Friday, May 15, 2015

Localism Defended; The Narrow Path Between Anarchy and the Central State

"Localism Defended" has gone to press. Link to Kindle E-book is here. The print edition should be available from that link in a few days.

The title says “Localism Defended” but the book is really a defense of all forms of what might be called “Limited Government Conservatism”, or even “Classical Liberalism.” These philosophies need defending because they are under attack, not only by proponents of a leviathan state on one side, but by a rising tide of anarchists and the more absolutist shades of libertarianism on the other. 

If you believe in limited government, but not so limited as anarchists or many libertarians advocate, then this book is for you. It presents a rational defense of the classic Western view of government. It also makes a compelling case as to why the foundations of anarchist and libertarian thought are, if not certainly wrong, at least not necessarily correct. This provides those with a classical view of government the tools to forge alliances based on mutual respect with Libertarian-leaning persons who are willing to work for common goals even if we have some ideological disagreements. This book also lays out the intellectual case needed to defeat the aggressive assertions of the more extreme elements of the libertarian movement as to what government should and should not be allowed to do. 

This is done in two main ways, one part in showing why such ideas are not necessary intellectually and the other in giving specific examples of why they won’t work practically. On the other extreme, the book also lays out a stinging analysis of the categories of supporters of the current leviathan state. 

In the preceding book, “Localism, a Philosophy of Government”, author Mark Moore offered a blueprint by which limited government might be kept limited rather than repeating the dreary pattern of each generation finding itself under a government larger and more centralized than the one preceding it. Localism is the means of keeping government within reach of the individual citizen structurally, “Localism Defended” provides the arguments needed to advance ideas about such government intellectually.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Global Corporations Now Weigh In On All Laws in All Jurisdictions

"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains." - Thomas Jefferson

Why does a global corporation headquartered in New York state bother to weigh in on what the laws on religious freedom in Louisiana ought to be? It used to be that giant corporations would only lobby for laws which gave them a potential marketplace advantage. They would push for regulations which they could handle put which would push out smaller competitors. They would ask for laws which mandated the use of their products. They were so successful at this that many of us rightfully began to wonder who was making the rules, real natural persons or artificial (state created) entities called "corporations?" The latter now seem to have more access to government rule makers than the real live citizens that government was ostensibly created to serve. (Localism talked about this problem, and what to do about it, in some depth).

Now we see that corporate governance is expanding to a new level. Commercial corporations are no longer limiting themselves to laws which directly affect their industry or advance their commercial interests. They now presume an unlimited degree of latitude in informing states as to what state law might be on any subject, whether it is in their commercial area or not, even in states outside of the ones in which the parent company is incorporated. If citizens do not act to stop it, this is the dawning of a new era of unlimited corporate governance.

I refer to the recent "warning" that IBM issued to the state of Louisiana about a proposed bill which purports to be a "religious freedom" bill. I am skeptical about it because my own home state of Arkansans sought to pass a similar measure which I considered mostly political grandstanding. The one possible bit of change that the bill in question would have allowed was rejected by Wal-Mart. Oh technically it was rejected by Governor Asa Hutchinson, but he had announced he was ready to sign the thing until Wal-Mart called him and told him to take out the one bit of change. Both he and the legislature went to embarrassing lengths to comply. 

But as sorry as that is, at least Wal-Mart has its world headquarters in Arkansas. I am not sure who is more embarrassed about that, them or me. I don't shop there because I reject their corporate philosophy of cheapness ahead of quality, plus their stores are getting rather nasty and unpleasant places to shop.  I wish my state was known for some of the many positive things we have going for us instead of what that chain has now become, but I digress.

 IBM might counter that although their headquarters are in New York, they are building a $55 million software development center in Baton Rouge which "could create 800 jobs". Yes, that New York corporation is indeed a guest doing business in that state. But it is extremely poor form for guests to come into one's home and start admonishing the host family about how they ought to conduct the business of their household. In addition, IBM will be extremely well compensated for their decision to locate in Louisiana. The state economic development commission combined with local governments has agreed to give them almost thirty million hard-earned taxpayer dollars to build this facility. In addition, the state has pledged to spend an addition $14 million on higher education in a way which will provide logistical help and support to IBM. 

So thank to the people of Lousianna, IBM is getting a $55 million facility for about eleven million dollars. And no sooner do they move in than they start lecturing the locals about how they ought to run their state. Were I a resident, I would be tempted to tell IBM to go do something to themselves that I would have a religious objection to baking a cake for! 

Note: it was the case in Washington State where a bakery was forced out of business, and the owners face fines and possibly imprisonment, for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a homosexual "wedding" which has people around the nation asking some hard questions about how much freedom they actually have to use their own property as they see fit. No matter where you stand on the particular issue involved, if you believe in private property, not just religious freedom, but freedom of association and are against involuntary servitude, then this campaign to force people to do things they don't wish to do should rub you the wrong way. 

More broadly speaking, Localism supports the idea that people in different places can have different ideas about what the rules ought to be, and so long as people stay under some authority of their own free will maybe we ought to be able to sleep at night even though people we have never met in a city that we have never been in are doing things differently.  We ought to respect that people can have different ideas about where the lines ought to be drawn instead of some central authority making the decision for all of us. Global corporations oppose this view- they tend to aggress against local self-determination because they are run by an upper echelon which naturally tends to an elitist view of the world.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Of Course Not (Is Ted Cruz a "Natural Born Citizen?")

Our Founders did not want a "citizen of the world" serving as America's President. They wanted someone whose perspective was American. In modern parlance, they were "America Firsters" rather than "Globalists." Today's ruling class is just the opposite. They favor one-world government and the foreign entanglements which George Washington wisely advised we avoid.

Before I really get going let me say that I wish people cared a lot less who the President of the United States is, because I wish it mattered a lot less who the President of the United States is. Too much power has been placed in that one office. We should work to strengthen other institutions, such as the legislatures and state governments, so that who the President is matters less. With that being said...

Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen for reasons outlined here. Bristol Palin got more media scrutiny than Barack Obama got from the mainstream media over his eligibility. Most of their "coverage" of the issue consisted of savagely attacking or dismissing as a crank anyone who seriously investigated the issue. Not only would they not do their job, they savaged anyone else who tried to do it for them. Scratch that. The Establishment Media's job is not to inform the public, its to protect the establishment. In that sense they are doing their job. Same with the courts, which went to outrageous lengths to keep the real issues surrounding Obama's eligibility out of a court of law. This includes, I am not kidding, using the legal "reasoning" of an actor playing a judge in the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" as their "precedent" for dismissing a case!

But then of course Obama's opponent the first time was Senator John McCain, and there were also doubts about his eligibility, since he was born on the soil of what amounts to a foreign protectorate while our founders never envisioned us as an imperial power.  To show how rigged this system is though, the DEMOCRATS rushed to sponsor a Senate Resolution declaring that McCain was eligible. This was back when Hillary was the front runner and she supported the resolution too. On some issues, the two-party cabal will not attack each other. They are both globalist in outlook (and why not, they are funded largely by global corporations) and so there is no push back one to the other on this issue. Notice despite the invective they have hurled toward Ted Cruz, they are not calling him on this.

You would think that in a nation of over 300,000,000 people we could find a couple of good candidates who were indisputably natural born citizens- born on U.S. soil to parents who were U.S. citizens. The vast majority of people we live around and work with meet this simple qualification. That we can't seem to translate that into decent presidential candidates which meet this standard, and that the system seems to put forward candidates who do not, should alarm you. When Hillary Clinton is in a hurry to declare John McCain eligible, and made no issue of Obama's status, it should cause alarm bells to go off. Why are even our "outsider" choices of questionable American roots? That does not even include that the Senator's wife, a former Goldman Sacs banker, was a contributor to this Council On Foreign Relations paper advocating a North American Union.

My view is that no candidate for president is so indispensable that they are worth my being a hypocrite. Either one believes in the rule of law, or one does not. Either the constitution should be respected, or it should not. If there is no good candidate for president because we have a broken system, then the manful thing to do is to face that fact and get about the hard work of building alternatives, not sacrifice one's principles on the alter of expediency. Here is an example of how one might go about building an alternative.

 Is Senator Ted Cruz a "natural born" citizen of the United States and thus constitutionally eligible to serve as President? Of course not. There are two ways to become a citizen. One can be born a citizen, or one can be naturalized. The original definition of what a natural born citizen is may be unclear to us, but the 14th amendment's definition of a "born" citizen is crystal clear. It reads "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Senator Howard Jacob, who authored this clause, said "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" meant "full and complete" jurisdiction. But the main thing to notice here is the way to be "born" a citizen is to be born IN the United States and be "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".  Cruz was not born IN the United States, therefore he cannot be a "born" citizen, natural or otherwise. Ergo he must be a "naturalized" citizen. That is, made a citizen via a law from congress.

Here is the relevant section of US Code which made Cruz a citizen. Notice that "A" on the list reads like the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause. That is, if one is born in the US and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, one is a citizen. It then lists several other ways one can be declared a citizen at birth, including item "H" on the list which applies to Ted Cruz. The US Code does not make clear who on the list is a born citizen or who on the list is naturalized at birth. It just lists all of those who get citizenship at birth. But it does not matter if the US Code is unclear, because the 14th amendment's citizenship clause is very clear on what it takes to be a "born" citizen- one must be born in the United States. Anyone else who is a citizen is a citizen because they have been "naturalized" by Congress. While Congress has the power to naturalize people as citizens at birth they do NOT have the power to change the Constitution's definition of a "born" citizen.

Ted Cruz was naturalized at birth by the US Code. He was not a "born" citizen because the 14th amendment specifically says that "born" citizens are born "in the United States". If he is not a "born" citizen it is impossible for him to be a "natural born" citizen, an additional qualifier. He therefore must be a naturalized citizen. Raging at me for saying so does not alter the text of the constitution, nor address the fundamental problem of a "one party with two faces" candidate selection system which selects in favor of "citizens of the world" over those with specifically American roots.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Constitution Doesn't Need to Change, We Need to Change the Way We Select Candidates

This was from a debate sponsored by the Washington County Tea Party. The subject is whether or not now is the time for an article V amendments convention. Here I argue that the constitution does not need to change so much as the way we select candidates needs to change. We should dump the Unitary Party System where the same private political club elects candidates for state as well as federal office, for the Legislative branch as well as the Executive branch. This unitary party system serves to undermine the system of checks and balances the Founders put in place to protect us from an over-reaching government.

This position is in accord with the Third Pillar of Localism, that politics should move from national labels to local or state labels to decentralize political power. It is what we are trying to do at 

I am not saying that we could not benefit from some changes to the constitution - Localism, a philosophy of government suggests several possible changes. Rather I am saying that until we change the way those ruling us are selected we can't trust them to meddle with the constitution.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ruling Class Buys Time by Throwing Middle Class into Debt-fueled Shredder

For every debtor with a liability there is a creditor with an "asset" which consists of the likely income stream from the payment of that debt.  Much of the wealth of our richest individuals and largest institutions consists of claims that others owe them money. Creditors who have such assets, rather than simply waiting for the debts to be repaid, tend to use them for collateral to get money to purchase other assets.   Such collateral is often treated as an "asset" by the lender to acquire the cash to obtain even more assets (this is called rehypothecation). This process can go on and on.

One can see from the above example that when one link in the chain goes bad, one investment does not work out, that it causes tremors for everyone else along the chain.  When people's wealth consists of a chain of debtors repaying their debts, when one does not pay it can affect the ability of the others to repay, leading to a series of cascading defaults.  Of course, if relative small fry default on their debts, the creditor can absorb the loss and move on.  It is only when a big player fails that a catastrophic system-wide failure is induced.  This is what was about to happen in 2008.  It is what is meant by the phrase "too big to fail."

No politician wants a catastrophic system failure on their watch, especially one which takes down their party's top donors.  So the political system, Republicans and Democrats alike, bailed out the "too big to fail" banks, foreign and domestic. As Thomas Jefferson noted, "Merchants have no country".   

Nor it appears, do the politicians they purchase. If the super-rich had taken the hit and had to write off their bad debts, maybe we would be out of our economic malaise by now, perhaps with a different set of people in the "super-rich" category.  But the present super-rich were not about to give up that status just because they made poor decisions.  They own the government now, and they have used their pull, plus the threat of Mutual Destruction for the present Political Class, to do whatever it takes to sustain an unsustainable system built on ever increasing debt and centralization of wealth (and therefore political power).

When the "too big to fail" banks made poor investments, the government bought them or accepted them as collateral for loans so that the banks could purchase sound investments instead.  The Big Banks keep all of their winning bets, their bad bets are transferred to the taxpayer's books.  Not so when a little or medium sized person or company fails.  They go under and their assets are acquired at bargain basement prices, usually these days by the same Big Players who got bailed out when they made poor investments.  It is easy to see that in a game where when the Big Players trip the government helps pick them up at our expense but when we trip we go bankrupt, that over time the Big Players are going to own virtually everything.

The ruling class has one goal, staying the ruling class.  They don't want to hyper-inflate the dollar, because that would cause the basis of much of their wealth (claims to the debt payments of others) to vanish.  They want the dollar strong and dear, but they also want to issue lots of money to bail themselves out, form the basis of much of their wealth and buy off the lower classes with welfare. With heavy debt loads, debtors groan under a strong dollar. When there was dollar inflation debtors could pay loans back in cheaper dollars.  Now that the dollar is (artificially) stronger debtors are having to repay in dollars which are more expensive and it is pushing many into default.  If enough of them default, the system of wealth based on ownership of others' debts collapses, so they don't want that either.

The solution they seem to have hit upon is to bail out the Big Players when they make poor decisions, but let the little guys descend into the lower class when they slip up.  They have found a way to keep the money circulating tightly between Washington and Wall Street, with little of it trickling down to Main Street.  If a Big Player gets caught in a situation where their investments go south and so they can't pay their debts, bail them out. When a little guy has investments that go south, they are liquidated and lose middle-class or upper middle-class status and become members of the lower class.  As debt-fueled deflation takes hold, this is happening to more and more people. To keep the swelling lower classes from rioting against the government whose corrupt policies helped make them lower class, the government has "bought off" this group with welfare programs, paid for with more debt.

The only end of this course of action is the utter destruction of the Middle Class.  The ruling class makes money off of the debt used to pay for the welfare programs and servicing government contracts so they "get back" the share of the bill which goes to them.  Only the middle class in the private sector does not and that is why they are being squeezed.  It ends with the population divided into "people connected to the system" and "poor people" subsisting on welfare.  

Actually, that is not quite the end. At that point, once the last of the middle class whose hard work and wealth have been used to fuel the economy have been thrown into the debt-shredder, this thing implodes anyway.  The system failed in 2008.  Ever since the ruling class has been buying time with policies hastening the destruction of the middle class, making their losses our losses.

The good news in this rather depressing story is that there are ways to organize society so that our posterity is never again subjected to the deprevations which we now face. There are ways to engage the political system more effectively than we have been doing it. We did not get into this mess overnight and it won't be fixed overnight, but it can be fixed.  That is what Localism, a philosophy of government is about.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Divine Right of Government

From the time of the first central states in Babylon through the age of the Roman Empire, kings took upon themselves the mantle of the divine.   In the first states there was no "separation between church and state", for the priests served the king.  Religion was at the service of the state, and the rulers often presented themselves as descendents of the gods, if not gods themselves.   The great mass of humanity existed to elevate the state, which was personified in the form of the King or Emperor.

The main exception to the rule was a collection of tribes in the Levant who for 360 years elected their own local leaders, had a fixed law, a travelling judiciary, and no national executive at all except for brief periods of national emergency.   When they finally decided to have a king, the priesthood was already established, and for a time maintained its independence from the state.   Over time this independence broke down, but so did the expression of the faith through a priesthood.  Prophets rose up and were the main movers and shakers of the faith, challenging both Kings and Priests.

In the Jewish tradition Kings were not gods whose will was law.  There was a Higher Law, established by the One True God, and to that law both King and commoner were equally bound.  Indeed King and Priest were to remain separate offices, only to be united in the person of Messiah, who alone was worthy to be both King and High Priest.   The Messiah was the King of Kings, to whom all earthly Kings would be obligated to submit.  Kings had a king- the King of Kings.  They did not dictate the will of heaven to the masses, for kings were just as subject to it as they were.

As Christianity spread into Europe so did these ideas, for Christianity is not so much a separate religion from Judaism as it is Judaism fulfilled.   Like all powerful people not used to, or happy with, restraints on their behavior, Kings attempted to use the parts of Christian scripture and tradition which were favorable to civil authorities to their best advantage. This took the form of the doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings."  Romans 12 and other places in scripture suggest that civil authorities exist by God's permission. That is, they are in charge because God ordained it so.

The kings most favorable to this doctrine tended to forget that any divine right that kings had was balanced by divine responsibilities that kings had.   Should a king fail to exercise their "rights" responsibly, their subjects reasoned, then the king himself was in rebellion against the Divine order.

After all, didn't the same passages of scripture which taught that rulers were established by God also teach that those same rulers, wittingly or unwittingly, were Ministers of God?  And didn't the same passage (Romans 13) describe this ministry as "honoring those who do good" and "bringing wrath on evil doers"? What if a ruler failed to do this?  What if they did the opposite of this?  It was thinking along this line, starting from the basis that religion was above state and not a function of state, which established what we know today as "the right of rebellion".   From this it was deduced that a just government required "the consent of the governed" to its claim of a divine mandate.  The people being governed had to agree that those doing the governing were doing so in a legitimate manner.

While this view has some distance from prior notions, notice that even the doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings" was less totalitarian than the old pagan view.  The old pagan view was that the state was the dignitary of the gods on earth and that the will of the king was the will of heaven. In contrast, Kings who had a Divine Right to rule can be in error and offend the Divine.  Kings which are divine themselves cannot, their word is absolute, they are accountable only to themselves.   When heaven and king are separated this way, certain things were rightly beyond the reach of even the King.  Not so when King and the will of Heaven are viewed as one and the same.

From this idea of separation of King from the Divine it was but a short leap to the idea that the common people could be their own kings as it were, sharing power in a Republican form of government.   The Creator was still viewed as the source of rights (as noted for example in the Declaration of Independence), but He didn't just give the governing authorities a Divine Legitimacy to govern, He also gave individual persons legitimate claims against governments which exceeded their Divine mandate.  

In other words, individuals had rights.   The idea that there lives a King of Kings translated into the idea that there were just limits on the power of the state. The earthly King or ruler was not the Master of the people, rather they were ministers acting on behalf of God, the true Master of both King and Commoner.   This idea held even in a nation where the People themselves were the king.

The same God which gave rulers the authority to rule placed boundaries on that authority for the sake of the individual, which was actually the point of government.  Not like the Pharaohs, who considered the purpose of his subject's lives was to glorify the state and his own royal person by slaving away at constructing elaborate tombs.  Rather, government existed for the purpose of upholding justice. Glorification of the state was not the point of government, but rather the state existed to serve the individual by providing justice.  As it is recorded in scripture, in the Kingdom of Heaven to "rule" is to "serve".    This view of government was a wellspring of human liberty.  It was the basis on which the Democracies and Republics of the West were established.

For much of this period most education was conducted by the church or by local communities.  It is not surprising then that during that time educated persons were trained to understand that the state was not absolute, that even the king (or Parliament) is but a minister of God and is duty-bound to rule justly, and that individuals could claim rights even against the mighty state.   This policy carried over unto America, where the people as a whole were supposed to rule.   That is, a Bill of Rights was recognized which constituted areas of life beyond the just reach of the state and therefore not subject to majority vote.  

As the state itself began to take over education this doctrine of government was first de-emphasized, then ignored, and now suppressed.   In its place the post-modern state is not devising a new system, but re-incarnating an old one.   A neo-pagan view of government is now emerging which claims that there is no Divine Will separate from and above the state, or if there is it is mandatory that the state disregard it.    The Collective Man will become the new god, and some new Ceasar claiming to speak "for the people" will represent this "god's" will on earth.

The current crop of "progressives" is not bringing humankind progress at all, but rather regression to an oppressive period of human history where the desires of the state triumphed over the will of the individual without limitation.   In Roman times the Emperors made themselves out to be gods and used the state as their instruments to enforce their "divine" whim.  In the new order a vast collective called "The People" will insert itself into the role of the Divine, using the state to enforce its whims.  The voice of the people will be considered the voice of God.
 In this view "rights" can only be mere grants of the state, not something the individual is entitled to by a power above it.   They are thereby transformed from restrictions on the state to political tools of the state.  They become the means by which groups favored by the state are granted new privileges at the expense of the disfavored group's freedom. At that point the substance of individual rights, as claims by individuals against the state, will vanish. The word may persist without substance for some time, but only to be used by whatever small group is really running things as a fig-leaf to cover the state's trampling over some groups in favor of others.

Our only hope of sustaining liberty is for us to revert to the view of government which produced it.  Should we fail to do so the result will not be a government without god, but rather the false god of humanity collectively deifying itself under a new "divine" ruler.   Only a government with a true divine right to govern can have divine limitations on its governance.