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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

 

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

You Should Ask Whose Property Is It February 27, 2014

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

Private property is an essential ingredient of a free society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Which Words Work January 30, 2014

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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

 

Who Will Win the War Against Income Inequality? January 17, 2014

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From each according to their ability to each according to their need was the hollow promise of the Soviet Union.  It was long known to be merely the cover for a ruthless Communist Party that pretended to build a worker’s paradise while in fact enslaving a nation for its own gain.

Today this infamous lie has been resurrected in America as the war against income inequality.

The war on poverty has failed.  After decades of propaganda, trillions of dollars, and tens of thousands of regulations there is no less poverty in America than when LBJ sounded the charge of the contrite brigade. Of course it was a shell game all along.  The idea that you could take money out of one pocket and put it in another while dropping some along the way aptly describes the effort to tax the rich to alleviate poverty.  If all the money that has been expropriated to end poverty had been given directly to the poor we would have ended poverty.

However this isn’t what happened.  It was never what was intended to happen.  It will never happen because instead of a direct wealth transfer the loot is filtered through politicians, programs and bureaucrats who all siphon off enough to make sure the pennies that eventually dribble out of the welfare pipeline have little resemblance to the dollars that went in. They certainly don’t want to actually eliminate the poor since their campaign slogans and their jobs would evaporate with them.

Anyone who has ever stood hat-in-hand at a welfare office knows the scorn dished out with the meager fare always makes the meal a little less satisfying than imagined.  Jesus told us that “The poor will always be with you.”  Yet somehow the political savants who hold sway are always able to convince the low information voters that they will end poverty, or as we call it today, income inequality.

The only equality that is compatible with freedom is equality before the law.  By this I mean that whenever society, as expressed through government, makes rules they should apply to everyone the same.  In other words if a millionaire commits murder and a homeless person commits murder they should both stand before the same tribunal charged with the same crime.  Or if a tax is passed everyone should pay the same percentage.  We know that in the first case the difference between a dream team of lawyers and a public defender may mitigate the equality just as in the second case a progressive tax system will distort it.  However, this goal of equality before the law is the only one where actual equality is what is required to make it work.

All other types of equality, of income or opportunity or outcome require inequality.  If this sounds like circular thinking don’t be surprised; it is.

Since people are obviously not equal in talents, abilities, resources or nature the only way to make everyone start in the same place and end up in the same place is to treat them differently.  Some must be slowed down and some must be artificially pushed forward.  Some must get less than they earn so that some can get more.  This is the dirty little secret hidden behind the campaign slogan to end income inequality.  In reality it is just another way to describe income redistribution or as our president calls it, “Spread the wealth around.”

Those who make their living selling these illusions are supported by those who make their livings distributing the loot and by all those who think they will get something for nothing.   Unfortunately after generations of Progressive education, incremental socialism, and the sloth that is the bread by the bread and circus culture of the couch potato this may now be a majority of the votes counted.

Having sunk beneath the contempt of the Russian people and drown in the red capitalism of the Chinese it seems as if the infection of class envy co-joined to state power has emerged from the faculty lounge and fastened its death grip on America.  In the 2012 election the campaign slogan, “GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead” trumped a devastated economy to re-elect the inspiration of the IRS and the excuser of Benghazi.  If the war against income inequality proves the media enhanced key to return Nancy Pelosi to the Speakership and retain Harry Reid as the agenda setting leader of the Senate the Progressives will know they have two years to seal the deal.

We will still call it the United States of America.  We will still tell ourselves we are free, prosperous, and powerful however we may all be whistling in the wind.  Our politicians may win their war to end income inequality as they seek an American version of a worker’s paradise.  The comatose voters may even notice that things aren’t quite like they used to be, but then half-time will be over and that will be that.

Look at the results of the 2012 election.  GM is moving overseas after ripping off the American tax payers.  Al-Qaeda is marching to victory.  Think about the pledge that gained passage for Obamacare, “If you like you plan you can keep your plan.  Period.”  Reflect on this swindle and ask yourself how equal will anything be if we swallow the next big lie: ending income inequality.  Ask yourself who will win the war against income inequality.  The answer is those who distribute the loot will keep the lion’s share.

 

As an added bonus this war against income inequality as a campaign tool to fool the masses is leading us further into the unconstitutional waters our president has sailed for so long.  Brazenly saying, “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

The question here is, “Will anyone in the House have the courage to 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

 

Never the Twain Shall Meet December 20, 2013

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When Kipling coined this phrase in the 19th century he was lamenting the gulf of understanding between the imperial British and their subjects on the Indian subcontinent.  It has since entered general usage meaning two things that are so different they have no opportunity to unite.

In the development and discussion of liberty there are two strains which fit this description.  There is the English school of thought born out of fits and starts developed over centuries by trial and error as first the Lords and then the common people of England fought for and gained individual liberty, personal freedom and economic opportunity.  On the other side is the French School of thought which sprang from the French Revolution.  This revolution was based upon a foundation of several generations of French thinkers who labored under the extremely autocratic divine right monarchy which held France in thrall for so long.

Our Republic sprang from the English tradition, and for most of its History has developed along the lines it defined.  Today we find our traditions and our model of governance under assault not from without but from within.  After successfully defeating the Fascist totalitarians in World War II and subsequently defeating the Soviet totalitarians in the Cold War we find ourselves face-to-face with home grown want-to-be totalitarians.  Many wonder how this can be.  How can people raised in America think so differently than Americans have thought for so long?

What we face is a clique of academics who have no real world experience and who have accepted the French as opposed to the English school of thought.  Once we explore the two this will reveal it to be what one might expect from those who have inhabited the ivory towers for their entire adult lives.

So what are the differences between the English and the French theories of Liberty?

The English theory was forged in the fires of English History.  Starting with the Magna Charta wherein the Lords forced King John to accept some limitation on his absolute power, it continued on through the slow expansion of rights and the Civil War.  Leading eventually to the emasculation of the Lords, the triumph of the House, and the primacy of its Prime Minister, the English tradition grew it was not imposed.   This process was highly empirical and unsystematic.

The French theory is the product of a slow germination at first by intellectuals and academics who labored under a repressive regime of hereditary elites ruled over by kings who claimed divine right to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to whoever they wanted.  These thinkers had no way to experiment.  They had no way to see if their ideas worked in the real world.  They thought in virtual vacuums building highways in the air to link sand castles of the mind.  Their approach was rationalistic and systematic.

The English school built upon such thinkers as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Edmund Burke.  The French built upon the works of such notables as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nicolas de Condorcet, and François Quesnay.

The French rationalists believed that man was originally endowed with the intellectual and moral capacity to deliberately build society, civilization and government.  The English believe that all three are the result of an evolutionary process of trial and error.  The French believed that thinking man could devise new and better forms of governance and impose them from above.  The English believed that effective governance was a product of experience discarding that which does not work and perfecting that which does.

The English view is deeply entrenched in Christian tradition and thought.  It does not build upon anything like the natural goodness of man, natural harmony, or natural liberty the hallmarks of the French school.  They instead realized that it was informed self-interest that was the prime-mover amongst men.  However there was no illusion that the natural liberty or natural harmony of interests would direct this self-interest to provide or develop society in a manner which promoted the general good.  The English school and the works which their leading lights produced universally saw law and structure as the necessary framework within which the invisible hand could and would benefit the general society by working for the individual good.  Or as a famous American once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

It is obvious from even a cursory review of the works of the English school that they do not advocate for either anarchy in government or laissez-faire in economics.  Both of which are common charges casually tossed in the direction of American Traditionalists by the progressive elites who control our government and media.

Conversely, the French school not only advocated but coined the phrase laissez-faire, and Anarchy as a political theory was developed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.  It is the French tradition which holds that liberty can be imposed from above and yet in a Schizophrenic fit of conscious these would-be liberators could say as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of modern utilitarianism, did, “Every law is an evil for every law is an infraction of liberty.”  No matter what their theories say about the greatest good for the greatest number and their goal of a worker’s paradise these are the same people who brought us the Soviet gulag and the Cambodian killing fields.

The differences between the two schools of thought are best illustrated in their fundamental assumptions regarding the essence of human nature. The French relying on their rationalistic conscious design model hold that humans have an innate ability to think and a desire to act rationally based on their natural intelligence and basic goodness. The English believe that it is the institutions and traditions evolved over time that provide a framework which allows man to constrain his fallen nature.  They see these institutions as platforms for the launching of society into a trajectory to good while at the same time restraining the darker side of human nature from doing its worst.

These two schools of thought are as different as east and west.  Though they may at present in America travel on the same road they are heading for two completely different destinations. They may even race towards each other at a furious speed, and they may collide; however, never the twain shall meet.

Though Harry Reid may call those who oppose the endless spending anarchists, and Pelosi may call those who oppose raising the debt limit advocates of laissez-faire it is they who represent the intrusion of the French school into American politics.  It is the Progressives who march around the world trying to impose liberty and democracy on cultures that find democracy abhorrent and ungodly.  It is the Progressives who are dedicated to creating a utopia from the top down.

In other words a donkey may call an elephant an ass but that doesn’t make it one.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Liberty Makes Ignorance Necessary December 13, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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If we knew everything in the past and the future there would be little need for freedom.  If we could accurately know all that preceded our fleeting moment upon life’s stage, if we could know all the consequences of our present desires, and if we could know what we would desire in the future we could then chart a course to perfection without any detours and so freedom of action would be unnecessary and central-planning would make sense.

Freedom would not only be unnecessary it would be very inconvenient.  One free agent on this express to perfection would be the fly in the ointment and the monkey wrench in the gears. That one free person would rage against the machines, and would inevitably make an unforeseen choice and all the perfection would silently slip away.

In order to have the freedom to succeed there must also be freedom to fail.  We all need the freedom to act upon circumstances that we don’t fully understand to attain goals whose consequences we can’t fully appreciate.  Without this there is no freedom.  We can pretend as the progressive advocates of central-planning do that we can accurately predict the consequence of every action; however this is contrary to our real-world experience.

The reason failure is so prevalent is due to the fact that every individual is operating with imperfect knowledge of what is best or of what will eventually yield the best outcome that we must allow people the freedom to act upon their ignorance.  In this way the independent and competitive choices of many individuals will eventually lead through trial and error to the development of the best.  Since so many times the best emerges through accidental or unforeseen results of actions taken without complete knowledge of what the outcome would be we must leave room for accidents often guided by ignorance so that knowledge can grow.

It is an incontrovertible fact that as the fund of human knowledge grows the percentage that any one person can effectively know becomes smaller.  In other words, as general knowledge increases individual ignorance also increases.  Add to this the constantly increasing complexity of our civilization and it becomes obvious that people must be allowed to act upon the knowledge they possess without regard to the vast amount of knowledge they do not possess.  Otherwise no advancement would be possible, and we would live in a static society doomed to eventual demise.

It is this freedom to act in ignorance of all the consequences of their actions that allows the space for individual innovation.  The greater the freedom of individuals to interpret the world according to their imperfect knowledge and to organize their efforts based upon their understanding of the world as they see it the greater the opportunity for the accidents which make up the majority of progress.  If we take away the freedom to act upon our imperfect knowledge, if we take away the freedom to fail we will also take away the engine of progress and condemn ourselves to a stagnant world of limited possibilities.

As one person tries something another may build upon their result whether it succeeds or fails.  The ability to learn from and build upon the experience of others is the seedbed of innovation and the font of discovery.  It is our ignorance of all but a small fragment of reality that causes probability and chance to play such a large portion in our activities.  It is within this realm of probability and chance that the future grows.

This applies to social as well as technical fields.  The favorable accidents which become the building blocks of a vibrant, successful society do not just happen.  They are the result of someone taking a risk, doing something that hasn’t been tried before without the complete knowledge of what the result will be.  They include the chance of failure as well as of success and often the success achieved is not the desired end result of the action when it was initiated.  Freedom increases the opportunity for risk and opens the door to possibility.

When we look at the vast amount of knowledge that makes up the common store of information in the modern age and then look at the miniscule percentage that any one person could possibly gain, retain and understand we see that the difference between what the wisest knows and what the least wise knows is comparatively insignificant.  Everyone is operating based upon imperfect knowledge and the acceptance of grand assumptions.

To tell you the truth I am not really sure how electricity works.  Yet most of my life and lifestyle is predicated on the availability and use of electricity.  Most people have no idea how the economy works yet we all base our lives upon the fact that it does.  If we refused to act in areas where we had less than perfect knowledge we would do nothing.  One of the big differences between an advocate of liberty and an advocate of central-planning is that those who see liberty as man’s natural state understand that no one person or group is wise enough to make all the decisions for everyone.  Central planners by definition believe they are wise enough to do so.

The case for liberty made by such Enlightenment thinkers as John Milton and John Locke provided the philosophical foundation for the Framers as they wrote our Constitution.  They based their arguments for liberty on the realization that human ignorance and our need to act in the face of ignorance is a basic component of reality.

Every application of the tenants of Liberty reflect our need to give these actions based upon ignorance the widest possible scope to interface with chance and probability not certainty.  Certainty is unattainable in this life outside of a cultural straightjacket that restricts choice and eliminates the freedom to fail.  Such a society will be stagnant, stunted and doomed.  Without the freedom to fail on an individual basis and then fall forward from that failure a society has short-circuited the conveyor belt of individual success and charted the course to eventual systemic failure. The former USSR was a text book example of this scenario.

If we wish to avoid the trash heap of History we must be wise enough to learn that though acting upon ignorance may increase the odds of failure if we try to eliminate failure so that everyone gets a trophy and everyone succeeds we have consigned ourselves to the dead end that always awaits anyone or any society that believes perfection is attainable on this earth.

For it isn’t failing that marks a failure it is the refusal to rise from failure and move on to success.  We learn by failing.  We achieve by using our freedom to fail as a launching pad for success.  We fail because of our ignorance.  We succeed because of our failures.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

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