“The modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism is loyalty to the nation all the time, but loyalty to the government only when it deserves it.” (Mark Twain)

I am at a loss for words to describe the election we are about to have. We have a choice between despicable and deplorable and both are equally bad. My main fear is that whoever wins this race, they will end up acting like royalty. It took 240 years but we finally managed to forget what tyranny feels like. Well, we’re all going to get a refresher course in the value of liberty and the reason we have three equal parts to our government. The next president will be a tyrant because that’s what we want, apparently.

We, the people of the United States, are giving up every right we have ever earned by giving in to the temptation these two candidates represent. This is a race to see who can be the least most horrible candidate not the brilliant leader we need. In reality, no one with any amount of real character and values would ever put themselves through the election process anymore.We get candidates who are the dregs of a system corrupted by power brokers and the media. If you won’t sell your soul, you can’t get elected to any office higher than the local school board. When that happens, the democratic system breaks down and all of us suffer.

I doubt that anything I say will change the course of history but I’m going to try once more to express what most of us are feeling right now. The American Dream ain’t what it used to be so maybe we need to redefine what that means so that the next president will have some idea what we really want from our government. For most of us, the American Dream is pretty basic. We want to work at jobs we care about for companies who actually care about us as employees not numbers. We want a paycheck we can live on. One that makes the house payment and sends our kids to decent schools where the 3 R’s are still taught. We would prefer that our kids didn’t have to die in some primitive country, defending people who wouldn’t recognize freedom if they had it, just so those vets can pay for college when they come home from the next war. We’re all willing to die for our own freedom but stop asking us to die for others who never help themselves.

We want elected officials who recognize the eternal value of the Constitution and will make decisions based on the values of the majority of Americans. That is the way the system was designed because minority rule is just a euphemism for tyranny. We want a government that gives us opportunities not oppression. We all know what it takes to succeed so please get out of our way while we try. We also want a level playing field where the rules are the same for all and no one can purchase favoritism. Let the best ideas win no matter who comes up with them. Let those who try the hardest, work the smartest and earn their rewards get what they deserve and let’s honor their tenacity, not punish their success. And let’s have a tax code that makes sense to everybody, not just accountants.

We also want to live in a country where no one has to fear the possibility of bankruptcy caused by medical expenses.We shouldn’t have to pay $20 for an aspirin in the hospital just so the insurance company can pay their CEO $20 million. That’s just legalized extortion, not the free market at work. We want to know what the real costs are so we can make informed decisions for ourselves. Just tell us the truth, we can handle it.

We also want more control close to home. The federal government should return our tax dollars to the states so we can decide how to spend those dollars without compliance strings attached. We worked hard for that money and we know precisely what we need to do with it. Please stay out of it, you’re not helping us at all. We do not need bloated bureaucracies skimming off the top and leaving us with less than we gave you in the first place. Every state has unique circumstances that no one in Washington can comprehend so please stop trying to tell us how to live.

All of this is just common sense. People are happy, productive and free when they know they can achieve their biggest dreams. A government that is truly of the people, by the people and for the people should understand this concept. We the people want all the benefits of freedom and none of the costs of tyranny. We the people having been doing our part, working hard, paying taxes, even dying when called upon and voting for the people we thought would best represent us for 2oo+ years. Therefore, I think it’s only fair to ask those elected officials this simple question, “When are you going to start doing your part?”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“Action is the proper Fruit of Knowledge.” (Thomas Fuller)

It has come to my attention that some of my younger readers, if there are any, may need to be warned about some of the things they read here at Grhgraph. Apparently, there is something called a trigger warning that gives young people the option to decide if they can handle new information that might possibly evoke strong feelings that could disturb their otherwise safe space. I’m old and foolish but I always thought the object of writing anything was to evoke a response from the reader. In point of fact, I got a big fat F on a paper I wrote in high school because I didn’t get any reaction from my teacher. But my teacher had studied at Oxford so he was kind of a stickler for small details like that. So, in the interest of appealing to a younger audience, let thee be warned. From this point on you will be uncomfortable and have strong feelings which may even cause you to get out of your safe space and do something to help solve the problem I am about to discuss. Last chance…Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In my work with foster children I am frequently asked to make an emergency run. Usually this involves a kid who has just come into the system or one who has just caused a big enough problem to get kicked out of the house they were in. Either way, it’s almost always traumatic. I take my share of these drives because I like helping these kids get through it. Last week I got called out four times, which is a record for me. The first night it was just two kids being moved again for no good reason but they were being placed in a home that was 7.5 hours away from Kansas City and it was 5 PM when I heard about it. Lucky for me, the new foster parents volunteered to meet me in Hays which is only 260 miles away. When we got half way, we stopped for a bathroom break and I gave them a snack for being so good on such a long drive. The little boy took one bite of his cookie and threw up all over himself and the car seat. I cleaned him up and found his one extra shirt to put on him and then cleaned the car seat as best I could before heading out again for another 2 hours. We met up with the wonderful new foster parents at 9:30 PM and then I headed home. It was after 2 AM when I finally got back and closer to 3 before I got any sleep. Luckily, I was supposed to have the next day off but it didn’t work out that way. By 7 PM the next night I was on the road again with a teenage boy in a horrible storm with accidents all over the highway. His story would need its own trigger warning so I’m not going to elaborate because it just makes me mad every time I think about it. After four more days and 2000 miles, I was called out again on Saturday night for an 8 year old boy who had just come into the system. He wasn’t going very far but his world consisted of a backpack and not much else. I gave him a Teddy Bear so he would have something to hold onto while we drove away from one home to another one in the middle of the night. He didn’t say much, which was good for me because I didn’t know what to say except, “I heard about you and I wanted to meet you. I’m going to take good care of you and if you need me again just ask. I will be there for you no matter what.” I never mind making those kind of promises because these kids need to hear it from somebody.

After 11 straight days on the road I finally got a Sunday off. I slept late trying to recuperate from way too many hours behind the wheel and a heavy heart from sharing the pain these kids were experiencing. I hoped this week would be a little calmer but Monday night I got the call again. This time it was a teenage girl who was moving once more to a new group home in Topeka. When I told her where she was going, she broke down and cried because she hates group homes and she was really hoping for a foster home. I asked her if she wanted to talk about it while we drove but she said she really didn’t talk much. I said I shared her lack of enthusiasm for conversation and then we talked for the whole drive. At one point she sadly stated that after 5 months in the system she just doesn’t trust anybody anymore. I took that as a personal challenge and I tried my best to reassure her that things would get better. Then she asked me if I was religious and I said “Yes, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I’m pretty sure he wants me to be here for you. Why don’t we stop for dinner somewhere so we can keep talking and I can convince you to trust me. I will not let you down.” We stopped at Freddy’s in Topeka because she had never had one of their delicious burgers. She ate and I talked about my faith and how important it is to me to work with kids who are in trouble. It was the best $8 I ever spent. We got to the group home later than expected and I had to make excuses for my late arrival but I didn’t mind stretching the truth in order to get the chance to share my faith and my mission. I told her she should tell her caseworker to request me as her driver the next time she needs to go somewhere so we can continue our conversation about faith and so I could keep proving myself to her. I cannot let her grow up thinking there is no one she can trust. That’s not going to happen on my watch!

So now, if you made it through the whole story and you’re not mad or crying or pained in some way then I didn’t do my job as a writer. The real world is a tough place for kids in foster care and they need all the help we can give them. I can’t sugar coat that enough to make it palatable and it shouldn’t be acceptable for any of the rest of us. They need us more than you can ever imagine. They need clothes, they need homes, they need food and books and friends and mentors and teachers and coaches and other people who genuinely care about them as valued members of humanity. They need YOU! That’s right, you read the whole story and now that you know the whole truth, what are YOU going to do about it? See, there’s the problem with knowledge. It’s a call to action. We can’t plead ignorance anymore when we are exposed to the truth. When you blow $4 on a cup of coffee you might have to wince a little at the reality that $4 could probably feed one of these kids for a few days. Now I can see why trigger warnings are so important to millennials. Life is complicated and harsh for a lot of people and social justice is going to require actual sacrifice and hardship, not just Tweets. Ignorance really was bliss wasn’t it? If we don’t know better we can go on being selfish and live happily ever after. That might be good for you but I can promise you it will be bad for these kids.

Now let’s wrap this up with some positive emotions. The bare minimum thing anybody can do is donate to any of the non-profits who work in this field. Money is absolutely critical to the success of their mission. If you just can’t afford to cut your budget, then maybe a gift of old clothes would be possible. I can’t count how many kids I meet who have nothing when they come into the system. Clothes make every kid feel better. And last but definitely not least, give yourself. These kids are desperate for normal human contact. You can volunteer at shelters to just read to little ones. When they start running to meet you at the door and give you the best hugs you’ll ever get, then you’ll be glad you ignored my trigger warning. I think the fruit of knowledge really is worth it.

Care to join me?

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“The Tale of Jack and the Bean Counters.”

Editor’s Note – I wrote this post in 2012 during the last election cycle. It didn’t have any effect then but now that our government has gotten even more out of control maybe it’s time to repeat, “The Tale of Jack and the Bean Counters.”

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Long ago in the Kingdom of Beanlandia lived the good King Cyrus. Cyrus had ruled his kingdom for many years and was loved by all his people. Beanlandia was known far and wide for its fertile fields and the best beans grown anywhere. The farmers in Beanlandia could grow any kind of bean and the whole economy of the country was based on beans. As King, Cyrus owned everything but he always allowed his people to keep 10% of the beans to feed their families. The rest of the crops were kept in the beanery managed by the Ministry of Beans. The government employed literally hundreds of people to count the beans each day and keep an exact tally of who grew them, what kind, where they were stored and who they were exported to. These people were highly regarded and well paid and given the title of Benevolent Bean Counter.

This system…

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“I shall continue to do what I think is right whether anybody likes it or not.” (Harry S. Truman)

Now that schools everywhere are back in session, I will continue with my remedial history lectures. Today we will be discussing ancient history. All the way back to the last century, the 1900’s. For the millennials out there, most of you won’t have any first hand experience with today’s subject, ethics, because ethical standards of behavior were quietly disposed of before the turn of the century. Here’s a great explanation of the concept of ethics as it was known in the last century…

Schools of ethics in Western philosophy can be divided, very roughly, into three sorts. The first holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person’s society. The second makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings. Thirdly, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number. Courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary.

The central theme of each of these definitions is universality, what is good for one should be good for all. This is why ethics had to end before the 21st century could fully realize its potential in making the needs of the individual superior to all others. Ethics was proven to be diametrically opposed to our current cult of personality. No one wants to be limited in their individual pursuit of happiness by the meager needs of others who are less fortunate. Thus, we now have unlimited potential to achieve any amount of fame or fortune without the least bit of consideration for the plight of other humans. Happy days aren’t they? Clearly, the ethical virtues of justice, charity and generosity were holding us back and who wants to be bound by an imperative to respect other rational beings. The cult of personality gives us idols to worship and emulate in our quest for more of everything.

Now we just have one more pesky little tradition to get rid of so that all individuals can fully achieve the greatness they deserve. There is this thing called Conflict of Interest that pops up all the time in accounting, the practice of law, healthcare and finance but hardly ever in government. Here’s the dictionary definition of that. A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial interest, or otherwise, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization. Now that’s a problem, corruption has some very negative connotations. That means that some people could become criminals if they had multiple interests that conflicted with their duties as say… politicians. Now that I think about it, politicians always have multiple interests and all of them are financial. They have to get lots of people to support their campaigns with donations and then when they get into office they have to decide who gets what from our tax dollars. And all the while they have to make sure they stay in office so they can perpetuate their successful lifestyles. That must be hard for them. Without Conflict of Interest, their lives would be so much better and their supporters would be happier too.

Ethics make everything harder for everybody… well maybe not everybody. In fact, most regular people just behave ethically every day of their lives because it makes sense to treat others the same way you want to be treated. That’s funny, it seems like I’ve heard that before. Oh right, Jesus said that 2000 years ago. But that’s really ancient history, so maybe we should forget about everything he said too. That will make it easier to succeed. Let me know how that works out.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” (Mark Twain)

I am always amazed by election year politics and the way politicians can twist any set of facts into anything that suits their nefarious purposes. Even at the lowest levels of government, distortion and deceit are common practices. And you know what makes it worse? We fall for it repeatedly. Let’s face it, we are about to elect the most dishonest president in the history of the United States of America and it doesn’t even matter what party we vote for because both candidates are equally capable of lying to get what they want. Welcome to the 21st century where truth, justice and the American way are just distant memories.

Given that I spend so much time driving, I am inundated with political advertising on the radio. I have heard back-to-back commercials that completely contradict each other and leave me wondering who, if anyone, is telling the truth. Then we have the daily polls to remind us of who is in the lead at that exact moment in time, never mind that the numbers change hourly and polls are inherently biased. Just asking a question a certain way lends itself to the answer that is desired in the first place. That makes it really easy to manipulate the outcome but polls are still a popular way to influence the election. Our democratic process has become anything but democratic and we are about to elect another incompetent leader in just a few months. That’s America, where anybody can become president if they win the beauty pageant we used to call an election.

All of this frustration with the political process has given me an idea. I wanted to test the accuracy of polls by trying one myself. I wanted to keep it simple and it wasn’t the least bit scientific but it did achieve some remarkable results. On my drive today I was taking two little  brothers to visit their mom. When we arrived at the destination, there was a large group of women taking an exercise class on a playground. I parked the car close to them and proceeded to get the boys out and into the building. Along the way, several women in the group voiced their opinions of me. (Is it catcalling if women do it to men?) As I headed back to the car alone, the comments became more colorful and plentiful. I was greeted with, “Look at that guy, he’s hot!” At that point, I turned it into a social experiment. I said, “How hot do you think I am?” That brought forth a stream of catcalls including several offers to bear my children and one older woman who said, “I haven’t seen a man that hot in 20 years.”

Now, I’m sure that carrying a two-year old and holding hands with his older brother probably improved my odds of being seen as attractive because lets face it, I’m 62 years old and I have my share of grey hair, wrinkles and extra pounds. I might have been hot a long, long time ago but I’m not crazy enough to think I could pull that off now. So what can we learn from this informal poll based on a random sampling of an ethnically diverse group of women of all ages? First, women never lie about men and second, I can honestly claim to be the hottest 62 year old Guy alive or at least according to the inmates at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Topeka, Kansas. Mark Twain would be proud of me.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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“Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” (Anne Herbert)

I didn’t want to drive today but I don’t always get what I want. My ear infection went from tolerable to painful today and I just wasn’t up for another seven hours on the road. After laying down for a while, with my latest home remedy working in my ear, I decided I wasn’t that sick and however bad I felt, it probably paled in comparison to the day some foster kid was having while they waited for me to drive them home. When I got to the house, I could hear some pretty painful emotions being expressed, before I even got to the door. Clearly, my presence was not appreciated but I don’t get to change my schedule.

After a few more tense minutes, the child appeared at the front door. Her head was down and she was sobbing. The foster mom told me she had come for a visit with her sister and she expected to be staying longer than just one day. I got her in the car and introduced myself in the usual way, “My name is Guy and yes that is my real name.” She barely even looked up as she timidly shook my outstretched hand. What I could see of her face surprised me. She was pretty, with olive skin and dark eyes but she had piercings and tattoos. I hoped they were just airbrushed on and not permanent. I just don’t like it when kids that young think they need to do something to get attention.

I could tell by her body language that she was a victim of circumstances beyond her control. My paperwork told me she was fifteen but she looked younger. She curled up in the back seat and proceeded to pull her hair down over her face as if to hide it from me. I asked her a few simple questions and tried to get her to open up with me but she mainly gave one word answers, if any. With her knees tucked up under her chin, she hugged the car door and went to sleep for the first hour of our drive to Wichita.

Halfway there, we stopped at McDonald’s to use the restroom and then I asked her if she wanted cookies or a hot fudge sundae? Her answer stunned me, “What’s that?” I said, “It’s ice cream with hot chocolate poured all over it, you have to try it. It’s wonderful.” We got back in the car and she quickly finished it. I asked her if she liked it and again she gave me her one word response, “Yes. Thanks.” Then I smiled at her and said, “Now can I see you smile?” She lit up immediately and it was a thing of beauty. I added, “I was beginning to think you had forgotten how to smile. You should do it more often, you’re beautiful when you smile.” She smiled again but only for a second, as she seemed to be uncomfortable with the prospect of getting any kind of attention.

She kept quiet for the next hour but this time she didn’t hide under her blanket or curl up by the door. She kept her head up and smiled at me each time I turned to looked at her. When we got to Wichita, I told her I hoped to see her again and I encouraged her to make the best of the situation she was in so she could keep getting visits with her sister. I thanked her for putting up with my choice of music and being so cooperative on the drive. I promised her another sundae if we ever met up again and wished her well. I wanted to say I was going to pray for her but we’re not supposed to inject our religious feelings, so I kept that to myself. I did pray for her and I will again soon. She clearly needs someone to pray for her and care for her. I may never see her again but I can keep praying for her.

I headed home still feeling lousy but, somehow, being with her made my pain less so. My random kindness had given birth to senseless beauty and that simple gesture made my day a little better for her and for me. Maybe that’s the lesson I learned again today. Every act of kindness we share is always returned exponentially. I made her smile with one hot fudge sundae and she made my head feel better just by thanking me. I broke down that wall of sadness she had imposed on herself and she let me in long enough to share my feelings for her. I wish I could get that close to every kid I meet but it doesn’t always work that way. Today it did. My head still hurts but my heart feels good. My advice — practice random kindness every day and see what senseless acts of beauty come from it.

Good luck!

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty.” (Thomas Jefferson)

America was founded by some of the most courageous men and women who ever lived on Earth. We owe them everything we have now and we would be wise to revisit the lessons they learned on their journey to freedom. America, as a constitutional republic, was the first nation ever founded on democratic principles. They had to start from scratch and imagine possibilities that had never even been conceived of before.The concept of personal liberty had only been theorized prior to America’s founding and despotism had reigned since time began. This is what Jefferson was talking about in my title quote; despotism, in all its forms, is relatively calm compared to freedom. Freedom is boisterous and unpredictable and always changing. Timid men prefer the predictability and security that despotism promises even without any personal freedom.

Thomas Paine spoke to the challenge of freedom when he said this, “Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” The founding fathers understood the gravity of the moment they were in and the challenge left them undaunted. They had suffered so long under a despot that they were willing to try anything to achieve their God-given liberty. The part that amazes me the most is their willingness to concede that any form of government could become tyrannical and they invested most of their time in seeking ways to minimize that possible outcome. George Washington recognized and voiced his concerns for future governmental despotism when he made this observation, “There is a natural and necessary progression from the extreme of anarchy to the extreme of Tyranny…arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of Liberty abused to licentiousness.” His meaning is clear, when liberty is abused and morality no longer guides our decisions, then tyranny will take its place and all forms of government are equally capable of becoming tyrannical.

The founders were just as wary of government tyranny as they were of King George. James Madison spoke about the gradual loss of freedom with these famous words, “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” He was trying to warn us that government cannot be left to its own devices for long because the love of power corrupts all humans eventually. Liberty, if it is to be maintained, has to be watched over and guarded with the collective concern of all the citizens. That’s why voting is so important and why low turnouts work in the favor of the ruling class. They do not fear the voters and they will gradually increase their power over us because we have failed to participate in the process of government.

Thomas Jefferson gave us a clear warning about the future of our democracy when he said, “The tyranny of legislators is at present, and will be for many years, our most formidable danger. The tyranny of the executive will arise in its turn, but at a more distant period.“I think we’ve reached that point. Our legislature has become so partisan and so dysfunctional that it has allowed the executive branch to govern by fiat. We now have three branches of government that create laws. We are teetering on the brink of despotism like never before and we need to be extremely careful about how we proceed. The ugly truth is we did this to ourselves. That’s how a democracy works. We allowed ourselves to be taken over by government because we no longer accept personal responsibility for maintaining our liberty. It took 200 years but everything the founders warned us about is coming true. Clearly, Ben Franklin was speaking the truth when he warned us that, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We can argue all day about which political party is to blame for our problems but that’s not addressing the real issue. The real problem is US. We no longer accept responsibility for nurturing the tree of liberty that was planted for us by the founding fathers. If that tree dies we’re all going to be sorry because we’ve forgotten how horrible tyranny really is and how much freedom is really worth. Freedom is messy and complicated and frustrating at times but that’s because we have the freedom to choose our destiny. We can make our lives better or worse but we can’t give away that responsibility to our government. That’s just like leaving the gate open for the wolves to come in. The founders gave us all the tools to work with to keep freedom alive in the hearts of all mankind. Liberty is worth anything and everything but we have to work at it together.

When you go to vote this year, please ask yourself this simple question, “Who would the founding fathers want to keep the tree of liberty alive and well?”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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