Thursday, January 26, 2012

If statists ran Major League Baseball

Prince Fielder has just signed a nine-year, $214 million with the Detroit Tigers, an average of almost $24 million a year.

Obviously the gap between the richest and poorest baseball players is growing. Fielder's deal amounts to more than 55 times the minimum baseball salary of $414,000.

Why should an elite few get mega-contracts while the average player struggles along on about $3 million a year? Justice demands that these fat cats be required to share a major portion of their wealth with their teammates and league mates.

Some would argue that Fielder earned his high salary through hard work and talent. This is a selfish viewpoint that ignores the victories he gained at the expense of other players. All I'm suggesting is that Fielder pay his fair share.

UPDATE: Edited to fix faulty math.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dance of the butterflies

Riffing and moving on from the brief Pink Floyd reference of the other day:

You say the hill's too steep to climb? Climb it.

You say you're not sure where to start? Get started.

You say you don't know what to do? Do something.

They say the road is blocked? Drive it.

They say the economy's too tough? Go for it.

They say it's been tried before? Try it.

They say it can't be done? Do it.

Of course you're anxious. Of course you're scared. Every new venture, every step outside of your comfort zone, causes a little anxiety. A now-familiar motivational quote sums it up: It's all right to have butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation.

We all get butterflies when we attempt something worth doing, something we believe in. The beautiful part is that when it works – and it will! – the butterflies don't actually fly in formation, military-style.

The butterflies dance.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Launch: A new free monthly e-adventure

Click here to download Myke Phoenix #1
The year was 1990, more or less. The cold war was over, people were still allowed to smoke on the job, 9/11 was still six years off, and local radio stations had local personalities on the air almost 24/7.

And I had this idea about reviving the dime novel. OK, not the dime novel per se. What I had in mind was something about the length of a comic book, but in text.

My hero’s name was Myke Phoenix.

You can read more about it by clicking "Read more" — or just click on the caption under the cover art for your free e-magazine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thomas Paine and a new system of government

I am fascinated by the way the arguments that drove political thought at the beginning of the U.S. of A. continue to resonate today. That was why I self-published a collection of letters that Thomas Paine wrote for publication in three different newspapers between 1802 and 1805.

Having returned from abroad, Paine was troubled by what he saw as a growing central government led by a powerful president – that wasn't what he had signed up for back in 1775. So he wrote these still-relevant warnings to his fellow citizens. For example:
The independence of America would have added but little to her own happiness, and been of no benefit to the world, if her government had been formed on the corrupt models of the old world. It was the opportunity of beginning the world anew, as it were; and of bringing forward a new system of government in which the rights of all men should be preserved that gave value to independence.
Here is a new ebook edition of that book, which contains three essays I wrote for the Montag blog in addition to Paine's exhortations:

Download the ebook by clicking on this link. (UPDATE: Link fixed - sorry about that.)

I also still have the paperback version of Letters to the Citizens of the United States available for purchase, and a word about that: Thomas Paine wrote these words with pen and paper, and they have been preserved for two centuries through the use of reliable printing presses in a form that doesn’t need special software or devices and therefore cannot become obsolete. In a paperback book these words will still be accessible even if you lose electric power: 

Purchase the book at this link.

I'm currently tinkering with another historic essay that, even more so, continues to echo through the centuries to the present day – Henry David Thoreau's Resistance to Civil Government, more familiarly known as Civil Disobedience. I am startled by how much Thoreau framed arguments that are still being made about the rights of the individual, the responsibility not to condone or support government wrongheadedness, and the power of nonviolent resistance.

It'll be an edition similar to the Paine book, showcasing the historic essay with an introduction by yours truly. The ebook will be free for the taking, and you'll be able to buy a more permanent copy published using dead trees, a renewable resource.

More about Thoreau in coming days. Meanwhile, enjoy and be enlightened by Thomas Paine, a truly revolutionary thinker. Download it here and purchase the paperback here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Shut up and quit trying to scare me.

Friends, I gotta tell you, I've just about had it. I'm pretty much sick of politicians, pundits and reporters telling me the world will come to an end ...

- if Ron Paul becomes president;

- if Barack Obama remains president;

- if Newt Gingrich becomes president;

- if Scott Walker remains governor of Wisconsin;

- if unions grab power back from Walker;

- if Democrats take both the House and Senate;

- if Republicans take both the Senate and House;

- if the government doesn't help the economy;

- if the government attempts to help the economy;

- if billionaires spend money on campaign ads;

- if unions spend money on campaign ads;

- if the Occupiers have their way;

- if the tea partiers have their way; or

- if the Mayan calendar ends Dec. 21 for a good reason.

I am bone weary of being told how fearful I need to be. I'm exhausted from listening to people tell me that my peace of mind and safety are threatened by some hobgoblin or another.

I'm even tired of quoting the immortal H.L. Mencken, but he was right when he wrote it and he's righter than ever today: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

I refuse to be afraid! And I strongly suggest you do, too. Ask yourself why you're afraid of whichever scenario listed above makes you afraid. Who are you clamoring to lead you and the rest of us to safety? Has it occurred to you that they want you to be afraid for a reason – so you will entrust them with power that rightly belongs in your own hands?

Last election cycle I released a little book about overcoming fear. With all the mongering going on now, you might want to consider an inoculation against this disease called fear. You can buy Refuse to be Afraid by clicking on this sentence.

But more important, just read the title. Refuse to be Afraid. When somebody tells you how awful it would be if [insert scenario here], laugh at that somebody. Refuse to be Afraid. Repeat after me:

"Shut up and quit trying to scare me!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The mantra of carpe diem

"I was reminded of this in a conversation with a friend named Joe White. Joe is perhaps best known for his message on the cross where he carries on his back a cross that would typically take six men to move.

"Joe has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and in a recent conversation he reminded me that he was more fortunate than I was. He was clear that today might be the last day he had to live. I could live under the delusion that today is just one day of many still to come.

"The gift of his cancer was the value of today. Perhaps in a way that few of us ever do, he engages each day fully committed to seize the divine moment. The mystery of those moments is that they look so ordinary from the sideline and only become extraordinary when we enter them."
Erwin Raphael McManus
Seizing Your Divine Moment