Alexander Hamilton – A Controversial Man

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I enjoyed reading this book about Alexander Hamilton.  He tends to be overlooked or only briefly mentioned in history book; however, he is one of our Founding Fathers and played an important role in the early years of the United States of America.

Here are a few notes from the book:

  • Alexander Hamilton was too controversial, too disliked, and had too many enemies at a time when adversaries used weapons as well as word to express their views, to be one of the Founding Fathers who made it to the presidency.
  • He believed in a strong central government, because he was suspicious of the will of the mob.
  • Alexander Hamilton an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, who was so impressed with the young man’s astute administrative abilities that when he became president, he named Hamilton as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Alexander Hamilton fought for the federal government to assume the debts of the individual states, and for the establishment of a mint.
  • His political reputation was soiled by an affair with a married woman whose husband extorted money from his wife’s lover and then tried to implicate Hamilton in a corrupt financial scheme.
  • Alexander Hamilton would have cringed at the size of the national debt; he believed that a nation’s overall strength came from a sound financial foundation.

Age of Enlightenment

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I enjoyed reading this book.  It is well written, easy to read, and interesting.

Here are a few of the main points:

  • Enlightenment was born of the idea that all human beings share the same basic needs and as such should enjoy the same rights and privileges.
  • Enlightenment began around the 1680s and lasted until the early 1800s.
  • Enlightenment was the direct result of the Renaissance and the Reformation.
  • The Scientific Revolution would never have taken place had it not been for the philosophical groundwork of the Enlightenment.
  • Enlightenment was simply an idea; the idea that a better understanding of our world and the people who occupy it, could lead to the progression of our species and the betterment of the human condition on earth.
  • While the leading figures of the Enlightenment were considered philosophers rather than scientist, many of these figures had backgrounds in science.  Scientific advancement is only possible through empirical processes and rational thought, as such became strongly associated with the reason-based philosophies of Enlightenment thinkers.

Against Corruption

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This is an interesting book to read, because of the differences among the authors.  They were able to discuss corruption from different cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds/viewpoints.

Here are a few of the main points:

  • Corruption hurts life outcomes in a variety of ways.  Economically, it diverts resources away from their most productive uses and acts like a regressive tax that supports the lifestyles of the elites at the expense of everyone else.
  • Corruption incentives the best and brightest to spend their time gaming the system, rather than innovating or creating new wealth.
  • As the difficulties and risk of corrupt behavior rise, fewer people will behave corruptly.
  • While auditing doesn’t sound like a glamorous nation-building activity, it is a critical part of ensuring that governments are spending public money responsibly and effectively.
  • Corruption is a cancer.  At first, it can look small and harmless.  Before you know it, it has taken over your entire body.  Likewise, the losses from corruption can start small, but in the end the damage is enormous.

Humpty Dumpty – The Rest of the Story

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

The king’s horses and the king’s men tried to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

However, poor Humpty Dumpty cracked his shell.

Humpty Dumpty was taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation and an insurance consultation.

A surgery was required to save Humpty Dumpty’s life.  However, with the insurance agent there was much strife.

The insurance company refused to pay, because the accident happened on a rainy day.

The surgery was performed and the doctor saved Humpty Dumpty’s life.  Then the doctor gave a bill to Humpty Dumpty’s wife.

The surgery cost was more than Humpty Dumpty could ever pay, even if he worked all night and day.

Humpty Dumpty called a lawyer in town.  He filed for bankruptcy, but refused to frown.

Humpty Dumpty’s credit score was shot, but at least he didn’t die.  He said, “I’ll become a politician and fight for better insurance regulations,” then let out a sigh.

Humpty Dumpty is now a leader in the Egg Head party, fighting for insurance parity and equality.

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Children of Shame – A Documentary

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The documentary Children of Shame exposes atrocities committed at a home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Ireland.  The home was founded in 1925 and closed in 1961.

At the time, religion was an important part of the Irish culture.  Purity was viewed as an essential trait and failure to live up to that standard brought extreme shame, so unwed mothers were sent to special homes.

The unwed mothers were forced to live and work in these homes against their will.  They were treated as criminals, even though fornication was not considered a legal crime.

The babies could be put up for adoption by the home, regardless of the mother’s desire to keep her child.  Children remaining in the home were treated poorly.  They were malnourished, abused, and did not receive appropriate medical care.  This resulted in a mortality rate for babies born out of wedlock that was six times higher than the norm.

Legislating morality has been a hot topic in the United States.  For example: should gay marriage be legalized and should birth control be easily available to all women.

However, stories like this one remind me of the dangers of strictly legalizing morality.  The appearance of purity can become more important than people.  The end result is evil acts are committed to hide immorality.

Thoughts on Immigration

Immigration has been a hot topic lately.  I understand why people frown on those that come to this country illegally.  They are often seen as criminals.  However, I cannot fault someone for wanting a better life and for being willing to risk their own lives to provide for their family.
Coming into this country illegally can be extremely dangerous.  People have died when their boat capsized, or from dehydration in the desert.  There is also the possibility of being shot by border patrol agents (official and unofficial).  Yet these people keep coming in hopes of a better future.
Many of them chose the illegal route, because coming into the country legally is not within the realm of possibilities.  The amount of money they would need to do this may even exceed what they would earn in an entire lifetime.
I think immigration reform should focus on a merit system.  People come and apply for citizenship.  They are monitored for a number of years to see if they maintain employment, increase their education or marketable skills, do volunteer work, and stay out of trouble.  This gives people a way to immigrate without having to break any laws.

What are your thoughts on immigration?

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