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Why Do We Obey? May 22, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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How can a law be illegitimate?  Isn’t this an oxymoronic question?  It is a question that brings us to the concept that there can be a difference between what is legal and what is right.  This is the debate between those who believe in Legal Positivism and those who believe in Natural Rights.

Legal positivists “believe that the only legitimate sources of law are those written rules, regulations, and principles that have been expressly enacted, adopted, or recognized by a governmental entity or political institution, including administrative, executive, legislative, and judicial bodies.”  In other words whatever the government says is legal is right.

While those who believe in Natural Law believe “all written laws must be informed by, or made to comport with, universal principles of morality, religion, and justice, such that a law that is not fair and just may not rightly be called law.”  Any law which is contrary to Natural Law is not a legitimate law. For example a law that says it is legal to murder others would be seen by all to be illegitimate in amoral sense even though it would be technically legal.

That this is the concept under which the United States was first formulated is self-evident when we read that incomparable document which was issued by the Continental Congress as a justification for its war and its purpose: the Declaration of Independence.  In its opening paragraph, the preamble which all school children once memorized, this document explains itself thus: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

This brings us to the first debate of this essay. Is God supreme and consequently His laws binding upon all people and all nations?  Or is man supreme and all nations amendable to his will and purpose and all his laws supreme until they are changed?

When they decided to adopt the phrase “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” the fifty six signers of the Declaration based the foundation of our country on a legal standard of freedom.  They sought to impress this mold into all the various forms of government to follow. This legal standard of freedom they adopted was that God’s law was supreme and that this law inherently gives man freedom. The phrase “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” referred to the laws that God as the Creator of the universe established for the governance of people, nations, and nature. Throughout History these laws have been described as the laws of Creation, God’s Creation laws, or as the Founders of our nation chose to call them, the laws of nature and of nature’s God. These laws, whatever they are called, are ascertained through an examination of God’s creation, the text of the Bible, and instinct or reason.

The decision of the Founders to expressly rely upon God’s law was not a casual one.  The debate concerning the basis of law had raged on both sides of the Atlantic for many years before and after the Declaration was drafted. After years of reflection on the Declaration of Independence, its principle author, Thomas Jefferson,  stated in 1825 that its central point was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject.”

That this is a generally accepted theory has been affirmed by the world in the universal acceptance of the correctness of the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.  The Nazis who were on trial universally sought to defend themselves on the grounds that everything they did was legal and that they were just following the orders of the legally constituted government.  This defense was universally rejected.  The world came together and said in effect there is a higher law.

In America today it is the accepted practice that our federal legislature enacts laws which direct the apparatus of government as to how it should operate.  It is also accepted practice that the same body enacts laws which establish rules for how ordinary individuals should live their lives.  This duality obscures the truth that though it is necessary and proper for the government to administer the labor of those who have been hired to carry out its will this does not translate into an objective right to administer the individual efforts of its citizens.

The distinguishing characteristic between a free societyand a command society is that in a free society there is a recognized sphere of personal action which stands apart from the public sphere.  In a free society it is recognized that within the private sphere an individual cannot be ordered about at the whim of government bureaucrats.  It is also recognized that in the public sphere individuals should only be required to obey laws which are generally applicable to all.  It used to be the proud declaration of free people that as long as they kept within the bounds of known law they didn’t need to ask by your leave of anyone, they were sovereign of their own life.

This however was a declaration grounded on the belief that laws should be of a general nature; they should be clearly stated and knowable.

Today our Progressive leaders pass laws composed of thousands of pages written in the clear and precise language of government new-speak insurance papers by saying, “We have to pass it to know what’s in it.”  We also have the spectacle of the man who was in charge of writing the tax code for decades when he is caught cheating on his taxes saying, “I personally feel that I have done nothing morally wrong.”   While Mr. Rangle was never indicted for tax evasion since he is above the laws he passes he was found guilty of violating the rules of the House for the same charges.

There is little that is more important to a free society than laws being clear and certain.  If people do not know what the law is there will be paralysis.  In totalitarian societies people never know when they might be accused of breaking a law or rule that they may not even be aware of.  In authoritarian and totalitarian societies the apparatus of government is not used merely to operate the necessary functions of civil administration it is used to coerce citizens to obey.

Article 2 section 1 of the Articles of Impeachment filed against President Nixon was about the abuse of power.  It stated, “He has, acting personally and through his subordinated and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

Nixon “endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information.”  He “endeavored to obtain,” but he never did obtain this information.  The IRS turned him down and turned him in.  Today the Obama regime after years of hiding documents and sending their operatives to Congress to either mislead, lie, or plead the fifth has finally been exposed by documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request that was enforced by a judge.  It has definitively been learned that the IRS persecution of conservative groups was not the work of a few rogue agents in a district office.  The targeting of the Tea Party groups was directed by the IRS Headquarters in Washington.

We have come full circle.  From a nation founded upon the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God we have allowed the Progressives and their Living Document to lead us to a land governed by the laws of man.  The children of the Founders and the descendants of the Framers now cower before an all-powerful corporate state that passes laws no one reads, regulates everything, and employs armies of bureaucrats to harass us into obedience and conformity.

Looking at the contradiction between what we were created to be and what we have become, the question why do we obey comes to mind.  Is it that we are too timid to follow in the footsteps of Washington, Jefferson, and Henry?  Is it that we have developed a habit of following the directions of our leaders?  Or is it that we have a respect for the rule of law?

In the face of continued abuse the timid grow bold, old habits are broken, and when respect is lost it is not easily regained.

One day there will be one abuse too many.  And in that day the people of America will recall that the same people who based our society onthe Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God also said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Why do we obey?  Ask yourself, why do I obey, and you will have the answer, because We the People is merely you and I waiting to recall who we are, how we got here, and what we are supposed to be.

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 Liberty Dies May 15, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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To understand why liberty is imperiled in our country today we must first state clearly and unequivocally what is liberty.  Then and only then can we understand what is necessary for its preservation as well as see what is undermining it today.  Liberty is the absence of coercion and the freedom to act upon your own will within the perimeters of not infringing the freedom of action of others.  The only way that has been found among the societies of man to ensure, promote and protect liberty is through the rule of law.

The rule of law means that government is not allowed to coerce an individual except through the enforcement of a previously known and explicitly stated principle of limited government.  This principle places a limit upon the power of government to legislate by calling into question what sorts of laws are legitimate and which is not.  This looks beyond individual statutes to the very nature of legislation itself.  This differs markedly with the modern notion of the rule of law that holds as long as all the actions of a government comply with the law it is meeting the standard.  It is well to remember that under this definition both the Nazis and the Soviets operated under the rule of law.

This modern definition is actually an oxymoron.  If a government passes a law which says that it can do whatever it wants than everything it does is legal.  Hitler passed the Enabling Act and accomplished this in one fell swoop.

Because the rule of law is an absolute limitation on all legislation it cannot be a law of the same order as that passed by a legislature.  No Legislator can effectively limit himself through legislation since he can always amend that legislation at a later date.  Constitutions can make the infringement of pre-decided basic principles more difficult; however, as we have seen in our own Progressive land of the Living Document limitations can be re-defined away through courts and tradition.

The rule of law can only prevail where its basic principles are an organic part of the culture of the people.  They must be part of the commonly held beliefs and standards of a majority of the people or they will be jettisoned as soon as they restrain that majority from following the path of least resistance and living as they believe they should.  For if the rule of law is the common belief it will be followed closely and guarded jealously.  If it is seen as impractical or as an impediment to life as the majority wish to live it, it will be soon rejected and replaced.  Such a society will gladly embrace tyranny and arbitrary rule as long as they are convinced that they can now live as they want to live.

In our nation we have built a rather impressive framework to restrain the government: our Constitution.  Though it has been interpreted into meaninglessness in many ways it is still given lip service and is still the penultimate law of the land.   However there is one glaring hole that is currently being exploited to make an end-run around its remaining provisions: the rise of the Federal Bureaucracy.

We have gone to great lengths to limit what powers the elected officials of our government possess and left open the door for appointed officials to run rough shod over our lives.  The legislature passes vague thousand page laws and then the bureaucrats interpret them any way they desire with little or no oversight.  Elected officials, even the perpetually re-elected gerrymandered creatures of today come and go.   The bureaucracy lives forever.  When the elected officials cannot find the power to impose the Progressive agenda they do it through the bureaucrats they have appointed.

When they couldn’t pass Cap-N-Trade, they imposed it through the EPA.  When they can’t pass gun restrictions they have their bureaucrats buy up all the ammunition and make it almost impossible for the people to obtain any.  When they can’t pass amnesty they impose it through regulations and edicts.  The control of private land is taken through wet lands regulations.  Between the out of control legislators-for-life and their appointed regulators we are told to do everything from what kind of light bulbs to buy to how many gallons we can use to flush a toilet.

Liberty is being eaten away inch by inch and day by day, legislated, and  regulated into oblivion.  When our government can’t pass laws or impose regulations they will utilize the IRS, the NSA or anyone of a hundred of their alphabet agencies to spy on us or intimidate us into silence.  Common Core is coming for the kids.  Amnesty is coming for the jobs.  Political Correctness is coming for free speech.

Unless patriots stand-up the country will fall.  It will still be called the United States of America.  People will still say the pledge of Allegiance.  They will still sing the national anthem and salute the flag but will it be the same country that our forefathers fought and died for?  Will it still be the land of the free and the home of the brave?  Or will it be something else: a place where the rule of law once protected its citizens from the rule of men until the laws of men overwhelmed the laws of nature and of nature’s God?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau one those who inspired the Framers of the Constitution reminded us, “Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.”

Barry Goldwater said, “Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.”

The enemies of freedom also speak of liberty.  Vladimir Lenin said, “It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”

Benito Mussolini said, “The truth is that men are tired of liberty.

The controllers of men may try to use the language of liberty to subvert liberty however, the God given spirit of man shall always strive to become what God meant for us to be, free people in a free world.”

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Once we roared like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security! The solution for America’s problem is not in terms of big government, but it is in big men over whom nobody stands in control but God.”

Winston Churchill told us, “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

And every school child should know that Patrick Henry famously said, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

Why does liberty die?  Because the people allow 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 Do They Lie to Us? May 8, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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When faced with the highest levels of unemployment in American History why does the government trumpet a falling unemployment rate?  In the face of overwhelming evidence of ineptness at best in Benghazi why do our hacks and their flacks insult us with answers like, “Dude this was two years ago!”  With the obvious politicization of the IRS why does the president tell us there isn’t even a smidgen of corruption in the IRS while professional bureaucrats who really run this country take the 5th, stonewall, and lie?

The Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media regales us with oxymoronic statements such as, “Despite the unemployment rate plummeting, more than 92 million Americans remain out of the labor force.”  The Great Recession grinds on in the lives of everyday working people while our leaders talk about a recovery that only benefits them and their cronies.

The shoes in the Benghazi scandal continue to drop finally reaching the point where go-along to get-along John Boehner has agreed to allow the House to vote on the establishment of a select Committee so that this long simmering embarrassment can hopefully come to the truth.  But then again, “What difference at this point does it make?”

Article 2 section 1 of the Articles of Impeachment filed against President Nixon was about the abuse of power.  It stated, “He has, acting personally and through his subordinated and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

Now 40 years later, under the Obama regime, the taxman cometh.  When massive harassment of conservative groups by the IRS came to lightas reported in The Daily Caller (DC) we were told:

  • Progressives were targeted, too

For months, Democrats and the media relied on the talking point that progressive groups also ended up on an IRS “Be on the Lookout” list while the agency was auditing and seizing information from conservative groups. But as TheDC reported, IRS agents testified before the House oversight committee that the IRS scrutinized ACORN groups because it thought they were old groups applying as new ones; the group Emerge America was scrutinized for potential “improper private benefit;” and no evidence exists to prove that the IRS targeted any Occupy Wall Street group.

“Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word ‘progressive,’ all of which were then approved by the IRS… [T]here is simply no evidence that any liberal or progressive group received enhanced scrutiny because its application reflected the organization’s political views,” according to an oversight committee staff report.

  • No White House involvement

“Not necessarily the White House” was the phrase that some Democratic “strategist” used when attacking one of our Daily Caller stories on cable television last year. He meant that while the IRS may have been corrupt to its very Washington core, President Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett have not yet been photographed sifting through tea party applications at a desk in the Lincoln Bedroom.

But we do know, however, courtesy of The Daily Caller’s reporting, that Lerner exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with White House officials including White House health-policy adviser Ellen Montz and Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy Jeanne Lambrew, who just happened to be the most powerful official on Obamacare implementation within the White House.

  • A couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati

Ah, yes. The “WKRP in Cincinnati” Theory of 2013. You know the episode where the wacky characters in the Cincinnati office make a little “whoops” and take it upon themselves to target conservatives nationwide? A team of reporters from The New York Times, including dreamboat Nicholas Confessore, even went to bat for the administration on this theory last year, publishing a disgraceful article about Ohio-based “confusion” and “staff troubles” among “Low-level employees in what many in the I.R.S. consider a backwater.”

But at least five different offices ranging from Chicago to Laguna Niguel, CA. were engaging in this kind of “confusion,” and the whole excuse got torn down like Riverside Stadium. A Cincinatti-based IRS official said that Washington “was basically throwing us under the bus.” The bus to the world-renowned American Sign Museum.

  • Lerner can still cite the Fifth Amendment

That’s what her lawyer, Bill Taylor, wrote in a recent letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, calling a possible contempt vote “un-American.” But it’s just not true. Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privilege when she made a statement attesting to her innocence at a May 2013 oversight hearing. The oversight committee and U.S. House counsel both determined as much.

  • It could take years for the IRS to get all of Lerner’s emails

That’s what new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who has been threatened with contempt himself, told oversight investigators. But the independent group Judicial Watch managed to obtain emails showing Lerner coordinating with the Department of Justice to potentially prosecute conservative activists. It only took Judicial Watch one Freedom of Information Act request to get that stuff. “Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails,” said oversight member Rep. Jim Jordan.

  • Don’t worry, federal government investigators are on top of things

Eric Holder’s Department of Justice tapped an Obama political donor to head its investigation. FBI investigators went months without contacting the conservative groups that were victimized by the IRS targeting, and leaked to the press that no criminal charges would be filed in relation to the case before much of the relevant information we currently have even came out.

The Obama administration’s investigation of the scandal was such a joke that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte accused Obama and Holder of “undermining” investigators on multiple occasions, and joined with other House GOP leaders in calling for a special counsel to prosecute the case.

But if the investigation was a joke, here’s the punchline: The Justice Department has been the only investigative body to ask Lois Lerner any questions, at an off-the-record “Q+A” that was not under oath.

  • Only tea party groups were targeted

Good for the IRS for taking a firm stand against all those wacky tea party groups popping up out in Palookaville trying to exercise their little “First Amendment rights.” Bunch of Koch-funded rednecks.

But oh wait: The IRS also audited the Leadership Institute, founded by Morton C. Blackwell, which has been one of the Washington area’s foremost conservative activist training organizations since 1979, even demanding personal information about the institute’s college-aged interns. Oh yeah, and the IRS also told a pro-life group “you can’t force your religion” and tried to stop pro-life activists from picketing Planned Parenthood clinics.

  • The targeting is over now

Sure it is. Just ask Ron Paul and his group Campaign for Liberty’s donors about that.

Why do they lie to us?

The easy answer is because they can.  The major media has morphed from a watchdog to a lapdog barking on cue that everything is all right, there’s nothing to see here, move along.

The best government money can buy has shown us that they can safely operate on the assumption that American voters choose their leaders based on the philosophy, “I know he’s a liar but I like what he says.”

But hey there’s a game on tonight!  Or as President Obama’s body double Alfred E. Newman has been known to say, “What me, worry?”

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 Are the Republicans Committing Suicide? May 1, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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With what could be a wave election on the horizon in November due to the unpopularity of Obamacare, why is the Republican leadership raising the white flag?  With the end result being a perpetual Democrat lock on the White House if amnesty brings tens of million illegals out of the shadows and into the voter booths, why is the Republican leadership ridiculing those who oppose it and working to implement it daily?

This is like the captain of the Titanic steering his ship into the iceberg on purpose.  It seems so inexplicable yet at the same time it appears so obvious.  A Progressive is a Progressive no matter whether there is a D or an R after their name.  Or to put it another way, a chameleon may change its colors but you can always tell a leopard by its spots.

With the best government money can buy leading the way like the Pied Piper we are flowing like lemmings towards a cliff.  We learned nothing from watching the USSR disappear overnight.  One day after generations of nightmarish oppression we woke up and it was there and by the time we went to bed it was gone.  This great jailhouse of nations spent itself into oblivion chasing centrally-planned visions of utopia and bled itself to death in Afghanistan.  Now we are whistling in the wind as our Progressive regime and its counterfeit conservative fellow-travelers dance to the K-Street tune of crony capitalists more concerned with purloined profits than with patriotism.

The two-party system has evolved into a strangle-hold on power by a twin headed bird of prey that makes Mexico’s PRI look like a pale imitation of an oligarchy masquerading as a representative republic.  An obviously biased major media ranges from a thinly disguised front for the DNC over at MSNBC to an almost blatant mouthpiece for the RNC at Fox.  The populace has been dumbed down by generations of educational malpractice and is lulled to sleep with the bread and circus routine of government support and 24/7 sports addiction.

It is a well-known truism that if you tax something you get less of it and if you subsidize something you get more of it.  In America today we aggressively and progressively tax the income of producers while we pay more to those who do less.  A culture of entitlement has ensnared a majority of the population.  Those who complain about their grandchildren getting trophies for showing up eagerly accept Social Security checks even though they should know the money they paid in was flushed down the Washington maw before they sent it in.  A war on poverty has cost trillions and produced no change.  A war on racism has produced an entire industry that exists to perpetuate racism in set asides and quotas.  Endless wars for peace have only brought more wars as anonymous drone strikes produce as many new enemies as they kill current ones.

Something has gone drastically wrong with the greatest experiment in human freedom the world has ever seen.  While we worked to produce food for our families those we had entrusted to be the caretakers of freedom sold our birthright for a bowl of porridge. And now the opposition, the very ones we have elected to reverse these trends,proposes to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by conceding on Obamacare and passing amnesty.

To imagine that they are misguided is I believe misguided.  Mistakes of this magnitude are not made innocently.  There is no way our pretend protectors haven’t known since Obamacare passed that no entitlement has ever been repealed.  And I predict even if the Republicans win both houses of Congress and the Whitehouse they still would not repeal Obamacare, but they would instead “fix” it.  Likewise, there is no way these RINOs don’t know that if they pass amnesty Texas will suddenly face the possibility to returning to the Democratic tent which means a perpetual Democrat lock on the Electoral College.

The Republican leadership knows these things yet what do we see?  John Boehner, the Speaker of the House mocking those who oppose amnesty and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the House Republican Conference Chair saying, “We need to look at reforming [Obamacare’s] exchanges.”   I have always felt and continue to feel that raising a white flag is not an effective way to lead a charge.   Even though like roaches when you turn on the light these “leaders” will skittle back for cover once their enraged followers shoot down these trial balloons this is how they want to reach across the aisle and shove the knife in their own back.

We can’t really say there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.  The Democrats seem to be in the business of managing America’s decline by retreating from the role of policeman of the world while the Republicans led by their Neo-Con wing would have us in wars in Syria and possibly Europe.  They may divide on foreign policy from surrender to attack; however, on domestic policy no matter what they say they are both for bigger government, crony capitalism, and socialized everything else.

If the everyday working people whatever their gender, whatever their color, whatever their religion want even a shot at regaining control of the ship of state we need to come up out of the boiler room that is keeping this thing moving, demand to be heard, and take all these perpetually re-elected despots for a perp-walk to the dustbin of History.

The big question is how?

Tune out the propaganda machine of the major media, organize a viable opposition party, give of our time, talent and treasure, and most importantly vote against them all.  Don’t re-elect anyone.  Turn the whole lot of them out and bring in a new batch.  We would do better if we just drafted the first 537 people from any telephone book to be the representatives, senators, vice president, and president.  They couldn’t do any worse than spend more than we make and at least there would be someone in there who might actually work for a living.

The Committees of Correspondence, the Sons of Liberty and other organizations fueled and supported the Revolution that made us free.  Without organization nothing of importance is ever accomplished.  To restore limited government, personal liberty and economic freedom organization is needed or we will continue our drift into a centrally-planned surveillance state that still calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave.

So why are the Republicans committing suicide?  It isn’t because it is the only honorable thing left to do since they have betrayed the trust of their supporters.  It isn’t because they see no other way out like the zealots at Masada.  It is because the spirit of limited government they once represented is already dead and we just don’t know it.  It all makes sense to me now, so can we please wake up and do something about 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 Did We Write it in the First Place ? April 25, 2014

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Besides regulating the division of authority, constitutions written to limit government must contain substantive rules. They need to establish general principles which will govern the specific acts of the legislature.  Therefore the essence of a constitution involves not only a hierarchy of power and authority it also establishes a hierarchy of laws.  The founding principles built into the structure of the document itself are of a general nature.  They proceed from a higher authority designed to control the content of the later specific laws which are enacted by the representative and delegated legislature elected subsequent to the establishment of the constitutionally limited government.

The idea of a higher law which governs legislation is an old one.  In the 1700s, at the time of the writing of our Constitution, it was known as the Law of Nature, the Law of God, or the Law of Reason.  It was the idea of enshrining this higher law into a written constitution which would be the foundation for a real world government that was the genius of the Framers.

The difference between the Constitution and any subsequent law enacted by the government it founded is like the difference between laws in general and their specific application by the courts in a particular case.  Just as a judicial ruling is considered sound, only if it is based upon the law and not on the mere opinion of the jurist, so too laws themselves are considered legitimate only if they conform to the higher law.  In the same way that we want to prevent a judge from breaking from the law for some consideration of a specific person or idea so too we do not want the legislature to break the general rules to fulfill any immediate or temporary goals.

In the personal lives we all lead we know that often we are tempted to sacrifice long standing principles for immediate gain.  This is a human trait that all share and only the highly disciplined avoid.  So too legislatures, made up of fallible men, are therefore in desperate need of unbreakable higher laws which will constrain them from doing collectively what we all do individually.

Just as an individual will hesitate or at least contemplate the implications of violating a long held principle for an immediate gain so too a legitimate and responsible legislature will be reluctant to break established general laws for new specific aims.  To violate a particular principle at a particular time for a specific purpose is different than saying that principle is null and void.  Passing laws that either benefit or penalize specific people or making legislation retroactive is different than saying that to do so is correct.  If a legislature passes laws which infringe upon the personal liberty or the property rights of individuals during a war or to achieve some monumental national goal is far different than stating that such rights can be infringed with impunity.  It is to mark these differences that every piece of legislation is supposed to have a clause which identifies where the authority for it is found in the Constitution.

It is also for this purpose that general principles should not be promulgated by the legislature but instead by another body.  It is appropriate that this other body should have a suitable time to deliberate so that any establishment or change in the general principles can be fully debated, considered, and amended if necessary.

It is not that a constitution provides an absolute limit on the will of the people.  Looking to our Constitution, which is the model for all such documents which are truly meant to limit the power of government, there is the amendment process which has been used twenty seven times to change the higher laws of our general principles.  Constitutions are meant to act as a check on the ability of a temporary majority from imposing its will in any manner it chooses.  In other words, the social contract agreed to by the people who allow the governance of temporary and shifting majorities in particular situations is based upon the belief that every majority implicitly agrees to abide by the general principles which embody the higher law.

Consequently no one and no group has complete freedom to impose upon the rest of society any laws or any regulations that it wants.  The very essence of constitutionalism rests upon the foundational belief that all power and authority will be exercised within the framework of the general principles and higher law that the constitution creates.  People are chosen to assume power to legislate, govern, or adjudicate because it is believed they will do what is right.  Not because it is believed that whatever they do is right.  Legitimate authority in a constitutional system rests on the belief that power is not a physical fact but a decision on the part of the people to willingly obey.

Looking at the current situation in America today we have a president who in a 2001 interview expressed his inner most thoughts about the Constitution.  He stated:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

That is as clear a statement of the way our Progressive leaders view America’s founding document, a charter of negative liberties.

As F. A Hayek told us in The Constitution of Liberty, “Only a demagogue can represent as ‘antidemocratic’ the limitations which long-term decisions and the general principles held by the people impose upon the power of temporary majorities.”

Think of what we had.  Look at what we’ve got.  Imagine where we’re going.

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

 

 

Would We the People Ratify the Constitution Today? April 18, 2014

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We the People are the opening words of the preamble to the Constitution.  Many patriots glory in that name, “We the People” holding it aloft as a banner against the encroachments of an ever expanding central government.   In the minds of many it is connected somehow to Lincoln’s famous description of America’s government, “Of the People, by the people and for the people.”

Both of these were revolutionary terms when first spoken.

The people of the founding generation did not think of themselves as “Americans,” instead they saw themselves as citizens of their respective States.  The thirteen colonies, with the singular exception of North and South Carolina, were each founded as separate entities.  Each had its own history and relationship with the crown.  They banded together for the Revolution during which they established the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation.  This established a confederation composed of thirteen independent States.

When the secretly drafted Constitution was finally revealed to the public many of the leading lights of the Revolution were enraged by what they saw as a counter-revolution seeking to supplant the legally constituted Confederation of States in favor of a consolidated central government.   Some of them say the truth was revealed in the first three words, “We the People.”

Every school child can recite the most famous words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death.”  You probably said those words in your head before you read them once you saw his name.  He is synonymous with America’s defiance to tyranny.  While these famous words ring in the heads of all, few know his opinion on the Constitution.

At the Virginia Ratification Convention in 1788, Patrick Henry said,

And here I would make this inquiry of those worthy characters who composed a part of the late federal Convention. I am sure they were fully impressed with the necessity of forming a great consolidated government, instead of a confederation. That this is a consolidated government is demonstrably clear; and the danger of such a government is, to my mind, very striking. I have the highest veneration for those gentlemen; but, sir, give me leave to demand, What right had they to say, We, the people? My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask, Who authorized them to speak the language of, We, the people, instead of, We, the states? States are the characteristics and the soul of a confederation. If the states be not the agents of this compact, it must be one great, consolidated, national government, of the people of all the states.

Ever since the Civil War fatally warped the original federal structure and We the People became a reality the central government of the United States has assumed more and more power until today totalitarianism appears to be within its grasp.  I am not referring to the crude overt totalitarianism of a Nazi Germany or a Soviet Russia instead I am referring to a soft totalitarianism, a kind of nanny state smothering of individual freedom, personal liberty and economic opportunity.  After the complete subjugation of the States to the central government by the Lincoln administration combined with the increased mobility of the modern era, we the people actually became the way most people think of themselves.

In America today we have a president who in a 2001 interview expressed his inner most thoughts about the Constitution,

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

That is as clear a statement of the way our Progressive leaders view America’s founding document, a charter of negative liberties.  A charter that they believe needs to be expanded with a second bill of rights first proposed by FDR in his 1944 State of the Union Address,

  1. A realistic tax law—which will tax all unreasonable profits, both individual and corporate, and reduce the ultimate cost of the war to our sons and daughters. The tax bill now under consideration by the Congress does not begin to meet this test.
  2. A continuation of the law for the renegotiation of war contracts—which will prevent exorbitant profits and assure fair prices to the Government. For two long years I have pleaded with the Congress to take undue profits out of war.
  3. A cost of food law—which will enable the Government (a) to place a reasonable floor under the prices the farmer may expect for his production; and (b) to place a ceiling on the prices a consumer will have to pay for the food he buys. This should apply to necessities only; and will require public funds to carry out. It will cost in appropriations about one percent of the present annual cost of the war.
  4. Early reenactment of the stabilization statute of October, 1942. This expires June 30, 1944, and if it is not extended well in advance, the country might just as well expect price chaos by summer. We cannot have stabilization by wishful thinking. We must take positive action to maintain the integrity of the American dollar.
  5. A national service law—which, for the duration of the war, will prevent strikes, and, with certain appropriate exceptions, will make available for war production or for any other essential services every able-bodied adult in this Nation.

According to Cass R. Sunstein, the former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, President Obama not only believes in FDR’s Second Bill of Rights he seeks to implement them,

As the actions of his first term made clear, and as his second inaugural address declared, President Barack Obama is committed to a distinctive vision of American government. It emphasizes the importance of free enterprise, and firmly rejects “equality of result,” but it is simultaneously committed to ensuring both fair opportunity and decent security for all.

In these respects, Obama is updating Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.

We are in the grip of the Federalists on steroids bent on redistributing their way to total power.  The question before us today is, “Would we the people ratify the Constitution today?”

Even Conservatives believe in a safety net.  Everyone contributes to and hopes to receive from Social Security.  No one wants people dying in the streets because they can’t get medical care so Medicaid is available to the uninsured.  Of course Medicare is considered a right for anyone over 65.  Unemployment is an accepted part of the safety net as are food stamps.  If you add up what is already accepted and expected then throw Obamacare into the mix and you see we have become a society addicted to entitlements all of which would fail the test of a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

The 10th Amendment says, “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.”  The power to do any of these entitlements is not delegated anywhere in the document as it is written, only as it is interpreted.

So would we the people ratify the Constitution as it is written today?  I think not.  A living document has turned the Constitution into a dead letter and the entitlements we have all accepted have turned the descendants of the Founders, Framers, and Pioneers into supplicants standing before the federal throne waiting for a check.

Only a re-birth of self-reliance, a renaissance of historical perspective and renewed political activity have a chance to bring about a rebirth of liberty in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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

 

Yes America Did Build That April 10, 2014

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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

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politiocal Philosophy.
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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

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