Values …

We keep going back and forth.

I honestly have no idea how he got my number, but he keeps sending me texts about every other week. And I know exactly what his company is all about. And I’m not a big fan.

So…my basic response is almost one of insult.

It’s a real estate consolidation company trying to purchase my house. There’s a lot of that happening in Nasvhille right now.

And they can basically kiss my ass. I don’t want to sell my house. Especially to them.

So, this dude keeps asking my price, and I keep sending him a ridiculous number; one nobody in their right mind would (or should) pay.

I am over-valuing my property by maybe 30 or 40 percent. Maybe.

I say “maybe” because I might actually be undervaluing it.

Here’s why …

One of the biggest pop songs of all time was written in this house.

There’s a book out, and feature film pending, about a little girl who was raised in this house.

The house itself is a character in both the book and the film, because of all the work that was done to it, to accommodate the little girl’s special needs.

There is a patent pending invention in one of the bedrooms, designed and built on the premises.

If the film does well, and the public starts to resonate with my daughter’s story, this house could actually be a national landmark someday.

Also, aside from all of that, it’s 4600 square feet, on 1.1 acres, in the most expensive real estate county in the state.

The house has a separate mother-in-law suite, a recording studio, home office and a gym.

I can actually make the case for my over-valuation.

And if that company ever agrees to my ridiculous number, I’m gone from here and onto the next place I will try to undervalue when purchasing, then overvalue when selling.

Because that’s what you do.

Anyone who has ever had a yard sale understands this.

You ask for $10 for that horrible lamp aunt Clara got you for Christmas last year.

Then, the hipster, who’s going to turn it into an art piece, asks if you’ll take $6.

You counter with $8. After all, aunt Clara is dead now, and this ugly lamp has sentimental value to you.

But the hipster doesn’t care and walks away. And you end up selling it to the last customer of the day for $3.

Because by the end of the day the value of this eye sore has plummeted.

This is the ENTIRE foundation for free markets: value and perceived value.

We buy and sell song catalogs here in music city.

And the saying goes like this…

“How much is your catalog worth? It’s worth whatever you can get for it.”

That’s because value is fluid.

I’ve seen song catalogs be worthless. But then one of those songs becomes an unexpected hit, and the whole catalog value explodes into the millions.

Why?

Because the perception is that if there’s ONE hit in there, there are probably others. And if someone will gamble on that, then the value is based on whatever they’re willing to risk.

Donald Trump is being “prosecuted” again for something I literally do not understand.

Saying he “overvalued his holdings to defraud banks” sounds really serious and smacks of criminality.

But it, quite simply, isn’t.

You can value whatever you want, at whatever price you want. There is no crime in that, anywhere.

If you think aunt Clara’s lamp is worth a hundred million dollars, you can write $100,000,000 on the tape and stick it on the horrible purple shade.

And guess what? If you can convince someone that’s what it’s worth, and they actually pay that for the lamp, that’s not a crime either.

The only way it’s a crime is if you falsely claim it was the lamp Thomas Jefferson sat under while writing the Declaration of Independence.

Otherwise, the valuation is your word against the buyer’s.

So, let’s say the buyer has to get a bank loan to purchase aunt Clara’s hundred million dollar lamp.

At that point, someone called “an appraiser” will come do a completely different valuation of said lamp.

And if they find it to be worth a hundred million, then they will write a loan based on that valuation.

But chances are they will value it at around $4. And you would’ve been better off selling it to the hipster with blue hair.

These are all basic (VERY basic) economic concepts that keep having Trump investigated. And none of it is a crime.

Look, here’s the deal from a Trump agnostic…

If that man commits a felony, I want to see him go to prison. I’ll be cheering his perp-walk in the orange jump suit.

But people keep trying to prosecute him for just doing what business people do.

Yes. We ALL try to pay as little tax as possible.

Yes. We ALL inflate the value of anything we’re trying to leverage for money.

Yes. If we run for office, we try to win.

But when it comes to Trump, somehow all of these things get painted as criminal activity because we are predisposed to believing that people with money somehow got it in shady ways or have been a part of some sinister enterprise.

And yet nothing Trump did, or has done in his private dealings, have involved my tax dollars.

If he got a bank to loan him twice the amount of money a property was actually worth…good for him!

I didn’t have to pay for any of it.

It’s all between his lawyers and the bank appraisers. And they’re all playing with private money not confiscated from the public, under the penalty of fines or jail time.

On the other hand, there is actual video footage of our current president bragging about holding a billion tax dollars hostage until certain people in foreign governments were fired, and nobody seems to care.

The AG of New York is going to try and bring a “civil case” against Trump for overvaluing property – something I’ve never even heard of – also something I just publicly admitted to…BECAUSE. IT’S. NOT. A. CRIME.

Meanwhile, I, someone not attempting to investigate anyone or anything, keep seeing TikTok videos in my feed (videos I’m not even searching for) of the current president’s son committing multiple felonies, ON CAMERA, and nobody has arrested him yet.

This is how you turn people into Trump fans. THIS is how you drive people into the arms of someone they couldn’t have cared less about 5 years ago.

I’ve never worn a red hat or been to a Trump rally or cared all that much about the guy either way.

But you fools keep pushing me into defending him because even someone with moderate observation skills can recognize political persecution when they see it.

Just say you hate the guy and be done with it.

We get it. Duly noted. I even understand it. He’s a pill.

But stop trying to turn personal animosity into crime. Especially while ignoring actual crime by people you really want to like and support.

It’s making the legal process start to feel like a high school popularity contest, where everyone blames the unpopular jerk for trashing a bathroom we all literally watched the quarterback trash, in real time.

And that bothers me to no end. Because I want to believe there are unbiased operators in this country. I want to believe in blind justice. I want to believe in objectivity.

But I don’t anymore. And the people desperately trying to create crimes where they don’t exist, simply to discredit a person they don’t like, are the reason for it.

You can take my opinion for whatever it’s worth.

I probably think it’s worth more than you do.

Fortunately, that’s not a crime.

R

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MONEY, MEET MOUTH …

City Slickers comes to mind. 

I’m talking about those movies where the hero goes off to a ranch somewhere, or has to live among “the natives,” or whatever, but then comes back a changed person, with deeper knowledge of him (or her or they or whatever) self, more empathy for their fellow-man/woman/person and a newfound respect for blah, blah, blah. 

City Slickers

We’ve all seen those. 

About every ten years, or so, somebody makes one of those movies where the white teacher goes to the inner city to teach at the really bad school, and…oh, you know what happens. Do I even need to keep going?

The foundation of the premise is always from a place of privilege. And we see the world through the eyes of the person who needs to be changed. 

But I’m always more interested in the people who were there first. In City Slickers, Curly was the guy who was doing the teaching. He was the North Star everyone else was following to find themselves. And the movie was written for us to ride along with the pasty-faced suburbanites with soft hands. 

I just kept thinking to myself, “This movie would be a lot cooler if we could see how Curly became Curly.” 

The truth of the matter is that Curly became Curly by actually doing things. He probably didn’t have a guide showing him how to navigate a trail. He probably got lost and had to survive in the wild for a few days (or weeks), figuring out the landmarks and creek beds and what you could eat and what would make you sick and where the water was and where is wasn’t. 

And yet, the hero journey wasn’t his story. It was the story of a bunch of beta males who needed a guy like that to show them how to survive without lattes and room service. 

I can’t tell you how many people have told my wife and me, “Being around your daughter has changed me in so many ways.” And then we never see them again.

*My daughter has a rare genetic disorder (Angelman Syndrome) that has left her non-verbal and in need of care-giving, 24-hours-a-day. But she’s also full of love and acceptance.* 

I always want to tell them that she’s here at the house every day. How much would you like your life to change? You’re welcome to come over and take her to the park or the mall. She’d love to just go for a ride into downtown and listen to the radio with you. Heck, you could just take her through a car wash and she’d be thrilled. 

We have all the life-changing you want over here. 

But that’s not what they want. They don’t want the reality of her. They want the romance of her. And really, not even her. Just someone like her. Feeling like someone with special needs has “changed your life” is a great thing to say at parties and in groups where you want to appear to be someone of depth, substance and empathy. 

But my daughter doesn’t need that from you. She’s actually a real person, with real needs, real desires, real likes and dislikes. She’s not some prop for your personal growth journey. And we’ve grown weary of people’s sympathy, pity and well-wishes. 

My wife and I are the Curlies in this life. Everyone else is just a City Slicker. Anyway …

This past week, Governor Ron Desantis famously sent 50 people from South America, seeking asylum, to Martha’s Vineyard. This has been talked about and argued over from about every angle. Some claim that Desantis kidnapped them or lied to them in some way. Some claim it was a beautiful stunt that fully exposed the hypocrisy of the left. 

But there are really only TWO questions that mean anything in this debate: 

1. Why can’t a governor send people seeking asylum to Martha’s Vineyard? 

2. Why couldn’t they stay? 

Everything you need to know, about everybody on both sides of this debate, can be summed up in the answers to both of those questions. And if your answer to the first question is something like, “we have rules and protocols and there are laws that govern these things, etc, etc” then, congratulations! You are quoting chapter and verse what people in Texas border towns (and the rest of the red state country) have been screaming about for decades. 

In fact, if tat’s your answer, you’re damn near close to being a MAGA Republican. Order your red hat. Because that’s all anyone has been saying about the southern border, forever. That was the whole point of a wall. And it never had anything to do with skin tone. 

But the answer to the SECOND question is the where we get to the heart of the matter. See, every one of those migrants actually COULD HAVE stayed on the island. Legally. Let me explain …

My parents took in a family from South America, 30 years ago, as their sponsors. You can do that. Did you know that? It costs you $500 a month (to the government) and you have to become legally responsible for them. But you can do it…if you really want to to. 

In my own parents’ case, the family they sponsored lived with them for a few months. But then, one day, out of the blue, my parents woke up and the family was gone. They simply vanished into the dead of night without a trace. And even though this was through a church organization, and the family was a family of Christians, my mother and father knew that they simply slipped into the interior of the country…illegally. 

But my parents tried. They actually ponied up and tried. 

My daughter – the one everybody loves to use to change their life – is also an immigrant. We filled out the paper work. We turned over documents and bank account numbers and gave our fingerprints to the FBI to get her here. I live with immigration. 

And it shouldn’t be a virtue signal. And it isn’t about race. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be. If you think immigration is about race, you might want to check your own feelings about race and your own bias. Immigration – to every nation on earth – is about protocol.  

But, hey, if you want to make it about your faith or the book of Leviticus or whatever, you absolutely can. You can start with YOUR house and YOUR money. It’s not that hard.  

What the people of Martha’s Vineyard did, for all time, is to show the rest of us that they really ARE as insular and fragile as everyone thought they were. Where they could’ve called Desantis’ bluff and taken the people into their own homes, showing the world that limousine liberals really aren’t the colossal pricks we think they are, they did just the opposite and actually made it worse by having a celebratory gathering at the bus carrying “those people” to a military base to be processed. 

Then, they had the unmitigated gaul to say that the immigrants “changed them” in profound ways. Well, guess what, one-per center? You could’ve been changed all the way, by applying to be the legal sponsor of ANY of those immigrants. They could’ve lived in YOUR house. They could’ve been a part of YOUR world. 

This is always an option for anyone who feels that U.S Immigration policy is inhumane, or is appalled by border walls or weeps for the children in cages. You have the option to be a sponsor. 

Yes. YOU. 

But when it comes to the realty of a thing, we usually like being the city slickers. 

Nobody wants to be Curly.   

R

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My new YouTube Channel …

It takes me a minute. 

I’ve never been an early adopter. And I’ve spent a lot of my life wondering what holds me back from certain things. Some people jump right into it. They love getting in the water immediately. And I think those people are probably more successful in life. Maybe happier, too. 

I’m one of those people who looks at the water and thinks, “I wonder what kind of snakes are lurking beneath that surface.” And then I hesitate. And then I wish I’d jumped in sooner. 

Anyway …

I’ve spent a lot of the last ten years working on big deals; movie deals, documentary deals, large catalog creations. But the truth is, most of those things have stalled in weird and unexpected ways. 

All the time I was working on those things that I thought were big ideas, I was neglecting the little thing sitting right in front of my face…a YouTube channel. 

The good news about me, is that once I do finally decide to get in the water, I jump all the way in and swim like a mad man. And I don’t look back. 

I’ve spent the last 18 months almost exclusively watching YouTube videos. I’ve created my entire food and fitness routine from doing video research on YouTube and TikTok. Then, I follow up with books or studies or whatever, to confirm this or that. 

In that time, I’ve tried to pinpoint the things that I personally respond to in a channel. Obviously it has to be watchable and compelling. That’s at the top. But it also has to deliver some information to me that I didn’t have before. 

I think that’s where we’re going as a species. 

Mindless entertainment is not enough. We need to feel like we’re being propelled forward in some way; illuminated. 

That’s one of the things I’ve always tried to do with this blog. I always try to have a nugget of truth that was maybe a little obscure or hidden or just not pointed to in a concise enough way before. 

Wondering how to translate that to a pod cast or YouTube channel has been challenging for me. I suffer from the notion that I don’t have anything worth while to say. I know that might sound weird to people, given that I’ve spent my entire life saying something. But it’s the truth. 

I have this horrible fear of misleading people or, worse, boring them. 

For every creator, there are two questions: who are you? and WHY are you? And that second question is the real question…

Why am I listening to you? Why am I watching you? Why am I reading you?

Are you a singular talent? Do you have something unique to say? Are you teaching me something? Are you making me feel something? Can you take me on a journey I can’t take by myself?

These are the big “why’s” creators have to answer. And sometimes, we don’t have good answers to those questions. Sometimes, we’re just compelled to create and we can’t tell you exactly why. We just hope whatever we’re doing means something to someone else. And we hope it resonates with enough people that it can create a life for us and worth-while experience for them (the audience). 

So, given all those complicated questions, I have created my FIRST YouTube channel that will be the exclusive home for my music. I’m uploading videos that you may have already seen…or maybe you haven’t. And I’ll be creating new ones monthly. 

The story-behind-the-song stuff has been really popular among blog readers and Facebook followers. So, I’m creating an entire series of simply videos of me talking about all my songs – how and why they were written, little nobody-knows-this tidbits behind them, and general information; who recorded them, who played on them, etc. 

And I’m also delving into creating actual music videos for some of my artist songs. They probably won’t be very good at first or even very elaborate, as I’m doing all of this myself. But I really love playing in the sandbox and coming up with stuff. It’s the core of who I am. 

I’m stepping into all of this with the idea of just having fun and putting things into the world. I have no idea if it will received well or ignored. But this is how I’ve done every single thing in my life and career. 

I have never advertised this blog. I just typed and put it out there. And we all found each other. 

When I get my sea legs with the music page, I’ll be starting a pod cast page as well. I have three pod casts “in the can” right now (that’s industry speak for sitting in a file). 

I want to have at least 10 ready to go before I launch. 

One thing you don’t want to do is not have enough content for people to binge, once you’re live. 

And Iv’e decided that the pod cast will focus on music mainly. But, as is always the case with me, we will veer into other areas of thought and discussion. But I come from the music world. And why not start there? 

I hope you will all subscribe to the channel and share videos. As always, you’ll get exclusive, behind-the-scenes information here that nobody else will get. I consider my Patreon friends to be the sacred ground of everything I do. 

You will hear the songs here first. You’ll get the blogs here first, that will then become ideas for the pod cast. And I always welcome your comments. I don’t always respond to them, but I read EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. 

And I take everything that is said into account. 

So, here we go on another adventure. Follow along if you dare. 

And I promise to do everything in my power to always make it worth the trip. 

R  

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SEMI-FASCISTS …

What, exactly, IS Fascism?

We all think we have a pretty good idea of it…we think. 

We see Mussolini standing there, with his arms folded and his chin up, looking out over his loyal subjects, and we get this visceral idea of what a fascist is: some strong man, who controls his people by force. 

He looks and acts a certain way. He says certain things. He’s is control of everyone and everything. And we focus the attention on this one guy; the dictator. And that’s partially correct. Fascism IS forcibly presided over by a dictator. But how, exactly, does he gain access to force?

We’ll get back to that…

Nobody really knew what fascism was until around 1915, when Mussolini coined the term. And it’s kind of a hodgepodge of whatever authoritarian-flavored governments you want to attach to it.

*The word itself comes from the Latin fasces, which denotes a bundle of wooden rods that typically included a protruding axe blade. In ancient Rome, lictors (attendants to magistrates) would hold the fasces as a symbol of the penal power of their magistrate.*

I got that off the internet. 

And I’ll be honest…I don’t really know what it means. I suppose it means that the blade is always there to keep the wood in line…or something like that. 

The official meaning of fascist is this: a political system headed by a dictator, in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted.

Now, there are other definitions as well. But they’re all kinda the same thing. In 2015, Google tweaked their definition slightly. They added “far right wing” to their definition. This was done JUST after Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president of the United States. 

Google later retracted their updated definition…I think. 

Some reported Miriam Webster and Wikipedia changing their definitions slightly, as well, around that same time. Although I cannot confirm this, adding the “far right-wing” thing wouldn’t be hard to do and almost no one would notice. See, it always serves a purpose to add “far right-wing” to anything bad. It sends a subliminal signal to anyone considering voting for a Republican. 

“Don’t do it. You don’t want to be a fascist. Do you?!?!?” 

This is an old technique that has been used for decades. It was actually used by the Russian communist revolutionaries, themselves, to sell their system to the Russian people. They painted their opposition as “fascists,” so nobody would want to be associated with them and run into the arms of the communists.

 

“Hey, we’re about to rule this place with an iron fist, seize control of every aspect of your life, and kill about a hundred million of you. But at least you’re not going to be fascists!!!”

This attaching the “far right-wing” moniker to anything horrible in history, is also used by the left in America. And they’ve done a masterful job of having that narrative live in the hearts and minds of people who consider themselves to be crusaders for freedom. For years, I have debated the idea that Hitler and the Nazis were on the right. It is my opinion that nothing about Hitler or Naziism represents anything on the right. 

Nazi, itself, means National Socialists Party. Socialist. 

If you do any kind of a dive into the differences between fascism and naziism, the fine points will be things like race and class and social strata, etc, etc. 

But here’s the thing…

All of it is about government control. ALL. OF. IT. 

So, really, the only question you have to ask yourself, when determining whether something is fascist or nazi (or whatever), is if it’s based on the state controlling something versus the individual. 

You can call yourself an anti-fascist all day and twice on Sunday, but if you continue to favor more and more governmental control over the people, you are actually a fascist in principle. Or a Nazi. Or a communist. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It all leads to the same hell. 

All of these things are about a state (with unchecked power) being able to exercise complete control over the individuals in it, “for the greater good.” We always get hung up in the details of what all those dictators and horrible people considered “the greater good.” But that’s all just noise. The problem always starts (and has always started) when the people hand over their unalienable rights and concede their thoughts, actions and will to something they have no recourse against. 

Call it whatever you want. But “does it give the individual more freedom or the state more power?” is the only question that matters. 

At this moment, people who voted for Donald Trump and went to rallies and wore Maga hats, are being called domestic terrorists by people in positions of power. 

The powerful see the devotion to ONE MAN, and they just know this is going to lead to genocide and racism and all the worst-case scenarios of history. But you have to go deeper…

WHY are the people so devoted to this guy? Because he’s the only politician in 40 years who actually tried to dial back the power and dial up the freedom. He called out the bullshit of the bureaucracy. He aptly pointed out the collusion between ONE political party and the media. And while he was president, there was relative peace and definite prosperity. 

No new wars started. Affordable energy. Low inflation. Highest employment rate in U.S. history. Highest employment rate among minorities in U.S. history. A peace deal in the Middle East. Actual talks with North Korea. A prison reform act that had an actual impact on black incarcerations. The Music Modernization Act, that loosened the stranglehold of big tech companies on content creators. 

Does ANY of that sound like fascism???

Even during the lockdowns of 2020, he basically allowed the governors to make decisions in their own states, regarding quarantines and masks, etc. THAT is federalism…a safeguard put in place by the founders, to curtail any attempts at totalitarianism. 

People talking about not accepting the results of the election as a hallmark of fascism. Well, guess what? We’ve all accepted it. The guy got sworn in. Unfortunately, he has been enacting his policies. 

But guess what you get to do in a free society? You get to QUESTION elections. In fact, you get to question anything and everything. It’s part of the I’m-a-free-person handbook. 

I’m always amazed at people who cry fascism, but then support almost any new thing the government wants take control of. Some people think nationalism is the gateway to evil. Personally, I think statism is. Because statism presents itself as necessary and pragmatic. 

We’re just here to help. Something has to be done. This needs oversight. 

These are the phrases that usher in fascism. Because it pours more and more power into something that power can never be extracted from. And if you try to extract it, you will be seen as the fascist. 

That’s because nobody knows what the hell that word really means.  

R

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A THOUSAND WORDS …

They say image is everything.  

Sometimes, the most innocent thing can become a visual that takes on a life of its own. 

I think about the Nick Sandman episode, where he stood face-to-face with the Native American guy, beating the drum and singing. The kid (Sandman) wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. In fact, he was being kind to the guy and handling a very awkward situation better than I probably would have. 

Nick Sandman

But the visual looked like a smart ass kid, WEARING A MAGA HAT (and THAT was the prime motivator of the image response), smirking at an older, “more ethnic” gentlemen, appearing to be making fun of him. 

That’s the story everybody ran with. And that visual ruined the kid’s life for a minute…up until he got the two-hundred-million-dollar settlement. 

The point is, a picture paints a thousand words. 

There’s a famous shot of Muhamad Ali standing over Sonny Liston, appearing to be taunting him. He was not taunting Sonny. His stance was simply the follow-through of a well-timed punch. And if you watch the video, he immediately recoiled from that stance and went back to his corner for the count. 

But a photographer clicked the right button, at the perfect time, and Ali’s legend grew, based on that still shot. 

My own grandfather was there, watching the 5 guys lift the famous flag, on Iwo Jima. He was part of the detail that took it to the top of the hill. He was even asked to join the lifting effort. But by the time he flicked his cigarette and walked over there, they already had it up and placed…and there was a picture that would help define the American spirit during WWII, and maybe for all time. 

Cameras are fickle creatures. And anybody who has ever been in front of one, for any length of time, knows how unforgiving they can be. The wrong lighting or the wrong angle or the wrong shot, at the wrong time, can make you look like a fool. And the world can judge you based on that ONE errant snap, you weren’t quite ready for. 

We drew or painted our heroes in the past. And we were able to infuse whatever characteristics we wanted them to have; courage, humility, fortitude, humor, self-confidence. We could give them all those traits by painting the lines and writing the stories the way we wanted them written and painted. 

But in the world of every living human having a camera on their person, 24-hours-a-day, we all have a million different versions of ourselves, taken at different times, at different weights, with different hair styles and clothes on. 

We use filters and delete the bad ones and do your best to create an overall positive image of ourselves. But this generation is the most photographed generation in the history of the human race. And we take a lot of our cues – maybe more than any generation before us – from visual images.  

Sometimes lighting and staging goes wrong. None of this is absolute science. People are always trying to get it right. And I grant grace for stuff like that. 

But for the life of me, I can’t get this Joe Biden image from last week, out of my head. 

I know that HE didn’t pick the lights or the colors or any of that. I think we all know that he just walked out there and read what was written for him. But that image; the red hue glowing ominously over those two Marines and the old man, ranting about the evils of half the people in the country, was really, REALLY creepy. And unfortunately for the people who planned and executed it, it will linger for a while. 

Don’t get me wrong. I thought it was badass…if it had been the set of some dystopian thriller, set in the future, with the corrupt leader demonizing his nemesis. 

But this was the President of the United States. Not talking about how positive things were in the country. Not rallying people to the great things that are on the horizon. Not leading us toward that better place, all Americans believe in and strive toward. 

Instead, he was warning us about the people we live and work around. Warning us about boogie men lurking around every corner, in red hats and ready to vote for the wrong people. 

*Insert dramatic music here* Dun, dun, dun

Look, I’m sure there are extremists out there who have just been waiting for a good excuse to arm up and wear camo around all day. But most of these dangerous, “Maga Republicans” are just people who are tired of the bullshit. 

How about taxes that stay low and don’t fluctuate wildly every time a D gets voted into office? How about we fix this healthcare nonsense? How about people who actually break federal laws get prosecuted…no matter what they’re last name is? 

How about we get our energy policy together so that we don’t constantly grovel at the feet of people who hate us, to keep gas prices under $5 a gallon? How about no more wars of the willing?

How about we get to the content-of-the-character part of judging human beings, rather than going back to labeling everybody based on their skin tone? How about we have a coherent immigration policy…that we follow?

These seem like simple things. And these are the issues I see “Maga” people talking about. 

Nobody wants white supremacy or male supremacy, or any of those weird things people who need monsters around to justify their own insanity, say are happening. 

Most of us just want America – the best idea maybe in human history – to live up to its potential again. That’s what MAGA means. 

But the acronym has now been hijacked by what looked like a Sith Lord, the other night. 

I guess they’re right…image is everything.   

R

PS: This post is exactly a thousand words. You’re welcome. 

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THE UNTOUCHABLES …

I don’t believe in David Koresh. 

I think he was a manipulative sociopath, who led people into dangerous places. There’s nothing about that guy I would want to have anything to do with. 

But when I saw the FBI burning his compound the ground, and executing a military operation on his property, I kinda sat up in my chair, basically horrified. I remember standing in my living room, watching it all play out on TV, wondering what the hell was going on. 

“Just because you suck as a person, or even a criminal, does that mean you get this kind of treatment?” was my thought. 

I remember feeling a bit frightened of my own government. Nobody from that compound had killed anybody. But they were posturing like a bunch of people who might.  

That probably warrants going out there and talking to them. It might even warrant keeping some surveillance on them. But to operate a 50-plus-day siege, complete with tanks and noise tactics and body armor and automatic weapons (which was the reason the Feds were there in the first place; to confiscate illegal weapons being held by private citizens) felt almost oppressive. 

I watched the mini-series on this dubious episode in American history. And there was a very poignant scene…

The Branch Davidians are under fire. The whole thing is falling apart. And at one point, someone says, “Call the authorities. We have to stop this!”

Koresh yells back, “Who the hell do you think is out there??? The AUTHORITIES!” 

Whether you were for or against David Koresh doesn’t matter. The point is still the same – once you are sideways with the final-say-power-structure, there is nowhere left to turn. 

And if that power structure is corrupt? Who’s going to do anything about it?

The founders of this nation worked very hard and spent several years designing a system that wouldn’t necessarily favor that power. They knew all too well what unchecked power looked like. They had been born under it and lived under it. And they were revolting against it. 

They knew that the beast would always protect itself. This is simple, natural law. It’s not even about good guys and bad guys; right and wrong. It’s about a basic survival instinct. And that’s why so many things had to be baked into the constitution, that limited the government’s reach and tied its hands. 

This bedrock concept informs the Libertarian point of view that, yes, people and institutions can be corrupt. But once the institution you cannot escape becomes corrupt, what then?  

This past week, Mark Zuckerberg dropped possibly one of the biggest news bombshells ever dropped in the history of this country, on Joe Rogan’s pod cast. 

I have been publicly critical of Jack Dorsey and Mark Z, for actively throttling the Hunter Biden story, during the 2020 campaign. I’m on record as saying it is THE most important story of the last 20 years. Even more important than Covid. 

It’s not because I care all that much about Trump or even the election. It’s because once speech gets throttled BY THE POWER, you’ve crossed a dangerous Rubicon. 

Because it becomes state corruption. Tammany Hall. King George. All the things we basically built this country to stand against. 

Many people believe the Trump organization was (and is) corrupt. And maybe it was. I have no idea. And they will say that it was WAY more corrupt than anything Hunter Biden and Joe Biden did. 

But here’s the thing …

If Donald Trump did underhanded things in the private sector, there were places to go to file your grievance. You could opt out of doing business with him. Nobody forced you to live in one of his buildings. Nobody put a gun to your head and made you attend Trump University. Trump water and Trump steaks were all sold to willing participants; volunteers, if you will. 

But if the Hunter Biden laptop information was correct (and we’re now seeing that it IS), the Biden family was doing business with MY tax dollars…and yours. 

And that money is extracted by force. You have no say in how “in” you are. You are as “in” as the government demands you to be. And you’ve got no recourse as a citizen. If you’re trading on THAT, you’re basically acting like the Mafia…only bigger and more well armed. 

If you use the levers of power, granted by the consent of the governed, to enrich yourself or cover for your crimes or make deals with people you’d like to make deals with, you’re veering into that space the founders warned us all about and fought so hard against, all those years ago.  

I don’t even like the idea of elected officials getting famous on the backs of their offices. That goes for Democrats AND Republicans. At some point, leave DC and go make an honest living. And if you couldn’t pull a million Instagram followers as a bar tender, but now you are leading culture, BECAUSE of your elected position, that’s its own problem. 

Where this goes completely awry is in the statement of Zuckerberg.

If the FBI put their fingers on the scale of an election, by planting the idea that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, when they KNEW it wasn’t, then guess what? January 6th was completely justified (for the record, I don’t support any of the actions taken on January 6th. It’s not like I’m Ray Epps. Hmmm) Anyway …

Because that is the VERY thing that kicked off the American Revolution in the first place. That is the power acting politically. And once that starts happening, we have nowhere to turn. The backstop is rotten. The foundation has decayed. The footing is compromised. 

For decades, black people have asserted that local cops may be out to get them. And those claims may be true. The antidote for that injustice has always been bringing in the Feds.

Supposedly, the Feds would be more above-it-all. Less corrupt. Untouchable.  

But what if we found out that there was a huge KKK presence inside the FBI? If you are black, would you ever feel good about complying with them? Or would you always be suspicious…literally every time you saw those three letters…for the rest of your life? 

That one off-handed comment by Mark Zuckerberg, basically admitting that the 2020 election was tampered with by the power, has cast a shadow over the nation’s top law enforcement apparatus. 

And if the FBI ever shows up at your door, you will always be wondering who’s pulling the leadership strings and what’s really going on. Is this because of who you voted for? Is this because of some blog you posted? And if it goes bad for you, and you believe actual injustice is happening in your life, you will want a disinterested party to step in and provide balanced justice and a fair look at your case. 

At that point, who do you call? 

R

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BIG ED …

It was a proud moment for me. 

My wife and I were tucking our (then) 6-year-old son in for the night, when his mother mentioned something about him going to off college one day and how we’ll miss kissing him goodnight. She was talking baby talk and doing all that stuff moms do at bed time with little boys. He darted straight up, looked us in the eyes and said, “I’m not going to college…I’m going to Vegas!” 

My wife was horrified. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. 

The truth is you can get a college education in Vegas on any given Saturday night. Don’t ask me how I know. 

Anyway …

The standard line in this country is “you can’t get ahead without an education.” And that is absolutely true. But we instantly make the leap from “education” to “college.” 

I contend that the two are not mutually exclusive. 

I limped through only one year of junior college, where I carried a solid 2.0 GPA. By my last month there, I was failing two classes (which I did not attend), placed in academic suspension (which I didn’t rectify) and was confined to my dorm room (which I didn’t obey). I was clearly not college material. So, I left after that year and I never looked back. But I do have some regrets. I regret that I went in the first place. I could’ve really used that money. 

37 years later, I have a successful career, a home and a family and all the things they told me I needed a college degree for, without it. And the college I attended? It doesn’t exist anymore. 

Vegas is still there, though. But I digress …  

When it comes down to it, a lot of education is about reading. Believe it or not, anyone with a library card and the internet can get a world-class education if they’re motivated enough. Very often, it comes down to your own self-determination. And I fear we are orienting generation after generation to lose their sense of knowledge independence, in favor of institutional constructs. 

Many colleges and Universities in this country have gone from bastions of free thought to citadels of lock-step indoctrination. 

More than a few college students spend their college years in an activist stance, protesting and campaigning against public policies that favor business innovation and industry expansion. Then, once they graduate, they wonder where all the seventy-thousand-dollar-a-year jobs are. 

Hey, Caleb: you protested and voted for policies that kept that cool new job from being created.  

Here’s a free lesson for all the college students: jobs are created by risk takers and visionaries, many of whom put everything on the line to fulfill a dream. There is never a guarantee their endeavor will last a month, much less long enough to provide you and your spouse a lifetime of upward mobility, dental benefits and $20 bottles of wine every Saturday night. 

Business creation should be sacrosanct in this country and we should always remember and revere where jobs come from before we start demanding them (and what we are entitled to out of them), right out of college. 

Statistics show that people who don’t go to college end up being more conservative than those who do. 

Conventional wisdom (the kind that comes from academics in the faculty lounge) says it’s because those without degrees are probably tradesmen and blue collar workers and “those people” tend to be more right wing. In my own case, it was because I created and owned song catalogs and worked closely with people who relied on venture capital for startups and new music business endeavors. 

Go a few rounds with government red tape and that will be a college education in and of itself. Your whole purview of the role of government, and how much or little you want to deal with it in your life, will change dramatically. 

Where many of my friends had mountains of student loan debt, I (a college dropout) spent most of my adult life paying large portions of my self-employment income to the IRS. That means one of us borrowed money from the government to learn how to do something, while the other one of us did something…and payed the government for the privilege. 

So, when I hear people yelling and screaming for the government to forgive their student loan debt or (worse) pay for everyone’s college outright, you can imagine my concern, as the forgiveness of that debt, and the cost of that tuition, would most likely be at the expense of people like me, who actually PAY taxes. 

And it is happening as we speak…

As of the writing of this piece, the current president is actively trying to get at least a portion of student loan debt “forgiven.” And I get it. It’s crippling for some people…probably most people. And it’s easy to see this as relief for those under the crushing weight of debt. 

But it’s something else.  

While we rail against subsidies for oil companies or corn producers, we aren’t seeing this debt forgiveness for what it actually is – a way to continue to prop up big Education, while not indicting anybody in that system for overcharging and fleecing the customers. 

Instead of perp walking (like we did car manufacturers, in 2009, for flying in private jets) college boards and presidents, that keep raising tuitions beyond anything the average person could ever pay, and grilling them before congress about how and why they are price gouging the consumer, we just accept the tuition rates and the predatory loan process (that is run by the government itself) and try to simply off-load that debt onto the shoulders of tax payers. 

Nothing to see here, folks. This is all okay. And you idiots without college degrees should just keep your mouths shut. 

Trust me – if this scam were being run by a loud-mouth capitalist in the free market, they would’ve already been brought up on S.E.C charges and had a 6-part Netflix documentary made about them.  

But when it’s nameless, faceless bureaucrats in button-down shirts and dark suits, somehow it doesn’t get questioned. And that’s what makes it all the more sinister.  

It has been 10 years since my son said he was going to Vegas. We are now in the process of thinking about and discussing, on a daily basis, his post-high school plans.

But we are keeping college as an option, not an imperative. 

I know too many millionaires who never stepped foot inside a college, to limit my son’s life options to four years of learning only ONE way…in exchange for a loan that will never be paid down…which (lean in close, I need to whisper this) is the point, in the first place.

   

Until we start making colleges compete with other life options, like apprenticeships and trade schools and businesses that offer out-of-high-school programs for kids who already know what field they want to go into, the Big Education syndicate (I call it Bid Ed) will always be overpriced and too culturally powerful. 

And if you open your eyes you will see that what a lot of these kids have been saddled with is an MLM scheme with school colors, dorms, and a piece of paper (at the end) that isn’t worth a fraction of what they paid for it. 

THAT’S what we’re bailing out. The system. Not the students. 

If you really want to affect change in the college loan issue, start doing to colleges what many of their professors want done to other facets of the free market…start capping salaries and tuitions. Make tenure illegal. Stop providing government backed loans. 

I don’t actually propose any of that (I have a different solution I’ll be posting on my Patreon site tomorrow). But it’s exactly the kinds of things your garden-variety college professor proposes, anytime they believe a consumer is being abused by a rogue capitalist, out in the free-market world. 

Well, this is exactly THAT…just with elbow patches.  

R

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CULTURE CLUB …

Does anybody else feel like we’re going backwards?

Just when I think to myself, “Nah. Nobody will ever believe THAT. It’s too ridiculous,” there they are…big as life…believing THAT. 

One of the things I thought we would’ve been done with by now, in 2022, is racism. Race has been something I’ve written about extensively, for my entire career, in both blogs and (years before I was a blogger) songs. 

But instead of race becoming less and less relevant  – which is what it should become – it keeps gaining steam as something we all want to talk about, all the time. And it is this hook on which we all wish to hang our identities. 

So, here’s the thing about race…

It either means everything or it means nothing. 

Let me explain…

If you believe all humans basically descended from ONE human family, probably from somewhere in Africa, then all of our essential differences are based in culture rather than species. In other words, we’re all the same species. We just have different features. 

Kinda like Saint Bernards and Chihuahuas are both the same species, just different breeds. Yes, they look VERY different, have different temperaments and obvious abilities based on their sizes, fluff and shapes. 

But they’re both dogs. And they will both behave as dogs when given dog stimuli. And they can actually breed and make half Saint Bernard/half Chihuahua puppies. 

Humans are kinda like that, if you accept the science. 

That makes race basically mean nothing. It’s merely cosmetic. 

However…

If you believe that there are basic and essential differences that must be preserved or maintained, in certain races; a purity, if you will, then you believe we all actually belong to different species’. 

That makes the race conversation something completely different. And, if true, makes race mean everything. And, believe it or not, some people do believe this. 

Those people are called racists. 

In modern society, we abhor the term racist and see it as maybe the most horrible attribute a person can possess. But all it really means is you believe one race is inherently different from another race. And by that definition, there a lot more racists in the world than people want to believe. And they often look different than we expect. 

I was once told, by an Ivy league biology professor, that there were actual Asian doctors at this Ivy league university, who didn’t believe Asians could get Angelman Syndrome (the genetic disorder that my daughter has – she’s Chinese). 

They believed this based solely on race. Scientists. Believed Asians couldn’t get a genetic disorder. Because of race. 

THAT, my friends, is textbook racism. In fact, that type of racism comes in the racist starter kit. 

This is what white Europeans were all grappling with in the last two centuries. And it was the impetus for things like the American Civil War and WWII. But make no mistake…that type of racism isn’t limited to people with less melanin. 

If you believe some races are inherently better than other races, you are basically a racist. And it can be subtle. 

For instance, you might believe that native American tribes were inherently more peaceful and harmonious than the white settlers who came and terrorized them. And you might attribute these differences to the genetics themselves (kinda like saying Pit Bulls are natural born aggressors). 

Congratulations. You’re a racist. 

One of the biggest expressions of racism surrounds the word “soul.” Saying that someone has “soul” in their music is a euphemism for “black” sounding. And if you believe that black people just have, within their genetic code, some sort of inherent musical skill and function, because of their race, then congratulations…you’re a racist. 

Most thinking people understand that human differences are actually cultural more than anything else. But even that is being politicized from every angle, these days.

“Cultural appropriation” is one of those hipster words that disallows people not deemed worthy, to use things from a certain culture. 

This is characterized in what I like to call “the Elvis argument.” Elvis is seen as this white guy who basically stole black culture in order to make a fortune and become famous. 

Woke wisdom says that he was basically a thief and a pretender. 

But here’s the thing…

Just because you have white skin doesn’t mean you don’t also have a culture. I was raised kinda like Elvis – going to pentecostal church. Sometimes, the church was filled with white people. Sometimes it was filled with black people. Sometimes, it was filled with Hispanic people. 

In almost every case, the church experience was the same. Because the culture was pentecostal…not racial. 

I have 8mm movies of my grandparents having church, dancing around in the spirit, running up and down the aisles, beating tambourines and banging on pianos and guitars. And these are white people.

That is my culture. 

So, when people have mistaken me for a black guy (which has happened my entire life), and they say something ignorant like, “you have soul. You must have some black in you,” I just roll my eyes. 

No…I have a lifetime of holy-ghost-tent-revivals in me. And that is culture. MY culture. And culture is fluid. You’re welcome to my culture.

Go to Cracker Barrel and have some beans and cornbread. Go to church on Sunday, run the aisles and jump some pews. Sing hymns till you’re hoarse and your ears are ringing. 

Clap your hands until they’re red. The pray in the alter till you finally “break through.” Then, head downstairs for some suspect potato salad, cold fried chicken and Diabetes-kickstarting banana pudding. 

That is TOTAL cultural appropriation…and you’re welcome to it as far as I’m concerned. My culture isn’t precocious about itself. We’re happy to have you. 

James Naismith invented the game of basketball. But I sure did love watching Michael Jordan play it.

J.S. Bach invented the well-tempered clavier (piano) and the A-440 scale, which is the basis for ALL western music. And I love how Ray Charles twisted and turned it. 

Ray took Bach’s “culture” and appropriated it in a cool new way…which then became part of my culture. And that’s how culture works.   

Some people are just hell bent on separating humans into small groups. And no matter how close we get to the unity of mankind, they are going to try and keep us apart. Because nothing is more terrifying than giving up your crutch of “group” and standing alone as an individual. 

So, the weak ones keep the groups at each others throats. There’s safety in that, I suppose. 

Also, never underestimate the lengths to which collectivists will go to demonize the making of money. “Cultural appropriation” shaming is just another tool in the socialist tool box of shutting down commerce. 

But maybe one day, we’ll stop all this nonsense and realize that we only get farther along when we learn from each other and share recipes and beats and language and ideas. 

And let the “property” be the individual’s – not the collective’s. 

A culture that understands this…and its own fluidity…is a culture I can get behind.  

R

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WHATEVER BEAST YOU BUILD …

I became a Libertarian at age five. 

I was riding with my grandfather, when he was pulled over for speeding. There we were, in the front bench seat of that huge 1972 Ford LTD, green with even greener interior. The upholstery was that polyester whatever blend, that somehow made you stick and slide and the same time and smelled like synthetic aftershave when it got hot. 

My grandfather (a humble minister) was very respectful to the young officer, as he explained how fast he’d been clocked at and why he was giving him a ticket. 

I watched, with great attention, as my grandfather called him “sir” and smiled and did everything he was asked to do. 

But then the officer gave a warning before we pulled away …

“Mr. Hamm you need to put your seatbelt on and belt up the little boy as well. In fact, you need to put him in the back seat …”

Before the officer could finish, my grandfather suddenly switched modes. In those days there were no state or federal seat belt laws or child car seat laws or any of that. 

My grandfather said, “Son, why don’t you follow us home and tell us what to eat for dinner as well? Maybe come on in and pick out my clothes for the next couple of days? The wife’s been trying to figure out which new washer and dryer to buy. Why don’t you come decide that for us, too?” 

The officer snickered, rolled his eyes and told us to take off. But I never forgot that exchange. It imprinted something very profound on me…that person in a uniform is still just a person. And their power should stop somewhere. 

Ironically, five years later, the government actually WOULD tell my grandfather what to eat after his first open-heart surgery. The same government that had provided him carton after carton of free cigarettes, during a war they asked him to fight, was now telling him that all that smoking had probably contributed to his heart disease. 

And they put him on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet; the government nutritional guidelines established after the Minnesota Coronary Experiment. This was the comprehensive, 5-year study that proved that dietary fat was causing heart disease. 

But then, two years later, my grandfather had to have another open-heart surgery. Even after drinking all that skim milk and staying away from eggs, butter and cheese. 

He was made to feel that he was somehow the culprit, and that he’d had some moral failing in not being able to sustain the low-fat lifestyle. 

He died a few years later, still thinking that his health issues were probably his own fault in some way. 

Meanwhile, in 2016, the Minnesota Coronary Experiment was basically debunked, after someone found a room full of lost documents that, when added to the rest of the findings, showed inconclusive findings when it comes to fats and their effects on heart disease.  

Basically, the government was giving my grandfather the wrong advice on his diet. And hey, that type of thing happens all the time with diets and people in poor health. But here’s the thing about ANYTHING governmental …

They. Have. All. The. Power.

So, they can gaslight a country preacher into believing he just didn’t do it right or he failed in some way. All the while, THEY screwed up on a massive level. But nobody can do anything about it. Because THEY are the power. 

People misinterpret Libertarian (or conservative) positions all the time. And it’s maddening. 

During the big healthcare debate, 12 years ago, there was a line of thinking that said if you didn’t agree with government run healthcare, you were not in favor of people even getting healthcare. And you wanted to see people die or whatever. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

USA medicine background. Stethoscope on the American flag. Healthcare and medical services in the USA concept. High quality photo

The Libertarian (or conservative) position was always (and still is) that yes, we definitely want everyone to have healthcare. But is the government the best apparatus for delivering it? 

That is always the default position of the Libertarian mind. And that is the line that separates the schools of thought. 

See, it’s not really about right versus left. It’s not really about “liberal” versus “conservative.” It’s about statist versus libertarians. Do you really want a final arbiter, who cannot be refuted or challenged, in control of a certain endeavor?

I promise you I’m more liberal than most “liberals” when it comes to social issues. I don’t believe in many laws at all. 

The difference is I simply don’t believe the government should have as much power over you as maybe even you do. Because, whenever you make a new law, it must be enforced. And that requires people to be hired to enforce it. And those people have lives and families and homes. And all of those things have to be maintained…for years and years. 

So, every new law and every new department is essentially the building of a new beast that must always be fed. That means for the beast to be fed, it will constantly have to find and prosecute laws that are being broken. That’s it’s job. 

Trust me…if we hire 87,000 new I.R.S. agents, there will suddenly be tax fraud everywhere, where there was none before. Because a new beast has been created. And it must be fed. So, it will be…no matter what. 

You can continue to be on the side of the beast, or you can constantly fight against building another one. Libertarians are the voices continually shouting, “should we even build this in the first place?”

This week’s public blog is a day late, because I have passed 8 kidney stones over the last three days. All of them were passed without pain medication, because I couldn’t get my prescription filled over a weekend, due to very strict narcotics laws…you know…for my own good

Meanwhile, I can go on YouTube or Tik Tok and watch the president’s son purchase and smoke crack…a federally outlawed substance that has sent thousands of young black and brown men to prison for years. 

Personally, I couldn’t care less if the president’s son smokes crack. I’m sorry for his addiction. Seems like a troubled dude. And I think his buying crack shouldn’t be a felony. 

But it is. 

And those in control of the beast seem to get to make judgment calls on who the beast protects and who it doesn’t. That’s the difference in getting pain relief from a kidney stone on a Saturday, and getting to hitch a ride to China on Air Force II. 

Anyway … 

If you have ever chanted “de-fund the police” then turned around and voted for someone who wants to enact a ton more laws, you are not putting it together. 

It’s not the law enforcers who are the problem.It’s the law makers. 

If you just celebrated a former president having his private residence raided, without the benefit of having his lawyer observe the execution of the warrant, be warned …

If it can happen to him, it can happen to you. 

Keep building the beast, and it will eventually find its way to your door. 

Funny enough, all those things my grandfather asked that young cop to help us do, in sarcasm, have actually been done. 

Yes, the government has told us where a 5-year-old can sit, in a car. Yes, the government has told us what to eat.

And as I was purchasing my horrible “eco-friendly” piece of crap washing machine, a few years ago, I started laughing while loading it in the truck. I was loading the “water saver” machine, while getting completely soaked from a torrential rain. 

And I thought about my grandfather and how absurd he would find most things, today. 

And it renewed my skepticism toward the beast.    

R

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AND ONE FOR YOU …

Credit for being yourself is at an ironic crossroads, these days… 

the loss of the individual. 

Kids are taught, almost from day one, that they have to learn to be part of the team; that no one is more important that anyone else and we’re all in this together and we’re stronger together and it takes a village and insert collectivist platitude here. 

There is an effort to beat individualism out of kids before they’re in high school. We want a world where everybody’s equal and the same and nobody is better (or worse) than anyone else. 

And this idea shows itself in weird places …

This past week, Diane Warren, legendary songwriter (notorious for writing by herself), questioned there being 24 songwriters on a Beyonce record. She asked what I think was a legitimate question: how can there be 24 writers on one song? 

This immediately got racial, as everything does theses days (it’s just boring at this point). And one of the Beyonce collaborators (The Dream) went all in on Warren, citing the legacy of black people sampling other black records due to a historical lack of funding…or some such thing. 

To be honest, I didn’t really understand his (or her or their) point. I could list more black songwriters, who have written songs by themselves, than I have room for in this piece. 

But there may be something to this on a cultural – even political – level. Let me explain …

The idea of ownership is under attack. 

Ownerhip is a western principle, based in the American construct and stamped in the DNA of the constitution. A lot of people believe this is, in and of itself, immoral; that owning something is existentially impossible and rooted in the European conquest movement that colonized land and displaced indigenous peoples, and culminated in the creation of The United States. 

This is the underpinning of Critical Race Theory and the BLM movement and all the current “social justice” waves, we are told are so needed and important. And culturally, a lot of black people buy into this and draw hard lines around it. This may have been what The Dream was talking about. 

But ingenious marxists have used that mindset to put individualism on trial. Now, it’s somehow seen (I mean you have to throw your back out to see it this way. But…) as a “white” way of thinking. 

In the larger, political sphere, this idea represents itself in things like taxes and healthcare and property rights…and priviledge. 

Some are constantly (and I mean constantly) trying to make sure that people who have a lot, pay more into the state than anybody else. And that is based in a way of thinking that says, if you have more, it’s because you probably took advantage of something unfair in the system – either you were trading on racial advantage or gender advantage or birth advantage or some form of one (or all) of those. 

And if you have less, it’s probably because you have less of those advantages. Therefore, you are actually entitled to some of what the advantaged people have. That’s the basis for the “equity” movement. 

That’s how this idea looks in the macro.  

In the micro, however, this idea plays out in more subtle things like college admission rolls and who gets cast in a sit com. Or what the ratio of male-to-female superheroes is, or, yes…believe it or not…how many songwriters are on a song. 

My hunch is that songwriting credit is now based more in some sort of collaborative equity, than it is in actual contribution.  

I’ve made a living as a songwriter for almost 40 years. And nothing can get more complicated than writer credits. Everyone who had anything to do with the writing of that song, has to be credited…and they should be. 

But that can get murky as a song progresses. And lots of claims can get made along the way. 

This is why I insist on everyone leaving a writers room if they were not invited to the process. I don’t like interns and second engineers sitting around, throwing out lines and ideas. At the risk of sounding arrogant…I promise you we’re not the same.  

Who walks in the room and happens to throw out a usable line? Who had the idea in the first place? Who was there just messing around with a drum machine and happened to stumble on a beat that got on the radio? 

All of those things can become lawsuits. And they all HAVE. 

But make no mistake…collectivism is at the heart of the “everybody’s-valuable-in-this-process” type of writing that happens now. The idea of masters and apprentices – or individual visionaries – is seen as quaint and outdated.    

Older songwriters often complain about how many writers are on current songs. But it’s not just Beyonce records. Check the writer credits on anything coming out of Nashville, on records so white you can’t stare directly into them. 

You’ll find the same thing. Numerous writers. More than 5, in some cases. 

The prevailing wisdom, among the old guard, is that it’s a talent problem and that not enough writers have the vision, intellect and basic skill set to write the way old schoolers did. 

But I would submit that it’s not a talent issue at all. It’s a collectivist mindset; that we’re better in numbers, that we must rely on each other more than a singular vision, and that everyone who breathed air in the same facinity of the songwriting session needs to be credited. Because it’s only fair. 

There are many songwriters out there who make a handsome living, who probably couldn’t actually sit down and write you a song from scratch, by themselves. 

I have always questioned the true genius of someone who never has a song credit where they are the sole writer. 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in collaboration. And I’ve done a lot of it. It can make you better and the project better. But there also comes a time when you have to go kill the bear by yourself and prove to the world you deserve the accolades and that you have done the work and have mastered all the disciplines. 

This is the crucible we must all take on, to allow ourselves to be shaped and molded into that special thing that is unlike anybody else. 

And that is the basis for individualism. 

Working alone tells us who you are as an artist or a creative soul. Once you are not reliant on someone else’s vision, where do you naturally veer? What are your instincts? What is it you want to say to the world?

The answers to these questions are, for me, the basis, and very bedrock, of what it means to truly live out your specialness. 

Show us who YOU are…not just who you all are together. 

Personally, I couldn’t care less how many songwriters are on a Beyonce record. And if I’m being honest, Diane Warren’s tweet was probably some kind of frustration with becoming less and less relevant in pop culture or (probably more to the point) wondering how she was going to keep her houses in Malibu and Bel Air, if she was now going to have to learn to split royalties 24 ways. 

But what multiple writers represents to me is something deeper and cultural. And it’s why I very often write alone. 

In the arts, collaboration is beautiful and should be encouraged.  But credit must be earned. Defiance is necessary.  

And the individual matters.  

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