our paying those taxes, how much better off do you think you'd be? How much richer? Does a few dollars a week more in your paycheck offset the cost of providing your own health insurance, the painfully higher cost of commercial products which do not contain things like lead and asbestos, your own retirement fund - without matching funds from your employer, your own workman's comp. insurance in case you get hurt in your suddenly way-more dangerous workplace, tuition for your children's schooling since the government will no longer be able to subsidize them, your own security since the police force will be full of under-qualified patrolmen because salaries will not longer be competitive, hauling your own trash to the dump - which will be full of radioactive junk and harmful materials, since the government will no longer regulate things like waste? The list could go on and on, but you get the point, I'm sure.

The Tea Party is telling us what they don't want....they don't want government interference. They are telling us what they do want - which is LESS TAXES. What they are not telling us is how we survive if and when they succeed.

They are telling us what they want to give to us - but not what it will cost us in the end - or what we will be giving up to get it.