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Which Words Work January 30, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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What words mean is important.  The ability to speak, to transfer complex and symbolic knowledge from one person to another is one of the hallmarks of humanity.  When words lose their meaning communication loses its ability to transmit thoughts.  Obviously words can change their meanings over time.  One example is the word prevent.  This word now means to stop something from happening.  Hundreds of years ago it meant for one thing to happen before another: pre-event.

This is natural and is the organic outgrowth of how people speak.  All languages change over time.  What isn’t natural is when, for ideological reasons, groups work to change the meanings of words to either confuse the discussion or to attract support from people who normally would not lend them their support.

Leaving aside the natural organic change of meanings and looking instead at the contrived control of meaning for political purposes we recognize the need to establish precise meanings to convey precise thoughts.

A perfect example is how the words liberty and democracy have become intertwined and confounded.  Knowing that equality before the law is a necessary bridge on the road to liberty advocates of liberty rightfully believe that all citizens should have a share in making the law.  This is where the advocates of liberty and the proponents of the democracy movement share a preference for a means while they do not necessarily share a preference for the ends.

The advocates of liberty standing on the foundation of the enlightenment thinking of the 18th century and the classical liberal traditions of the 19th see democracy as a means for limiting the coercive power of government no matter what form that government may take.  Conversely to the dogmatic democrat the only legitimate limit on government power is the current majority opinion.

The difference between these two positions is starkly revealed if we understand what each side sees as the opposite of their idea.  To the dogmatic democrat it is authoritarianism and to the classical liberal it is totalitarianism.  Neither of these two opposites excludes the other.  It is possible for a democracy to use totalitarian methods, and an authoritarian government might implement the principles of liberty.

Both of these terms democracy and liberty are used in vague and wide references by those who seek to lead our people.  Their precise meanings have been blurred by this usage to the point where many people confound them and believe if they can vote they have liberty.  However if we can return the meaning to these words we will find that it is possible to separate the two and find clarity.

The doctrine of liberty deals with what laws ought to be.  The doctrine of democracy deals with the manner of determining what will be the law.

The advocates of liberty agree that it is best if only what the majority accepts should be law however they do not agree that all majority driven law is always good law.  They seek to persuade the majority that the principles of liberty should be the hallmark of all laws.  They accept that majority rule is the fairest method of deciding what the laws are.  They do not agree that this gives the majority the unlimited authority to decide what the laws ought to be.

The doctrinaire democrat holds that majority opinion not only decides what the law should be and that this majority opinion is also the measure of what is good law.

Therefore when we confound the concept of liberty with the use of democratic action it is natural to accept that everything democratically decided upon is an advance for liberty.  One has only to look at the fact that the German people voted to give Hitler dictatorial powers to see that this is an illusion.

For while the principles of liberty are one of the paths which may be chosen through democratic action the use of democratic action does not preclude other choices and it says nothing about what is the proper role of government.  While the spread of democracy, especially the idea of one-man-one-vote, has advanced the cause of liberty in many nations there is nothing that demands that it do so.  In America today many popular policies are advanced on the merit that they are the democratic desire of a majority.  This does not necessarily mean that they will advance the cause of liberty.  To require a citizen to purchase certain products such as health care and to use the coercive power of the state to enforce it may have passed as part of a democratic procedure; however, this does not advance the cause of liberty.

Giving someone the power to vote does not magically give them the knowledge or the information as to how to vote.  When the franchise is extended to more and more low information voters this may advance the cause of democracy; however, it does not advance the cause of liberty.  Low information voters are easily manipulated by demagogues who exploit the desires of the day to build their own kingdoms and enhance their own power without regard to our constitutional limits.

We have a growing mass of low information voters, a progressive government who makes it their business to shape the majority opinion, and a media that is dedicated to the government party.  This is the prescription for a totalitarian democracy.  The constraining hand of the constitution and tradition has fallen away and the manipulated voice of the majority calls for more entitlements, more regulation, more government to solve the problems caused by entitlements, regulations and government.

We have come full circle.  In our revolution the advocates of liberty rose up against an autocrat to demand freedom.  They then used that freedom to craft a government limited in power so that people could live their lives and build their fortunes without oppression.  Today we have elected leaders who have progressed past these limits.  Leaders who seek to control every aspect of life.  We may have reached the dreams of the democratic fathers however these dreams are turning into the nightmares of our Founders: advocates of liberty one and all.

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

 

None Dare Call It….. March 1, 2012

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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In 1777 the British thought they had finally hit upon a strategy to crush the rebellion.  They would divide the colonies.  General John Burgoyne had presented a bold plan to the government in London.  He proposed to invade New England from Canada marching down the Hudson River Valley.  There British troops moving up from New Jersey and New York under the command of General Howe would join Burgoyne and effectively cut the colonies in  two demoralizing the rebels and discouraging the French who were considering recognizing the independence of America.

In early summer Burgoyne set off with a professional army of over 7,000 men and many thousands of Indian allies.  In a declaration Burgoyne threatened to unleash his Indian allies to pillage the Americans.  When numerous atrocities were committed the vast majority of Americans in the path of the invading army resolved to join the rebellion thus swelling the troops and supplies of the Americans.

As the British proceeded south the resistance constantly stiffened and the swarm of snipers buzzed about the invaders like mosquitos snipping at their heels over and over.  Burgoyne ignored these attacks and continued his advance to the south in a grand style.  Meanwhile, miles to the south General Howe made a decision that would have a fateful consequence.   Instead of marching to meet Burgoyne as he was supposed to do he decided to attack Philadelphia, the Rebel capital.  Not aware of the change of plans Burgoyne continued to march south unconcerned that his supply lines were becoming longer and less secure since he thought he would receive everything he needed as soon as the reinforcements arrived.

Soon American ambushes began to defeat or capture any British forces sent out from the main body to forage or scout.  The Americans began to burn and destroy all supplies, crops, and pasture in front of the British.  Day by day General Burgoyne should have begun to realize he was marching into a trap.  Finally in the first week of October 1777 the American Continental Army confronted the British north of Albany near the town of Saratoga.  Ever the flamboyant firebrand Burgoyne though now surrounded and outnumbered trusted to his professional troops to overwhelm and defeat the citizen soldiers of the American Army.  Without hesitation Burgoyne took the offensive and was soon smashing his way through the poorly trained militias that made up a major portion of the American Army.  He seemed about to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat when one of America’s greatest heroes intervened.

When the British were about to break through General Benedict Arnold rallied his troops and against the orders of his commanding officer led a valiant counterattack which changed the course of the day and set the stage for the eventual surrender of the entire British army.  This ultimately led to the recognition of America by France.  And this led to the French fleet and army being present at Yorktown for the final victory which won the war.

General Arnold was grievously wounded at the battle of Saratoga and would never completely recover his health.  In the reports of the battle the American commanding general Horatio Gates did not mention Arnold’s heroic deeds and took all the credit for the victory himself.

This slight festered in the heart of Arnold, and is believed to be the reason why he eventually betrayed the cause he had sworn to defend and earned a name forever synonymous with traitor in American History.

In 1777 a foreign army tried to divide America.  The assault was met by minute men rushing from all directions leaving the comfort of their homes to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to save their home land.  Today the forces of social welfare use class warfare to divide and conquer.  Now is the time for all good men to come to the aide of their country!  Now is the time for loyalty and patriotism not the time to be timid in the face of forces dedicated to the transformation of our Republic.

Exactly what is treason?  It is the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance: the betrayal of a trust.

Benedict Arnold did that by trying to surrender his command: the fortress at West Point.  He betrayed his trust and sought to bring about the defeat of his nation.

What should we call leaders who act against the interest of the nation?  Who fight endless wars for peace that do not enhance our security or protect our interest?  What should we call leaders who sacrifice our energy independence to a false religion of manmade global warming and squander our treasure pouring it into ideologically driven fringe technologies that fail time and time again?  What should we call leaders who embrace our enemies and offend our friends?  What should we call leaders who have cast off all fiscal restraint and are spending us and our great grandchildren into oblivion?  What do we call leaders who ignore the limitations of the Constitution, expand the police and detention powers of the military, and actively work to put law abiding citizens under constant surveillance?

Historians always say that hindsight is 20/20 and looking back we can see that General Arnold believed he had a reason or at least an excuse for his treason.

Seeing as clearly in the present is always a more challenging assignment; however, it is our responsibility to act as the stewards of the heritage we have received.  And as the current stewards of America’s precious heritage of limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom it is our duty to evaluate those who are sailing the ship of state over Niagara without even a barrel and ask ourselves why are they doing this?  Why are those sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States doing everything conceivable to undermine the Republic and institute a centrally-planned collectivist democracy in its place?

The hidden secrets of the heart are impossible to discern.  None of us can ever truly know the unspoken motives of another.  Therefore we must base our interpretations of motive upon actions.  We watch the bravest of the brave fight and die in wars already surrendered.   We watch endless talk about the debt as the debt is constantly increased.  We watch as thousands of new regulations are added every day binding the free citizens of America in a totalitarian nightmare of control.  Though none dare call it by its real name, none dare point the finger of accusation for fear of being called a bigot, a racist, or intolerant, is it time to use the word none dare speak: treason?

As Thomas Paine once said, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the Historian of the Future and the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Who Votes for Democracy? November 4, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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Democracy! Democracy! Democracy! This is the mantra that we hear from Tahrir Square to Yemen from Belarus to Wall Street protestors are on the march around the world demanding Democracy!

Democracy has long been the cover for all manner of despotic totalitarian regimes creating hellholes for their own people and nightmares for the rest of us.  One needs only to recall that even though the popular myth of Hitler being elected is demonstrably false, he lost the only election he ever ran in, he was however appointed Chancellor in 1933 after his Nazi Party became the largest single party through democratic elections.  His ghoulish regime achieved total power when 90% of the German people voted to make Hitler the Führer or undisputed dictator of their nation. And who can forget the many Democratic People’s Republics that have graced the world with their despotic presence, East Germany, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea.  The cover of democracy and the votes of the people have been used to legitimize the most insidious forms of human depravity.

It is popular among conservatives to decry the nation-wide and world-wide demand for democracy as if it were something new under the sun.   It is also popular to point out that the United States of America was founded as a representative Republic not as a Democracy.  The representative nature of the Republic was enshrined in both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  The difference is proudly pointed out that we are a representative republic which operates on democratic principles NOT a democracy.

It is not quite as popular to point out that though our representative Republic has always operated on democratic principles in the beginning that democracy did not spread out very far.  The franchise was restricted only to males of the Caucasian persuasion who owned a certain amount of property.   The dirty little secret teachers of American History Survey classes fought for years to keep from their impressionable students was that even though Wilson led America into fighting World War I to make the world safe for democracy and FDR led us into World War II as the Arsenal of Democracy the Founders of our country went to great lengths to protect our Republic from the perils of democracy.

Examples of the Founders distaste for democracy are easy to find:

James Madison said, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

John Adams said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide” and, “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”

Alexander Hamilton said, “It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”

The circle of American democracy was at first drawn closely around the ruling circle of intellectuals, lawyers and men of property because they feared the tyranny of those unable or unwilling to learn the rudiments of History, Economics or Governance.  However, as time passed spurred on by a combination of their desire to participate and the cajoling of those who wanted to rule them people began to agitate for an extension of the franchise and for one reason or another the circle began to expand until by the 1830s throughout the United States most Caucasian males could vote.  By comparison in Britain at the same time less than 10% could vote.

The watchword in America became democracy, not in the speeches of the first Progressives in the 1890s but in the voices of their great grandfathers in the second generation after our Revolution.  Within a generation leadership passed from Washington, Jefferson, Madison and other statesmen with grand visions of liberty and freedom to partisan leaders of political factions.  The stirring and deeply reflective tone of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers was replaced by clever slogans designed to move the masses and win votes.

Alexis de Tocqueville is often quoted to show the high state of American involvement and participation in the democratic process.  He is less often quoted in his assessment of that process, “The most able men in the United States are very rarely place at the head of affairs.”  He pointed to the character of a democracy where people ignored important issues, disdained intellectuals who were informed of these issues and instead were moved by “the clamor of a mountebank [a demagogue] who knows the secret of stimulating their tastes.”

In the recent past President Bush in 2005 during his second inaugural speech declared the doctrine that bears his name by saying, ‘‘it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.’’ Since that time democratic elections have brought us Hamas as the elected representatives of the Palestinian People, Islamists have won the first post-Arab Spring election in Tunisia and who can forget that Hugo Chavez has won multiple elections in Venezuela and then there is our new partner in our latest military adventure Yoweri Museveni Uganda’s President-for-Life who was democratically elected as was his more famous predecessor Idi Amin Dada.

The democratic revolution which began in America a generation after the establishment of our representative Republic has grown through the roughshod years of Jackson, the tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend, elect, elect, elect days of FDR and has morphed into the Occupy Everywhere movement currently polluting our cities and clamoring for the predictable goal of pure democracy, “From each according to their ability to each according to their need.”

We are witnessing the tyranny not of the majority but instead of the majority of voters coming to fruition.  In America in a typical election only 50% or less of eligible voters bothers to cast their ballot.  Many congressional districts are gerrymandered into personal possessions, local counties, cities and states belong to good-old-boy networks and the Senate is the province of millionaire media stars.  The uninformed elect the unqualified to give them what is unearned.

Or as our old friend Alexis de Tocqueville also said, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

The democratic revolution begun in America 200 years ago has circled the globe.  The leaders of the Egyptian revolutionaries have come to New York to join the protesters at Zuccotti Park to chant, the mantra, “Democracy Now!”  Looking at the paradise on earth replicated from New York to Oakland in these demonstrations supported by the unions, Democrats and the President I only have one question, “Who will vote for that?”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

Freedom is as Freedom Does August 26, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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Is there any one political or economic system that God wants everyone to follow?  I do not believe God has ordained any one type of government or economy as the divinely ordained path.

The only government He ever instituted was a kingdom with Himself as the king and that was rejected by His own people when they instead wanted to be like the people who surrounded them.  And even though God had His prophets warn them that this earthly king would take their lands, their children, their goods and their freedom they persisted in rejecting a divine King for kings who would claim divine rights.

The only economy God has instituted is the divine economy where there is never a lack and always abundance.  With cattle on a thousand hills God does not participate in recessions and He has promised many times that those in His hands cannot be plucked out.  He promises that though a thousand fall on one side and ten thousand on the other destruction shall not consume those who trust in Him.  And though in the eyes of this world it may appear that the evil often triumphs and the good are forsaken He tells us, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Free choice is a major part of God’s plan.  As a matter of fact that is His plan.  He could have just as easily created humans who had no free choice, could not disobey, never fall and always remain just as He designed them.  But instead He desired the loving family that can only come about from love freely given and freely received.

Individually God has given each of us free choice.  Therefore, I believe freedom to make choices unencumbered by outside interference is a fundamental building block of human nature and thus a required element of any society which matches the reality of the human condition.  Each of us gets to decide which we are going to believe, our eyes of flesh or our eyes of faith.  Is the world true or is God true?  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  That is my free choice and you are free to make yours.

I believe that God desires us to make free choices with regard to faith and lifestyle.  Therefore, personal freedom is necessary for life as God intended.  And this has a great impact upon the first half of our question, is there any one political system that God wants everyone to follow?

It is apparent that the only form of government ever devised by man that requires personal free choice as a prime component is democracy.  All other forms of government are some variation of the divine right of somebody to tell everybody else what to do.  By the way, that’s democracy as in one-citizen-one-vote not as in Democratic People’s Republic.  And since all forms of direct democracy eventually devolve into a tyranny of the majority the only thing that works over time is a representative republic which operates on democratic principles.  Meaning a system wherein the people have the opportunity to select their own representatives as long as those representatives actually represent the people and do not become the pawns of powerful special interests.

Also based upon the fact that personal freedom is a fundamental component of life as God desires for humanity which brings us to the second half of our question: is there any one economic system that God wants everyone to follow?  It is apparent to even a casual observer that free market capitalism is the only economic system ever devised by man that requires personal freedom to operate.  All other economic systems ultimately translate into some variation of a command economy. Some bureaucrat somewhere decides how many widgets to make and that’s how many widgets are produced regardless of need or demand.  Command economies foster disequilibrium and maladjustments.   There are always either too many widgets or not enough.  In a fee market capitalist system demand always dictates production and inherently guides supply.

America was originally launched as a representative republic based upon democratic principles with a free economy which based upon the above exemplifies the ideal for a nation-state.  This is what we have known.  If the Progressives continue to succeed in their efforts to fundamentally transform America what can we expect?

Look at the areas of American life so far transformed, massive government take-overs either through outright purchase or indirectly through regulation of industry, insurance, and finance. Taking this as a guide we should expect further intrusion of the central government into the economy thus transforming America into a command economy with all the problems inherent in that type of system.

The health care take-over which is scheduled to phase in like boiling water phases in for a frog, feeling so comforting until it’s too late to jump out.  Using the need to modify our behavior to cut health care costs we should expect the central planners to inch-by-inch transform our daily routines of eating and exercise until they are telling us when to jump and how high.  It is often the unintended consequences which have the greatest effects as a result of the Progressive impulse to create a Utopia.

The only way Utopians ever try to create a heaven on earth is to build nanny-states to protect us from ourselves with no thought of how the unintended consequences actually harm the people the intention was to help.  Eventually there is also no limit to the amount of force it takes to compel compliance once the bureaucracy has decreed something is good for the collective. An example from Obamacare is the provision forcing insurance companies to accept pre-existing conditions for all children insured.  This sounds great.  And it will surely protect the Kids.  But what it really does is prompt many insurance companies to quit insuring children because they realize this government mandated provision will cause them to lose money, and despite the progressive belief that people should open and maintain private businesses as non-tax supported social agencies people who own businesses do so to make money.

Another example is businesses either dropping insurance for their employees because the fines imposed will be cheaper than the insurance or seeking an exemption.  It is projected that 30% of employers will drop their employee healthcare once Obamacare is fully instituted.  So much for “If you have your plan and you like it,… or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don’t have to change plans.”

The Financial take-over through regulation has not been unwrapped yet and even the politicians most involved in writing it say they don’t know what’s in it so its long term impact can only be imagined.  Does anyone imagine it will be good for free-enterprise, competition, and capitalism?  As the Progressives continue to experiment looking for some way to accomplish the impossible, heaven on earth, the uncertainty keeps people from investing, businesses from growing and the economy from recovering.  After two and a half years it should be apparent the current administration has successfully turned a recession into a new normal of lower expectations and a loss of hope.

But then again my hope was never in the government to begin with, and since they didn’t give it to me they can’t take it away.  My hope is in Jesus and He never fails.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens.

 

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