Advocates for the freedom agenda offer an alluring promise. If only everyone everywhere were free to do exactly what they want, all would be right in the world. Justin Burr's bill to permit guns at the state fair is a good example of this concept. Freedom, the only right that matters, is sufficient to bring order to our chaotic world. Every other right plays second fiddle.

Millenial madness

I love young people. They are often the only breath of fresh air in many situations, and their perspectives are always challenging and interesting. Tonight I had a conversation with a young libertarian who started the conversation by saying she didn't think government should be doing so many things. Specifically, she didn't think it should be providing health services paid for by taxes.

I asked her what she thought should be done for people too poor to pay for the healthcare they need. We were driving, and I asked her what would happen to a homeless person on the street who was having some kind of mental breakdown, or perhaps, an epileptic seizure. She said, "Somebody will take care of them. That's what churches and stuff do."

First principle: preserve options

First principles are guiding ideas that prove valuable and relevant, no matter which future actions are taken. An example of a first principle: preserve options. That means having the option of taking action, but not exercising that option until it clear that it should be used. It's a nuanced version of "keep your options open" and it calls for having restraint. We use first principles in business all the time.

The case for reparations

It's been interesting to witness another great divide occurring in American society, this time over the tinderbox known as #ferguson. It is one of humanity's great tests, and we are failing.

At issue of course is racism, a cancer so deep in our species that we deny it even exists. How can it not exist? White people brutalized black and brown people on this land for more than four centuries. The costs have been back-breaking, and the aftershocks have in no way diminished.

The white race has yet to make amends. We have not come even close.

Daily Dose: Haters gonna hate

I made the mistake this morning of reading comments on Tim Cook's coming out news in the New York Times. While there were plenty of positive comments, most seemed motivated by a combination of disdain, dismissal, or even hatred. It hurt my soul.

This is the thing that worries me most about North Carolina today: Thom Tillis' divide-and-conquer mindset has gone mainstream. From Amendment One to Medicaid to the gutting of environmental protections, Republican policy seems to start with ridiculing and then demonizing vast sectors of our population. If you are a young woman whose success in life hinges on being able to terminate a pregnancy, you are a murderer. If you are a gay man in a 30 year relationship and want to marry, you are a pervert. If you are a poor person working three jobs with no benefits and no hope, you are a taker. If you are a black man, you are a criminal.

There will always be extremes to contend with in each of these areas. Some people are perverts. Fraud does exist in our welfare system. Some black men are criminals. But most people are not perverts. Most poor people don't try to game the system. And most black men are not criminals. The extremes are, by definition, not the norm. They are a gross and destructive stereotype being perpetuated by conservative Republicans to further the economic agenda of concentrating wealth among the elite. The only other explanation I can think of is even more frightening: they are devoid of empathy and wallowing in hate.

Barbed wire facing in

Back in the day, one of my favorite musicians was Joni Mitchell. The woman's voice is sublime and startling all that the same time, with lyrics that have proven timeless. In Big Yellow Taxi, she wrote:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

That's how North Carolina is feeling these days. After years of moderate Democratic leadership, voters threw "the bastards" out in 2010 and 2012, looking for greener pastures under the watchful eye of responsible Republicans. Boy were they fooled. Instead of having to contend with Democratic bastards, voters invited in the Devil himself, a trinity of wanton destruction in the form of Thom Tillis, Pat McCrory and Phil Berger. These are men who don't quality for the faintest of praise; they don't even mean well.


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