Why All of the Anger?

I have a theory as to why all of this violence is showing up at political rallies, both Republican and Democrat, and in general around society.

My theory is that after years of political correctness and repressed feelings, our society is faced with a truly polarizing presidential candidate in Donald Trump and the most polarizing president since Abraham Lincoln, that is, Barack Obama, and all of those repressed feelings are coming out with a vengeance. The thought police have been telling us about how every tiny thing that is remotely offensive needs to be banned, and people in general are fed up with that.

Like any system under artificial pressure, once the smallest leak occurs, the pressure gushes out with great and terrible force and everything explodes. Our country is paying the price for having forced its people to shut their mouths and not speak what’s in their hearts and on their minds. Instead of normal discourse with its occasional bumpy areas, people have just swallowed their emotions and thoughts and they are sick from it. We don’t let our kids win trophies because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of the kids that came in second place. If nobody wins, everyone feels like a loser. Striving has been determined to be bad. Striving for greatness and excellence is is part of the human psyche. Millennials are becoming disillusioned with capitalism because they don’t think it’s fair. In capitalism, success is the driver behind striving for excellence because excellence equals success and success feels good. Success for some also means that some will fail (although for people of character, failure is the driver to work harder and try again to succeed). You can’t have winners without losers. We must come to grips with the fact that the only fairness that we are entitled to is a fair chance, a level playing field.

So whose fault is this? Is it Donald Trump’s or Hillary Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s or the news media’s? No! IT IS OUR FAULT. We have become the frog in the kettle. We jumped in the water when it was comfortable and we tried to keep it comfortable by the de facto barring of free speech and vigorous discourse. We put the ice cubes of political correctness in the water while ignoring the fact that the bunson burner of the human psyche is heating the water just a bit faster than the ice can cool it. We are now at a rapid boil with no end in sight. We as a nation have lost our minds and our abilities to disagree agreeably. We have become so thin skinned that it is a miracle we don’t bleed to death. We are fragile flowers that are offended at everything we don’t agree with.

The First Amendment is a messy thing. It entitles everyone the right to speak freely, without fear of reprisal. It also entitles everyone to peacefully and freely assemble. That does not mean that one group may invade the place of assembly of another and freely speak over the top of those that were already gathered and speaking there. We must respect each other and acknowledge the “right to be wrong.” There are plenty of public squares to go around. If it is one thing we have in great abundance in the United States, it is space.

Until we rediscover the balance between brutal truth-telling and civility, we will be a nation where people continue to either yell at each other or hide in the corner. The end result of that will be chaos and a nation in chaos cannot stand.

Is Open Source bad for business?

There are people that contend that Open Source destroys entrepreneurialism.  Not only does Open Source not have to destroy the entrepreneurial spirit, it can drive it by motivating companies to find ways to add value to the free software.  Take your average gas station.  It makes money from air and water, both of which are free.  When it installs a machine that compresses free air that can be added into a car tire, it charges 75¢ for the use of the inflation machine.  It takes the same machine, puts a large tube with a nozzle on it, flips the polarity of the DC motor, and it removes large quantities of air from your car with any debris within range.  The station charges 75¢ for the use of the vacuum.

The same approach breeds healthy competition which is the core of any free-market capitalist society.  Two gas stations may charge 75¢ for the tire inflator, but the station that leaves the air on for an extra 60 seconds and puts a pressure gauge on the end of hose will draw more customers because its offering is better than that of its competitor.  Both stations may lose out to a third station that gives its patrons free use of the inflator when they purchase gas because in a tight economy, everyone is looking to get something for nothing.

The greatest application of this principle is not found in the tire inflator or the vacuum.  It is found in the gas station’s refrigerated case where it takes plain old tap water that has been run through a filter and placed in a flimsy plastic bottle and sells it to you for $1.75 during the week and $2.25 on July 4th.

In the hands of an entrepreneur, a thing that costs nothing can be worth something.

Tom Sawyer is smiling down upon us from heaven.