Speaking to The Woodlands Tea Party

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On September 4, I will be speaking to The Woodlands Tea Party on “Individual Rights and the Tea Party.” The talk will be held at 1544 Sawdust Road, Ste. 402.

The event starts at 6:30 PM, and copies of my book will be available for purchase. I hope to see you there.

Individual Rights and Tolerance

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One of the biggest problems facing America is the lack of tolerance that many, if not most, Americans exhibit towards others. Both leftists and conservatives are frequently very intolerant of individuals who seek values with which they disagree.

For example, leftists support a return to the “Fairness Doctrine,” which forced broadcasters to give equal time to opposing views. Unwilling to tolerate the fact that conservatives dominate talk radio, leftists want to use government coercion to achieve what the free and voluntary choices of radio listeners has denied them.

For their part, conservatives are generally intolerant of pornography and homosexuality. They want to use government coercion to deny consenting adults the freedom to engage in the sexual activities of their choosing.

In both instances, the intolerant seek to violate individual rights—the moral right of each individual to act on his own independent judgment, so long as he respects the mutual rights of others. In both instances, the intolerant seek to use government force to prohibit individuals from expressing ideas or pursuing values.

In contrast, only an advocate of individual rights is truly tolerant, for individual rights recognize and protect each individual’s freedom to act as he chooses, no matter how unpopular. Only individual rights provide a social context in which those with ideas or life styles outside of the mainstream are free from the dictates of the majority.

The intolerant believe that others should be forced to live their lives as they—the intolerant—demand. The advocate of individual rights believes that each individual should be free to live as he chooses.

This does not mean that all ideas and life styles are morally equal. Quite the contrary. Some ideas and life styles are demonstrably bad for an individual’s life and well-being. But tolerance involves accepting the fact that some individuals will choose such ideas and life styles. The intolerant reject this view, believing that individuals should be forced to act contrary to their own judgment and ideas. In my book, that isn’t very tolerant.

Going “Green” the Rational Way

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I am generally not one to jump on bandwagons. I usually find them too crowded for my tastes, not to mention the foul odor that seems to emanate from them. But a few years ago I decided to hop aboard the “go green” bandwagon.

My green initiative has several aspects. The first, and perhaps most significant, was dumping tons of water on my plants during droughts. I realize that most “go green” initiatives involve conserving water, but as an individualist I will “go green” any damn way I want, thank you very much. The results of this prodigious water use are two-fold. First, my water bill rises significantly. Second, my plants stay alive, and a few actually thrive. In contrast, my neighbor’s yards turn brown, which is not very green in my book.

Another thing I did was get serious about man-made pesticides. Previously, I used pesticides sparingly, primarily because I don’t enjoy wandering around my yard spraying toxic chemicals when the temperature is approaching 120 degrees. But I enjoy lace bugs on my azaleas, mealy bug on my hibiscus, and white fly on everything else even less. (Just in case you don’t know, lace bugs will turn the leaves of azaleas a putrid gray color, and gray isn’t green. Mealy bugs are scaly creatures that suck the life out of plants, and like white fly they are–can you guess–white. White isn’t green either.) I realize that true “greenies” don’t use man-made pesticides, but as I previously stated, I will “go green” in the manner that I choose.

Another part of my “go green” initiative actually involvs something that rabid environmentalists might actually approve. I have spent time perfecting my compost piles. You (and my wife) might think it silly to have compost piles in the middle of the nation’s fourth largest city. You (and my wife) are wrong.

Compost provides micro-nutrients, microbes, and other yummy stuff to the soil and plants. It makes plants healthy, wealthy, and wise. It breeds earthworms, and earthworms are our friends–they chew up dead organic material and create lots of tiny holes in the ground. And the best part is, worm poop (technically called “castings“) is very nutrient rich.

I used to buy dozens of bags of compost each year to spread throughout my yard and gardens. I tended to do this over a few weekends each spring, and it was back breaking work. Now, I can spread a little compost each week, providing my adorable little plants with fresh compost throughout the year. It saves my back, and the soil benefits from the steady application of humus. (Humus should not be confused with hummus, which I actually enjoy eating.) And my wife doesn’t think that so silly. Now, she regularly asks me to provide her with some compost to put around her favorite plants. (A little known saying in the earthworm community is, “He who provides compost laughs last.”)

An unexpected benefit of my increased interest in compost was the opportunity to commune with nature. There is nothing quite like spending an hour turning a compost pile and letting the earthy smell of rotting vegetable matter waft into your nostrils. You just can’t get that experience living in an apartment.

I’ve also learned many interesting facts about the biology of composting. For example, the ideal compost pile has about 5 parts “brown” to 1 part “green.” Now, a rational person might think that “brown” and “green” refer to colors. And that would be wrong. “Brown” refers to carbon rich materials, like dead leaves. “Green” refers to nitrogen rich materials, like fresh grass clippings. So far, the brown/green dichotomy makes sense, but when you consider the fact that coffee grounds, manure, and urine are “green,” the whole thing is as understandable as the typical environmentalist.

The results of my “go green” initiative have been mixed. Occasional droughts have undoubtedly stunted the growth of many of my plants. But I am optimistic about the long-term. My adventures with composting are showing signs of greatly benefiting the plants and reducing my watering requirements. My indiscriminate use of pesticides has eliminated mealy bugs and lace bugs. My “go green” initiative is not intended to save the planet or anything along those irrational lines. My “go green” initiative is intended for my benefit and my pleasure (and my wife’s). And anyone who doesn’t like that can kiss my jolly green thumb.