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You Should Ask Whose Property Is It February 27, 2014

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

Private property is an essential ingredient of a free society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why We Need Capitalists February 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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