Sunday, February 7, 2016

Canadian Minister says Canadians Can Do Better than "First Past the Post"

Canadian Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef says that advanced Democracies like Canada can do better than the "First Past the Post" method of determining the winner. The system is used by the United States and Canada, but few other long-time democratic or Republican forms of government. This chart shows the nations that still use it, but even many of them have run-off elections should none of the candidates get a majority of votes on the first round. The U.S. is one of the few democratic republics in the world that has a "first past the post" method to determine the election winner without a run-off election (except, oddly, for the most local offices where we do have them).

Because Canada is so big, remote, and diverse, and because the Chief Executive is elected through a coalition in the legislative branch, Canada has more than two viable political parties. But Monsef said that was not enough, and that while first-past-the-post might be OK for fledgling democracies like Afghanistan, Canada can do better. A move by Canada to instant run-off or ranked-choice voting (advocated in Localism) would leave the United States even farther behind. Monsef said that, and other ideas, are on the table.

The first past the post method, most especially in the US, artificially restricts voters to two choices for fear of "splitting the vote" and electing their least-preferred alternative. Notice how the Presidential primary is being affected- people are calling for all but three candidates to drop out because they don't want the vote splitting among candidates in their faction to cost delegates. Ranked choice/instant runoff voting in delegate allocation would help that too- not that I care how private political clubs organize their nomination process. My concern is improving representative government by providing more choice- including the choice of a group of citizens outside of any formal party being able to seriously challenge a congressman by a true grassroots effort.

The parties don't even use "first past the post" to determine the winner for their other primary races. Nor do they do so for the selection of their own party officials. They use run offs. They use something like ranked-choice. If its good enough for them, why have they made the rules so that it is unavailable to the rest of us in general elections for all but the most local offices?

Not every problem in America today is a systemic problem. But even if the other factors were in place, our system is still a problem. It would not even require a constitutional amendment to change it. Election law is made largely at the state level.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Where Capital Is Best Treated in Localism

I see from an article on Zero Hedge that the 62 richest people control more capital wealth than does half of the human race. Further, the "top 1%" control more wealth than the rest of the human race put together. Many people see these statistics and feel that there is no justification for this state of affairs, others consider that there is no need for them to be justified. It is just the way things are.

As is usual, my position is somewhere in the middle of these two views. I don't have a problem with wealth inequality per se. It is a necessary consequence of freedom. Still, the radical concentration in the distribution of wealth is peculiar and at its face does not seem to reflect reality. That is, I find it doubtful that those 62 humans personally add more value to the world than the nearly four billion humans which comprise the lower half of humanity. I find it doubtful that those one out of one hundred humans provide more honest value than the next 99 put together. 

What I am suggesting is that our current world economy is not an honest one. Wealth is transferred to those closest to the state and the financial institutions which influence them. Fiat money is merely one example of how wealth is inequitably transferred. Bailouts to global banks while the rest of us must liquidate when we make financial mistakes, is another. So while I agree that economic inequality in itself is not unjust in the least, the means by which much of the present wealth inequality has been generated are unjust. And because the means have been unjust, the results produced by those means are unjust. 

One might answer, when looking at the original Zero Hedge article I referenced, that it makes no difference that wealth is being concentrated, even if by unfair means, if the overall pie is growing. That is to say, even the poor are seeing teeny increases in their "wealth" as the total amount of wealth the human race generates increases. It is just that 62 individuals are scooping up more of that new wealth than half the planet put together. So long as the pie is growing, so the thinking goes, people should not complain.

Such thinking is greatly flawed. Much of our "wealth increase" is not real. It is a result of the debt-based fiat money system which is among the prime drivers of wealth inequality. To be more particular- trillions of dollars worth of debt has been created in order to "stimulate" the economy. The money attached to that debt has found its way into certain connected hands, but the debt will be stuck with the population as a whole. Those who benefited from the money attached to the debt will arrange the rules so that they are not required to pay it back. Someone else will shoulder that burden. In the meantime, the money spent is counted as GDP "growth". Right now it only looks like the rest of us benefited from the spending because we have not yet paid for the debt which financed it. Once we do, once we get an accurate picture of the true growth in wealth minus the debt which artificially swells it, I think we will find that the rest of us are not getting better off. We are getting ripped off. 

If those at the very top paid off this debt in proportion to how much they benefited from its creation, then maybe it could be justified. What we have all seen is an intense rush to privatize profits and socialize costs. Those who benefited from the issuance of incredible amounts of public debt will make every effort to insure that the citizens at large will be stuck with most of the tab. This plan to borrow until every source of credit has been exhausted made the issue of who is benefited the most less important while the party was in progress. While everyone was getting a piece, even a tiny piece, no one wanted to stop the party. But now the debt party is ending and its time to divvy up the bill.

What we are about to see is just the sort of thing Localism is meant to protect people from. If one reads that book they will understand why restrictions on debt, restrictions on the state, restrictions on corporations, restrictions on banks, and restrictions on fiat money are necessary in order to preserve human freedom (if you think that the state itself is not necessary, then please see Localism Defended which argues the necessity of the state, as well as the necessity of its decentralization). Localism is a blue print for building a society in a way which avoids (to the which extent systems can, there is no substitute for popular virtue) exactly the sort of freedom-destroying centralization and systemic corruption the world is now experiencing.

But one may say, "capital goes where it is best treated. If you put such restrictions on capital as are suggested under the philosophy of localism then it will leave your nation and go to others."

Not quite. Debt masquerading as capital will leave localist nations and enter those where certain predatory practices, such as slave labor and bankster bailouts, are easier to pull off. What will stay in localist nations is capital itself. I agree that "capital goes where it is best treated." In localism, various regions within the nation will compete vigorously for capital. It will be treated best there because it will not be exchanged for mere paper promises from foreigners. If they want access to it, they will have to trade value for value. It will be treated best because it will be run by people who are connected to the nation in which the wealth is created. It will be treated best because it will be in the safest and stablest of all possible human societies- one in which there is no pressure-cooker from some suppressed regions or slivers of the population just waiting to spill over into violence because the central government insists on making all decisions and denying all avenues of peaceful resolutions to political differences.

In a localist nation real capital will be treated best in the nation in which it is created.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Denying Mosques and Allowing Sharia Law

The Sterling Heights, Michigan, city council recently voted 9-0 against granting a permit to build a large Mosque in a residential area. This was to the obvious relief of the many residents who literally cheered the decision.

Reactions were predictable. On the one side were those who groused that Sterling Heights had no respect for religious freedom or the first amendment. On the other end were those glad to see some government somewhere finally saying "no" to a religious group which quite frankly manages to make a nuisance or worse of itself wherever it is found alongside other faiths or cultures. They did not care if the Muslim Community was outraged, because their perception is that the Muslim Community always seems to find themselves outraged about one thing or another.

Meanwhile, nearby Dearborn Michigan is filled with Muslims and Mosques. Muslims are at least 30% of the population and I understand that minor disputes between them are often, by mutual agreement, arbitrated under Sharia law. As with the previous situation, this state of affairs has been praised in some quarters and indignantly condemned in others. These two cities are just a bit more than two hours away from each other.

When comparisons like these get made, our conditioning leads us to try and peg one of these cities as the one with the "right" policy, and assign the other city the label of the bad city making the wrong policy. A localist is free to escape such binary thinking. Neither city is necessarily bad. They are both just ordering their communities as the residents of those towns wish to live. It is not our place as outsiders to demand that either of them alter their policies to accommodate our ill-informed opinions of what life in their home towns ought to be like.

A localist can sleep well at night even though people they have never met living in a city they have never been in are doing things differently. Our culture's present rush for conformity and uniformity has many of us upset and demanding change if strangers in some distant city choose policies different than those we ourselves would wish for our own community. I frankly find this position to be extreme and if taken too far even bordering on mental illness.  If we want to be left alone to order our communities as we see fit then we should be willing to extend the same courtesy to other communities (short of them holding hostages or something really crazy).

The only other alternative to the call for tolerance outlined above is for all decisions on how all communities ought to live be decided by one central tribunal such as the Supreme Court. In that case, all Americans (in a nation of 320 million people) who want to live differently than the nine members of the court think we ought to are out of luck. I simply cannot call that state of affairs freedom. Only in a localist framework can true freedom prevail over time. In our current mentality freedom can only be lost over time. We must be free to have different rules, or fewer rules, for different places. The decision on whether to have a rule and what it might be must be made by people we have the power to see any day we wish to. Nothing less can honestly be called freedom or self-government.

Can cities co-exist near each other with such radically different views towards Islam? Sure, they are doing it. Can two cities with radically different views on other important cultural issues co-exist? Of course.  Let people decide what works for them where they are. After all, who knows what is best for them more than they do? If some dislike what comes of it and they find themselves living in a place where the rules don't suit them, let them work to change it locally or failing that, go to a nearby place where the rules (or lack thereof) suit them better. In time, everyone will wind up in a place more like they want to be in. Everyone can win. Localism is freedom. Centralization is slavery hiding behind a false name.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ryan Starts Early (Breaking His Word that He Would Decentralize Legislative Power)


New Speaker Paul Ryan breaks his word to Republican members and sticks with policies that will centralize the legislative process. He was elected in large part on promises to reverse the policies that put leadership in charge of every bill instead of letting committees do their job. The legislative branch of government has devolved into a mockery of what it was meant to be. The two-party system, and the American people's failure to make other arrangements to represent their interests long after it has become clear that they no longer do so, is responsible for it. Check this link for details.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Religious Right Does Not Know What to do Because they Stopped Being the Christian Right


I noticed that the New Republic has an article up entitled "The Religious Right has no idea what to do now" by Suzy Khimm. She is correct, they don't. The leaders of the "Religious Right" did not even know what to do in their heyday, much less now that they are viewed as a distasteful group of oddballs. They were easily seduced and co-opted into becoming shills for one of the corrupt D.C. run and globally funded political parties that have looted America. At first, the "leaders" of the Religious Right were flattered and given "access"- so long as they did not get too critical of the club. As the article points out, candidates are not even bothering to lie to them now. They simply make a few vague statements that don't translate into policy.

They know, and the article alludes to it, that those voters are so anxious for a Moses to deliver them to the promised land, or "another Reagan" that they will throw their support behind someone who gives them even the slimmest of rhetorical affirmation. They want to be misled. People who want to be misled will always get their wish.

Then I read another article which made the same point, the "Religious Right" is looking for a Moses, or a Political Messiah, to deliver them. What really brought it home to me is that this past Sunday I attended an adult Sunday School class and this was also the hope and view of many of the attendees.

The "leaders" of the religious right continue to mislead their flock. We don't need "another Reagan" for people to put their hopes in. As much as I loved the man, it was under his watch that the Republicans realized that they could borrow-and-spend. They abandoned their prior tradition of fiscal responsibility. We don't need another Moses either- that is going backward. Nor do we need a political Messiah- that is what the Jews thought they were supposed to get when Jesus came along. He went and hid rather than become that kind of Messiah.

If you are a Christian, you are a member of the Body of Christ. A "cell" if you will of His corporate body, to do the will of God in the earth. Christ is better than a Reagan, Christ is better than a Moses, and Christ is better than a political Messiah who people expect to fix everything for them. We have forgotten the first truths. As awful, and weak, and sinful and flawed as we are, we are the Body of Christ. It is more glory for God to do His work through us as we are than for some white knight to ride in and do it in His name.

Now you may be thinking "but I can't save America." That is true, but God cares about individual people first, and the corporate entity of a nation only secondarily. And that is the way we should approach our ministry. We want things to be fixed from the top down- that way we on the bottom need change nothing. But God wants to fix things from the bottom up. He wants to start with the individual. When enough of us get better- because we are connected to Him, the top gets better naturally. Not effortlessly maybe, but naturally and easily.

Trying to "save America" is a heavy burden and a difficult yoke. But if you are like most Christians God has put someone in your life who is in need of salvation, or someone just saved in need of mentoring and discipleship. You can't even save them of course, only Jesus can save anyone, but you can help manifest the salvation which He has already bought into their lives. Helping an individual near you who you already care about is (compared to "saving America') a burden that is both easy and a yoke which is light. That is how you know you are carrying the right burden. It is the one Jesus said He would give to His followers.

And if we serve to turn confused people, captured by their baser impulses, unable to discern truth from error, into people who grounded in the truth, free to refuse sin, discerning in their minds and virtuous in their conduct then we will have done our part to "take back the country." Not that we should do it for that reason, for then it becomes the same heavy burden to which the religious right has fallen captive. Even sympathy for the lost is a mere secondary consideration to sympathy for God who does not want a single soul to be lost to Him, or a single soul once gained to lose the blessings which can come with discipleship.

A nation of people like that has little need of government officials to oversee their lives for them- they can handle their own lives. Government needs people to need government to grow. This explains why so many governments continue policies which reward poor choices and enable dysfunction. Good government starts with self-government.

By becoming disciples ourselves and helping others to become disciples we can save "America" one soul at a time. But discipleship requires discipline, and we can fall into the trap of loving the concept of "America" while failing to show the same concern for the spiritual health of the actual Americans who are around us. It is much more fun in the short term to eschew all of that discipline stuff and go emotionally invest ourselves in cheerleading for whoever we want to be our "next Reagan", our "Political Messiah" for this election cycle.

Now when I say that good government is a by-product of virtuous citizens I don't mean that we should not mess with politics at all. I reject the so-called "Benedict Option" of withdrawal from the culture. I just mean that we have focused on the wrong end of things. Any of us have only a negligible impact on who the next president might be, yet that seems to be the race which has us all stirred up. But somewhere in your county is a decent person who ought to be the Sheriff, or the County Judge, or a State Representative.

They may not be a celebrated national figure who show up on all the newscasts, but they are a decent, real, flesh and blood person who you can minister to as you help them with their campaign. You can make a real difference in their life whether you win the election or lose it. This is much closer to the will of Christ than becoming so emotionally invested in a name on your computer screen. It is better to serve a real person near than cheer on the media image of a person that you don't really know who is running for President. And if enough of us did that, it would matter a lot less who the President was.

Look, Billy Graham went around preaching the gospel, now his son is preaching that people should vote. The gospel crusades of a generation ago have deteriorated into a "get out the vote" campaign for a Republican party that refuses to provide candidates that a typical Christian, or even just a virtuous person, would be motivated to vote for. So now they urge voting as some sort of Christian sacrament, something we should do as a religious duty regardless of how bad the candidates might be. I see it differently. If the system provides terrible candidates, we have a Christian duty to refuse to validate them with our vote. Refusing to vote for them despite social pressure to give our approval to a corrupt system by continuing to pretend its OK is a Christian duty.  Our duty would not stop there though. We then work to form a new party or new way to get candidates to the ballot that does not route them through a terminally corrupt two-party system that has destroyed our children's future with debt and insane policies. All of that though, is something that we do while we have no opportunity to preach the gospel, not something that is in place of it.

The Religious Right quit being the Christian Right. That's why they are losing. But we shouldn't change in order to start "winning".  If that's our motive, we will still lose. We should change because it is what Christ wants us to do. It rightly describes the yoke that He said that He wanted you to carry instead of the yoke that many who come in His name entice you to carry. It is what our neighbors need us to do. We should do it that way because that's how you Love God with all you have got and love your neighbor as yourself in this area of life.

For more thoughts on the subject, please see "Why traditionalists are losing and what they can do about it."

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Conversation America Needs to Have (and isn't) Regarding the Kim Davis Story


The Kim Davis story is one of those situations where the longer people listen to media reports about it, the more mis-informed they are.  This is because the establishment media does not exist to inform the public. The establishment media exists to protect the establishment. Their job on this story, as in so many, is to frame the debate in such a way that the important questions connected to the story don't even get asked, much less answered.

For example, most people following the story cannot even comprehend the true nature of the controversy. They think that Kim Davis is "stopping same sex couples from getting married". If they think that is what is happening, then they think the question ought to be "should Kim Davis be able to stop same sex couples from getting married?" But that is not the issue at hand, and therefore that is not the right question to ask.

My wife and I are married. We have a piece of paper from the Pulaski County Clerk which says we are married, but that is not what makes us married. That piece of paper just shows that the government, on behalf of the people of Arkansas, recognize our marriage as a valid one. What if they didn't recognize it? What would that mean? As regards to me and my wife, absolutely nothing. It would not change our lives one bit.

At this point the average libertarian will think I am going to argue that government should get out of the marriage-recognition business. That's not what I believe and its not where I am going with this. Read the red book above if you want more detail on why. For now I ask you to just bear with me as we begin the sometimes painful but rewarding task of thinking outside the box the establishment has put us in......

My wife and I would consider ourselves just as married without public recognition as we are with it. If we did not have the legal package which came with state recognition of our marriage, we would simply add those legal agreements one at a time as is possible for any two persons. I am talking about things like putting each other in our wills, signing power of attorney to make medical decisions and hospital visits, and things of that nature. We pay for our own health insurance, but if we opted to take the insurance from my workplace then it would be up to I and my employer to determine if I should be able to add my "domestic partner" to the plan, not the government. The "standard package" of legal connections which come with public recognition of a marriage as valid are available to people one component at a time even if they are not married.

My point is that the real issue is not that "Kim Davis won't let same sex couples get married". The real issue is that Kim Davis will not grant those relationships official state recognition as marriages. Here is the difference: If Kim Davis was out arresting homosexual couples for claiming they were married, she would be guilty of "not letting same sex couples get married." That is what they did in the old days with laws against mixed-race marriages. It was actually a crime to marry someone of another race. This is not that. What Kim Davis did was simply refuse to grant public recognition of a relationship as a valid marriage. In so doing, she claimed she was acting in accordance with the laws of the state of Kentucky, not just her own opinion.

State recognition of a thing is not the thing itself.  With-holding state recognition of a thing is not the same as criminalizing that thing. That most of us have failed to grasp that difference is a testimony to the power of mass-media to truncate thought, and of the over-arching role of the state in our daily lives. So much are we used to government getting in our business and directing our paths that we can not even distinguish between state recognition of something and the thing itself!

Now one may argue that her action was still wrong, and that homosexuals ought to have public legal recognition for their relationships as marriage. You may even feel it is a civil right that such recognition be given. If you do, we can at least argue the right question. My point is, after watching and sometimes participating in this debate for quite a while now, is that people have been arguing over the wrong question.They can't even see what the real issue is. If we argue over the wrong question, how can we ever expect to find the right answer?

I personally do not think that any two people have a "right" to my approval, or the public's recognition, of their relationship as "valid". There are reasons why the state should not legitimize homosexual relationships as marriage whether one is an atheist or a fundamentalist Christian. But I don't even want to argue that point here, because in the white-noise and heat of this debate we have missed the even more fundamental conversation we should have. It is not whether government recognition of homosexual relationships as "marriage" is a civil right, but even more basic - how does something become recognized as a civil "right" in America in the first place?

That we all easily know the answer to that question is vital because of the very nature of what it is to be a "right". A "right" is some area of life where the individual is supposed to be sovereign against the state, and even against the public. Rights, once acknowledged, are not subject to majority vote. They are areas of life that, by agreement, the citizens of a Republic declare are not subject to our approval. If freedom of political speech is a right, it does not matter if my neighbors or my government objects to my political speech. I have a right to say it. Enumerated rights are legal restrictions on the power of the state, and therefore on the formal power of the public, to regulate behavior. This is the traditional view of rights, again expounded on in the red book above.

The post-modern state despises the very thought that its citizens could possess such rights, or indeed any limitations on its power or scope whatsoever. Because of this the traditional view of rights as expressed above is not taught in their schools, nor discussed in their media. The preference of the government is that "rights" are simply the means by which the elites separate the people from self-government. FEDGOV may check the behavior of individuals or lessor governments, but rarely checks its own behavior. A large part of that lack of restraint is that the courts no longer feel bound at all by the Rule of Law in the methods by which it asserts newly discovered "rights". This is how for example, the courts can busy themselves re-defining marriage even while the Surveillance State commits massive injury against the 4th amendment, Habeus Corpus, and Due Process.

Once something becomes a "right", it becomes beyond the vote of the people. It is the removal of that thing from the realm of self-government. And because of that, the power to declare something a "right" is the power of dictatorship. And this at last brings me to the real conversation that America needs to have regarding the Kim Davis story, and many like it. The question is simply this- is the Supreme Court of the United States the sole determiner of what civil rights are in this nation? Is the process they followed in declaring this newly discovered right legal? On what legal basis did they remove the question of what sort of relationships we wish to recognize as marriage outside of our judgement and subject only to theirs?

Those who wish the matter to be closed declare that same-sex marriage is "the law of the land." But that is not true. Courts don't make laws, they make rulings about how the law should be interpreted. In this case, as in many others, the courts went to their old-standby- the 14th amendment. The amendment says that there shall be "equal protection under the law" and "due process" for all persons.The courts constantly go back to the 14th amendment to throw out any state law, or federal law, that they don't care for.

But is this what Congress and the States meant to do when they sent out and ratified the 14th amendment? Did they really mean for all further decisions about what the rules were to be taken out of their hands and turned over to whatever five of nine lawyers on the Supreme Court think the rules ought to be today? Did Congress and the states mean to turn over the power to define new rights, that is to say the very power of dictatorship, over to the courts?

Of course not. The courts are illegally exercising extra-constitutional power as can be shown simply by reading the last sentence of the 14th amendment. Since the legislative branch no longer represents the People, they have done nothing to stop them. In the first one hundred and fifty years of our republic, Congress initiated impeachment proceedings against members of the judicial branch on over 50 occasions. Have you heard of them doing so in your lifetime? They no longer even attempt to reign in the other branches of government. Both the Executive and the Judiciary have made the legislature the weakest of the branches of government. They don't even try to defend their turf anymore, so long as the money keeps flowing to the special interests who fund their parties. If you want to know how to get the People's Branch to represent the people again, well, its in the blue book above, along with a lot of other things.

The last section of the 14th amendment reads:

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

So we see that it is not the Courts which have the power to enforce the 14th amendment.  It is supposed to be the Congress, and that by legislation. Congress did not give all of its power over to the courts when it passed the 14th. Its intent was to give power to itself. We now have the courts using the 14th amendment to throw out laws passed by Congress, even though the 14th says that it is Congress itself which must give teeth to the enforcement of the provisions of that amendment.

In the Kim Davis case, since there was no legislation from Congress saying that a state's failure to recognize homosexual relationships as marriage was a violation of the 14th, then the courts had no business bench-legislating that finding out of the ether. In fact, the law from Congress on the subject was nearly the total opposite of the court's ruling.  Congress had passed the "Defense of Marriage Act" (D.O.M.A.) which said that for federal purposes marriage was defined as one man an one woman. The courts recently threw the D.O.M.A. out on the grounds that it violated the- you guessed it- 14th amendment.

Even if you think recognizing homosexual relationships as marriage is something which ought to be done, it is clear that the way it was done was a violation of section five of the 14th amendment. It was done illegally. The key principle of "The Rule of Law" has been violated. The Rule of Law is simply that the government has to abide by its own rules. When it does not do so, as in this case, the legitimacy of the government itself is suspect.

This is the long overdue conversation we need to have: how do we decide what are legitimate rights vs. something the elites pull out of thin air and attempt to impose on the populace in violation of the Rule of Law? And if that is a conversation the other side refuses to have, then why exactly should the people who see things differently view the imposition of these "rights" as legitimate?

This is not the first time the courts have used the 14th amendment to make a ruling without reference to a law passed by congress, as is required under a legitimate use of the 14th.  How long have the courts been misusing the 14th amendment like this? That is an interesting history lesson.

In 1954 the Supreme Court was faced with the case of "Brown vs. the Board of Education." Up until that time, schools in the South were segregated by race under the doctrine of "separate but equal" education. The times were changing though, and some justices wanted to hop out in front of the bandwagon. Some in the court wanted to ruled that "separate but equal" was a violation of the 14th amendment's "Equal Protection" clause. One problem: Congress had not passed any legislation authorizing the Courts to declare "separate but equal" was a violation of the "Equal Protection" clause, as the 14th itself required.

Chief Justice Fred Vinson was the clearest to point out that Congress had passed no law enforcing such a ruling. When he died, the interventionist Earl Warren was appointed in his place. President Dwight Eisenhower found segregation to be morally troubling and also an impediment to foreign relations. The Cold War was in full swing and the Soviet Union was using America's shameful treatment of blacks as a propaganda tool. The Executive branch lobbied the courts, almost surely in an inappropriate matter.  Despite their legal misgivings, the members of the court were swayed by political considerations to vote unanimously to rule in favor of the plaintiffs in Brown.

Morally, the courts made the right call. Politically, it let congress off the hook from having to make a tough vote. It let the Executive Branch score a point in foreign affairs. The price though, was that the precedent had been set that the courts did not have to wait for a law from Congress before they applied the 14th. Obviously by 1964 the tide had turned and the Civil Rights act passed. Perhaps Congress would have passed into law the heart of the Brown ruling sooner if the courts had handled Brown differently.

The legislative branch will tend to be a trailing indicator of social trends. It is large. It is diverse. An Executive Branch headed by one man, or a tribunal of nine, will be more nimble at jumping out in front of changing social mores. But that's not self-government, that's not how our Constitution is written, and in the long run the legitimacy of such a government is open to question. This is especially so if the changing social tides shift back, or the courts and executive either misread those tides or move so early that their actions prompt blow back of such magnitude that it actually becomes counter-productive.

We need to have a conversation, a serious conversation, on just how "rights" are awarded and what their scope is allowed to be under the 14th. If we don't, our future is division, unrest, and perhaps even violence. That is what happens when government officials don't follow the Rule of Law.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Funny Definition of Winning on AP American History Standards


The Wall Street Journal posted an article recently entitled "Hey Conservatives, You Won." The article discussed recent changes made to the Advanced Placement U.S. History standards used by High Schools across the nation. The article made the point that the College Board, who writes the standards, recently moved the standards far to the left but backed off due to widespread backlash against the changes. Their latest revision to the standards include many changes that should be lauded by conservatives.

In the Localist view, the WSJ article misses the whole point. It obsesses on the battle for the Left-Right political spectrum, but completely ignores the just-as-important Up-Down spectrum. The real problem is not what particular standards the College Board picks. Its not even that the hard-left College Board is the entity which picks the standards. The real problem is the national standards themselves. National standards are the antithesis of educational freedom. Parents and citizens feel like they have no control over the standards - because they don't. The decisions are all made by people too far away from the individual for them to have an impact. The only way they can even pretend to have a say in the outcome is to join some collective which lobbies the national rule-makers. Centralization of power therefore makes operational collectivists of us all, even if we dislike collectivism as a philosophy.

My analysis of the left-right battle on these standards is simple. Conservatives are putting themselves in position to lose simply by accepting the template that dickering over national standards run by the College Board is the place to fight. The fight should be on whether we even have national standards for AP history, not on what particular standards by the College Board (or any other single entity) are chosen for all AP students in a nation of 320 million people. The unknown (to most Americans), un-elected and unaccountable persons on this board should not have more say over what the AP History Standards are in Pea Ridge, Arkansas than do the parents and school board of the Pea Ridge school district. As it is, the former has all control, and the latter none. That is the real problem, not what is or is not on the national list.

The College Board is hard left. They got some heat for pushing their view of things too far, so they backed off some. But they still write the standards for the whole nation. It is not like there are competing ideas of what standards should be that have a near-equal market share. They may have been pushed right for now, but when there is less attention on them they will more slowly push leftward. When one side wins by advancing their objective and the other side is strictly reactionary- defining "victory" as sometimes reversing the advances that the other side invariably initiates, then the ultimate outcome is not in doubt. This process is very similar to what I wrote on the Hegelian Dialectic. It is used all the time to slowly push a population one way or the other.

But maybe the people who really run our nation will one day decide that right-fascism is better for business than left-fascism. At that point the left will lose and the right will win. Either way, in the best case scenario almost half the nation will be unhappy. The localist solution is to reject the idea of top-down imposed national standards. Let the market pick the standards in each state, or even each school district. Many standards will be shared in common just because they are good standards, not because they are imposed.

Under localist ideas about education standards, parents in left-leaning areas will be happy, and so will those in right-leaning areas. Not only will they be happy, but they will have some say over what happens in that particular area of their lives. That's what we need more of. Right now individual people, left, right, or whatever, feel powerless. They feel like all decisions are made for them by "deciders" too far away for them to influence. They feel this way because it is this way, and becoming more so everyday. This is exactly what Localism seeks to change. The media only pays attention to the left-right axis. The up-down axis is at least as important.