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Posts Tagged ‘US Constitution’

“Last Post” – Daniel Butterfield

February 24, 2011 12 comments

On Presidents Day I probably spent too long talking to my kids and telling great stories about 3 of my favorite presidents, George Washington, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln. (I also include Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and maybe a few others on that list.) I told them stories about Washington leading a rag-tag group of men down the American coast, barely ahead of the British warships and Hessian Mercenaries, in the snow, shoe-less, hungry… and then crossing the Delaware River in the snow and ice and winning a battle on Christmas Eve in 1776.

I told them about John Adams and all of the selfless service he and his family provided to help create this great nation.

I told them about Abraham Lincoln, walking for miles to borrow a Bible to teach himself to read; walking for miles to return a penny or two that had been given him by mistake; and we read the Gettysburg Address. I was trying to be inspiring. Trying to tell them stories of normal, good men who stepped up to greatness in their lives.

I told them how all Presidents of America are not great, but the great ones have one thing in common: they have fought for the freedom and liberty of our country, our people, US. And there are many that have died in that fight, given their “last full measure.” We honor those fallen with this song. And then I played this video for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn_iz8z2AGw

It was cool to watch them watch it. They were transfixed. 🙂

Who was your favorite US President?

A note about the video:

Taps as we know it is actually a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the “Scott Tattoo” which was used in the U.S. from 1835 until 1860, and was arranged in its present form by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield. Butterfield’s bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, was the first to sound the new call. Within months, “Taps” was used by both Union and Confederate forces. It was officially recognized by the United States Army in 1874.

Thanks to the commenters for the correction!

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.

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.