VOTING REFORM: A Progressive Voting Scheme

     by Diane Rufino

This article follows the one I previously wrote, entitled “Who is Really Disenfranchised?”  In that article I talked about the incessant claims of  ”disenfranchisement” of minority voters when no such disenfranchisement exists nor any intent to do so. I argued that those Americans who are really “disenfranchised” today in this country are the taxpayers.  These are the Americans who really have a “fairness” and “equality” argument.  These are the ones whose interests are not being fairly or equally protected by a government that is required to do so.  These are the Americans that government wishes to exploit and the ones that fellow Americans want to take advantage of.

In this article, I will offer a remedy to safeguard their legitimate constitutional rights.

Claims of “disenfranchisement” of minority voters lack merit and are based on a hypothetical negative impact that common sense, neutral, and necessary voter laws may possibly have upon minorities. It is another attempt to find racial intent where none exists.  Voter ID laws require a voter to present an ID in order to vote (with suitable provisions should a person not have one), yet Democrats and civil rights groups fight such laws with great energy. Common sense Americans want protective laws to ensure the integrity of the voting system, so that we have “one person, one vote” and every vote counts equally. The laws are reasonably related to the problem of voter dilution where a person’s legitimate vote is diluted by those cast fraudulently.  No one should lost the full force of their vote because Mickey Mouse casts a vote or because dead people are voting. Most people don’t see any undue burden on a person to show an ID to vote.  People can barely get by in today’s world without one. For example, a person needs to show an ID to get a driver’s license, open a bank account, buy alcohol, buy cigarettes, apply for welfare, apply for food stamps, sign up for healthcare, cash a check, write a check, purchase a firearm, make a significant credit card purchase, rent an apartment, be admitted to a hospital, enter certain federal buildings, and get a marriage license. Yet having to produce one to vote once every couple of years is somehow a problem. They claim it’s ‘racist.’  This is assuming that minorities don’t feel they need to get any ID at all in their lives, even though every single American needs an ID to conduct some kind of business or in general to simply prove that he is who he says he is. This is a speculative argument and one that most people don’t buy. Yet the tax laws that require working Americans at a certain income level to turn over a chunk of their earned income to the government are an outright disenfranchisement of property. There is no speculation. This is the government determining that some Americans must work about 4 months of the year – from January until April, sometimes May –  for the government and there is nothing they can do about it. They must work, as indentured servants, to pay Uncle Sam. The risks are criminal penalties and incarceration.

The liberal media doesn’t talk about this “disenfranchisement” because their party is of the belief that they have a RIGHT to take whatever money they need from Americans who are condemned to be taxpayers.  Everyone talks about the 14th Amendment and the “Equal Protection” clause, but no one talks about the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery and indentured servitude).  The “disenfranchised” have no meaningful advocates.  They are soon to be “minority” upon which the majority will soon completely oppress. It is their lot in life to support a government that rarely gives them anything in return, other than roads, public parks, and decaying public schools. It is their lot in life to support others who they have nothing in common with and in fact, are ones they have little respect for.  It is their lot in life to support government programs that stand for everything that they abhor –  programs that dumb down society, remove personal responsibility, lead to increasing levels of crime and decay, result in moral depravity, and yes, highlight racial differences by establishing different sets of rules for different groups – all in the name of “equal opportunity.”  It is their lot in life to finance the destruction of the United States by taking us from the once-proud “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” to “Land of the Depraved and Home of the Enslaved.”

Actually, the liberal media does talk about those ‘disenfranchised’ Americans. It wants them to pay more.  As the number of persons paying federal income tax to support a rapidly growing US population decreases, the amount of money needed will increase. Democrats won’t require their voters to pay (because once an “entitlement” is given, it is very hard to take it away), so they will look for ways to soak more out of those who are working and earning enough.  “Enough’ is the key term.  Those men and women working hard to support their families, who have put the time and energy into their education and have sacrificed to develop a career, and who are trying to realize the “dream” that they so diligently sacrificed for, have no say in what is “enough.”  What is “enough” for them and their family has no relevance. The fact that they might want to have more children (which would require them to buy a larger house and put more and more money aside for college educations) means nothing to the government.  The fact that they might have $100,000 in school loan debt which they want to pay off as fast as possible means nothing.  Doing the right thing, investing in education, buying and improving property, and raising responsible children means nothing to the government.

“Class Warfare” is the new term for “Equality.”  The poor can only improve their lot by making the richer less well-off.  That sounds fair, doesn’t it?  In whose eyes?  For which party?  In some cultures, it is unheard of to look at the finances and the “stuff” that other people have. In fact, that was the mindset of our earlier (legal) immigrants.  That was the attitude of my parents and grandparents. That was the mindset of our Founders. They wisely protected all those opportunities for individuals to attain the same station in life. We aren’t supposed to covet the things that others have.

“Three years after the ‘Hope and Change’ president took office, Hope turns out to mean high taxes and lots of regulations, and Change consists of celebrating the government’s takeover of General Motors.. The Great Uniter is all about class warfare…  It’s one thing to beat up on the big banks that caused the financial crisis; it’s another to hammer any family that earns a combined income of $250,000 a year as “millionaires,” pretending they didn’t work for their success and thus ought to pay the government more hard-earned money.”   (Charles Gasparino).

Barack Obama based his entire State of the Union address around envy, pointing to tax disparity as proof.  As Gasparino says: “The tax code is indeed a glaringly obvious problem. It pits every constituency against the rest, and Leftists are especially adept at exploiting that to wage class warfare.”  Obama’s tired rhetoric continues to be that the rich don’t pay their “fair share.”  In his State of the Union address, he stated: “If you make $100,000 – 250,000 a year, like 98% of American families do, then your taxes shouldn’t go up.”  Where did he get that data?   If that were indeed the case, we wouldn’t need entitlements and there would be no class warfare, right?  Obama continued: “You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.”  What he neglected to mention is that it is his administration’s own policies that are causing such struggles.  In other words, he wants the wealthy to do more to support his failing government policies. He wants the wealthy to relieve his corrupt policies of blame.

The money that goes to the federal government is a combination of income tax and payroll taxes.  Those who want the rich to pay more attack the amounts they pay in capital gains and estate taxes.  They pay too little, they cry.  Obama mislead the American people by alleging that Warren Buffett pays as much in income tax as his secretary. He provided a new sound-bite for the class-warriors when he said: “You can call this class warfare all you like, but asking a billionaire to pay as much as his secretary is simply common sense.” First of all, Buffett’s secretary, whom Obama deceptively tried to pass off as being in the same category as the typical office secretary that many of our mothers were, is believed to earn between $200,000 and $500,000 per year.  I have a PhD, 2 Masters, and assorted other degrees and I will never see that kind of salary in my life.  Second of all, the amount each person pays is automatically progressive according to that person’s income.  A billionaire who pays 30% in taxes clearly pays tons more in taxes than a secretary who pays 30% on $200,000.  It’s just simple math. Buffett says that the rich have lobbyists to try to lower the estate and capital gains taxes and that’s why they should be vilified and that’s why the middle and poor class are right in hating them, but he misses the point. Everyone paying taxes is paying at least a “fair share,” even if they are all paying the same percentage and sometimes even if they are paying even a little less.  What “services” does a man get back from the government when he pays $9 million in taxes, for example [30% of $30 million in taxable income]. The bottom line is that everyone paying taxes receives the same benefits from the government. Well, that isn’t exactly true, right?  Those who don’t work and those earning below the poverty limit certainly receive a whole lot more services and benefits.

Mitt Romney has released his tax records and is being criticized as having paid “too little in income tax.”  Certainly he is a wealthy man; he earned more than $20 million in taxable income in each of the last two years for which he released returns.  But he paid exactly what he was required under the law.  Because his income was entirely from short-term capital gains (the money earned on the profit realized on the sale of a non-inventory asset that was purchased at a lower price), his tax rate was around 15%.  Unnoticed and therefore not taken into consideration by those criticizing him, however, is that most of that money was taxed already at the corporate rate of 35% before it was ever paid to him. So the government certainly got its money.  While Democrats criticize Romney’s unfairly low burden and point to this as the very reason to attack the rich, when John Kerry paid only 13%  in 2004, they remained noticeably silent. Americans have to get over the mindset that just because a man is wealthy, he must have become so because he screwed over poorer people and therefore it’s OK to hate him, envy him, and take his money. We could easily say the reverse..  Poorer people tend to stay in their socioeconomic class and not move upward because they’re screwing over richer people.

The sad thing is that Americans are so out of touch with their founding documents and have become so ignorant with respect to the values on which our country was founded that they aren’t posing the most fundamental question of all: “Why should the government even have the right to tax so many aspects of an individual’s property?”  The layers of taxation is incredible. The government is charged with securing an individual’s “life, liberty, and property,” and should always be looking for ways to allow Americans to keep what is theirs under natural law and not for more and more ways to “convert” the people’s money to its own uses.  Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, is bothered by the fact that most people only seem to care about the fairness of the tax system as it relates to how much taxes rich people are paying. He explains: “When a government that has overspent for years turns to tax increases instead of spending cuts simply for the sake of “fairness,” it weakens free enterprise, lowers opportunity and impoverishes us in many ways.”

According to Obama and his supporters, there are Americans who aren’t paying “their fair share.”  But the facts and figures simply don’t back him up.  The top 1% of Americans pay 38% of the federal income tax burden.  The top 5% of Americans pay 60% of the federal income tax burden.  The top 10% of Americans pay at least 70% of the federal income tax burden. The middle class pays 15.1% of the federal income tax burden.  And half of Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes at all and contribute essentially nothing to the funding of our government.  In fact, a good chunk of that last category actually “makes money” under our current tax system. It is, after all, a wealth redistribution scheme. And that, by definition, is forcing some people to work to support others, which is unfair and unconstitutional. But perhaps Obama was referring to the capital gains tax not being high enough. The short-term capital gains tax is already 33%  – the highest since 1978. (Long-term is 15%, which was a result of the 2003 Bush tax cuts, and then extended by Congress through 2012).

How dare US politicians exploit and intensify class warfare. It was class warfare – the hatred for the rich – which led to the 16th Amendment and then the vast expansion of government.  Why single out the rich?  Why not look at ordinary tax cheats?  According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, more than 450,000 active and retired federal employees failed to file tax returns in 2005.  Those taxes totaled over $3 million. Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, failed to pay his taxes, and so did Rep. Charles Rengel.  There are many others.  Former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti testified back in 2002 that there is a “tax gap,” which is the amount of tax owed that will never be collected.  In 2002, that amount was a whopping $30 billion. Recently, the IRS reported that 36 of Obama’s executive office staff owe some $833,970 in back taxes, and thousands of federal employees owe back taxes totaling $3.4 billion. Why aren’t tax cheats the subject of the president’s economic recovery policy?  Isn’t this what we are talking about – or should be talking about – when we refer to those “not paying their fair share.”  Why is it always the rich who are to blame when there isn’t enough money for government to spend recklessly?

Note the hypocrisy of our President.  On Dec. 5, 2008, Obama’s transition team told Finance Committee staff that Geithner had not paid social security or self-employment taxes on income received from the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2004.  In 2005, the IRS audited Geithner for tax years 2003 and 2004, and he was ordered  to pay back taxes and interest — but no penalties!!  Imagine that.  Even after a pattern of willingly and intentionally not paying taxes for 4 years, he was not required to pay any penalties, which would have totaled  $16,732.  But wait a minute, the IRS only looked at 2003-2004. Geithner was not compelled to pay taxes for 2001 and 2002. [The statute of limitations had expired, and the IRS did not have the authority to enforce any policies in these years.]  The Senate Finance Committee characterized those errors as “honest mistakes.”  Does this sound reasonable or does it sound like political cronyism?  In all fairness (cough, cough), when Obama was getting ready to nominate him to the Treasury position, Geithner was “pressured” to voluntarily pay those taxes, but all he paid was $25, 970 as a total for both years.

Tim Geithner repeatedly failed to adhere to tax law, from 2001 through 2004. He is a bona fide serial tax cheat. If it weren’t for an IRS audit, he would never have paid any taxes. He was hoping to take advantage of the statute of limitations and cheat the system. Only when the opportunity to become Treasury Secretary presented itself  did Geithner pay his back-taxes from the former two years. Learning of his pattern of cheating, President Obama chose to ignore them and nominated him to the post anyway – with the Senate’s consent, of course.

And what about charitable giving?  In 2011 alone, Mitt Romney gave more than 19% of his income to various charities, including the Mormon Church.  He donated more in charitable giving than in federal taxes, although the latter wasn’t a donation but rather a legal obligation, under penalty of fines and jail time (that’s only because he’s not a Democrat). The Obamas, on the other hand, gave just 1% of their income to charity between 2000 and 2004, but increased it to 5% by 2007.  Joe Biden gave $369  (you read that correctly) the year before becoming vice president, and just $5,350 in 2010.  ”A reasonable conclusion is that because “liberals” are so miserly with their money, they think the only way to “spread the wealth” around is through forced taxation.” (The Patriot Post).

Indeed, Obama has a monopoly on hypocrisy.  It oozes from his lips every time he speaks. But the majority of Americans are too brainwashed or ignorant to know this to be true.  Near the end of his State of the Union address, he said: “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together.  We’re great because we have each other’s backs.”  What he really was too cowardly to say was this: “The rich must do more to have the backs of the poor.”  (Wow, that rhymes).

Not one time in any of his speeches has he addressed how the “lifestyle freeloaders” help benefit anyone other than themselves?  What should they be required to be disposed of in order to serve the nation?  The taxpayers are disposed of their earnings (property) and their precious time (working 3-4 months to pay Uncle Sam).  The conversations coming from our President and his party have to stop being one way.  Cutting entitlement and other government programs will cut the need for increasing tax revenue and perhaps even do something magical, like force people to take education seriously (have you spent any time in the public school system lately and seen which students aren’t putting any effort in because they already know where their paychecks will be coming from?), force people to develop skills and become ambitious, curb teen pregnancy, prevent so many women from having babies when they aren’t married, and lower the out-of-control birthrate of those who can’t raise their children properly and make sure they go to school and excel. People will finally start doing the responsible thing, such as applying themselves in school, taking care of their health, taking care of their communities (because they have to work to pay for upkeep and repair, to protect their investments), and having only as many children as they can reasonably support and raise. But these common-sense ideas are never discussed by a Democrat. Why not?  Imagine the great benefit to society if these things could happen. So many problems would be solved.  In fact, their knee-jerk response to such talk is to cry “racism” – even though color has nothing to do with this discussion.  But they will find a way to make it about color… they always do.  And even if they claim that that such a solution would “disenfranchise” people of color, the next question should be “why?”  Then they should do some further objective analysis.  Because, as Obama said in his State of the Union address…  we all must make this country together – not just one group or another.

Newt Gingrich recently said: “What allows one group of people to believe they have the right to determine what’s best for the lives of others and the right to take what they need for that agenda?  We have gone the full spectra in the rights of man with respect to government: We replaced the divine right of Kings with the divine right of the individual to the divine right self-righteous groups.”

Members of society must accept that individual effort determines income, and that all have a right to enjoy the fruits of their effort. Equality is in the opportunity, not the status. Equality of wealth will ultimately make every man poor and sluggish and equality of social condition will ultimately lead to complete social decay.

Background:

Earlier I stated that the government has an obligation to protect the rights of citizens equally.  After all, it expressly says so under the 14th Amendment. This amendment, after all, has not only been used to give rights to every group under the sun but it has also been used to give spirit to the Court’s broad powers as judicial activists.  Schools were not only desegregated (legislative segregation was ended under Brown), but they were judicially mandated to use bussing and other artificial means to mix the races and reach acceptable “quotas” in school districts, even if it meant using extensive plans to move students around.  Surely, the “Equal Protection” clause must extend to the most basic of fundamental rights….  the right to property.  After all, men and women convert the fruits of their mind and their creativity (intellectual property), the benefits of their personality, ethics, etc (good will, which is also an intellectual property), and the fruits of their labor into compensation. Salaries and other investments are converted “property.”

The Constitution was written for those in whose name it was cast – “We the People.”  Why was it written for the People?  As the Preamble explains, it was written so that people and their posterity would know what to expect from their new government. Basically the government would protect citizens from internal strife and from attack from the outside, but most importantly, it would defend individual liberty. In other words, the Founders did not establish the Constitution for the purpose of granting rights but rather for the purpose of protecting rights.

Thomas Jefferson, who drafted our Declaration of Independence, understood that there are certain rights fundamental to the idea of man being free and because it is our Creator who is responsible for life and because those rights flow from our humanity, governments have no power to take them away and instead, must be obligated to protect them. Drawing inspiration from philosopher John Locke, whom he studied intently, Jefferson believed that government is morally obliged to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty, and property, and our government, as based on limited powers and the principle of checks and balances, was crafted to protect these fundamental rights.  The Declaration was initially written to read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by the Creator with certain natural rights that among these are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.”  This language was believed, especially according to Virginia’s George Mason, to be a literal improvement of Locke’s phrase “Life, Liberty, and Property.”

John Locke stressed that private property is absolutely essential for liberty. In his Treatise on Government, he explains that the primary reason for men to organize themselves into societies and to institute a common government is for “the Preservation of their Property.”  He wrote: “Every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his.” Certainly, the right to property and the right to the fruits of one’s labor (including compensation) are as fundamental a right as the right to life itself.

Locke believed people legitimately turned common property into private property by mixing their labor with it, improving it.  He insisted that people, not rulers, are sovereign, which also happens to be the bedrock principle underlying our Constitution.  Government, Locke wrote, “can never have a Power to take to themselves the whole or any part of the Subjects Property, without their own consent.  For this would be in effect to leave them no Property at all.” He makes his point even more explicit: rulers “must not raise Taxes on the Property of the People, without the Consent of the People, given by themselves, or their Deputies.”  Thus, according to Locke, an individual’s labor, his intellect, his personality, the good will he earns through his honest and ethical conduct, and the fruits of all of these are his PROPERTY and are to be protected with the greatest zeal by any legitimate government.

Locke went further and affirmed an explicit right to revolution: “Whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence.”

In 1772, John Adams wrote “The Rights of the Colonists,” which he delivered to a Boston Town meeting.  He started his historic document with these words: “Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”  As the colonists were British subjects at the time, Adams further wrote in his essay: “The absolute rights of Englishmen and all freemen, in or out of civil society, are principally personal security, personal liberty, and private property.”

Arthur Lee of Virginia (1775) wrote: “The Right of property is the guardian of every other Right, and to deprive the people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their Liberty.”  William Blackstone, the great British legal scholar, wrote: “So great is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.”  Ayn Rand, author and philosopher, wrote: “Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.”  Thomas Jefferson wrote: “To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association – ‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.’”  He also said, in his 1801 inaugural address: “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of the laborer the bread he has earned.”  And finally, Frederic Bastiat, a French economist, wrote: “Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of one is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two.”

Prior to 1913, the government operated with revenues raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes, without ever touching a worker’s paycheck. The Supreme Court has classified income tax as a direct income tax.  Apparently, in enacting the 16th Amendment, legislators ignored the pesky little problem of States’ rights and the concept of federalism.  After the government attempted to enact a peace-time income tax following the Civil War, the Supreme Court, in Pollock v Farmer’s Loan and Trust, 157 U.S. 429 (1895), declared it unconstitutional.  Referring to the explicit prohibition against direct taxation in Article I, the Court argued that the income tax would excessively enhance federal power in relation to state power.  But in an effort to “soak the rich” and attempt to strip them of at least some of the power they held, the 16th Amendment was passed despite the important Constitutional principle it violated.

In his book “The Income Tax: Root of all Evil,” Frank Chodorov explains why taxes on income and inheritance are different in principle from all other taxes: “The government says to the citizen: ‘Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide.’”

As Larry Arnn and Grover Norquist wrote in their 2003 article in Claremont entitled “Repeal the 16th Amendment”:  “Although the first income tax in 1913 was very limited – it applied to just 2% of the labor force, and its highest rate was 7% – it prepared the way for the federal government’s almost unlimited access to revenue. It thus provided an almost unlimited ability to fund programs that are properly state matters–crime fighting, education, welfare–and to pressure the states into conforming to a national standard in matters that should reflect regional differentiation, like speed limits and drinking ages.”

The Problem:

The nation currently faces a crisis not only financially, but also of conscience.  It also faces a crisis of Constitutional proportions, under both the very language of Article I and under the Equal Protection Clause which requires that laws must be applied equally to all Americans.  In 2009, the Democratic-led Congress enacted a series of tax reforms and generous exemptions and tax credits and then in 2010, it passed the gargantuan economic stimulus bill.  The result of these reforms, credits, and stimulus bill is that millions of Americans have been dropped from the federal tax rolls. A huge number of Americans are simply no longer affected by the federal income tax. Before these tax reforms, 47% of Americans were already not paying income tax.  Now this number is about 50% and shows every indication of continuing to climb higher.  As if that weren’t enough, the bottom 40% of income-earners actually receive a cash payment from the government at tax time – “the Earned Income Credit.” This is a re-distribution of wealth in its most recognizable form and is not covered under the “General Welfare” Clause. Hence it is not a legitimate exercise of Congress’s powers.

To make matters even more unfair, those who are required to pay taxes often have to spend quite a bit of money on tax compliance. A recent study shows that taxpayers spend an astounding $431.1 billion annually on such compliance. How large is $431.1 billion? It’s more than the dollar value of all the goods and services produced in a state such as Virginia or Michigan.

Under the Obama administration, many Americans accustomed to paying their share of federal taxes are being taken off the tax rolls. Recent tax law changes mean that for the first time, in 2009, a family of four making $50,000 can pay no federal income tax at all.  A family at this income level has surely suffered in this recession, but should they really pay no federal income tax at all?  By the way, can you guess which political party they will now side with?

The fact is that America has become divided between a growing class of people who pay no income taxes and a shrinking class of people who are bearing the lion’s share of the burden. Despite what critics have said about former President Bush that the tax cuts enacted in 2001, 2003 and 2004 favored the “rich,” these cuts actually reduced the tax burden of low- and middle-income taxpayers and shifted the tax burden onto wealthier taxpayers. Everything the government does continues to shift the tax burden onto wealthier taxpayers and at some point it has to stop before the notion of fundamental fairness we so treasure in this country is made a complete mockery of.

The current mindset of the Democrats and progressives is dangerous and alarming. It goes against the fundamental principles of our founding documents.  Democrats and progressive politicians have turned John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” on its head. And telling so many Americans that they don’t need to make sacrifices for our government, as we are now saying, is dangerous new territory for our nation and for the health of our democracy and economy.

Furthermore, by placing the tax burden so heavily on a certain class of Americans and continuing to do so by excluding so many others, the situation is almost tantamount to institutional slavery, or involuntary servitude (to be free only when he or she retires, loses his job, or takes a job at a very low pay).  In other words, a taxpayer can only be freed from this immense burden (over 4 months of the year are spent in financial hock to the federal government) if he or she betrays her own conscience and inalienable right to pursue the career of his/her own choice. The 13th Amendment promises that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, shall exist within the United States.”

Recognizing that there is an inherent laziness and “degree of depravity in mankind” which will unfortunately flourish greater in a republican form of government (James Madison), we would expect non-taxpayers to behave as they do. Their demand for entitlements and government programs is naturally insatiable because they don’t care at all about the cost. Others are providing the funding who, in their eyes, have “more than enough.” Consequently, they will always support increasing government programs as a long as they get even a small benefit from them because it does not cost them a cent.  And so they will support politicians who favor more spending.  Representatives who need the support of such persons to be elected will continue to take from the pockets of others to provide to this solid voting bloc.

Therefore, by taking more and more Americans off the federal tax rolls, Democrats and progressives are creating a permanent base of supporters for themselves. In doing so, they have abused the progressive income tax too flagrantly and too unashamedly.  Many years ago, when Americans were Christians and God-fearing people, they knew it wasn’t right to take something for nothing.  They knew they should not look at what another has and covet it.  But Americans are a new breed and ‘honor’ isn’t a word that’s used much anymore.

At the rate Democrats and progressives are going, hard-working Americans can never expect their tax rates to go down. And it has to stop now, in the name of fundamental fairness and with reference to the Constitution and the reason the nation was formed in the first place.

Just as Democrats are catering to the needs of their voter base, Republicans must now begin to look after the interests of their voters.

The Solution:

We’ve talked about disenfranchisement and about class warfare.  We’ve looked at the fundamental values underlying our nation’s founding and we’ve looked at the problem created by our broken, unfair tax system. At its core, the problem isn’t about how much one group thinks the government should take from another group to somehow satisfy some subjective notion of ‘fundamental fairness,’ the problem is about the audacious and arrogant “right” of the government to take what it thinks it needs from people in the first place.  And if the government is going to take from some without taking from others, then there must be constitutional safeguards put in place to legitimately protect the interests of that former group with respect to the latter group.  That is a legitimate “fundamental fairness” issue and one that our Constitution in fact does demand.  The question becomes this: What is a fair way to safeguard the interests of taxpayers against those who do not pay?

For all the reasons above, I make the following proposal.  I propose that voter rights be subjected to the same arbitrary and progressive rules that property rights are.  Just as the tax burden is assigned on the ability to pay, the weight of an individual’s vote should be assigned based on the ‘stake’ that person has in government policies that will potentially diminish his or her property rights.  In other words, the weight of a person’s vote should equal the amount of skin that person has in the game.  A person with a lot of money might be taxed more but he also should have a greater say in what the government does with his money as opposed to someone who has contributes nothing.

So how would this play out?  Well, everyone is entitled to the “equal opportunity” to vote so every citizen of legal age would automatically get one vote.  Additional votes would be allotted, progressively, according to the amount of property subject to government regulation and according to the amount of money the citizen would be required to turn over in taxes.  For example, every taxpayer who owns a house might get a second vote. Every taxpayer who owns a business would get a third vote.  Every taxpayer who experiences a jump in the tax rate gets additional votes.

Notice that I didn’t say that everyone has the constitutional right to vote.  While most Americans believe that we possess the “legal” right to vote in this country, the fact is that our Constitution only provides for non-discrimination in voting on the basis of race, sex, and age in the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments, respectively. The US Constitution contains no affirmative individual right to vote nor is it protected from the forces of government in the Bill of Rights.  The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the State, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Since the word “vote” appears in the Constitution only with respect to non-discrimination, the so-called right to vote is a “state right.”  It could be argued, however, that the right to vote underlies our other fundamental rights because it protects them and therefore it is an affirmative right. In fact, voting rights protect all other rights and privileges in this country.  But it was the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore (2000) which reminded us that there is no explicit or fundamental right to suffrage in the Constitution.  Chief Justice William Rehnquist had this to say: “In the eyes of the [Supreme] Court, democracy is rooted not in the right of the American people to vote and govern but in a set of state-based institutional arrangements for selecting leaders.”  Even more, the Court stated:  ”The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” [So, for example, if President George Bush lost the case, the Florida legislature could have discarded the 6 million popular votes cast in Florida (either real or by “hanging chads”!) and been within its legal authority to select a panel of electors of their choosing to vote for President. It was Republican at the time, so following this hypothetical, it would have made sure that Bush got the electoral votes].

Only an amendment to the Constitution – a “Voting Rights” amendment – can correct the flaw in our system highlighted by the Bush v. Gore case.  Only a constitutional amendment would give every American an individual affirmative citizenship right to vote and not one subject to any limitations by the state, such as a residency requirement. (“You must be a resident in the state for at least one year in order to vote.”)

Consider this proposal for a 28th Amendment:

SECTION 1:  All citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, shall have the right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.  The right to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, any State, or any other public or private person or entity, except that the United States or any State may establish regulations narrowly tailored to produce efficient and honest elections.

SECTION 2:  The weight of each citizen’s vote shall be determined in accordance with the liability to which he or she is subject to the laws and regulations of the federal government because of property ownership and earned income.

SECTION 3:  The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall elect Senators and Representatives in the Congress in such number and such manner as it would be entitled if it were a State.

SECTION 4: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Why is a progressive voting scheme necessary?  It is necessary for essentially two reasons: (1) to ensure that interests are fairly and proportionally represented; and (2) to ensure that checks are in place to force Congress to be responsible with people’s money.  American taxpayers will soon face a crisis of no longer being fairly represented in government because the percentage of Americans who have no tax liability are reproducing at a faster pace than those paying taxes and welfare is becoming a way of life rather than a short-term necessity. Persons with no tax liability and no “skin in the game” are voting to spend other people’s money. They have no “stake” in the decisions of the government to spend taxpayer money or to raise taxes.  It simply doesn’t matter to them.  (When their programs get threatened, they can just hate the rich more and claim they aren’t “paying their fair share”). These non-taxpayers lack the proper nexus to the “checks and balances” that keeps government responsibly tied to person’s property. As a result, Congress will continue its out-of-control spending. Oh, it may talk about cutting the rate it is increasing its spending, but it won’t stop the ridiculous enlargement of programs and the irresponsible spending. Congress doesn’t have a taxing problem; it has a spending problem.  It sees hardworking Americans as an unlimited source of revenue – but only those that make what the government deems is “enough.”  And then that burden is enormous.

As I’ve already discussed, the federal income tax is a direct tax on property and therefore an unconstitutional burden on inalienable personal freedoms.  The right to property and the right to the fruits of one’s labor (including a paycheck) are as fundamental a right as the right to life itself.  The Declaration of Independence gives each individual the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (embodied in all types of property), and under the US Constitution, the federal government MUST protect these rights equally for all Americans.  Yet the government has not done so.

Our Founders created a republic form of government to protect the rights of minority groups from mob rule, but they never expected other groups of Americans to be required to support them through forced and regulated charity (spreading the wealth or redistribution of wealth).  There is indeed a Constitutional crisis when fundamental rights are treated so shabbily.  There is indeed a Constitutional crisis when fundamental rights are treated so differently between and among groups of Americans. We’ve gone through many crises in our country when civil liberties and fundamental rights were not respected equally and we’ve put laws in place to remedy the situation.  Yet when it comes to money, our government and courts can’t seem to apply the same notions of fundamental fairness and equality, even though money is intricately tied to more precious fundamental rights.

We have undeniably sunk to a new low in “punishing” productive behavior – such as investing in education, conducting oneself morally and ethically, building a career, and making the necessary sacrifices in family life to move up the corporate or business ladder – through excessive taxation.  Such productive behavior used to be the ones that defined Americans.  That’s not the case anymore.  The character of Americans has changed.  The dynamics in this country are changing.  There is an old saying which goes something like this – If you punish those who work hard and raise their families right, they will start having less children, and if you reward those for being lazy and being freeloaders, then they will have more children.  And that’s what we are seeing. We are seeing a shift in the distribution of those who are contributing and those who are taking and it doesn’t bode well for the country and especially for taxpayer.  Our financial bankruptcy is finally catching up with the depth of our moral and ethical bankruptcy.

Congress bears a moral responsibility to provide for and protect individual Liberty, including economic Liberty, and personal property (whether real or intellectual). If the current income tax structure is permitted to exist in its arbitrary and progressive nature, then immediately, there MUST be voter reform to institute a progressive, or weighted, voting system to protect the inherent property interests of taxpayers. While each person is entitled to one vote, additional voter weight will be given to those who pay taxes, own property, own a business, and otherwise engage in activities which are subject to the onerous and burdensome taxation requirements of the federal government.  This progressive voting scheme will be necessary to combat the inherent unfairness of the current income tax scheme.  It will provide that necessary constitutional safeguard to protect a person’s property from the insatiable jaws of government.  It will help exceedingly to protect against the thing that could destroy personal freedom and that is government confiscation of property. Then we’d surely have communism here in America. Right now it’s socialism that is moving closer to fascism. (Note that you don’t need outright confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism. It doesn’t really matter if you hold the title to your property the government regulates it so heavily as to render it useless or unproductive.  It doesn’t really matter if you hold the title to your business if the government holds the power over the life or death of it).

In the alternative, of course, we could simply abolish the 16th Amendment and move to a Fair Tax or other fair taxation scheme, or go back to the taxation scheme that served our nation well for the first 126 years of our existence – revenues which were raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes.  It never touched a worker’s paycheck. Of course, that would require the federal government to divest all its unconstitutional powers and functions, return the responsibilities to the states, where they certainly would apply them more fairly and intuitively to their citizens.

My solution just keeps getting better !!

In summary, we need to a return to fairness, and not the kind of fairness that Democrats talk about.  Fairness needs to apply to everyone and not just those who have chosen to do the very least to get by and therefore feel they are entitled to what others have earned. We need tax reform (or if not, then voter reform!). With tax reform, we need the government to cut its “cradle-to-grave” nanny-state policies. Then we can finally expect to see tax breaks. We need to get the millions off dependency and into self-sufficiency. We need them to stop waiting around for a government check and instead, getting out each day to work to earn a paycheck or to class for an education to get a bigger paycheck. No one has the right to claim inequality unless he or she is willing to put an honest effort into an education and learning the English language in order to speak and communicate fairly intelligently. We need to stop the mean-spirited accusations and the tired old line that certain Americans can’t achieve because they are victims. Everyone is in charge of their own destiny.  As Machiavelli once warned: “It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.”

References:

Larry P. Arnn and Grover Norquist, “Repeal the 16th Amendment,” The Claremont Institute, April 15, 2003.  Referenced at: http://www.claremont.org/publications/pubid.477/pub_detail.asp

Ilana Mercer, Repeal the Abominable 16th Amendment, WorldNetDaily, November 20, 2002.  Referenced at:  http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=29716#ixzz1F6ILra20

“Government and Policies: Class Warfare Dominates Debate,” The Patriot Post, Digest – January 27, 2012.  Referenced at: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2012/01/27/digest/

Charles Gasparino, “Adding Up to Nothing,” NY Post, January 26, 2012.  Referenced at: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/adding_up_to_nothing_8K1eBN3afYXNELupfK8tRL

Timothy Geithner, Honest Questions.  Referenced at:  http://www.honestquestions.com/tim-geithner/

Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 104 (2000)

Who is Really Disenfranchised?

       by Diane Rufino, Jan. 21, 2012

We hear a lot from the Obama administration and the Democratic Party about who in America is disenfranchised.  And according to them, it certainly isn’t the American taxpayer. In fact, according to them, most often, they aren’t doing enough…. they aren’t doing “their fair share.”

This is a phrase that I’ve come to despise lately, because all notions of fairness and equality have either been severely distorted or thrown out by the federal government.

Disenfranchised…..  The word takes us back to that shameful time in American history when blacks, having been freed from the bonds of slavery, were denied so many fundamental civil rights. But those days are over. Equality rings loud and clear, in rights and opportunities, and secured by force of law.

Today’s Democratic party offers free stuff, that other people pay for.  But it offers no real hope and certainly offers no solutions, except to remain uneducated and uninspired and pregnant so the checks and free services continue.  There’s no vision, and therefore, there’s can be no hope. The rhetoric is based on hate, mistrust, anger, and victimization.  The party message is that the poor and minorities are oppressed because they are victims. The whole system is against them. In order to push their programs of dependency, the message is that most Americans are racist and selfish.

And so, because of the history this one word summons, modern civil rights-conscious America is doomed to hear it each and every election cycle from now until we say that enough is enough.

There is a lot of talk of “disenfranchisement” of minority voters by Voter ID laws, which is another ridiculous attempt to cast common-sense, color-blind legislation in terms of race.  The way Eric Holder and civil rights leaders carry on, you would think there was a legitimate argument.  But there isn’t.  There is no credible evidence to suggest that blacks are being denied the right to vote.  It’s another race-based attempt to deflect the very real instances of voter fraud (benefiting Democrats) away from the Democratic party and onto good law-abiding Americans who demand integrity in the voting and election process. Americans who are standing up for an end to years of voter fraud are called racists.  Racism is the Black Panthers standing at polling locations intimidating white voters with batons.  We all remember Election Day 2008 in Philadelphia where members of the Black Panthers stood menacingly in front of a polling place, dressed in military-style uniforms and carrying night sticks, and hurled horrible racial slurs at whites. Racism is the US Justice Department refusing to prosecute the case, claiming there was no solid evidence that there were any violations of the Voter Rights Act, even though several videos surfaced clearly showing the intimidation and the racial slurs.

The Democrats won’t tolerate a reasonable law requiring people to show a valid ID because it might prevent blacks from voting but it will tolerate blacks beating up whites to physically prevent them from voting.

Democratic leadership all over the country are attacking efforts in their states to enact reasonable assurances that a person casting a vote is who he or she claims to be and is lawfully entitled to cast that vote.  Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, king of the “disenfranchisement” card, has used the full resources of the federal government to block South Carolina’s Voter ID law. Holder and the other leaders claim such measures would disenfranchise blacks and therefore amount to a poll tax.  “This is how Republicans keep African-Americans from voting now,” they proclaim.  Not so.  If only Republicans could get a dollar for every time a Democrat lied. What Democrats really should confess is that need fraudulent votes to win elections. They need people to vote early and often. They need people to vote for their relatives (even though they may have moved away or passed away). They need felons to vote. They need illegal immigrants to vote. They need dead people to vote.  And yes, they even need Mickey Mouse’s vote.  Newt Gingrich had this comment to make: “You have to ask, why is it that they are desperate to retain the ability to steal elections; I think that’s what it comes down to.”

“Disenfranchise” means to deny a person a right; usually a right of citizenship. So let’s talk about who the real “disenfranchised” Americans are.  They are hard-working American taxpayers – the most abused and forgotten group of people in this country.

Two years ago (2009), it was reported that 43.4% of Americans paid zero or negative federal income taxes. The number of single or jointly-filing “taxpayers” who paid no taxes or received government handouts reached 65.6 million, out of a total of 151 million. In 2010, 45% of Americans paid no income tax. And this year (for tax year 2011), less than half will be paying income tax.  That is quite a shift in just two years.

However, it appears that the statistics reported are not quite accurate.  According to the government Joint Committee on Taxation, 51% – that is, a majority of American households – paid no income tax in 2009.  None at all.  As if that isn’t alarming enough, 30% of those households actually made money from the tax system. They did this by way of refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others.

These statistics come from a document produced by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a respected bipartisan committee of Congress. The JCT found that for tax year 2009, roughly 22% of “tax units” (not exactly “households”) ended up without any tax liability. Another 30%  not only didn’t pay anything, but they got money back from the government, through mechanisms such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, a policy enacted in 1975 that encourages low-income Americans to work by refunding money through the tax code.  People who receive these checks often have no income tax liability. This tax credit was established, in part, to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. A greater tax credit is given to those who also have qualifying children. By contrast, the JCT found that only 49% of Americans owed tax revenue to the government.

How is this possible?  It’s possible when the federal government uses the federal income tax program not only to generate income for the government but also as a means of wealth distribution. These tax credits are an income transfer – a federal check – from taxpayers to non-taxpayers. This is another form of welfare.  Or, to use a term coined in George McGovern’s 1972 campaign – it is a ‘Demogrant.’  The government is using the labor of some people to benefit other people. Hmmm.. That sounds like a form of slavery to me. It allows people to have property by taking property from another.  (Property, as we know, is transformable, from intellectual to monetary, to personal to real property).  It allows people to have children at other people’s expense.  In fact, the Earned Income Tax Credit encourages such people to have more children to get a larger check.  There aren’t too many “old-school” Americans whose parents taught them that this is a proper way to raise a family.  Most taught their children to get a good job so they can make enough money to raise a family.  Those were the days when American values and morality mattered.  We all know that too many parents today teach their children a completely different lesson – to have children in order to get as much money from the government as possible. Unfortunately, a sperm donor is all that is required for that…  not a husband and father.

These type of citizens not only place a burden on those who pay taxes, but perhaps more importantly, they have a vote in government without any “skin in the game.”  They have no stake in the federal government other than what they can get out of it. The United States is close to a tipping point. The dynamics in this country are changing. Our moral code, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor,” is being replaced by a secular code, “Thou Shalt Steal From Thy Neighbor.” We’re almost at the point, if we’re not already there, where most people don’t have to worry about running out to the post office on April 15th because they’re expecting one from the government instead.  Oh such a happy day for these people. That is, if they have no conscience and no pride.

I’m a scientist by training and I’ve come to conclude that a particular biological association explains the association between persons living according to democratic ideology and those living according to Republican, conservative ideology. It’s called ‘Parasitism.’ It is a living arrangement where one species benefits while the other is harmed.  There are far too many Americans who condemn conservatives yet sit back, collect checks, contribute nothing, and reap the benefits that conservative individuals provide.  Conservatives are the ones who work hard and pay their disproportionate share of taxes for all the programs and services while over 50% of Americans are excused from paying income tax yet receive the benefits that the others pay for.  Conservatives believe in family values and raise their children properly, with an emphasis on education and responsibility. They provide the stability in schools and society that others rely on. They also provide most of the charity that benefit those in need.

While taxpayers look for the day their obligation to the federal government will be relieved, Obama shows no sign of curbing entitlements or addressing meaningful reform.  In fact, spending continues to increase. Entitlements makes up about 40% of the budget and is comprised of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and spending on such programs is projected to grow to nearly $3.5 trillion by 2021, up from $2.1 trillion which is what is provided in this year’s budget.  That comes out to an increase of 67% over the next 8 years.

Again I ask, who are the real Americans being disenfranchised?

There are no laws to protect these ‘disenfranchised’ Americans. There are no civil rights laws for them to seek redress.  They used to have the Declaration of Independence, which guaranteed the equal rights to “Life, Liberty, and Property,” and they used to have the US Constitution, which required that all direct taxes must be apportioned equally. Citizens are supposed to have the right to keep the reasonable rewards of their labor and the fruits of their intellect and enterprise. It was a fundamental premise upon which our independence was anchored.  It is unreasonable to expect citizens to work at least one third of the year just to pay taxes to a federal government that is lawfully only vested with the power to do a limited number of things on behalf of the people of the country.  Nowhere in the Constitution does it grant the government the power to legislate charity and require one group of people benefit another group of people.

When the group of ‘disenfranchised’ Americans use perhaps the only rights left – to speak and petition, under the First Amendment – they are attacked by the poor as being greedy and “not paying their fair share.” Even more offensively, they are attacked by the very representatives that have sworn oaths to protect the rights of citizens equally and to protect our republic. [Reminds me of a story I read my children – “Animal Colony”].  A government that fears its citizens and ‘serves’ its citizens would never treat them so shabbily. But we no longer have that type of government. Ours is government more concerned about social justice (social re-engineering) than individual rights. Ours is a government that is intent on transforming this country rather than restoring her. You ‘transform’ something that no longer appeals to you.

Forget their right to vote to assert their rights to keep their property. That’s been long rendered useless by the rising entitlement society.

I suppose the only thing left for those who want to keep their money and assets and don’t want to pay taxes is to work in the Obama administration.

Do you ever notice how Democrats are always talking about some people being disenfranchised (ie, their constituents) while at the same time trying to stick their hands deeper and deeper into hard working people’s pockets and taking money away from other people’s families, education, and retirement plans. They are literally looting the property of hard-working Americans. Newt Gingrich recently said this: “I don’t want to make people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

Democrats have got it all wrong.  You don’t help people by robbing them of their self-worth or dignity, and you certainly don’t help them by diminishing their worth in the eyes of other people by labeling them “dependent” and a “burden on society.” Perhaps the party leaders should take a cue from John W. Gardner, who said: “If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.”

But why aren’t Democratic constituents asking for education and training rather than outright hand-outs?  My mother worked for years at the New Hanover County Department of Social Services in North Carolina until she finally had enough and quit. She said she was tired of trying to giving welfare recipients job tips and information on education programs or asking about the whereabouts of the father of the children and being told: “Just give me my damn check.”

Matt Robbins of American Thinker may have said it best when he wrote: “Eighty million ordinary citizens take the one extraordinarily conventional step every single day that makes the U.S. economic engine actually run. They go to work. Monday through Friday, and even sometimes on Saturdays. They’ve been labeled the Silent Majority by Nixon (and ‘masses leading lives of quiet desperation’ before him by Henry David Thoreau), the middle class, the consumer class, the bourgeoisie. And yet their unfailing habit of playing by the rules, putting in overtime to put food on the table and pay their taxes has created the financial wonder of the modern world: the American economy.

This is to say nothing of those millions of mom-and-pop proprietors, the legal immigrant shopkeepers, those entrepreneurs who take the biggest financial and personal gambles and start their own small businesses. I’ll never forget the story from a friend in the Korean community who had to have his wedding reception first, prior to the ceremony that weekend, so the bulk of his guests could return to their dry cleaning businesses, their small corner markets, their stores……”

Mr. Robbins then asked this question: “Who always has to pay the bill?”

And he answered it as follows, talking to the American taxpayer: “You do. You’re part of that grand American tradition of holding up your end of the bargain. You’re that proud parent who works extra hours to give your child the best education available. You’re that citizen who foots ever-increasing taxes on everything from the car you drive to the property you ‘own,’ all the while believing that the men and women you send to your city council, your county board or commission, your state capital, or even Washington, D.C. are actually going to do what they said they would do. Then you watch and listen, year after year—it seems helplessly—as your voice gets drowned out by the chorus of shouts and cries…always for more spending, more government programs……  And on your dime.  Call me crazy but I’d say that’s the textbook definition of disenfranchised.”

Claims of voter disenfranchisement are specious claims. They are baseless, meaningless. There is no merit to them.  But again, the mere mention of “disenfranchisement” conjures up memories of the old Jim Crow era and then preys on racial sentiments.  The real disenfranchised American is the one who doesn’t have a significant say in how the government spends his or her money. In this case, a real, tangible liberty interest is at stake… property rights.

Our founders understood that property rights were just as important as the rights to life and liberty, because one without the other two render the right almost meaningless. We also must take into consideration that the rich pay a disproportionate amount of taxation, probably in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee that all men are “endowed with certain inalienable rights” (which include the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, which is synonymous with property and the fruits of one’s labor and intellect) and the government is supposed to protect those rights equally. A fair system would have everyone contributing.  And every American would have to live according to his or her means. Every American receives the same benefits and protections from the government so everyone should contribute. In fact, those who contribute less or nothing receive the most services. If we look at something like a flat tax, it ends up being graduated in the end after all, doesn’t it ?  10% of a poor person’s wages is a relatively small amount, while 10% of a wealthy person’s wages is certainly a lot greater.

We have to remember a simple fact:  People with access to other people’s money have no sense of its worth. Tell a person who has never worked a day in his life that he has access to Bill Gates’ account. What do you think he will do?  He will spend like crazy and for everything he wants or thinks he should have.  Why?  Because first, he looks at someone like Bill Gates and assumes that he already has enough money and certainly more than one person should need.  Second, he might have a chip on his shoulder and harbor resentment that while he doesn’t have much, it’s not fair that Bill Gates should have so much more.

Aside from getting a hand-out and benefitting at another’s expense, our current tax scheme inherently corrupts the political process. It necessarily becomes tempting for the politician to promise more and more hand-outs to attract votes, and it becomes far too tempting for poor and unconscionable people to vote for politicians who make those promises. Those hand-outs are paid for, as we’ve seen, by money forcibly extracted from an ever-shrinking number of their neighbors. Furthermore, people who take such hand-outs are less likely to be diligent and scrutinize their elected representatives. Peter Sepp, vice president of policy and communications at the National Taxpayers Union, which advocates for lower taxes, explains: “At some point people become less and less invested in making sure their government is accountable and frugal. If you pay very little for getting all kinds of government benefits, you might view those programs as a bargain, even though they may waste tens of billions of dollars a year.”

As I mentioned earlier, the dynamics in this country are changing and more and more people are being relieved of paying income tax, thereby shifting the responsibility for paying for the running of government and its functions to less than half the people.  At the same time, money is also being redistributed, ever so subtly through various government programs, from those same taxpayers. The burden on American taxpayers is indeed harsh and repressive. As the dynamics continue to shift and less and less people shoulder the burden of financing the government (what will their “fair share” be then?), more “dependent” people will be voting for the fruits of other people’s labor. Their increasing vote will negate the voices of the very people upon whom the government has become oppressive.  Again I ask, who are the real Americans who are disenfranchised?

[This article will be followed up by another article offering a plausible solution].

References:

Matt Robbins, “Who’s Really Disenfranchised,” American Majority, July 20, 2011.  Referenced at: http://americanmajority.org/uncategorized/whos-really-disenfranchised/

“John Cornyn Says 51% of American Households Pay No Income Tax, PolitiFact, July 7, 2011.  Referenced at:  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/jul/08/john-cornyn/john-cornyn-says-51-percent-american-households-pa/

Lori Martin, “Your Take: Elephant in the Room?,” Wallace Watch Blog, Feb. 14, 2011.

Then They Came for Me, and No One Was Left to Speak Out

          by Diane Rufino, Jan. 4, 2012

If you ever get the chance to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, you will be forever affected by what you see and learn there, and you will be moved by a quote you see hanging near one of the exhibits.  It is a quote by Martin Niemoller which reads:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–  because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me– and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The reason it will touch you is because these short five sentences explain how a people could so effectively detach themselves from the policies of their government so that it could ultimately imprison all political enemies and slaughter six million innocent people.

Martin Niemoller was a Protestant (Lutheran) pastor who founded the anti-Nazi Confessing Church in 1934. In November 1945, he visited the Dachau concentration camp, where he was imprisoned from 1941 until it was liberated in 1945, and it was this particular visit which is believed to have inspired him to write his now-famous quote.

In 1931, Martin Niemoller became a  Lutheran pastor in a wealthy suburb of Berlin. Initially, he supported Hitler and most of his policies. But then the Fuhrer began to interfere in church affairs.  One of the first laws that Hitler put into effect in Germany was known as the “Aryan Paragraph.” This new rule stated that only Aryans could have positions in the German government; Jews were no longer allowed to have government jobs. The rule was quickly expanded to ban Jews from becoming Pastors in any of the Christian churches in Germany. Meanwhile, in 1934, Niemoller and several other ‘rebel’ pastors established the Confessing Church, a branch of the German Protestant (Lutheran) Church, to resist the German Christians’ Faith Movement (the Reich Church).  One of the major distinguishing policies of the Confessional Church was that Jews who had converted to Christianity could become pastors. The Aryan law, as it applied to the catholic church, was a sore spot for Pastor Niemoller. He argued that once Jews had converted to Christianity they should be allowed to remain in the Church.

In June 1936, Niemoller and nine other leaders of the Confessing Church signed and sent a memorandum to the Fuhrer.  Among other complaints, it specifically attacked the Nazi party’s attempts to force anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews on Christians in violation of the commandment to “Love they neighbor as thyself” and it chastised the party for presenting Christian parents with the dilemma of forcing their children to adopt such non-Christian policies. Six of these leaders were arrested and thrown into prison or concentration camps, and one died under “suspicious circumstances.”  Niemoller himself was arrested in 1937, for delivering outspoken sermons. He was arrested later than the others because he was a member of the Nazi Party and had been a war hero; he commanded a sub in WWI and successfully torpedoed and sunk a British vessel. He was held for eight months at Moabit prison without a trial and when his case was finally heard, he was found guilty of “abusing the pulpit” and treason. At that point he was only fined.  But as he left the courthouse, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp to be “re-educated.”  Niemoller refused to change his views, even after a personal plea from Hitler himself, and in 1941, he was transferred to the infamous Dachau camp, where he stayed until the end of the war.  Joseph Goebbels urged Hitler to have him executed, but he was released on April 24th, a few days before the camp was liberated by the Americans on April 29, 1945.

[Dachau was one of the three concentration camps in Germany (Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Buchenwald); It opened on March 22, 1933, less than two months after Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, and the first prisoners were Communists, just as Niemoller said.  The Socialists, mentioned in Niemoller’s quote were officially known as the Social Democrats. They posed the greatest political risk to Hitler and the Nazi party so that’s why they were rounded up. In fact, all three camps three were located in areas of Germany considered to be hotbeds of Communist and Social Democrat political activity].

Unfortunately, while Niemoller stood up for converted Jews, he otherwise appears to have harbored anti-Semite feelings and openly professed his belief that the Jews had been punished through the ages because they had “brought the Christ of God to the cross.”  He delivered a sermon which included, in part: “I cannot help saying quite harshly and bluntly that the Jewish people came to grief and disgrace because of their own actions.  The Jewish people bear a curse throughout the history of the world because they were ready to approve of their Messiah just as long and as far as they thought they could gain some advantage for their own plans from Him, His words, and His deeds.  They bear a curse because they rejected Him and resisted Him to the death.”  Sadly, his very words would support the teachings of the Reich Church.

For those who have not yet visited the Holocaust Museum, there is one section dedicated to how hatred for the Jews escalated in Nazi Germany.  It followed a carefully-designed plan of propaganda, of course, first outlined by Hitler in the book he wrote while imprisoned – Mein Kampf – and then implemented by Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and the key Nazi official responsible for conceiving and overseeing the implementation of the Final Solution, the Nazi plan to murder and dispose of the Jews of Europe.  Before the Nazis labeled Jews as ” Judenrat” and forced them to wear yellow ribbons, destroyed their businesses and synagogues during the “Night of Broken Glass” (or Kristallnacht; when SS destroyed over 7,000 Jewish businesses and over 1,000 synagogues), seized their property, took away their rights, and rounded them up for deportation to concentration camps, there were more insidious strategies to turn the German people against the Jews. For one, Jews were blamed for controlling much of the country’s banks and finances during World War I and not freeing money up to support the German troops. Jews were accused of  stabbed their fellow countrymen in the back. Germany had been forced to ask for an Armistice in World War I because it could no longer finance the war and because the trade unions called for a general strike of all the workers so that the whole country of Germany came to a total stop. Germany lost World War I, even though the country was never invaded and its army was not defeated in the field. Another propaganda campaign was to have German churches teach that Jews were evil and enemies of Christians because they killed Jesus. Martin Luther, father of the Protestant Church in Germany, professed this view back in the 1540s so hostility to the Jews was nothing new in Europe. He even suggested at the time that all Jews be removed from Germany. Luther wrote a book entitled On the Jews and Their Lies, and just about every church and every anti-Jewish book printed in the Third Reich contained references to and quotations from this book.

I didn’t write this article to offer praise to Niemoller for his famous quote or to extol any of his virtues. The truth is that his actions during the rise of Nazi Germany and the ensuing genocide were really only to sustain the church and nothing more. He was essentially concerned only when church members were arrested and many were. He did not seem overly concerned with what was happening to the Jewish population or willing to accept any responsibility as a church leader to stand up for the inhumanity that was going on in ghettos, camps, and ovens.   I simply want to find the lesson in his story.  And I know there has to be a lesson because his quote is so eloquent and so astute.

When he visited Dachau in 1945 after he had been released, something about the trip caused him to reflect and appreciate what had happened in Germany.  Did he have a change of heart about what happened to the Jews and about his anti-semitic sermons?  Perhaps not.  Was he affected by the suffering and oppression around him while at Dachau?  Probably not. He and other pastors were separated into different facilities and given favorable treatment there.  Did he finally appreciate the enormity of the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews?  Perhaps.

I think the lesson Niemoller finally learned and what he tried to sum up so he could teach us is that innocent people were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis for no reason at all, and because good people did nothing, the result was that in a good person (Niemoller himself) was wrongly imprisoned. Martin Niemoller was a German citizen, a member of the Nazi party, and a Protestant minister in a country that was predominantly Protestant and controlled by the Nazi party.  He merely disagreed with his Fuhrer on one simple issue.

What this lesson says to me is that we need to stand up for all attacks on liberty with equal passion, even if they might not affect us personally. For those who need healthcare, maybe the fight against socialized healthcare is not your issue. But the underlying freedom that is eroded because of such a government program should be an issue worth your attention.  Only you can do the balancing test – between getting a break on healthcare because the government is providing it AND the natural right to decide matters of healthcare on your own and without the government mandating coverage and solutions.  For those who don’t agree with the message of Occupy Wall Street, remember that the underlying freedom to protest and disrupt government is one that is vital to us all as Americans and might become even more vital in the months ahead.  We all want to feel safe against terrorists who want to do us harm and we believe the government owes us that protection, yet a law that ultimately allows our very government to spy on its citizens and detain us indefinitely for suspicious activity is one that gives an already dubious and untrustworthy government the power to decide what the “suspicious activity” is and who the suspects might be.  We have the natural right to be free from harassment from our government.

God who gave us life gave us liberty. We need to value our liberties just as we value our lives.

Let’s learn the lesson embraced in Niemoller’s quote.  Let’s take it to heart. If we can truly appreciate that valuable lesson then maybe the horror of the concentration camps wasn’t in complete vain.

References:

Harold Marcuse, ” Martin Niemöller’s Famous Quotation,” Sept. 12, 2011.  Referenced at:  http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/niem.htm

Martin Niemoller, “ Exile in the Fatherland: Martin Niemöller’s Letters from Moabit Prison,” (Memoir), 1975.

“Rev. Martin Niemoller: First they came for the Communists….,” Scrapbookers blog, Aug. 19, 2010.   Referenced at:  http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/rev-martin-niemoller-first-they-came-for-the-communists/  

The Government Shall Not Prohibit the Free Exercise of Religion

    by Diane Rufino, Dec. 29, 2011

I wanted to touch on something, as you already probably know, that had me really upset over Thanksgiving. And that was Obama’s failure to acknowledge and thank God in his Thanksgiving message to the nation.

I think we are witnessing something that our Founders warned us about ….. A government which is growing HOSTILE to religion. This is something that our founding settlers devoted their lives to and the one issue above all else that Thomas Jefferson devoted his public service career to – the notion that we all can worship and embrace the rights of conscience without the government prohibiting “the free exercise thereof” and without establishing a government-sponsored form of religion which creates hostility towards other denominations. As lovers of liberty, Tea Party members, and constitutional warriors, we know this and it kills us every time we hear public servants and activist judges cite the phrase “Wall of Separation.”  We know that activist judges created a legal fiction out of this phrase, and most offensively too, by claiming it was Jefferson’s very own concept. They indeed used his own words, out of context, against the very freedoms he sought to protect.  Jefferson, by his own wishes, wanted to be remembered as the Father of Religion… the man who secured the rights to free exercise and the right to be secure in one’s own religion such that the government wouldn’t establish one religion and punish a person for allegiance to another faith or denomination.

When atheist groups such as Freedom from Religion, which represent less than 1% of the population, can sue to remove a religious artifact or a prayer or a word/phrase, they are suing because “It makes me uncomfortable to hear the prayer.” “It makes me uncomfortable to drive past the town square and see a nativity scene.” So what does the court do?  It requires the prayer to be removed. Sometimes it requires the prayer to be so altered that it lacks religious significance and ends up being a pep talk. It requires nativity scenes to be removed and crosses to be taken down.  In essence, the court is choosing NO RELIGION over religion. And that makes the current population of Christians in this country – 85% (according to a 2011 census) – and other believers very uncomfortable.  It makes us uncomfortable because we can’t recognize the proper religious implications of a holiday and it makes us uncomfortable because we know that government is becoming increasingly hostile to the rights of religion and rights of conscience.  In particular, it makes us uncomfortable because the government is becoming increasingly more hostile to us and to those who think like us.  Liberty is becoming more fragile.

I write this as a plea to keep the pressure on public officials to respect the exercise of the Christian faith.  We’re not demanding that the government establish it as a national religion but we will not tolerate the hostility of the government to this very religion which was so instrumental in our founding and is so clearly evident in the words and spirit of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and our state constitutions. We all, including atheists and yes, even liberals, depend on the very freedoms that our founders secured for us.  It is sheer hypocrisy to hear people, like Obama and Freedom from Religion groups, use the very freedoms that our reverent fore-fathers secured for us, based on religious principle, to destroy other fundamental freedoms.

For those who have taken the time to study our founding history and turn to primary sources rather than nonsense put out by groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, we know that once our founding patriots fought the American Revolution to win our independence from Great Britain and secure the blessings of individual liberty for Americans, our early leaders had to figure out how best to protect those blessings for future generations and in fact, for posterity.  Every generation of American deserves the full promise and exercise of freedom that our early Americans fought, secured, and protected.  Our early leaders, those men we fondly, humbly, and proudly call our “Founding Fathers,” drafted a Constitution for that purpose.  The task falling to them was how best to secure those liberties.  They did so by basing our founding documents on certain philosophies and values that they knew would enlarge liberty rather than limit and endanger it.

There were many philosophies floating around at the time. After all, the European Enlightenment Era (ie, the “Age of Reason”) beginning at the start of the 18th century (1700) to about 1800, produced many theories to explain social institutions and human behavior.  This movement advocated rationality as a means to explain an authoritative system of governance, as well as to explain the basis for ethics and morality.  Up until this time, theories were based on the writings of Plato and Aristotle.  Plato believed that the State should establish an ordered society; that it should solve all society’s problems. Consequently, he believed that individuals only role was to serve the interests of the State. They have no rights, just duties.  Aristotle, his student, did not agree. He believed the individual was more important than the State and the latter cannot be trusted to solve all of society’s problems. He did not believe in a utopia, and certainly not one that the State would create. He believed that the fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property should not be surrendered to the State because it would destroy the benefits that such rights create.  The Enlightenment philosophers, like John Locke, William Blackstone, Thomas Hobbs, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith, offered the Natural law rationale behind the type of arrangement that Aristotle taught, with respect to individuals and their government.  Our Founders could have adopted any of the philosophies floating around at the time, including those of Plato, in establishing the foundation for our nation, but they chose those that embraced individual liberty and the protection of fundamental rights.  Our Founders were grounded in the teachings of the Bible and therefore sought the best form of government for fellow Americans, the one that would embrace freedom and promote the best and noblest pursuits and ambitions of man.  They understood that when the best and noblest ambitions of man are promoted, all of society benefits.  The French, on the other hand, sought “Equality of Outcome’, rather than “Equality of Opportunity.”  In a society that is based on Equality of Opportunity, as we are (or were) under the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, there is an equal opportunity for all individuals to maximize their potentials and attain positions in society.  This is made possible by equal protection of rights and equal access to things like education, the intellectual arts, and contracts. Equality of Outcome refers to a state where everyone receives equal amounts of rewards and an equal level of power in decision-making, with the belief that, no matter who contributes more, no one should be rewarded more than another.

Our Constitution and our government were established by men who understood the absolute necessity of morality and religion in everyday life, as the only sure way to protect the rights of man.  Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”  George Washington later praised the new American Constitution as the “palladium of human rights,” but pointed out that it could survive only “so long as there shall remain virtue in the body of the people.”  By “virtue,” he meant religion and morality.  He made this clear in his farewell address to the American people.  Washington and others believed in individual morality and virtue as identified with the Ten Commandments and obedience to the Creator’s mandate for right conduct.  John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  He also wrote: “The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If  ‘Thou Shalt Not Covet,’ and ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.”

John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, wrote in a letter to his son: “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.”  In another letter he wrote: “There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”

James Wilson, signer of the Constitution and Supreme Court justice (from 1789-1798) said: “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.”  And Oliver Ellsworth, Chief justice of the Supreme Court (1796-1800) wrote: “The primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society. . . . To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support: and among these….. religious institutions are eminently useful and important…. The legislature, charged with the great interests of the community, may, and ought to countenance, aid and protect religious institutions—institutions wisely calculated to direct men to the performance of all the duties arising from their connection with each other, and to prevent or repress those evils which flow from unrestrained passion.”

There are atheist groups who challenge our Founders and the Constitution and say that they indeed intended to create a secular state.  They point to the wording of the Constitution and the lack of any mention of God in it. This view evidences an astonishing lack of understanding of the federal nature of the system unanimously created by the delegates at the Constitutional Congress of 1787 and endorsed by the States in their ratifying conventions.  The failure of the Constitution to mention “God” or provide for His acknowledgment  has nothing to do with the intentional creation of a secular state; in fact, the Constitution has nothing to do with religion at all except to forbid the federal government from interfering with an individual’s rights to recognize and worship the religion of their choice. The Constitution was silent on the subject of God and religion because there was a consensus that, despite the framer’s personal beliefs, religion was a matter best left to the individual citizens and their respective state governments. Simply put, the Constitution appears “godless” or secular because in so doing, there was an intention decision to leave all matters regarding religion and devotion to God to the individual States.  As we can easily confirm, relationships between religion and state and local government are defined in most state constitutions. Our Founders and Framers, in the pursuance of the greatest freedom of Americans to worship, believed it would be inappropriate for the federal government to encroach upon or usurp state jurisdiction in this area. State and local governments, and not the federal regime, were the basic and most fundamental political units of the day.

Thomas Jefferson, father of religious freedom in the United States (and I mean freedom to worship and NOT freedom from religion), envisioned that there would be two documents in every house…  a Bible and the US Constitution. The first would teach Americans how to have a servant’s heart and the other to inspire them to step up and serve their country.  In our young nation, the Bible was used as a text book for the purpose of teaching children moral principles to live by.  As time went on, the Bible was gradually replaced by other text books such as Noah Webster’s Primer.  Webster’s Primer taught children to spell but was also filled with moral Bible verses. In the front of this book was Mr. Webster’s picture, accompanied by the inscription: “Noah Webster, who taught millions to read but not one to sin.”  Webster’s Primer was eventually replaced by public school textbooks.  From the 1960′s on, the federal government (through the Supreme Court and then, in the late 70′s, by the US Department of Education), removed religion, morality, and ethics from its curriculum. The consequences of those decisions quickly followed, as teenage pregnancy, crime, lack of discipline, and disrespect for authority quickly rose.  It used to take a “community to raise a child,” but now that community is destroying children because the federal government demands that religion and morality take no part in that rearing.

The government is slowly eroding our religious rights.  Perhaps the more accurate statement is ‘Government is quickly eroding our religious rights.’ The First Amendment guarantees that “CONGRESS shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  The First Amendment only proscribes conduct by the federal legislature.  That is all.  In fact, the First Amendment proposed initially by James Madison read: “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.”  The Supreme Court, a branch of the federal government, has incorrectly interpreted the First Amendment. Our former Chief Justice, William Rehnquist and our current Chief Justice, John Roberts, both have publicly acknowledged that the Court got that decision wrong and the “Wall of Separation” has no place in constitutional jurisprudence.  Yet the uninformed American people and even members of the media were quick to jump all over Christine O’Donnell, senatorial candidate from Delaware, in 2010 when she correctly noted in a debate that nowhere in the First Amendment do the words “Separation of Church and State” appear. Even lawyers and constitutional groups criticized her for not recognizing the phrase as “Jefferson’s summation of religious rights.”  I guess rights and liberties are in the eyes of the beholder.

The two clauses of the 1st Amendment right of Religion – the “Free Exercise” Clause and the “Establishment Clause” – exist in a delicate balance. If the government regulates too heavily under the Establishment Clause, it necessarily burdens the Free Exercise Clause, which is just as important and sacred.  And this is exactly what we are seeing.  The federal government is burdening our free exercise of religion. It is forcing us to worship at select times and places – such as our homes or in churches. Government is forcing us to be “neutral” and in denial when we are on public property, on public time, or acting in a public capacity.  The US Congress may not have “established a law prohibiting the free exercise of,” but the Supreme Court, under its illegal judicial activist power, has achieved that game result.

In a free society, people do not require constitutional authority to act and conduct themselves. Only government does.  Yet, notice how much we have to read between the law and make sense of constitutional interpretation these days to see if we are legally able to act as we would like, in accordance with our free will and the endowment of rights given by our Creator.  We know something just isn’t right in this land established for individual liberty.

Atheist groups claim that they can’t ride down a street or by a public square if they should see the word “Christ” or see a picture of a baby Jesus. They claim that it makes them uncomfortable.  Judges, for some reason, see everything in terms of “religion” or “no religion” and fail to see any other possible implications, such as history or heritage.  Nativity scenes at Christmas and crosses at Easter are hardly ever erected to promote one religion over another, but rather to educate and reinforce that certain holidays are grounded in a religious event. There are historical and traditional roots to our holidays and people have a right to know what they are. I, personally, see these symbols as paying proper respect to the holiday not as promoting a religion and maybe if people, and particularly judges, stopped thinking so myoptically, perhaps this country could maintain the integrity of the First Amendment as it was intended and stop the persecution of Christians.

The Constitution was drafted to transfer a limited list of responsibilities from the States to the federal government.  The Constitution was written for We the People, but was ratified on their behalf by the States.  Under the prevailing theory of government, which is a social compact or contract theory, individuals already transferred some of their sovereign rights for security to their States, in return for an absolute protection of their rights which is why the States were the signing parties to the Constitution. The compact was an agreement by the States (on behalf of the People) to bound by the particular design of government. The Constitution contained a serious of “checks and balances” to curb abuse and centralization of power in any one branch of government, but more important was the ability of the States to interpose to prevent the government from assuming any power it was not delegated.  And herein lies the most important reason for state sovereignty and states’ rights. The Constitution puts things into the proper perspective for people.  The document is OURS to limit government and not the government’s to restrain the people.  Too often we see government in terms of the latter.  The Constitution is our prenuptial agreement.  We don’t give up rights to the government just because of some relationship it may think it has.

Every authority on the Constitution, including the Federalist Papers, the transcripts from the state ratifying conventions, and the voluminous writings and warnings of our Founders point us in one unambiguous direction –  that the Constitution delegated limited and clearly-enumerated powers to a federal government (over the “sword and the purse”;  those powers primarily related to foreign policy, coining money, raising an army, providing a navy, declaring war, establishing patent laws, establishing a post office, establishing uniform laws of naturalization, and regulating of interstate commerce…), with the bulk of sovereign power to remain with the States, where government is closest and most responsive to the People.  The federal government could exercise no additional powers without the consent of the States, in the form of constitutional amendments.  Even Alexander Hamilton, the founder most opposed to a small, limited government, gave this assurance in Federalist #78: “There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised (ie, the Constitution), is VOID.  No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.  To deny this principle would be to admit that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men, acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

The Supreme Court, after the decision in Marbury v. Madison (1803), assigned itself the grand position of ultimate arbiter and interpreter of the US Constitution. The decision held that when the Constitution – the nation’s highest law – conflicts with an act of the legislature, that act is invalid and that determination falls within the domain of the federal court system. As such, with this case, the Supreme Court granted itself the power of judicial review.  Anyone who fully understands the nature of the Constitution and the spirit under which it was written and ratified by the States, immediately comprehends the fatal flaw in that decision and the precarious situation we Americans have been put in as a result.  The Supreme Court is itself a branch of government.  Its judges are appointed under political circumstances and according to ideology that merely furthers a political agenda rather than necessarily protect the one thing that is most at stake –  individual rights.  So, in a dispute between the States and the federal government, the dispute is supposed to be resolved by which party???  The federal government?  Under this arrangement, the States are clearly subordinated to the federal government; the interests of the States are clearly subordinated to the federal government; the concerns of the States are clearly subordinated to the federal government; and the interpretations of the Constitution are certainly subordinated to the interpretation by the federal government.  As we can clearly see, and as Jefferson advocated strongly, it is impossible to comprehend that the States would have agreed to a system that assured their subordination.

One only need look at the Court’s decision in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) to see the implications of having the federal government resolving disputes over what the meaning of the Constitution should be.  We were only on our third President and the Court was already making its own independent determinations as to how much power should be concentrated in the newly-created federal government.  The McCulloch case centered around the meaning of the “Necessary and Proper” clause of the Constitution and looked to two Founders for the authoritative interpretation of its proper scope – Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.  Thomas Jefferson believed in a limited federal government with strong individual state governments. He was a strict constructionist who believed that every word of the Constitution makes a vital determination of power versus liberty.  He said: “On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning can be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one which was passed.”  Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, believed in a strong central government. In fact, when he attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, he proposed a government modeled after the British monarchy, with a president appointed for life.  Although he eventually embraced the Constitution adopted by his fellow delegates, and he gave proper assurances as to the true intention of the document in the Federalist Papers, he continued to believe that Congress should have more legislative powers than those expressly stated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

The facts of the case are as follows:  After an initial failed attempt to establish a National Bank 1791, Congress finally established one in 1816. Many states opposed branches of the National Bank within their borders. They did not want the National Bank competing with their own banks. The state of Maryland imposed a tax on the bank of $15,000/year, which cashier James McCulloch of the Baltimore branch refused to pay. The case went to the Supreme Court.  Maryland argued that as a sovereign state, it had the power to tax any business within its borders. Furthermore, it objected to the establishment of a National Bank in the first place as an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s power.  Maryland argued: “The powers of the General Government are delegated by the States, who alone are truly sovereign, and must be exercised in subordination to the States, who alone possess supreme dominion.” The government, in response, argued that the people have, in express terms, decided that  “this Constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land.”  (US Supremacy Clause, Article VI).  It further argued that since the federal government was entrusted with ample powers on which the country depends, there must be ample means for their execution, and a national bank was “necessary and proper” for Congress to establish in order to carry out its enumerated powers, such as raising revenue, paying debts, etc.  The question before the Court, then, (“the subject of fair inquiry”) was ‘How far such means may be employed?’  In other words, what is the proper scope of the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Article I, Section 8, clause 18 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.”

Note that Jefferson nor the State of  Maryland were challenging the supremacy of the Constitution.  The status of supremacy was addressed in Federalist #33 (written by Hamilton) and Federalist #44 (written by Madison)] and was settled with the ratification by the States.  The issue was the interpretation of the Constitution and the proper scope of powers.  How broad would the Necessary and Proper powers be construed?

The Supreme Court  centered its analysis on the view of Jefferson and Hamilton, in part because they were both involved in the debate surrounding a National Bank before Congress in 1791.  According to Jefferson, the establishment of a National Bank exceeded Congress’ authority under the Constitution.  With respect to the Necessary and Proper clause, he argued that the Bank was not necessary, and that Congress could certainly meet its constitutional responsibilities without one.  He defended the interpretation of the Constitution by arguing that “necessary and proper” meant exactly that.  “Necessary” meant ‘necessary‘ and not merely ‘convenient.’  Sure, the Bank might be convenient, he noted.  But the Constitution allows only for those means which are “necessary” and not for those which are merely ‘convenient.’  Jefferson further argued that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention specifically rejected the power to erect a bank because it would have caused the Constitution to be rejected by the States.  In 1800, James Madison wrote that Jefferson’s interpretation of the clause is “precisely the construction which prevailed during the discussions and ratifications of the Constitution,” and “it cannot too often be repeated that this limited interpretation is absolutely necessary in order for the clause to be compatible with the character of the federal government, which is possessed of particular and defined powers only, rather than general and indefinite powers.”

Hamilton countered with a lesson on the meaning of the word “necessary,” just as Bill Clinton gave America a lesson on the meaning of the word “is.” [See fearistyranny.wordpress.com. Contending that his statement at his grand jury hearing that “there’s nothing going on between us” had been truthful because he had no ongoing relationship with Lewinsky at the time he was questioned, Clinton said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is‘ is].  Hamilton explained that “necessary often means no more than needful, requisite, incidental, useful, or conductive to.”   Contracts often include a term that provides some power to accomplish the goals of the agreement (a ‘necessary and proper’ clause, if you will), but Hamilton’s view was more that the Constitution is not an firm legal document but more of a “rubber” instrument, open to broad interpretations.  In other words, it could be broad enough to be interpreted as Congress sees fit.  Hamilton might just have been the father of the “living document” view of the Constitution.

Jefferson was highly critical of the Marbury decision as violating states’ interests and destroying the balance of power between the states and federal government and by 1819 was growing ever more leery of the growing powers of the federal judiciary.  The Court again rejected Jefferson’s view of a limited federal government and assigned another large grant of power to the federal government. Rideronthenet, a blogger, wrote: “Government tends to expand its own powers to the furthest extent tolerated by a majority of citizens.”   So true.

Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “Although, among the enumerated powers of government, we do not find the word ‘bank,’…we find the great powers to lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce…  We conclude that  –

1).  The clause is placed among the powers of Congress, not among the limitations on those powers. 2).  Its terms purport to enlarge, not to diminish, the powers vested in the Government. It purports to be an additional power, not a restriction on those already granted. No reason has been or can be assigned for thus concealing an intention to narrow the discretion of the National Legislature under words which purport to enlarge it. The framers of the Constitution wished its adoption, and well knew that it would be endangered by its strength, not by its weakness. Had the intention been to make this clause restrictive, it would unquestionably have been so in form, as well as in effect.  (ie, the framers would have included the word “expressly limited to…”)

We admit, as all must admit, that the powers of the Government are limited, and that its limits are not to be transcended. But we think the sound construction of the Constitution must allow to the national legislature that discretion with respect to the means by which the powers it confers are to be carried into execution which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it in the manner most beneficial to the people. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are Constitutional.”

Marshall also noted an important difference between the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation.  He wrote that the Articles stated that the states retained all powers not “expressly” given to the federal government. The Tenth Amendment, on the other hand, did not include the word “expressly.”  He argued that this was further evidence that the Constitution did not limit Congress to doing only those things specifically listed in Article I.

And finally, the Court ruled that Maryland could not tax the national bank: “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy; that the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create; that there is a plain repugnance in conferring on one Government a power to control the constitutional measures of another, which other, with respect to those very measures, is declared to be supreme over that which exerts the control, are propositions not to be denied. But all inconsistencies are to be reconciled by the magic of the word CONFIDENCE.  Taxation, it is said, does not necessarily and unavoidably destroy. To carry it to the excess of destruction would be an abuse, to presume which would banish that confidence which is essential to all Government.”

Notice three things with this decision:  (1) The Court clearly failed to read the Federalist Papers and the transcripts of the State ratifying conventions, all declaring that the government would be limited in scope.

(2)  The power of a state to tax an entity of the federal government would be the “power to destroy,” as the Court noted. Yet the Court has no problem with the excess taxation of individuals.  Excess federal taxation of individuals reduces the amount of taxation the state can morally levy on its inhabitants and therefore the state suffers at the expense of an excessively-funded federal government.

(3).  Hamilton’s views of a “flexible” Constitution were given improper weight, in relation to the overwhelming documentation to the opposing view, and by far more credible Founders than Hamilton. Again, Hamilton showed up to the Constitutional Convention to propose and promote the monarchist view of government. Americans just won their independence from a tyrant King George and Hamilton was pushing the very same system for America. He was the strongest advocate of a strong central government and the least committed to the cause of states’ rights.  When he was unanimously and soundly rejected in Philadelphia, he stomped out of Independence Hall and went back to New York to pout.  When the Constitution was written, although he had withdrawn from the Convention, Hamilton returned to sign it.  He also noted that “he seemed to be very much out of step with the rest of the Constitution’s drafters.”  When it seemed possible that two of the most powerful states in the Union – New York and Virginia – would not ratify the Constitution because it appeared to take too much power from the States, Hamilton stepped it up and wrote at least half of the Federalist Papers to explain the interpretation and scope of each section of the Constitution and to give assurances to those states still having reservations.  So, knowing that the States were looking for the bona fide interpretation of the Constitution and were looking for assurances on which to ratify and assent to it, the Supreme Court decided to look past the spirit of the Federalist Papers and gave weight to Hamilton’s “personal” view that the Constitution should be read broadly.  This would be the approach that the Court would take all too often in our history.

Ironically, even Hamilton insisted, in Federalist #78, that unless the people had solemnly and formally ratified a change in the meaning of the Constitution, the courts could not proceed on any other basis.

We saw the same type of misplaced emphasis and incorrect interpretation by the Supreme Court when it interpreted the Commerce Clause under FDR’s administration.  We also saw how the Supreme Court applied the 14th Amendment, to the destruction of States’ rights, in disregard to the intent of that amendment.  Religious rights have been eroded in a series of decisions stemming from this poisoned interpretation. And no doubt, marriage rights will be eroded in this way as well.  An analysis of Supreme Court decisions from the founding of our country to the present will unfortunately show the American people that the Supreme Court very rarely referenced the Federalist Papers up until about 1930.  By “very rarely,” I mean they were referenced about 4-5 times total in a 10-year period.  The frequency increased in the 1960′s when the Court began to reference the Papers about 2 times each year.  When William Rehnquist joined the Supreme Court as Chief Justice in 1968, there was a significant increase in the use of the Federalist Papers in deciding cases touching on the Constitution.

So, we see the slow but constant erosion of the Constitution’s protection of liberty by the erosion of its fundamental and critical elements of check and balance.  First, the Supreme Court elevated its power early on, in disregard to the assurances given by our Founders in Federalist #78 and Federalist #81, and then it almost completely destroyed the balance of power between the States and federal government with the 14th Amendment.  From the very beginning, with Jefferson’s term as President, the Court and the other branches systematically concentrated power in the federal government and did so with a willing and an intentional blind eye to the assurances and warnings provided by our Founders (in disregard to their oaths).

The federal government cannot be permitted to hold a monopoly on the interpretation of the Constitution and on what it believes is best for the American people, when everything our Founders stood for and promoted was the notion that people must be protected from their government.   If the Supreme Court should end up upholding Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) when it finally hears the case in mid-2012, then we know that the US Constitution is dead.  We will know it is meaningless in constraining the government with respect to the People.  And that would be the point at which Americans would need to embrace the words of the Declaration of Independence which reads: “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

That being said, and that point hopefully having been made, we need to be concerned with the government’s growing hostility to religion and its ever-growing disengagement with the American people and its independent agenda.  Judging by the trend in our nation’s history of government concentrating its power and making decisions it believes are “in the best interests of the county,” and the Supreme Court steadily stripping our rights, we should absolutely be concerned at the future of our freedom to exercise our religion freely.  We are heading in a selfish direction, where individual pursuits trump general moral guidelines for strong individual and family foundations.  We are heading in a direction where it is “cool” and acceptable to bash Christians.  One look no further at the vile tweet that hate mongerer Bill Maher sent a few days ago attacking Tim Tebow for his public displays of faith (ie, his prayers before each game).   Amoral lifestyles and hate groups are tearing down traditional institutions that have been place to promote stability and real human value in society. Christian religious groups are being harassed; schools are no longer the beacon of learning that they once were; and marriage is being attacked.  For example, there are efforts to undermine the traditional status of “marriage.”  Even President Obama announced that the government would not enforce DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act).  The executive branch is supposed to enforce the laws of the land.  Challengers of traditional marriage want to remove the religious ties to marriage so that homosexual couples can enjoy the same status as heterosexual couples without feeling any ‘stigma.”  But we all know that there are strong religious overtones and implications in marriage, which there should be.  Without such, marriage would be treated merely as a contract, and the bonds of marriage are so much more sacred and important than that. The bedrock foundation of a strong moral society is a stable family unit with properly-defined roles and responsibilities.

We are becoming a nation of conflict and of hate because we’ve allowed religion to be taken out of public life and out of our schools. When we go God’s way, we will necessarily bump into the Devil. So we have to be strong. We’re already taking on the government so maybe taking on the Devil won’t seem so bad in relation. At times, they seem to be one and the same anyway.

Let’s continue to realize how important the Christian faith is to the integrity of this country and keep the pressure on and reflect and pray and find out how we can best advocate for our religious principles and at the same time for the principles that underlie and expand our liberty. A stand for religious principles is a stand for liberty.

I have been called many names for speaking out for the importance of religion and for the rightful recognition of Christianity in America.  The names don’t bother me.  Rather, I’m honored to speak up when I can.  I’m honored to reflect upon the contributions of our religious forefathers, which are too numerous to mention.  I’m honored to speak for those who keep the faith and who show goodness and virtue in word and deed and set a living example by the lives they lead.  It’s these people who give hope to many that our country may not be doomed to darkness.  I’m always reminded of why it’s important to speak out against our government when they are violating our rights when I remember a quote I read at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. It was written by Pastor Martin Niemoller, who would not go along with the Nazis and was sent to Dachau concentration camp. Pastor Niemoller wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

References:

Details of Everson v. Board of Education (“Wall of Separation”) case and discussion of Federalist Papers #78-81 –  See  Diane Rufino, “THE JUDICIARY:  The Supreme Court Judicial Activism,” July 2011.  Referenced at:    http://knowyourconstitution.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-judiciary-the-supreme-court-judicial-activism/

Thomas E. Woods Jr., Nullification, 2010, Regnery Publishing.

Rideronthet (blog name), “Jefferson v. Hamilton, Federal Powers, and the Marshall Court, March 9, 2009.  Referenced at:  http://fearistyranny.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/jefferson-v-hamilton-federal-powers-and-the-marshall-court/

Bill of Rights Institute, McCulloch v. Maryland (1819).  Referenced at:  http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/page.aspx?pid=694

McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819).  Referenced at:  http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0017_0316_ZS.html

Citations to the Federalist Papers by Supreme Court –    Professor Daniel Coenen, “Fifteen Curious Facts About the Federalist Papers,” University of Georgia School of Law, April 1, 2007.  Referenced at:     http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=fac_pm

Patrick Henry: Why Didn’t Anyone Listen to Our Most Passionate Proponent of Liberty?

      by Diane Rufino, Dec. 28, 2011

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered one of the most important speeches in our country’s history.  Attending a meeting of the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Henry intended to present a proposal to organize a militia in every Virginia county. The Convention met at St. John’s Church rather than the Capitol in Williamsburg because of opposition from England’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore and his Royal Marines.  Suspicious of the oppressive taxes and coercive policies of George III and fearful of the build-up of British forces in the colonies, Henry proposed raising independent militias “to secure our inestimable rights and liberties from those further violations with which they are threatened.”  Not everyone at the Church appeared to agree with him.  At that point he rose, and with his wrists crossed like that of a slave, he delivered a speech so eloquent and so fiery and so ringing in defense of liberty that it has been recognized as the colonists’ call for independence:

“The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country….  Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free² if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending²if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave………..

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry is one of most important Founding Fathers.  It is very likely that we wouldn’t have pushed for our independence from Great Britain if it weren’t for Henry’s fiery speech that night on March 23, 1775 and for his constant pleas to the colonists to stand up for their God-given liberties. Once our independence was won, he refused to represent Virginia at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 because he was suspicious of the type of government that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton had in mind.  In fact, in declining to go, he stated: “I smell a rat in Philadelphia.”  He caught wind that Madison and other members of the Virginia delegation and Hamilton as well intended not to modify the Articles of Confederation, as their invitation stated, but rather to scrap them and start from scratch.

But what most people don’t know is that Patrick Henry was a staunch anti-Federalist.  He believed that Americans and the States would ensure their own demise if they ratified the US Constitution.  He joined other famous Americans in publicly criticizing it.  Those other Americans included Richard Henry Lee, who was an early President of the Continental Congress (under the Articles of Confederation)  and then more famously the  delegate from Virginia who presented the formal resolution to the Congress calling for a Declaration of Independence, NY Governor George Clinton (who so aggressively opposed the Constitution that the state of NY refused to ratify it), George Mason, of Virginia (who was so disappointed with the final draft of the Constitution that he refused to sign it), Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, and Robert Yates, a NY judge and friend of Clinton.  In general, the anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution because they were much less optimistic than the Federalists about the ability of civic virtue and the system of checks and balances to keep the national government in check.  Because they lost the battle over ratification of the Constitution, very little attention is paid to the anti-Federalists.

In response to the criticisms of the Constitution by the anti-Federalists – published as a series of essays under such names as Cato (Clinton), Brutus (Yates), The Centinal, and the Federal Farmer (Lee) – James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers, to give proper assurances that the criticisms were unfounded.  [It is ironic that those who supported the Constitution were called the “Federalists” yet those who criticized the Constitution for not protecting States’ rights enough were called “Anti-Federalists”].  Henry didn’t trust the assurances.

Patrick Henry, one of my favorite Founding Fathers because of his honesty, passion, and sheer devotion to the exercise and protection of fundamental liberty, opposed the US Constitution openly and aggressively.  He was concerned about the consolidation of federal authority and especially the power concentrated in the office of the President.  A particular concern was the President’s authority and command over the armed forces.  Henry predicted that a president could use the military “to run roughshod over the republic.”  (Lincoln and the Civil War!!)  He was highly skeptical of the broad taxing power delegated to the Congress.  He believed the Constitution allowed the government to control the governed, with little ability and no obligation to control itself.  And he argued that the Constitution effectively ignored the essential role of the States.

Furthermore, Henry always wondered whether Americans had the moral fiber to safeguard the freedom secured by the American Revolution. By 1776, he saw a moral depravity that concerned him, and he believed it would eventually set the stage for tyranny.  The delegates of the Constitutional Convention, he argued, foolishly assumed that all politicians would be virtuous men.  He criticized many of the Founders and drafters, Christian republicans as they were, for not realizing that this assumption was a fatal flaw.

“Nothing could check a national government entrusted with vast military might and the unlimited authority to tax……  Our human rights and privileges are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this Constitution,” he wrote.  What he meant by this, as he often stated, was that the Constitution represented an outright repudiation of the American Revolution.

As an alternative to all the States ratifying and binding themselves to document that he believed would destroy liberty and ultimately establish a tyrannical government, Patrick Henry proposed that States establish sectional confederacies (multiple republics).  He further supported this approach because it was his firm belief that the Constitution would give special treatment to Northern states over Southern states and the latter would forever be prejudiced in representation and legislation.  Another little known fact is that Henry proposed secession in 1788, certainly for Virginia, and for other states as well.

Benjamin Harrison, one of the most conservative of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, from Virginia, was also critical of the new Constitution.  He said that although the collection of States had its share of problems, the Constitution would “prove worse than the disease”  (one of the “diseases” was the Constitutional Congress’ lack of enforcement power).  Even Thomas Jefferson expressed reservations about the Constitution.  He thought it was too “energetic” a proposal.  In a letter he wrote to James Madison from France, he said: “I am not a friend to a very energetic government.  It is always oppressive.”  [Luckily for us, Jefferson was successful in finally convincing the writers of the Constitution to draft a Bill of Rights to set definitive limits of the government on individual rights].

In opposing the Constitution and its ratification, Patrick Henry believed he was defending the ideals of the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence.  He argued that America had just fought for their independence from an abusive political regime (the British monarchy and Parliament) and now Madison and Hamilton were intending to put the newly-free nation back under a strong central government, with a strong executive.  He argued that we were trading one tyrant for another.  To Henry, this was a repudiation of all the liberties that he and the other patriots had fought for.  As he explained: “A monstrous national government was not the solution….  Many had to die to be free from such a regime.”

In an opening speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788, Henry pleaded: “A wrong step now will plunge us into misery and our republic will be lost.”  In one of his very last public speeches, given at the same Convention, he delivered this heartfelt message: “Liberty is the greatest of all earthly blessings. Give us that precious jewel and you may take everything else.  There was a time when every pulse of my heart beat for American liberty and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American.  But suspicions have gone forth publicly – suspicions of my integrity – that my professions are not real.  23 years ago, I was supposed a traitor to my country.  I was then said to be a bane of sedition because I supported the rights of my countrymen.  I may be thought suspicious when I say that our privileges and rights are in danger.  But, Sir, a number of people of this country are weak enough to think these things are true….   My great objection to this (new) government is that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights.”

References:

Lloyd J. Matthews, “Patrick Henry’s ‘Liberty or Death’ Speech and Cassius’ Speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (Virginia Historical Society), Vol. 86, No. 3, July 1978.  Referenced at:  http://www.jstor.org/pss/4248229

Thomas Kidd, Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, 2011, Basic Books

The Proper Role of Government

      by Diane Rufino, Dec. 19, 2011

The need for government, plain and simple, is because absolute freedom is impossible. However much we believe that freedom is the natural right of man, anarchy is not feasible in a world of evil and imperfect men.

Governments, like those in the United States, are the intentional creations of free people. People mutually agree to transfer some of their rights to a governing body in order that they may live an ordered and more fruitful existence. Yes, they create governments so that liberty, in effect, can be enlarged.  How is this possible?  Consider how much freedom a person has who has to stay home to guard and protect his valuable property.  He can’t work successfully or travel freely.  But police and fire departments can guard and protect his property on his behalf.  In return, free people agree to be bound by the laws of government. And these laws, according to Natural law and natural rights, are specifically intended to prevent and punish bad conduct while promoting and rewarding good conduct.

First and foremost, the role of a government is to protect individual rights. According to Cicero, the preeminent lawyer of ancient Rome, and the great thinkers of the  Enlightenment Era such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbs, the primary role of government is to protect individual life, liberty, and property.  To so do, a government must perform three basic functions:  (1) Police – to protect individuals from domestic criminals and predators;  (2) Military – to protect the community and individuals from foreign threats; and (3) Judiciary – to provide the means for individuals to settle disputes according to established law and without resorting to force. The government of a free people does not regulate its citizens nor does it coerce or influence their behavior in any way.  The government of a free people is benevolent and not intrusive.  Free and good people should never be afraid of their government.  They should never be afraid to criticize it or seek to alter it so that it better suits their liberty needs.  And should never be confronted with such voluminous statutes that they can’t reasonably be expected to read or understand them or their implications and then be punished for it.

In an ideal situation, as our early freedom-loving Americans and Founding Fathers envisioned, under a proper government, a private citizen is legally free to do as he pleases (as long as he doesn’t violate the rights of others), while government is bound by laws and government officials are bound both by law and their oaths.  In other words, a private citizen may do anything “except that which is legally forbidden and a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.”  To some extent understanding of government helped our Founders almost unanimously realize that our country would be established as a republic rather than a pure democracy.  We would be a nation of laws and not a nation of men. Under such a system, the rights of all individuals would be properly respected and protected.

With the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, the colonists won their independence from Great Britain and secured their liberty.  But how would it be preserved?  That was the question. The answer, according to our Founding Fathers, was a carefully-designed government, limited to the precise wording of a Constitution, which would protect those individual rights and liberties that the colonies had just fought for.  The Constitution, written on behalf of a sovereign people, laid out a government of limited and clearly-defined responsibilities. All other responsibilities were left to the States and to the people themselves to manage their own lives and affairs.

The fact that our Founding Fathers carefully crafted, debated, and ratified a Constitution to preserve the liberties they had just fought for is the key to understanding the spirit and construction of our great document.  And the fact that representatives to a Continental Congress created and adopted  a Declaration of Independence which set out the ideals and values upon which our newly independent nation would be established is further evidence.

Our Declaration of Independence states:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government…………”

As we can infer from the Declaration, our Founders believed that certain human liberties are so fundamental to one’s existence, humanity, and individuality that they must come from our Creator.  If that is the case, then no government can take them away.

The wording that Thomas Jefferson chose for the Declaration is significant because it evidences a strong belief that our Founders had in Natural Law, a philosophy introduced by Marcus Tullius Cicero, the leading attorney of his day and defender of the Roman republic, and underpinning the ideals of a government “of the people, for the people.”  John Locke, William Blackstone, William Hobbs, and others based their philosophies of government on Natural Law, and it was these men who greatly inspired our Founders.

Essentially, Natural law is what spontaneously arises when there is no government, because of “who we are” and who created us.  It is not codified in any statute but is a matter deeply and fundamentally engrained in the human spirit. Cicero, who lived at the time of Julius Caesar, inferred the following from his observations of society, government, and depravity:  Before there was government, there was the individual.  A Creator, or higher power, who created the universe then created people. This higher power which created the universe also endowed humans with a bit of its own divinity. That is, He gave us the powers of speech, intelligent thought, reason, and wisdom. We love and nurture our young.  We build life-long family units. (We are created “In His Image”).  As a result of this “spark of divinity,” humans are and should be (forever) linked to their Creator and should honor this relationship. Because humans share reason with this higher power, and because this higher power is presumed to be benevolent, it follows that humans, when employing reason correctly, will also be benevolent.  Reason and benevolence form the foundation of law.  When applied in a society, it is called justice.  People can form strong and beneficial communities because laws will serve the good in man’s nature and discourage and punish the bad.

Natural Law is timeless. It is valid for all nations for all times.  It operates best when men are virtuous and honorable, and it fails when men are greedy and depraved.  One can argue that our Founder’s fatal flaw in creating the Constitution was assuming that Americans could remain virtuous and honorable, because only then could laws and government serve the “good” nature in man and promote moral societies.

Philosophers like Cicero reasoned that Natural law derives from the nature of man and the world, just as physical law derives from the nature of space, time, and matter.  But Cicero’s law presupposes a benevolent and intentional Creator.  It is therefore a moral law.  All men, being rational and tending towards benevolence, pursue paths and develop their potential dictated by their natures.  That is, their conduct embodies moral and ethical codes.  These values are the foundations of a good, strong, and productive society.  Many may see where Natural law harmonizes with the theory of evolution.

In his book on Natural Law, A. Kenneth Hasselberg wrote:  “A social order is not possible unless man is able to conceive of those norms of conduct which are necessary to its establishment and preservation, namely, respect for another’s person and for his rightful possessions, which is the substance of justice … But justice is the product of reason, not the passions. And justice is the necessary support of the social order; and the social order is necessary to man’s well-being and happiness. If this is so, the norms of justice must control and regulate the passions, and not vice versa.

Critics will claim that natural law should serve man’s “nature” and hence, what makes him ‘happy,’ but that would minimize and potentially contradict biological law. Biological law states that the driving force for all living things is the ability to successfully live and reproduce and propagate the species.Man can strive for material (and even amoral) happiness but if it harms his ability to exist successfully, then it’s clear this criticism is flawed.  Psychologist Leonard Carmichael wrote:  “Because man has an unchanging and an age-old, genetically determined anatomical, physiological, and psychological make-up, there is reason to believe that at least some of the “values” that he recognized as good or bad have been discovered or have emerged as human individuals have lived together for thousands of years in many societies. Is there any reason to suggest that these values, once identified and tested, may not be thought of as essentially fixed and unchanging?  For example, the wanton murder of one adult by another for the purely personal amusement of the person committing the murder, once it is recognized as a general wrong, is likely always to be so recognized. Such a murder has disadvantageous individual and social effects.”

British philosopher, John Locke, took the Cicero’s concept of Natural Law one step further and applied it to government.  According to Locke, people (not rulers or governments) are sovereign. Individuals, possessing inherent rights, are the real sovereigns. Governments derive their consent and power from sovereign people under a compact theory (contract theory) doctrine.  Consent can either be in written contract form (a constitution) or implied, by an implied agreement to be served by government and to subjected to its laws.

In order to understand the premise for John Locke’s theory on government, ask this question: Which comes first –  individuals or governments?   We all know the answer.  Individuals, with certain fundamental sovereign rights, form into communities. They delegate their power over their rights and property to a local government to protect them. As John Locke explained: “Individuals have sovereign rights which no government can take away.  (Government can only exercise power on behalf of the people).  As such, government is morally obliged to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty, and property.”

John Locke was one of the first great thinkers of the Enlightenment Era (or age of Reason).  He believed in the sovereignty of the individual – the inherent rights of the individual to self-protection.  Locke understood that the individual has natural rights to life, liberty and property, and therefore has the right to protect them.  It is from this basic premise that he explored the role of government.  We can read his views in his extensive essays entitled The Two Treatises of Government, published in 1688 and 1689.  In the first treatise, Locke refutes the belief in the divine right of Kings.  It is in the second treatise, however, where we see the fundamentals of Locke’s political theory.

Locke’s fundamental assertion is one that follows Cicero’s writings.  He explains the state of  nature has human beings enjoying most of their natural rights without the state. That is, rights are not granted by the state…  only certain privileges. The fact that property could be freely exchanged, sold, or accumulated in that natural condition led Locke to argue that governments ought not interfere with most aspects of the economy and society. Moreover, he reasoned, no people living in a natural state of freedom would consent to have all their liberty taken away.  Liberty is not the government’s to take away. Therefore, any government requires the consent of the people to “protect the rights of life, liberty, and property” that the people themselves have the natural authority to do. (The right of self-protection).  This, therefore, makes government ‘conditional.’  It also dictates that the role of the state ought to be limited to protecting life, liberty, and property from those few predatory members of the human race whom Locke referred to as the “quarrelsome and the contentious.”

As Locke explained in his Second Treatise on Government, each person is an individual sovereign, with inherent rights that he possesses over his person and his property (especially his intellectual and personal property).  He reasoned: “How can we, as individuals, give consent to others – local government, state government, etc – to make rules for us if we don’t have the original power to make rules for ourselves?”

According to Locke, everyone is entitled to live once they are created (Life), everyone is entitled to do anything they want to so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first right (Liberty), and everyone is entitled to own all they create or gain through gift or trade so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two rights (Property).  Since the role of government is limited, its power should also be limited. Locke proposed that government be limited through a separation of powers scheme, where each branch checks the other.  He also stressed that once government becomes destructive of the reasons for its existence, then the people have the right, and even the moral obligation, to abolish it.  We can see how strong an influence John Locke had on Thomas Jefferson and on our other Founders.

Unfortunately, when laws become too numerous and detailed, they can destroy liberty just as surely and effectively as having no law.  We are living witnesses to that today.

John Locke wrote that the decision by a group of people to delegate authority to a government creates a social compact or social contract.  Often the compact is memorialized in a constitution, a written agreement that sets limitations on government power and represents the consent of the people.  Laws established for the community naturally flow from this initial agreement and therefore a constitution is superior to ordinary laws created by any legislature. Locke’s idea of government is one of a limited constitutional regime.  Therefore, according to Locke, constitutions are social contracts or social compacts. It is most reasonable to assume that our Founders, the States, and our early Americans viewed the US Constitution as such. If you read the Articles or Declarations of Secession drafted and adopted by the 11 states in 1860-61, many expressly state that the Constitution is a social compact.

For example, read what South Carolina in its ” Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union,” adopted on December 24, 1860: “By this Constitution, certain duties were imposed upon the several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers was restrained, which necessarily implied their continued existence as sovereign States. But to remove all doubt, an amendment was added, which declared that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people. On the 23d May , 1788, South Carolina, by a Convention of her People, passed an Ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and afterwards altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken.”

Thus was established, by compact between the States, a Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights.”

A social contract is an agreement intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments.  People form an implicit social contract, ceding their natural rights to an authority to protect them from abuse.  According to the dictionary, a social contract (aka, social compact) is a voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, such as those put forth by Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members.

Locke explained that people escape their primitive state by forming into communities and thus entering a social contract under which the state provides protective services to its citizens. Locke regarded this type of contract as revocable.  A government depends on the consent of those who are governed, which may be withdrawn at any time, thus dissolving the agreement and thereby invalidating the government.  [In the case of a federation of states, for example, one state would no longer “give consent” and therefore dissociate itself from the contract, thereby dissolving its bond with the other states].

In every compact or contract between two or more parties, there is mutual obligation. The failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement entirely releases the obligation of the other.  This, in fact, was the position of the state of South Carolina in its Declaration of Secession.

While we today barely talk about this fundamental concept, the States were keenly aware of the relationship created by the Constitution and obligations associated with it.  Look at the phraseology officially given by the state of Virginia when it finally adopted (reluctantly) the Constitution on June 25, 1788:

The Virginia Ratification of the Constitution of the United States

Virginia, to wit:

“We the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the general assembly, and now met in convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, Do, in the name and on behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power nor granted thereby, remains with them and at their will; and therefore no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridges, restrained or modified by the congress, by the senate or house of representatives acting in any capacity, by the president or any department, or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the constitution for those purposes; and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.”

We all know that Virginia, and other states as well, refused to ratify the Constitution until special assurances were given that the federal government would remain constrained and would not burden individual rights. One of those assurances was the addition of a Bill of Rights and others were given in The Federalist Papers, written by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, two of the delegates and drafters of the Constitution.

In his book, Republic, Plato introduced social contract theory.  In a scenario involving Socrates, Socrates refused to escape from jail to avoid being put to death.  He argued that since he had willingly remained in Athens all of his life despite opportunities to go elsewhere, he had accepted the social contract  (thus he agreed to abide by the local laws, including submitting to the justice process). The idea of the social contract is one of the foundations of the American political system. This is the belief that the state only exists to serve the will of the people, and they are the source of all political power enjoyed by the state. They can choose to give or withhold this power. The origin of the term social contract can be found in the writings of Plato. However, English philosopher Thomas Hobbes expanded on the idea when he wrote Leviathan in response to the English Civil War. In this book he wrote that in the earliest days there was no government. Instead, those who were the strongest could take control and use their power at any time over others. Hobbes’ theory was that the people mutually agreed to create a state, only giving it enough power to provide protection of their well-being. However, in Hobbes’ theory, once the power was given to the state, the people then relinquished any right to that power. In effect, that would be the price of the protection they sought. John Locke, on the other hand, saw the relationship as still favoring the individual and the rights inherently bestowed on him.  He believed that revolution was not just a right but an obligation if the state abused its given power against the individual.

Thomas Paine, in his Rights of Man, wrote: “The fact therefore must be that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a contract with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.”

This all makes sense.  Local governments and social contracts/compacts make sense.  A local government can provide services easier than individuals who must go to work and do other things. What is your fundamental liberty worth when you can’t travel because you have to stay around to guard and protect your property?  So, some government is necessary for maximum liberty.  But the individual is careful to make sure that only certain services are delegated. As Madison explained in the Federalist No. 45, power was always meant to remain closest to the people. He wrote: ” The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.”

But a federal or central government was something different.  It is a government that isn’t close to the people.  And our Founders understood that.  And perhaps for that reason, the Constitution was written for the benefit of the American people. (And of course for the States, who valued their sovereign power as well, which they too derived from their people).  The Constitution was intended to outline exactly what powers and responsibilities were delegated away to a centralized (federal) government – “in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

While the Constitution inspired many, it also caused great concern and generated much criticism and apprehension. Three delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 refused to sign the document because they felt it was not adequate.  Those delegates were George Mason and Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. Several entire states refused to ratify it because they didn’t trust it to create a government that could remain constrained with respect to the power delegated to the States and the People.  Those states were New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island).  And many important men, some who were, in fact, fellow Founding Fathers, publicly criticized it or wrote voluminous essays addressing its flaws.  These men included Richard Henry Lee, a Founder who made the official resolution for a formal declaration of independence from Great Britain, NY Governor George Clinton, NY lawyer Robert Yates, and others who wanted to remain anonymous. The essays they wrote were collectively known as the Anti-Federalist Papers.  James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay addressed these criticisms in a series of retaliatory essays called the Federalist Papers. To this day, the Federalist Papers remain as the official explanation as to the scope and intent of the Constitution, including its phraseology and its delegation of powers.  In applying a contract theory approach to the Constitution, it would be important to note that the Constitution was ratified by the States in reliance on the assurances given in the Federalist Papers.  [According to established contract law, a contract is construed according to the original intent of the parties].

What most people don’t know is that Patrick Henry, our beloved patriot who proclaimed “Give Me Liberty or Give me Death!” was a staunch anti-Federalist.  He had serious reservations about the ability of the US Constitution to protect liberty for any considerable length of time. In opposing the Constitution and its ratification, Patrick Henry believed he was defending the ideals of the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence.  He argued that America had just fought for their independence from an abusive political regime (the British monarchy and Parliament) and now Madison and Hamilton were intending to put the newly-free nation back under a strong central government, with a strong executive.  He argued that we were trading one tyrant for another.  To Henry, this was a repudiation of all the liberties that he and the other patriots had fought for.  As he explained: “A monstrous national government was not the solution….  Many had to die to be free from such a regime.”

In one of his very last public speeches, given at the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1781, he delivered this heartfelt message: “Liberty is the greatest of all earthly blessings. Give us that precious jewel and you may take everything else.  There was a time when every pulse of my heart beat for American liberty and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American.  But suspicions have gone forth publicly – suspicions of my integrity – that my professions are not real.  23 years ago, I was supposed a traitor to my country.  I was then said to be a bane of sedition because I supported the rights of my countrymen.  I may be thought suspicious when I say that our privileges and rights are in danger.  But, Sir, a number of people of this country are weak enough to think these things are true….   My great objection to this (new) government is that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights.”

Today we are in a Constitutional crisis.  A constitutional crisis is a severe breakdown in the orderly operation of government because the branches have abandoned their roles and responsibilities under the Constitution.  A constitutional crisis occurs when power is exerted that doesn’t exist or is not authorized under the Constitution.  There is not much we can do to preserve the liberty and power originally intended to vest in the States and We the People if we are not willing to become educated and informed and appreciate the reality that every decision made in Washington DC has potential consequences for freedom and liberty in this country…. even when those decisions are cloaked in such benevolent terms as “general welfare,” “entitlement,” “green,” and “sustainable development.”  Moreso, we must be disciplined to elect good, constitutionally-minded men and women to Washington to strip away all government power not authorized by our founding document and committed to elect officials to state government who believe strongly in States’ rights.  Only with the return of strong independence states can we begin to put necessary checks on our enlarging, intrusive federal government.

Additionally, we must not repeat the failures of previous generations and trade liberty for security or trade true equality for social justice.  As Alexander Hamilton said on the floor of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on June 26, 1787: “Inequality will exist as long as liberty exists. It unavoidably results from that very liberty itself.”  We must not allow individualism to give way to collectivism. Pro-Constitution legal scholar and author, R. Carter Pittman (1898-1972), wrote:  ”Equality reaches into the pockets of the frugal to put fat on lazy bones.  Fat fools don’t fight, except at the trough.  From the trough of equality there may be no road back.  The next gate may lead to slaughter pens or to the mines of Siberia.  We may have lost the will to be free.”

We must not allow any further encroachment of socialist policies or wealth redistribution because that is forced equality in contradiction to the laws of nature and economics and they are the same policies of the failed regimes of Europe.  Pittman wrote: “It is inequality that gives enlargement to intellect, energy, virtue, love and wealth. Equality of intellect stabilizes mediocrity. Equality of wealth (and social condition) makes every man poor. Equality of energy renders all men sluggards. Equality of virtue suspends all men without the gates of heaven. Equality of love would stultify every manly passion, destroy every family altar and mongrelize the races of men. Equality of altitude would make the whole world a dead sea. Mountains rise out of plains. Plains rise out of the sea………    Equality of freedom cannot exist without inequality in the rewards and earned fruits of that freedom.”

Finally, we must do what our parents and grandparents failed to do, and that is to teach our children, by words and by example if possible, what it means to be an American and what it means to live under the US Constitution.  We must teach them “authentic” US history, from first-hand documents, and not leave this important education to our failed public school systems. Our ‘greatest generation’ sadly gave birth to our worst generation.  If Thomas Jefferson had his way, every house would have two essential documents – the Bible and the Constitution.  Americans would have values and would intimately know where they stand with respect to government. They would be raised to be citizen-servants, meaning they would serve for a short term and then return to their homes, to their jobs, and to their communities. They would understand the notion of service and proper representation. They would understand the importance of our history and realize that the values and principles and traditions that once made our nation great and strong and unified are the same ones we need again more than ever.  Every one of those values and principles and traditions allowed this country to enlarge freedom and liberty for all its citizens.  In a rational world, our public schools would be teaching all this to our youth.  Robert Hutchins (1899-1977), one-time dean of Yale Law School, wrote: “The object of the educational system, taken as a whole, is not to produce hands for industry or to teach the young how to make a living. It is to produce responsible citizens.”

The government today is pitting one citizen against another.  It is putting the rights and concerns of some citizens over others.  In fact, it is putting the rights of the minority over the equally-important rights of the majority.  Often the rights of the majority are the rights that have traditionally defined what it means to be an “American.”  The government and courts like to claim that individuals’ freedoms can conflict, yet they both have been too liberal in defining what “fundamental” rights are… such as the right to kill an unborn baby, the right to marry a same-sex partner, the right to take from one person to support another who has no relation, the right of an atheist not to be “offended” in any way by a cross, a prayer, a word, a song, a lawn decoration, etc, and the right of a group to absolute civil liberties, including freedom from racial profiling, when that very group is responsible for 80-100% of violent crime.  The government has even gone as far as to statutorily protect some groups’ rights over another – ie, blacks and Hispanics (the 14th Amendment and Civil Rights laws; Affirmative action, which is still going strong; the government’s refusal to defend DOMA).  In this era of violent Islamic terrorism, our country has chosen to label homeland terrorism, such as the Ft. Hood shooting by militant Islamist (“Soldier of Allah”), as “workplace violence” rather than truthfully labeling it for what it was – militant and radical jihadist terrorism.  Instead of a Homeland Security Department which identifies this growing security threat and threat to our military, it has taken active and public steps to play down radical Muslim activity and instead to declare that conservative groups pose the current greatest threat to our national security. (Read the Homeland Security Report of April 2009 entitled “Rightwing Extremism”). Video adds for the “See Something, Say Something” law cleverly hint that white American males are the ones we need to keep our eyes on and to suspect as plotting violence. So much for traditional 1st Amendment rights of free speech.  In an era of great security threats, our country has chosen to target good, law-abiding conservative citizens who love their country, are disgruntled about a tyrant ruler trying to impose a government mandate on healthcare, who “cling to their guns and religion,” and who cherish their Constitutional rights.  Over the past century, we’ve watched what our government has done when it claimed that the freedom of two individuals or two groups conflicted.  Instead of protecting the rights clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights, our government has put artificial rights above them and chipped away at our traditional rights and institutions. As between atheists who make up less than 1% of the population and Christians who make up over 80%, it is the atheist who gets his way.  As between a helpless living unborn baby who needs compassionate lawmakers to speak where it cannot or a mother who has the power to make reasoned choices, the government chooses the irresponsible mother.  As between an individual’s right to pursue a profession or degree based on merit and free from racial bias (14th amendment), the government has outright denied that individual’s right in favor of a racially-motivated alternative minority candidate.   We all understand the reasonable implications when two legitimate fundamental rights class.  We understand that at times, one man’s freedom must be limited to preserve another’s.   As Supreme Court Justice William Douglas once said: “My freedom to move my fist must be limited by the proximity of your chin.”

Today’s government is picking winners (many of whom are petty criminals or worse) and forcing losers out of good and decent Americans – most of whom AREplaying by the rules. It neither fears nor respects the individual citizen. We are a social security number, a statistic, a polling number, a “threat (as in Rightwing Extremism”), a bottomless pocket for the government to take whatever money it believes it needs……   We are not a constituency to be feared or to served honestly and fairly.  Notions of fundamental fairness have long gone out of the window.  There is nothing fair about the tax scheme.  There is nothing fair about income redistribution (especially when the Declaration of Independence proclaims property, of all kinds, to be an inalienable right).  There is nothing fair about the government’s forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another, including taking the earnings of one to give to another (which essentially amounts to slavery). There is nothing fair about the social decay and destabilization because of the many entitlement programs (just to pander to a voting block). There is nothing fair about the government forcing a socialized healthcare program on a people who overwhelmingly are opposed to it.  Social justice and new social order are the new goals of our government.  All we need to know can be summed up by a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “When the government fears the people, there is liberty.  When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”  [Note that the quote is now believed to be given by John Basil Barnhill in 1914].

Where is the US Constitution in all of this?

Our Founders’ vision of our American republic was one of a country grounded in virtue and religious faith, thankful for liberty, proud of its Constitution, and eternally vigil for an enlarging government that would become oppressive and non-oppressive to the people.  Our Founders envisioned a country of men rising to the opportunities and challenges that freedom brings, of a limited national government devoted to protecting that freedom, and of responsive local governments to ensure that States and communities keep their individual character.

Today, we barely recognize our country because it has changed so dramatically.  In my relatively short lifetime, I can already sense so keenly all the freedoms and opportunities that have been lost. America “feels” different to me.  The opportunities I had as a young adult won’t be available to my children. They’ll have concerns and issues to deal with that I never had. They won’t share the optimism that I enjoyed.

We have passively allowed a powerful centralized government over a decentralized federal government, we have neglected to vote for strong States’ rights leaders in our states, rendering the States mere government pawns, we have allowed corruption over ethics, we have chosen personal individualistic freedom over virtue, and we have failed to teach our children authentic US history and what it means to be an “American.”  But most of all, we have neglected the most important historical document the world has ever been known –  a document that oppressed and tortured people around the world would gladly die to protect.  It was ours to protect and preserve.  Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Today, we are in an ideological struggle right now over the proper role and scope of government.  We are not only witnessing a Constitutional crisis in this country, but a crisis based on a failure to appreciate what liberty means and stands for.  We saw the beginning of this struggle in 1964 with the Lyndon Johnson’s “New Society.”  Campaigning for Barry Goldwater in 1964 to replace the socialist Johnson, Ronald Reagan delivered these words:

The notion of ‘the full power of centralized government’ was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.    Private property rights are so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be…. Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the—or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property?  And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute.  Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. This is the issue.. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves……… You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.  We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

What do you believe is the proper role of government?  How strongly do you value liberty?  Do you even know how freedom is protected and what it is even worth anymore?

The Constitution is not a complicated document.  Along with the Declaration of Independence, it is our great guarantor of liberty.  It lists the responsibilities of government (only 17 of them, mostly having nothing to do with our everyday lives) and then lists those individual human rights and liberties that it must not legislate and burden.  Everything else is left to the individual and to the States.  The States, being closest to the individual, are the sovereigns that are most responsive to the people and therefore best able to protect their interests.  The Constitution was never supposed to encroach upon the supreme rights of the States in protecting the individual.  As James Madison explained: “Every word of the Constitution decides a question between power and liberty.”

Maybe you are one of those citizens who enjoyed the American dream at one time but don’t have the energy to fight for it for your children or grandchildren.  Maybe you are apathetic and have given into the system that has taken hold.  Well then, my friend, you have just acknowledged that your government has become oppressive.

If you love this country – if you love it for its freedom and its opportunity and NOT for what it gives you in material aid – then you know things can’t continue to go the way they are going.  Something has to change.  And it has to start with us.   It falls upon all of us to take action.  As Ronald Reagan once asked: “We have to ask ourselves if we do nothing, where does all of this end. Can anyone here say that if we can’t do it, someone down the road can do it, and if no one does it, what happens to the country? All of us know the economy would face an eventual collapse. I know it’s a hell of a challenge, but ask yourselves if not us, who, if not now, when?”

As one-time Yale Law school dean Robert Hutchins predicted, the death of the republic will not come from something like an assassination or an attack or even an election, but rather from apathy and indifference.

If you believe in large government, in a government that does more for you than you wish to do for yourself, and if you are willing to allow government to keep eroding and encroaching on the liberties that our country was founded on, then one day you will have to look a patriot and soldier in the eye and justify why you were so cavalier with the freedom that he so willingly gave his last full measure of devotion.

References:

Limited Government, http://principlesofafreesociety.com/limited-government/

Walter Williams, “Visions of Morality, Dec. 7, 2011, The Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)

Thomas Kidd, Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, 2011, Basic Books.

Cleon Skousen, The 5000-Year Leap, National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2009.  (originally published in 1981).

Leonard Carmichael, Absolutes, Relativism and the Scientific Psychology of Human Nature, 1961, Van Nostrand, pg. 9

A. Kenneth Hesselberg, “Hume, Natural Law and Justice,” Duquesne Review, Spring 1961, pp. 46-47.

Edwin W. Patterson, Jurisprudence: Men and Ideas of the Law, 1953, Foundation Press (Brooklyn, NY), pg. 333.

Diane Rufino, Secession: Does a State Have the Right to Secede?,  August 2011, http://forloveofgodandcountry.wordpress.com

R. Carter Pittman, “Which Shall It Be? Liberty or Equality, Americanism or Marxism,” Address delivered at the Annual Convention of the Alabama Bar Association, Alabama, July 16, 1954.   Referenced at:  http://www.jtl.org/pittman/   and    http://rcarterpittman.org/essays/misc/Which_Shall_It_Be.html

Our Faithless President

  by Diane Rufino, Nov. 25, 2011

President Obama offered a few remarks for Thanksgiving, noting the many ways that Americans have come together.  He highlighted the community mindset of those who volunteer in soup kitchens and praised our men and women in military uniform.  In fact, his weekly address was titled: “On Thanksgiving, Grateful for the Men and Women Who Defend Our Country.”  He also commented that he and his family are “reflecting on how truly lucky we are.”  Yes, the first family IS lucky, very lucky indeed.  But not once did our President make any mention of God, the very reason our nation was founded in the first place.

Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally steeped in rightful thanks and praise to God.

Yet he didn’t offer thanks to those bravest of settlers who risked it all, including harsh stormy seas, unknown new lands and hostile inhabitants, all in order to establish a colony where they could worship and honor God as they believed they had the natural right to.  At many times in our early years, disease and famine were so severe that every single family lost a loved one.  How many of us would contemplate making a change in our lifestyles knowing that it could possibly cost us a child or a spouse?  And yet our founding settlers took that risk – for the glory of God…  in order that America could be that “shining city on a hill” –  a nation so blessed by God because of its stalwart citizens that it would be a beacon and an example to the world.  We celebrate the blessings we inherited from these early settlers on Thanksgiving.

How naive Obama is.  How reckless he is with his selective attention to our nation’s history.

So with respect to this Thanksgiving Day 2011, we’ll think back and remember who the real turkey was.