Thursday, July 12, 2018

Radical Immigration

My father's father was a naturalized US Citizen.  An immigrant.

The picture above was taken when my grandfather was working and living as a trapper in the Northwest Territory of Canada, many years before he emigrated to the US and married my grandmother.  After becoming a citizen, he built, bought, and sold several businesses.  He owned a ranch for a while, until Roosevelt's New Deal made it more profitable for him to not plant wheat or run cattle and sheep.  Then, he became a store owner and drilled water wells.

His three sons all went off to war during World War II.  They all came back alive.  The oldest boy was among the "Battered Bastards of Bastogne" who withstood the German siege of Bastogne, France during The Battle of the Bulge.

My point in telling you this snippet of family history is to let you know that I have very personal knowledge of the contributions immigrants make in this country. 

In addition to my personal knowledge of the contributions of immigrants, I lived for nearly two years in Ecuador, South America.  Ecuador is a wonderful country, and it is, in many ways, very typical of the third-world countries all over the world.  This experience, living in a third-world country, not just passing through as a tourist, gave me intimate, first-hand experience with real poverty, political turmoil of the sort that makes our elections look like family picnics, and  the hearts, minds and lives of ordinary people who live in these circumstances.

All of these experiences, as well as what I see in the history of the US shapes my views on immigration.  Because of these experiences and study, I have come up with a pretty radical view on immigration which might shock many of those who know how politically, economically, and socially conservative I am in my views.

Before I explain my radical immigration proposal, I want to share a little bit of the history of immigration law in America.  We all understand that the first Europeans in America were immigrants.  In fact there was no real immigration law in America until the US was founded.  Even then, for a long time, the only real immigration law was that the President of the US had to have been born in the US.  He or she could not be a naturalized US citizen.  Alas, my grandfather's political ambitions were capped. :-)

The Constitution authorized Congress to establish immigration and naturalization laws.  They left the open borders policy of the Founding Fathers pretty much in place.  However, it is relevant to note that from its very start, the immigration and naturalization laws of the US had a racist bent.

Those who know me well will be surprised to hear me say that something is racist.  I believe the term is not only over used, but often misapplied.  However, as your read on, you will see why an acknowledgement of racism (or ethnicism, to be more accurate) is applicable in this case.

The Naturalization Act of 1790 prescribed the manner in which "free white persons" of "good moral character," could become US citizens.  The wording expressly excluded anyone who was not of European descent.  As you will see later, this was narrowed at some points to provide the easiest path to those of Northern European descent (people like me and my family).

In 1868 the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, granting citizenship to children born of parents in the US.  In 1870 the law was broadened to include blacks, but explicitly excluded anyone of Asian descent.  One step forward, and one step backward on the ethnicism front.

In 1882, Congress got even more explicit against the Asians with The Chinese Exclusion Act (everyone of Asian descent was, of course, considered Chinese).  This Act was the true beginning of our current immigration laws.  It should resonate with many anti-immigrationists that the term "Yellow Peril" was popular at this time, as a shorthand for describing the threat to the US posed by any permanent settlement of the folks who helped build the transcontinental railroad.

The act was tightened in 1884 and renewed again in 1892.  In 1902 it was made permanent, not requiring any further debate to renew it.  It wasn't repealed until 1943.

In 1907 we clamped down on Japanese immigration, particularly into Hawaii.

In 1882 immigration law banned folks with poor mental health, physical health, or lack of education.  In 1901 they outlawed the immigration of Anarchists, after one of the assassinated President McKinley.  The Immigration Act of 1917 (note the timing with the First World War), a literacy requirement was added to the immigration law.

Things really got going on the institutionalized ethnicism in 1921 when Congress enacted the Emergency Quota Act.  Immigration quotas were set for pretty much all countries outside of Northern Europe.  The quotas were intended to limit the number of "undesirables" coming from the countries of Eastern Europe, since Asia and Africa had already been effectively prohibited.  The quotas were revised by Congress in 1952.  The UK, Germany, and Ireland were the favored countries for immigration.  Everyone else were pretty much personae non grata.

Immigration laws were used to strip Indians of their citizenship and to remove the property rights of Native Americans (not the same folks as Indians, who come from India).  Those property rights were later restored, but I think anyone can now see the pattern our immigration laws have followed for a very long time.  From the very early on they were aimed at ensuring that the majority of people in this country had Anglo-Saxon ethnic origins.  This meant that, as noted before, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, and Germany were given preferential immigration treatment, with the countries of Sweden, Norway, and Finland not far behind.  In contrast with these favored ethnicities, everyone else was put on a quota system.

The quotas restricted all Eastern and Southern Europeans and they almost excluded African, Asian and Middle Eastern.  

Although in 1965, they ostensibly abolished the quota system based on national origins, for the first time,  they implemented quotas on immigration from countries in the Western Hemisphere, and it gave preference to immigrants with skills that were desired to fuel our economy.

For those who mistakenly believe this all came about as a result of Republican Racism, alas no less than Senator Edward Kennedy was a primary architect of this bill and is quoted as saying, in defense of this bill, "the bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs."  So, the racist/ethnicist inclinations cross and crisscross the aisle of Congress.  The hands of neither major party are clean in this ugly history.

In my view, the quotas on immigration from the Western Hemisphere are a response to the "Brown Peril."  Unfortunately, the fear of having whites drowned in a flood of Hispanics is not without some foundation.  No less than the President of Mexico has endorsed the "Reconquista", the taking over of the Southwest United States by Hispanics, specifically by Mexicans.  The avowed aim of this movement is to return those lands to Mexico, or to turn those states into pro-Mexican puppets within the United States.

The term Reconquista has its origins in Spain as the Christians of Spain worked for about 780 years to retake the peninsula from the Muslim (AKA Moorish) forces which had conquered it.  Now, it is about the cultural and political retaking of the US Southwest by pro-Mexicans.  

Regardless of the aims of the Mexican Reconquista, the way to combat it is not through overt or covert discrimination in our immigration laws.  Rather, it is by doing what Americans do best, leading by example.  The reality is, if things in Mexico and other countries in the Western Hemisphere were so great, their people wouldn't be beating a path to get into this country.  We have something they want, and it isn't land, it is freedom.

In this country, if the police pick you up off the street, you get a phone call.  You don't disappear, as happens in so many other parts of this hemisphere.  In this country, you can disagree with the President, or the Government in general without fear that some pro-government para-military forces are going to drag you from your bed in the middle of the night and execute you in front of your family, or kill your family in front of you, and then kill you.

In this country, if you are born into what we here call poverty, you are not automatically condemned to a life at the bottom economic rungs of society.  Interestingly, a recent study of the top 1% in the US found that not only are they not the idle rich, they are working hard for their money, but fewer than 10% of them inherited their wealth.  That means that 9 out of 10 of the top 1% rose from lower economic positions to attain great wealth.

Immigrants to this country are four times more likely to become millionaires than are native-born citizens.  Why?  Because those immigrants have lived in societies where their status at birth capped their opportunities for advancement.  They were ambitious souls, so they came to America, where no one can utterly block the advancement of their ambitions.

By the way, don't confuse being a millionaire with being in the top 1%.  The top 1% are billionaires and hundred millionaires.  In this country, more people around you than you might imagine are millionaires.  The book, The Millionaire Next Door outs them very well. 

Photo (C) NBC News

The Road So Far

  1. Our Immigration Laws Are Ethnically and Socially Discriminatory
  2. Immigrants Tend to Boost Our Economy

My Radical Immigration Plan

My plan has a few simple (but not easy) points.
  1. Build a digital wall
  2. Abolish all quotas and immigration number limits
  3. Deny immigration requests only on the basis of criminal activity or for national security reasons.
  4. Make US Citizenship a Desirable Privilege
  5. Give Aliens Clear Paths to US Citizenship
Let me elaborate on each point.

Build a Digital Wall

We have technology to create a digital, biometric registry of every person coming into the US.  Every person seeking entry to the US, including diplomats, should have their fingerprints, retinal scans, facial scans, DNA, and all other biometric information, along with their name and other identifiers loaded into a national registry which is accessible to all law enforcement agencies in the US.  Each entrant should receive an Alien ID Card with a unique identifying number.  Possession of this card would allow them the legal right to work at any job in the US for which they can get hired, be that picking lettuce, or being a brain surgeon.

Aliens would be required to update their addresses whenever they moved.  This could be done with a simple box and bit of info on mail forwarding materials with the USPS.

This registry should be constantly cross referenced to databases of crimes and criminal evidence.  Anyone attempting to enter who is found to have been deported due to criminal activity would be denied entry.

Abolish All Quotas and Immigration Number Limits

This is very simple, and means just what it says.  We will let as many people into our country as want to come, as long as they are not criminals or national security threats.

Deny immigration requests only on the basis of criminal activity or for national security reasons.

The Alien Registry would need to be constantly accessed by our national security forces and intelligence services to screen out known threats to national security and known criminals.  Criminals might be known either internationally, within our own borders, or to the security and police forces of their country of origin.  Anyone who triggers a flag from this check would either be automatically denied, or require a security review and a waiver before being admitted to the US and issued an Alien ID card.

Make US Citizenship a Desirable Privilege

As controversial as my earlier points are, they probably pale by comparison with this one.  The short version of this point is that Aliens should not enjoy all the rights and privileges accorded to US Citizens.  Their basic judicial rights, trial by jury, right of appeal, right against unreasonable search and seizure, etc., would be provided.  But none of the taxpayer funded financial programs available for US Citizens would be available.
  • All government entitlement programs, be they at the municipal, state, or Federal level are reserved solely for US Citizens.  This would also include things like unemployment insurance and workmen's compensation.  
  • Aliens would be able to attend public schools, but would not enjoy resident rates at state funded colleges or universities.  
  • They would not be eligible for any voucher programs for state funded schools.  
  • Their wages and earnings would be subject to Social Security and Medicaid Taxes, just like everyone else, but they would be ineligible to participate in those programs as recipients, no matter how many years they had paid in.
  • Obviously, they could not vote in any municipal, state, or Federal elections and could not hold any publicly elected office.
  • They could not lawfully purchase, sell, or possess firearms or weapons of any kind.
  • They could enlist in the US Military, which would provide a fast-track for citizenship.
None of these restrictions on taxpayer funding for aliens would hamper private charities from extending any form of aid they desired.

Are these restrictions unfair?  Absolutely.  They are deliberately calibrated to deny to Aliens many of the most desirable rights under the US Constitution and the laws of the land.  This makes US Citizenship a desirable privilege.

Give Aliens Clear Paths to Citizenship

The short version of what follows is that Aliens need to keep their noses clean while they are here.

  • Anyone desiring US Citizenship should be required to speak, read, and write English at a minimal level.  Perhaps 6th or 8th grade level of competency?
  • They should be able to pass a basic test, showing that they understand their Constitutional rights and responsibilities as citizens.
  • They should be required to sign an oath of allegiance to the support and defend the US Constitution, much like that which is required of those who take public office and those who enlist in the US military.
  • They should have resided in the US for at least 5 years with no history of violence or drug crimes.
  • Any Alien currently under a felony indictment is ineligible for Citizenship until the indictment is dropped or they are either pardoned or acquitted in a court of law.
  • Aliens who enlist in the US Armed Forces can apply for Citizenship after just 2 years of residency.  All other requirements apply.
  • Any Alien convicted of violent crimes, drug crimes, or any Felony will be deported immediately after their release from prison, regardless of whether that release is due to completion of their sentence or probation, and they will be ineligible for reentry into the US.
For all Aliens that are present in this country at the time of enactment of these laws, they would have two paths open to them.

  1. They could immediately proceed to an Alien Registration Port and become Registered Aliens.
  2. They could return to their country of origin and apply for entrance from there.
All Aliens currently residing in the country would have 12 months to get their Alien Registration ID and become a Registered Alien.  After that twelve month period, if they are apprehended and determined to be an illegal alien, they would be deported with no possibility of readmission to the US.  Their evasion of the law would be a de facto admission of ill-intent toward the US, its laws, its government, and its citizens.

Unregistered or illegal aliens who have been residing in this country prior to the enactment of these laws, and who subsequently register, would have no shorter path to citizenship than the 5 year requirement.  All other restrictions would also apply until they attain their US Citizenship.  It would be as though they had arrived in the US on the day they received their Alien Registration ID.


The United States of America is the greatest nation on earth.  Our Constitution is a marvel of world history and both an example and bulwark of liberty for people all over the world.  Our Constitutional Rights are worth shedding blood to defend.  They are also worth protection from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Immigrants have helped make America great.  They continually inject new energy into our country and our society.  We need to abolish the racist/ethnicist underpinnings of our current immigration laws and replace them with laws which honor the principles which have made this country great.  They need to embody the principles and sentiments expressed in the poem New Colossus, which is associated with the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs the imprisoned lightning, and her nameMOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-handGlows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes commandThe air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries sheWith silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I have my doubts that my Radical Immigration ideas will ever get read by President Trump, or anyone in power in the US Government.  But, I will put them out there anyway, and go on the record.  Perhaps my friend Eric Trump will see this post and show it to his Dad.
Tom Sheppard and Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump
Perhaps one of you will share it and it will find its way to the eyes and minds of those who can make this happen.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein.

(c) Copyright 2018 A+ Results LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

 Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Across This Land

The Shiprock in New Mexico
This summer, I had the opportunity to do some serious driving.  I estimate that I drove about 6,800 miles.  Just under two-thirds of these were along a route familiar to me already between Charlotte, North Carolina and Salt Lake City, Utah.  The last 2,600 miles, or so, had the same end points, but instead of going through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, this last trip I went through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Because of taking this alternate route, I got to see some of the country I had not before experienced.

My wife and I got to see the hills around Crescent Junction, Utah at sunrise.  Moab, Utah early on a sleepy Sunday morning.  Hole in the Rock, Utah and Wilson's Arch, as we dashed past on the highway.
Welcome to Moab, Utah

The landscape in Southern Utah was amazing and breathtaking. 
Red Rock Formations in Southern Utah

From Monticello, Utah (which bears absolutely no resemblance to the home of Thomas Jefferson, by the same name), we headed East, by Southeast, through Cortez, Colorado.

That Southwestern corner of Colorado seemed filled with green farmland.  Sometimes the fields on the hills were plowed right up to the edges of the houses, not giving up hardly a foot of ground to anything but the harvest.

From Cortez, we went south into New Mexico, and what a dramatic passage it is going from the green hills of Colorado into the barren wastelands of the New Mexico desert!  Most of that land is part of a reservation for Native Americans.  If you travel there, it will become obvious that the US Government was allocating lands which it deemed worthless and probably hoped that the natives would die out in such a harsh and barren land, another part of the push to exterminate them.

Shiprock (pictured at the top of this post) in New Mexico is quite a spectacular formation.  It stands alone in the middle of a great plain, inside a very large basin.  It is visible for many, many miles.  As the road angles past it, the rock seems to change its shape.

When I first saw it, as we approached from the North, it reminded me of the depictions of the Druids Keep from the Elfstones of Shannarra by Terry Brooks.  It seemed to have two great horns extending up from each side, its face in shadow from the morning sun.

As we traveled to see it from a more easterly direction, it began to evoke a shape more appropriate to its name, looking like some tall-masted ship sailing across the desert, leaving a ridge of stone in its wake.

In New Mexico, it was easy to see who had money.  Those with money had trees near their house.  Everyone else, had only the dirt for landscaping.

Most of the rest of New Mexico, from Shiprock to Gallup, through Albuquerque to the border of Texas west of Amarillo is mostly a blur.  The land got a little bit more green and hilly from Gallup onward.

Texas was big, flat, green, flat, wide open, and did I mention it was very flat?  From an overpass on the highway I could see so far that I could have watched a dog run away for a week before he went out of sight.  By the time we hit Wichita Falls, Texas, where it got a bit hilly, it was fully dark, so I didn't get to see any of what was making the road go up, down and around.  It might have been hills, it might have been crazy highway engineers, or it may have been dodging around the bends in the river.

Our route angled across the top of Texas from Amarillo through Forth Worth and over to Shreveport, Louisiana.  Louisiana was green, rolling country all the way to the Mississippi.

Crossing the Mississippi, I was able to see the heights above Vicksburg.  They were a key patch of ground in the US Civil War.  One of my mother's ancestors is reputed to have fired the last cannon shot in defense of Vicksburg.  Once the heights above the river were taken, the town fell and the Union was able to effectively control the waterways from New Orleans to Ohio.  This was the first deadly piece of the Union strategy to successfully cut the Confederacy into pieces, and set the stage for Sherman's March to the Sea, including the burning of Atlanta.
The Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi

Our trip too went to Atlanta.  But, where Sherman went through Tennessee into Georgia, we went through Mississippi and Alabama, up Interstate 20.  Although we didn't burn Atlanta, like Sherman did, I envied him the opportunity given the state of traffic as we hit town just in time for the evening rush hour on the evening before the Fourth of July Holiday.

From Atlanta to Charlotte it was familiar road, traveled many times for me.  We sailed past the Revolutionary War sites of Cowpens and Kings Mountain, as well as past the Gafney Peach in Gaffney, South Carolina, made somewhat more famous by Kevin Spacey's House of Cards TV series.
Gaffney, South Carolina Peach Water Tower
In my road trips across this country, there are only a few states I have not traversed at all.  North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are the only states in the lower 48 I have not visited.  I have also missed Hawaii and Alaska.

The opportunity to see this land from ground level, instead of just flying over it at 20,000 feet, has given me an appreciation of the people who pioneered as well as those who live there now.  When I consider the prospect of traversing the plains from Omaha, Nebraska along the Platte and the North Platte and into the high plains of Southern Wyoming I stand amazed at those who rode out on wagons, pushing handcarts, walking, or even riding a horse.  The eastern half of this nation, East of the Mississippi, is very different terrain than what lies West of the Mississippi.

Where the East overflows with rivers, forests, and hills, the West interrupts vast flat expanses of grassland and desert with bursts of rugged hills and mountains, some forested, most not.  A sight like the red desert hills of Southern Utah is unimaginable anywhere East of the Mississippi.  It feels like stepping into a totally different planet.

Although I am a child of the West, born and raised in Montana, I don't hold much partiality to one sort of terrain over another, with one exception.  I lived for nearly 10 years in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.   Around D.C., there is little in the way of dramatic natural formations, either of hills, valleys, or even vast expanses of water.  The largest objects which arrest the eye of the traveler, or occupant, are the monuments, office buildings, and bridges.  All of these are man-made objects.

I believe that the absence of natural, intimidating, landscape features in D.C. gives the inhabitants there a skewed perspective on the place of man in the cosmos.  Seeing the greatest features being only man-made, makes the subconscious adopt the notion that mankind is the biggest thing going. 

In contrast, when you stand on edge of the ocean, look up to a mountain peak, or across the twisted landscape of canyons or desert, you know.  Man is no more than a speck in the picture of this world, much less in the cosmos.  In spite of our abilities to adapt to our environs, and our limited abilities to adapt our environs to us, we really don't make much of a dent at all in the makeup of this world.

A big earthquake, a tsunami, a flood, a hurricane, all have the ability to wipe the earth clean of any trace of our having ever been here.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). 

 The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

(c) Copyright 2017 A+ Results LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

 Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Blessings of Living in a Land of Religious Freedom

This Sunday (July 8, 2018), I will be giving a short talk on the blessings of living in a land of religious freedom. I will be the concluding speaker in a 70 minute meeting that begins at 1pm. All are welcome. The location is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 1601 Cooper Ave, Kannapolis, NC 28081. The remarks below are not the text of my talk.

For Me, Religious Persecution is First a Family Heritage

My ancestors, on my mother's side of the family, suffered persecution for their religion.  According to family tradition, they were run out of the German states for being Mennonites.  From there, they fled to France where they were run out for being Huguenots.

And, when I say, they were run out, what I mean is that they were beaten, raped, robbed of their property, many were tortured and killed.  Those who survived were forcibly pushed out of the country.

After being forced out of France, they came to the British Isles.  Here, the story of my mother's ancestors becomes less tradition, and more history.

"The Rev. James RENWICK, the last Scottish Presbyterian Martyr to be burned at the stake at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, 1688, was an only child and unmarried.  His tomb is in Edinburgh and he was an early member of this line.  The inscription and epitaph upon the monument in the Greyfriars Churchyard at Edinburgh reads:

Halt, passenger, take heed what you do see,
This tomb doth shew, for what some men did die.
Here lies interr’d the dust of those who stood
‘Gainst perjury, resisting unto blood:
Adhering to the covenants, and laws
Establishing the same; which was the cause
Their lives were sacrific’d unto the lust
Of Prelatists abjur’d.  Through here their dust
Lies mixt with murderers, and other crew,
Whom justice did justly to death pursue;

But as for these, no cause in them was found
Worthy of death, but only they were sound,
Constant and steadfast, zealous, witnessing,
For the prerogatives of Christ, their King.
Which truths were seal’d by famous Guthrie’s head,
And all along to Mr. Renwick’s blood.
They did endure the wrath of enemies,
Reproaches, torments, deaths and injuries,
But yet they’re these who from such trouble came,
And now triumph in glory with the Lamb.

"Thereafter follows this prose:
            "From May 27, 1661, that the most noble Marquis of Argyle was beheaded, to the 17th February 1688, that Mr. James Renwick suffered, were one way or other murdered and destroyed for the same cause about eighteen thousand, of whom were executed at Edinburgh about an hundred of noblemen, gentlemen, ministers, and others, noble martyrs for Jesus Christ.  The most of them lie here.  (Ref. - Cloud of Witnesses - Wodrow’s, Crookshank’s, and Defoe’s histories of the Church of Scotland, and “Scotch Irish” by Chas. Augustus Hanna, Vol. II, pp. 260-261.)
            "The above monument was first erected by James Currie, merchant, Pentland, and other in 1706; renewed in 1771.
            "Added to the monument at a subsequent date: -

Yes, though the sceptic’s tongue deride
These martyrs who for conscience died -
Though modern history blight their fame,
And sneering courtiers hoot the name
Of men who dared above be free,
Amidst a nation’s slavery; -
Yet long for them the poet’s lyre
Shall wake its notes of heavenly fire;
Their names shall nerve the patriot’s hand
Upraised to save a sinking land;
And piety shall learn to burn

With holier transport’s o’er their urn."

Obviously, since Reverend James Renwick was "an only child", my mother is not descended from him.  She is, however, descended from the Rennick (Renwick, Rhinewick) family, and hence, so am I.  This makes the religious martyrdom of the Reverend Renwick, a part of my family history.

For Me, Religious Persecution is Also a Religious Tradition

At the age of 13, I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, variously known as LDS or Mormons.  When I joined, I had no notion of the history of religious persecution which I was adopting into, but it is extraordinary, the more so because its worst persecutions occurred right here in the United States of America where the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is written expressly to protect freedom of religion.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Today, many people mistakenly believe that this amendment was designed to protect government from religion.  The opposite is much more accurate.  It was designed to protect religion from the government.

In the case of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints the state of Missouri issued a warrant allowing anyone to kill members of the church.  It was Executive Order 44, called the Extermination Order. It was issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs in October 1838.  It was not repealed until June 1976.  President Polk reviewed the facts of the rape and plunder of church members in both Missouri and Illinois and, while acknowledging that their cause was just, refused to help them by enforcing the laws of the land, because to do so would cost him the votes of those who were plundering the church members.  Finally, President Buchanan ordered the US Army to "pacify" the church members in Utah.  Remember that they already had been working hard to "pacify" the Native American nations, so everyone knew that the President meant for them to kill, destroy and pillage the church and its members.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the Army was eventually able to peacefully enter the Salt Lake Valley and establish a fort nearby.

Regardless of the fact that the issue was settled peacefully in the end, it is extraordinary to consider that in the nation which stands "as a beacon on a hill" proclaiming liberty to the world, the government declared war and initiated hostilities against a group of its own citizens, based wholly upon the basis of religious bias.

Religious Persecution is the History of Governments

Throughout history, governments have consistently, and repeatedly, adopted one religion or another and turned it into an arm of the state in order to gain greater control over the populace and to forcibly align spiritual salvation with obedience to the dictates of the state, granting those political dictates the semblance of both temporal and eternal powers over both the body and spirit of the people.

Whenever a government has co-opted a church to become the religion of the state, other religions were aggressively persecuted and even exterminated as being inimical to the powers and desires of the political state.  Reverend Renwick was killed because he was a Presbyterian (a protestant) in a time when the state was embracing Episcopalian-ism (another protestant faith) as the official religion with the monarch of England as the supreme religious leader of the British Empire. 

Government use of religion inevitably meant that those with dissenting religious views were almost forced into rebelling and seeking to overthrow the government in order to establish a country where their views could be practiced.

The brilliance of the framers of the Bill of Rights is that they anticipated the despotic push of government into religion and took strong measures to prevent that.  I do not think it is a matter of chance that freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and redress are all mentioned together and are the very first of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights as the very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  They knew that these rights are of paramount importance to protect the rights of the people against the potential tyranny of government.

The day before this post we citizens of the United States of America celebrated the signing of The Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  The truly revolutionary part of The Declaration of Independence lies in the assertion that, governments derive their "just powers from the consent of the governed."  When The Declaration of Independence was published, the governments of all the known world were monarchies.

With a monarchy, all the branches and authority of government are vested in the king or queen.  Anyone within the kingdom exercising authority of any form is only operating under a delegation of authority from the monarch.

In contrast with a monarchy, the authority of the Government of the United States of America is limited to whatever specific authorizations which the people of the United States delegate to the government.  This is why the Tenth Amendment, the last one included in the original Bill of Rights declares that, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."  This means that the people, whose consent is the basis of the authority of the government, are actively retaining to themselves all authorities which they have not expressly granted to the federal government or to the government of the each individual state.

Anti-Religion is Becoming Persecution

But, what happens when some of the people decide that they want their religion, or anti-religion, to become the law of the land?  If the government is reordered, either by the passing of laws, the rulings of the courts, or the orders of the Executive (the President), so that the exercise of religion and conscience is made unlawful, that will effectively establish a state religion.  It may be the religion of anti-religion.  Just because it has no houses of worship or ordained clergy, and has as its only accepted doctrine the hatred and oppression of obedience to deity, that does not mean it is not a religion.  In fact, anti-religion is the worship of humanity.

Anti-religion rejects the notion that there is any creature with supernatural or godly powers that is intervening, for good or ill, in human affairs.  Anti-religion utterly rejects the idea that after this life we will be held accountable for our actions in this life, regardless of whether or not they were discovered by our fellow human beings.  Anti-religion generally rejects the notions of absolute right and absolute wrong (evil).

Three Pillars of Anti-Religion

These three points tend to be the three pillars of anti-religion:

  1. There is no such thing as god, or any intelligent power outside of nature (nothing supernatural).
  2. There is no life beyond the death of the brain and body.
  3. There is no absolute right or absolute wrong, absolute good or absolute evil.

On the last point, there is at least one noted anti-religionist (or atheist), who asserts that there are external, universal, and observable criteria which can be used to categorize certain actions as wrong or right.  The avowed atheist Sam Harris in his book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values makes the case for the existence of absolute right and wrong based upon the unambiguous positive or negative effects of certain actions on humanity, both individually and collectively.  Because of his writings, I have moderate the extent of the third point with the word, "generally."  It is important to understand these three pillars, and why they are a threat, not only to religion, but to humanity.

No Such Thing as God

The rejection of the existence of god, means the rejection of the existence of any higher order of being beyond humanity.  This places humanity at the top of the metaphysical pyramid.  Being the apex of the universe frees humanity from any but self-imposed constraints.  The absence of any being of an higher level of power means that no other being can impose their restrictions on humanity.  So, if humanity decides that there is nothing wrong with murder or theft, then there is no source of opprobrium that can enforce a different view point.  Essentially, the absence of deity puts the intellect of humanity, individually or collectively, in the place of god.  The smartest individual is the most god-like.  And, if you believe that together we are smarter than we are separately, that puts the group as the most god-like being in the universe.

If the group is god, the governments represent the collective will and intelligence of deity.  This is how we move into the realm of Godvernment: Government as God, people looking to government as the source of their spiritual and temporal salvation.

No Life Beyond Death

The second pillar, no existence beyond this mortal life, means that there is no power beyond nature, i.e., the supernatural does not exist.  This denial of the supernatural is essential to anti-religion because the existence of any supernatural power, be it god, ghosts, or the spirits of trees and animals, means that there is some intelligent being which can possibly intervene in the world of nature, either for good or ill and that being is not able to be controlled or exterminated by humanity.  For anti-religion to stand supreme, there can be no powers beyond those of humanity and nature - and humanity believes it can eventually find ways to control all aspects of nature.

No Absolute Right or Wrong

The third pillar, the absence of absolute right and wrong or good and evil, means that humanity decides what is good and what is bad.  We have seen much of this in recent years.  For millennia, with few exceptions, societies deemed homosexual activity to be wrong or evil and religious adherence to be right or good.  In recent years, many societies have removed the stigma on homosexual activities, considering them to be as non-evil as heterosexual activities.  At the same time, some societies have begun to stigmatize religious activity and adherence as anti-social, bad, wrong, or evil behavior because it embodies dissent from the desired view point of those trying to rule the society.  For those who fully embrace Judaeo-Christian traditions, this is a direct fulfillment of the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

Calling Evil Good and Good Evil

In Chapter 5 of Isaiah is the parable of the vineyard.  In this parable God explains how he took good care of the vineyard and instead of getting good fruit, he got unusable "wild" fruit.  He then goes on to say how the fruit is wild and what the results of this wildness will be.  He notes in verse 20, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" In verse 21 he goes on, "Woe unto those that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight."  In verse 24 he declares their fate, "Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust:"

Godvernment and anti-religion is all about "those who are wise in their own eyes."  If you have no objective standard of measure to gauge your thoughts or conduct, then you are relying wholly upon your own wisdom and if you believe you are doing right, it is no more nor less than being wise in your own eyes, instead of being seen as wise by an absolute, external standard.  That is a much easier standard to measure up to.

The anti-religionists want to make anti-religion the religion of the state.  They will then use the powers of the state to exterminate religion.  They will stigmatize the belief in God and his commandments as anti-social behavior.  Criminal activity is anti-social behavior.  That means religious behavior will become criminalized, not just marginalized.

Religious persecution in the land of the free and the home of the brave is not new, but it is moving toward a much deeper and wider level than has ever before happened in the history of our republic.  It will happen, the only question is will you be on the side of the persecutors or will you be one of those standing up for the freedom of religion and conscience?

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. (c) 

Copyright 2018 A+ Results LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lessons in the Virtues of Traditional Morality from Communist China?

In today's Wall Street Journal Opinion Page is an article by Wendy Wang, titled The Sequence is the Secret to Success.

In her article she cites studies in the US and experience in China that pretty authoritatively demonstrate that the formula for rising out of poverty is to go to school, work, get married and then have children, in that order.

The sitcom Murphy Brown glorified the notion of having children out of wedlock, and Dan Quayle foundered on the reef when he, correctly, pointed out that single parenthood is actually a formula for poverty.  The media wouldn't tolerate that story however, and facts notwithstanding, pilloried Quayle for his on-point observations.

Here are a few of Wendy's most powerful facts:

  • Among childless and unmarried millenials 28 to 34 who followed the education and work steps, the poverty rate was 8%.
Murphy Brown was a fictional character.  The sitcom writers didn't have to let reality influence the posh lifestyle this single mother enjoyed.  The reality for the overwhelming majority of single parents is constant financial struggle on the edge of poverty and homelessness.

In contrast with those who assert that society and racism hold the keys that keep the poor imprisoned in poverty, Ms. Wang shows that behaviors and choices open the doors out of poverty.

  • Among young adults who grew up in low-income families, those who followed all three steps had a poverty rate of only 6%, compared with 35% for their peers who missed one or more steps.
  • Eighty percent of those with lower-income backgrounds made it into middle- or upper-income brackets when they followed all three steps, versus only 44% for those who missed one or more steps.

SURPRISE! Following the same old-fashioned notions that were accepted for centuries in the US works to lift people out of poverty, even in the face of those who claim 'the American Dream' is dead.

  • Brookings scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill call it the "success sequence": getting at least a high-school diploma, working, and then marrying before having children--again, in that order. ... Following the success sequence is associated with a much lower chance of being poor and much better odds of realizing the American Dream.

One of my personal heroes, Star Parker, has been preaching the solution of personal choice instead of government programs as the path out of poverty for years now.  Her approach flies in the face of the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who never met a government handout they didn't like.  If you are tired of reading the race baiters preach white-guilt, government programs, and income redistribution, you will enjoy her book, Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.

Learn more about Tom Sheppard at his Amazon Author Page:
Get your own copy of Tom's blockbuster Godvernment today.

(c) Copyright 2018 A+ Results LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Real Problem with DACA

Today, I saw lots of angst and anger on social media because of President Trump's announcement to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA, AKA The Dream Act).  Many folks have categorized the President's action as racist and anti-immigration.  Actually, it is neither.

The Constitutionally defined role of the Executive Branch of our government is to execute the laws of the land.  The Executive is not to make laws.  Nor is the Executive to determine if laws are just, or unjust, constitutional or unconstitutional.

The role of the Legislative Branch of our government is to make laws.  The role of the Judiciary is to determine the justice or constitutionality of the laws.

In June 2012, when President Barak Obama implemented DACA as an executive order, he was making law.  He was impatient with the Congress and their inability to provide any meaningful action on this important issue.

The issue of people who were brought here illegally as children and have known no other country since their early childhood is one which tugs at both the heartstrings and purse strings of our country.  Statistics reported in connection with this group of about 800,000 people show that they are great contributors, not drains on our country.

Is it any wonder that the overwhelming sentiment regarding these people is that we need to find a way to make them legal residents within our country, preferably with a path toward citizenship?

While I sympathize with President Obama's frustration, when he implemented DACA, he was violating the constitutional separation of powers.  It is for actions like this that he was accused of being Emperor Obama.  In a monarchy, all three branches of government converge in the person of the monarch.  When a US President starts making laws, that president is taking upon his office the powers of the other branches of government.  That violates the US Constitution and is a serious threat to the freedoms we all enjoy.

Rather that ascribing foul motives to the President's actions, which may or may not be true, let's address the facts of the matter.  When President Trump issued an executive order to countermand DACA, he was undoing the unconstitutional act of his predecessor.  In doing this, he strengthened constitutional government in our land and he put the onus for dealing with this issue squarely onto the Congress, where it belongs.

He effectively gave Congress a six month deadline to take action.  If they fail to pass a law to address this issue in the interim, that is their failure, not his.  The fact is, all they really need to do is to adopt the DACA as President Obama put it forward and make it the law of the land.  They will have made a law that many people like, and the Executive will be happy to enforce.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

(c) Copyright 2017 A+ Results LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.

Learn more about Tom Sheppard at his Amazon Author Page:
Get your own copy of Tom's blockbuster Godvernment today.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Colliding Warships: Tom Clancy and Tom Sheppard

authors tom sheppard and tom clancy

Tom Clancy had a vivid imagination.  I read and enjoyed his books.  He often wove intricate plots which involved governments or quasi-governments engaging in elaborate schemes to hide their hands in world events until they were ready to make their dramatic, public moves.

To be very blunt, recent headlines from the Pacific read like plot points in a Tom Clancy novel.

In the past year, we have had dramatically escalating conflicts with both China and North Korea.  At the same time, the US Seventh Fleet, our primary military force in that part of the world has experienced an unprecedented series of four mishaps with our warships in that part of the world.

Most recently, the USS John McCain was hit by an oil tanker bearing a Liberian flag.  Before that the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container shipped bearing a Phillipine flag.  In May the USS Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat.  In January, the USS Antietam ran aground, hitting an uncharted sandbar outside of Yokosuka Harbor, Japan.

What all of these accidents have in common is that they all involved guided missile ships of the US Navy.  The sort of ships that could effectively do two things, very well:

  1. They could shoot down the missiles coming out of North Korea
  2. They can project force to deter China's aggressive moves to lay claim to all of the South China Sea.
While the failure on the Antietam is probably nothing more or less than a fluke or a failure of the captain or crew, the other three incidents all leave everyone who is aware of the training and capabilities of these ships wondering how this could happen?

The saber rattling of North Korean President Kim Jong Un has been very much in the national and international headlines because of the dramatic nature of his threats.  Test launching missiles capable of reaching the US and working to mount nuclear warheads on them is no idle threat which can be ignored.  One of the countermeasures the US has deployed is to visibly sail our guided missile ships off the coast of Korea as a clear threat to shoot down whatever the North Koreans put into the air.  And the threat from these ships is no fiction.

With the ability to launch multiple supersonic, guided missiles in seconds, as well as putting nuclear capable cruise missiles into the air, the destructive power of just one of these ships is considerable.  North Korea is right to feel intimidated by them.

The actions of the Chinese, because they are less dramatic, have not received nearly as much attention as those of the North Koreans.  But the danger they represent is more probable than a nuclear launch from North Korea.

For years now, the Chinese have been laying claim to atolls and sandbars in the far reaches of the South China Sea.  They have been building up these tiny islands into places capable of hosting airfields while they have also been mounting shore defenses on them.  Along with each claim they stake, they have been claiming that nearly all the waters of the South China Sea are owned by China.

The dashed red line on the map below shows how far China is trying to extend their reach.  This is a lot farther than the 12-mile limit recognized in international maritime law.  It would effectively make the South China Sea into a Chinese lake.  Much as the Roman's referred to the Mediterranean as the Mar Nostrum, "our sea", the Chinese would be able to refer to the South China Sea as their sea.

Countries much closer to these atolls have protested and made counterclaims.  But what do the Chinese really have to fear from the Philippines or Vietnam?  If either or both of those countries tried to go to war with China over these conflicting claims on the atolls, China would destroy them economically and militarily in a matter of weeks.

Only Japan and US have sufficient presence and power to counter the Chinese ambitions in this area.

So why should we care about what is happening in the South China Sea?  Because, experts estimate that about 1/3rd of all global shipping transits the South China Sea.  It is among the busiest shipping lanes in the world.  If China were to succeed in laying claim to its waters, they could control or prohibit trade through those waters.  This would either drive up the costs of everything, by forcing longer routes around those waters, or put a stranglehold on 42% of  goods going in and out of Japan.

The chart below shows clearly that it is not just Japan that would feel the impact.  Germany, France, the UK, Italy, India, Brazil, Canada and the US would all feel significant impacts if the flow of trade through the South China Sea were restricted or taxed by the Chinese.

All of this brings me back to the intricate plots of Tom Clancy.  In one of his novels, he imagined someone high-jacking a passenger jet and using it as a weapon, crashing it into the US Capitol Building.  Then on 9-11 four passenger jets were high-jacked and used as weapons, crashing them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.  My point here is that whatever an author can imagine in the way of plots and intrigues can also be imagined and implemented by the agents of malice in the world.

To me, when I look at the news coming out of that part of the world, I see signs of a well crafted and cleverly executed plot to dramatically decrease the ability of the US to project power in that part of the world during a very critical time.  Don't be surprised if we see significant escalation in the aggressive moves coming out of China, North Korea or both during the next few months.

Given that North Korea is effectively China's guard dog, it is not at all beyond belief that they are encouraging Kim Jong Un to launch his missiles and taunt the US simply to distract attention away from the more strategic moves China is making a little further south.

Add to this a bit of additional history, from just a bit further back.  When we lost Vietnam, we lost the military use of the deep water port of Cam Rahn Bay, on the West side of the South China Sea.  When the Philippines booted the US out of Subic Bay we lost the military use of a deep water port on the East side of the South China Sea.  Deep water ports are not all that common and they are necessary for the large vessels of the US Navy to dock.  The loss of these two ports means that big US warships, like air craft carriers, would have to come from the ports of Japan or Australia to enforce international law in the South China Sea.  The further we have to stretch to reach the area of contention, the more vulnerable and weaker we are militarily.

If the US is unable to effectively project significant power in the South China Sea, international law won't matter.  China will use its own Navy and its string of air strips, with accompanying military planes, to enforce its control of the area.  If they can set it up, then the only viable alternatives will be to submit to Chinese extortion or for the US to use gunboat diplomacy to force the opening of the shipping lanes.  Getting in a shooting match with China, on their doorstep does not guarantee a positive outcome for the US or the freedom of shipping in international waters.

If an author like Tom Clancy, or me, can imagine it, then the folks in the halls of power have probably already figured out how to make it happen.  Think about that, the next time one of our ships in the Seventh Fleet gets clipped.  The "accident" probably isn't an accident at all.

Some links to related news stories:
Tom Clancy's Executive Orders

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

(c) Copyright 2017 A+ Results LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.

Learn more about Tom Sheppard at his Amazon Author Page:
Get your own copy of Tom's blockbuster Godvernment today.