'Cause I Said So…

Missing The Point On The Gardasil Story

By now we have all heard something about the 2007 decision of Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) to sign an executive order mandating the Gardasil vaccine for all girls entering the sixth grade in Texas schools receiving money from the State of Texas. One of the most fair and comprehensive articles on the web about this incident has been written by Ben Howe (@Ben_Howe) at RedState.com (@RedState), Vetting Rick Perry (http://www.redstate.com/aglanon/2011/08/17/vetting-rick-perry/).

I’m not going to rehash everything in Mr. Howe’s article. What would be the point? Read it. It’s very good. Instead, I’m going to use Mr. Howe’s article as a jumping off point.

The trouble with almost all the reporting and opinion writing I’ve seen on the incident is that they all seem to miss the point of why this is important, if not necessarily fatal, when looking at the presidential candidacy of Gov. Perry. How did I get it and few others seem to? I don’t know. Maybe because I have no personal ax to grind. No, I’ll admit it, I am not the biggest fan of Gov. Perry; however, I did vote for him in every general election in which he ran. So, I can’t exactly be seen as his biggest detractor, either. So, let’s get to it.

The important thing about this incident is not the vaccine itself. Though I understand the problems many people have with vaccines, I am an advocate of necessary vaccines.

The important thing about this incident is not the mandate. Though I understand the concerns of libertarians and parents’-rights activists, many other vaccines are required to enter Texas’ state-funded schools. (However, I must say that mandated vaccinations for venereal diseases does push the envelope a bit much, and I would be opposed to it.)

The important thing about this incident is not allegations of influence peddling. Though I share the concerns of many regarding this candidate’s history of bending to corporate interests, there has been no evidence given of anything more than garden variety campaign donations and corporate lobbying involving Merck. (I don’t like the way it smells, but it’s perfectly legal.)

No, the most important thing about this incident is executive overreach by Gov. Perry.

The executive and the legislative branches have completely different duties and authorities. Governor Perry by-passed the Texas State legislature when he signed that executive order. Instead of having someone sponsor the desired legislation and letting it go through the appropriate process, he basically amended State Law by his own, independent action.

Did Gov. Perry have any right under the Texas constitution for such an act? Did Gov. Perry have any administrative authority under state law for such an act? No to both. As a matter of fact, his order was widely understood to be both constitutionally and legally dubious. Amongst the public furor arising from the order’s announcement, both houses of the state legislature passed measures denouncing Perry’s order, and not just for the publicly controversial parts. The legislature knew their authority had been commandeered by the Governor.

Now, Gov. Perry did rescind the order, after the public uproar. He did apologize for the nature of the order, the particulars concerning the vaccine and the mandate. However, he never apologized for assuming the authority to make the order in the first place. He never tried to explain why he had assumed such authority, except to say “I hate cancer”. (Well, don’t we all?)

So, why do I consider this the most egregious part of the entire affair? Circumspection.

When picking a candidate for President, we have to consider their experience. In this incident, Gov. Perry has shown a disregard for the constitutionally defined duties of his office. We are all too aware of our current President’s disregard for limits to his power, with his signing of executive orders and his appointment of “Czars”. How can we criticize President Obama’s actions, but accept out of hand similar actions done by our own candidate? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical of us?

Old News Is Still News

Just a thought for the Mensa members out there who think they can counter every argument against their candidate by saying it has been covered in the past. That only works for the national media’s favored Democrat candidates. If it pertains to a Democrat, reporters will yawn when shown something which has previously been covered. “That’s old news.”

Unfortunately, the same standards do not apply for Republicans. For Republicans, there is no “old” news. When did they bring up G.W. Bush’s arrest for DWI? The weekend before the election. When did they bring up the fake AWOL papers? During the convention. Nothing ever goes away for Republicans, and when it is brought back up, reporters treat the story as if it has never been seen before.

So, the primary season  is our only opportunity to completely vet our candidates. We need to go over every questionable action as if it happened today. For every one of those actions we need to demand satisfactory answers, and not settle for excuses. If we know about it, then so does the Democrat opposition, and their friends in the national media.

So, if not now, we know when. When it will do the most damage.

I Would Like A Real Explanation, Governor Perry

Remember when you were a kid, and you were busted for doing something you weren’t supposed to? What was the first thing you would say? It was probably “I’m sorry!” If you had a smart-alec like my Father, you would have been asked “Sorry for what you did, or sorry for getting caught?” With my Dad, you had better know the difference.

Well, guess what? I want to know why Perry apologized for his actions. Was he “sorry” because people didn’t like the policy, or was he “sorry” because he over-stepped his constitutional authority as governor? There is sure as heck a difference between the two.

In 2007,  Governor Perry’s (R-TX) issued an executive order mandating every girl going into sixth grade in a Texas public school to receive the Gardasil vaccine. He then quickly rescinded his order, when public opposition grew too great. Every explanation I’ve read was merely an attempt to justify his actions. “He was sorry for upsetting parents, but his motives were pure.” Well, I have another of my father’s favorite sayings: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

So, one more time for those riding the short bus, what is his explanation for subverting the constitution of the State of Texas? Why did he think he could pass law without the state legislature? Why couldn’t he have had a bill sponsored in the legislature? What does this tell us about his attitudes concerning executive power, before he possibly ascends to the highest office in the land?

Is he sorry because he did it, or because he got caught?

If we truly believe in the “rule of law”, are these questions really inconsequential?

A Change of Vision Needed At The USPS

Posted in Bureaucracy, Business, Finance, Free Markets, Government, Regulation by kevinsoberg on August 9, 2011

Once again, we’re hearing about problems at the United States Postal Service. The Postal Service is still having difficulty staying profitable delivering the mail. The majority of items delivered by the service has changed over its history from individual letters, to bills, to bulk mail advertising. However, the change in the Post Service’s customers has not been reflected in the way the Service operates.

There has been talk of ending Saturday home delivery of mail. It would be an immediate admission to what is no longer possible, but it does not go near far enough. It does not sufficiently increase efficiencies. It is merely a stop-gap measure to stem the bleeding associated with the failed current business model. What is really needed is a change in vision. What will the Postal Service of tomorrow be? Will it be a shrinking shade of its former self, or will it be a lean efficient money-making machine?

Any company operating in the private sector knows it must meet the needs of its customers, or risk going out of business. So, private companies continually update their business models to meet the changing needs of their customers. The USPS has not done this. It has lost sight of who its customers are and what they need. It no longer has a cogent business model.

Now, the US Postal Service already operates as two separate businesses with differing modes of operation. The Postal Service everyone thinks of is the traditional post office, with its service of General Delivery of letters and packages to all addresses in the country. The other, more recent, business done by the Postal Service is Express Delivery, the high-speed delivery of letters and packages. Most people don’t realize these two businesses operate simultaneously, but quite differently.

The business of General Delivery is a constitutionally mandated function of the federal government. This function was meant to guarantee communication across all of the states from within and without the US. To affect this, the Postal Service gives regular service, delivery and pick-up, to all US addresses, and charges rates which subsidize the costs of less profitable areas of operation. Even those areas with low populations have equal access to this form of communication, according to its governmental function. This service is operated as a virtual monopoly.

The Express Delivery business operated by the USPS has a completely different business model. Instead of offering daily service to all US addresses, service is strictly scheduled according to the need for deliveries. Pick-up service is by appointment or according to schedule from specified locations. The rates charged may be based on the cost of the individual service, though the USPS does advertise flat rates based upon the speed of service. It operates in a highly competitive field, with companies such as FedEx and UPS.

Obvious differences aside, the main difference between these business models is who is seen as the customer. Express Delivery correctly perceives the senders, those charged the fees, as the customers, while General Delivery incorrectly sees the receivers, those at the addresses, as the customers. How else could they justify daily service, regardless of need, to every address? Would you return each day to a customer making little or no use of your service, or would you instead focus on those paying for your service?

So, the obvious solution to General Delivery’s unprofitability is to end daily service to every address.

Instead of seeing the physical address visited each day as the customer, the service should focus on the people paying for delivery. The vast majority of mail is generated by companies and organizations sending large quantities of bills and advertising. They should be the daily focus of the Service’s attention. Luckily, those generating the majority of mail already have service based upon volume, either by scheduling pick-up or by dropping off their mail.

The service of mail pick-up and delivery to all other US addresses should remain regularized, but should be reduced to three times per week. The number of mail carriers would be reduced by almost half (sorry, guys). The miles driven each day would be reduced by half (without need of green technology). This one simple change would almost double the efficiency of the remaining carriers.

The actual customers of the service, those paying, could still receive daily service, while homes would still be serviced regularly. It would reduce how often people had to check their mail. The biggest inconvenience would be a one day delay in delivery of an item having no guaranteed delivery date. Those individuals who demand daily delivery of their mail may purchase Post Office Boxes for the privilege.

In the old days, it mattered if you received your mail on a given day, like the 1st or 15th of the month. Today, accounts are deposited electronically. All you may receive in the mail is a statement. If you pay your bills by mail upon receipt, you are unaffected. If you wait until the last-minute to pay, do it electronically or in person. If you need a letter delivered in town tomorrow, send it overnight or by courier.

The greater efficiencies gained by the reduction in unnecessary deliveries and its concurrent staffing will reduce the cost of General Delivery. The previously experienced cycles of increased postal rates followed by reduced traffic will end. The costs associated with an ever-growing population making ever less use of the current home pick-up service of mail will be lowered. It will allow the public to continue enjoying the regular home delivery of mail, subsidized by the Postal Service’s real customers.

Party of Squishes or Party of Conservatives

Ayn Rand had it right in Atlas Shrugged. Without the willing consent of the hosts, the parasites cannot continue to survive.

In light of the recent election, I’m waiting to see if the GOP will change direction. If they cannot do this in a serous way, then this election is only another speed-bump on Hayek’s “road to serfdom”.

I don’t only mean the GOP changing the country’s direction. No, I mean a change in the GOP’s own direction. Will it actually become the party of the “country class”, or will it continue to remain simply another party of the “ruling class”?

The GOP has been mouthing “country class” values for decades, but has (for the most part) not put these words into action. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and both Bushes, they all believed in big government. It’s not simply that they believed the existing government was too big for them to meaningfully change. No, they bought into the necessity and usefulness of big government. They may have wanted to marginally change its direction and how it operated. They may have wanted to make it less wasteful, more effective, and less costly. However, the premise underlying big government was never really questioned.

Since WWII, only two Republican presidential candidates, Goldwater and Reagan, have been true Conservatives. Can we really call the GOP the “conservative” party when only two of its last ten presidential candidates have been conservative? We can work to elect as many conservative Senators and Congressmen as possible. However, how can we expect them to behave conservatively when most GOP standard bearers are “squishy” moderates?

Many of us have worked hard for decades to elect conservative politicians to help retain those of our freedoms which remain, and to regain those freedoms which we have lost. Our only real hope is for those of us in the “country class” to once and for all take control of the Republican Party from the Establishment. Once we’ve wrested control from them, their only chance for survival within the party is to go along for ride.

Won’t we lose some of the Establishment to the Democrats? Think about it. If that’s the case, then chances are they are already voting with them a lot of the time. In many important ways they’re already gone. If they don’t agree with us most of the time, and find us to be the bigger threat, then let them be on their way. In the larger scheme of things it won’t make much of a difference. The Establishment as an actual percentage of voters is not enough to make the difference in general elections, as long as we bring in the disaffected Independents.

Are these the same Independents the MSM talks about incessantly every election cycle? No, I’m not talking about the pseudo-moderates, who are, for the most part, the least informed among us. How has it become a virtue to have no educated opinion about the elected leadership of your country? No, I would do best to not speak of these pitiful, ignorant sheep watching Oprah and The View. Instead, I’m talking about disaffected, right-of-center citizens, who feel the Republican Party haven’t spoken to or for them, or, worse, believe their votes have been taken for granted in the past.

I’ve recently been reading articles about the successive groups of new voters having come to the GOP beginning in the early 1970’s. According to the pundits, the first was Nixon’s “silent majority”. Next to appear were the “Reagan Democrats”. Then on their heels came the “Christian Right”. Each of these new groups ushered, in turn, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, the Freshman Class of ‘95, and then Bush II. The newest of these groups of voters is supposed to be the “Tea Parties”, which helped the GOP take over the House of Representatives, and most of the States’ legislatures.

The “new voter groups” theory sounds great. However, if you take more than a cursory look at it, you’ll find it to be total nonsense.

Since the death of FDR, Democrats have won seven presidential elections. Of those seven elections, only three times were they won with a majority of the popular vote. Two of these Presidents were Johnson and Carter, both of whom were unable to win re-election. The third President is the current officeholder, Barack Obama. People seem to forget that Clinton won both of his elections with only a plurality of the popular vote totals. Arguably, without Perot’s third-party candidacy, Clinton would not have even been elected the first time.

During this same period, there have been nine Republican presidential victories. Of these nine elections, only two were won with less than a majority of the popular vote. In both of these cases, the Presidents won re-election with an outright majority. These two Presidents were Nixon and G.W. Bush.

So, let us look again at this “new groups” theory. According to this theory, Republicans, who’ve had presidential election majorities most of the time, keep adding to this majority with new groups coming into the fold. I don’t know about you, but the math doesn’t add up for me.

Nixon won re-election in 1972 with 60.7% of the popular vote. That vote would have included his “silent majority”. Where were those voters in 1976 when Ford garnered only 48% of the vote? It wasn’t like Nixon was running again. Ford was untouched by the “Watergate” scandal. If a “new group” had joined the GOP, what happened to them? While the total popular vote did increase by almost 4 million, Ford received approximately 8 million fewer votes than did Nixon four years earlier.

Reagan won election with 50.8% in 1980, and then won re-election with 58.8% of the popular vote in 1984. Not only was Reagan’s ’80 vote a smaller percentage than was Nixon ’72 vote, it was also about 4 million fewer votes. So, we started with Nixon’s 60% including his “silent majority”, and then we supposedly added “Reagan Democrats” and the “Christian Right”. How do we end up back at 58%? Yes, in ’84 Reagan did receive over 7 million more votes than Nixon’s high water mark, but the popular vote had increased by almost 14 million. I thought these were “new groups”. How does this theory explain Bush only getting 53% of the vote in 1988, and his then getting 37% in 1992? Bush’s ‘88 vote was just 1.7 million more than Nixon’s ’72 vote, and his ’92 vote was even lower than Ford’s vote in ‘76, while the total popular vote had increased by almost 22 million.

Another problem with this theory is the Clinton years. Two years after Clinton’s election, the GOP took control of both Houses of Congress. Yet two years later, Clinton was able to win re-election, albeit with less than a majority of the vote. However, the GOP maintained control of Congress until after G.W. Bush’s second mid-term elections, with the exception of the Senate during the first two years of his first term (thank you, Jim Jeffords).

Now, just two years after President Obama won the presidency with 53% of the popular vote, the Republicans have again taken control of the House of Representatives with a historically large majority. Why have the American people changed their minds so dramatically in just two short years? Have the GOP, indeed, brought over a new voting block, the “Tea Parties”, consisting of voters dissatisfied with the President? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately for the pundits, the “new groups” theory rest on three assumptions. First, one has to believe that all citizens of voting age already vote. Next, one must believe all of these voters are well-informed of and have a good understanding of the American political system and political philosophy. Finally, one has to believe the default position for most voters is Democrat. However, we all know three of these things are patently not true.

We know all citizens of voting age are not registered to vote. We know less than 70% of those who are registered voted in the most recent presidential election. Anyone who has been to an American public high school knows how little is actually taught about our systems of elections, Constitutional processes, political philosophies or the histories of our political parties. We also know that both major parties have about 30% of registered voters each. So, why is the question always framed in a way that seems to assume the Democrats are the majority party? “Where are these Republican voters coming from?” Indeed?

Let us look back over the last eight congressional election cycles. During this sixteen year period, both parties have had the presidency for eight of the years. In the Senate, Democrats had control for six years, while Republicans had majorities for ten years. In the House, Democrats have had control for only four years, while the Republicans have had control for twelve of the years. The next two years will see a change to only equal years of control in the Senate. So, if we call the House, as did the Framers, that chamber of the legislative branch closest to the people, then it could be considered the tie breaker. The country is marginally more Republican than Democrat.

Let’s look at this question another way. Consistently for about twenty years, people have identified themselves in opinion polls as conservative, moderate, or liberal, by 40%, 40% and 20%, respectively. Now, the Republican Party has sold itself to be the “conservative” party, while selling the Democrats as the “liberal” party. Not that the Democrats identify themselves that way. Most Democrat politicians run away from that characterization, choosing instead to be called “progressives”, “moderates”, or by some other undefined term.

The dirty little secret is… neither of them is coming clean with the people. In reality, the Republican Party is the moderate-right party, while the Democrats are the liberal party. It’s not a matter of how they market themselves, but of who actually runs the parties and the legislation they promote. Do we judge somebody by their actions or their intent? It has to be by their actions, because there is no way to know what’s in a man’s soul.

If the GOP were actually the conservative party, then the national party leadership would be conservative, as would be its legislation agenda. They would be conservative enough to hold on to the 40% of the population who call themselves conservative, while reaching out to those moderates who are right-leaning, just enough to get slightly over one-quarter of them. Instead, it has a party leadership which promotes legislation to the moderate 40%, and then reaches out to the conservative 40% just enough to win elections. Its outreach to conservatives is done in two different but complimentary ways: promising to be more conservative, and (if that doesn’t work) fear-mongering about the Left. A truly conservative party would never do things like introduce new or expand existing government programs, offer amnesty to illegal aliens, or allow itself to become the tax collector for the welfare state.

The Democrats are different, but use similar tactics. They claim to be the party of the center, while being run by the Hard Left. They constantly market themselves to the “mushy” middle. They use ill-defined terms like “fairness” and “equality”. They are always talking about giving a “helping hand” to those “less fortunate” than ourselves. They use all the feel-good language of the day. However, they never talk about the costs, in Property and in Liberty, of all this “generosity”. The majority of their leadership comes from super-safe, ultra-liberal enclaves, which all but guarantees their re-election to office in perpetuity. They constantly push and prod the political system to advance their statist agenda, all the while talking of “moderation”, “compromise” and “bi-partisanship”. Would a truly moderate party seek to gather all power and resources into a centralized state?

So, taking a critical eye to the proposed “new groups” theory regarding Republican Party expansion over the past few decades one would have to declare it “hooey”. It begs many more questions than it offers solutions. Why the sudden surge, then quick recession, in the wake of Nixon? Why was Reagan/Bush able to have three terms, but never come close to a majority in the House? How was Clinton able to gain re-election, even after the “Gingrich Revolution”? How were Republicans able to gain and keep Congress through Clinton, then to lose it outright during Bush’s second term? How was the GOP able to regain the House, come close in the Senate, and devastate the Democrats at the state-level just two years after having “it” handed to them by Obama, Pelosi and Reid?

The “new groups” theory fails because it is based on the idea that the Republican Party itself had any involvement in its own good fortunes. It’s a great idea to sell, if you’re in the politics business. “I, too, can get you voters. Here’s the magic formula.” If that were the case, then the GOP would have gotten 60+% of the vote even after Nixon. The only control the GOP seems to have over its fate is in making the wrong decisions, often at the most inopportune moments. You see, the Republicans, through their own hubris, lose almost as many voters as they gain, over any given period of time.

The GOP gains voters at times of perceived “crisis” to these peoples’ way of life. However, the GOP can’t keep large numbers of these new voters for the long-term because they continually disappoint the new arrivals. Inevitably, a new crisis occurs and the cavalry (or its successors), composed of the productive, middle-classes, ride out to the rescue. They don’t come in rescue of the GOP, but to rescue the nation. The GOP’s short-term success is just a by-product of these good citizens’ desire to defend their families and selves from an overreaching state.

These different groups of voters coming to the GOP are not permanent additions, like water pumped into a holding-tank. These voters are more like waves crashing on a beach. It’s repeating cycles of the same water, over and over. It washes up and then pulls away, driven by the political tides and winds. They become energized, act, and then becoming dispirited and disillusioned, finally pull away. Then a new crisis occurs beginning the cycle anew. The waves don’t accumulate, though larger ones have been known to wash over the dunes and collect in pools behind them.

The “Tea Party” movement is just the most recent of these citizen waves. It is potentially the strongest of these waves in several generations. It must wash over the political leadership in Washington and undermine the dunes of centralized authority. It must not simply slip back into the sea, its energy wasted on the beach. They cannot, as in the past, just elect new people and then go back to their lives, hoping these guys will do as promised. We’ve seen what’s happened too often.

The power of Washington is intoxicating liquor, which once imbibed proves too difficult for many to resist. We need to be the ones to call their tab and send them home if they get too drunk on it. No one is more dangerous than a politician behind the wheel of government, drunk on their own power. None is safe in his path.

In addition to my “crisis wave” theory to explain sudden volte-faces in the political fortunes of Washington, I have a “general theory” of American popular politics. It’s is, “In the aggregate, most people in most states will elect the more ‘convincingly conservative’ candidate (and/or party, in the case of a nationalized legislative election), unless they have good reason to distrust their authenticity. In the absence of a perceived degree of difference, the voters will default to a contest of personalities. For the purposes of this theory ‘conservative’ is defined as a generalized belief in traditionalism, national defense and free-enterprise, not the more specific ‘Movement Conservatism’.” If you apply this theory, not as a Monday morning quarterback, using the information the average voter would have had at the time of the election, you can see why some elections went the way they did.

In ’48, Dewey was a liberal “me-too” Republican with no point of difference. In ’52 and ’56, Stevenson was a “pointy-headed intellectual” and Ike was a successful, military leader. In ’60, the platforms were nearly indistinguishable, and so it was Dick or Jack by likability. ’64, here we have an outlier because the self-styled conservative lost, but other issues at play, like assassination (exceptions prove the rule, right?). In ’68, Nixon seen as conservative to Humphrey (plus Chicago Convention didn’t help matters). In ’72, Nixon was seen as way more conservative than McGovern. In ’76, the Rockefeller Republican Ford versus professed born-again Christian, Southern Democrat Governor (in the wake of Watergate, to boot) was a no-contest. ’80, Reagan beats Carter. ’84, Reagan really beats Mondale. ’88, Reagan’s successor beats Massachusetts Governor. ’92, incumbent no longer seen as conservative loses to moderate Southern Democrat Governor (trust issues and degree of difference). In ’96, Clinton had been pulled to the right while Dole ran as a moderate (no degree of difference, default to personalities). In ’00, “soft” conservative, Southern Governor defeats moderate Southern, Senator/Vice-President (most people in most states, electoral college). In ’04, sitting war-time President beats Northeast, Democrat Senator. In ’08, moderate-sounding, well-spoken, young Senator defeats historically moderate-sounding, grouchy, old Senator (remember that MSM didn’t report any appreciably negative stories, his politics were not well examined, while McCain ran to the left giving people nothing to go on but personalities).

My theory explains sixteen of the seventeen most recent elections. Take of it what you will. It does a lot better job of analyzing these past elections than any other on I’ve heard. In examining any problem, I tend to use Occam’s razor. It just seems to cut through all the unnecessarily complicated ideas. Think about it. Look at the ’00 race objectively, most people thought of Gore as the “New Democrat” Vice-President of a popular sitting President. He spoke better. He had answers to every question. He was involved in “reinventing’ government. He was all in to the internet and the environment, when people still believed that global-warming jazz. Everything being even, he should have won that race. I think Bush actually made the race closer by his use of that “compassionate” conservative rhetoric. It lessened the degree of difference between Gore and himself. Stark contrasts show better.

In discussing these ideas with others, I keep being told that the demographic trends of the country are against us. Don’t listen to the ‘demographic’ argument. Politics is not biological. Keep this in mind. Before Buckley revitalized the Conservative movement, most of the population had been reared under Hoover, FDR and Ike with their unwavering belief in big government intervention. WFB had not yet been born the last time a conservative, Coolidge, was in the White House. Even so, the movement came back. What it took to start was one twenty-three year old man writing about his experiences at Yale.

The long-term problem has been that each wave thought they could simply elect someone and then disengage and go back to their life. This is the ‘long war’ and it must be treated as such. Every day, every election, both primary and general, must be used to reinforce our insistence that government exists for our purposes, not the other way around. Politicians must learn to do as we say or they will find themselves unemployed. If necessary, we must create wave after wave of politicians, elected and then defeated, until we finally get to those who actually follow the Constitution.

The market is a great indicator of what people want. Just as we cannot fault a manufacturer for producing a frivolous product which people want, we cannot fault the politician who does whatever it takes to get re-elected. What we can do is change the market indicators. Manufacturers make new products or change existing ones to meet consumer demands, or risk losing business to competitors. Politicians must be made to understand that the only way for them to get re-elected is to change their product, or risk another politician getting our vote.

In this case the desired product is Constitutional government. Will we ever get what we want?

The Purpose of Government to a Free People

The purpose of any government is to get things done. Its existence may not be considered legitimate. The person(s) in power may not be you. The methods used may be to your detriment. The things done may not be to your liking. Regardless, it is there to get something done. Who, what, why and how? These are answered by the type of government you live under.

The purpose of government in an authoritarian society (monarchy or oligarchy) is to do things to the “people” (subjects) at the behest of and to the benefit of the ruler(s). There are innumerable examples of such governments throughout history. The prevailing characteristic is: Either you’re “in” or you’re “out”. These tend to be very static societies, with change only coming violently from either outside by invasion or inside by revolution. Any loss of control by those in power can lead, domino-like, to the complete collapse of civil authority.

The purpose of government in a “democratic” society is to perform “collective action” with the consent of the majority. However, just because decisions are made “democratically” doesn’t necessarily make the individual any freer. If you are in the minority, you have no say in what these actions may be or in how they are achieved. In a “pure democracy” you have no rights other than those agreed to, at any given moment, by those with the most votes. History shows these societies to be short-lived due to roiling factionalism, which leaves them vulnerable to invasion due to weakness or to takeover by authoritarians offering stability.

Luckily, the Framers of our current government were students of history. They understood that the only way to be truly free was for government to protect an individual’s Life, Liberty and Property, not just from others but also from the government itself. They knew there could be too much democracy. They also knew there should not be a permanent ruling-class. The only solution was to marry those who govern to those governed, within a framework which limited the intrusive power of government. The Men who created our government had deep wells of personal experience and historical perspective from which to draw, but first they had to contend with their contemporary situation.

A little history…

The Founders may have given us a country, a Constitutional, Federal Republic, but it had a weak and ineffective government under The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The Founders cannot be blamed in any way for this compact. The Articles of Confederation was a necessarily hurried creation in a time of rebellion against their colonial Master. The authors didn’t see themselves as creators of a “nation”, but as writers of a treaty, an 18th century American “NATO”. Their States were their countries, and to these States they gave their allegiance. The Articles were drafted to protect them from their mutual enemy… and, to a certain extent, to protect them from one another.

After the conclusion of hostilities with Britain, many found the Articles to be insufficient to the task of properly governing such a large nation at the federal level. Some called for amending the Articles to expand and enhance its meager powers. A convention was called and delegates were sent to Philadelphia to propose modifications to the Articles. Within short order, the delegates came to the agreement that the Articles should be set aside, and a new document created. This action being outside their assignment, the delegates agreed to continue in secret until they could present a completed document to the Congress and the States. To this end, they wrote a new contract between the States, replacing the existing federal government with an entity answerable to not only the States, which will have created it, but also to the People, from whom they believed all legitimate political authority is derived.

The new contract, our current Constitution, gave representation, in many and varied ways, to both the States and the People. Direct accountability to the People was the element absent from the Articles of Confederation. The Framers were able to justify the broadening and strengthening of federal government authority beyond those under the Articles based, in part, on direct accountability to the People. However, our Constitutional, Federal, Democratic Republic limits those areas of action within the purview of the Federal Government. All other areas are reserved to the States and to the People. To emphasize this last point the very first Congress passed an amendment, the Tenth Amendment, to the new constitution saying exactly that.

So, “collective action” is performed, as in a democracy, but this action is constrained and compartmentalized. Unlike a “pure” democracy, the political rights of the current minority are protected on par with the majority. Like an authoritarian government, a select few make law and administer the state; however, power is not absolute and position is legitimized by citizens. An individual or faction may not get always their way, but none shall be “punished” for being on the out of the current majority. Unlike in a national government such as Britain’s, our sovereignty is maintained by the People and exercised concurrently by multiple levels of government, each assigned its unique areas of responsibilities.

In the appropriate areas and at the proper levels, our governments perform those collective actions we want performed. The federal government was given great power, but its actions were to be limited in scope to primarily national defense, and commerce, both interstate and international. Within these areas it was given a wide field, but it was not to venture beyond its estate without trespassing upon the properties of another, the States. As well, the States’ governments have greater or lesser power, depending upon their own constitutions and the wishes of their Peoples, but have responsibilities separate and unique to them from the federal level of government.

[Oddly enough, it’s never commented upon that the federal Constitution establishes no qualifications as to the type of government required at the State level. Under the Constitution, no State is required to be a Constitutional, Democratic Republic. Theoretically, a State could possibly have been a Constitutional Monarchy, as long as they convened a legislative body, and sent representatives to Congress. According to the Constitution, the States set the rules by which representation is elected. So, theoretically any qualifications could have been created.]

Now, the very nature of what constitutes a legitimate government action is often debated. However, by its very definition a legitimate government action must take place, if at all, at the correct governmental level according to the divisions of powers. As well, the perceived need for an action, even in the case of an “emergency”, does not automatically legitimize it. Many argue that the proper level of government is that which is able to muster the resources needed to perform the desired action. They don’t know their history.

An observation…

At this juncture, it must be pointed out that a proper and lawful action by an American government is not that difficult to discern, if one can read the English language. The Constitution of the United States of America is written in plain language, as are each of its amendments. The delegates to the convention were learned men, but few had a formal education. So, it is not necessary to have a law degree, any post-secondary education, or a Ouija board to comprehend the meaning of the document. At most, the notes from the debates, kept by James Madison, are all one may need, though a copy of the Federalist Papers would be illuminating. Also, all State constitutions are written in English. So, I foresee no problems on that account.

If one bothered to read the writings of those involved in constructing the Constitution, one would find their plans for the federal government somewhat grander than that which preceded it. However, it was never meant to be an all-encompassing entity involved in the daily lives of its citizens. Unless one lived in the vicinity of the Capitol or a military installation, the US Postal Service (a constitutionally mandated institution) would be one’s only possible daily interaction with the federal government.

There was never to be a behemoth in DC being THE government. It was only to be a government. Your only directly elected federal official was to be your Representative. Senators were to be selected by States’ legislatures. You were not to be overly concerned with who was the President, as he was primarily the administrator of laws passed in Congress. Very few “life or death” decisions were to be made in Washington. Without direct taxation, only those involved in commerce beyond State borders were directly affected by the federal government. That is how it was supposed to be.

Your most important political interactions were to be with State officials living in your community and whose Capitol is closer to home. You would truly know those with the most direct impact on your life. They would not be some distant person seen only in TV ads or read about in the newspaper. If things functioned as constructed, one would not feel compelled to give to federal candidates or become fervently involved in federal elections. Time and energy would be spent on local and state candidates. State and local officials would be true governors and not primarily mere administrators of federal mandates and “largesse”.

There exists a fairly simple a process to determine whether a need is a legitimate government action. Answer these questions (in the exact order given): Can the “necessary” action be taken by the individual? Can the action be taken by the family? Can the action be taken by private associations (churches, public service organizations, businesses, etc.)? Can the action be taken by municipal or local governments? Can the action be taken by State government, within the constraints of its constitution? Finally, must the action be taken by the Federal government, within the constraints of its Constitution? At any point you are able to say “yes”, stop. That is the correct place for action to occur.

Some may say that is a harsh and restrictive test. They would be right. In a society where citizens are truly free, collective action must be taken only when absolutely necessary, and then only at the level closest to the individual. There are many arguable reasons for this, but the overriding rationale is Liberty. No person should make demands on another for what he is able to do for himself. Similarly, no family, locality, or State should demand of another anything it is able to provide for itself.

Once the appropriate level of government decides a lawful action requires being done, it must then determine how it will be taken and how it will be financed. All actions taken at any level of government come at a cost, and these costs are borne exclusively by the citizens. Whether taxed directly or not, no one is immune to the costs of government. Every dollar spent by a government is a dollar taken out of the private economy, whether it be borrowed or taxed. So, these actions must be performed as efficiently and economically as possible.

Practical suggestions for necessary government…

To minimize government overhead and long-term recurring costs, few government buildings and installations should be held permanently;

As government exists to perform tasks and not to provide jobs, permanent employment with its attached costs of non-salary benefits and retirement should be limited to only essential personnel;

For taxpayers to benefit from competition in costs and services, all non-essential functions should be outsourced to third-party contractors which must bid at regular intervals;

All government programs should include “sunset” provisions, which would require new, separate enabling legislation and a vote by politicians to remain in effect;

As all federal and state governments have Civil Service laws protecting employment, labor unions and collective bargaining should end for all government employees;

All federal and state lands which are not permanent parts of the parks services should be put up for sale to private entities, thereby paying down the debt, eliminating operating costs and generating tax revenues for States and localities;

To return intended powers to the States’ governments and to end the wasteful and coercive effects of the separation of tax revenue generation from government spending, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution should be repealed;

To end the socially divisive and economically distorting effects of the generation of tax revenues based on the income of individuals, the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution should be repealed;

As federal taxes are meant to generate revenue for necessary spending and not to control behavior, it should be raised as efficiently and unobtrusively as possible which should be exclusively by a consumption tax by way of a Constitutional Amendment;

To prevent the constant growth of federal government, a Constitutional Amendment should be passed limiting spending to a fixed percent of Gross Domestic Product;

To recreate the citizen legislators envisioned by the Framers, and to end the near permanent ruling class with its focus on seniority, a Constitutional Amendment to limit the terms of Congressmen should be passed; and

To end the exchanging of blame for wasteful spending between the Executive and Legislative branches of federal government, a Constitutional Amendment giving the President a line-item veto should be passed.

The purpose of government to a free people is to secure our God-given rights to Life, Liberty and Property. Proper government does not encourage citizens to see one another as either host or parasite, as a means to further its own power. Men are only truly free when they live without fear of their government or their fellow citizens. The only way we, the American People, can regain the Liberties established, enjoyed, and fought and died for by the Founders and Framers of this nation, is to return to the original ideals they so heroically espoused. To do that we must look back to their original intent by wiping away the over two centuries of accumulated detritus that politicians and jurists have used to obscure that most beautiful document which begins “We the People of the United States of America…”

The Democratization of Risk

Posted in Business, Capitalism, Finance, Government, Government Debt, Liberty, Morality, Politicians, Regulation by kevinsoberg on June 25, 2010

I was up at my regular time the other morning reading my news and blog sites, and doing a bit of tweeting. A tweet by Jonathan Hoenig (@JonathanHoenig) directed me to his then latest post, When in Doubt about a Stock, Stay Out (http://bit.ly/bYw1uN). He gives good, common sense advice on investing in the market. Thing is, it got me thinking, which is never good…

Was there ever a time when people dealt with the foreseeable negative results of their own actions, or inactions? It sure as Hell doesn’t seem to be the way of the world, anymore. People no longer seem willing to be at fault for anything they do or for the decisions they make. As a case in point, let’s look at the financial markets…

Over the last couple of decades, greater numbers of people have entered the markets. Now, this is of great benefit to us all. We need the middles classes to be an investor class. The markets are helped by an increase in capital available to corporations allowing them to more cheaply tap needed resources. Additionally, this lessens the burden to employers and to government, which have historically been on the hook for providing retirement income to seniors.

Unfortunately, two things have happened to negate the benefits of this expansion of the investor class. The first is the way business and investment news is reported. The second is increased government involvement in the markets. Both have had their own deleterious effects on the markets and on “investors”.

In the old days of the thirty-minute network news program, most people received their financial information in a fifteen second blurb reporting on the ups or downs of the NYSE or on the movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. For more in-depth information, the average person would go to their local paper for a closing snapshot of the markets movement from the preceding day. If there was an unusually interesting day in the markets, there would be a few articles in the Business Section. The hard-core investor and the financial types could always go to the news stand for the Wall Street Journal or the Investors Business Daily, but these were specialty publications as far as most people were concerned.

This hands-off, multi-layered approach to financial reporting all ended in the late 1980’s. Introduced not only were the 24-hour cable news networks, but close on their heels came their siblings, the Business and Finance channels. With the advent of these networks, came the increased presence of financial reporters, personalities, and gurus. Financial reporting became more and more about chasing the new “hot” stock pick or about setting the new record high.

“Live from the floor” footage of the NYSE, the NASDAQ or the CBE told the riveting tales of the daily ups and downs of the markets. Personalities were trotted out to pinpoint the under-valuation or the unexpected movements of a particular company’s stock. IPO’s and LBO’s were the order of the day. The markets were going gangbusters. Everything was going up and up… until it all went south.

No one saw it coming. Except they did. They just didn’t talk much about it. It didn’t fit the narrative they were telling or the product they were selling. “Irrational exuberance” was the order of the day. All of the danger signs were there, but few wanted to see them or at least admit it if they did.

I’m not just Monday (or more appropriately, Friday) morning quarterbacking this one. I cashed out of the market a year in advance of the crash. When I passed this advice on to others, I was called crazy. “You wouldn’t believe how much I made last month.” These were the same people who asked me why I didn’t warn them, after their stock holdings lost over half of its value.

In the wake of the busting of the “Tech Bubble”, yet more “reforms” were made to the U.S. financial system, as if that was what was needed. God forbid any one look at the decisions “investors” made during the “boom.” Weren’t there already regulations requiring disclosures to the SEC? Wasn’t insider trading already illegal? Didn’t each company have to prepare a carefully created prospectus for potential investors? No, there must be some grand conspiracy to defraud people of their hard-earned money. Really? Across the entire stock market?

How could that be? Wasn’t there already a virtual “alphabet soup” of financial regulators? Yeah, there was. Our financial markets have been heavily regulated since the Great Depression. There were no inherent problems or major gaps in regulation in the financial markets. In very few cases were there any findings of malfeasance or fraud on the part of corporate leaders. Yes, many people lost a lot of money, but, for the most part, only due to their own greed. That’s right, I said it.

“How dare you?” Yeah, I can hear it from here. I dare say it because it’s true. Greed IS NOT profiting from hard work or careful investing. Greed IS trying to get something for nothing. Those who chase financial market “bubbles” are not investors. They are gamblers. You want to bet your retirement or your kid’s college fund on a roll of the dice? Take it to the Indian Reservation. Stay out of the market.

“What about those poor Enron employees who lost everything?” Too bad. The first rule of investing is “diversify risk”. Risk diversification means NOT putting all of your eggs in one basket, which is exactly what they did. If you work for a company, that’s one big egg. If your company has a retirement plan, either defined benefit or defined contribution, that’s another big egg. Do you have: an Employee Stock Option Plan, a 401K, an IRA, other personal investments? Egg, egg, egg, egg. If you put all that money (and risk) in one place, guess what happens when there is a downturn? Exactly…

Instead of placing the blame for bad “investment” decisions squarely where it rests, which is on those responsible for their own portfolios, what do politicians do? Pander. Time after time, we have to hear the moaning on Capitol Hill about the “poor little guy” who was “snookered” out of his life’s savings. Who made him put all of his money in one “investment”? What’s next? Are we going down to the riverboats to feel pity for those who put all that they have on “Black”, “Red”, or “00”? Are we going to offer them a bailout or sue the casino? I call “Bullshit!”

I’m not just saying this about individuals. As far as I’m concerned this goes for companies, unions, governments… whatever. If you’re a corporate “leader” who signs an unrealistic labor contract, then you, your employees and your investors must deal with the consequences. If you’re a union “leader” who thinks he can bleed a business or industry dry, then don’t be surprised when it dies of anemia. If you’re a government “leader” who “kowtows” to public employees in hope of securing re-election, then you must make the hard decisions when economic difficulties arise and you have budgetary shortfalls.

For too long people have been trying to take the easy way to “success”, however they may define it. They have loaded up on risk in any number of ways. When the ax finally falls, as it most assuredly will, they go running for help. To whom do they run? Us, as always. They come running with their hands out asking to be made whole for the losses they have incurred. Why wouldn’t they? They have learned we’ll open up our wallets and paychecks for every sob story told.

Most of us were taught as children that we could only succeed if we made the right choices in life. We were taught to work hard, study, save, and spend wisely. Others have been taught to do the opposite, if not directly, then by example. Too many people (and they include businessmen & politicians, manager & workers, taxpayers & tax spenders) have learned that they can behave however they want regardless of risk, and the cost will be borne by everyone BUT themselves. They have learned that they can democratize risk, and we have allowed it.

The end result of decades of bad decision-making being paid for by innocent third parties is ever more bad decisions and ever more payouts. Where are we today? Public and private debt is at all-time record highs. The value of our total national government obligations is close to 90% of our GDP, our national income. We have hit a wall. It’s time for people to learn that if they fail because of bad choices, we won’t be there to catch them anymore. We just cannot afford it.

Regarding Ezra Klein’s Charge of Extremism Against Rand Paul

Posted in Civil Rights, Free Markets, Government, History, Libertarianism, Racism by kevinsoberg on May 27, 2010

[Note: This is the third of three posts concerning Rand Paul and his post-victory foray into the land of the MSM. Let me tell you up front, I’m not a full-blown Libertarian. I do tend toward Libertarian thought, but I am most definitely very Conservative. I’m not necessarily a huge supporter of Rand Paul, and I don’t live in Kentucky. I say “Give the people what they want.” They seem to want him. Also, I am not a supporter of his father. He sometimes borders on “tin-foil hat” land (if you know what I mean?), and I don’t buy his argument about why he takes earmarks. However, I cannot stand the way Rand Paul has been attacked for taking a thoughtful and principled stand, and the way in which his views have twisted to mean something completely different from what they actually are. I felt that I had to say something.  So, here it goes…]

Ezra Klein jumped into the attack on Rand Paul last Thursday with his Washington Post article “Rand Paul may not be a Racist, but he is an Extremist” (http://tinyurl.com/28qhscb). In it Klein argued that Libertarian belief in minimal government interference in private matters is “extreme”; therefore, Paul is an extremist. But on a lighter note Klein says, “I take Paul at his word that he’s not a racist.” Well, that’s mighty big of you Mr. Klein. Hey, what say we do the same for Mr. Klein if someone makes a baseless charge against him, too?

I’ll start with Mr. Klein’s premise about Libertarian “extremism”. The part of Libertarian ideology which Mr. Klein can’t seem to wrap his mind around is the concept that “government cannot fix every problem.” So, if there are people behaving badly (but not criminally), as a good person, you act in personal ways to remedy the situation. If a business owner won’t trade with others for racist reasons, then a good person won’t trade with him. Yes, some may continue to do business with that person, but not everyone. His racism results in lost sales.

These lost sales create an opportunity for another to fill that part of the market left un-served by the racist’s self-defeating behavior. The good people and the discriminated against will frequent the new business, which will have a thankful and loyal client base. Other businesses will see the potential profits lost by this abhorrent behavior and may change their own behavior, if only to prevent another from entering their market. In either case, the market will provide the solution.

Yes, this takes some time, but nothing good happens overnight. That’s not the Statist philosophy, though. To the Statist, any problem can be rectified immediately by government fiat. To them government action is the quickest and most efficient way to achieve the desired results. Racist businesses – pass a law. “Unequal” housing – pass a law. Below national average wages – pass a law.

Instead of the “invisible hand” of the market, Mr. Klein and his ilk wish to use the “iron hand” of government to solve these problems. What they don’t seem to understand is that peoples’ attitudes don’t change with the pound of a gavel or the stroke of a pen. Mechanisms must be created and bureaucracies employed to police the government action created by that gavel or pen. People must fear their government for those actions to occur. Instead of the market having people make these decisions of their own accord, seeing them as a matter of self-interest, the government would have the people act as a matter of self-defense.

The scary part is that a person could be considered racist simply because he doesn’t believe the government should make stupidity a crime. Is it racism to believe in freedom of speech, even for racists? If it’s not, then explain how it’s racist to believe another may do as he wishes with his property. If a person chooses to make less money due to lost sales or taking a lower asking price because he is stupid enough to forgo a sale to another, for whatever reason, then it’s his life, his liberty and his property. He may do as he wishes with it.

Yes, some with racist or sectarian concerns have made use of Libertarian arguments to try to prevent any change in their circumstances. These same people were those who used the levers of State power to forward their racist agenda in the era of Jim Crow. Just as Hitler used government power to pursue a racist program, Southern Democrats (and the Klan) used government to repress minorities. Regardless of methodology used to achieve it, racism was the main purpose of their agenda.

The concern of Libertarians is that government power is coercive. Not only that, once unleashed the power is pervasive and difficult to control or retract. That power may then be used by the less good or evil to pursue their own ends. Those expanding the power forget they may not always be in charge. They might want to think of how it would be to be on the receiving end of government power before allowing its expansion.

Klein’s misunderstanding of human behavior is a symptom of his Statist mindset. His understanding of “civil rights” doesn’t take into account the differences between the public and private spheres. His default position is that government must act to “remedy” perceived “wrongs”. He fails to recognize that in a free society most interactions are within the private sphere and voluntary; therefore, outside the jurisdiction of government.

Only the government or those acting on behalf of the government may violate “civil” rights, as they have to do exclusively with the “public” sphere. An individual acting exclusively within the “private” sphere is incapable of violating another person’s “civil” rights. One individual may wrong another privately, but only in ways actionable under criminal and tort laws, if they were to violate another’s life, liberty or property.

Traditionally, government has only intervened in criminal matters, as part of its police powers. Matters of tort law have been left to the individuals, with the government acting as a “neutral” third-party. Once the government begins “prosecuting” individuals for non-criminal “offenses”, it loses its “neutral” status and becomes an advocate. Does anyone really want government dictating private behavior? Who makes those decisions, and where does it stop?

So, to answer Mr. Klein’s question: Yes, Woolworth could have a segregated lunch counter. Then you embarrass the hell out of them and go eat somewhere else. Just as you don’t counter disagreeable speech by censorship but by open debate, you don’t counter disagreeable actions by government force but by positive action.

Rand Paul, Libertarianism and the Civil Rights Act

[Note: This is the second of three posts concerning Rand Paul and his post-victory foray into the land of the MSM. Let me tell you up front, I’m not a full-blown Libertarian. I do tend toward Libertarian thought, but I am most definitely very Conservative. I’m not necessarily a huge supporter of Rand Paul, and I don’t live in Kentucky. I say “Give the people what they want.” They seem to want him. Also, I am not a supporter of his father. He sometimes borders on “tin-foil hat” land (if you know what I mean?), and I don’t buy his argument about why he takes earmarks. However, I cannot stand the way Rand Paul has been attacked for taking a thoughtful and principled stand, and the way in which his views have twisted to mean something completely different from what they actually are. I felt that I had to say something. So, here it is…]

Rand Paul raised quite a stir last Wednesday (May 19, 2010) with comments made in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow, as reported by The Huffington Post (http://tinyurl.com/2bpfare). What people don’t take into consideration are five very important things. First, Ms. Maddow broached the subject, not Mr. Paul. Second, there is no movement to repeal any provisions of the CRA. Third, the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) has been decided by the Supreme Court. Fourth, even if the CRA were repealed tomorrow, it would have no effective difference in our world. Fifth, Mr. Paul was absolutely correct.

Rachael Maddow brought up the subject of the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act (1964). Obviously, she did so knowing how he had responded previously when asked about the issue, which was in standard Libertarian fashion. Maddow decided to set Mr. Paul up for a “gotcha” moment, having negatively framed follow-up questions ready for however he answered. If he answers one way, he is leader of an evil cabal set upon returning Blacks to the cotton fields. If he answers the other, he is an ideologically inconsistent or lying leader of the evil cabal seeking the return of Blacks to the cotton fields. A word of advice to Mr. Paul, don’t go on shows where ideologues control the cameras and the mikes (but the weekend shows aren’t them).

There is no movement to repeal the Civil Rights Act. There are no groups holding rallies. No one’s chanting, “Hey, hey, hey. Gotta end the CRA”. Even in the hard-core, skin-headed, white supremacists’ wildest racist dreams, they know better than to believe it would ever happen (and I use racists in this example due to their very impure motives).

The Civil Rights Act will not be overturned in whole or part for the unforeseeable future. It has weathered multiple Court challenges to its many provisions. I don’t believe there are even any cases in the pipeline to bring it up before the Supreme Court for review. It’s here to stay, judicially.

If the public accommodations provision of the Civil Rights Act were rescinded, the world as we know it would change in no perceptible way. Customers of all races and creeds would continue to eat in restaurants throughout the country. Hotels would still take in all weary travelers who can afford to stay in them, turning none away if a bed was available. Hospitals would tend to the sick and wounded of every shape and color. We have actually reached the point where the good intentions of those who proposed this law have come to fruition. We have a law we no longer need, because the overwhelming majority of the people in this country now see the kind of behavior it sought to prevent as reprehensible. Brava!

However, Rand Paul and the Libertarians are 100% correct in saying that the “public accommodations” provision of the Civil Rights Act was and is unconstitutional. Another thing, the politicians who proposed, backed and, ultimately, voted for those provisions knew so as well. They knowingly passed an unconstitutional law because they believed in its good intentions and because they “must do something” (the three most dreaded words in a Republic).

I’m not saying the entire law was unconstitutional. The provisions of the Civil Rights Act concerning actions by State governments were exactly in line with the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment. Civil Rights Acts passed in the wake of the Civil War sought to do many of these palliative measures. Unfortunately, most of these laws were overturned by Democrat appointees to the Supreme Court. In the rush to complete Reconstruction, proper protections for former slaves were never permanently implemented. Those laws which did remain on the books eventually went unenforced as the Democratic Party and its landed (white, former slave-owning) interests quickly retook control of State legislatures.

It must be stated (unfortunately) that a “true” understanding of Libertarianism leads one to oppose government action favoring any one group over another. The ideal is to have the least possible government intrusion into one’s life. Whenever government picks winners and losers, we all actually lose due to the misuse and misdirection of power. So, you will find no one with a truly libertarian bent thinking “it’s just fine” for someone to be racist. However, you will find those using the libertarians’ arguments to forward their own sectarian concerns, but these same people would change their tune the moment Statist arguments worked more in their favor.

The “public accommodations” provisions of the Civil Rights Act extended the reach of the federal government well beyond the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment. It unleashed federal power on the private sector in ways we are dealing with to this day. Institutionalized race-based preferences, quota systems and other “affirmative actions” are still in use. No company of any size can operate without a Human Resources department which must document all points in the hiring process as a defense against possible charges of civil rights violations. All of these intrusions into the private sector can be traced back to the passage of these provisions. They were the nose under the tent of federal involvement.

If, as I’ve said, the “public accommodations” provisions have been “successful”, how can I argue that they were wrong to have been implemented in the first place? As long as the government (at whichever level) acts as a neutral referee, it’s in the best interest of liberty for people to live as they please, in accordance with minimal laws. The moment government dictates the non-criminal actions of its citizens (criminal actions being those which deprive another of their life, liberty or property) it ceases to be a truly free society. The racist who refuses to commercially associate with another does only himself harm, by his loss of a customer. The would-be customer is at most inconvenienced by the inaction of this idiot.

Yes, there are emotions involved, and they are a real concern. However, does government exist to police emotional grievances? Which grievances and of what size will government involve itself, and who will make that determination? Can’t grievances be created by addressing some grievances more than others? Once you’ve begun down this road, at what point does it end?

The problem with using extra-constitutional powers to combat perceived “wrongs” is that the powers are left in place long after the wrongs have been addressed. These powers become a permanent fixture from which the tentacles of power can reach ever further into areas unintended by even those who proposed the original “solution”. As a result, politics becomes about what “can” be done instead of being about what “must” be done. Seeking political office becomes about getting and maintaining control of government to have access to these “new” powers. How government affects our lives becomes a matter of who is in charge, not a matter of true Constitutional authority. We always hear “we are a nation of laws, not men.” How can that be so when the document fundamental to our laws, and liberty, is not even understood or paid heed to by our “leaders”?

“Frivolous”, Mr. Will?

Posted in Civil Rights, Government, History, Libertarianism, Liberty, Politics, Racism, The Constitution by kevinsoberg on May 25, 2010

[Note: This is the first of three posts concerning Rand Paul and his post-victory foray into the land of the MSM. Let me tell you up front, I’m not a full-blown Libertarian. I do tend toward Libertarian thought, but I am most definitely very Conservative. I’m not necessarily a huge supporter of Rand Paul, and I don’t live in Kentucky. I say “Give the people what they want.” They seem to want him. Also, I am not a supporter of his father. He sometimes borders on “tin-foil hat” land (if you know what I mean?), and I don’t buy his argument about why he takes earmarks. However, I cannot stand the way Rand Paul has been attacked for taking a thoughtful and principled stand, and the way in which his views have twisted to mean something completely different from what they actually are. I felt that I had to say something. So, here it is…]

Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, George Will made the following statement concerning Rand Paul, as reported by Jake Tapper (http://tinyurl.com/28c92y6). Mr. Paul is the GOP candidate for US Senate from Kentucky. The discussion of Mr. Rand came as the result of a stir caused by answers he gave to questions while being interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow, as reported by The Huffington Post (http://tinyurl.com/2bpfare).

I must disagree with Mr. Will. How exactly is it “frivolous” to have a discussion concerning our understanding of the Constitution and its underlying principles? By which of the four definitions I could find (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/frivolous) is this discussion “frivolous”? I don’t find it one bit frivolous. As a matter of fact, I find it comforting to hear a politician speak candidly about and exhibit any understanding of foundational principles. Instead, I find most politicians are all too interested in learning to pull the levers of federal power in their own favor.

Mr. Will is very haughty in his description how “we” exchanged one “right” for another. By whose authority and by what mechanism was this exchange executed? Was there an amendment to the Constitution I missed granting the federal government the power to direct individuals as to the use of their personal property in private, intrastate commerce. If not, exactly what part of the Commerce Clause or the 14th Amendment grants Washington this power?

Mr. Will argues that morality can be legislated. I don’t disagree with him on that. Our governments were instituted to protect life, liberty, property, and, at the state level, public morality. However, at exactly what point did bigotry become “immoral”? Sure it’s boorish, stupid, ignorant, irrational, and distasteful, not to mention a bad business practice, but is it immoral? Is Mr. Will going to argue next that “immoral” speech is not protected? Is he the new moral arbiter?

Mr. Will goes on to say that “white Americans” were given a new education. Hold on a second. Is “the peoples’” government supposed to be in the re-education business? I don’t see that anywhere in the Constitution either. The whole concept actually gives me the “heebie-jeebies”.

Which group is up next for this re-education, or is it only for “white Americans”? Which “white Americans” would that be, by the way? Is it just the white “white Americans”, or the Jewish “white Americans”, or the Irish “white Americans”, or maybe the mixed-race, mixed-ethnicity “white Americans” (like me)? What is the next re-education project for the feds? How to eat more “healthy foods” or stand in line for medical care (don’t take more than your “fair share”)?

Government telling people with whom they must do business is the same as telling them how to operate their business or what type of business they must run. In a truly free society one can make seriously stupid business decisions and go broke doing so. As long as one person does not deprive another of life, liberty or property the government has no say as to how or if they associate with one another.

I understand that Mr. Will sees himself as being very high-minded. He seems to have discovered an argument which makes him feel better for going against his purported “conservative” principles, for the express purpose of not being seen as “racist”. Now we know the price of his conscience. I’m sure the Framers would be as equally impressed as I am.