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Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

How Do We Get Back to Where We Were?

It’s hard to be a conservative when there’s little left to conserve. The increasing pace of America’s progression from free markets to a command economy has reached such a pace and become so obvious that way back in 2009 the Russian Prime Minister used his spotlight time at the World Economic Forum to warn America not to follow the socialist path. The Russian newspaper Pravda, once the leading communist voice on earth published an article entitled, “American capitalism gone with a whimper.” People around the world can see the individual decisions of producers and consumers are being replaced by the form letters of a faceless central-planning bureaucracy even if the Obama boosters still haven’t swallowed the red pill and watched the matrix dissolve.

Pushed by the breathtaking speed of America’s devolution into a command economy some conservatives have entered the ranks of the radicals. They’re beginning to think about how to cure the systemic political problems precipitating the November Revolution of 2008. One solution some are embracing is known as the Sovereignty Movement. This is a movement of citizens and state representatives attempting to right the listing ship-of-state by appealing to the 10th Amendment which 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 10th Amendment addressed one of the most hard-fought points in the establishment of a central government. The States even though they surrendered some of their sovereignty didn’t want to lose it all. Specifically they didn’t want to lose the power to make internal decisions. They did not want to be powerless before a distant national bureaucracy. So as the cap-stone of the Bill of Rights the 10th Amendment was meant to reassure the States they would remain sovereign within their borders. However, since the 1830s, court rulings have garbled the once universally accepted meaning of the 10th Amendment as the Federal Government extended its authority from roads to schools to GM to Health Care to whatever they want.

Now some are turning to a resurrection of the straightforward meaning of the 10th Amendment as a way to mitigate the ever expanding power of centralized-control and social engineering combined with perpetual re-election and runaway pork-barrel deficit spending. But, is this enough?

As a Historian I always believe even a little history might help push back the darkness swirling around us.  In 1787, at the close of the Constitutional Convention, as Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall a lady asked “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy.” “A republic” replied Franklin “if you can keep it.”

Many have the mistaken idea that the United States is a democracy. It’s not. It’s a representative republic. The Framers distrusted unfettered democracy therefore they inserted several mechanisms into the Constitution which added some innovations between direct democracy and the power to rule.

One of the great innovations the Framers built into our system is the federal concept. Since this is an important component of our political legacy that has been overlooked in our contemporary education system let me define what is meant by federal. A federal system is a union of states with a central authority wherein the member states still retain certain defined powers of government.

According to the Constitution the Federal Government cannot mandate policies relating to local issues such as housing, business, transportation, etc. within the States. At least this was how the Constitution was interpreted by President James Madison, the Father of the Constitution. He expressed this clearly in a veto statement in 1817. In that there has never been anyone more qualified to address the original intent of the framers I believe it is important to bring his entire statement into this article:

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled “An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,” and which sets apart and pledges funds “for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,” I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.

The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it falls by any just interpretation within the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.

“The power to regulate commerce among the several States” cannot include a power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses in order to facilitate, promote, and secure such a commerce without a latitude of construction departing from the ordinary import of the terms strengthened by the known inconveniences which doubtless led to the grant of this remedial power to Congress.

To refer the power in question to the clause “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation, as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause nugatory and improper. Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms “common defense and general welfare” embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust. It would have the effect of subjecting both the Constitution and laws of the several States in all cases not specifically exempted to be superseded by laws of Congress, it being expressly declared “that the Constitution of the United States and laws made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges of every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Such a view of the Constitution, finally, would have the effect of excluding the judicial authority of the United States from its participation in guarding the boundary between the legislative powers of the General and the State Governments, inasmuch as questions relating to the general welfare, being questions of policy and expediency, are unsusceptible of judicial cognizance and decision.

A restriction of the power “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” to cases which are to be provided for by the expenditure of money would still leave within the legislative power of Congress all the great and most important measures of Government, money being the ordinary and necessary means of carrying them into execution.

If a general power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses, with the train of powers incident thereto, be not possessed by Congress, the assent of the States in the mode provided in the bill cannot confer the power. The only cases in which the consent and cession of particular States can extend the power of Congress are those specified and provided for in the Constitution.

I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it cannot be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and a reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it, and to cherishing the hope that its beneficial objects may be attained by a resort for the necessary powers to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation which established the Constitution in its actual form and providently marked out in the instrument itself a safe and practicable mode of improving it as experience might suggest.

This is an eloquent expression of how the Constitution was meant to be understood. However, through expansive interpretations by activist judges this gradually morphed into almost limitless Federal control of the domestic affairs of the States.

Another vital component of our Constitutional heritage is the protection provided by a system of “Checks and Balances” wherein each level or branch of government acts as a barrier to other levels or branches of government from acquiring too much power. The most important check on the power of the Federal Government in relation to the constituent States was the Senate. In the Constitution the people directly elected the House of Representatives to represent their interests, the various State legislatures elected the members of the Senate to represent the individual states.

The adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 mandating the popular election of Senators fatally damaged this system. Since then, the States have been reduced from equal partners with the Federal Government to a group of individual lobbyists. Before this amendment senators remained in office based upon how they upheld the rights of their state. The hot-and-cold winds of populist considerations didn’t compromise the Senator’s ability to serve. This freedom to vote against populist sentiment allowed the Senators to balance the directly-elected House.

Now we have two houses of Congress trying to spend enough of other people’s money to make political profits for themselves. So what do I propose? Resurrect the 10th Amendment, repeal the 17th and while we’re at it we should drive a stake through the heart of the 16th which allows progressive taxation and all that’s still on the conservative side of radicalism.

Restore the balance and save the Republic!

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Which Words Work

None Dare Call It…

Freedom is as Freedom Does

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Bureaucrats Know Better Than You? The NLRB Thinks So

Townhall

January 23, 2011 By Katie Gage
In a democracy, the will of the voter is the ultimate mandate. Those elected to public office are the servants to the electorate, and by extension, this is true for the bureaucrats appointed and nominated by those same officials.

But all of this seems to be lost upon the members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Whether it’s the board chairman, Wilma Liebman who previously worked for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters or Craig Becker who was previously on the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) payroll, their allegiance appears to be with union bosses, not the American people.

What has become abundantly clear is that the NLRB serves as an advocacy arm of Big Labor, instead of an independent agency charged with administering to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). It is difficult to read anything else into the activist conduct now stemming from the little known agency.

Recently, in spite of the fact that the secret ballot is part of our history and revered in free societies, the NLRB has seen fit to threaten states with legal action for defending it. These bureaucrats seem to forget that they were nominated by and serve under a President who won election on a secret ballot vote and their agency is overseen by a Congress whose members are elected with private balloting.

Furthermore, their actions seem to contradict the words and sentiments expressed by President Obama, just this week. In an op-ed published in

The Wall Street Journal, Obama wrote, “Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business – burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

In threatening to sue Arizona, Utah, South Dakota and South Carolina for passing amendments to their constitutions guaranteeing the right to a secret ballot in union elections, the NLRB is ignoring the will of the voter and rigidly adhering to the demands of Big Labor.

Union bosses have been unambiguous concerning what they expect from the NLRB. Last year, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka’s right hand operative, Stewart Acuff wrote, “It [sic] we aren’t able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action…”

And just as there is a great degree of clarity with regard to the NLRB’s motivations, there is an equal amount of transparency with respect to where voters stand. In South Dakota, for instance, over 79% of people supported the secret ballot amendment. In South Carolina, that number grew to 86.2%. And in both Arizona and Utah, the measures passed with significant majorities with more than six in ten supporting.

Few – if any initiatives – are able to gain the endorsement of eight or nine out of ten people, but support for the secret ballot did just that.

And that leads to the question, why is the NLRB actively undermining the expressed will of the voters in these states?

It comes back to the ideology of labor radicals like Becker who believe bosses – not workers – should have the say in whether a workplace is unionized. The best known iteration of this idea is the job-killing Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA) where voting would be done without any privacy by signing a public petition card exposing workers to intimidation and coercion.

The NLRB’s actions are the equivalent of a Big Labor bail out and demonstrate complete disregard for the intentions of Americans attempting to protect basic rights, while also working to weather a very challenging economy. Preventing states from protecting their workers sets the precedent and lays the foundation for passing card check through the bureaucracy’s backdoor, which the agency has already demonstrated significant interest in accomplishing.

The voters in Arizona, Utah, South Dakota and South Carolina have spoken. The members of the NLRB should ask themselves who they work for, the American people or Big Labor bosses?

Katie Gage
Katie Gage is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness institute.

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