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Yes America Did Build That April 10, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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I have often been tempted to believe that the greatest contribution of the British people to the world has been the concept of a private limited liability company.  It was the development of this concept that created the environment for the invisible hand of capitalism to create the dynamic free economy.  And it was that free economy not conquest or empire that lifted the masses of Western Civilization out of abject poverty.

Economically that concept maybe the greatest contribution of the British to the world however when viewed as a whole the greatest contribution of the British people is the reality of a limited government in the modern world.  It is limited government which has allowed the freedom and independence necessary for humanity to do what humanity was created to do: exercise its individual free choice.

The people of Great Britain, the political forefathers of American liberty, fought for centuries to establish individual freedom.  Beginning as abject servants of an absolute king they struggled to carve out a space for the recognition of personal independence.  Through battles and death, fire and sword, through revolution and repression the people of Britain won inch by inch a space for humanity to breathe free.

Most of us have heard of the Charter of Liberties in 1100 which declared that the King was subject to the law.  The Magna Carta of 1215 asserts the writ of habeas corpus, trial by one’s peers, representation of nobility for taxation, and a ban on retroactive punishment.  The Petition of Right of 1628 asserts the specific rights and liberties of England that the King is prohibited from infringing.  The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 is a procedural device to force the courts to examine the lawfulness of a prisoner’s detention.  And finally, there was the Bill of Rights of 1689, the result of the Glorious Revolution, securing Parliamentary sovereignty over the King and courts.

Most of these were fought for and won for all British citizens back when the United States were 13 separate colonies proud to be part of the British Empire.  Americans saw themselves as British.  They believed that they had the same rights as any other British citizen and that they were not second-class citizens.  It was their stand upon these rights which became the seedbed of the American Revolution.

When Americans claimed that they were British citizens with all the rights and privileges this entailed, they pointed to the charters given to the first settlers. The First Virginia Charter, signed by King James in 1606, stated clearly:

Wee doe, for us, our heires and successors, declare by theisepresentes that all and everie the parsons being our subjects which shall dwell and inhabit within everie or anie of the saideseverall Colonies and plantacions and everie of theire children which shall happen to be borne within the limitts and precincts of the said severall Colonies and plantacions shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunites within anie of our other dominions to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and borne within this our realme of Englande or anie other of our saide dominions.

And, the “Charter of Massachusetts Bay” which was issued in 1629 that proclaimed:

Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires and Successors, ordeyne and declare, and graunte to the saide Governor and Company and their Successors, That all and every the Subjects of Us, our Heires or Successors, which shall goe to and inhabite within the saideLandes and Premisses hereby mentioned to be graunted, and every of their Children which shall happen to be borne there, or on the Seas in goeing thither, or retorning from thence,shall have and enjoy all liberties and Immunities of free and naturall Subjects within any of the Domynions of Us, our Heires or Successors, to all Intents, Constructions, and Purposes whatsoever, as if they and everie of them were borne within the Realme of England.

Then after popular uprisings and resistance compelled the British Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act they passed the Declaratory Act (1766), which said that the British Parliament’s taxing authority, was the same in America as in Great Britain.  American’s believed that they could only be taxed with the approval of their local assemblies.  In this law the Parliament also declared its complete authority to make binding laws on the American colonies “in all cases whatsoever.”

Patriots such as James Otis and Sam Adams in Massachusetts and Patrick Henry in Virginia called it treason.  They insisted that this action destroyed all that their British ancestors had fought for.  If you make a careful examination of the arguments of the Founders before the Declaration of Independence or if you look at the arguments set forth in that hallowed document you will see that all of the arguments were based upon the ancient rights which had been won by the British people. It was not until they realized that the solid foundation which they believed stood beneath their freedom was in reality a sand bar in the river of politics did they declare their independence and fight to win it.

Once they had won the long hard fight and proudly stood as 13 independent nations on the edge of what was becoming a trans-Atlantic civilization did they see that if they were to preserve the freedom they had won they needed something more than a tradition and stronger than a promise.  This is when America made its first great contribution to the world: the concept of a written constitution. Yes America you did build that.

From their British roots and from the writings of the Enlightenment giants such as John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government (1689 and 1690), Baron de Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws (1748), Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1762), Immanuel Kant’s What is Enlightenment? and his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations the Framers wrote a constitution to limit government.  For they realized without the binding chains of limitation any government will inevitably accumulate such power that it will eventually trample upon the rights of its citizens.  Sadly we have learned that even with a written constitution the same thing will eventually occur.

Our forefathers understood that any document which establishes a government and delineates which powers belong to it, and which expressly states, “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” is purposefully limiting the power of the central government.  In addition, this document is extremely clear in dividing the powers of government into separate parts as described by Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws.  In this work Montesquieu proposed separating the power of government among a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.  This approach presented a government which did not centralize all its powers in an executive.   There should be no imperial presidency.

It was the genius of the Framers to construct a constitution which they believed was strong enough to stand the test of time and the lust for power among those chosen to represent the people.  They believed as Madison said, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.”  This is America’s great contribution to civilization: a government in chains so that the people could be free for when a government is free, the people are in chains.

Then along came the Progressive Movement, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and now BHO.  They have used the fiction of a Living Document to turn the Constitution into a dead letter.  They have progressed past the limitations on the government not by following the amendment process but instead by ignoring and interpreting then calling precedent tradition.  Inch by inch, step by step slowly they turned the greatest experiment in human freedom ever devised into another welfare state kleptocracy promising a worker’s paradise for those who don’t work by plundering those who do.

The blush is off the rose.  The scam is plain to see.  The emperor has no clothes, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.”  You can’t spend more than you make forever.  Eventually the note comes due.

The political actions of our Framers followed the lead of philosophers so too the Progressives have followed their own philosophical leaders.

Marx taught them “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.”  He also taught that capitalism will wither away and then a dictatorship of the proletariat will build a worker’s paradise.  His disciples attempted to put this into practice in that great prison-house of nations: the USSR.

Lenin taught them, “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation” and “The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency” and of course “The goal of socialism is communism.”

Stalin elaborated on this further, “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed” and “Print is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party” and also “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.”

Following these precepts the enemies of freedom have captured the education system and systematically worked to dumb down our people.  They have captured the major media and turned it from a watch dog to a lap dog swilling out propaganda to a populace entranced by bread and circuses.

It is our duty to keep the light of freedom alive, to teach our true History, and to instill in our children and in the minds of any who will listen, limited government is essential for freedom.  Let us work to restore the limits so our children may be free.

Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

You Say You Want a Revolution April 3, 2014

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Our revolution changed the world. Our Declaration of Independence proclaims self-evident truths. That all men are created equal, they’re endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These words shook a world held in the vise-grip of hereditary privilege inspiring people around the globe. Our Constitution established a representative republic with a limited government of the people, by the people and for the people.

We’ve watched as our constitutionally limited government grew until today it’s a leviathan running amok like Godzilla in Tokyo smashing things and scaring boy scouts. Today the Federal government is the largest employer in America, states are the largest employers in the states and counties are among the largest employers in the counties get the picture? Government is on a rampage and unless Mothra is going to fly in to save the day we’ll have to deal with Frankenstein-on-the-Potomac ourselves.

Such brazen power-plays as the Executive branch issuing the Legislature an ultimatum, either pass Cap-N-Trade or we’ll impose it administratively through command-and-control make the dramatic changes in our political culture shockingly apparent.   Has our balance of powers melted away under the glare of executive orders, signing statements and now ultimatums?   Some people say this is evolution. To others it’s devolution. Our hard-won and dearly-paid-for Republic is devolving into a command-and-control all-encompassing central-state.

With political dynasties bequeathing congressional seats like hereditary fiefdoms it’s becoming hard to explain why we left the British Empire. Today we not only have taxation without representation as congressional party-line voters ignore their constituents we also have representation without taxation as the perpetually re-elected Lords and Ladies represent the illegal immigrants and the professional welfare hammock-riders.

These big government social planners may believe they’ve achieved their community organizing goals fulfilling Historian Will Durant paraphrase of Lincoln’s famous quote, “It may be true that you can’t fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.” They may believe their revolutionary administration will fundamentally change America however, if they’d step 20 miles outside the Beltway obviously there’s a counter-revolution brewing. The Tea Party is overtaking the Republican Party in popularity. It has already supplanted them at the grassroots of the conservative movement. By 2010 an avalanche of voters thronged the polling places demanding their country back.

Following the tactics of Saul Alinsky brought the Obama-Acorn-SEIU coalition control of the Democratic Party and the country but following the Cloward/Piven Strategy for overwhelming the system to impose an alternative system is going to lead to a complete repudiation of this radical departure from traditional American politics and economics. We aren’t Venezuela. Even after decades of legislative efforts to progressively create a permanent underclass of government dependents who’ll follow the leader to the next looting of productive members of society the majority in this country still want freedom and opportunity not cradle-to-grave mediocrity.

We can and should stage a counter-revolution against this growing tyranny. A peaceful, lawful revolution at the ballot box and if you’re talking about destruction, you can count me out. The last thing we need in this crowded theater full of combustible emotions is either a match or someone shouting fire. Any incident right now would trigger a massive response. Just as the executive is using the EPA to impose the onerous restrictions of a Cap-N-Trade style economy stunting strangulation of regulations he’s also using ICE to change the enforcement of immigration policy and cook the books without any messy debate.

Ruling by decree, “I have a pen and I have a phone,” is hardly compatible with constitutionally-limited government. We’re told the administration has solutions. They sold us a solution to heal the greatest health care system in the world “If you like your plan you can keep your plan. Period” lik e a pig-in-a-poke. They claim to have a solution to save or create jobs while we lose jobs every month, a draconian solution for the man-made global warming hoax, a solution for endless wars for elusive peace. You say you have a solution. We’d all love to see the plan.

They say they want a contribution. Back in the good old change we could believe in days the dialogue of class warfare repeated that no one making under 250,000, or was it 150,000, or was it …anyway only the evil rich would have to pay a dime of new taxes. Watch out! You might find out you’re rich come next April 15th.

Everyone has known since at least that tax-cutting wild man JFK that cutting taxes increases revenue to the government and raising them lowers revenue. Since the government knows raising taxes lowers revenue and since they’re raising taxes to increase revenue what are they trying to do? Complicated tax codes are used as a way to incentivize and de-incentivize behavior.

If you want more widgets give tax breaks for buying widgets. If you want less widgets tax widgets. Using that for a guide notice what’s being pushed and what’s being pulled? Taxes on producers and tax breaks for non-producers imagine tax cuts for people who don’t pay taxes and tax increases for those who do. Taking the money of producers to bailout the greedy, reward the cronies and support the lazy. It’s time to tell the statists at the ballot box if they want money for things we hate they’re going to have to wait.

Executive orders and signing statements have been used in Republican and Democrat administrations for years to change the constitution without changing the Constitution. Now sweeping new powers by regulators threatens to make Congress irrelevant as an all-powerful executive branch grows like a malignant tumor. Don’t lose heart, don’t despair, don’t you know it’s going to be all right? Keep the faith, keep the peace, organize and win the day. We shall Overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Yesterday’s Tomorrow is Today March 13, 2014

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Science fiction has predicted many of today’s realities from cell phones to tablets.  Many things that are today part of History like walking on the moon, organ transplants, and space stations were once flights of fancy.

Futurists build current events on a foundation of History to provide a launching pad for visions of what is to come.  One of the most widely recognized Futurists is Alvin Toffler whose seminal works include Future Shock and The Third Wave.  He is also the one who told us, “Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.”

Here is my question for today “Is Ray Kurzweil a futurist?”

The Wall Street Journal has described Kurzweil as “the restless genius.”  Forbes calls him “the ultimate thinking machine.”  He has been ranked by Inc. Magazine as #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States  He has also been called “the rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” while according to PBS he is one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America.”

His inventions are breathtaking and they impact our lives on a daily basis.  These inventions include the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

Today, many websites attribute Mr. Kurzweil with accurate predictions about where the world will be tomorrow.  In his latest book, The Singularity is Near he describes the singularity as, a reference to the theoretical limitlessness of exponential expansion) that will see the merging of our biology with the staggering achievements of “GNR” (genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics) to create a species of unrecognizably high intelligence, durability, comprehension, memory and so on.  This is a bold prediction; however, bold predictions do not a Futurist make.

There is a fundamental difference between someone who is a professional writer and observer of humanity such as Toffler and someone who is a technological genius with almost unlimited resources who is actively working to make his predictions reality.  Toffler reads studies and interviews on his way to predictions of where society and technologies will go next.  Kurzweil traded in his massive private business built upon his inventions to become Google’s Director of Engineering whose sole job is to make the company’s computers smarter than humans.  He is working every day to improve artificial intelligence and then wed that to cutting edge robotics and human interface to produce the very singularity he is predicting.

Reaching back to the science fiction genre which I referenced earlier we are looking at the rise of the machines, the coming of the cylons, skynet, and the matrix.  These of course are all fiction; however, the reality we face brings this question to my mind, “Once we design and build machines that are smarter than we are and they design and build machines that are smarter than they are what do they need us for?”

The projected development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) foresees a time when machines not only rival but surpass human capabilities.  Once this happens will we know when these super intelligent machines cross the threshold from hyper abilities to self-awareness?  These scenarios are troubling, even terrifying yet most people would dismiss them as the science fiction they mirror.  There is another aspect of this technological revolution that is not quite as far-fetched and not quite as unbelievable: automation.

We have lived with automation all of our lives.  People have been displaced by innovation since the Sumerian water wheel took the place of people with buckets bringing water from rivers into their fields.  I can remember people telling me in the 1970s, “I’m a keypunch operator, I’ll always have a job.”  Today machinists, tool and dye makers, auto workers, and many people have been replaced by machines.  Tomorrow white collar workers will face the same fate as so many of their blue collar brethren.  Why do we need accountants when machines can fill in the same programs they use today to figure taxes and current accounts?  Who needs teachers when lectures can be delivered by speech technology, questions answered by Watson type question answers, and tests grade themselves?

Look to Futurists like Toffler who are predicting where we are headed and look to inventors like Kurzweil who are telegraphing where they are headed and a collage of futures points to the tomorrow today will become.

It is my contention that we as a people, as a society, and as a civilization need to address this soon approaching brave new world.  When I speak to people about these coming changes the almost universal reaction is, “Not in my lifetime.”  I believe this is a combination of wishful thinking, hiding our heads in the sand, and having no idea what is going on around us.

This is a social dislocation approaching at speeds unforeseen.  I don’t believe these changes are decades away.  I believe within a decade they will be upon us.  Large percentages of blue and white collar workers will be displaced.  Machines will take the place of humans in many areas and humans will not be able to compete with them.  If we allow this to come upon us with no preparation we will be swamped by the rising tide of change and drowned in the tsunami of innovation.

Change is accelerating as the interconnectedness of communication accelerates the cross-polarization of ideas.  After tens of thousands of years the use of the wheel had not spread all the way around the world.  Today something is invented in America this morning, improved in India this afternoon, and spawning new ideas tomorrow in China.  We cannot contain the explosion of technology because someone somewhere will always seek to move beyond the known to the unknown.   No matter what glories we have beheld yesterday tomorrow is coming whether today is ready or not.

Long ago Toffler told us, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.”  He also predicted and predated Kurzweil’s Singularity when he said, “The next major explosion is going to be when genetics and computers come together. I’m talking about an organic computer – about biological substances that can function like a semiconductor.”

How long will it before our cars drive themselves, 3-D printers create human organs, and the government has the ability to monitor everyone at once?  How long will it be before you cannot tell the difference between speaking to a computer on the phone and speaking to a human?

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  If we as a society do not stop living in yesterday and face up to the challenges of today we will sacrifice our future.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Your Need Limits to be Free March 6, 2014

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The problem with anarchy is that it must become organized to accomplish anything.  Then like militant apathy it declares war against the machine never realizing that it is merely another cog in the wheel that grinds itself to dust.

The Law of Liberty defines that space where an individual is secure and free to live their life as they choose.

The life of humanity with society is only possible because the vast majority of people act within the framework of certain rules.  As society becomes more complex these rules evolve from the basic instinct of what is right and wrong to evermore explicit guidelines that are both general and abstract.

The fact that we are the products of thousands of years and hundreds of generations of institutional law makes us as blind to the intricate and all-encompassing nature of this skeleton upon which our society lives and moves.  Just as a fish does not notice the water within which it moves and we are not constantly aware of the air in which we move our social self is not aware of the framework of laws which daily provide the context within which we find our meaning.

If we were to have one flash of insight which revealed to us the web of law, tradition, and ceremony within which we move we would realize that it is no more the invention of design of one person or group than the ubiquitous personal computer upon which I am writing this essay and upon which you are reading it.  We realize that this wonder of technology that in so many ways defines our lives has evolved by fits and starts.  One person or group developed this and some other individual or group added that.  From hardware to software we have advanced from the Commodore to the Mac from the mainframe to the tablet.  To trace the development of the life changing wonder now takes volumes yet we wake up every morning, turn it on, go to work, and never give a thought as to how it got here.  Such is the scaffold which delineates both our limits and our freedom.

In the simplest of societies, when two individuals meet a basic level of order is inherently understood thus establishing a sphere of action that is recognized as belonging to each one separately.  In personal relations this is usually through the unconscious acceptance of rules inbred by that society not by formal law.  These are habits of thought and action not expressed as legally proscribed but instead as universally accepted.

This is the basis for the abstract nature of human society wherein individuals respond in a similar manner to circumstances which share some but not all things in common.  People will obey and follow such abstract rules long before it becomes necessary to write them down.  People knew it was wrong to murder or steal long before it became necessary to have formal laws saying these actions were illegal.

The most important aspect of laws in relation to freedom is that they need to be general and they need to apply to everyone equally as opposed to directives which are specific and focused.  It is vitally important to keep these two aspects of society’s structure clearly understood and delineated.

Laws should be applicable to all people at all times in all places.  In this way they do not encumber our freedom and are more as a natural part of the environment with which all must contend equally.  As laws are applied in varying situations they become more specific and directed morphing from law into directive.  Directives proscribe the actions of individuals and laws define the actions of all.

For example in a large enterprise most of the time individuals will go about their tasks without singular guidance.  They will follow standing orders adapting them to unique situations as they arise only on rare occasions receiving specific direction.  In other words within the sphere of general subordination most of the time is spent as an autonomous actor accomplishing individual tasks.

In this large enterprise we envision all activity is directed ultimately by the highest authority.  In order to provide for the appearance of unforeseen and unforeseeable events a certain amount of latitude is always allowed to the individual.  This is the sphere of freedom even within a tightly controlled environment.  Of course this also means that the means to any end must be presupposed to be allocated to any particular individual presented with any particular circumstance.  Such an allocation of resources might be the assignment of particular things or times that can be applied by the individual to their own design.

These general guidelines for individuals can only be altered by new laws from the highest authority that are announced for longer periods of time and for more unforeseen events.  These new laws may serve to change the shape or complexion of the sphere of freedom however they will apply to everyone and therefore become an impediment to personal freedom akin to a natural barrier affecting all the same.  Everyone must climb the same mountain to reach the same valley.

Thus within even a tightly controlled enterprise each individual comes to know what their sphere of liberty is, where it ends, and another’s begins.  This is how, even within societies that mandated the communal ownership of the means of production and the state ownership of everything else such as the former USSR, people still spoke of “My” house, “My” clothes, and “My” children.

Some measure of liberty will always exist as long as humans are humans.  Even as our current government seeks to exert control over the totality of life our sphere of liberty still exists.

The greatest safeguard for the preservation and restoration of liberty is the limitation of the power of government to move beyond the general into the specific.  As long as laws apply to everyone the individual is secure.  As long as the laws our representatives pass apply to them as well as us we are all secure.  However when we find ourselves dominated by a perpetually re-elected ruling class aided, abetted, and encouraged by a unionized civil-service-protected nomenclature intent on ignoring constitutionally mandated limits we approach a time when the directives of the few will trump the laws of the many.

We need limits to be free.  In a complex society we need laws to have limits.  The Constitution was written to limit the laws to certain areas for certain reasons making them general and universally applied.  The progression of the advocates of control past the written certainty of the Constitution to the fog of the Living Document seeks to issue directives that are specific and individually applied.

Anarchy does not bring freedom but neither does totalitarian control.  Somewhere in between is the sweet spot.  Somewhere in between lies a dynamic relationship where each person does not do whatever is right in their own eyes and no one attempts to make every decision for everyone everywhere.  Somewhere in between is a place that declares that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has been endowed upon everyone equally by our creator.  Somewhere in between lays a more perfect union of limited government, personal liberty, and economic opportunity.  We were there once.  Let’s find our way home.

Keep the faith, keep the peace, we shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

You Should Ask Whose Property Is It February 27, 2014

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Even for someone who learned at their grandmother’s knee that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable the knowledge that some things are mine and some things aren’t came early.  The whole idea of freedom rests upon the idea that within the wider world which is society there is a smaller circle that outlines what is personal and what is communal.  Even in monasteries where monks have taken vows of poverty they refer to my cell, my candle and my prayers.

Private property is an essential ingredient of a free society.

Two of the greatest rewards derived from the study of History are the ability to build upon the achievements of others and the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.  One of the greatest calamities caused by the failure to study History is a lack of context.

Most people live their lives as if History began the day they were born and they forever live in a constantly flowing and ever changing now.  George Orwell said in his epic dystopian novel 1984 that, “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

The Progressives captured the majority of American education long ago and have taught generations of Americans that capitalism is bad and socialism is good.  They have also taught children since at least the 1950s that America has been a grasping imperialistic power that has prospered by taking from others.  We are seeing the fruits of this propaganda today.

Instead of memorizing the Declaration of Independence, our children have memorized the outlandish theories of Al Gore.  Instead of learning the truth they have been indoctrinated with an inconvenient truth that is inconvenient because it isn’t true. They have been taught from History books that have more about Nelson Mandela than they do about George Washington.  And this is not a new thing.  I am in my 60s and I was thrown out of public schools for standing up for capitalism by people who were pushing socialism.

If we want to recapture the future we have to recapture the present so we can recapture the past.  Today those of us who believe in limited government, individual freedom and economic opportunity live as subjects in a land dominated and occupied by people who act as if America should pay a penalty or do penance for being the greatest country to have ever existed.  We must regain and preserve our heritage of knowledge by regaining knowledge of our History or it will be erased from the consciousness of our children and replaced with the inconvenient lies of a shabby Progressive future.  A future where the sun is setting for the West rising in the East, and a paternal government seeks to take the place of god.

If we want to save America we must begin at the beginning.  Most people think the Constitution is the beginning.  Even though our Progressive masters seek to reinterpret it to bring about our end it wasn’t our beginning.  Before the Constitution came The Declaration of Independence.  This is the seminal document proclaiming to the world a new nation not ruled by kings had appeared upon the stage.  This Declaration did not spring freshly from the imagination of Thomas Jefferson.  It was not born in a vacuum.   Jefferson was a student of Philosophy and History.

When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he built many of the ideas on the works of John Locke one of the greatest influences on the Framers.  Locke had written in The Second Treatise of Civil Government, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…”

This in turn inspired George Mason to write in The Virginia Declaration of Rights which was published just before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

Today the concept of private property is out of fashion as our collectivist rulers try to build a classless society on such misunderstood and elastic phrases as the Pursuit of Happiness and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Looking at the works and words of our founders and of those who framed the Constitution it is plain to see that the phrase Pursuit of Happiness was everywhere used as meaning the right to own, control and use private property which brings us to economics.

In a capitalistic system people own, control and use their own private property for their own devices.   The opposite of that is Communism which advocates the state ownership of all property.  Portraying itself as half way in between is Socialism which seeks to extract a portion of the rewards of private property for the benefit of those who do not own it.  A malignant form of socialism with a capitalist veneer, Fascism advocates private ownership and total state control of its use.

Looking at capitalism we see the miracle that was the United States.  In just a little over 150 years we rose from being 13 impoverished, war ravaged states loosely bound together into a colossus that strode upon the world stage saving freedom first from fascism and then from communism.

One of the founders of the Soviet nightmare Leon Trotsky said of the communistic system he helped create, “In a country where the sole employer is the state. Opposition means death by slow starvation.  The old principle, he who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”

And although Socialists try to play the part of sentimental reformers who are only out to help the children their ultimate agenda shows that they are in reality merely a stalking horse for their communist big brother.  One socialist site puts it this way, “In Socialism, the laborer is the direct manager of their means of production, and receives the whole of their production. In Capitalism, the laborer is dominated by a Capitalist, who directs production and sets wages.”

As for the Fascists their program may sound familiar, “We ask that government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within the confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand: … an end to the power of financial interest. We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. We demand … the greatest possible consideration of small business in the purchases of the national, state, and municipal governments. In order to make possible to every capable and industrious [citizen] the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our system of public education…. We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents…. The government must undertake the improvement of public health — by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor — by the greatest possible support for all groups concerned with the physical education of youth. [W]e combat the … materialistic spirit within and without us, and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of The Common Good Before the Individual Good.”

Ask yourself where are we today?  The government issues regulations at the mind numbing rate of 68 per day.  According to a study by the American Action Forum, regulations that went into effect in 2013 cost Americans $112 billion – or $447 million for each of the 251 days the federal government was open.  This study also predicts that the regulatory burden will increase to $143 billion in 2014.  Who controls the property you own?  Who reaps the benefit of your labor?  Tax Freedom Day, the day after which you have worked enough to pay your taxes and can now start working for yourself gets later each year.  In 2013 it was April 18th, five days later than it was in 2012.

F. A. Hayek tells us in The Constitution of Liberty, “True coercion occurs when armed bands of conquerors make the subject people toil for them, when organized gangsters extort a levy for ‘protection,’ when the knower of an evil secret blackmails his victim, and, of course, when the state threatens to inflict punishment and to employ physical force to make us obey its commands.”

John Locke told us, “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”  He also said, “All wealth is the product of labor,” and “Government has no other end, but the preservation of property.”  These are the bedrocks upon which our system was originally built.  The next time you receive your pay look at the deductions.  Ask yourself for whose benefit do you toil?  Then look around you and think of the taxes you pay, the regulations you must follow, and the rules you must obey; then ask yourself, whose property is it?

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Why We Need Capitalists February 20, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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1 comment so far

At one time in America most people were financially independent.  I don’t mean by this that most people were wealthy.  What I mean is that they worked for themselves as opposed to working for someone else as a hired laborer.  People were farmers, or craftsmen, trappers, or frontiersmen.  Thomas Jefferson pictured America as a republic based upon the yeoman farmer.

That day has passed.  Today most people who work are employed by someone and draw a wage. As a matter of fact in America today it is not overstating the matter to say that of those who earn their own living the vast majority are exclusively wage earners.

Combine this with the reality of our modern infatuation with democracy and it is no wonder that the majority of voters continue to elect people who are pro-worker and anti-free enterprise.  This is aptly reflected in our labor laws and the radicalized National Labor Relations Board.  It is also reflected in the progressive income tax, the fact that corporate income is taxed twice, once as income to the corporation and secondly as income when the same money is distributed to shareholders.  It is further manifested in the bewildering array of regulations that spew forth from Washington strangling business in red tape.

The masses of wage earners have fallen prey to the siren songs of demagogues.  These pied pipers point to the visible difference between the rewards earned by those who risk their capital and their personal efforts to start and build an enterprise and those who earn wages to work for those enterprises.  These differences in reward are labeled as unfair.  It is either intimated or stated directly that those who start enterprises and build their bigger reward have done so by taking from those who earn a smaller reward by working for the enterprises they build.

We hear endlessly about a fair deal, a level playing field and building ladders to the middle class.  Government control is offered as a gateway to utopia where those who earn too much give to those who earn too little; from each according to their ability to each according to their need.  The Svengalis of redistribution seek to mesmerize people removed from anything except doing a proscribed task for an agreed upon amount.  They teach that free enterprise is the cause of the unfairness portrayed as America’s legacy.  Our state controlled schools drum the same message into our children until it become to them common sense.  The subservient media sing the same song in movies, on TV and in the news.

Building upon this multipronged barrage of propaganda the worship of democracy kicks in to warp our Republic.  When we combine those who succumb to the collectivist delusion among the wage earners with government workers and those who are living off the dole and we have a solid majority dedicated to restricting freedom to gain security.  A bargain our Founders warned us leads to having neither.

This is where we stand today.  The entrepreneur is looked down upon as a parasite on the economic life of the wage earners.  Entrepreneurs are portrayed in movies, on TV, and by our leaders as grasping schemers who care nothing for the environment or their fellow man, and the only reason they aren’t throwing grandma off the cliff is because someone is watching.  Try to remember the last time Outside of an Ayn Rand novel or movie that you saw capitalists portrayed as anything positive in America.  It is generally believed by the low information voters that the only way people get rich is to steal from the poor.

This is a trap; a trap that swallowed Russia and held it captive for generations, and a trap that impoverished Eastern Europe and turned China into one big internment camp.  Those who spent most of the 20th century sitting in the dirt eating leaves as a result of their campaign against free enterprise have broken their chains and are today the Tigers of East Asia and the power houses made of BRIC.

Entrepreneurs are necessary.  They are the engine that makes the wheels of innovation turn.  They are the ones willing to take a risk.  They will turn away from the guaranteed wage and the benefits all our parents taught us were necessary for a good life.  They are the ones willing to take the chance and hazard their all for something others can’t see.  They are the ones who build the organizations for others to work within. Without them economies stagnate, suffocate, and die.

If the government were to take over every business in America and ensure that every wage earner could continue to earn their daily bread does anyone think this would be the America that we have known?  Does anyone believe it would be the America that grew from thirteen impoverished war weary states on the edge of civilization into the greatest power the world has ever known?  This has been tried before and everywhere it has ever been tried it has failed.  Don’t believe the political savants who tell us this time it will work.  The ones who say they will do it differently and whose every program proves they are doing it the same.

In Russia the government actually took ownership of everything, and then ran it all into the ground.  In Italy and Germany they tried it another way.  They allowed for private ownership but with strict government control.  Here in our American version we are following the Italian and German path with crony capitalism building fortunes on political access.  Our stock market does not move in response to innovation and enterprise it moves in tandem with government policies. The Too-Big-to-Fails make the cronies at the top wealthy as they plunder the assets, buy back the stock, and enrich their friends with options.  All while making sizable campaign donations along the way to those who make it all legal.  Then when the bubbles burst they get bailed out and the tax payers foot the bill.

If we are to survive let alone thrive we have got to open the way for the innovator.  We have got to once again encourage the risk taker, quit punishing success, and stop subsidizing failure.

To give a good day’s work for a day’s wage is an honorable thing. To be a faithful and responsible employee is something we can teach our children.  However without the new energy and markets created by innovative entrepreneurs the system will eventually stop growing.  When the pie stops growing everyone ends up fighting over the size of their piece.  When the pie stops growing and the population keeps growing everyone’s piece must get smaller, except of course for those who do the dividing.

Why do we need capitalists?  So that everyone else can have a job.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Why Can’t We Change? February 7, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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1 comment so far

Paths with no obstacles usually lead nowhere.

Among those who hallow the Constitution you will find no more loyal devotee to this document that helped continue the limited government established under the Article of Confederation.  There is no one who believes more passionately than the author of this article that the Constitution provided the space for the individual freedom, personal liberty, and economic opportunity needed to foster the growth of the greatest nation this world has ever seen

However, it is only necessary to read The Gilded Age by Mark Twain to see how corruption and greed, crony capitalism and lobbyists have been building their own kingdoms since before any of us were born.  And just as it doesn’t take a weather man to know which way the wind blows it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to know at this time and in this place the Constitution has failed.

Look at the path America is on.  Do you think our current leaders or our current policies will lead to a renewing of America or to its slide into the second tier of nations?  Think about the directions laid out for us.

We are told by the Progressives who lead us that perpetual continuation of unemployment payments for the long-term unemployed is good for the economy and good for jobs.

If unemployment creates jobs and is good for the economy why don’t we just give it to everyone who doesn’t have a job in perpetuity, and make it a thousand dollars a week for good measure?

Increase the minimum wage to $10.10.  This will create jobs and help the economy.  Our leaders say there are just too many people laboring for the current starvation wage of $7.25. While according to CNN Money, “An estimated 3.6 million people were paid hourly rates at or below the federal minimum in 2012, down from 3.8 million a year earlier.  Just under 60% of all U.S. workers are paid hourly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An estimated 4.7% of those hourly workers make minimum wage or less, down from 5.2%, a year earlier. That share is the lowest since 2008.”  That’s quite a few people: 3.6 million, and obviously worthy of notice.

However when 16 million people had their healthcare plans cancelled due to Obamacare we were told this was an insignificant number.  As with everything connected to Obamacare the numbers of those who have lost insurance coverage as a result are sketchy.  Some sources say more than 4.2 million Americans have now seen their health insurance policies canceled due to the new regulations. And the President’s spokesman said that 14 million losing their healthcare is just a “small sliver” of the population.

We must increase food stamps.  This is the only humane thing to do since so many go to sleep hungry at night, and besides it will create jobs and it’s good for the economy.

If food stamps spur economic growth why not just give them to everyone and on a handy plastic card that works at marijuana stores and casinos.

We must have comprehensive immigration reform, the code words for amnesty because it will create jobs and it’s good for the economy besides the illegals have earned the right to be citizens. This comes not from some general in La Raza it comes from our own Secretary of Homeland Security.  If illegal immigrants have earned the right to be citizens why don’t we just dispense with borders and give citizenship to every undocumented democrat who can walk across the line.

Look at these continuing soap operas we find as our national policy.  These are transparent wealth transfers, give aways, and oxymoronic programs building bridges to nowhere.  All passed by the gerrymandered representatives of K Street that make up the perpetually re-elected representatives of our nation and lame excuses for leadership proposed by empty suits who have occupied the White House since Reagan went home to California.

What’s a patriot to do?  There is a remedy in the Constitution for the failure of the Constitution.  It is found in Article V which describes the amendment process. This provides two ways to amend the Constitution: either Congress initiates an amendment or the States can call for a Constitutional Convention to consider amendments.  The first method has resulted in 27 amendments.  The second method has never been used.

Many people fear a Constitutional Convention.  Many believe that it would open a can of worms and lead to the destruction of our limited government.  Our limited government has already been co-opted by the Progressives and turned into a Leviathan which is quickly devouring every limit and every freedom in its path.

What we have is not working, and it hasn’t worked for quite some time.  I believe Article V at least provides a method to attempt to return to limited government peacefully.  Let’s give peace a chance.  I believe that the principles of liberty can win in the marketplace of ideas.  Let us engage in a debate to save our present and the future of our children.  To continue the way we are going leads to a democratic totalitarianism of the majority.

If we could find the faith and the courage to call a Constitutional Convention for what should we advocate?

I propose we do as our ancestors the Framers of our Constitution did when they were called upon to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation.  I propose we write a completely new document.  Where do I get the chutzpa, the hubris to call for such an outcome?

By remembering why governments exist at all, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  And never forgetting “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or 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 (sic) their safety and happiness.”

Our system is broken and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put it back together again.  If we stay within the bounds of what has been done in the past what are we to do?  Propose a Balanced Budget Amendment or a Spending Restriction Amendment?  Or perhaps an amendment that says, “The Constitution means what it says not what judges interpret it to say” and then stand back while the Supreme Court interprets that to mean as one Chief Justice said, “The Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means.”

If we continue to play the same game by the same rules we will lose the same hand because the deck is stacked.  This is when we need to remember: paths with no obstacles usually lead nowhere.

Let us be as bold and brave as our forefathers.  Let us propose fundamental change and roll the dice.  If you don’t swing the bat you don’t have a chance to hit the ball.  If we continue on the road we are traveling the only thing left to say is an attempt to explain how and why we let freedom slip from our grasp.

I believe that no one is as smart as everyone, so the ideas I am proposing I do not see as the beginning and end of debate.  I see them instead as a starting point.  Let’s join together, demand a hearing, and move forward in an attempt to reinstate limited government and preserve this last best hope of mankind.

First of all I stand for retaining the amendments with the exception of the 16th and 17th and enshrining them within the original document.

I propose eliminating the office of President and changing to a parliamentary style government based upon the majority in the House electing a Prime Minister who is head of government and head of State.  Elections for the House should continue on a two year basis.

I propose that we keep the Senate but that it reverts to its original intent as the representatives of the States and those Senators are once again elected by the legislatures of the States and serve at their pleasure.

I propose stronger guarantees for the States in a renewed Federalism: a true confederation similar to that of Switzerland.

I propose that since the scope of Federal jurisdiction will be severely restricted, the Federal Court System along with its power of judicial review be abolished.  The State court systems are well able to handle the civil and criminal cases brought within their boundaries.

I propose that the Supreme Court be abolished and replaced by a Constitutional Court similar to Germany’s.  This court would be physically removed from the capital, and it shall have no jurisdiction beyond Judicial Review having the power to declare laws and actions of the Federal Government unconstitutional.  The Congress shall have the power to override these rulings by a three quarter majority in both houses.  Judges shall serve four year terms with only two terms allowed.

I know that these proposals will make some people very upset.  I know these proposals will make some quit reading this History of the Future.  I also know that is we do not do something to break the log jam the river will not flow free.

Yes, there are what seem to be insurmountable obstacles to change.  I know these obstacles are daunting, and they will not be overcome by the timid.  However, paths with no obstacles usually lead nowhere, and if what we have is no longer working, why can’t we change.

Keep the Faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

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