Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Category

Beyond Debate in a Post-Constitutional America?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

I pose the title in the form of a question, but until I’m convinced otherwise, I think it is true, we are beyond debate in this post-Constitutional America.

I conclude this with a certain amount of sadness and frustration. Sadness because I think it does not bode well for our future. Frustration, because having recently taken to study classic Greek and Roman oratory and rhetoric, I’d like the opportunity to discuss differing views in a constructive way. Now, however, it seems that all too often regarding politics, the debate is over before it even has a chance to begin.

To discuss the dilemma I need to characterize the two opposing camps, but I’ll do so by avoiding the most common and inflammatory labels. As I see there are two primary values, and therefor two camps, around which people align – those being – freedom and equality. I concede this is a drastic simplification, but in the limit I think the debate distills down to these two values. Ideally, politics aside, we should strive to promote both. However, when it comes to our US Constitution, I do not think it is possible to insist on equal provision of both.

Based on my current understanding, our Constitution is so constructed to assure each person their individual freedom. I can not see a similar construct that institutionalizes a person’s assurance of equality. Again, in the limit it is not possible to provide equality without compromising individual freedom.

As introduced in our Declaration of Independence the notion of equality is important because is stated as the prerequisite condition for the discussion of rights. A person’s equality is the basis for endowment of the stated rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are ours, not to insure that we become equal, but they are ours because we are equal. The bulk of the remainder of the declaration itemizes complaints about the King’s restraint on freedoms and are cited as the reason for the declaration for freedom. I can not discern any similar grievance against the King regarding inequality – all speaks to freedom.

In a way the Declaration of Independence states what was being sought by separation from the King – the signatories were seeking freedom.

Consequently, our Constitution was formed to provide the structure as to how to govern ourselves in order to preserve, assure and maintain that freedom.

From the preamble to the Constitution its objectives are itemized; justice, domestic tranquillity, common defense, general welfare, and to “secure the blessings of liberty.” Personally, I think the “blessings of liberty” rise to a higher level of importance.

Freedom without justice, defense, welfare is still freedom. However justice or, defense, or welfare, without freedom, is unacceptable.

Many decisions today are seemingly promoted and made in the name of assuring or seeking equality. Obamacare, the executive order provision for the “Dreamers,” the general concept of redistribution of wealth (along with its specific implementation in tax policy or the Buffet rule) are but a few examples.

To me all of these legislative implementation choices for equality can only come at the expense of freedom. To that is what I object. However, that is not what people in general are willing to have a dialogue about.

Mention freedom as the basis for my position and the debate is over – I am left with someone from the equality camp telling me that I am wrong because the position they support is simply the “right thing to do.” Seemingly, doing the right thing, in the name of equality, trumps freedom.

I am not actively against any of these various causes, or even against doing “the right thing to do,” it is just that I’d prefer to support a solution that did not involve Government intervention.

Intervention on these matters only comes at the expense of freedom. I’ve never been able successfully engage in debate on the subject of freedom; that’s why I believe we have are beyond debate in a post-Constitutional America.

Obamacare, Explained as if to a 5 year old

Monday, June 25th, 2012

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Recently I caught an Obamacare discussion on the Explain it to Me Like I’m 5 forum at reddit.com. The original post asked “What exactly is Obamacare and what did it change?” Because I differ with the most popular response, I will offer a brief rebuttal here on my own blog. That works out just fine because, not only am I chief cook and bottle wash, but I am also judge, jury and executioner. Aside from that I think I do have a legitimate point to make.

Regarding the original thread, and quoting from posting guidelines, ELI5 is “A friendly place to ask questions and get elementary school-level answers, without fear of judgement.” There are two rules and guidelines for answers most relevant: [1] no bias…, and [2] “Keep your answers simple! We’re shooting for elementary-school age answers…”

While I credit CaspianX2 with a fair and comprehensive response, I think it is significantly flawed in two regards. First, although reasonably fair, citing some arguments on both sides, it nonetheless reads as a extended defense of the bill and therefor fails the “no bias” test. Second it so far exceeds the guideline of “elementary-school age answers” that it outright fails the criteria. Specifically, most of the response, which is over 2000 words far exceeds the vocabulary, attention-span and comprehension level of all but the most sophisticated elementary school students.

Because it is such an important topic, and it should be reducible to the level a 5 year can understand, I am going to give it a try. However, I will take the other side of the argument, and will describe why Obamacare is wrong.

Even while just a child, the first thing I remember about the formation of my identity as an American citizen was that I had freedom. In particular, I had freedom of speech, and I knew at the time that it was an important concept. I also knew that this was insured by our US Constitution which was the basis for our government. I did not know much else about my others rights and responsibilities, but as a typical kid I did a lot of talking. As such, the “free speech” aspect appealed to me a lot. More than just being able to talk when I wanted, I also knew that I was free to speak my ideas. My ideas at the time where not that sophisticated, however I did understand these things when I was five; I was taught about our flag, the pledge of allegiance, the US Constitution and about freedom.

So, here is what I’d say to my five year old self, or any five year old for that matter: Obamacare is a law with many parts, that is intended to improve your ability to get care from your Doctor. Our country is considering if the law is valid, or whether it should be overturned. A very important part of the law is that the US Government says it needs to force your parents to buy something called health insurance, even if they do not want to buy it. The originator of the law, our President Obama himself, has said that the law can’t work if the US Government is not able to force your parents to buy that health insurance. The problem is that the government can only force your parents to buy something by taking away from their freedom. Obamacare is wrong because it takes away from freedom that is promised in our Constitution.

I will concede that a few of these words might be hard for a five year old, but not so much that any difficulties could not be addressed by a simple re-phrasing in more understandable terms. My premise though is that the concepts are basic enough that a child could understand them.

That’s why I’d be comfortable explaining to a young person that Obamacare is wrong, and that it should be overturned, because it takes away from freedom that is guaranteed in our Constitution.

It really is just that simple; even a five year old can understand.

A pitiful man calls it quits

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

What a pitiful shell of a man, this soon to “retire” representative from the state of Michigan, Bart Stupak. Standing on principal, supposedly, he opposed Obamacare as long as it left room for federal funding of abortions. There was some modification of the language of the bill that seemingly would have addressed his concerns, but many agree that the changes were not sufficient – most likely taxpayer dollars will be used for abortions. Rather than hold firm to his convictions, he caved to the pressure from the White House and settled for an executive order than was offered in exchange for his vote. This fool settled for a non-binding piece of paper.

I was ready to purge this sad loser from my memory, when just today I read the speech in which he announced that he would not seek re-election.

In the speech he recounted his past successes and he celebrated being part of the historic passage of Obamacare. These comments were to be expected, although they came across as weak and thin excuses – he is quitting because of the heat he has taken for selling out. Just when he needed to honor his convictions the most he abandoned them. As a result we will all suffer, not only under the diminished healthcare we can anticipate in our future, but also the insult of our tax dollars being allowed to be used for abortions.

What really got my attention though was the following passage – his explanation of the things he was most proud of in his so-called service:

“While legislative accomplishments have been a significant part of my career, perhaps the thing I am most proud of over the past 18 years as your Congressman is helping you, my friends, my neighbors, and my constituents.My staff and I have helped tens of thousands of people resolve problems and cut through red tape. Problems such as helping secure benefits through the Veterans or Social Security Administration, or helping with a tax problem at the IRS, or securing medals for a service member who valiantly served our country. We’ve helped people obtain passports, secure local mail delivery service, and obtain funding to weatherize their homes in order to save money on their monthly bills.”As if he wasn’t pitiful enough based on his sell-out debacle alone, here he confesses his idiotic perspective on what activities define an effective representative.These “accomplishments” are anything but; these are the problem with government today. In what way could helping people “resolve problems and cut through red tape” be considered virtuous? The statement itself is an indictment of a bloated government that has greatly exceeded its constitutional mandate.We need less red tape, not more simpletons who are satisfied with calling “cutting through red tape” an accomplishment. A truly helpful servant would be more effective if he simplified government. Instead Stupak merely acknowledges the complexity and claims victory when a few bewildered citizens are “helped with a tax problem.” How about simplifying taxes rather than congratulating yourself for nonsense?If there is “red tape” that needs to be cut though, it is only because our representatives have allowed and even encouraged the growth of government beyond the bounds set forth in the constitution.Aside from the mention of “securing medals for a service member”, which is in fact noble, and not coincidentally, directly related to one of the few things that government should be doing – that is providing for the defense of the nation – the rest is hogwash.Did he actually proudly claim credit for helping “obtain funding to weatherize?” Amazing! What constitutional basis is there for such a use of taxpayers money? There is none!

Such is the summation of the representative’s nine term, eighteen year tenure in congress. What a failure. What a simplistic and naive view of what it means to be a good public servant. I am afraid though that this type of thinking is characteristic of modern liberal thought.

Unless we are more careful about who we elect we can expect more of the same in the future. What is needed is smaller government, respect for the constitution, a solid grasp of what should be important as a representative, and finally representatives who not only stick by their convictions, but who are not overtly stupid.

Unfortunately, by failing in the last two aspects Bart Stupak has let us all down. We will have to live with the results of his failings. Now he has to live with being a loser, a quitter and a sell-out. I doubt that fond memories of helping people “cut through red tape” will compensate us or him for the pending disaster known as Obamacare that now awaits America.

Michelle Malkin has thoughts on this subject as well –> http://michellemalkin.com/2010/04/09/dear-bart-stupak-dltdhyotwo/

Tuning up the Voice

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

There have been no posts here for quite some time – that is going to change. I have been enjoying the good life, fat and happy. Actually less so the former and more so the latter. Fatness is not a problem as I have been running and swimming plenty. Happiness – not a problem either; life is to short to be anything other than that, right?

Forgot to mention complacent. I’ve been somewhat complacent it seems, particularly in the realm of politics. Two Novembers ago I conceded that as a result of the election there would be a new era of government spending and a rise of the liberal agenda. The pendulum swings, so there was not much to do other than ride out the storm, wait for the next swing, and hope that not too much damage would be done.

That was a mistake.

Recent events have clearly indicated that much damage is being done. Much more damage is being planned. The perfect storm of an arrogant president, a renegade liberal congress and a complacent citizenry has taken shape. The first damaging wave of that storm has dumped the horrific healthcare reform bill, Obamacare, on a resistant public. At the time of its passage the majority of Americans opposed the reform in the shape that is had taken. Not that the majority were against reform; the majority opposed the socialist approach that it clearly manifests.

Therein lies the problem. The socialist approach. The loss of liberty. A spend-crazy administration can tax me into poverty; that is a given during a liberal’s reign. Oh, I may murmur and complain, but nothing will come of that. However when that same administration mounts an assault on my liberty I’ll do more than complain – I’ll use my voice.

This citizen will not be dragged towards socialism without a fight. How will I fight, and what are my weapons? My vote and my voice, but primarily my voice. That’s what I have, my voice. That’s what I’ll use.