Ultraminimalism, neighborhoods, and morality: an interview with The Golden Hammer’s Publisher

The Golden Hammer‘s Publisher on a warm Tuesday afternoon.

The staff of The Golden Hammer interviewed the Publisher of this newspaper on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. The Publisher stated up front that he would discuss any subject, but chocolate doughnuts were off limits as a point of discussion.

Staff: Are you a complete jerk?

GH Publisher: Yes.

Staff: Why are you always so negative about everything?

GH Publisher: I’m not. People are capable of accomplishing wonderful things. I can honestly say that I have never met a person yet whom I didn’t genuinely like. Government, however, has a moral purpose, but, once it goes beyond that moral purpose, it’s corrupt. If I were negative about everything, I wouldn’t waste my time fighting so hard for reform, because I’d view reform as pointless.

Staff: What do you mean by “reform”?

GH Publisher: Government exists to protect our freedom from domestic enemies who thwart public safety and from foreign enemies who threaten our borders. When I agreed to government and when my ancestors agreed to form governments, they didn’t agree to anything beyond that. We need to pare government back down to its moral functions, the ones to which we all agreed.

Staff: That’s preposterous. How could you know that?

GH Publisher: There’s a three-part description of the history of man which is very much worth reading. The first part is the Old Testament. It’s the word of God. The second part is the New Testament. It’s the word of God. The third part is not the word of God. Nevertheless, it springs from God’s inspiration and from the intellect which man’s free will drives. It comes from a group of philosophers in the seventeenth century with an amazing modern exposition in the twentieth century: John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Robert Nozick.

Locke and Hobbes began their work with Biblical principles and took the reader through the step-by-step process which ultimately formed what we now know as “government.” It began in man’s state of nature, his decision to form mutual protective associations, and his development of the rules which – morally – should govern those mutual protective associations.

The conclusion, after a lengthy and detailed analysis by each of Locke, Hobbes, and Nozick, is that government does not have a moral purpose beyond what we now know as “law enforcement” and “national defense.”

Staff: If your goal is to reduce the government to the minimal state, why is your focus on spending?

GH Publisher: There is no more direct loss of freedom than taxation. That’s the government pointing its physical resources, including weapons, at you and telling you to give the government your money at risk of loss of your property, your physical freedom, and possibly even your life. Raising your taxes by one dollar is a reduction of liberty by one dollar.

That’s the short answer.

The more complete answer is that there simply is nothing whatsoever about government – whether formed as a dictatorship, a republic, or a democracy – which gives it the ability to act with wisdom to provide any product or service beyond law enforcement and national defense. When government acts, it acts poorly. Look at the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, the Texas Legislature, or the United States Congress. Worse yet, look at the inner workings of the United States Environmental Protection Agency or similar bureaucratic agencies. I’ve been there. I’ve seen how horrible those workings are on the inside. Even fine individuals find vast institutional limits. The limits come from the irrational manner in which giant organizations make decisions.

Government is failure.

Staff: Are you opposed to public education?

GH Publisher: No.

Staff: You seem like you are opposed to public education, you greasy slimy lizard?

GH Publisher: I believe that, as a society, we should educate our children. Raising children without the strong ability to read, write, and cipher is a societal failure every time it occurs. Putting people as adults into society without those fundamental skills is harmful to all of us.

Education by government suffers from the same problems. Government does a poor job. Government suffers from corruption. Government cannot act with efficiency. There is also a genuine danger that curricular decisions by government result in a governmental and collectivist world view which government specifically intends within government-promulgated curricula. That’s actually a violation of the First Amendment if one carefully considers the Amendment’s original intent.

Staff: What is the legitimate role of government in education?

GH Publisher: Not much. Clearly, private institutions provide better outcomes. The “neighborhood effect” of uneducated individuals in our society may justify government financing of education as long as the actual delivery of education comes from non-governmental institutions.

Staff: Are you against public schools?

GH Publisher: At this point, no, but we, as a society, must immediately start looking for a much better approach.

Staff: Do you support CISD’s $683 million bond package?

GH Publisher: No.

Staff: What should CISD do about its budget and taxes for Fiscal Year 2020 (2019-20 academic year)?

GH Publisher: Please read the Citizens Budget Committee Report.

Staff: Who is the most effective leader in Montgomery County?

GH Publisher: Reagan Reed.

Staff: Why?

GH Publisher: He’s brilliant and wise but lives in the casing of a 22-year-old. He’s shown steady and ethical leadership under enormous pressure. I hope I have the opportunity to see all that he has accomplished in his life by the time he’s 44. In a quiet way, he’s already accomplished a lot.

Staff: Who do you support for Precinct 1 Montgomery County Commissioner, the seat from which Mike Meador is retiring?

GH Publisher: At present, no one. I have some specific criteria for a candidate. At this point, there are three criteria:

  • #1, he or she must agree to lower the Commissioner’s salary to an amount below the salary of the Governor of Texas ($150,000 per year).
  • #2, he or she must sign off on Mark Keough’s “Contract with Montgomery County”.
  • #3, he or she must have a serious chance to win the election.

Staff: Does Robert Walker meet your criteria?

GH Publisher: No. He fails on #1 and #2.

Staff: Does Billy Graff meet your criteria?

GH Publisher: No. He fails on #3.

Staff: Who do you support for Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman?

GH Publisher: I want Reagan Reed to run for County Chairman. If he doesn’t, I may take a very different view of the Republican Party and its ability to act as a local tool to accomplish my goals. If that position can’t attract someone of as high a caliber as Reed to run for the job, there’s something wrong with the Republican Party.

Staff: Who is your favorite President?

GH Publisher: I have two favorites at this point. Historically, I admire President James Polk. He was a guy who knew what was right versus wrong, and he took care of business. I have to admit, however, that our current President has become my other favorite. I realize his weaknesses. He’s not someone whose personal behavior anyone should strive to emulate. Nevertheless, the United States political system requires a wrecking ball which swings within the confines of the United States Constitution. President Donald Trump is doing just that. He’s crass, childish, and irreverent towards authority. That’s how I want to be when I grow up, except that I also want to treat others with respect at the individual level. While his image is that he doesn’t treat people with such respect, I’ve met people who know him who actually say otherwise. The political establishment hates President Trump, because he doesn’t respect them. He shouldn’t respect them. So I suppose that, in that way, he’s not crass or childish, although he is definitely irreverent.

Staff: What’s your position on incorporation of The Woodlands?

GH Publisher: I don’t have one. I need to see a full cost-benefit analysis, which includes regulatory cost to private businesses and homeowners.

Staff: Who is your favorite member of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court?

GH Publisher: That’s easy. Charlie Riley.

Staff: Don’t lie. Really. Seriously.

GH Publisher: Seriously. Charlie Riley.

Staff: Who is your favorite member of the Texas Legislature?

GH Publisher: Steve Toth with Briscoe Cain a close second.

Staff: What is your view on Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen?

GH Publisher: I watched very closely during the 86th Legislative Session. He was a much better Speaker, in the sense of allowing legislation to move forward, than was Joe Straus. I worked on one particular piece of legislation, which was very important to me and to my community. It would never have passed without the Speaker’s help. I find the meeting he had with Michael Quinn Sullivan on June 12 very sad. Speaker Bonnen showed terrible judgment. I’ve told law clients for a long time “you should never speak with anyone without remembering that twelve hod carriers good and true, who are complete strangers, might some day hear the entire conversation, so choose your words carefully.” Speaker Bonnen didn’t choose his words carefully. He said things which were disgusting and don’t reflect well on any person striving to be a good person. In that conversation, Speaker Bonnen showed his worst side. Unfortunately, he needs to resign this week, or else the damage to the Texas Legislature, to good people, and to the Republican Party will be immeasurable. I feel very bad saying that, because I genuinely appreciate Speaker Bonnen’s efforts during the first six months of 2019 (even though I realize many of my fellow conservatives disagree).

Staff: Where do you attend church, if at all?

GH Publisher: Woodlands Bible Church.

Staff: Why do you go there?

GH Publisher: I respect the Pastor, Mark Keough. I suspect I’m a serious challenge for any Pastor. Mark puts up with me.

Staff: What do you think of the conservatives in Montgomery County?

GH Publisher: There are about two dozen people whom I genuinely love. Every time I see them I feel like giving them a hug. They’re genuine people who have a lot of flaws but care so much about others that they don’t seem to be able to stop themselves. The group is expanding. I consider them the nicest group of real friends I’ve ever had in my life. It’s a weird feeling, because I don’t really feel like I ever had friends previously. Maybe, they’re just fooling me, but there are some great people.

Staff: Why are you a Mason?

GH Publisher: I became a Mason, because I wanted to be a part of a worldwide conspiracy (after reading Dan Brown’s books). Instead, I’ve discovered what true fraternity actually is. Masons are smart, striving to be kind, and fun. I believe they’re an institution which is still searching for other positive purposes. That’s cool.

Staff: Favorite books?

GH: The New Testament (Paul’s epistles), Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Schelling’s The Strategy of Conflict, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Foote’s The Civil War (all three books), Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance, and DeMille’s The Gold Coast. I’ve read The Bible numerous times, including twice in Ancient Greek. I’m trying to read the Vulgate but I really don’t like the grammatical structure, so I’ll probably not make it through the entire book. I’ve read Pirsig’s book at least three times and Atlas Shrugged probably more than a dozen times.

Staff: Favorite movies?

GH Publisher: “Dr. Strangelove” and “Pulp Fiction.” I would include “A Clockwork Orange” on the list, but people would think I’m too strange.

Staff: Favorite music?

GH Publisher: Jimi Hendrix, Mozart.

Staff: When is the last time you drank alcohol, smoked a cigarette, used illegal drugs, and ate a half gallon of ice cream?

GH Publisher: Alcohol – I don’t remember but I feel certain it was long, long ago. Cigarette – December 31, 2018, 11 p.m. Illegal drugs – never. My Dad scared me too much about the long-term effects of THC even to try it. Ice cream – July 14, 2019, 11:30 p.m.

Staff: What’s your favorite place?

GH Publisher: Anywhere in Montgomery County and the Kautz Ice Wall on Mount Rainier.

Staff: Didn’t you steal millions of dollars in that bank deal reported in the Courier blog?

GH Publisher: No. I was the lawyer for a bank. I didn’t make any money on the deal and neither did the bank. At the end of the calendar year, the bank – without talking to me about it in advance – gave my wife a $10,000 bonus for her work helping them sell the terrible hospitals. We didn’t want the bonus, so we immediately gave the $10,000 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I saw the legal system at its worst and I’ve learned a lot from it. As for the Courier article, I discovered by serendipity that the reporter, who wrote it, allowed someone, who thought they were a political enemy of mine, write almost the entire article for her. I actually have the documents where he emailed her the prose that she put in the article. What’s ironic is that person, who fed the fictitious article to the Courier, and I eventually reconciled politically. He and I ultimately were very close political allies up to the time of his death. We reconciled thanks to the efforts of Representative Steve Toth. The person referred to himself as “Agador Spartacus” on social media. One other person, who used to work for me, and I still call him that.

Staff: Have you ever tried to steal anything? Were you caught?

GH Publisher: Yes. I’m sorry. I once tried to steal a magazine with photographs of whales. I got caught red-handed. My mother told me to put the magazine back on the store shelf and then she gave me a lecture. She didn’t report me to the grocery store or press criminal charges, because they didn’t incarcerate 5-year-olds. She scared me more than my Dad did when he gave me the lecture about THC. I don’t care to receive that lecture my Mom gave me that day from anyone ever again. Apparently, the government never received that same lecture from my Mom about stealing. I wish they had.

Staff: Why do you depict yourself as Jabba the Hutt?

GH Publisher: I’m not a fan.

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