Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 24, 2018
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
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Segment 1: (11 min)
BUT FIRST: The opening essay
Been a while since our last conversation
Most destructive wildfire in California's history. "Camp Fire" destroyed more structures than the next six most-destructive fires in that state, combined.
And an election
There has been good, there has been bad.
But on this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I am thankful for the thing that makes America, America. And that is the blessed fact that the Founders chose to put it down in writing that the very purpose for our being is to protect rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I'm thankful those have been written down, because that keeps us accountable to them. Like any set of ideals -- including a New Year's resolution -- we may very well fall short. But it's much better to fall short of a high ideal and be conscious of it than to fail to have those high ideals at all. A goal on which you fall short remains something to strive towards, not something to abandon.
I'm thankful for the enumeration that rights come first, because that's a goal we need to reorient towards. Two examples:
An idiotic take from a Marxist professor at Illinois State University:
Repeat after me: taxation is better than philanthropy.— Andrew Hartman (@HartmanAndrew) November 19, 2018
This comes straight from the same playbook that says "government is just another word for the things we do together".
And that's completely wrong. "Government", according to the documents we use as Americans, is mostly a word for how we choose to leave each other peacefully alone. Sure, we use government to do some things "together", but we should never choose to do them as a substitute for what comes first.
My beef with anarchists (including libertarian anarchists) is that they think a state of nature is a safer place for individual rights and liberties than an organized civilization. They're wrong: Nobody's rights are safe unless everybody's rights are safe, particularly the rights of those who are in minorities who can't protect themselves, or when the rights are exercised to do things that are merely unpopular.
And no amount of economic outcome erases that. That's the basic flaw in the thinking at the head of the Chinese government, where the economy is roaring but a million people have been sent to prison camps because they're of the wrong ethnic group.
There's no GDP growth rate that justifies what China is doing.
Government doesn't exist to manipulate oil prices, to take credit for economic growth, or to segregate people over their origins.
That's a lesson that shouldn't be ignored among those of us on the right, either. No amount of cheerleading over jobs numbers or interest rates or the state of the stock market is compatible with the vision of limited government.
Yes, government will inevitably intersect with the economy, but our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution say that it should do so first and foremost in the interest of "doing no harm". No harm to rights, and no harm to the pursuit of happiness.
But in the short run, the medium run, and the long run, we have to keep our eyes on the goal: The protection and preservation of rights, for which governments are instituted among men (and women).
Anything else is a false idol.
Segment 2: (8 min)
Recommended books for Christmas and other holiday giving:
- "Them" by Ben Sasse
- "Suicide of the West" by Jonah Goldberg
- "The Restless Wave", by John McCain and Mark Salter
- "Safe Passage", by Kori Schake
- "Conscience of a Conservative", by Jeff Flake
Segment 3: (14 min)
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)
The owner announced that the one-screen theater on the edge of the Drake University campus is shutting down on December 30th.
We are fortunate to live materially better lives which are far beyond the wildest dreams of our predecessors, largely thanks to their hard work. We ought to be dedicated to doing the same for our own descendants.
Segment 4: (5 min)
Live read: iHeartRadio app
A personal and important story about being decent and humane
Segment 5: (11 min)
Mind your business
The educators who think their first job is to get a lesson across to students, no exceptions
Being in a hospital is usually stressful enough; making one's way wherever they're going shouldn't add needless stress to the experience
Segment 6: (8 min)
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 2)
21st Century conservatism
An observation from Ben Sasse that dovetails with the rule from economics that nobody washes a rented car. Ownership matters not just in the material sense, but in the civic one, too.
Segment 7: (14 min)
Have a little empathy
A definition from Jacqueline Novogratz: "[T]he willingness to respond to the plight of others. To envision how to address suffering and injustice."
Matthew Hedges says he was researching his Ph.D. in security. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, one wonders whether anyone who might be out to study the critical topic of security could do so if they had to fear for their own security from the states where they need to do their research.
A whole bunch of factors, but a surge in US shale oil production, growing stockpiles, and high production levels from many suppliers (some of whom are intent on cutbacks) have all contributed to shifting prices lower.
Segment 8: (5 min)
Curiosity, competence, and humility
As long as everyone remembers that the branches of government are co-equal, the Republic should survive. But we've had better moments as a country than one in which the head of the Supreme Court has to defend the independent judiciary. If nothing else, perhaps, we have the opportunity to be reminded of the central importance of the tripartite Constitutional order.