FFF: The Real Constitutional Crisis

Laurence Vance at the Future of Freedom Foundation talks about the ever-spreading Constitutional crisis in the US.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a crisis (plural: crises) is:

All federal programs that are not explicitly authorized by the Constitution should be eliminated.
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1a: the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever

b: a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function

c: an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life; a midlife crisis

2: the decisive moment (as in a literary plot); The crisis of the play occurs in Act 3.

3a: an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially: one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome; a financial crisis, the nation’s energy crisis

b: a situation that has reached a critical phase; the environmental crisis, the unemployment crisis

And likewise in other dictionaries.

The Constitution

Regardless of any flaws or problems that the Constitution had or has (the countenance of slavery, the assumption of the right of eminent domain, ambiguous clauses, the income tax), it is the supreme law of the land that the federal government is supposed to follow. The Constitution is neither a long nor an obscure document. Any American with a computer or smart phone can access it in a matter of seconds. Yet most Americans are woefully ignorant about the Constitution.

The Constitution was drafted in 1787, ratified in 1788, and took effect in 1789. It established the United States as a federal system of government where the states, through the Constitution, granted a limited number of powers to a central government. As James Madison, the father of the Constitution, so eloquently explained in Federalist No. 45,

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

There are about thirty enumerated congressional powers listed throughout the Constitution. Most of those powers are found in the eighteen paragraphs of Article I, Section 8. Six of them concern the militia and the military. Four of them concern taxes and money. The rest relate to commerce, naturalization, bankruptcies, post offices and post roads, copyrights and patents, the federal courts, maritime crimes, and the governance of the District of Columbia. The last paragraph gives Congress the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” The Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments to the Constitution) was added to the Constitution in 1791. The first eight Amendments protect civil liberties and fundamental rights. the Ninth and Tenth Amendments make it clear that all rights and powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the people and the states.

The ignorance that most Americans have of the Constitution is exceeded by the ignorance of the Constitution that most congressmen have. Members of Congress swear to uphold the Constitution. Article VI, Clause 3, of the Constitution requires that senators and representatives be “bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution.” U.S. law requires that members of Congress be sworn in before they can take their seats. The congressional oath of office begins, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” One would think that members of Congress — most of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree and many of whom are lawyers — would have a firm grasp of what the Constitution says. Yet they are often the worst offenders when it comes to violations of the Constitution.

The crisis

It was called a constitutional crisis.

After the death of a black man, George Floyd, while in the custody of a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, anti-police demonstrations erupted in large, predominantly black cities across the country. Yet, Portland, Oregon, which is about 77 percent white and 6 percent black, became the epicenter of anti-police demonstrations this past summer. Some of the demonstrations were peaceful, but others not so much. Protesters shut down streets, broke windows, set fires, committed acts of vandalism and looting, and clashed with police. Then, on July 10, it was reported that armed federal forces were making arrests and using tear gas against the demonstrators.

Writing in the Guardian, Trevor Timm, the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, mentioned the Constitution in his report about Portland: “A remarkable and nightmarish scene playing out in Portland should terrify anyone who cares about the US constitution: unmarked vans full of camouflaged and unidentified federal agents are pulling up next to protesters on street corners, then snatching and arresting them with no explanation.” Writing for the Associated Press, journalist Gillian Flaccus is the one who termed the events in Oregon a “constitutional crisis”: “Federal law enforcement officers’ actions at protests in Oregon’s largest city, done without local authorities’ consent, are raising the prospect of a constitutional crisis — one that could escalate as weeks of demonstrations find renewed focus in clashes with camouflaged, unidentified agents outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse.” In a lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protective Service, the Oregon Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, accused the federal agencies of violating the constitutional rights of Oregon residents.

According to the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 15): “[Congress shall have power to] provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.” The Insurrection Act of 1807 requires state legislatures or governors to request help from the federal government. It empowers the president to call into service the U.S. Armed Forces and the National Guard to address “an insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy, in any state, which results in the deprivation of Constitutionally secured rights, and where the state is unable, fails, or refuses to protect said rights.” The armed federal forces that descended uninvited on Portland were not members of the Militia, U.S. Armed Forces, or the National Guard. Under the guise of “protecting” federal property and maintaining “law and order,” they were functioning as de facto secret police — wearing military fatigues, sporting all manner of weapons, driving unmarked vehicles, compiling dossiers on journalists, grabbing people indiscriminately off the streets without regard to their lawful presence or personal behavior, assaulting people who weren’t engaged in criminal activity, detaining people who weren’t near federal property, and holding people for hours without charge.

But according to acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, “I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors, to do our job. We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not.” According to attorney and chronicler of the police state John Whitehead, “Just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to local police agencies in the form of grants to transform them into extensions of the military.”

Constitutional scholar and senior judicial analyst at Fox News Judge Andrew Napolitano well explained the constitutional crisis in Portland:

The only constitutional role for armed federal forces in Portland, Oregon, was to assist U.S. marshals in protecting federal property and personnel there.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the feds have no lawful role in policing streets unless requested to do so by the governor or legislature of any state.

The feds’ activities are unconstitutional because they are using government force to arrest people without probable cause or arrest warrants. We know there is no legal basis for these “arrests,” as they have not charged anyone.

The First Amendment to the Constitution requires the government to protect speech, not assault those who exercise it. If these indiscriminate beatings and kidnappings are intended to deter folks from publicly dissenting, it is profoundly unconstitutional, counterproductive and will be costly to the federal government.

Under the Constitution, the ability to regulate for health and safety belongs to the states and local governments. The feds simply do not have the lawful authority to fill in gaps in local law enforcement, no matter how offended they may be.

This last point is why Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) commented about the situation in Portland, “We cannot give up liberty for security. Local law enforcement can and should be handling these situations in our cities but there is no place for federal troops or unidentified federal agents rounding people up at will.”

Past constitutional crises

There have been other constitutional crises since the adoption of the Constitution in 1789.

The Constitution wasn’t even ten years old when the first constitutional crisis took place. In 1798, in the name of “national security,” the Federalist majority in Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law, four pieces of legislation known collectively known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Naturalization Act, the Alien Friends Act, and the Alien Enemies Act targeted noncitizens (who were perceived to be political opponents of the Federalists) by extending the residency period for aliens seeking citizenship, allowed the president during peacetime to imprison or deport aliens considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” and authorized the president to imprison or deport any male citizen of a hostile nation above the age of 14 during times of war. The most egregious piece of legislation was the Sedition Act. It authorized fines or imprisonment for persons who, in speech or print, criticized “the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States.” (The office of the vice president, which at the time was held by Adams’s nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, was not mentioned.) Critics of the Sedition Act argued that it blatantly violated the freedom of speech and freedom of the press clauses of the First Amendment. Federal courts prosecuted many Jeffersonian newspaper editors for violating the Sedition Act.

The so-called Civil War was itself a constitutional crisis. According to Thomas J. DiLorenzo, author of The Problem with Lincoln (2020), Abraham Lincoln ruled as a de facto dictator. He essentially “resurrected the Sedition Act,” imprisoned judges, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, authorized government officials to read Americans’ mail, imprisoned “tens of thousands of Northern state citizens” for “criticizing the government,” and “shut down more than three hundred opposition newspapers in the Northern states.”

The Sedition Act was actually resurrected in 1918 while the United States was fighting World War I. The Espionage Act of 1917 made it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. war effort. The Sedition Act amended and broadened the Espionage Act. It effectively criminalized speech and expression that criticized the government. Whoever “shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag” could receive a $10,000 fine and twenty years in jail. Under the Sedition Act, Americans were arrested for reading aloud the Declaration of Independence or singing German beer-hall songs. Although World War I ended in 1918, the Sedition Act was not repealed until 1921.

More recently, there is the USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. It vastly expanded the federal government’s authority to spy on Americans, while at the same time reducing checks and balances on those powers. It is an assault on both the First and Fifth Amendments. Napolitano terms sections 215 and 505 of the PATRIOT Act as “fatal to freedom,” “weapons of mass surveillance,” and “instruments of a totalitarian government that defy the Constitution.”

The real constitutional crisis

There is currently a constitutional crisis in America, and it has existed since long before the Portland protests and the PATRIOT Act. It is a crisis that has been perpetrated by both political parties in the Congress, approved by the president, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and carried out by the bureaucrats who administer the myriad departments, bureaus, agencies, corporations, endowments, commissions, administrations, authorities, and boards of the federal government.

The existence of Social Security is a constitutional crisis. Not only is Social Security immoral because it takes money from those who work and gives it to those who don’t, the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have a retirement program, a pension plan, a forced savings account, or a disability plan.

The existence of Medicare and Medicaid is a constitutional crisis. Not only should no American be forced to pay for the health care of any other American, nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to subsidize any American’s health insurance or health care, pay for anyone’s prescription drugs, have health-care programs, or have anything whatever to do with health insurance, health care, or medicine.

The existence of the war on drugs is a constitutional crisis. Not only is the drug war a failure and a colossal waste of the taxpayers’ money, nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to regulate, monitor, or restrict Americans’ consumption, medical, or recreational habits; what Americans put in their mouths, noses, veins, or lungs; or Americans’ eating, drinking, or smoking habits.

The existence of federal aid to education is a constitutional crisis. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have a Head Start program, student loans, Pell Grants, teacher-education or certification requirements, school accreditation, math and science initiatives, a Department of Education, an Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a Higher Education Act, special-education mandates, or national standards, or to have anything to do with the education of anyone’s children. Education should be a service obtained on the free market just like any other service.

The existence of the welfare state is a constitutional crisis. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have food stamps, refundable tax credits, Section 8 housing vouchers, or entitlement programs. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the government to fight poverty, maintain a safety net, provide public assistance, or guarantee income security. All charity should be private and voluntary.

The existence of foreign aid is a constitutional crisis. Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution says that the Congress shall have power “To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.” It does not say that taxes should be collected to provide for the general welfare of people in other countries. Like domestic charity, foreign charity should be entirely voluntary.

The existence of federal subsidies for art, culture, and the humanities is a constitutional crisis. Government funding for them is basically providing welfare for cultural elitists. It is always immoral for the government to take the resources from some Americans and redistribute them to other Americans. And the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to subsidize them. Although the Constitution does authorize the national government to issue patents and copyrights, it does not follow that that entails giving subsidies to inventors and writers.

The existence of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a constitutional crisis. The TSA provides security for private entities — the airlines. But not only is the security provided not paid for, not asked for, and just security theater, the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to provide security for the airlines or any other private business.

The existence of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC) is a constitutional crisis. Amtrak, as the NRPC is more commonly known, is a government corporation that has relied on government subsidies every year it has been in operation. But since when does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have a corporation, be a stockholder in a corporation, appoint and confirm a board of directors, or operate a passenger rail service?

The existence of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a constitutional crisis. The existence of the EEOC is predicated on the idea that the federal government should prevent and punish acts of discrimination in employment that it considers to be unjustified. But not only is discrimination not aggression, force, coercion, or violence — and therefore, as far as the law is concerned, not the concern of government — the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have an EEOC or oversee any employer’s hiring or firing practices.

The existence of the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) is a constitutional crisis. It outlaws the selling of one’s body organs. Aside from the obvious fact that if you own your own body, then you certainly own the organs in your body, the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to be concerned in the least with what Americans want to do with the organs in their body.

What is so perplexing and frustrating about the massive constitutional crisis that the United States is in is that it could quickly and easily be fixed. All federal programs that are not explicitly authorized by the Constitution should be eliminated. All federal departments, bureaus, agencies, corporations, endowments, commissions, administrations, authorities, and boards that carry out functions not explicitly authorized by the Constitution should be shuttered. Doing that would reduce the federal government by about 95 percent. And therein lies the problem. Not only do the Congress, the hundreds of government agencies and programs, and the entrenched bureaucracy resist a reduction in the government of any size, most Americans receive some kind of payment, benefit, or subsidy from the federal government.

FFF: Republicans Are Now Good for Exactly…Nothing!

The Future of Freedom Foundation writes about how the Republicans no longer understand the economy in Republicans Are Now Good for Exactly…Nothing!

Nancy Pelosi, Chuckles Schumer and the rest of the Dem wrecking crew surely have the Trumpified GOP by the short hairs.

The latter are clueless about the real imperative, which is to halt the senseless shutdown of the US economy ASAP. So like deer caught in the headlights of public fear, outrage and hurt by the Covid Quarantines, they have blindly succumbed to bailing out one and all; and that, in turn, has opened the US Treasury to a congressional feeding frenzy that would make the New Deal porkers, the LBJ spenders and the Obama shovel-ready folks green with envy.

In less than a month, they have passed the $8.3 billion vaccine bill, the $100 billion relief and paid leave package and the $2.2 trillion Everything Bailout, and are now racing toward another $1.0 trillion interim CARES 2 funding bill to essentially double- down on all the outrageous pork and Free Stuff that was contained in CARES 1, which the House did not bother to even debate or approve by recorded vote.

And, alas, all of this is preliminary to the impending “stimulus/infrastructure” bill where the bidding starts at $2 trillion, meaning that the Imperial City is in the throes of a fiscal bacchanalia that defies imagination. It will leave America with unspeakable debts, political dysfunction and economic debilitation for years, if not decades, to come.

And exactly what is being loaded on the budgetary wagon while the denizens of the political party which is supposed to be the watchdog of the Treasury have their collective snouts buried in the public trough so deep that they too will need a respirator before long?

Well, it’s bad enough that Republicans voted for $1200 per person for upwards of 130 million workers who have not and will not loose their jobs and incomes owing to the covid shutdown, even if an unfortunate 30 million do become unemployed for a few weeks at the peak of the shutdown.

But if you ask what possible reason of policy or equity could justify this $300 billion eruption of Free Stuff, the best you can get is some kind of convoluted Keynesian asininity that is even more absurd than the old standby of hiring people to dig holes with teaspoons and then fill them back up with the same tools.

To wit, we are apparently giving the 130 million workers who are and will still be earning the same paycheck but spending far less because everything is closed (you can only spend about $25 per day on Netflix even if you watch movies dawn till dusk) another $1200 to spend on top of their normal income. Then, assuming they can find a place which is open to spend their extra loot, it is hoped such places will hire the 30 million covoid-layoffs so that they too will get back to living hand-to-mouth just like before.

Folks, once upon a time—even in the 1970’s when your editor arrived bright-eyed and bushy tailed on Capitol Hill—Republicans understood fundamental capitalist economics. They did not even have to be told there are no free lunches and that Uncle Sam cannot create production and income (i.e. wealth), but only shuffle it among citizens by taxation currently or by extracting it in the bye-and-bye from future taxpayers via piling up the public debt.

Click here to read the entire article at FFF.org.

See also Mises Institute: Why Keynesians Don’t Want You to Save Your Money

FFF: America Is and Has Been a Socialist Country

In Socialism in America, author Jacob Hornberger of The Future of Freedom Foundation discusses the idea that America is a preeminent socialist country and has been for some time, but Americans live in denial of this truth. There are no pure socialist countries, though North Korea comes closest, because they are doomed to failure and always require some private enterprise to be allowed in order to be taxed to fund the rest of the socialist enterprise.

Lost in the ongoing debate in America as to whether the United States should embrace socialism is a discomforting fact: America embraced socialism a long time ago. The problem is that many Americans have simply not wanted to accept that fact and instead have preferred living a life of denial.

A complete socialist system would be one in which the state owns everything in society, including businesses and real estate. In a pure socialist society, the government is the sole employer, and everyone is a government employee. No private grocery stores, computer companies, restaurants, movie theaters, or anything else. The government owns and operates everything, and everyone works for the government.

Moreover, in a pure socialist society, all the homes are owned by the state. There are no private houses or apartments for sale or rent because nothing is privately owned. Everyone lives in public housing because the state owns all the dwellings. How do people determine where they are to live? The state assigns everyone his own particular housing unit.

How does the socialist state fund all this? It owns and operates all the businesses and enterprises in the hope of generating revenues to finance its socialist system. One problem, however, is that state-owned enterprises are notorious for inefficiencies and corruption, which means that they inevitably end up losing money rather than making money. Think of Amtrak and the Postal Service. Or state-owned petroleum companies in Latin America. They produce losses, not gains, for the state.

Thus, to fund its socialist enterprises, the socialist state inevitably permits a small number of citizens to engage in private enterprise. Once those people begin making money, the state taxes them and uses the money to fund its operations. The state does its best to
extract as much money as it can from these private-sector enterprises without pushing them out of business.

There are few purely socialist countries. North Korea comes closest to the socialist ideal.

There are countries, however, that adopt programs and policies that are socialist in nature. The United States is a premier example of such countries, even though many Americans are loathe to acknowledge it. They have convinced themselves that America is a “free enterprise” country and that they themselves are “capitalists.” The last thing they want to confront is that they are living a life that embraces socialism.

Let’s examine socialism in America.

Social Security

Contrary to popular opinion, especially as held by seniors, Social Security is not a retirement program. There is no investment fund into which people place their savings for retirement. There are no lock boxes at Fort Knox labeled with each person’s name and containing his “contributions.”

Social Security is a straight socialist program, one that uses the government to take money from people to whom it belongs and gives it to people to whom it does not belong. This process of coercive redistribution of wealth is based on a principle enunciated by Karl Marx: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The state takes money from those who have produced it and gives it to people who are said to need it more.

For more than a century after the United States was founded, Americans lived without Social Security. The idea for this particular socialist program originated among German socialists in the late 1800s. The so-called Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, adopted it into law in Germany. The program was later imported into the United States and became a legally established program in the 1930s. Today, the U.S. Social Security Administration displays a portrait of Bismarck on its website.

From its inception, Social Security has been a straight socialist, welfare-state program, one that uses the state to forcibly take money from some and give it to others. It
is no different in principle from food stamps, education grants, farm subsidies, or other socialist programs.

Seniors have a valid point when they say that the state plundered and looted them throughout their work lives, which has left them without savings for their retirement years. They say that they are just getting their money back under this program.

But that is simply not the case. Their money is long gone. It was spent in the same year that it was collected, on Social Security payments to people who are now long dead, to fund other welfare-state programs, or to fund the national-security establishment and its vast and ever-growing array of warfare-state programs. The money that is being given to seniors today is coming out of the pockets of their children and grandchildren and their friends in those generations, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. The problem is only getting worse because seniors are demanding more, which means even more taxes must be imposed on young and middle-aged people who are still working.

Proponents of Social Security say that this socialist program reflects how good, caring, and compassionate Americans are. That’s ridiculous. Social Security is founded on force. Young people are forced to pay Social Security taxes. There is nothing voluntary about paying such taxes. If a young person refuses to pay his Social Security taxes, the authorities will come after him, arrest him, fine him, and send him to jail. If he resists with force, he might well find himself dead at the hands of some trigger-happy cop.

Goodness, care, and compassion can come only through the voluntary choices of people. When a young person chooses to help his parents in their old age with financial assistance or personal care, that’s goodness, care, and compassion. When the IRS takes a young person’s money and gives it to seniors, that’s just political stealing.

There is no way to reconcile Social Security with the principles of a free society. Freedom necessarily entails the right to keep everything you earn and decide for yourself what to do with it…

Click here to continue reading at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

FFF: Compulsory Education – The Bane of Learning and Freedom

An educated citizenry is required for the preservation of our liberty and our republic. This has been well known since the founding of our nation. But is compulsory education the answer? This article at the Future of Freedom Foundation says no. Compulsory Education – The Bane of Learning and Freedom

Approximately 50-million students, bound by state compulsory attendance laws, are trapped in what is essentially a prison of their bodies and minds.

Most Americans never question school compulsory attendance laws itself but instead focus on what occurs inside the classroom. Public schools, which can also be called government schools, are notorious for a wide array of problems. From class size to the controversy over testing to disruptive student behavior, the demand that more taxpayer money be used to correct the poor performance is touted as the answer. This completely disregards two points: 1. The benefit-cost ratio of government education of children is often a losing deal. (Private schools are frequently smaller, religious affiliated, and in many cases cost less to educate each student than the public counterparts.) 2. More important, compulsory education violates the liberty of all citizens – taxpayers and students alike, not only by forcing parents to subject their children to a state education but also with the coercive funding (i.e., taxation) used to force children’s attendance.

My principal objection to compulsory education is that it violates the freedom of the individual. No one should be required to give up personal sovereignty to comply with a state or federal government mandate — not through military conscription and not through compulsory education.

From its earliest days, our nation functioned well without compulsory education laws, and the minimal involvement of government enabled youth to choose trade/vocational training, religious study, or higher education relevant to the individual’s personal choice. As the idea of compulsory attendance began to develop in society, it became increasingly repressive, decade by decade. Parochial schools and family home-schooling were replaced by laws forcing attendance for most students at government schools.

Government-run schools and compulsory attendance to any school are the antitheses of freedom, liberty, and learning. Forced to attend a school, most will go to government schools. Students are treated as prisoners sentenced to serve 12 years (or less in some states). Years of children’s precious lives and vulnerable minds are spent in forced confinement, often subjected to aimless busywork to meet the demands of teachers. The individual is not valued in many government schools, as all focus is on becoming an upstanding member of the collective. Leftist indoctrination has become ubiquitous. Independent thinking is discouraged while group-think pervades nearly every aspect of the politicized curriculum. All of this in the name of bettering children’s lives.

The oppression is accepted by the majority who learn quickly how to gain approval from their masters, with students who rebel sadly turning to personally and socially destructive behaviors. While many passively accept this oppression, the individuals who would be better suited to pursue unique aptitudes suffer.

With rare religious exceptions recognized, the vast majority of American youth must obey by attending such schools or face various penalties and punishments, as well as sometimes the possibility of fines and jail time for parents. Gone are the days where educational choices were up to the young person and his family.

The result of youth being exposed to years of socialist ideas explains the rampant decline of basic knowledge and generation upon generation of graduating seniors with minimal ability to do much of anything aside from obeying orders. All too many high-school graduates display poor writing skills and an inadequate ability to engage in critical thinking on simple matters.

The collective is placed above the individual. From rewards for just showing up to ribbons for all, disallowing students to give one another a card or a simple gift unless all are given one, to situational ethics role-playing scenarios, students are continuously subjected to an agenda that discourages independent thought. High achievement is discouraged as competition is rejected while poor performers are made to feel equal to all. Critical thinking and actual substantive course work are replaced by leftist revisionism of history, identity politics, and advocacy of politically correct perceptions of life.

Free speech, a fundamental of our nation, is not only not valued, but it is also suppressed. Subtle and patent discrimination of those not conforming to the frequently liberal agenda pervades government education. After years of this beginning when very young, the mental and emotional development is stunted, and the socialist mindset is placed — exactly what an all-powerful government wants — an easily controlled and manipulated unquestioning populous.

All of this occurs simply because the American people have never questioned the premise of compulsory education…

Click here to read the entire article at FFF.org

Related:

Educator John Taylor Gatto RIP

 

FFF: Do We Need the First Amendment?

Do We Need the First Amendment? is a simple article by former trial attorney and professor Jacob Hornberger over at the Future of Freedom Foundation. The topic of where our rights come from, though, is vital and people constantly need to be reminded. There are both conservatives and liberals who think that our rights are from and/or are limited to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Some incorrectly believe that if we amend the Constitution to remove one of the listed rights, then we have done away with that right. Others wail and complain if the Supreme Court decides there is a right in existence not listed in the same Bill of Rights.

One must remember that the US Constitution gave form to the government, but perhaps more importantly it listed every power that the federal government was delegated by the people. When some people complained that the proposed Constitution didn’t originally list any protected rights, the framers said “Look, we didn’t give the government to abridge any rights. See? That power isn’t listed anywhere.” But people demanded a Bill of Rights just to be extra sure that it was clear that the government had no power to legislate in those areas. Again, some people said, “But if we write down a list, then some day people might think that only the listed the rights are protected” and people replied “We didn’t give the government that power! But here’s a ninth amendment that says you keep all of those, too.” Unfortunately, people didn’t pay attention, and the government has slowly, at times, and by leaps and bounds, at other times, has encroached everything.

Many years ago, I was giving a lecture on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to a class at a public high school here in Virginia. During the course of my talk, I made the following statement: “The First Amendment does not give people the right of free speech.”

I asked the students whether my statement was correct or incorrect. Everyone immediately told me that I was wrong. They said the First Amendment did in fact give people the right of free speech.

I held my ground. I said it didn’t, and I pressed the students to figure out why I was maintaining my position. They were just as steadfast in their position, until a girl raised her hand and said, “Mr. Hornberger is right. The First Amendment does not give people rights. It prohibits the government from infringing on rights that preexist the government.”

She was absolutely right.

The First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Notice that the Amendment does not give people rights. Instead, it prohibits Congress from enacting laws that abridge people’s rights.

But what is that all about? Why did our ancestors deem it necessary to enact such a prohibition? Isn’t Congress our friend? Isn’t it composed of people who we elect to represent us? We often hear that we should trust the government. It doesn’t sound to me that the people who enacted the First Amendment had much trust in elected representatives.

After all, the only reason for enacting such a prohibition is the concern that in the absence of such a prohibition, Congress would enact laws that abridge freedom of speech and other fundamental rights. That sounds like Americans believed that the members of Congress needed to be told that they were prohibited from doing so.

The First Amendment and the other amendments in the Bill of Rights reflect how leery people were of Congress and the rest of the federal government. They were convinced that if they approved the Constitution, the federal government they were calling into existence with the Constitution would destroy their rights and their freedom.

That was also why Americans opposed enormous, permanently standing military establishments. Given their conviction that the federal government would destroy their rights, they understood that the way governments historically had done that was through their military forces.

After all, how else to enforce a law, say, that prohibits people from criticizing the president or Congress? Sure, it would be possible to arrest, indict, convict, and incarcerate them but what if dissent became widespread among the citizenry? That’s where a massive military establishment would come into play — to use massive military force to put down dissent with round-ups, assassinations, killings, torture, executions, and other things that militaries historically have done to oppress people. That’s why all totalitarian regimes have large, permanent, powerful military establishments.

Thus, there is no possibility that our American ancestors would have approved the national-security state form of governmental structure under which we live today, a structure consisting of the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and a vast empire of domestic and military bases. If the Constitution had proposed that form of governmental structure, Americans would have summarily rejected the deal and simply continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, another type of governmental system, one in which the federal government’s powers were so weak that the federal government wasn’t even given the power to tax.

The Constitution called into existence a limited-government republic, a type of governmental system that gave the federal government very few powers. There was an army, but it was relatively small — large enough to defeat Native American tribes but not large enough to threaten the American people with massive tyranny.

In fact, that’s why our American ancestors enacted the Second Amendment. It was designed to ensure that people would retain their right to keep and bear arms as a way to fight against any federal army or national police force that the Congress or the president might employ to enforce their destruction of free speech and other rights and liberties.

Thus, whenever you hear someone lamenting the lack of trust that many Americans today have in the federal government, it might be worth reminding them that the federal government was called into existence under a cloud of mistrust among our American ancestors. And they were right to have that mistrust!

FFF: The Three Dangers to Liberty

In this essay at The Future of Freedom Foundation, Professor Richard Ebeling discusses John Stuart Mills 1859 essay On Liberty which discusses his three dangers to liberty: the tyranny of the minority, the tyranny of the majority, and social pressure to conform. Our US government was designed with the intent to mitigate both the first and second tyrannies. The executive branch would be balanced by the judicial and legislative branches. In the legislative branch itself, there would be both a Congress whose membership would be based on the population of a state which allows for a tyranny of the majority, but this would be balanced by the Senate whose membership would be equal regardless of the population. Likewise, the electoral college was created as a compromise between the danger of a tyranny of the majority that would be created by a straight popular vote and the danger of corrupted electors if the Congress were to select the president. In our current times there are people calling for both the destruction of the electoral college and changes to the Senate composition in order to make both more reflective of population which would directly reinstate these dangers of tyranny by the majority.

JOHN STUART MILL’S 1859 ESSAY “On Liberty” is one of the most enduring and powerful defenses of individual freedom ever penned. Both advocates and enemies of personal freedom have challenged either the premises or the logic in Mill’s argument. They have pointed out inconsistencies or incompleteness in his reasoning. But the fact remains that after almost 150 years, few essays continue to justify being read and pondered with the same care and attention as “On Liberty…”

But within the context of his own premises, Mill was a fairly strong advocate of much of what today we usually call civil liberties. Thus, for example, he opposed the attempt by some to prohibit the consumption of alcohol by others, insisting that it was an inappropriate restraint on individual freedom of choice.

Men of the most honest intentions and goodwill may reason with their fellow human beings and offer their own lives as examples of better ways of living.

But it would be an unjustifiable violation of another’s personal freedom to coercively attempt to prevent him from ingesting some substance that he — however wrong-headedly from the critic’s perspective — finds desirable, useful, or pleasurable.

But Mill, unfortunately, conceded to the government as necessary responsibilities far more powers of intervention into social and economic affairs than most modern classical liberals and libertarians consider justifiable.

Three forms of tyranny

And this gets to the issue of what can stifle or prevent an individual from exercising his personal freedom in the manner he wants. Mill argued that there were, historically, three forms of tyranny which have endangered liberty through the ages.

The oldest was the tyranny of the one or the few over the many. A single dictator or an oligarchy imposed prohibitions on or commanded certain forms of behavior over the majority of the society. The spontaneous individualism and individuality of each person was denied. The one or the few determined how others might live and what they might say and do and, therefore, in what forms their human potential would be allowed to develop.

The newer form of tyranny, Mill said, was the rule of the many over the one. The revolt against the tyranny of the one or the few resulted in the growing idea that the people should rule themselves. And since the people, surely, could not tyrannize themselves, the unrestrained will of the people became the ideal of those who advocated unlimited democracy.

But in practice this inevitably became the rule of the majority over the minority. Individual freedom was denied purely on the basis of numbers, that is, on the basis of which group or coalition of groups formed that larger number of people dominating the political process. Their ideas, ideals, and values were to be imposed on all those representing less than 50 percent of the electorate.

But whether it was the tyranny of the few over the many or the many over the few, the source of their tyrannical power was the control and use of political coercion. State power is what enabled some to deny liberty to others. The threat or the use of force by government is what enabled freedom to be taken away from individuals who believed in ideas, ideals, or values different from those holding the reins of political power.

The “tyranny” of custom and tradition

Mill also said that there was a third source of tyranny over the individual in society, and this was the tyranny of custom and tradition. He argued:

The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement, being in unceasing antagonism to that disposition to aim at something better than the customary, which is called, according to circumstances, the spirit of liberty, or that of progress or improvement…. Custom is there, in all things, the final appeal; justice and right mean conformity to custom…. All deviations … come to be considered impious, immoral, even monstrous and contrary to nature.

Mill argued with great passion that societal customs and traditions could, indeed, very often be the worst tyranny of all. They were binding rules on conduct and belief that owed their force not to coercion but to their being the shared ideas of the right and proper held by the vast majority in the society. They represent what the ancient Greek Pericles referred to as “that code which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.”

Customs and traditions weigh down on the individual, they stifle his sense and desire to be different, to experiment with the new, to creatively design ways of doing things that have not been tried before, and to break out of the confinement of conformity. Custom and tradition can be the straitjacket that restricts a person’s cry for his peaceful and nonviolent individuality…

The danger to liberty arises when those who resent breaches of tradition cry for coercion to be used to impose obedience to custom. Only then does the tyranny of custom, as understood by Mill, become the coercion of the many over the few. Only then is freedom denied, indeed suffocated, by politically enforced conformity.

It is the misuse and abuse of political power — the threat or the application of legitimized force by a government within a geographical area — that always has been the greatest threat to liberty. All tyranny, whether it be the few over the many or the many over the few, results from the use of force to make others conform to the conduct desired by the rulers, even when those being coerced have done nothing to violate the rights of others…

Click here to read the entire essay at FFF.org.

FFF: Nullify Government Tyranny

Constitutional attorney and author John Whitehead has written an article on the need to practice the historic doctrine of nullification against government tyranny. The nullification doctrine says that states, local governments, and individuals have an inherent right to void laws they deem unconstitutional. Many readers may have heard of the specific case of jury nullification but may not remember from their history the nullification crisis of the early 1800s. In recent years, nullification has been surfacing again in the cases of immigration sanctuaries and second amendment sanctuaries.

…Everything the founders of this country feared has come to dominate in modern America. “We the people” have been saddled with a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics.

So how do you balance the scales of justice at a time when Americans are being tasered, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, hit with batons, shot with rubber bullets and real bullets, blasted with sound cannons, detained in cages and kennels, sicced by police dogs, arrested and jailed for challenging the government’s excesses, abuses and power-grabs?

No matter who sits in the White House, politics won’t fix a system that is broken beyond repair.

For that matter, protests and populist movements also haven’t done much to push back against an authoritarian regime that is deaf to our cries, dumb to our troubles, blind to our needs, and accountable to no one.

So how do you not only push back against the police state’s bureaucracy, corruption and cruelty but also launch a counterrevolution aimed at reclaiming control over the government using nonviolent means?

You start by changing the rules and engaging in some (nonviolent) guerilla tactics.

Take part in grassroots activism, which takes a trickle-up approach to governmental reform by implementing change at the local level (in other words, think nationally, but act locally).

And then, nullify everything the government does that flies in the face of the principles on which this nation was founded.

If there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march towards outright dictatorship, it may rest with the power of juries and local governments to invalidate governmental laws, tactics and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

In an age in which government officials accused of wrongdoing—police officers, elected officials, etc.—are treated with general leniency, while the average citizen is prosecuted to the full extent of the law, nullification is a powerful reminder that, as the Constitution tells us, “we the people” are the government.

For too long we’ve allowed our so-called “representatives” to call the shots. Now it’s time to restore the citizenry to their rightful place in the republic: as the masters, not the servants.

Nullification is one way of doing so…

Click here to read the entire article at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

FFF: The Perils and Pitfalls of Political Paternalism

The Perils and Pitfalls of Political Paternalism was written by Professor Richard Ebeling at the Future of Freedom Foundation about the dangers and costs of nanny statism.

Across the spectrum of differing political views, whether “progressive,” “nationalist,” “populist,” or “conservative,” there is a common presumption in all of their policy positions and programs. That common dominator is the premise that government is to be the guiding hand in directing and remaking society in some chosen form, to which and within which all in that society are to be confined and made to conform.

The “progressives” herald a new dawn of democratic egalitarianism based on the identity politics of race, gender, and “social class.” The nationalists hark back to a restoration of national identity in which the state defines and determines a nation’s historic qualities and characteristics, for the protection and preservation of which government regulations and restrictions are to be employed.

“Populists” demand a redistribution of governmental power and favoritism more into the hands of those who they say have been taken advantage of in the existing “establishment” system of things. And American conservatives, who once declared at least a rhetorical allegiance to the country’s founding limited government principles, seem to want nothing more than retaining or regaining political power, and are willing to be as regulatory and redistributive in their practical policy decisions as the progressives they rail against.

Lost in this ideological and political policy warfare among them for the governmental reins of plunder and privilege is the idea and ideal of classical, or limited government, liberalism, with its defense of individual liberty, free market economics, civil liberties under an impartial rule of law, and an ethics of non-interventionism at home and abroad.

In the face of these competing, yet philosophically complementary, demands for retention and expansion of “Big Brother” over even more of our lives in a growing number of directions, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of the premises behind and the realities of the political paternalism that they jointly represent.

First and foremost, the guiding idea behind political paternalism is that the individual cannot be trusted to be a free and responsible human being. Those who wish to socially engineer our lives consider us too ignorant, too irresponsible, and too narrow in our own personal planning horizons to intelligently and reasonably take care of our own health care, our own retirement, our own family’s education, or our own spending and consumption choices…

All of these factors, and others that could be listed, show the perils of political paternalism and power-lusting. The interventionist-welfare state has been and will continue to lead us down a dangerous new “road to serfdom” in which our lives are more and more controlled, managed, and manipulated by those in political power who claim the right to dictate how we are to live and work.

It encapsulates an evil immorality in which political force continues to claim the authority to deny us our individual rights to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. The interventionist-welfare state has been creating a new feudalism with political and special interest elites who serve as the “lords” who rule over and ruin the rest of us, the modern serfs who are expected to toil for their benefit under strangling regulations, burdensome taxes, and intrusive social controls in the name of political correctness and identity politics now and in the future.

All of us who prefer to be free men in a free society with a free market need to do all in our intellectual power to stop and reverse this reactionary counterrevolution against the ideal of human liberty. Otherwise, our civilization may be heading for a terrible collapse that will leave nothing but tyranny and poverty for too many for generations to come.

Click here to read the entire article at FFF.org.

FFF: The Ongoing Destruction of the Minds of Children

From Gary Barnett at The Future of Freedom Foundation comes this brief piece on the intentional failures of the public school system. Everyone should read John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education for a better understanding of how the system was created and why. As President Woodrow Wilson said in a speech, “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”

There can be no greater stretch of arbitrary power than to seize children from their parents, teach them whatever the authorities decree they shall be taught, and expropriate from the parents the funds to pay for the procedure.
— Isabel Paterson

Compulsory schooling is a travesty. To call it education is absurd. Real education is lifelong learning as an individual, while compulsory public schooling is the indoctrination of children as a collective exercise to bring all down to the lowest level. Prisons called schools are simply the forced means to stifle individual brilliance while promoting sameness and monotony. The result of this brainwashing is meant to teach children to obey orders, and to be satisfied spending their lives in a virtual cage of ignorance, to never become entrepreneurs and dissenters.
With the recent death of the great John Taylor Gatto, the loss of a giant is evident. He was not only a pioneer in real education, but he discovered the true nature and genius that exists in so many children. The controllers who use the government school system as a way to dumb down the masses fully understand this potential genius. They are very fearful of it. So fearful in fact, that more than 100 years ago, they designed a mandatory school system as a way to control the common people. By training them to be good citizens and members of a collective society instead of individuals, the few could continue to control the many.
The experiment called compulsory schooling, now referred to as “public education,” began in Massachusetts in 1852, and became widespread just after the turn of the twentieth century. By 1910 the majority of children were in public schools. Since that time “education” as administered by the state has been a horrible failure, if learning was the desired end. But learning and knowledge were never the goals of forced schooling; training the young to honor authority, discipline, and nationalism were the true goals sought. In that regard, public schooling has been completely successful. These institutions became the vehicle used to teach children to be managed instead of managing themselves. They have produced a soft society consumed by doubt and incompetence, and one that can function only as a mass.
In order to change this dynamic, a real education is necessary, but so long as parents continue to shirk their responsibility by allowing unknown state employees to raise and train their children, things can only get worse.
John Gatto knew that teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic could be accomplished in as few as 100 hours. The improvement of those skills would be self-taught at the appropriate time and place, as self-taught persons are far more advanced than those subject to and dependent on mass schooling. Any real study of most kids educated at home will expose this truth.
As I see it, it is up to parents to save their own children. That will not be an easy task, as most parents are products of the same state-schooling system that exists today, and were taught long ago not to rock the boat or question authority. Everything should be questioned, and everything should be scrutinized. Questioning authority is the bane of the state apparatus, which is the reason compulsory schooling was implemented in the first place. It continues unabated as the dominant training discipline of this country’s young.
Take a look around and you may be shocked. How many have lost their imagination? How many seek counseling? How many feel inadequate and consider suicide? How many do you know who manage their lives by taking prescription drugs? How many are bored, emotionally wrecked, and afraid? Most of those people, a very large portion of the population, can no longer function as individuals. Such behavior should be expected, as the product turned out by the mandatory government school system has little ability to think and act without guidance. That is a direct result of being a prisoner of state-sponsored indoctrination centers from infancy to adulthood. That is why public schooling is anathema to free-thinking, self-reliant, and responsible individuals.
Mass schooling guarantees a weak and compliant population, one that has lost the ability to think critically. It is an all-consuming addiction to mediocrity, and an escape from excellence. No society can continue to be free and prosper under such conditions. Why, as John Gatto asked, are we turning our kids over to total strangers who can mold their minds with state propaganda for twelve years? It is time for parents to take back their children, and rescue them from a life of dependency.
This article was originally published in The Future of Freedom Foundation’s March 2019 issue of Future of Freedom.