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 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.