Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crimea Uproar: Why Shouldn't Regions Be Able to Change Sovereigns?

The governments of the West seem to be in an uproar over Russia's recent annexation of Crimea.  The Western Media, which is to say the establishment media in the West, is trying hard to stir the pot.  People should not be fooled by this fear-mongering and propaganda.

Here is what is really happening in the Ukraine: The population was very evenly split between ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians. The government of the United States and other western governments have pumped billions of taxpayer dollars into Ukraine in an effort to influence the outcome of their elections.  How would you feel if you discovered other nations where doing the same to us?  In addition to being seen as a tool of the west, the party the U.S. government was backing turned out to be corrupt.  Because of all of this the swing voters in Ukraine gave the pro-russian party a chance.

When the pro-Russian party, who won the election after all, expressed a preference for a partnership with Russia over the EU, the western-backed party protested and more until the government fell.  The government was in Kiev, where the local population was very pro-western.   The pro-Russian voters were all in the east.  In other words, just because those who supported the government were not handy to counter-riot in the capital, the results of the democratic election were overturned in a coup.

Just like we have treaties with other countries allowing us to keep troops in them, Russia had a deal with the Ukraine which allowed them to keep up to 25,000 troops there.   In response to the coup, they sent in 16,000 to protect the rights of the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea.   The Crimeans held a vote, and 96% of them voted to leave the Ukraine and join with Russia.  They voted to change state affiliations.  This returned Crimea back to Russia, where it was prior to some communist changing lines on a map in 1954.

We should have never spent billions trying to meddle in who the Ukrainians elected to their government in the first place.  It is not our business.   We should not have supported the recent coup over a democratically elected government.   And we should respect the desire of the ethnic Russians in Crimea who want to be ruled from Moscow rather than the rioters in Kiev.  Why are we the ones going around now telling people that what they want does not matter, that they have to be chained together in political union with people they don't like and who want to take the country in a different direction?  Because some communist redrew some lines on a map in 1954 and moved Crimea from Russia to Ukraine?  Why is that so binding?

If there was ever a time to mind our own business, this is it.  Unfortunately our state department seems to be incapable of restraint.   The same out-of-control federal government which goes around meddling in our lives and making us angry with it is also using our tax dollars to meddle overseas and make people around the world angry with us.  There is no reason why foreigners should be any less irritated than we are with our federal government. It is going to be at least as tone-deaf with them as it is towards us.  What happens when we finally realize that we are broke and facing a world full of people that we hacked off with our constant interventions?

Ironically, it is in our best interest for Crimea to go to Russia.   Maybe now that the pro-Russian parties have all the votes they had from Crimea, the rest of the country will elect pro-western leaders.   With Crimea gone, they won't have to foment a coup to get a pro-western government in Kiev, one can be legitimately elected.  We don't need to intervene to save Crimea.  The Crimeans consider that they have already been saved by Russia.

Of course there have been hysterical claims that this is just like 1938 and Hitler, with Crimea serving as the Sudetenland.  I have heard people say if we "let Putin get away with it" we are like Chamberlain and have not learned that you cannot appease tyrants.  They forget the most important part.  Hitler taking the Sudetenland was not the problem.  The problem was that he had no intention of stopping at the Sudetenland.  Anyone who read his book knew that his goals were to seize not just lands full of Germans who wanted political unity with Germany, but a great swath of Slavic and other lands as well.

Hitler did not stop at the Sudetenland.  If he had, World War II would have never happened.  He quickly took the rest of Czechoslovakia as well.   This demonstrated that he was not after merely in favor of allowing local German populations political self-determination, but in denying those rights to neighboring peoples.   After that the world was wise to him, but of course they should have seen it coming.   He rose to power on a platform which included taking land from the Slavs and giving it to the German Master Race.

Where is the evidence that Putin wants to do the same?   It is very likely that he wants Russia to have a lot of influence in countries that were a part of the former Soviet Union.  We also want influence in those nations. That is why we have filled many of them with our military bases and give them "foreign aid" (taxing the middle class in our country to provide bribes for the rich people in other countries).   I am sure he wants Ukraine to pay the billions of dollars they owe Russia for the Russian gas they took. If someone owed you that much money, wouldn't you be interested in getting it back too?  That is not the same thing as imperialism.  Putin is no sweetheart I am sure, but he is not Hitler.

This brings us to the larger issue.  Why is it "bad" for people to vote to move from affiliation with one political entity to another?   Why are the lines drawn by some political appointee on a map in the past more relevant than the wishes and desires of the people who are alive right now?  Why can't a group of people, especially when the vote is a 96% super-majority, move from one political unit to another without bloodshed?

I am a localist.  Localists have a principle, it is one of the seven pillars of localism, that affiliations between political entities should be voluntary, not coercive. For every political union, there should be a means spelled out to legally dissolve that union.  It is helpful if they are laid out in advance, but even if they are not, the principle is still a just one.   An example of this principle would be a state deciding to leave the union, or a county or group of counties within a state either joining another willing state, or if they are of sufficient size, becoming a new state themselves.

Localism believes that hierarchy and collective are inherently untrustworthy.  Government is both. A political union sustained only by force will not serve people well.  The easier a government is to get away from or alter, the more reluctant it will be to step on the toes of those who have to live under it. The whole aim of the sixth pillar of localism is to subject government to the free market- that is, the choices of individual persons.   Only then, when the opportunity costs to alter and/or escape a government which displeases one are quite low, can government be kept as servant and not become master.

People have different ideas about what a good government would look like.   We should not expect there to be one right answer for what good government ought to look like, because people are different.  In a society built on the pillars of localism, governments will not look alike, but they will each look more like those who live under them wish them to look.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Moving up the E-Book Charts

I was pleased to see that Localism, A Philosophy of Government, was in the top 100 in two of its five categories on Amazon.com, #58 on History and Theory of Political Science and #92 on Ideologies and Doctrines under the "Politics and Government" category. Egghead categories I know, but someone must care about them.... http://www.amazon.com/Localism-A-Philosophy-Government-ebook/dp/B00B0GACAQ/ref=pd_rhf_pe_p_t_2_GB3H

Friday, February 7, 2014

Till Freedom is Gone, The Pursuit of the Hegelian Dialectic in Life and Government

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson.

I once had a man tell me that he was voting for a particular Democratic candidate because he (the voter) was "a Jeffersonian Democrat."   I told him if Thomas Jefferson could somehow spend twenty minutes talking to his candidate, he would probably challenge him to a duel.

Men like Thomas Jefferson aren't welcome in the Democratic party anymore, nor much these days in the Republican party.  Both are increasingly centralized collectives, where the pressure to be a "team player" grows stronger each decade.   To be clear, the folks back home who elected someone to an office are never considered to be the office-holder's "team", rather the globally-financed collective known as a political party is.  

When the goal becomes unity or agreement rather than truth, principle is not just irrelevant, its a hindrance.     This process of squeezing principle, which is to say what is right and wrong, out of the equation of government occurs at least twice- one is the pressure to conform within one's own party and the second when some accommodation between the two parties is sought.

How did we ever reach such an unprincipled place?  Some readers might not be familiar with the Hegelian dialectic, and Dean Gotcher's expose on it, but we should.  The results are affecting our lives daily.  The Hegelian dialectic is another way to resolve disputes besides the classical way of presenting evidence to determine who is "right" or "wrong".  With the Hegelian dialectic truth or falsehood is irrelevant to problem solving.  "Truth" need not even exist and becomes irrelevant to the process. This makes the Hegelian Dialectic the method of choice for dispute resolution for a post-modern culture which has rejected the very concept of absolute truth.

This is how the Hegelian dialectic works: It starts with a Thesis (an idea or proposal).  Standing against the thesis is an Anti-thesis (an opposing idea or proposal).  The goal is "Synthesis", a compromise or coming together of the two positions.  Thesis - Anti-Thesis ---> Synthesis.  Of course politicians who "solve" problems using this method always compromise and never stand on principle.  That is because they are functioning within a model where compromise is the only principle.

While the ruling class has abandoned the idea of absolute truth, much of the population has not. This is often why people wind up talking past each other when having debates over issues.   One side is trying to make a case that what they espouse is true and right.  This side does not understand why the other cares so little for the evidence. The other side is trying to find "common ground" for accommodation and final synthesis of the two positions, and does not understand why the other is being so "intransigent".

It is often appropriate to find a way to come together with people, in particular in matters of style.  But when it is a matter of the truth or a lie, coming together produces a half-truth, which is to say an untruth.    With matters of right and wrong, this method of problem solving is guaranteed to never get the correct answer, unlike a dispute-resolution method with truth-discovery as the goal.

Sadly, our present culture has no love of the truth, and no patience with seeking it out.   Such a culture will invariably wind up drenched and permeated in lies, as our culture has become.  The mess we are in is not an accident.  It is the unavoidable outcome of our failure as a society to love the truth.  The problem will only get worse until people began to tire of it, repent, and value the truth as a goal above other things.

If and when a love of truth returns to our culture, our institutions will no longer automatically accept a Hegelian framework to resolve disputes.  Such a method is only appropriate on questions of procedure not principle.  That is, "how should we go about accomplishing "X" should only be addressed after it is determined on principle that 1) "X" is something that could be done and 2) "X" that we, whoever we are, are the proper ones to be doing it.

The health care debate is a prominent example of the problem.   The Democrats propose a major expansion of government, and the Republicans are automatically under pressure to "do something" to provide health care to Americans without it.   The idea that it should simply be repealed, leaving us back where we were until a truly better idea comes along, has been set aside.  Instead, they have produced their own plan, which is not that dissimilar to the disaster now wrecking havoc with the U.S. healthcare system.   The only thing many Republicans in Congress don't like about Obamacare is the Obama, along with the fact that their friends get too many of the bills and too little of the loot.   There is no objection on principle to more government plunder, only an objection as to the procedures and details by which it is distributed.

Within the Hegelian dialectic, whichever side makes the most demands automatically wins.  All the advantage then goes to the side who first demands the change.   Whenever someone advances a Thesis, those who hold the Anti-thesis view on that question are supposed to meet them in the middle.

If powerful interests wanted Americans to be subsumed into a global collective, they could do it by having the party most identified with centralizing and growing government be the party that is always on the offensive and making sweeping proposals.   Then they could make the other party, the one who is supposed to be the "opposition" to the growing-government party, a reactionary party.  That is, rather than pushing for big changes that truly roll back the size and scope of government intrusion into our lives, they simply react against the expansions proposed by the other side.   The media can then beat the drums for "compromise" and berate the passive party for "just saying no" and "having no ideas of their own."   The public's illusion of a free society is, for a time, preserved, but the march towards totalitarianism will never be stopped until the destination is reached.

If you wish you and your children to live in a totalitarian police state, just relax and keep doing what you have been doing- you need change nothing.  You can continue to invest all of your political capital in the two existing political parties and this will inevitably occur.   If you desire any other outcome, you must do something different.  You must become a part of a better way of doing politics which escapes and end-runs the Hegelian trap and makes government incapable of doing anything for which there is not broad public agreement. A model for this can be found at http://www.arneighbors.org.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Article V Convention Scenarios

Is an article V convention the last best hope to save the republic, or the quickest way to complete its demise?   Probably neither.   Two other scenarios are more likely.   The risk of a "runaway convention"  is less likely, but the probability is not zero, or even close to zero as some proponents of an article V maintain.   In this article, I will outline a less-likely, but still possible, disaster scenario in which the seeming "fail safes" are evaded, much to the shock and surprise of the folks back home.

To understand the basis for these scenarios one must understand the content of the article in question.   Amidst all the back and forth I have been amazed at how little attention has been paid to what is said, and not said, in article V itself.  Here then is the relevant text....

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;"

In the above paragraph, who is writing the call to convention in an amendments convention?  Its Congress.   The states only apply to Congress to call it, but the text of the article says that Congress is the entity responsible for calling it.  Look again at the wording if you have any doubt.  I have highlighted the relevant words in red so at to more easily connect them.

A second question.  Who is responsible for proposing the method of ratification of whatever the amendments convention proposes?   Again, its Congress which proposes the method by which the amendments would be ratified.  I have highlighted the relevant phrase in blue.

So Congress is the one writing the call to convention.  Much has been made of the fact that the wording indicates congress "shall" call a convention.   That is to say, much has been made of the fact that congress is obligated by the wording to call the convention, but not enough consideration has been given to the fact that the wording gives them not just the duty, but the authority, to write that call.   A reasonable expectation is that they would perform this duty with the same devotion to self-interest which has marked the performance of all of their other recent "service."  Therefore I fear we can expect no good from an article V convention unless we first do the hard work of taking back congress (and to this point most states have not even taken back their state legislatures yet).

How might they rig a constitutional convention?  Many activists assume that Congress would write a simple call which would give the states maximum flexibility in how they might select delegates.  This assumption is not supported in the text of article V, and is not consistent with the behavior of recent Congresses.  There is nothing in the text of article V which restricts Congress in the drafting of the call to convention in any way.  Any dispute on this question would be decided by federal courts who have proven to be very favorable to their employers, even when claims of federal jurisdiction are not supported in the text of the Constitution.  And remember that in this case, the text does support claims of federal jurisdiction over the drafting of the call to convention.

Congress could decide to write the call so that there are "set aside" delegate seats for various organizations and interest groups.   With all this power at stake in one location, this high-stakes event will be of great interest to the lobbies which fund Congressional campaigns.   Why would this be the one occasion on which our representatives decided to listen to you rather than the people they have been having lunch with every day and who have been writing them large checks?  This would be the fund raising opportunity of the century for both D.C. based political parties.

So the Republicans might decide that each state's delegation should have a set aside for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce office in each state.  The Democrats might set aside seats for the state affiliates of Planned Parenthood, ACORN, and the National Organization for Women.   Both sides would be interested in making sure that the Federal Reserve and the large banks have significant representation.   Both sides would want to give lots of seats to the insiders who run the Republican and Democratic parties.   By the time they were done rewarding their contributors, few seats would be left for true grassroots delegates and little good could be expected from a convention where most of the delegates were simply picked from among the members of the present ruling class which has so twisted and ignored our current document.

Look at the way the two D.C. based political parties run their party conventions for a clue as to how those same people might write the rules for this convention.   Almost 20% of the delegates to the Democrat Convention in 2012 were "superdelegates" picked by the party with no input from the grassroots.   The Republicans had a similar class of delegates, which they called "unpledged" delegates.   But those represent just the most blatant end-runs around the democratic process.   Each state delegation also had their rules and procedures which amounted to a way for the party to get more "safe" delegates into those seats.   And they will write the rules to tilt the delegate selection process even further in their favor if they need to in order to maintain control- just witness the recent rules changes that the Republican establishment dishonestly rammed through in order to keep a conservatarian grassroots insurgency from taking root.

Still, just because terrible amendments are very likely to come out of an article V convention does not mean that those terrible amendments will wind up in the constitution.  There is one more significant protection against bad amendments becoming the law of the land, and that is a need for ratification in three fourths of the states.   State legislatures which are responsive to the people, or state conventions stocked with true grassroots delegates, would be very likely to refuse to ratify harmful amendments.   Proponents of an article five convention rightly point out that honest ratification conventions or state legislatures would refuse to ratify amendments blatantly hostile to liberty, and that 3/4ths of the states must ratify an amendment in order for it to be placed in the Constitution.

That argument is not without merit if you are trying to make the case that an article V convention won't change the constitution for the worse, but it does not speak at all to the other negative consequence of an article V convention- lost opportunity costs.   Congress' convention producing amendments that get blocked from ratification would make the outcome of this process a gigantic waste of time, energy, and effort.   Those whose argument for an article V is that we are running out of time would under this scenario use up even more time without getting any value from it.

There is no getting around the obvious conclusion that the "Amendments Convention" would be the convention that Congress wants to call, not the one you or I or Mark Levin wants to call.  Article V says that Congress calls it, not us, not the states, but Congress.  Federal judges won't even have to make excuses to hand their fellow federal government employees that power- it's hard-wired right into the text.  Those who say we have to do this because we are running out of time should have their argument turned right back around on them- we don't have time to waste for what would be in the most likely case a costly stalemate in favor of a corrupt status quo.

Another possibility is that even though the ratifying conventions are stocked with reasonably good delegates, they vote for amendments which they think will make things better but will in fact make things worse.  So not only would time, energy, and effort be wasted, but we would wind up with a constitution which codifies the establishment's over-reach.

How can this happen?  Well, at least two of Levin's proposed amendments fall into that category.   Superficially, they sound like they will be making things better but the practical effect of them would be to make things even worse than they are now.    See these pieces for a breakdown of his suggested amendments on taxation and on the judiciary.  Most of his other suggested amendments fall into the category of appearing to make things better but resulting in no significant change in the status quo- thus effectively making this another version of likely outcome #1- that the whole thing is a gigantic waste of precious time and resources.

A third possible outcome, and this is less likely than the first two perhaps but not outrageously so, is that the political establishment rigs not only the Amendments Convention but also the ratification conventions.   The people at the "leadership" of the Republican and Democrat parties have a history of getting along with each other better than they do the grassroots outsiders of their own parties.

It could be that Congress stretches its authority to "propose" the "method of ratification".   That is, instead of just saying "we choose ratification by convention", that they would go on to write, as a part of their "proposal", a list of requirements for delegates to the ratification conventions which would essentially shut the grassroots out.   The head of the state association of bankers may not represent your interests, but if they are in your state they could be a delegate in a ratifying convention.   Personally, I feel that this would be an example of over-reach, that Congress was only meant to say which method of ratification would be used and in either case the details would be up to each state.   The problem is that the text does not say that.   The text is silent as to how much detail Congress' ratification "proposal" might entail, and any disputes over those limits will once again be decided by federal courts.

Some states would not stand for such micro-management, and might refuse to even call a convention, or call one in defiance of congress' call to convention with delegates of their own choosing.   In anticipation of such an event Congress could simply write the proposal the same way they wrote the recent Affordable Care Act.  That is, if state governments refuse to set up their own health care exchanges, the feds set one up for them.   They will use the same tactic regarding ratifying conventions.  Any states who fail to set up a "proper" ratifying convention will have one set up for them by the establishment.   In my view this would be an outrageously improper and illegal action- much like all their other improper and illegal actions which they are getting away with.  Yet once it is done, they will have the constitution they want and you will be the one violating it, not them.

But they may not even need to resort to such tactics.   After all, if less than a dozen states refuse to set up their stacked conventions, they can still get their amendments passed by the stacked conventions in the other states.  And these will be amendments which basically amend our current constitution out of existence by making all limits on federal power subject to the discretion of the President (i.e. meaningless).

Heck, it may not even be Congress that does the stacking. It may just direct the Governors to draft the call. How many Governors in this nation really answer to the grassroots and not their party's establishment and big donors?   The top of both parties want centralized power.   They both want out of the restraints and limits on the central government which the constitution places on them.  Both have done and are now doing things forbidden by the existing text of the document.  Why wouldn't they cut a deal with something for both of them?   And why wouldn't the Governor go along?  Because he would be afraid of losing his $50,000 a year job in Arkansas that he can't keep but for eight years anyway?   These people can offer each of the 38 governors who sell out millions in return for their treachery.  And half the population won't even know what happened.

Friends, we are in a mess, and unfortunately there is no way out of this mess which does not involve a lot of work and a long time.   There is no way out of this mess which allows most Americans to continue to comfortably put their trust in one of the two existing Beltway Parties.  There is no way to get good policy while leaving in place bad personnel because ultimately personnel is policy.   I want a solution, just as bad as you do, (here is a start) but I am not going to let my apprehension cloud my judgement and rush into something that by every reasonable look at the text of the article and the recent behavior of our political class will be at best a gigantic waste of time and resources and at worst the coup de grace of our Republic.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Test of Character on an Article V Convention

The conservative movement is being split over the idea of whether we should or should not back an Article V Convention for the purpose of amending the constitution.   I am at great disadvantage on this question because I cannot tell my friends what they wish to hear.   On the other hand, I am at a great advantage because I am telling them the truth, and for people of virtue the truth has a power all of its own.  Here then is my testimony and findings of fact in this matter for your consideration:

Most of the debate over whether we should pursue Mark Levin's plan for a Convention centers on the question of whether such a convention can be "hijacked" for purposes beyond the scope intended by those grassroots people who first got the ball rolling on it.   Of course it can.   The idea that such an attractive target, with so much power at stake in one central location, will remain confined strictly to the wishes of those back home who originated the idea, is completely unreasonable.   The chances of a hi-jack may be low, or they may be high, but they will not be zero.   I think they will be high.   As a rule, the more power you have at stake in a distant central location, the greater the chances that this power will be used in a way not anticipated by or agreed to by those far away from that location.   This is the whole problem of Washington in a nutshell.

Phyllis Schlafly and others point out that the convention which produced our present constitution was itself a "runaway convention." It was originally authorized by Congress only and solely to suggest amendments to the then-existing constitution, called the "Articles of Confederation".  The Continental Congress did not give the delegates any authority to produce an entirely new compact.  On the pro-convention side, men like Michael Farris attempt to dismiss Schafly's concerns.   Farris' highly deceptive arguments are dealt with here.   

If that link is not enough to convince you, consider that in the 1787 convention two-thirds of New York's delegation left when they realized that the convention had "gone rogue" and was exceeding their authority in writing a new constitution rather than suggesting amendments for the then-existing one.   Here is the report of those two delegates where they explain just that.  If any of you are wondering which side is telling you the truth about this issue, those two short links, the one in this paragraph and the one which ends the paragraph above, should tell you all you need to know.  It is then up to you if you want to side with those who are telling you the truth, or those who are not.

Levin sells readers on the idea that James Madison, considered the "father of the Constitution", included Article V as some sort of "fail safe" if people lost control of their government.   The truth is that Madison was a federalist.  One, to his credit, who accepted that the Constitution we wound up with gave the central government less power than he would have liked, but a federalist never-the-less.   His passages in the Federalist Papers that Levin cites are explanations of what an Article V convention would be like, not an endorsement of an article V convention.  If you want to know how Madison really felt about a "General Convention" which was similar to though not necessarily the same as an an Article V convention, then look to his letter to one G. L. Turberville in Nov. of 1788:

"3. If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partizans on both sides; it wd probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric. Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention, which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned."

So while snake-oil salesman Levin is going around selling this thing as Madison's provision for the people to take back a wayward federal government, Madison himself thought a similar convention would be a disaster.  As a federalist, he much preferred that any changes go through Congress.   The option to go through the states to call a convention was an attempt to peel off supporters of the George Mason position that there should be a way to amend the constitution which completely by-passed Congress.   Mason lost that one, and many others.

Madison and the other federalists stole a march on the anti-federalists when drafting Article V. It is Congress which gets to issue the call to convention which produces whatever amendments the states are even allowed to consider. It is they who decide whether those amendments are to ratified by "conventions" or by the state legislatures. 

Who decides who gets to be a delegate at the amendments convention? The article is silent on that, but it does say Congress is giving the call, and it will take only one federal employee (a judge) to determine that they get to decide. Do you think I will get to be a delegate under that scenario? Do you think you will be? We will see conventions run by "community organizers" before we see that.  

Some Indiana Senator thinks he can use state law to insure that delegates to an Article V convention stay within the state-mandated call to convention.   That is an absurd vanity.   Congress, and Congress alone, is authorized by the Constitution to give the call to convention, and there is every reason to believe that any federal judges who would decide the matter would rule that what the Constitution itself says on the matter would trump Indiana law.   We discovered a decade or so ago that Arkansas cannot limit the terms of Congressmen because judges ruled that the federal constitution does not explicitly permit them to do so.  In the same way it is extremely probable that federal judges will rule that states cannot limit the purview of Article V convention delegates.  Indeed the case is even stronger for that because the Constitution is not just silent as to who has the power to define the terms of the convention, but explicitly says that Congress is to issue the call.

If any amendment, any words on paper, really could turn dishonest men into honest ones then the plan will still fail because the dishonest men get to decide on what amendments may be considered for ratification, and to some unknown extent even who votes to ratify those words into the constitution.   Even if the conventions in the states are not picked by Congress, what those conventions get to vote on is decided by a convention which will be. 

OK, so the risk of having an Article V Convention is not zero, the risk may even be high, but if the potential reward is also high couldn't that justify the high risk?   Perhaps.  But the potential reward is not high.  No matter how well he sells it, even if Levin got every amendment he is pushing ratified into the Constitution it would not fundamentally solve any of our government's problems.   I have broken down the policy value of four of his amendments, but the one on taxation is most instructive because the math is so clear.   Read this analysis of the policy impact of his suggested amendment on taxation and then decide if you think he is selling real answers or false hope.  It is the same on the others.  No monetary proposal which leaves the Federal Reserve system unscathed will fundamentally solve any of our problems in this vital area of government.

There then, are enough of the facts of the matter so that an honest person might distinguish between who is offering you hard truth and who is selling false hope.   I know that people are anxious right now, and this is the political equivalent of a "get rich quick" scheme.   We don't have to do the hard work of turning over our state legislature from the sellouts who gave us Obamacare and called it another name.   We don't have to purge our federal delegation who consistently vote against our interests.  We don't have to purge our political party, or God forbid, sever our ties and quit lending our good name to one of the two political gangs which have bankrupted our nation.   No, we can skip all of that hard work.  We don't have to cut our expenses, we don't have to work harder and get more income.  We need only give our account information to this nice salesperson who offers us this way to escape from our dilemma without having to make all of those hard choices.   

This is an enticing idea, but its not the truth.   We are going to have to make some hard choices.  We did not get in this mess in one year or ten and we are not going to get out of it in one year or ten either.   We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but if we will honor and work for what is true we can, by the grace of God, do it.    But we have to love the truth enough to embrace it even when it involves some pain.  We have to hate lies enough to reject them even when they sound so sweet and relatively easy.  This, like much of life, is not just a choice, its a test of character.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Global Corporation Leans on State to Adopt Common Core

"Common Core" is the latest label placed on the idea of national school curriculums.  Deciding what our children are to be taught is too large a prize for the corpro-fascist state to leave in the hands of parents, communities, or even whole states.   And make no mistake, the power to decide what is taught at public schools across the whole nation will not escape politicization.  Not when the power to set what the educational outcomes should be is taken that far out of the hands of the families and communities where the children actually sit and learn.  Education of your children just becomes one more lever every group with an agenda can fight over.

Common Core must necessarily take power further away from the parents of the individual child being educated and deposit that power in a central location.   After all, if there is only one set of standards for everyone, then there is only one set of deciders for what those standards should be.   If community "A" has one vision for their children's learning, and other communities have different ideas, then who decides?

The localist solution is that each community decides for it self.  Each will learn what works for them and what they want to borrow from the others.   Common Core's answer is that we all get absorbed into one collectivist blob, and the self-important Masters of the Universe pick out what they want from that blob and impose it on everyone.

The localist solution represents true diversity.   It represents the triumph of the free market of ideas as applied to education.    Common Core represents the phoney synthetic non-sensical "diversity" of the other side.   It is a vision of "uniform diversity", a contradiction where the state determines from a central location what respect for diversity means.   It will therefore control whose views are promoted in the name of "tolerance" and "diversity."  It will likewise control whose views are dismissed as "bigotry" and "intolerance" in the name of diversity.  None of this will be the decision of any individual parents anymore, or any even any local school districts.  Nor any state.  The collective will now give one answer, "the" answer, to which others are expected to agree.

Common Core is the antithesis of freedom, and of free market principles in education.   It is the end of innovation.    What the Five Year Plans were to economic innovation and productivity, common core will be to educational innovation and productivity.   Oh they will go to great lengths to push changes in technology and technique regarding how ideas are disseminated, but progress and innovation in what is really important, the ideas themselves, will be a dead letter.

The organic, true "Common Core" consisted of a classical body of knowledge passed from one generation to the next over a thousand years of Western Civilization.  In addition to true innovation, we will also lose this true and natural common core once called "classical education".   A torch of knowledge passed on by our forebears for a thousand years will be dropped and extinguished in our generation.   The new ruling elites just have so many ideas about what they want to do with those school hours you see.   And much of what made Western Civilization what it was conflicts with post-modern thinking, and therefore will be jettisoned.

Because the Constitution does not give the Federal Government any authority whatsoever on the issue of education, it has become necessary for Fedgov to use its printing press to bribe the states into surrendering their authority.   Of course, there should be no printing press either, but the power to create money from thin air is among the first extra-legal powers those who desire to be tyrants give to themselves.  It is the master key which gives them the power to, over time, acquire to themselves all other powers as well.  This is why, of all possible political philosophies, only Localism can resist the centralization of government power into one place.  Even anarchist theorems have no defense against the fiat printing press.   But I digress, with regards to Common Core, despite bribing states with their own citizen's money to cede control over education standards to Washington, some states are resistant.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett recently made the decision to delay the implementation of Common Core.  Not stop it mind you, but apparently he wanted a few things sorted out before proceeding.   Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson wrote a letter to Corbett which many have interpreted as a veiled threat to with-hold projects and charitable contributions to the state unless the state casts aside its doubts and cedes control of education to the people behind the curtain who are running Common Core.  Tillerson does not say it so bluntly of course, and he repeats the lie that Common Core was put together by parents and educators.

Obviously if it really was the work of a broad segment of Pennsylvania parents and teachers then the state would not have to be bribed and pressured into implementing it.   One does not have to go through Washington and back to implement one's own ideas.   These are the ideas of the ruling class wrapped up in the lie that they are our own ideas in order to fool us into "taking ownership" of their ideas for us.   Common Core will do for education what Obamacare is presently doing to health insurance.

I am amazed at how many people take transparently false claims at face value just because them come from someone in a position of authority, even though most also realize that our present authorities are corrupt.   Tillson also claims that Common Core is a state program because states can decide how they will implement the standards and goals given to them by others.     Just because your boss gives you some leeway in how to accomplish the goals he gives you does not mean that you are your own boss.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee tried that same con years ago, referring to such an arrangement as "local control of schools" while describing (and carrying out) policies which did the exact opposite.     They take a buzz phrase that sounds good to people and slap it on a program which does the exact opposite, seemingly without a pang of conscience.   I have concluded that if we continue to be too polite to call them out for lying to us, they are going to keep lying as long as it works.   Since I have had enough of being lied to, when someone lies to me, I am going to call it what it is.  If you are also tired of being lied to, I suggest you join me in that practice.

Big corporations are among those interest groups who would like a say in what your child's education looks like.   For example, they would love to shift their job training costs off unto the backs of taxpayers.  This idea used to be called "Workforce Education", and it is still around.   The idea is that local boards filled with whichever employers have the most political pull get to sit around a table and say "We need X number of nurses and Y number of machine operators".   Public dollars would then be used to train workers for those fields from about the age of 16 and up.   Of course whoever gets on this board is going to ask for a number far in excess of their actual needs so that they can cherry pick the best.   Nor can any such government panel keep up with the fast-changing needs of our modern technological society.

This sort of thing will naturally cut into the sort of general and broad-based education where a core body of knowledge was passed from one generation to the next.   But of course worker drones don't need the connected sense of ideas necessary for self-government, because that sort of thing is not in the new plan.

My friends, the enemies of liberty have detailed and integrated plans to centralize power and control of your life into their hands.   If you desire to resist them, you must also have an integrated philosophy of government, one with a systematized approach to blocking the centralization of power. If you try to fight back piecemeal, unaware of how they lay the foundation for future victories, the battle will be lost by the time you see the need to fight it.  An integrated philosophy allows one to see the truth threat in things which are passed off as innocent or even helpful.   Localism is that philosophy of government.  The rules for corporations, money, political parties, and federalism all had to be altered before the centralizers could put us in this terrible position in education.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

100th Anniversary of "The Terrible Year" of the American Republic

I consider 1913 to be the "terrible year" for the American Republic.  Three fateful decisions made in that year set us on an inevitable course to a post-Republic America.  If those decisions are not reversed soon, the Republic will be irretrievably lost.   

That year saw the introduction of the income tax in a form that would stick.  Somehow, America survived without a federal income tax for 100 years.   Income taxes on individuals are not needed to fund the legitimate functions of the federal government and I believe that they are not even intended to do so.  Instead, the purpose of an income tax is to give the central government power over each individual citizen, so that its minions can reward who they wish and punish who they wish.   Citizens of any means who want to speak out against the government must first consider what they have to lose.

Congressmen will have favors to sell with tax breaks.  The executive branch can instill fear and silence people who get too far out of line.    It is a tool of control rather than a necessary tool for funding the government.  It is a way for them to put their finger on you.

Some people think the solution is the so-called "Fair Tax."  It isn't.   It would just turn the IRS from an agency which audited your income to one which audited your spending. There are other problems with it as well.  

The solution is not to change the way in which the central government can demand taxes of individual citizens, but to eliminate that power all together.   The states should be a shield between the individual and the central government, since if a state has oppressive tax collectors, it will soon find itself without productive citizens.   It is much harder to escape the clutches of an abusive tax system controlled by a central government.

Nineteen-Thirteen was also the year we got the Federal Reserve System that has siphoned off 96% of the value of the dollar since 1913.  That siphoned-off value went to the government as a hidden tax and into the pockets of the big banks which comprise the fed. 

Consider that only four pennies in 1913 could purchase what requires a dollar to buy today.     Indeed, a silver dime from 1963 is worth two dollars today.  That's just how fast our currency has been drained of value.  That value went somewhere.   That somewhere was the government, which grew in size and scope even as the currency it issued contracted in worth.  Also benefiting were the large banks which control the issue of currency.   Over the last one hundred years, those are the parties that gained big from the dollar's fall.

The book "Localism, A Philosophy of Government" points out that controlling the issue of currency is akin to having a "Magic Money Machine" which can grant one access to the entire wealth of a nation by sucking value out of existing currency and putting it into the new currency which the machine operators create.   Over time, anyone with access to such a machine would be able to consolidate all political and economic power into their own hands, and this is just what the big banks who make up the federal reserve have been doing.  Ergo, if this machine is not destroyed, our Republic will be.

1913 also brought us the 17th amendment, which states that United States Senators are to be chosen by direct election of the people.  Prior to that time, they had been selected by the largest house of the legislatures of the states.  In Arkansas, that would mean that the 100 state representatives would choose our U.S. Senators should the 17th amendment be repealed.

Critics of the amendment prophetically warned that it would tip the balance of power between the state governments and the federal government far more toward the federal government.  All three measures re-enforced federal power.   The federal government has grown so explosively since 1913 that the system of governance the Founders originally established is scarcely recognizable.  It could not have done so without the income tax, the federal reserve, and the 17th amendment.

All three measures discussed here set the stage for this explosive growth.   The federal income tax made it the federal government's business as to how much money every citizen made.   It gave them the power to use the tax code to redistribute wealth and grant special favors to the well-connected.    The Federal Reserve System, once the dollar was finally severed from the gold standard, gave them the power to enact a hidden tax called inflation.   It also allowed governments to borrow like mad at the expense of savers while concealing (for a time) the true cost.   It allowed well-connected financial interests to manipulate booms and busts in the economy and, for the select few who knew which was coming ahead of time, profit both ways.

Of course, the 17th amendment did have the effect that it's critics predicted.   The states dwindled in influence and the federal government gathered more and more power to itself.   Without the Senators being beholden to the state legislatures, there was no one to watch out for the interests of the states in the federal power structure.     While the federal government has sometimes used this new power over the states for good, in the long run centralized power is never good for the cause of liberty.   

Washington now increasingly forces "one size fits all" solutions on areas of life that were once left up to each state individually.   If some state discovered a better way, others could copy it.   If some citizens did not like the way a state did something, they could easily move to one which did things more to their liking.   But where do you go when all the decisions are made in one city?

I favor the repeal of the federal individual income tax, and the disbanding of the Federal Reserve System.  Returning those two policies to the original American condition will help reign in Washington in more ways than I can describe here.   Yet I can't support repealing the 17th amendment at this time. 

Let me explain the apparent inconsistency.   State legislatures can no longer be counted on to defend the rights of the states (and therefore the people in those states) against unjust federal power.   That is because both major political parties are now thoroughly creatures of the D.C. beltway.   If ambitious young state representatives want to move up in our current system they almost have to please the party hierarchy.   That hierarchy runs straight back to D.C.   The power of political parties has been centralized in D.C. just like government power has been.   The federal government now has lots of high paying easy-money jobs to offer through party patronage to state legislators who sell out and vote against the interests of the states and for the interests of the federal government.   At this point, the people themselves are more to be trusted than the legislature.

Consider our own state (Arkansas) representatives.   Most of the Democrats are so sold out that I don't even feel the need to document it.  But even the Republicans feel establishment pressure.  For example, many of the state's GOP representatives did not try to pick a senator, but they did try to pick the GOP Presidential nominee.   Sadly, they tried to pawn Texas Governor Rick Perry off on unsuspecting Republican voters in the state.   Oh, some of them may have been fooled themselves, but you just don't do something like that unless you know enough to avoid being made a fool of.   Why did they do it?  It surely was not a constituent service.   The people of this state were not begging them to pick a Presidential candidate for them.  I suspect they were asked to by someone in the GOP hierarchy.

End the fed.   End the individual income tax.  But don't repeal the 17th until, somehow, some way, political power in the form of the two party system is transformed into something more grass-roots and decentralized.  I cast my lot with something like Neighbors of Arkansas and hope something like it is formed in every state.