Traffic was abysmal in the Nation's Capitol this Friday afternoon. The radio bored me. It seemed more a distraction than entertainment in the midst of the sweltering heat. As the channels scanned on the 2005 digital screen, the songs seemed to melt in the air. Country Western seemed to blah-blah as the hours divided the times that I pressed the brake and then, the accelerator. The moaning and begging of R&B artists irritated the hairs of my inner ear. The topics seemed so stale no matter the sports columnist or conservative talk show host. It's just too hot to agitate my moral fibers this day. The air seemed in some areas blazed torches. Finally, the man-made global warming from Capitol Hill has caught up with the summer season. The City born of a swamp denies me the comfortable chill of my icy cold soft drink. The air blasting from the dashboard felt as though it originated from a stove rather than a refrigerant. Sweat poured from my brow and down my back. My cotton shirt was applying for a new position of beach towel. In the haze, my mind drifted from the montage of road construction, taxi signalers and jaywalking I-phone critics to scintillating imaginations of choosing the next Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America.
"I should desire only one thing, to be relieved of the acute pain which the disease of the windpipe occasions."
Behind my seat, an elegantly dressed man stared back at me. His French accent broke the dearth of the travel haze. I'd known of him from my midnight readings in my office. His simple words made the complex world of economics and governmental tyranny so easy to comprehend. Frederic Bastiat was the common man's economist and today, he was glaring at me through my rear view mirror.
"So, L'exceptionnel, you are contemplating the formidable choice of Commander-In-Chief for your Nation. T'is a most sobering moment indeed. A solemn pursuit of a man that seeks truth over noble exploration of falsehood. What is your great consternation?"
Wiping my amply wet brow with a McDonald's napkin, I advanced my dearest pre-occupation, "Monsieur Bastiat, the United States has the most powerful standing military in all of the world. AT once, our sailors were the envy of the seas. Our soldiers induced mortal fear. Our marines revealed the follies of terrorist foreign and domestic. There was no spot upon the Earth that our Air Force did not cover. Yet, in eight years, our armed forces have been ridiculed in the South China Sea, demoralized in Iraq and manipulated into sacrificial lambs in Afghanistan. These things done at the hands of a community organizer. Now we must choose his replacement. How shall I judge?"
"La pire chose qui puisse arriver à une bonne cause est, de ne pas être habilement attaqué, mais pour être maladroitement défendu."
"Bastiat, man, all of this time, I've been speaking English. Can you let go the Français for the remainder of this imagination?"
"Sure thing, homie! 'The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.' The rights of free men have been given by God. The cause of liberty is defended by those willing to sacrifice their God-given rights to assure you yours. It takes great courage, integrity and fidelity to led men and women into war. Not everyone has want it takes to fulfill your Constitution's design."
”So as an economist, you are saying that #charactermatters."
"Indeed, it does, my fine brown wordsmith. As in finance, character reveals how an individual will perform when you have given them your trust. A candle-maker gives you a job to make wax for his products. He gives you all of the supplies necessary awaiting your ability to assemble the product for sale. You break a small portion of his glassware and destroy his wax molds. He can only sell a smaller portion of his original supply and thus, incurs greater expenses and less profit. Would he trust you, in the future, to make him a great profit?"
"Nah. He wouldn't trust me anywhere near his supplies because I wasted his investment."
"Exactly, L'exceptionnel, 'when law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.' You must decide, not on external presentation but by merit of action, which of these has encourage moral disarray within the public and which has encouraged men to disavow the restraint and justice of law."
"Seems, pretty easy to me, Monsieur Bastiat. While Donald J. Trump is a virtuoso blow-heart on matters of his corporate brand, his flaws were never evident in matters of public trust. Of the two, only Hillary Rodham Clinton was offered a public trust to govern. She has induced men and women to accept her lies as fact and that as a privileged politician, she is above the law, unable to be prosecuted. Each flawed but one has the character to lead."
"L'exceptionnel, it has been a pleasure reasoning truth with you. By the way, the truck on your left is cutting in..."
Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye! Darn truck! I looked back and Monsieur Bastiat was exit stage right. Well reasoned though, the next Commander-In-Chief must have character and not just be a character! As the summer sun rains down through the windshield, I wondered if Monsieur Bastiat was offended that he was speaking with one of the deplorable citizens of the US. Hmm? I reached for slightly cold soft drink in despair. Another had found favor in partaking in my choice of afternoon chilling substance.
"Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. Do you have any ice for this or maybe some chips in that plastic bag?"
I'd reached for a soda and discovered Economist Thomas Sowell. Long removed from the chicken circuit of public lecturing, one of America's great economist, social theorist, political philosopher and authors was downing my drink as he broached my concerns over the next Commander-In-Chief. I wish I could join him in drink but I'll, without notable offense, partake of the conversation.
“Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy. It's purpose is to discern the consequences of various ways of allocating resources which have alternative uses. It has nothing to say about philosophy or values, anymore than it has to say about music or literature.”
"So, I see Thomas..."
"Mr. Sowell, L'exceptionnel!"
"Mr. Sowell, indeed! What was I thinking, right." I extended my fist for a bump but he merely sipped on my soft drink. Talk about the study of lack. He just gonna leave me hanging like that.
"So, I see Mr. Thomas, cause and effect has a basis in considering matters of economics. I suppose if we were to consider other areas of life, cause and effect must be relied upon to give reason for the choices that we make. The Constitution clearly states, 'The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States'. So, we are not picking based on gender or race or faith. We are selecting the next Commander-In-Chief to lead our Nation in War and to secure our Peace. What they believe impacts what they will do. How shall we consider the person for the position?"
“'When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.' We have no time, despite the endurance of this traffic jam, to entertain you with what you want to hear. 'Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.' Ideas matter and how one considers the ideas of men in fashioning strategy and choosing generals is vital. 'Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.' Men and women that control the tools of war and peace must have the capacity to choose wisdom over feelings."
"Capacity is the answer. How revealing, Mr Thomas! In finance, a borrower's financial stability gives comfort to the lender that one sustains the strength to repay the loan. In affairs of the state, we must reason that one's established accomplishments give comfort to the potential choices one will make in executing justice in war and peace."
"Excuse me, L'exceptionnel."
"Yes, Mr. Sowell?"
"Have any thing else to drown one's thirst? A man my age must remain well-hydrated in weather conditions like these."
Attempting to hide my disdain at the depletion of my water supply, I kindly informed the Economic Guru of Stanford that I did not.
"You must make certain not only to sustain yourself but those that will be yours to provide for and protect."
"I see, Mr Sowell. It is more appealing to idealize that which produces results for those in need than, without resource, commit to a framework of goals that will produce only that lofty expectations. Nations only respond to those willing to make strong rhetoric their deeds and dishonor those with flowery rhetoric and a lack of backbone. The leaders of strong nations must be themselves employ words of strength and convey a virulent penchant to back up such words. Nations respect men that are not afraid to show their fists and accurately prophecy their punch. They harbor disdain for those that feel they must be diplomatic with every retort and hide even their face from their own people. Capacity asks, 'Can I trust this person to make good on their promises?' Nations say that I may not like what this persons says but I can believe that he will do what he says. Nations also say that I know this persons by what they have done and what they have said and no matter their rhetoric, they can not be trusted."
“What is history but the story of how politicians have squandered the blood and treasure of the human race?”
"Powerful, Mr. Sowell! Your words are clarion."
"What is present?"
"What is it, Mr. Sowell?"
"You are out of water and that postal truck is about to cut in on your right side. By the way, you can call me Tom."
"What?! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! Son of a so and so!"
Peering from the bumper to the passenger seat, I noticed Mr. Sowell's absence. As I stared at the rear of the US Government's Constitutionally protected truck, I could feel the heat and steam rising from beneath my collar. My chilled soft drink, I raised to my lips. The air from the dashboard felt more like a summer in Tempe, Arizona than the climate change of Antarctica. If I could just get to a gas station, I could restore my flesh with cold water and fill my gas tank with Saudi gold. Let me take a swig of this warm soft drink.
"A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings."
Over my right shoulder, a disheveled, old man with a rusk Austrian accent was sitting behind me. He seemed entranced with the goings on outside of his window. Yet, not distracted by my thoughts on the issue of Commander-In-Chief. Why does he choose to compare socialism to capitalism?
"May I roll down your window. I mean no offense but your car struggles more with conditioning air to be cold than Lord Keynes struggles with convincing the world that taxing the poor and printing more money will save the worlds' economies."
Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises is joning on a brother! The father of modern libertarian-ism, the classical liberal, the originator of Austrian economics is in my backseat joning on me. What's up with that?
"Sure, Mr. von Mises. What do I say to the man that challenged mankind to think reason when Lord Keynes was encouraging them to think fear? Nothing but yes. But stop joning on a brother!"
"Awright, brother. No problem. Give me some dap tho."
Fist bumping over, I have an old white man in my car that is more down than me. What is up with that?"
"Mr. Exceptional, you are confounded with choosing a Commander-In-Chief? I mentioned alternative economic systems. One can best reason to choose the person for this post. 'All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.' Think of money and think of the post."
"Money is a tool. It can be exchanged. It represents value. Some people have a lot of it. Some people don't."
"I hope this does not take awhile, your car is pretty hot. Money is used as capital. Wealth, in the form of money or assets, is taken as a sign of the financial strength of an individual, organization, or nation, and assumed to be available for development or investment. This is capital. It is not directly involved in the process of making goods but certainly no goods are made without it. Which of the persons running has the greatest amount of capital to offer your people, the Nation and the world. 'The capitalist system of production is an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote. The consumers are the sovereign people. The capitalists, the entrepreneurs, and the farmers are the people’s mandatories. If they do not obey, if they fail to produce, at the lowest possible cost, what the consumers are asking for, they lose their office. Their task is service to the consumer. Profit and loss are the instruments by means of which the consumers keep a tight rein on all business activities.' The Commander-In-Chief must offer the sons and daughters of the Nation as sacrifice for the profit and loss of the Nation. He or she must be willing to invest his or her capital in just wars and profitable conflicts. As the penny is valued, so must be the lives of those you command."
"So, we must pursue peace at all costs?"
"The interventionists do not approach the study of economic matters with scientific disinterestedness. Most of them are driven by an envious resentment against those whose incomes are larger than their own. This bias makes it impossible for them to see things as they really are. For them the main thing is not to improve the conditions of the masses, but to harm the entrepreneurs and capitalists even if this policy victimizes the immense majority of the people. Value is not intrinsic, it is not in things. It is within us; it is the way in which man reacts to the conditions of his environment. Neither is value in words and doctrines, it is reflected in human conduct. It is not what a man or groups of men say about value that counts, but how they act. Now it cannot be denied that the only way one can offer effective resistance to violent assaults is by violence. Against the weapons of the Bolsheviks, weapons must be used in reprisal, and it would be a mistake to display weakness before murderers. No liberal has ever called this into question. What distinguishes liberal from Fascist political tactics is not a difference of opinion in regard to the necessity of using armed force to resist armed attackers, but a difference in the fundamental estimation of the role of violence in a struggle for power. The great danger threatening domestic policy from the side of Fascism lies in its complete faith in the decisive power of violence. In order to assure success, one must be imbued with the will to victory and always proceed violently. This is its highest principle. What happens, however, when one's opponent, similarly animated by the will to be victorious, acts just as violently? The result must be a battle, a civil war. The ultimate victor to emerge from such conflicts will be the faction strongest in number. In the long run, a minority — even if it is composed of the most capable and energetic — cannot succeed in resisting the majority. The decisive question, therefore, always remains: How does one obtain a majority for one's own party? This, however, is a purely intellectual matter. It is a victory that can be won only with the weapons of the intellect, never by force. The suppression of all opposition by sheer violence is a most unsuitable way to win adherents to one's cause. Resort to naked force — that is, without justification in terms of intellectual arguments accepted by public opinion — merely gains new friends for those whom one is thereby trying to combat. In a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails."
"Our peace, Mr. von Mises, then, is best rewarded in the strength of our ideas, our people, our nation and our actions. We must ask whom has the capital--the wealth of ideas, sovereign will and prudent actions--to protect us from enemy both foreign and domestic. One that understands and boldly names the threats against us. An individual that represents the greatest fears of our enemies and the greatest solace of our friends. Peace through Strength not War through Apology and Historical Revisionism."
The newspaper that von Mises was using to fan himself failed to deliver the revival that comes with cool air as much as the air conditioning in my car. Yet, he persevered, "It is indeed very hot my friend and we have reasoned well together. Pull into that gas station on your left and let us refresh ourselves." O, great joy, sharing a rest bit with the Father of Austian Economics. Indeed, it may be hot but this is a just reward. Maybe we can do a selfie. That would be so awesome! I'll put it on the wall next to my picture with Katrina Pierson. No, I will take hers off the wall and replace it with my pic with von Mises. She won't ever know. As I came alongside to open the rear passenger door, the Great von Mises, I noticed that he was not there. This heat is killing my mind. As I wipe my brow with my shirt sleeve, I think aloud, "I hope Katrina never finds out that I was going to replace my selfie with her for a selfie with von Mises. Whew, the global implications!"
All I could do is briskly walk towards the counter to pay for the gas. Pay first then, pump. There were a few before me, so I decided to save some time and make my store entrance a cameo. One time in for the gas and the goodies. I'll gather a couple bottles of water, some candies and some chips. Yeah, this will be great! The final pit stop before home. Lines a little slow. I'm tempted to pickup a few Slim-Jims or maybe a cupcake.
"You gonna buy that stuff in your hands or are you gonna put it back on the shelf for me?"
As a fellow southerner, I can understand the hilarious charms of the people but, it's kind of annoying to be rushed in purchase. After this long, heated trek, I don't need a smarty pants. Not now! I should turn around and tell Barney Fife a little about himself. Yes, that's what I'm gonna do. I'm going let him know about himself!
"I'm glad to see that you made up your mind finally, young man. It seems that you've had a real hard time doing that today."
My eyes widen like a little boy in the reptile house of the National Zoo! Behind the counter, a large man with lenses just above his nose stands. His eyes were very serious yet, his smile brightened the store. The radical academic and genteel economist Walter Williams was peering out from beyond the heavy plastic divider towards me. My goods instantly fell upon the counter on the opposite of the divide.
"However, if we wish to be compassionate with our fellow man, we must learn to engage in dispassionate analysis. In other words, thinking with our hearts, rather than our brains, is a surefire method to hurt those whom we wish to help."
"Mr. Williams, two things. One, I want $40 on pump 10. Two, In intellectually considering the choice of the next Commander-In-Chief, what should we compassionately discern is the most important trait?"
"Firstly, Pump 10 is busted. I'll put you on pump 12. Secondly, collateral."
"What will secure your promises? Most of the great problems we face are caused by politicians creating solutions to problems they created in the first place. The question we should ask of the the next C-I-C is what can we hold onto in guarantee of your future actions. Let's just be honest, we must audit the quality of collateral for one and pessimistically consider the collateral of the other."
"For Donald J. Trump, I can understand the need of audit. For Hillary Rodham Clinton, she's been Secretary of State, an United States Senator from New York and a First Lady of the White House. She has a wealth of experience, access, influence and power. Mr. Williams, why should we pay any attention to her?"
"Wealth comes from successful individual efforts to please one's fellow man ... that's what competition is all about: "outpleasing" your competitors to win over the consumers."
"I can reason that Mr. Trump's competitive passion in private industry has made him a wealthy man, an icon and an international brand. Image, profit and success matter to him. He's traveled the world and negotiated with world leaders in private. He knows the back-room and how deals get done. Yet, only he was on the line in those negotiations. Hence, we have no idea how he will perform as representative to the American people. We must accept that he has a desire to out-please American citizens and not other Nations. However, Hillary has public experience as Secretary of State, an United States Senator from New York and a First Lady of the White House. She, as First Lady, failed in her attempt to install socialized medicine upon the Nation's freedom and liberty. As A US Senator, she was for the Iraq War in vote before she was against it in newspaper. As Secretary of State, she failed to protect Ambassador Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs. She has recently failed to publicly admit that we lost anyone in Libya. In lieu of resetting relations with Russia, she overcharged them. She watched as Northern Africa became a possession of the Muslim Brotherhood during the Green Revolution. She has been accused of using the State Department as the Lobby of the Clinton Foundation's Treasury. Finally, even as a campaigner, she feels the need to lie about her personal health. Under audit, she is a failure as a public official. Not much collateral there."
"We might think of dollars as being 'certificates of performance.' The better I serve my fellow man, and the higher the value he places on that service, the more certificates of performance he gives me. The more certificates I earn, the greater my claim on the goods my fellow man produces. That's the morality of the market. In order for one to have a claim on what his fellow man produces, he must first serve him."
I took my bag and headed out the door. I understood collateral. I understood how I must consider each of those applying for the post of Commander-In-Chief, responsible for our fine military, national guard and militias. However, it was deplorable for me to leave without saying good bye. Or at least, thank you. I turned to open the glass door and saw the sign: "Closed". What a loss upon my heart. Sadly, I returned to my car. Drove to Pump 12 and pumped my gas. In moments, I was through pumping gas. I opened and closed my door. The sun was beginning to set and the traffic had eased. Just a few more miles home. I could not wait to tell Mz Bigz about this experience. I'll take this short cut. There are only two lights this way. I should be home in moments.
"No, No, No! I do not need anyone to wash my windows. Get away from my car!"
It had been a long, enduring trek home. I just wanted to get home. I did not mean to yell. However, what shook me is the guy would not leave.
"Considerations. You got everything but considerations."
He's right. I should have been more considerate saying "No". Just wash the windows and go!
"I believe that the main lesson which our generation has learnt is that we must find a new limit for the activities of government, a limit which leaves ample scope for sensible experimentation but which secures the freedom of the individual as the mainspring of all social and political activity. The whole purpose of these lectures has been to suggest that we can find such a limit if we are willing to revive and develop the ancient ideal of the Rule of Law."
OMG! Friedrich August von Hayek is washing my car window! Gee, the old man has come on hard times. I wonder who 's controlling his "Road to Serfdom" royalties. Maybe he needs a handout.
"Mr. Hayek, conditions refer to how a borrower intends to use the money of loan proceeds. So I suppose when intellectually analyzing whom will be best as Commander-In-Chief, I must think on how either will use our military. I do not want our military to be used as a social experiment for the pleasure of an Executive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I do not want our military taken prisoner by a totalitarian terrorist regime in the military. I do not want our military to be used as an armed world heath organization or non-governmental organization. I want our military to put the fear of God in military leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping and North Korea's Supreme Leader and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong-un. I want our veterans to know that their health concerns will be taken seriously and that they have a better chance of living in the US than dying in Iraq. I want to know how each will use our military. Will it become the world's health and peacekeeping force replacing the United Nations. Or will it be the protector of our Nation against enemy foreign and domestic. How will Hillary Clinton use our military? How will Donald Trump use our military? It is the how not the what that we must consider."
"Justice, like liberty and coercion, is a concept which, for the sake of clarity, ought to be confined to the deliberate treatment of men by other men."
"I am eternally grateful Mr. Hayek."
"Here's a copy of the Road to Serfdom. Now move along, the city's most patient are honking their horns!"
Turning the corner, I could feel the cool breeze upon my face. The air conditioner finally came alive. I checked the rear view mirror to see if anyone was behind me. No one was beside me. All was clear.
As I pulled my mighty old vehicle into the driveway, I began to offer thanks unto God for the gifts that He had given me this day. A window into the contemplation of the Sovereign. On this day, the mighty angels of economics had bestowed wisdom upon me that I might fully discern the reasons for choosing the next commander of history's greatest military. Hannibal's elephants were no match for our satellite guided tanks of this day. Alexander the Great's speed of force is not at its best comparable to the stealth pace of our Air Force. Our lineage of generals--George S. Patton, Jr., Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., etc.--is unmatched in history. Some, like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant, have risen to the honorable post of President of the United States of America as a result of their leadership on and off the fields of battle. It is a post designed in the image of one of America's greatest generals and founding father, George Washington.
How shall we examine the "whom" for America's greatest post? I shall remember the angels of this day. Bastiat reminds me that character matters. Sowell reveals the priceless commodity of capacity. It is von Mises that reminds me of the power of capital. Williams radically points to collateral as a term of discernment. It is von Hayek that opened my eyes to the thoughts of consideration. God has given me the power to choose the best of American-kind to lead our great forces into war and to sustain peace. It is a tremendous glory that civilians shall choose the Commander of the Military. It is a reckoning that should not be trifled.