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

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

Both of these were revolutionary terms when first spoken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 10th Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  The power to do any of these entitlements is not delegated anywhere in the document as it is written, only as it is interpreted.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Why Can’t We Change? February 7, 2014

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Paths with no obstacles usually lead nowhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By remembering why governments exist at all, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  And never forgetting “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect (sic) their safety and happiness.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

What’s the Reason? January 10, 2014

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Just as the pursuit of perfection can often end in the sacrifice of what is good so too the worship of reason often results in the exaltation of mediocrity and the circumscription of reasonable thought and action.

Daily the Progressives aggressively push forward against positions which have long been the traditional battle lines of the conservative movement.  The front lines in the culture war move ever closer to the transformed America they envision.  First prayer was expelled from School.  Then the sexual revolution wave peaked with the nullification of state abortion laws by the Supreme Court and then crashed into the mainstream with condoms and birth-control distributed to school children.  Divorce became common-place, and out-of-wedlock births account for the majority in several demographics.  Pornography is a constitutional right and as close as a mouse click away in most homes.

Those who want to hold on to the America we were raised in are ridiculed in the press, movies, and by our elected officials as a wild-eyed fringe of traditionalist America-firsters clinging to our guns and Bibles.  This is why it is important to examine the place of reason as opposed to tradition in the operation of society.

To paraphrase the infamous phrase of George Bush the Younger, “I have sacrificed free market principles to save the free market system,” I would say, “At times we must suspend the rule of reason for reason to flourish.” Or follow in the footsteps of David Hume who was said to have turned against the Enlightenment its own weapons to whittle down the claims of reason by the use of rational analysis.

It is the ability to think in symbols and imagine abstract things that sets man apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.  Therefore at the outset let me say this is not an appeal for irrationality or any type of transcendental mysticism.  It is instead meant to be a rational examination of the anti-rationalistic position which is necessary for the preservation of individual freedom, personal liberty, and economic opportunity, and the only conditions under which reason can flourish and evolve.  For the attempt to apply reason and reason alone to the organization of society’s intricately woven interface of conventions stifles creativity, leaves no place for innovation, and is ultimately unreasonable.

When we attempt to apply the laws of science or the mechanical practices of engineering to human activity we run the risk of building a maze so perfect the mouse can never find the cheese.  Or in other words we can seek to make our processes so ideal that there is no room for free thinking, free action, or for the splashes of genius that are the real catalysts of societal evolution.

Those who stand by the idea that reason and reason alone should shape the future must of necessity seek to abandon tradition; for traditions are not built upon reason.  They are built upon trial and error.  That which doesn’t work is discarded, and that which works becomes accepted through use and time.  However it is impossible to completely disregard tradition.  Every day each of us moves through life acting upon hundreds of unconscious rules and procedures that we don’t think about because they were bred into us by those who raised us.  It is the consensus of a common culture and heritage which makes a people one, E Pluribus Unum.

Those who worship reason believe that they can design a perfect society, a utopia, and that all of their dreams of perfection will stand the light of day.  History proves over and over that those who seek to guide the evolution of man through the evolution of society do not create the heaven on earth they advertise.

Look to the French Revolution which cast down Christ and enshrined Reason as their God.  It didn’t produce the liberty, equality, and fraternity it promised; instead it brought forth Terror, dictatorship, war and ruin.  The Russian Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy of the Romanovs and installed an even more absolute dictatorship that promised a worker’s paradise and delivered the gulags, starvation, and collapse.

When those who think they are wise enough to make everyone’s decisions about everything try to manufacture a society that looks like their computer models they must use coercion to force those who do not accept their vision to act as if they did.  Rules, regulations and red tape bind the human spirit and prevent the growth of the un-designed, the unforeseen, and smother the spark of genius.  As counter intuitive as it may sound a free society will always be in large measure a tradition bound society. For traditions, though they may seem unbreakable at times, are always evolving while rules are cast in concrete.

Patrick Henry told us, “Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.”

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our virtue is embodied and defended in our traditions.  Once these walls have fallen how can our virtue stand unprotected assailed on all sides in what is becoming an alien culture?

The ethics of virtue tells us “virtue is determined by the right reason. Virtue requires the right desire and the right reason. To act from the wrong reason is to act viciously. On the other hand, the agent can try to act from the right reason, but fail because he or she has the wrong desire. The virtuous agent acts effortlessly, perceives the right reason, has the harmonious right desire, and has an inner state of virtue that flows smoothly into action. The virtuous agent can act as an exemplar of virtue to others.”

The virtuous person acts in the way they do because it is their nature.  They have imbibed the virtue of their society and they act naturally as an embodiment of the good.  They have absorbed the traditions and they act as they do without thought, without regard or reliance on reason.  They do not question what is right or wrong.  They know what is right or wrong and act accordingly.  They follow tradition.

The worshipers of reason reject the traditions that have grown up organically in society and design their own.  They reject the good and seek the perfect.  The problem is that perfection is impossible in this life.  Perfection does not belong to the realm of man.  The air castles and utopias of the rationalistic social engineers may look good on paper; however they never materialize into anywhere we can live.

Why is it hell the Progressives will deliver instead of the heaven they promise?   This is what has traditionally happened and that’s the reason.

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

 

You Didn’t Build That December 5, 2013

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We can’t know what we don’t know however we can know that we don’t know or as Socrates taught us the recognition of our ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.

The society and civilization in which any human lives and operates is like water to a fish.  Something they move around in, something they need to survive, it is also something they don’t even notice.  If we wish to understand the world in which we live we need to realize that the civilization which serves as our support and framework is based upon vast amounts of knowledge those who fill its ranks give no thought to whatsoever.

It is also necessary to understand that civilization isn’t something consciously created by man.  Civilizations build up over time by humans interacting with and attempting to modify their surroundings.  As such our civilizations are more accretions than structures.

What our civilization is today is no more the conscious product of some master plan than the course of a river.  Life flows into the channels of least resistance and is moved by forces that act upon it.  We can no more predict what our civilization will look like in a few generations than one of our 17th century ancestors could have described the lives we live today.

What will be invented tomorrow that will change the future in ways we could never imagine?  Thirty years ago in 1983 who would have thought we would all walk around with minicomputers we call cell phones?  Or that there would be hundreds of television stations?  Or a worldwide internet that can cross-pollenate thought at the speed of light?  What may be around the next corner is anyone’s guess.  One thing is for sure, thirty years from now we will live in ways we never imagined today.

This is the foundational problem that undergirds and eliminates the possibility of success from any of the utopian central-planning schemes that litter History and of the ones we are trying today.  The planners cannot take the place of masses of people living, innovating and creating.  No one person or group can substitute their decisions for the independent decisions of everyone else without short circuiting the system and causing civilization to stall out.  No one is as smart as everyone.

If two minds are better than one how much better are 100,000 or 1 million or billions?  Over and over those who think they and they alone are intelligent, far seeing or inspired enough to shape the future have grabbed the reins of power and tried to impose their vision on the world around them.  Sooner or later reality comes along and teaches them that it just won’t work.  We have people trying to guide trillion dollar economies who know nothing of economics, and people trying to guide History who know nothing of History.  We are surrounded by political savants who know how to get elected and not much else.  Some even have the hubris to list running a campaign as a life skill that qualifies them to run the lives of everyone around them.

What is even more bizarre than this is that people believe them and vote them into office based on such sketchy experience and vague promises as hope and change.  Then when the Rube Goldberg plans they devise fall apart and everyone is worse off than before the savants say, “You just didn’t give us enough power to accomplish the task. What we need now is more of the same.”  Time after time civilizations have fallen for this siren song of perfection.   And time after time civilizations have fallen because they did.

Why does this destructive desire to trade freedom for the promise of utopia always fail?   Because it’s based on the erroneous idea that humanity created civilization and therefore it is possible to alter its institutions, operations, and mechanisms whenever and however we please.

This assertion would be valid only if we had created civilization deliberately with full knowledge of what we were doing while we were doing it.  In a way it is true that humanity has made its civilization in that it was not brought here by some aliens who placed us in it like animals in the artificial habitat of a zoo.  Civilization is the product of the combined actions of hundreds of generations living their lives, making choices, succeeding and failing, rising and falling.  This however, does not mean civilization is the conscious product of human design or that any one individual or group can completely comprehend all of its functions or what is required for its continued existence.

The very idea that humanity sprang from the earth with a mind able to conceive civilization and then proceeded to systematically create it does not fit the anthropological or historical record.  Our minds themselves are the product of the constant adjustments we make as we attempt to adapt to our surroundings.

Is it nature or nurture is an age old debate.

The reality is that it is both.   Our minds are what they are, unbelievably intricate bio-computers able to think in symbolic terms and extrapolate beyond what is known to what is imagined.  They are the wonder upon which civilization is built; however they did not design and then initiate civilization.  If they were, all we would have to do to reach a higher plane of civilization is imagine it and then make it happen.  The fact that civilization has advanced by fits and starts shows that some things work and some things don’t.  It is the constant adjustment that moves us forward.

Believing the lie that man is the measure of all things is the trap the utopians fall into: that man in and of himself has the capacity to control History.  It seems so enticing and yet it never works because that isn’t how civilizations grow.  They grow by the friction between our present conditions and our dreams.  They grow by the incessant revision of what is into what we want it to be.  Our current experience shapes our course deviations in so many ways that cannot be foretold leading in a zigzag fashion from the present to the future.

The weathermen who have a hard time accurately predicting what the weather will be like five days from now seem ever ready to tell us what it will be like five hundred years from now.  The economic forecasters who are surprised every month by what the economy did last month have no problem making absolute statements about how actions today will guide our multifaceted economy for years in the future.

Man knows not his time and we cannot know the future. In other words we can’t know what we don’t know.  About the best we can do is know that we don’t know.

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

 

Step by Step Inch by Inch November 15, 2013

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How do you fundamentally transform a nation from what it has been to what a clique of ideologues wants it to be?  The easiest way is to convince the general population that what the would-be masters want is what the people want.  Those seeking to subvert a culture must take a long view.  They must realize that this will be a multistage project that will take generations to achieve.

As an example that will strike home and ring true to every engaged American let’s look at how the Progressives have incrementally moved us from the best educated, most politically engaged population in History to a flock of militantly apathetic fans.  Couch potatoes waiting for the next game or reality show unaware how our government operates and impatient with anyone who tries to explain it to them.  How did they nudged us from the most self-reliant people in the world to a line of people waiting hat in hand for the next transfer payment?

The first goal was the educational system.  Capture that and it was possible to raise up generations who either thought as they did or who didn’t think at all.  Dumb it down, exchange confused thinking for critical thinking and soon the people who once asked hard questions will swallow easy answers.  The best place to start is at the colleges and universities.  If you can convince a generation of teachers that the snake-oil you’re selling will cure everything you will soon have them indoctrinating generations that the sickness is really the cure.

A target of particular interest is of course was journalism schools.  Once these schools become factories churning out carbon copies it isn’t necessary to have an official propaganda ministry. The journalists themselves will self-censor anything that doesn’t fit the reality they imbibed along with the Kool-aide.  Once the editorial boards and the human resource departments are filled with clones none but clones need apply.  Today the portals of American media are filled with people who don’t even know someone who is pro-life.  They don’t know anyone who sympathizes with the Tea Party.  So those on the other side are always the other.  There is no understanding or compassion for thoughts and ideas they find foreign and alien even though they represent the thinking of the majority of Americans.  So as we cling to our Bibles and our guns the megaphones of the public discourse represent mainstream America as a fringe while holding up a cross section of the Jerry Springer Show or the Gong Show as the new normal.

The next target in America’s transition from a society built upon individualism, self-reliance and innovation into a centrally-planned experiment in utopian collectivism might have been the hardest or it might have been the easiest: capitalism itself.

As layer after layer of regulations entangled the economy there came a tipping point.   This was reached when government interference in the economy became the dominant feature.  Then business decisions were no longer made because they were right but instead because of how they intersected with government policy.  Look at the stock market today.  It no longer moves due to innovation or even speculation it instead moves like a marionette to the strings pulled by the Federal Reserve.  It reacts to real, perceived or imagined government actions.

No longer do we have Henry Fords or J. D. Rockefellers moving and shaking the economy to build industries.  Now we have crony capitalists who use their connections to get sweetheart deals, tax subsidies and bailouts.   Too Big to Fail has replaced Laissez-faire and it is no longer what you know but who you know that brings success in America.

The most insidious aspect of this incremental transformation of America is what it has done to truth.  Once thought to be an objective reality, in a centralized utopia truth must become whatever endorses and supports the efforts to reach the designated goals.  If necessary, good becomes bad, up becomes down and dark becomes light if that is what is required to make the assumptions and conclusions of the planners plausible.

War becomes peace.  Inequality becomes equality.  Pork becomes stimulus.   Stonewalling and taking the fifth becomes the most transparent administration in history and the destruction of the greatest health system ever known becomes affordable care.

As the meanings of words change it becomes increasingly hard to hold an intelligent conversation, because no one is sure what anyone else means.  This cannot be viewed as the natural evolution of language.  This is a direct by-product of the effort to centrally-plan a society.  Since all efforts must be bent to the centrally directed goals all thoughts must be shaped to conform to the politically correct thoughts of the leaders.  All other thoughts become suspect and are held up to ridicule.

The prevailing mood of cynicism and the general intellectual climate that this produces brings about the loss of even the meaning of truth.  Truth becomes relative.  It is wholly dependent upon political considerations as the spirit of independent inquiry itself disappears.   Under the constant barrage of the all-embracing central government and their willing allies in the media the belief in the power of rational conviction fades from view and only the official line seems to make sense to those who through either apathy or complacency swallow the party line and march in lock-step from freedom to serfdom.

The desire to force people to accept a creed and to salute the flag is nothing new.  What is new is the justification for doing so that lies at the basis of our current round of communal thought control.  It is believed by some that there is no real freedom of thought in any society at all.  The thoughts of the masses have always been and will always be shaped by what we now call propaganda or governmental advertising by the laws and regulations of the leaders and the example of the upper classes.  Those who wish to regiment thought and control opinion act as if since this is so it is incumbent upon them to direct the thoughts of the masses into a desirable direction.  Or in other words a direction that supports the movement towards the goals and objectives previously chosen by the central planners.

Incrementally, step by step, inch by inch the highly individualistic descendants of the pioneers have become a mob clamoring for bread and circuses.  Dependent upon government for their very livelihood a large portion, perhaps a majority of the electorate, eagerly embrace the thinking needed to justify robbing their fellow citizens through transfer payments to subsidize their lifestyle.  Society becomes rigid and any deviance from the proscribed way of thinking is ostracized.  Any attempt to break free of the stranglehold of political correctness on the thoughts and opinions of a once free people must be punished.   The best that we can hope is that since we have gone step by step and inch by inch eventually, slowly we will turn.

In George Orwell’s classic 1984 it was the thought police that monitored and directed the thoughts of an entire nation.  On a smaller scale the sadistic captain of the chain-gang in Cool Hand Luke phrased it this way when referring to people who tried to break out of the system, “You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains. You run twice you got yourself two sets. You ain’t gonna need no third set, ’cause you gonna get your mind right.”

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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