Sunday, July 03, 2011

Time’s Orwellian Story on U.S. Constitution Refuted

Time magazine’s cover story shows the U.S. Constitution and asks, “Does it still matter?” Reading this story, we kept waiting for Emmanuel Goldstein to show up for the Two Minutes of Hate. It was difficult to discern whether we were reading Time, or Orwells’ 1984.

It portrays the Constitution as an outmoded document that we should ignore to whatever extent is expedient to pursue someone’s vision of a better society: “We cannot let the Constitution become an obstacle to a future with a sensible health care system, a globalized economy, and evolving sense of civil and political rights.”

The story shows all sorts of poll questions that present a false choice, such as, “The 14th Amendment says that any person born in the U.S. automatically becomes a U.S. citizen… Should [it] be revised?” The Citizenship Clause says no such thing, because it adds that anyone “not subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. is not a citizen.

That’s why children of foreign ambassadors, prisoner soldiers and heads of state born here do not become citizens. The question is how broad that “jurisdiction” clause is. Could Congress exclude illegal aliens? It’s an active debate in legal circles, with no clear answer.

Instead, the questions should have included: “Are you more interested in the Constitution today that you were four years ago?” “Do you agree or disagree with candidates discussing the Constitution more in their campaign speeches this year?” “Are you now aware that the Constitution only vests the federal government with power of specific areas of life, leaving the states sovereign to decide all other issues?”

Or questions on enduring constitutional principles. “Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s 1803 pronouncement that any law contrary to the Constitution is null and void?” “Every government officer (including every judge) takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Should they apply its original meaning to current challenges?”

Does the Constitution still matter? Look at huge crowds of Americans cheering at rallies, whether it’s a spending protest or a pro-life rally. It matters to them, and they vote.

The story was so riddled with distortions that it obscured its message. For example, it says we must raise the debt ceiling because, “the idea that we can default on our debt is not only reckless; it’s probably unconstitutional.” It twists a provision from the 14th Amendment that has nothing to do with the debt ceiling.

The reality is, revenue government collects every month so vastly exceeds our debt payments that we could easily meet our monthly obligations. We would just have to cut discretionary spending on other programs. But it’s deceptive to suggest that not raising the ceiling automatically causes default, and it’s wrong to suggest it’s unconstitutional.

The most disappointing part of the article mischaracterizes the Obamacare legal fight. It says Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring you to buy health insurance is constitutional because government takes your money in taxes and requires you to buy car insurance.

The writer obliviously ignores that the Constitution expressly creates a federal government of enumerated powers. The feds can tax you because of the Taxing Clause of the Constitution (though even then only four types of taxes are legal—not the mandate). And states have authority to make you buy car insurance under state police power, but if the feds required it, such a law would be illegal because the feds have no police power.

Since there is no Healthcare Clause in the Constitution, the feds try cramming it in the Commerce Clause. That’s the whole fight: Whether Congress can control your personal decisions whenever Congress declares such decisions impact interstate commerce.

Every decision in your life has some tangential relationship to interstate commerce. Does that mean the Constitution allows the government to control your every decision? It makes a mockery of the concept of limited government.

The story concludes, “The Constitution serves the nation; the nation does not serve the Constitution.” The connotation is that we shouldn’t be too slavish in our fidelity to the Constitution.

Like the rest of this article, its conclusion misses the point. The Constitution serves the American people as an unbreakable constraint on those in power, dictating their duties and the limits on their authority. The Constitution serves We the People by requiring every government official to take an oath to obey its every word.

The picture art at the outset of Time’s story showed the Constitution cut in dozens of narrow vertical strips. Clearly it had been run through a paper shredder.

Evidently this is wishful thinking for some on the Far Left. The only problem is that it’s false. Interest in the Constitution is resurgent, and that renewed interest is the key to America’s renewal in our third century.



A rebellion against "tax & spend" at State level

It can be done

In what we should all hope happens at the national level, Minnesota Shuts Down after failing to pass a balanced budget by the June 30 deadline.

Minnesota's state government began a broad shutdown on Friday going into the July 4th holiday, after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to reach a budget deal.

Parts of the government had already begun to shut down on Thursday ahead of the midnight budget deadline, including some websites and dozens of highway rest stops on one of the biggest travel days of the year.

The budget impasse means that some 23,000 of the roughly 36,000 Minnesota state employees will be furloughed, and state parks and campgrounds will be closed ahead of what is usually their busiest stretch of the year for the Independence Day holiday.

All but the most critical state functions will be suspended while the spending impasse continues into the new fiscal two-year period that starts on Friday, which would make the 2011 shutdown much broader in scope than one in 2005.

NJ Cuts Aid to Local Governments, Family Planning

Controversial Governor Chris Christie signed a $29.7 billion budget, averting a government shutdown, after slashing $900 million using his line-item veto authority from the budget Democrats had presented to him.

"I will not give in to the Democrats' tax-and-spend agenda no matter how many times they and their allies and special interests demagogue me for refusing to do so," Christie told the Associated Press. "

The new budget adds $150 million in public school financing, and includes $447 million in funding for some of the state’s poorest districts. Among the items cut by Christie were $139 million in aid to local governments, $50 million allocated for crime-fighting initiatives, $7 million for an AIDS drug distribution program, and $3.8 million for Senate and Assembly staff salaries.

Ohio Privatizes Prisons, Sets Plan to Abolish Estate Tax

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a $55.8 billion budget hours before the midnight deadline, closing an estimated $8 billion deficit without raising state taxes. He used his line-item veto power to eliminate spending on a number of initiatives, including economic development and funding for certain special needs programs.

As part of the plan, the state will privatize five prisons, but the governor vetoed a proposal that would have given the state first choice on repurchasing prisons after they are sold to private parties.

Pennsylvania Budget Slashes Funding for Schools

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett enacted a $27.15 billion state budget, which reduces spending more than $1 billion from the current fiscal year and includes severe cuts to higher and basic education.

Corbett, a Republican whose party controls both houses of the state legislature, signed the budget within an hour of Pennsylvania's midnight deadline for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The governor said the spending plan streamlines government, includes no tax increase and places limits on local property tax increases.

Any property-tax increase above the rate of inflation must be approved by local voters, the governor said.

Praise for Privatizing Prisons

Special praise goes to Ohio Governor John Kasich for privatizing prisons. California desperately needs to do the same. If things go well, Ohio's plan could be and should be a model for other states.

It is time to eliminate massive salaries and pension benefits of prison workers, most of whom are currently way overpaid and equally uneducated with nothing more than high school diplomas.

Hopefully transit workers will be next.



America and the Golden Age of Capitalism

Some thoughts for July 4

I was trading in the S&P pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on the day the Berlin Wall fell. I had a sense that something truly historical was taking place—it would have been impossible not to—but with the pressure of the session and a newborn baby whom I couldn’t wait to get home to, I didn’t stop to grasp the enormity of the events that were unfolding.

It wasn’t until I spoke with my father, an Armenian immigrant who loved the United States more than anyone I’ve ever known, that the big picture came into focus.

“America won,” he said. Sounds simple, but it was really quite profound. He wasn’t talking about one army vanquishing another. He wasn’t talking about the arms race or the space race or any of the hot conflicts that erupted during the 50-year Cold War. He was talking about an idea.

This was a man whose parents survived the Turks but lost 40 members of their family. A man who experienced terrible loss and religious persecution first hand. A man who waited seven years to come to this country as a refugee and kissed the ground when he arrived.

My father was a man who truly cherished his inalienable rights and never took them for granted a day in his life.

He was talking about an idea because, to him, America itself was an idea. On November 9, 1989, communism became a failed experiment. The American experiment would carry on. We had just won the ideological war.

Like in any war, to the victor goes the spoils. But since this was a different kind of war, there was also a different kind of prize. Instead of cultural artifacts or new territories, the reward was more abstract: an entire world that would soon be open for business.

No longer would the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great be contained by our borders. America was free to export the twin miracles of democracy and capitalism to every corner of the world.

And export we did. In the 22 years since capitalism triumphed, just about every country on Earth has embraced a U.S.-style freemarket economy—and with passionate enthusiasm at that.

Corporations are reporting record earnings thanks to exploding consumer demand in emerging markets that were barely on the radar 30 years ago—places like Brazil, India and China (which is communist in name only). Social mobility, the great ancillary effect of a free market, has not only created a middle-class consumer culture in those places, it’s actually created wealth.

Growing up, I always considered the golden age of capitalism to be that post-World War II period of expansion. But it wasn’t. The golden age of capitalism is in front of us.

As the global growth story continues at a break-neck clip, we find ourselves in the relative infancy of what I believe will be a prolonged period of prosperity. Looking back in history, as the Jesuits at Loyola University taught me to do, the Pax Romana—a 200-year stretch of tranquility and plenty throughout the Roman Empire that followed the fall of Athens—immediately comes to mind.

Today, the entire world—including our former enemies in China and Russia—has decided our way is the right way. They’ve taken our invention and run with it. The conditions of opportunity that once only existed in the United States now exist all over the globe. And those conditions will only grow more favorable going forward.

Why, then, is my fellow Chicagoan trying to rebuild those walls of socialism?

By embracing policy that favors higher taxes, increased regulation and protectionism, the Obama administration has spent two years systematically dismantling everything this country has been building since the Founding Fathers unleashed their libertarian concept of enlightened self interest 250 years ago.

Earlier, I mentioned Pax Romana and how this period in front of us echoes that era. Take a look at what one of the early architects of that earlier golden age, the political philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, had to say about the way government should be run:
The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

This was written in 55 B.C., but it’s as true today as it was then. A diminishing usefulness of the private sector and the redistributing of wealth by a bloated central government is unacceptable and should be resolutely resisted by every American.

The golden age of capitalism, what I believe will be our finest hour, is in front of us. We know that an occasional liberal in the White House cannot destroy the American entrepreneurial spirit, but we still must stand together to defend it.

America, today, is in its rightful place as the leader of a free-market world. We conquered our adversaries and created a new order. The entire world is open for business.




Journalism and the state: A loving embrace: "With rare exception, most of the journalists I have known are not only intellectually lazy but tend to have an almost doctrinaire government supremacism welded to their worldview. For every Fred Reed, there are hundreds of Rachel Maddows. I suspect it is one reason why the USSR did not necessarily have to actively recruit 'useful idiots' but the very notion of communism or socialism found a natural resonance in the human parrots known as journalists."

Abolish the payroll tax altogether: "Some will argue that cutting the tax while keeping spending up will lead to even greater deficits, which is a valid enough point, but it never before stopped Republicans from advocating tax cuts while failing to have the guts to cut spending enough to make up for them. Another supposed problem, articulated by liberals, is that it will weaken the solvency of Social Security and thus undermine their beloved program’s credibility. Hear, hear! Indeed, there is a strong argument for eliminating the payroll tax altogether, regardless of what else transpires: It is more fiscally honest"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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