Conservative commentary: Go Vols!


— As anyone who has known me for more than five minutes can attest, I am a lifelong Oklahoma Sooners fan. Nevertheless, I must congratulate Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Volunteers women's basketball team on their second consecutive national championship. This was the program's eighth national championship, having played in a total of 13 national championship games. This is all the more impressive when you consider that there have only been a total of 26 national championship games in the history of women's college basketball.

The reasons for this amazing success are clear. This program insists on hard work and demands excellence. There are no excuses. There are no shortcuts. There are only wins and losses, and second-best is failure. There is a large culture of this sort in women's college basketball. Look at Coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn program and Coach Brenda Frese and the Maryland program, just to name a couple of examples.

I am saddened to note that, by contrast, in recent years, my Oklahoma program has not insisted on the kind of intensive training that is necessary for success and has shown a tendency to make excuses for shortcomings. In the past few years, the result has been being bounced from the tournament in the early rounds, despite renowned recruiting classes.

Like basketball, our American society has a lot of "coaches." They are leaders of all stripes - religious leaders, civic leaders, and, really, anyone influencing some of the rest of us. How are these coaches doing? Some are phenomenal, but to the extent that these coaches are politicians, they are, to a large extent, doing a poor job.

Almost 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." He also famously said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."

We have strayed far from these ideals. Many of today's politicians, particularly those of President Kennedy's party, hold the opposite view of human nature. Implicit in the policies advocated by many politicians, particularly Democrat leaders such as Hillary, Barack, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, is the notion that the American people just cannot do it on their own. They lack the wisdom, skills and strength to succeed on their own, without the "helping" hand of government. They also implicitly assume that those who have been able to succeed must have done so unfairly.

Accordingly, these leaders advocate a litany of government "assistance" programs to "help" you with virtually every facet of your life - from health insurance to child care to subsidized ethanol fuel to intensive regulation and entitlement programs, seemingly without end. They, of course, propose to finance this by promoting class warfare - on the backs of those who have succeeded, in their minds, unfairly.

This is the antithesis of good coaching. These kinds of programs are not designed out of concern for our society, but out of concern for the political careers of the proponents. It, unfortunately, bears out the observation of Alexis de Tocqueville, "The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money."

The good news is that, like new high school graduates choosing their colleges, we get to choose our coaches.

Do we want to be champions or get bounced in the first round?

Let's choose wisely.

Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs and Austin, Texas, a former member of the Pilot and Today Editorial Board and a Director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado. His great-grandparents moved to Steamboat in 1926. He holds a B.A. from Oklahoma and a docto


Murray Tucker 9 years ago

Rick: What is the largest Government Assistance Program, today? It's called, "Bring democracy to Iraq." And, like welfare assistance programs prior to welfare reform (a hallmark of the Clinton Administration) , it has brought the wrong kind of dependency. Get off your soapbox of blaming liberals. There's more than enough to go around for your precious conservatives, too!


suckerfreeforlife 9 years ago

Rick's sports analogies are so off base i dont know where to begin. UT has a top tier athletic infrastructure, paid for by boosters and a successful mens program, which the Lady Vols have at their disposal free of charge. They are subsidized, you might say. W/O the world class facilities provided by someone else's nickel, i strongly doubt UT would dominate the way they do, regardless of the fact that Summit is a master motivator and a tactician par excellence. Further, the whole premise is that "second place is the first loser", which such a redneck, disrespectful, and out-of-touch assertion that its flaws should be apparent to any thinking person. Rick has made a habit of these bogus analogies, as evidenced by his previous comparison of Conservative principles and the Leadville 100. The LV 100 is laden with support infrastructure to help struggling runners, from food/rest stations, to the allowance of a "pacer" to run with a competitor. Yet, Rick spun it as an event where you live or die wholly upon your own, unassisted efforts, as he believes life should be. The people at the LV 100 know that, like life, sometimes you need a boost, and that shouldnt DQ you from the race.


blahblah 9 years ago

Rick, I wonder how many of those great athletes that led the Vols to a championship grew up in homes that received government assistance. Perhaps they were able to grow and survive in thanks to a helping hand from the government. As a graduate of the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas, your education was subsidized, enabling you to become one of the chosen elite.


id04sp 9 years ago

Yeah, well, suckerfree, most of what you say is right.

Where do I go to get my boost? People are always asking me to help, but nobody ever offers to help me, or even to leave me alone for a while so I can enjoy what I've made for myself.

It is very true that successful convervative entrepreneurs could not have fluorished without the support of government in keeping our society and infrastructure in some sort of working condition and civil order. We pay tax in return for that, however. Every inch of pavement and every cent of police salaries come from taxes paid by people who earn money EXCEPT FOR those cases where government giveaways go right back to the cash register and contribute to sales taxes.

How about a program where everybody who files income taxes gets to pick one year out of every ten and not pay income tax? If I could do that, I'd be able to run out and pay cash for a new hybrid Silverado, or at least a dual-fuel vehicle to help with energy conservation. Or, how about a one-time tax credit, up to the total amount of tax owed, to purchase a new-technology vehicle with lower emissions, lower petroleum consumption, etc.? That would be a little boost that would help everyone, wouldn't it?

I figured out earlier this week, and posted it in another thread, that my wife and I contribute about $7,000 per year to other people's support in housing, income, basic human services, health care, etc., and that's BEFORE social security tax that we also pay.

The biggest difference between us and any other working couple is that we have some savings and investments to fall back on in the event of a disaster. We don't live any better than any couple working 2 jobs each to make a go of it in Steamboat despite making enough so that one income each does the trick for us. We pay enough extra income tax to keep our standard of living down to what the average middle class family enjoys.

I don't mind giving somebody else a "boost," but, uh, how about not sending me a fresh body in need of a "boost" every time the one I just boosted gets on their feet?

There comes a point where, given enough income, anyone can afford to be magnanimous and ignore the cost of taxation to support social programs. I think I read recently that Katy Couric makes $11,000,000 per year. Mr. Akin probably has a very nice income from his legal career, also. We know that Kris Hammond made $40,000 for 200 hours of work. There are people in Steamboat who work 2000 hours for $40,000.

So, anyway, I don't mind giving people a little boost when they need it, but I'm paying enough to support someone else's child, only they never get to be 18 so that I can stop paying.

How about a lifetime cap on income tax. Once you've filed 35 tax returns, you never pay income tax again. Just treat it like I died, only let me enjoy what I make from age 52 or 53 or 54 or so until I really do die. Would that be so bad?


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