Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA Ruling Uses Prior Errors as Foundation For the Next

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, threw out the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.   The court ruled that the act was a violation of the 5th amendment's prohibition on depriving a person of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."  DOMA does not try to impose the federal definition of marriage on the states, but merely describes what the definition of marriage is as it applies to federal law.

The majority's conclusions were reached by standing on heaps of errors which had been piled up by the judicial excess and over-reach of prior courts.   Let me be plain, I favor a healthy, functioning judicial branch able to check legitimate abuses of power by either the Executive or Legislative branches.   But that is not what we have here.  Rather, the Court is throwing away what little legitimacy it has left in the Heartland of America by squandering its waning credibility on inane decisions like this one.   Meanwhile, the Executive branch is systematically destroying the Constitution and the courts do little or nothing.

First of all, in a Localist Nation, no case like this could have ever been brought to the court.  There would be nothing to fight over.  That's because the case began when a lesbian sought a spousal exemption to federal estate taxes from the death of her partner in a "marriage" which was recognized by the state of New York.    In a localist nation there is no need for the central government to define what a marriage is for tax purposes because all central government taxes on individuals, whether on income or on sales or one's estate, are prohibited. The states are to serve as a barrier or intermediary between the central government and the citizen. Uncle Sam should never even know you are alive unless you choose to have some special business with him.

But even in our nation as it is, this case should never have been heard by the Supreme Court.  They went out of their way to meddle.   The Constitution only authorizes the Supreme Court to hear "cases or controversies" between parties.   Once the District Court ordered the government to pay the money the plaintiff believed they were owed, and once the government agreed with the plaintiff that DOMA was unconstitutional, there was no need for the Supreme Court to hear that case, nor was there any constitutional authorization for them to hear it.  There was no longer any case, nor any controversy between the parties to the case.

So how did Kennedy justify the Court arrogating itself into making this ruling?  He acknowleged the difficulties of article III justification, but appealed to a judicially-invented "prudential considerations" doctrine.  Basically it is fancy language for "we judges have decided that we can step into anything we want, whether there is still a case or controversy or not, and any Article III limitations on our ability to do so can go do something biologically impossible to themselves."   OK, well the original flowery language in Wrath to describe "prudential considerations" was not quite so blunt.  It said, prudential considerations amount to “countervailing considerations [that] may outweigh the concerns underlying the usual reluctance to exert judicial power.”  Right. "Outweigh the concerns underlying the usual reluctance to exert judicial power."   How do they sleep at night?

Kennedy used the fact that someone presented a Friend of the Court Brief which posited that DOMA was constitutional as the excuse he needed to jump into the case even though the parties to the case had settled.  This is the same court system which won't let citizens even have standing to present cases on issues they want to ignore- like Obama's eligibility.    They use the issue of standing when they want to short-circuit something and then ignore the issue of standing, and the constitution's limitations on their reach, when they find it convenient.

These are the same hypocrites who refused to hear the case when lower courts threw out Proposition Eight in California. In that case the people voted to amend the Constitution of that state to define marriage as between one man and one women.   Suddenly, because in this case the state of New York supported homosexual marriage, the Supreme Court became the biggest state's rights advocates since George Wallace.  Despite what they did to California last time, this time they were adamant in insisting that the constitution gives the states the right to define marriage.   Since New York legalized homosexual marriage they were all for state's rights.

See how that works?  When a state takes a position the courts like, state's rights matter. Since the people of California affirmed traditional marriage, state's rights don't matter.   Such is the fundamental and pervasive intellectual dishonesty of men like "Justice" Kennedy.   If DOMA had attempted to define marriage for the states on a federal level, Kennedy would have a point, but that is not what DOMA did.   It only attempted to define marriage for the purposes of Federal law, a rare and admirable restraint on the part of Congress.  Would that the black-robed tyrants on the bench learn that virtue.

Kennedy's claim that DOMA was "unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the fifth amendment" is madness.   If we are denying Bill and Frank "liberty" by refusing to recognize what they think their relationship ought to be then what happened to our liberty to either approve, or withhold approval?   Does every child in the class have to get a gold star regardless of what we think of their choices in order to comply with the 5th?   Does anyone reading this seriously believe that the Founders wrote that in the 5th amendment so that the Federal government would have to include homosexual relationships under any federal definition of marriage?

But the kicker is that the amendment does not even say that the government can never deny people liberty, it only says that it cannot do so "without due process of law."     In this case, due process was followed.  The law was properly enacted by Congress, and until recently properly enforced by the Executive Branch.   The fifth amendment is only meant to stop extra-legal action by the federal government, but Kenndy and his co-conspirators now use it as a judicial veto of laws they personally disagree with.

Suppose there was a law that said people convicted of molesting children could not be considered qualified persons to adopt children or run day care centers. Suppose there was another law that said those who engage in behaviors that result in a higher HIV rate could not give blood.    Do such laws "restrict the liberty" of those persons?  Maybe a little, but if such laws were passed through normal legislative channels then they were done under the due process of the law.   So even if one subscribes to the absurd notion that I am restricting Bill and Frank's liberty if I don't grant state approval to their relationship, under the 5th amendment the government is permitted to restrict liberty when they do so according to the due process of law.   If they could not, then the government could never restrict anyone's liberty no matter how reckless or even criminal their actions.

The 5th is meant to prohibit the Executive branch from taking unilateral action without authorization from Congress.  Right now the Executive branch is violating the 5th amendment in ways that are numerous and serious.  It is a slap in the face to all American citizens for Kennedy to find this a violation of the 5th amendment while his court has been all-but silent on the sinister and massive affronts to the 5th amendment under both the Bush but more especially the Obama administrations.

Lastly, and this is the most important part of this article with respect to its application to localism, this case is a perfect example of why all government power must be dispersed, including and especially the power to define rights.    The first pillar of localism is that the central government ought to be limited in its power to define rights; limiting them to enforcing freedom to leave a jurisdiction and retain property within one.   At first it seems like a paradox that true rights are better protected when the power to define and enforce them is dispersed, but the resolution of the paradox is found in a familiar truth- power corrupts.

The power to define rights is the power of absolute tyranny, for when something is a right, it is beyond the scope of the people, and beyond needing the approval of the government or the ballot box.  Rights are a claim against the majority, and against the rulers saying "this area of life is off limits to government intervention and not subject to popular vote."

If one small group holds this power, without any checks and balances, they will soon abuse it in just the manner that modern courts have done.   They will bench-legislate their personal preferences into law without the consent of the governed (from which all just power is derived per the Declaration of Independence).   They will invent "rights" which do not exist, and they will ignore rights which do. They will conjure up "group rights" and "positive rights."  They will stand on precedent when it suits them and ignore it when it does not.   All fixed basis for law will vanish as one group then another attempts to re-litigate their claims. All this will make the courts the ultimate target for co-option by moneyed interests, for in such an abhorrent arrangement as we presently have to control the courts is to control the nation.

No my friends, it is not just that our courts have failed, it is that in any system arranged as ours is such courts must fail.   The outrageous and offensive situation we find ourselves in is not an unfortunate outcome from an otherwise good system, rather it is an inevitable outcome based on a systemic and structural flaw in our current governance- in contradiction to the First Pillar of Localism (or for the Nook).  That is, the power to define rights is centralized and concentrated in one small set of human hands never meant to wield such vast power over the rest of us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What One Hundred Years of Theft Has Done to the Average American Worker

Many Americans find that they can no longer afford their lives. There are many reasons why this is so, but "Localism, A Philospophy of Government" considers as first among them that Americans are being systematically stripped of their wealth by a monetary system which was designed for that very purpose.

That's why we can't afford our lives anymore.  The average American worker is getting poorer because the people who designed the financial system used in this country designed it so that the wealth created by by those workers will be siphoned out of the dollars earned by those workers and stuck into new dollars created out of thin air by those who run the system.    They designed it so that the average American worker would be stupid not to borrow- until the time came when they would be stupid to be in debt, and only those running the system could 1) get advance notice of when that switch would be flipped and 2) get special protection at the expense of the unprotected working class, so that the banksters would not have to suffer the consequences for their bad bets.

When this system, known as the Federal Reserve System, was first set up in 1913, they could siphon off only a little of this wealth.   Over time, as they increasingly separated the dollar from the accountability and restraint of being linked to gold (or silver), the amount of theft they could get away with increased.   Once they severed the last link to real money (money metals) in the 1970s they also accelerated the amount of theft.

With the announcement of "QE to Infinity", the open theft of value from the American worker into the clutches of the ruling elites has gone into hyper-drive.   Most parasites are careful not to suck so much life-blood from their host that the host dies.   The exception to this rule is when it becomes clear to the parasites that the host is going to die, at which point their best play is to accelerate their activities and get as much as they can before the death of the host.   Is this where we are now?  The big banks are sure acting like it.

In order to help quantify the amount of theft which occurs to each and every American worker each and every year, Zerohedge produced this infographic.  But the infographic does not tell the real story.  For example, it shows the average American worker in 1913 making $800 dollars a year vs. $26,364 now.   But without adjusting for loss of purchasing power, we don't know if that worker is better off or worse off.

Consider that in 1913 the official exchange rate for one ounce of gold was $20.62.  But that was the official rate, which included the seniorage value of U.S. coin.   The spot price of gold at that time was $18.92, the same price it had been within a penny or two for many decades.   Today the spot price of gold, even though we are at a recent low point, is $1390 per ounce.    That means by the measuring stick of gold, each dollar in 1913 equals 1390/18.92= 73.47 of today's dollars.

Using that factor, we find that $800 of salary or wages in 1913 equaled 800 x 73.47 = $58,776 in today's dollars.   And that is with the price of gold at a low spot, many believe due to government manipulation.   The price of gold was recently very near $2,000 an ounce before it was relentlessly beaten down in the paper gold markets.    Using that rate, the average worker made what amounted to $84,000 in today's dollars.

The obvious conclusion is that the average American worker today has less than half of the purchasing power of their forebears only a century ago.   And that was at a time when their was no income tax.   Sure, average workers don't pay income tax now, but if they every broke out to making above-average earnings, they would face punitive taxes on their income.

Another thing they did not have in 1913 was large amounts of debt, either personal or governmental.   Various calculations have been made to figure the per person amount of national debt, but most calculations put the number at around $57,000 per person.   So not only are our earnings that much lower in real terms, but even the degree of prosperity we appear to have is an illusion, pumped up by massive amounts of debt which will reduce our prosperity if and when they are paid back.    As stressed as we are right now, we would be more stressed if a trillion dollars of essentially hot checks from the government were not producing a temporary illusion of a somewhat functional economy.

And our forebears did not have to wait until they were 23 years old with $30,000 of college loans to start earning money either.   Less than three percent of the population has a college degree.  They used apprenticeships and did not need a college degree, or the debt which comes with it, to find high paying jobs.  Indeed, the majority did not even complete high school.   The balance between labor and capital has been radically tilted toward capital due to immigration (legal and illegal) policies and practices.   It was not that American manufacturing could not afford to pay high wages, it was that they could not afford to let those who run the financial system skim the wealth and still afford to pay high wages.

Compared to our forebears from a century ago, American workers are underpaid, over debted, over taxed, and forced to jump through many more formal educational hoops.    The solutions are not complicated, they are just hard.   We have to make serious changes to our financial system, not to create something new, but to return to the limited-government model that worked so well for America in the past.  What we have to do that is new is erect new barriers to the centralization of political and financial power which caused the country to lose its favorable initial conditions of freedom and opportunity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Polls Should Not Matter on PRISM and Government Spying on Citizens

"The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around." - Ron Paul

Soon after the story broke that our government is scooping up meta-data on millions upon millions of U.S. Citizens the government-media complex released poll data suggesting that the majority of Americans were OK with it.  Were the questions asked using skewed language?  Of course.  Are the abuses much worse than is being generally reported in the media.  Of course.  But that's not the larger problem in this story.   The larger problem is that people are being conditioned to accept that polls even matter on issues such as these.  The should not.

The 4th amendment says that there will be no search and seizure of citizens without a warrant, and that the warrant will only be issued on probable cause, and that it will describe in the warrant exactly who or what the authorities are looking for in the warrant.  None of that was done here.  The government just scooped up the records.   None of the requirements of the fourth amendment were met.   The Feds just helped themselves to the information.  And if they ever wanted even more information, they need not bother going to a real court, but a secret FISA court, set up in the Executive Branch to churn out vague warrants without too many questions.

The fourth amendment is in the Bill of Rights friends.  A "right" by definition is a claim by an individual against the government.  It is an area of life that, by mutual agreement in the compact which established the nation, is not subject to majority vote.     The will of the majority is not supposed to matter when you are talking about a right, because it is an area of life that was agreed on from the start to be "off-limits" to government.   

It does not matter whether or not the majority of Americans think I should be allowed to own a firearm, because its my right.  It does not matter if the majority does not approve of my religion, or of my speech.   Those things are supposed to be protected from government interference for the benefit of all of us.  Therefore it does not matter whether 56% of the voters think that what the government did was OK, because the Constitution says that its not OK.   The whole point of a right is that the majority opinion does not matter.  We are free as individual persons, we are not bound by the will of the collective in matters of rights.

The question that should be asked when the government violates what our Constitution recognizes as a right is "Do you think the government should be bound by the Rule of Law?" because that is the real issue here. The Rule of Law means that government has to follow its own laws.   If the government can do X even though the Constitution says that X is forbidden, then what are the limits government?   Government is tasked with upholding the law, and looses all moral legitimacy when it becomes itself lawless.  Not only that, but citizens loose all protection of the law from their government.  Instead of protecting the rights of citizens from private threats, government itself becomes the oppressor, government becomes the violator.

Of course, a virtuous population is the best defense against big government.   If the majority lose their understanding of rights and individual liberty then they will soon loose the essence of them. There is some hopeful news from the poll in that younger voters were far less likely to approve than older voters.  Older voters were schooled to view America and its government as a force for good.  That they get checks from this government each month only increases their ease with it.   Younger voters are far more appropriately cynical, and they are the ones who are getting deductions from their pay in order to finance the checks which go to the older voters as well.

The most depressing thing in the poll was the numbers on Democratic voters.   They displayed the symptoms of carbon-units who have surrendered their intrinsic human individuality in favor of assuming a herd-animal mentality.  In 2006 when Bush was doing the looking at phone records, 61% of Democrats found it unacceptable.   In 2013 when Obama is doing it much bigger, and the perceived threat from terrorism is much smaller, only 34% of Democrats found in unacceptable.  That is not the sort of intellectual consistency and integrity that I am going to be inclined to surrender any of my rights for.   A huge segment of our population have gone tribal.  Principle matters not, only the way the wind blows for the Great Man of the day.   That is just one reason why I, and you, should consider their opinions on whether or not it is acceptable for government to violate our rights as irrelevant.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The 6th Pillar of Localism: Eight Counties Want to Leave Colorado

I note with interest this report that the leaders of eight counties in northern Colorado are sick of being ruled from Denver and wish to leave the state and either become the 51st state of the U.S. or be annexed by Wyoming.  This movement is not being led by some social misfits on the edge of society, but rather by the elected leaders of the counties in questions, such as Weld County Commissioner Douglas Rademacher.

It seems the rural, conservative, oil and gas rich counties don't care for being ruled by Denver-area granola-eating lefties.   Whether it is gun control, restrictions on oil and gas exploration, or even a requirement for rural electric cooperatives to use 20% "renewable" energy (while Denver exempts themselves from this expensive requirement), Colorado is not working out for the residents of these counties.    And they want to leave.  Should they be allowed to?

According to the present U.S. Constitution, the answer is "maybe."   It has happened five times before in American history, but not since the Civil War.   Examples: Maine was split off from Massachusetts, Kentucky was split off from West Virginia.  But it requires approval not only of Congress, but of the state that the counties are leaving.   In other words, if counties feel like they are being treated unfairly at the state capitol, they have to have permission from those who are treating them unfairly, plus a detached Congress, before they can leave!

Localism only has seven pillars and one of them is on the balance which should exist between local governments and the co-sovereign states in which they reside.    An essential part of that balance is that counties should not have to just "stay there and take it" if they feel like the rest of the state does not share their values, or is using them as an ATM machine.    There are some common-sense limitations on how and when it can be done, but the principle is that it should be far easier than it is now for people in counties to vote to join up with an adjacent state, or if there are enough disgruntled counties, break off and make a new state.

Across this union there are states that have significant friction between some portion of the state and the balance of it.  Southern Illinois has basically nothing in common with the greater Chicago area which makes the rules for it.   California is almost dysfunctional because of its size, and because some areas of the state want far left policies and some want far right.  Why can't they both win and see what works?

In my own state of Arkansas, the northwest part of the state was Republican in a traditionally Democratic state and I can tell you that they basically used our portion of the state as an ATM machine to pay for highways and other things which disproportionately went elsewhere.   Culturally, politically, and economically, the northwest corner is more like Missouri than it is the Delta.   If switching states were an option, in this instance and others, everyone would be treated more fairly.   Even if the option is rarely used, its presence would serve as a deterrent against that kind of abuse of government authority.

The book says "If a man in a region is dissatisfied with the politics of his state, his feet can leave the state, but if all men in a region are dissatisfied with the politics of the state, their feet may stay, for it will be the ground itself which moves."