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Posts Tagged ‘Government Reform’

A Ruling Class in America

April 12, 2010 20 comments

At its most basic level, government is a willing agreement entered into by a group of people to give up some individual liberty for the preservation of the group in general. Cicero called it a “partnership in justice.”

When we, as fellow humans, are in our most natural state, outside of societies and the reach of governments, no one person has rights or power over another. There are natural – or unalienable – rights that people have simply by being human. Some of these are the right to protect oneself, protection of property, right to life, right to liberty (not be enslaved), etc.

William Blackstone, British judge and author from the 1700’s said that the main purpose of human laws – the laws we create – is to maintain and protect these natural born rights. He called them “absolute rights.”

When people create a community or society, they enter into an agreement where certain liberties are willingly given up in exchange for things like safety, security, and order. For example, I have consented to be governed by the laws of my city, state and nation, even though that means I can’t do everything I may want to do whenever I want to. I may not agree with every law, but by not rebelling, it proves my consent to be governed.

The laws that we create to maintain order are secondary to our absolute rights. One of these absolute rights is the right of self-government. No one individual has the right to govern another person unless this person has willingly consented.

The United States of America has a republican form of government, not a democracy. Republican government means that we choose representatives from among ourselves to represent our desires and wishes within the government structure. As James Burgh, a British contemporary of the American founders wrote, we the people are the political body that retains the power to rule. Choosing representatives does not mean we have chosen rulers over us. He states,

“We have not so delegated the power to you, as to make you the governors of us and our estates. You are in truth but our procurators to speak for us in the great council. That of right we ought to have access to those, whom we have thus chosen, and to the house, as there shall be cause to impart our desires to you, and you ought not to refuse us. That by involving our votes in yours, we had no purpose to make you perpetual dictators.”

I am surprised that the United States of America has a constitution without term limits for its congressional representatives. This needs to change. The ability to be a lifetime legislator has led to the creation of a ruling class separate from other citizens. Members of this class have their own elite healthcare system as well as guaranteed salaries for the rest of their lives, paid for by public taxes. Being a legislator term after term opens the door to numerous opportunities to grant political favors in return for financial benefits that have enriched our congressional reps well beyond the norms of society.

Since before the ink was dry on the original Constitution, we have been warned of the necessity of term limits.  Why? Keep reading and find out.

The Duke of Buckingham gets credit for this famous quote stating the need for elected representatives to return to private life:

“They do not now think they are an assembly of men, that are to return to their own homes, and become private men again (as by the laws of the land and constitution…they ought to be) but look upon themselves as a standing senate, as men picked out to be legislators for the rest of their lives.”

Thomas Jefferson also spoke out as an advocate for representatives to be involved for a short time in the government, and then to return to private life. Jefferson said it would help representatives sympathize with the people. Without limits on the representatives’ time in government, they would lose this sensibility and their behavior would be quite different owing to their perceived independence. He stated:

“My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years rather than for life, was that they might have in idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of the people and become the governed instead of the governors which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independence to forget.”

Aristotle, who studied many forms of government, warned against perpetual legislators in this manner:

“It is not easy for a person to do any great harm when his tenure of office is short, whereas long possession begets tyranny … for the aspirants to tyranny are either the principal men of the state…or those who hold great offices, and have a long tenure of them.

Regarding our elected representatives, and their duty to conduct themselves according to the desires of their constituency, James Burgh wrote that:

“When we elect persons to represent us we must not be supposed to depart from the smallest right which we have deposited with them. We make a lodgment, not a gift; we entrust, but part with nothing. We have, therefore, a right to know what they are saying and doing. And should they contradict our sense, or swerve from our interests, we have a right to remonstrate, inform, and direct them. By which means, we become regulators of our own conduct, and the institutors of our own laws, and nothing material can be done but by our authority and consent.”

If representatives were to serve in the government for a term or two, and then return to be among the governed rather than a governor, they would be more inclined to pass laws that they are willing to live with as part of the citizenry.

Compare this with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and her recent behavior regarding the healthcare bill before congress. Not only does the American public not know what is in this bill, according to her own publications she is deliberately trying to keep it this way. She is involved in hidden deals and spending millions of taxpayer monies to purchase votes in favor of the bill. This hidden legislation, back-room briberies, and strong-arm tactics are exactly the opposite of how the representative system of government is supposed to work.

The key is to understand and remember that we the people have an absolute right to self-government. We only give that right away when we do not remember it, or fail to use it. Our elected officials representing us in congress have a duty to vote our votes, inform us of the goings-on, and truly act as proxies of the American people they represent.

One way to do away with this ruling class is to pass term limits for congressional representatives. In addition, we need to be as vocal and vigilant as ever against politicians like Nancy Pelosi. The right to govern ourselves is an absolute and unalienable right that we have. When our elected representatives take power unto themselves like Pelosi is doing – hiding the contents of a bill from the public and doing back-room deals to pass legislation before publishing its contents – we need to exercise our rights and replace her. She and politicians like her are working toward the decline of the American way of representative government.

But we can fight back. We can get educated. We can familiarize ourselves with the documents regarding the founding of our great nation. We can attend any discussions on the Constitution or correct use of government in areas where we live. If there aren’t any, start one. Join social networking groups that discuss these topics online. When the grassroots ground swell is large enough, we need people to be educated on these topics and ready to make a difference in our country’s future.

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Scenario for the President

March 29, 2010 2 comments
“QUICK!  Mr. President, bad policies for the past 20 years have dug us into a hole….and the brightest minds we have tell us we’re within 48 hours of the financial system freezing.  Make a decision:
1) Inject liquidity AS A LOAN to the system (Like we did for S&L crisis which turned a profit for the US Gov’t.  This was how the TARP plan was sold to the Administration – but it has clearly been hijacked since by Congress, Geithner, others.).
…or….
2)  Stand there and we’ll take a guess about just how far the market can crash.  But we’re being told it is as bad/worse than 1929.
QUICK…”

If you are standing on principles, the speed of the decision doesn’t matter as much.

I think the scenario sort-of makes one point: Government gets involved with “A” in mind (in this case the S&L loans or Financial Bailout.) First blush is positive. But as with most if not all government involvement, it gets hijacked, and turned into something not intended. Go back (choose the years) and we will see the examples. Income tax; FDR’s programs; Welfare; The Great Society programs; etc. etc. I don’t know them all.

My opinion? Given the above scenario, the President should choose 2, and let Lehman Brothers collapse. And he should have pressured the Fed to not get involved in helping bail them out. (Or maybe he didn’t know cuz it was secretive, but he could have found out, and fired the guy for doing it.) Also, allowing the Fed to facilitate JP Morgan Chase’s purchase of Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar. Yes these banks should have failed. There’s no way that a banking system performing the kinds of stunts that they have been performing should have been bailed out with taxpayers money. You think laissez faire is adversely affected by uncertainty (absence of full information)? Absolutely it is. What about Keynesianism and other interventionist policies? Are they immune to the ails of uncertainty? Absolutely not. And the market forces will correct for any uncertainty a LOT quicker than a poor government policy that has become LAW and may take generations to overcome. We’re still paying for the ones from 60-70 years ago. In fact, the government injects it’s own uncertainty into the system, but more on that below.

We appear to have changed topics from Bush vs. the Constitution, and maybe for good reason after listening to Paul, Jeff and Deon’s points. One of the best conservative minds — possibly ever — was Edmund Burke. I bring him into the Constitution discussion because he advocated gradual change, but at the same time not destroying the pillars of freedom with our experimental Acts. I’m equating his mentioning of Experimental Acts of his time to the Patriot Acts of our time. Yes we have to change with the times as Burke says (e.g. we have to deal with terrorists), but according to him, it’s not worth destroying the pillars of liberty that we have built our society on in order to accomplish that change. If we do so, we are destroying the foundation upon which our nation is built.

In terms of the banking issues, absolutely let Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns fail. Don’t let the Fed get involved at all. The banks made bad business decisions. There is tons of evidence of corruption. Why inject loans into that? What is the economic principle that that decision is based on? In my opinion the decision was based on fear. Once again, we have a government trying — through their macro economic policies — to right the ship. “We can fix it. We can control the market forces.” And once again, the evidence is that they can’t. It might have stabilized some things for the time being, but anyone watching KNOWS with their gut that this glut of spending is going to have to be paid for at some point, and it’s going to be worse when it’s time to pay the piper. The Fear Move didn’t do anything but delay a market correction. Check out Karl Denninger if you’d like to read more.

AND, there are even some studies, like this one by the Stanford economist John Taylor, which purports to show (pdf) that the credit markets actually did not react all that badly to Lehman going under and that the crisis was really the product of market uncertainty about the effects of government action. So, the “market” reacted not all that badly to a market force of letting a bank go under, but the real market crisis started after the government decided to get involved to try to “control” the natural market forces? Add to this the fact that the bond market says it’s safer to lend to Warren Buffet than to Barak Obama, and I think we see what Keynesian fiscal policies bring to the table in terms of uncertainty.

See, now this makes sense to me.

Morality and Leadership; Pelosi is bad for America

March 19, 2010 4 comments

At it’s most basic level, government is a willing agreement entered into by a group of people to give up some individual liberty for the preservation of the group in general. Cicero called it a “partnership in justice.”

For example, I have consented to be governed by the laws of my city, state and nation, even though that means I can’t do everything I may want to do whenever I want to. I may not agree with every law, but by not rebelling, it proves my tacit consent.

Naturally, then, in government leaders will emerge. We need to pick sheriffs, judges, mayors, presidents, legislators, etc. But does it really matter what kind of people they are? I think it does.

We have recently heard of all kinds of votes being “bought” in order to pass the healthcare bill. A Utah Congressman’s brother is getting appointed to a judgeship in exchange for the Congressman’s vote for Obamacare. The Hill newspaper reports on some of the goodies, including $300 million in extra funding for Sen. Landrieu’s home state of Louisiana, and millions in extra Medicaid dollars for Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. The public doesn’t want the bill to pass, so the Dems have to make these hidden deals in order to get it passed. Outside of Obamacare, the New Jersey government has been caught in corrupt contract scandals, awarding contracts and taking a cut of the money. Many state and national politicians are caught in sexual scandals. Our government leaders have been convicted of embezzlement, lying, and tax-fraud; implicated in the disappearance of interns, campaign fraud, and abuse of intelligence to rationalize war; and unconscionable waste of taxpayers money – basically robbing us, the citizens. It’s more like reading about pirates plundering a nation than its leaders preserving it!

Polybius, a Greek from around 200BC, watched the downfall of his native Greece and the emergence of Rome as the dominating power of the era. He wrote many books on Rome’s emergence and its history. He compares Rome to other contemporary nation-states like Greece, Carthage, etc. He says in The Histories, volume III that

“But the quality in which he Roman commonwealth is most distinctly superior is in my opinion the nature of their religious convictions. The consequence is that among the Greeks, (where belief in religion was deemed foolish) apart from other things, members of the government, if they are entrusted with no more than a talent, (a piece of money) though they have 10 copyists and as many seals and twice as many witnesses, cannot keep their faith; whereas among the Romans those who as magistrates and legates are dealing with large sums of money maintain correct conduct just because they have pledged their faith by oath. Whereas elsewhere it is a rare thing to find a man who keeps his hands off public money, and whose record is clean in this respect, among the Romans one rarely comes across a man who has been detected in such conduct.”

Whether the moral code you adhere to comes from organized religion or not, Polybius makes clear that moral people — people who believe in and live in accordance to the natural principles of right vs. wrong; honesty is good, dishonesty is bad; fidelity and integrity are good; etc. — these are the people that make the best public servants and leaders in government.

A generation later, the Roman Cicero said that leaders that follow these moral codes are the only ones fit to govern.

Another generation or two later, approximately 160AD, Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome. In his Meditations he lauds a moral character that works for the public interest in a manner that befits a ruler.

My point is that the morality question has very little to do with the Religious Right of the current political landscape. Oh sure they get their boxers in a bunch about it nowadays, just in time for the next one to fall from within their own ranks due to yet another “indiscretion.” We don’t need to look to these punters for direction, or assume when they fall that the belief in a moral code is incorrect. We have the writings and lessons of history before us. Some Roman guys from a long time ago set-up a mixed government system with an Executive Branch, a Senate, a legislative (popular assembly) body, and judges. Sound familiar? They were the world’s super power for centuries, and their system worked for over 500 years. America, by paltry comparison, is just above the 200+ years mark.

So it’s not like we haven’t been pointed the way.

James Burgh, involved in the creation of this great nation, wrote in 1774 that,

“When we elect persons to represent us we must not be supposed to depart from the smallest right which we have deposited with them. We make a lodgment, not a gift; we entrust, but part with nothing. We have, therefore, a right to know what they are saying and doing. And should they contradict our sense, or swerve from our interests, we have a right to remonstrate, inform, and direct them. By which means, we become the regulators of our own conduct, and the institutors of our own laws, and nothing material can be done but by our authority and consent.”

Compare this with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and her behavior around the healthcare bill. Not only does the American public not know what is in this bill, she is deliberately trying to keep it this way as it says on her own website. The hidden deals, millions of dollars for buying votes, and strong-arm tactics is exactly the opposite of how the representative system is supposed to work!

Pelosi and politicians like her are bad for America. Watch CNN say so HERE.

We need a way to get career politicians back into the real world – like thru term limits for Congress. And we need to be as vocal and vigilant as ever against her and politicians like her. The right to govern ourselves is a real and unalienable right that we have. When our elected representatives abuse it and take power unto themselves like Pelosi is doing – hiding the contents of a bill from the public and doing back room deals to get it put into law – we need to use our natural rights and get her and her cronies out of our government. She and politicians like her are working toward the decline of America. The history is before us.

Healthcare action YOU can take

March 18, 2010 6 comments

This is going to be a short one today. I have a couple of other posts partly written, but as we head toward the possible weekend vote on the ObamaCare national healthcare bill, I want to post a couple of ways that you can take action if you haven’t already. Personal contact from constituents can really influence how our representatives vote. And, since your congressmen and women are representing YOU in Washington D.C., you should let them know how you feel.

If you are for or against the federal government taking over the healthcare in this country, let them know. Let your representatives know how you would like them to vote in order to best represent you.

This is from Nancy Pelosi’s own website, speaking of the healthcare bill: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Say what? Pass a piece of legislation into law so that (we) can find out what is in it? That is completely backwards, Ms. Speaker of the House! And it is completely wrong.

The people we have representing us in Congress (the House and Senate) should represent the will of the people. There are many, many polls that show Americans do not want this version of national healthcare passed…due to the trillions in costs and the fact that people haven’t even read it yet! We don’t know what is in the bill, and we don’t trust the politicians pushing it through “at all costs.” Whether you agree with me or not, take a stand and act on it.

Here are some places that you can go to send faxes to your congressional representatives. Jump in. Make your voice heard.

Human Events Grassfire.Org Citizens In Action

If you would prefer to phone your representatives, you can find their phone numbers on this website. Just call them up, and leave a message with the staffer that answers the phone. Tell them how you want them to vote on the healthcare bill, and wish them a nice day. It will make a difference, and you can do it.