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The Underachiever's Manifesto

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Byam: Christian lost, too, milord. God knows he's judged himself more harshly than you could judge him.

[turns to Fletcher Christian's father]

Byam: I say to his father, "He was my friend. No finer man ever lived."

[addresses the court again]
Byam: I don't try to justify his crime, his mutiny, but I condemn the tyranny that drove 'im to it. I don't speak here for myself alone or for these men you condemn. I speak in their names, in Fletcher Christian's name, for all men at sea. These men don't ask for comfort. They don't ask for safety. If they could speak to you they'd say, "Let us choose to do our duty willingly, not the choice of a slave, but the choice of free Englishmen." They ask only the freedom that England expects for every man. If one man among you believe that - *one man* - he could command the fleets of England, He could sweep the seas for England. If he called his men to their duty not by flaying their backs, but by lifting their hearts... their... That's all.

History gave us the mutiny on the Bounty, which has provided for several splendid movie versions, though none better than where Charles Laughton played Captain Bligh. I was reminded of the movie after Congress failed to vote on Boehner's so-called "Plan B." Conservatives that seemingly threw the Speaker under a bus were operating out of a different conviction. One that is not only a slave to failed party leadership, but says "right and wrong" aren't always reflected in polls. These congressmen will be flogged in the media, and yet, they did the nation a great service.

It is true, it could be a painful experience, but not as painful as Greeks begging Germans for money, or the Portuguese resorting to taxing assets to appease neighboring countries that put up a big loan. Not as painful as 30-years of unemployment north of 7% which has been the fate of France, or the massive regions where welfare has replaced self-sufficiency in parts of Italy, Belgium, and so many other parts of Europe. The pain we might have to endure will be nothing, not even a day's worth, compared to those African nations that choose socialism over capitalism upon gaining independence.

The market enjoyed a nice move late in yesterday's session, on the heels of Boehner admitting both his plan and Obama's were the "minimal" needed to right the ship. While he was deluding himself, it felt like something would be done and we could relax until the next chapter in the Fiscal Cliff nightmare. This current melodrama misses the real cliff... the mountain of debt and deepening valley of declining morality that one day will led to a truly painful fall; a fall that breaks the nation for good. Those that stood on principle did so out of duty and freedom.

The markets are indicating to open in a massive sell-off as Boehner has not only been unable to rally his troops, but he also seems to have given up - throwing the whole thing back into President Obama's court. The only silver lining is that this removes a cloud of mystery as conservative members of Congress have chosen conviction for their beliefs about economics and fairness and stayed true to the American citizens that sent them to Washington.

The White House can focus on the blame game and pile it on with the mainstream media, or a more honest compromise can be drawn up before we not only go off the Fiscal Cliff, but go off it with a safe holding our children's future inside, which only enhances the force of gravity. The knee jerk reaction of the stock market aside, maybe there could be a shift in the debate over the real issue that our government spends too much money.

No matter how much is sent to Washington, they always spend more, so the idea of an absurd definition of rich, first at $250,000 and now at $400,000 misses the point. It's the kind of sleight of hand that's filled the pockets of magicians for centuries. Allowing entitlements to drift in such a bloated manner is irresponsible, and yet, they can't be touched. No form of spending can be touch except the form that not only ensures our freedoms, but gives hope to the world where modern day pirates still roam the seas.

It might get politicians reelected, but it seeks our fortunes and futures deeper into doubt and potential misery.

The focus should be on hard choices on spending, but not gutting the military. The stock market getting hit is a wakeup call, but wait until people learn they can't get their tax refund checks in time because IRS computers aren't ready or that as many as 33 million people will have to pay AMT also known as "wealth tax" because it's not patched - what an ironic and yet sad joke. That tax was levied at the evil rich 160 families not paying their fair share 43 years ago, and now it casts a shadow over millions.

There is going to be outrage. If it's all about casting villains then so be it, but for those that think fiscal responsibility, and those that stand for such a notion are the bad guys, a lesson will be learned sooner or later.

Popping our Bubbles

Speaker Boehner just admitted his and President Obama plans are a "minimal credible plan"... I say he is exaggerating, both are weak medicine.

Lower the bar. Turn it down a notch. Get off the Stairmaster. The Underachiever's Manifesto is the playfully persuasive pocket guide to living life to the least and loving it. With sharp humor and genuine wisdom, this welcome little book extols the fabulous benefits of underachievement in our overextended society. A witty introduction makes the case for the right amount of effort a lot less than we've been led to believe. Ten principles of underachievement establish the basics (#8: The tallest blade of grass is the surest to be cut); and practical applications show how mediocrity is the key to happiness at work, in relationships, dieting, exercise, investment, and more. Devilishly enlisting examples from philosophy, economics, science, and good common sense, The Underachiever's Manifesto is a lighthearted, life-changing rallying call for those who dare to do less and enjoy more.


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