The Price of Freedom

Western trails in Nebraska. Blue = Mormon Trai...

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I wrote this back in 2012 and I think it’s worth a revisit.

Let’s start with a song, shall we:

Keep that in mind, we’ll be coming back to it.

As I sit here in my office, looking out the window, I can see 7 of the great American migration routes, from north to south:  The Lincoln Highway, US Highway 30, The Transcontinental Railroad, Interstate 80, The Platte River, The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and  the Pony Express Route. Think about how many hopes and dreams have passed through here.

Now combine that with Shenandoah. The song came about in the early 19th century and was made famous by US sailors all over the world. what does it speak of? It speaks of loneliness, of likely never seeing your friends and family again, and does it hauntingly. It was very appropriate for those sailors, and it was equally appropriate for (and loved by) those thousands/millions trekking through Nebraska on their way to a new and hopefully better life.

Why did they do it? Some, of course, to avoid the sheriff, or their girlfriend’s father but, mostly they were going to, not running from. To what? A better life, maybe, but they were going to have to build it themselves, and if you’ve ever driven I-80, you know what a trek it is today, let alone to walk it, as most did.

What motivated them is the same thing that has motivated American from the very beginning: Freedom. Freedom to build your own life. Freedom to be left alone, Freedom to be the very best that you can be.

What was the price they put on that freedom? That they would most likely, whether they succeeded or failed, never see their family and friends again. If they were very lucky they might receive a few letters in the course of the rest of their life.

And remember, it was out here, on the Oregon trail (and it’s fork in the road, the California trail) that the saying became true. “The sick died, the weak never started”, it was that kind of migration.

That freedom had quite a price, didn’t it?

What is yours worth?

Sunday Ride

You know when I was a kid, every once in a while on a nice Sunday afternoon my folks would decide to just go for a ride. It was a nice custom that seems to have died out, mostly.

But this is kind of a virtual one, for out here. Enjoy!

Nebraska Repeals Strict Licensing Laws for Hair Braiders

160318_NebraskaHairBraiding_Johnson-1250x650Better late than never, I suppose.

A cosmetology license, required for hair braiding? Really?

Here: from the Daily Signal.

Just two weeks ago, Nebraskans who wanted to make money braiding hair had to undergo 2,100 hours of training to obtain a cosmetology license, which state officials say dedicates little time to natural hair braiding techniques.

But now Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has signed legislation into law that will lift arduous occupational licensing requirements on the state’s hair braiders. […]

She said the government is often “too intrusive” and enacts restrictions that prevent people from earning an honest living. She hopes her bill, which Ricketts signed into law March 9, will empower female professionals to take risks, which she said will help build self-esteem.

“It’s the pursuing of the American Dream,” Fox said. “I think when you start taking risks and accomplishing things, it kind of makes you, the entrepreneur, set the bar higher and try to accomplish more.”

Yes, yes it does. That’s exactly what it does. The opportunity to accomplish something on your own. If you don’t know this 2100 hours is about 52 weeks at 40 hours per week, what we call full time, by the way, all that for hair braiding.

Furth said Nebraska’s legislature should continue to deregulate work in the state, where there is “no serious, proven risk” to public safety.

“One easy way to deregulate is to accept other states’ licenses: If you’re good enough to be a dentist in Iowa, you’re good enough to be a dentist in Nebraska,” he said. “That’s an easy way for a state to attract more skilled workers without being accused of risking public safety.”

via Nebraska Repeals Strict Licensing Laws for Hair Braiders

That I don’t completely agree with. While she’s right, as far as she goes, but she doesn’t go nearly far enough. As most of you know, I’m an electrician, and yes, I’m a pretty good one. And yes, bad electrical work can kill you, and do it quick, by electrocution, by fire, and by other things. But you know what, Nebraska’s licensing system, isn’t really about safety, maybe it was at one time, but now it functions as simply a medieval guild. It exists to prevent other equally good electricians from competing with the ones that have a license. If memory serves, neither Pennsylvania or Indiana have state licenses, although they likely have some sort of inspection regimen. By the way, here you need a state permit to change an outlet, which costs about $50 additional. Yeah, I know!

I’ve written about this before, here, and here, and this too is relevant. Yes, a lot of that has to do with codes, and inspections and such, but it’s still very relevant to the discussion.

Short form is this, having a bloody piece of paper, and having pushed a broom for four years, and having passed a test I could have passed when I was 14 just does not make you a competent electrician, neither does mandated continuing education, which requires that half of the courses you take each biennial period duplicate over and over again. Electrical theory hasn’t changed much in the last fifty years, but what has changed is the material we work with. I spent most of my time in the last few years with single board computers, programmable logic controllers, variable frequency drives, computer networks and sensors, and other things that didn’t exist in 1980. I did not learn that in bogus seminars for licensing requirements, I learned that mostly in the field, by reading, and by taking real seminars that allowed me to do the job.

The code has changed, it’s purpose now is, as near as I can tell to keep an unattended two year child, or a stupid drug addict safe, and like I said in one of the linked articles, it forces us to refuse to work on really hazardous installations, unless the client can afford the tariff.

Are there solutions? Sure, but we’re not looking for them, because the manufacturers want to sell higher priced material, and the authority having jurisdiction, who by the way, is not your local inspector, have a need to, at all costs, protect their jobs, for which, frankly, I don’t blame them at all.

And yes, all of this has much to do with why I retired or was that got too tired to deal with it.

The view from afar

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It will soon be time for Neo to go East – which never seems quite the thing, as I always think of him in terms of the West and the wilds of Nebraska. I recall from being in the States for a year or so in the early 90s that the thing which hit me most was the size!  I remember driving to Abilene from near St Louis, and I71 seemed to go on for ever – and once we got past KC, it was (or so I recall) an endless straight line; it was the first time I’d ever seen cruise control – there’d be no point on English roads.

I was brought up a semi-rural part of Wales, and you could probably fit the whole country into Kansas and have room for France. I’d never had any idea that a country could be that big – and when we flew from St Louis to Sacramento, I remember thinking that it was like going from one country to another – and yet it was one country. I learned in school about how important the flag was (can still recite that pledge) and the language and, though no one I think said it – Christianity.

With so many different nationalities emigrating from all over the world, America could just have become a maze of different cultures – and yet it became a nation – one nation under God. From afar, where I am, that still seems a pretty remarkable achievement and worth examining and defending – not least at a time when migration is high on the political and religious agenda.

As I understand it (so just put me right if that means I understand squat) it was the allegiance to the flag and to ‘these United States’, as well as the need to learn a common language which, along with a common religion, served as the sinews to unite the fledgling nation. At a time when so much writing seems to be about what the USA got wrong – slavery, its treatment of the first nations – it might be worth a little balance here? We lose much if we project our values on to the past and judge it wanting. Go that way, and let’s think what a future where no one kills babies in the womb would think of us?

History has winners and losers, but we are all its heirs. We all want to be the good guys, and it is easy enough to use our value judgments to make ourselves more virtuous than our ancestors. But I guess they did their best, and we have inherited their work – and if we don’t concentrate on the good bits as well, and we see only the bad bits, then what sort of world will we bequeath to the future?

America is an idea, and it is always in development. As you guys enter an election year, it looks as though things will get pretty polarised – but I hope, for all our sakes, that as usual, you’ll do the right thing – even if it is, as Churchill once put it, after doing all the wrong things first.

That journey Neo’s about to take is across the breadth of a great nation – and Americans, not least at this time, might stop and think about those pilgrims who took so long going the other way and in so doing, created a great nation out of a wilderness. I know in our ecological times that’s not a popular viewpoint – but let’s face it, the critics would have nowhere to live or to have been educated without those old white men. So, I’m saying a thank you to them – and wishing Neo a happy journey – and a merry Christmas.

Of Tar and Feathers, and Smoothbore Muskets

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was out in San Bernadino the other day, and he has some things to say.

He’ll get no argument from me on any of that since it’s simple common sense. But since he’s being Nebraska nice, there’s more to it than that. Because the Islamic Jihadis aren’t the only ones who dislike our freedom. Kevin D. Williamson writing at the National Review had this to say.

There are many popular demons in American public life: Barack Obama and his monarchical pretensions, Valerie Jarrett and her two-bit Svengali act, or, if your tastes run in the other direction, the Koch brothers, the NRA, the scheming behind-the-scenes influences of Big Whatever. But take a moment to doff your hat to the long, energetic, and wide-ranging careers of three of our most enduring bad guys: laziness, corruption, and stupidity, which deserve special recognition for their role in the recent debates over gun control, terrorism, and crime. The Democratic party’s dramatic slide into naked authoritarianism — voting in the Senate to repeal the First Amendment, trying to lock up governors for vetoing legislation, and seeking to jail political opponents for holding unpopular views on global warming, etc. — has been both worrisome and dramatic. The Democrats even have a new position on the ancient civil-rights issue of due process, and that position is: “F— you.” The Bill of Rights guarantees Americans (like it or not) the right to keep and bear arms; it also reiterates the legal doctrine of some centuries standing that government may not deprive citizens of their rights without due process. In the case of gun rights, that generally means one of two things: the legal process by which one is convicted of a felony or the legal process by which one is declared mentally incompetent, usually as a prelude to involuntary commitment into a mental facility. The no-fly list and the terrorism watch list contain no such due process. Some bureaucrat somewhere in the executive branch puts a name onto a list, and that’s that. The ACLU has rightly called this “Kafkaesque.” […]

Why do we put all the T. Kennedys on the list instead of the actual sack of it we’re interested in? Because running that information down and systematizing it is hard work. Reviewing that information is a lot of work, too, which is why our friend Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard and Fox News ended up on the terrorist watch list. (Amusingly, he found himself being subjected to heightened scrutiny by a dedicated cable-news viewer who instantly recognized him.) That’s all the stuff of good stories for a Stephen Hayes or a Ted Kennedy, but if you’re a bodega operator in the Bronx without connections and resources, you’re pretty well hosed. […]

The Democrats and their intellectually corrupt apologists at the New York Times and elsewhere are willing to strip Americans of their constitutional rights, to micturate from a great height upon the entire concept of due process, and to treat all of us like criminals — while doing precisely nothing to prevent school shootings, terrorism, or ordinary crime — because they don’t have the guts to tell their political clients in the schools, the mental-health bureaucracies, and the criminal-justice system that eventually they are going to have to do their goddamned jobs in exchange for the hundreds of billions of dollars we lavish upon them.

Do read it all at: Gun-control-debate-government-laziness-stupidity-corruption.

Charles C. W. Cooke adds this, and, boy howdy, do I agree with him.

Traditionally, we have used an old-fashioned tool to sort out who deserves to be punished and who does not: It’s called “the justice system.” If, as the watch list’s proponents insist, there are people among us who are too dangerous to remain at liberty, then those people must be arrested, charged, and tried tout de suite. Until that happens, they must be left the hell alone, lest the pitchforks and smoothbores that subdued the last set of usurpers start to twitch and grow restless in their retirement..

Source: Terrorism-gun-control-advocates-use-fear.

Frankly, it didn’t work out well for the lobsterbacks, and I see no reason to think the leftists are any more capable than say, Lord Cornwallis.

But for plain common sense on the subject, where it matters, let’s go back to Senator Sasse


Home, and it’s Lovely Out Here

Sometimes we get so involved with all the problems in the world that we forget the good stuff. Yesterday I was chatting with a friend and we were discussing our states, and it struck me that Nebraska is mighty pretty, and I haven’t shared that with you guys for quite a while.

So here you go. Enjoy


One in three of us work in jobs connected with agriculture, as I do.



But we still take pretty good care of the joint, and our feathered friends.



I’ll live and die an old Boiler, but I’ll have to admit it is pretty cool how the whole state stops on Saturday afternoon in the fall.



They’re right, Lincoln is about the friendliest city I’ve ever been to, but it’s too big for me. But this is from a county fair out my way in a town of a bit more than a thousand people.



And that’s all good. but for me this country has always been about long views and far horizons.Willa Cather wasn’t wrong, it can be lonely, sometimes very lonely but, it also gives you perspective on the world and its problems.



By the way, that fancy Victorian house at about 1:50 is Buffalo Bill Cody’s.

Presumably, regular programming will resume tomorrow.🙂



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