Letter to the editor, 09.28.09

I wrote the following letter, which appeared in the University of Tennessee student newspaper, The Daily Beacon, on September 28th:

By morally defending universal health care in his Sept. 21 column, Amien Essif displays a level of bravery not shared by many members of Congress, who would rather call their constituents racists than rationally defend their own policy positions. Unfortunately, in political debates, bravery is a weak contender against wisdom, and wisdom cannot morally defend universal health care.

Essif challenges himself to minimize his assumptions and employ good tact, then promptly adds, “the most important thing is that everyone in America has free access to good health care.” He assumes the government can provide a very costly service to everyone for free. Any economic genius who makes this assumption will confidently tell you that money is valuable because “um.” Essif imagines a great society: infinitely healthy, happy, prosperous, without worry and completely fictional.

Essif deems his argument a moral one, so let us briefly examine the morality of universal health care. Do not mistake terms. Universal health care is not charity; it is coercion. If a family member, friend, neighbor, fellow congregant or stranger came to you with upturned hands, your help would be charitable. If a person in need came to you with a loaded firearm and demands, your “help” would be coerced; that person would be a criminal.

If the robber’s need is then examined, and a public opinion poll shows that a majority of respondents believe he should be allowed to rob, does this legitimize his crime? This robber is universal health care, an injustice legitimized only by majority rule. That injustice can win the support of a majority is an elementary school fact. It is the reason our democratic whims are limited by the Constitution. If we respect morality and the Constitution, we must conclude that universal health care is immoral and illegal.

Alex Winston

Junior in political science

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s false mandate

FDR

In my many college political science courses, I have yet to meet a professor who did not subscribe to the belief that Franklin D. Roosevelt was given a mandate by the people to institute his New Deal reforms.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Like many elected since, President Roosevelt attained office through deception.  If the people had known what his plans were, not only would he have failed to win, he would not have received the Democratic party’s nomination.  Roosevelt ran on the promise of less government, but after winning election, he abandoned his rhetoric and his electorate, and instituted a giant bureaucracy that the people did not want.

For proof, I refer the reader to Garet Garrett’s “The Revolution Was”, a pertinent excerpt of which I will provide:

“The first three planks of the Democratic party platform read as follows: We advocate: ‘1. An immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 per cent in the cost of Federal government…2. Maintenance of the national credit by a Federal budget annually balanced…3. A sound currency to be maintained at all hazards.’  

Mr. Roosevelt pledged himself to be bound by this platform as no President had ever before been bound by a party document.  All during the campaign he supported it with words that could not possibly be misunderstood.  He said: ‘I accuse the present Administration (Hoover’s) of being the greatest spending Administration in peace time in all American history–one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people.  Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer…We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary.  In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving to the people.’  This he said many times.”

So when you hear a self-described intellectual claim that Roosevelt’s New Deal was an execution of the people’s will, or allowed by the electoral mandate, know that you are listening to a person who has no understanding of the 1932 election.

Statist dem(on)s scorn sensible reform

devilish president

Need to solve the health care problem? Easy: allow healthcare providers to deduct from their taxes the costs of treating those who cannot pay.  It’s beautiful: doctors and patients make all the decisions (not insurance companies or the government).  

This proposal helps everyone, but Congress ignores it–won’t consider it, would never allow it–because most politicians care not about the poor, the rich, nor any individuals but themselves. Most politicians, left and right, are statists.  Though they may make a show of attending a church or synagogue, the statist faith falsely preaches that the state is god, and that politicians are angels of infinite benevolence.

Statists are no angels; they are demons.  They are fear personified.  Behind his smiles and handshakes, the statist harbors a secret fear of every elector. He fears the poor in numbers, the rich in power, but his greatest fear is that the people will realize this truth: freedom works.

When government is limited to establishing equality under the law, enforcing contracts, and protecting life, liberty, and property, the politician is small and powerless.  This is the statist’s greatest fear, and his greatest desire is its polar opposite: to become all-powerful.  He marches through history toward that desire, at times leaping forward, occasionally nudged back, but never ceasing in his effort to advance against the freedom of individuals.  

The statist’s end is always to relieve the individual of power, that it may be lost in the abyss of centralized control.  To be clear, power taken from the individual by government is lost, because the government cannot use it.  Government is a force that may prevent individuals from using power, but it has no creative energy, and when government’s force rises, society’s power falls.  When the demon achieves his ultimate goal of becoming all-powerful, he establishes a society of individuals who have no ability to exercise power at all.  What follows is hell.

Cash for clunkers: economic retardation

c4c

Only government would be so backward as to take functioning used automobiles–objects of great value to many people who cannot afford to buy new ones–and require that they be destroyed.  This decreases the supply of used cars, causing the price of used cars to rise generally, and therefore making it harder for lower income Americans to buy them.  Of course, we should not be surprised to see the government hurting lower income Americans under the pretense of helping them; this is how the government expends much of its (our) resources.

Moreover, our entire economic crisis was caused by a credit bubble.  Before the crisis can end, bad credit must be liquidated.  Cash for clunkers only exacerbates the credit crisis; it encourages many people (who may or may not lose their jobs within the next year) to take out new car loans, and the government is effectually paying their down-payment in the form of a $4,500 rebate. This is exactly the sort of government “solution” that caused over-investment and distorted demand in the housing market.  Cash for clunkers will certainly be a contributor, albeit a minor one, to financial firm failures around the country over the next few years.

Jefferson v. Hamilton, federal powers, and the Marshall Court

Jefferson and Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were the most prominent representatives of two contrary interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. Two landmark Supreme Court cases, Marbury v. Madison (1803) and McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), show the relative influences of these two interpretations on American political thought.

Jefferson was a strict constructionist. He desired a limited government, and thought Congress should be restricted to the enumerated powers of the Constitution. In 1787, he wrote to James Madison from Paris, “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, believed in a strong and energetic central government. He thought Congress should have more legislative powers than those expressly stated in Section 8 of the first article of the Constitution. He also favored a strong executive power.

Jefferson and Hamilton became political rivals. In 1818, explaining the notes taken during his tenure as Secretary of State (Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury at the time), Jefferson remembered, “Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption.”

The two politicians squared off when arguing about the constitutionality of a national bank before the legislature in 1791, and that instance best displayed their different interpretations of the Constitution. The argument centered around a part of the Constitution that has become famously known as the “necessary and proper” clause.

The last power of Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reads, “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”

According to Jefferson, the establishment of a national bank was illegal under the Constitution. His argument before Congress was unsuccessful but legally sound and compelling. He said, “The second general phrase is, ‘to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the enumerated powers.’ But they can all be carried into execution without a bank. A bank therefore is not necessary, and consequently not authorized by this phrase. It has been urged that a bank will give great facility or convenience in the collection of taxes. Suppose this were true: yet the Constitution allows only the means which are ‘necessary,’ not those which are merely ‘convenient’ for effecting [sic] the enumerated powers.” In addition to this logical argument, Jefferson claims that the Constitutional convention specifically rejected the power to erect a bank, because it would cause the Constitution to be rejected by the states.

Alexander Hamilton’s response to Jefferson’s interpretation, which today brings to mind Bill Clinton’s “depends on what the meaning of the word is is” defense, was to alter the meaning of the word “necessary.” With tortured logic, Hamilton explained that “necessary often means no more than needful, requisite, incidental, useful, or conductive to.” He argued as if the Constitution was not a deliberate legal document, but a casually rendered text of hyperbole, a rubber instrument open to broad interpretations.

Government tends to expand its own powers to the furthest extent tolerated by a majority of citizens. As Hamilton’s program proceeded, so did this tendency in the United States; Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland help to commemorate this procession.

In Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the decision against Jefferson’s administration. Jefferson was upset by the decision, but he was not entirely opposed to its points. Reacting to the Constitution in 1787, Jefferson wrote in a letter to Madison, “I like the negative given to the Executive with a third of either house, though I should have liked it better had the Judiciary been associated for that purpose, or invested with a similar and separate power.” The Marbury v. Madison decision established Jefferson’s wish precisely, judicial review, which is the ability of the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional and void.

As a strict constructionist, however, Jefferson believed that the Constitution meant what it said, and was alarmed by Marshall’s claim in Marbury v. Madison that “it is, emphatically, the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is.” According to Jefferson, this dangerously opened the Constitution to liberal interpretations like Hamilton’s.

If in 1803 Marbury v. Madison lobbed Jefferson’s strict constructionist interpretation, McCulloch v. Maryland batted it to oblivion in 1819. The issue hotly debated by the political giants in Congress twenty-nine years earlier, the constitutionality of a national bank, again entered the national political arena, this time in the Supreme Court. Marshall wrote the decision. He affirmed Hamilton’s interpretation of the “necessary and proper” clause, instituting the implied powers of Congress.

These decisions effectively turned the Constitution into the glass-encased relic it is today, and made the United States government one of men, and not of laws. The judges of the Supreme Court, appointed for life by the President and confirmed by a majority of the Senate, granted themselves in Marbury v. Madison the power “to say what the law is” in 1803, after which any statute wished for by the President and a majority of Senators, however offensive to the Constitution, could be legally enacted, so long as there were sufficient vacancies in the Supreme Court to procure a majority of like-minded judges. Congress was granted implied powers by McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819. Despite John Marshall’s lip-service to the Constitution in McCulloch v. Maryland, “its limits are not to be transcended,” his decision legally ended constitutionally limited government in the United States. The Marshall Court assented to Hamilton’s interpretation, and killed Jefferson’s. Jefferson knew he was defeated, and called upon the democratic forces of the people to reinstitute a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution. That call remains unanswered.

Works Referenced

Hamilton, Alexander. “Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank”. 1791.Dolbeare, Kenneth M. and Michael S. Cummings, Ed. American Political Thought. Fifth Edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2004.

Jefferson, Thomas. “Explanations of the 3. volumes bound in marbled paper”. February 4, 1818. Thomas Jefferson Writings: pp. 661-673. New York: Library of America. 1984.

Jefferson, Thomas. “Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank”. February 15, 1791. Thomas Jefferson Writings: pp. 416-421. New York: Library of America. 1984.

Jefferson, Thomas. “To James Madison”. Paris, Dec. 20, 1787. Thomas Jefferson Writings: pp. 914-918. New York: Library of America. 1984.

Marshall, John. “Marbury v. Madison”. 1803. Dolbeare, Kenneth M. and Michael S. Cummings, Ed. American Political Thought. Fifth Edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2004.

Marshall, John. “McCulloch v. Maryland”. 1819. Dolbeare, Kenneth M. and Michael S. Cummings, Ed. American Political Thought. Fifth Edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2004.  I also referenced the full arguments and decision of this case available at: “http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=17&invol=316

Who are the true patriots?

Young Ron Paul

“Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders.  Sadly though, those few who do object to the self-evident trend away from personal liberty and empire building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.

Though welfare and socialism always fail, opponents of them are said to lack compassion.  Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that patriots who oppose the war are not supporting the troops.  The cliche ‘support the troops’ is incessantly used as a substitute for the unacceptable notion of supporting the policy no matter how flawed it may be.  Unsound policy can never help the troops.  Keeping the troops out of harm’s way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the only real way of protecting the troops.  With this understanding, just who can claim the title of patriot?  Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world conflict for which we will be held responsible, before the liberties of all Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be done.

I am assured that our course of action should be clear.  Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required.  Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes.  But let it not be said that we did nothing.  Let not those who love the power of the welfare-warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as un-patriotic or uncaring.  Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security.  Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.” – Ronald E. Paul, M.D.

Patriotism is not blind nationalism.  In my view, there is none more foolish than the man who pledges his whole life to a government, only because it currently rules the accidental location of his birth.  True patriots are not loyal to a land mass, a government, a person, or group of people; they are loyal to ideas–the ideas that nature and history prove righteous to their own reflection, such as self-government and individual liberty.  It is not only the flag to which true patriots pledge allegiance, but also the republic for which it stands: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Sadly, these simple lines, which we have recited for as long as we can remember, have nearly lost their meaning for most Americans.

Perhaps we are so long removed from the origination of a free society that we have forgotten its price.  Perhaps we have forgotten what freedom is: the absence of government coercion.  Perhaps we have forgotten that truly beneficial policies almost always stand on their own merit, without the aid of massive government enforcement agencies.  Perhaps we have begun to take liberty for granted, so we allow it to be chiseled away each year by just a few more taxes, just a few more regulations, just a few more unconstitutional spending programs, just a few more harmless potheads turned into untouchable felons, just a few more unwarranted surveillance operations, just a few more troops on our streets to suppress the political dissenters, just a few more unfounded arrests and detainments, just a few more unnecessary casualties in the never-ending war for universal authority, just a few more computerized balloting systems, and just a little bit more government control.  After all, most of us feel we can still go about our business uninterrupted by these controls and live adequately, if not freely.  I fear now that by the time we realize that this is no longer true, by the time our old friends and fellow citizens–educated, hard-working, freedom-loving people of integrity–are declared dangerous enemies of the state, it will be too late to change the authoritarian direction of our nation, and it will be easier for us to act nationalistic and tolerated, silent and unencumbered, compliant and alive, than to be honest and endangered, righteous and imprisoned, patriotic and dead.  The false patriots will have won, successfully driving freedom out of the only safe harbor it has ever known.  American freedom, having long treaded in tempestuous weather, is drowning in the vast seas of prosperity and contentment it produced.  Its only lifeline is We the People.

No liquidity problems for Lawson campaign

Lawson

While every other entity in America is crying about its inability to access cash, BJ Lawson’s Congressional campaign just received a huge injection of liquidity.  Lawson, who is running for a U.S. House seat in North Carolina’s 4th district, raised over $150,000 from thousands of donors on Tuesday alone.

Many citizens across the nation feel betrayed by a Congress that recently passed an unconstitutional $700 billion Wall Street bailout, which has evidently done nothing for market confidence or financial stabilization.  North Carolina’s 4th district voters share in the dissatisfaction.  Their House member, David Price, voted for the record taxpayer bailout, after his office failed to answer phone calls from constituents trying to convince him to vote against it.  It appears that, in David Price’s 4th district, representative government has taken a back seat to other interests.  Since the bailout’s passage, U.S. markets have closed down considerably every day, as Americans are quickly abandoning a system that they feel has thrown them–and their freedom-loving values–overboard.

Despite what we’re told is a vacancy of cash in the U.S. financial system, some Americans are still investing what they have left in a brighter future, and many believe the best way to invest is to contribute money to representatives who will vote to replace an overtly corrupt banking system.  They recognize that free market capitalism has disappeared under the weight of an inflationary system of unrecoverable public and private debt–a corrupt and bankrupt system that continues to garner the support of Rep. Price, despite its detriment to North Carolina’s working citizens.

$150,000 says North Carolina’s residents will want less interference and more freedom in their financial lives this November.  Congress’ approval rating is 9%, and BJ Lawson is in tune with a lot of angry voters, who seem to understand that David Price voted to take away a chunk of their paychecks and some of their economic freedom.