Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

For all my friends and family who understand the importance of talking to each other, and discussing all matters about family and friends, and religion and politics and nutrition, and know how to disagree reasonably without becoming disagreeable - I give thanks that you are in our lives.

For those of you who just can't quite manage that... bless your hearts. :-)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Digging in: The Devil is in the details of dollars & sense - Economic Politics vs Political Economy pt2

Yes, I know. With all the news about the impeachment follies, and the gaphtastic Democrat POTUS race and stories of the life & mysterious(not so much) death of that 'pedophile to the politi-stars' Jeffery Epstein, I'm over here diving into the differences between 'Free Trade!' & a Free Market, because... why? Well, because they're related. You've heard the line about the Devil's greatest trick being getting people to think that he doesn't exist, right? Similarly, the Pro-Regressive's greatest trick has been getting us to treat national prosperity as a matter of Economics. How... exactly? Well it's a slight-of-mind trick that works like this: In the act of accepting that prosperity is a matter of Economics, your thoughts are diverted away from what actually does cause prosperity (those central ideas of our nation's moral, ethical, political philosophy & practices), and fixated onto those downstream distractions of percentage rate adjustments and trade issues, and before you know it, what truly does matter most has vanished from popular thinking as thoroughly as if the Devil himself had waved his magic wand and said 'Abracadabra... be gone!'. Conceptual vanishing tricks like this have led America's once signature regard for living a good & proper life, to slip quietly out of sight & out of mind, and sorry folks, but when calculating gain is allowed to push moral and ethical reasoning from the center of your thinking, you're going to find yourself confronted with just such bizarre follies as we face today. What happens when you allow yourself to be distracted from what matters: your ideology takes the wheel and speeds you on down the road of good intentions as your GPS locks onto that hot & sulphury destination where all such roads eventually lead. Like most good tricks, it's not all that complicated... neither is what happens when you mistake trickery for reality.

The absence of those central ideas are noticeable all around us today, such as in the recent survey where "Seventy percent of millennials are very open to voting for a socialist candidate..." People ask "What's driving this?", and then typically answer their own question as that post did, in economic terms, where a 'Democratic Socialist' is simply '...a political affiliation keen to spread wealth around through collectivist practices...', and expressing an oddly deterministic fear that such notions are due to "a faith of the cities" - all of which lacks that quality which might actually cause people to answer such surveys differently than they currently do. Do you see the mark that's being missed in this? Tucker Carlson sure doesn't, as he misses that mark even further, and more frustratingly. While he at least concedes that colleges have some connection to our 'current malaise', he says that it's not so much due to what is taught there - according to Tucker, what students are instructed to think (never mind those thoughts they're unlikely to ever encounter, as a result of that instruction) is only 'part of' the problem - but that for Tucker the real problem is an economic one in the form of the financial debt incurred under the influence of 'capitalism'. Both are fine examples of why so many are so open to a socialist candidate today: By treating Socialism/Communism/'Free Trade!'/Populism/[Insert other label here] as merely economic matters, they command about as much attention from people - and the very same type of attention - as they'd give to their credit card 'Rewards!' programs or to picking up a few extra bucks driving for Uber - such attentions invite exactly the distracted shallowness that they've typically received.

Do you see what's missing in them? Little things... like life or death, good and evil, true and false, justice or injustice, perhaps? Once upon a time before the Pro-Regressive era had taken root, the causers of prosperity were studied under the wider ranging heading of 'Political Economy' and was led by the likes of Jean Baptiste Say & Fredric Bastiat, whose desire to know had not yet been divorced from reality and their moral vision (though truthfully you can see signals of the coming turn in that direction). Even as late as the 1820's, they were still primarily seeking to understand the principles which contributed to and detracted from the production of wealth, rather than how best to calculate how govt might best distribute what wealth that other's had produced. They had a passionate interest in how such principles contributed to living a good life and enjoying the blessings of liberty and justice for all, and it would take several corrupting decades for their understanding of 'Political Economy', to be reduced to the dismal state of modern Economics and its focus upon financial bean counting and how efficiently govt might calculate the societal management of human & material resources.

As modern Economics (succinctly defined by Thomas Sowell as: 'Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses') has no overtly moral component, it's lessons don't teach that Socialism/Communism/'Free Trade!'/Populism are good, bad or even evil, but only how efficient such policies might or might not be, and of course it has no aversion to weighing the value of Liberty & Justice in a scale against just such golden efficiencies. As you should guess, being morally neutral doesn't mean that such Economic lessons have no moral impact, it only means that when such judgments must be made, its students will be trained to make them by calculating the utility of the matter, instead of having been equipped to soberly reason their way to understand the right and the wrong of the situation in question. Student's educated in such methods (especially business & professional majors) will lack the developed practice of considering what is right & wrong, but they'll be quite confident in their ability to determine what most serves the 'greater good', and the devil will be in those details where your desire to live your own life conflicts with those choices that their calculations will allow you to make.

Why are people surprised that students choose as they do? Few of us have learned to see 'Capitalism' vs 'Socialism' as a meaningful issue, because evaluating Right vs. Wrong was never presented as being a precondition to making that choice, but only what will result in the most gain for 'the greater good!' (which pre-determines the outcome). Sadly, it is those who would and should be the best students, who find themselves siding with the false face of 'Socialism' precisely because it's presented as being concerned with that utilitarian substitute for a moral component - the greater good, fairness to the disadvantaged - which is presented as being absent from 'Capitalism', and lacking that argument, they naturally choose just as they do. Where is the surprise in that?

The 'Right' utterly fails our youth and our culture, by tolerating the 'questions' to be phrased in such a way as they are, for in reducing the issues to being viewed as a useful, though not-too-interesting, means to an end of getting 'their share' of dollar$, perk$, and service$, what is NOT seriously being considered (and so is ignored), are the vitally important moral questions of dealing with what is Right & Wrong, which the 'Right' only tacks on, if at all, as an obligatory afterthought. Such questions, if wrongly considered as being of no more value than utilitarian issues of dollar$, perk$, and service$, are far worse than their wrong answers, as a people taught to ask them in that way are easily lead into inescapable programs of ever escalating brutality, servitude, misery and death, on historically massive scales - for 'the greater good'.

Is this instance of 'capitalism' vs 'socialism'an economic or a
political matter? Are the protesters more antifa or Tea Party?
It is with that image very much in mind, that I want to try to deal with clarifying the questions which this series of posts are focused upon, the significant differences inherent in what on first glance seem to be very similar 'economic policies', between those of 'Free Trade!', or a Free Market. The tendency towards mistaking utility as an acceptable equivalent of morality, is what needs to be taken notice of, before we can hope to retrace the many mistaken steps we've since taken over the last hundred plus years, so we can stop thinking of such important matters to our lives, in the crafty and calculative manner we would use in trying to get more dollar$, perk$, and service$ out of a financial transaction, rather than consciously considering the justice of our actions & place in the world, in a serious and reasonable manner that is intent on identifying what is truly of value and importance in life.

If you want to make America American again, it requires thinking about such matters in the exceptional manner that made Americans an exceptional people in the first place, and not in the way that has transformed us into ... whatever it is we are today. A simple starting point for that undertaking, is considering what is different, and what is lost, between 'Economic thinking', and thinking upon Political Economy, or more briefly put: 'Free Trade!' vs Free Market.

The Dollars and Sense of the Matter
If you pop 'Free Trade' into your favorite search engine, you'll get definitions ranging from
  • Webster's
    "trade based on the unrestricted international exchange of goods with tariffs used only as a source of revenue...."
  • or from "international trade left to its natural course without tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions",
  • to Investopedia's " a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them"
  • , to "Free trade is the idea that things should be able to be traded between countries with as few restrictions or limitations as possible"
  • , to the bizarre's "A free trade area is a grouping of countries within which tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers between the members are generally abolished but with no common trade policy toward non-members. The North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are examples of free trade areas"
  • , and the businessdictionary's most artful and creative interpretation of words (AKA: Deceptive) with "The interchange of goods and services (but not of capital or labor) unhindered by high tariffs, nontariff barriers (such as quotas), and onerous or unilateral requirements or processes. Under a WTO treaty signed by 124 nations in "
, or to put it in other words, 'Free Trade!' has come to mean whatever the hell best helps your particular ideology to sound 'correct'.

Those who do care about definitions such as those are far more puzzling to me, than those who don't. Not one of those summaries mentions what not of them could even pretend to exist without - objective law, morality, trust, character - Adam Smith, who Marx slandered with the epithet 'Capitalist', was more concerned with what makes a people moral, ethical, interested in and capable of living in Liberty (see his 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments'), he didn't put mere 'economic matters' first, rather he believed that increased wealth is what resulted from greater 'Natural Liberty', not trade.

Rather than pick apart each of these attempted definitions, I think we'll get further by boiling them down to their key similarities, which leaves us with three main 'Sense of the matter' summations, of one for a Free Market, and two for the main variations of 'Free Trade!'. Of these, the least popular version is unfortunately - though not original with me - mine. And though its popularity has dropped precipitously over the last century and more, it best encapsulates what the other leading brands both aspire to and ignore:

  1. A Free Market is what results from a nation, or nations, whose principles of political philosophy are centered around upholding and defending its people's individual rights and property, through governments formed upon a Rule of Law, which limits their governments' powers to that purpose, enabling valid economic principles to operate within a nations growing prosperity.
  2. Then there are the two far more popular meanings that are promoted under what I believe to be the misleading term of 'Free Trade!' today:

  3. The more familiar meaning of 'Free Trade!' favored by academia, media, and establishment Republicans & Democrats alike - such as the likes of the late Sen. John McCain, the Bush's and Obama - presupposes the necessity of having robust Govt interventionism in the market, preferably by 'legitimate' national and international regulatory bodies, to impose rules that restrict and define each minute behavior in each and every particular market (one concerned with dairy, perhaps... another with pick-up trucks, and so on) so as to force it to be 'free!' and 'fair!'. The output of this variant of 'Free Trade!', are those monstrosities which they promote to us as 'Free Trade!' treaties (which I've posted on before), such as NAFTA, TPP, etc.,.

  4. Then there's the Libertarian variant of 'Free Trade!', which presupposes that "All Trade is about economic facts and principles which that govt be excluded from such matters, and that going against 'Economic Reality' shows that you are unprincipled, dishonest and unethical (and probably hopelessly stupid)", the more that such views lean away from the Political Economy of a Jean Baptiste Say & or a Fredrick Bastiat, and towards that of Murray Rothbard (an influential anarcho-capitalist Libertarian economist), the more they are inclined to think that some or all of those features which a just government provides, and which make a truly Free Market possible, are unnecessary, and in conflict with their "Principles!".
The 1st of these senses, that understanding of which America formed itself from, is in different ways repellent to the other two, who, though from very different perspectives and purposes, want Economics to be accepted as 'Science!' (though in both cases it's rather more a case of Scientism), and so be taken as the unquestioned starting point of 'human action'. Both are happy to reference our Founders ideas and the Constitution which was formed from them, but not so deeply as to seriously engage with and apply those moral & ethical ideas in ways that might (ought to) be troubling to their sensibilities, but rather more as a useful cloak for furthering their purposes for 'The Greater Good'.

Of course the 2nd understanding above is easy to see problems with, it's economically unsound, politically unsound, morally unsound, while at the same time it's a boon for those peddling political favoritism and corruption in 'legimimate' clothing, and many if not most on all sides of the issue typically do see the problems with that version of 'Free Trade!', and do dislike them. That dislike of course, doesn't stop those who prefer to promote it for the benefit of their own interests, under their go-to excuse of it being for 'The Greater Good'. And as having an honest argument in order to discover what is true, wasn't their goal to begin with, attempting to argue them out of it, is rather pointless, and I won't wast any more of our time on it here. Moving on....
Who said it better?

The 3rd of these meanings though, does appeal to those who are seeking the truest and best course of action, and it is very easy to mistake someone's presentation of it as being "Principled!", especially when not looking any deeper into a matter than the surface level of assertions being made. It seems sensible, it seems very American, and it seems oriented towards Liberty, but IMHO the approach to such issues by the typical Libertarian, effectively reduces the political and economic principles of a Free Market, to an ideological snake oil that's had its active ingredients removed. 'Free Trade!'rs peddle their ideology to the world as a miracle cure for all that ails society, which I find to be dangerously misleading, and very much worth taking a closer look at in these posts.

Unlike the 2nd example of 'Free Trade!' above, the shortcomings of this miracle cure are more difficult to spot, as it has less to do with what they say, than with what they don't say, and it's only when you pay closer attention to what isn't being dealt with, that the flaws in their system begin to jump out at you. For instance, when the 'Free Trade!'rs spout their favorite pithy economic principles, which they liberally invoke and apply well beyond and outside of strictly economic circumstances, it's the non-economic realities which they implicitly assume and rely upon (even while devaluing them), that are explicitly absent from their arguments, as is the case in their one-note reply to tariffs, as: "Tariffs are a tax upon your own people, the other nation doesn't pay them, you do". Note: the issue here isn't the economic value or status of tariffs (they have no such value), but that that is not their only purpose, which they ignore by telling less than the whole story. Of course if such issues of trade are taking place between nations who all have an established concern for their people's rights and property, then in such a case as that, if one of those nations sought to apply tariffs to the others for the economic purpose of boosting its economy, such tariffs as those, would be demonstrably counter-productive, and such statements as the 'Free Trade!'rs typically trot out would indeed be correct and very relevant points to make. But those implicit assumptions are not something that they'll explicitly state or examine, as they are typically more useful to them to be ignored - probably less because they're difficult to defend, than because they're easier to ignore.

The question to ask when these 'principles!' are trotted out though, is less one of is that true?, than one of 'Is it the whole truth' that it's pointing towards, and leads you to assume in both its conclusions and in its unstated premises...? and does it even contain enough of the truth to give you a full picture of what's really going on? Too often, especially in the context of Communist China which this thread grew from, the answer is "No".

However, most of those who rattle off dis-integrated economic principles as "Principles!" to guide national policy by, do so as if it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that they are presenting you with, assured that there are no further questions at the heart of the matter under discussion that require more careful consideration of, in making key policy choices for the nation. Some fairly obvious questions which typically go unasked, but shouldn't, are the likes of these:
Question: Are Economic considerations a valid starting point for making national political policies?
Hint: If you asked 'Which policies?', then congratulations, you've implicitly acknowledged that the answer is 'No', and you are correct (but have you considered why?)
Question: Are there some situations where principles other than Economics, should be considered first in some matters, and if so, which principles, in which situations, why, and how do you know to?
Bonus Points: Is there something more which precedes and orders those principles that you do, and don't, acknowledge?
Question: Does a Nation exist to produce an Economy, or is an economy what results from the type of nation that a Nation is, and the types of policies that such a nation has?
I take it as a self-evident truth that a nation's economy (note the possessive) is not, and cannot, and should not be, the primary purpose for why a nation exists, and therefore the economy should not be made out to be the primary driver of a nation's policies. And if there are, as it seems to me, more fundamental principles that should be considered first, then those are what should drive our govt's policy making, not the secondary ones - shouldn't they? On the question of questioning the economy as the purpose of a Nation, you can get a hint at the direction that 'Free Trade!' Libertarians come at their answer from, in this reply by my libertarian friend Duane on a related thread, where someone else pointed out that "We probably shouldn’t be doing business with them [Communist China] anyway.", and he replied that "Yeah, we should, for several reasons.". When asked what those reasons might be, he replied that
"History shows that if you want to help an oppressed people overcome that oppression, one of the most effective ways is to trade with them. As the people of China become more affluent, they will demand a higher standard of living, including more freedoms. At least, that's been the lesson of history. If you want to help them, you don't make them poorer."
That too is a very economic, utilitarian, reply, a very cost/benefit transactional reply, to a moral, ethical & political concern, which dutifully puts little stock in or care for issues of morality and ethics and other concerns of Political Philosophy, so as to tip the scales towards the 'greater good' of the Economy (... a polite way of sacrificing the individual, for the Collective...GDP?). Color me surprised. It's worth pointing out at this point that even Libertarian Economist Milton Friedman himself (who I do respect but follow only at a safe distance), thought the expectations that markets could reform tyrannies, was highly unlikely and foolishly optimistic, as noted on page 57 (pg. 49 in the original paperback) of his book "Free to choose":
"...However, the gains will be severely limited so long as political control over economic activity remains tight and private property is narrowly limited. Moreover, letting the genie of private initiative out of the bottle even to this limited extent will give rise to political problems that, sooner or later, are likely to produce a reaction toward greater authoritarianism. The opposite outcome, the collapse of communism and its replacement by a market system, seems far less likely..."
When I asked Duane which lessons of history it is it that he thought had taught us the lesson that rising affluence alone, had turned "a murderous totalitarian dictatorship, from oppressive, to open?", and if whether making the oppressor more affluent, might be less than helpful to those being oppressed by them, I got no reply.

History, however, does have a reply to that, lots of them in fact - and it isn't necessary to go too far back in time to begin finding them, especially in the region we're primarily dealing with here, of Communist China. There are several such lessons from recent history, as Tienanmen Square, or those of current events in Hong Kong, seem to show that although Communist China, and the 'One country, two systems' which it promised to follow in repossessing Hong Kong from Britain (returning Hong Kong to China was a shameful blot upon, and dismal end to, the British empire), has been an empty promise that's gradually been replaced with threats to their remaining liberties, and as Communist China has benefited greatly from its increasing economic wealth, and Hong Kong has been fighting a losing battle over being swallowed into the 'mother country's tender embrace, and 'Free Trade!' policies towards Communist China, have done much to finance it's ever more threatening behavior both at home, and abroad - does that not matter? To a people concerned with Liberty?

Willfully and vigorously Ignored by 'Free Trade!' rs, is the fact that because Communist China's system is founded upon the elimination of property rights (Karl Marx: " the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property."), and worse, they seem ignorant of the roots of their own movement in political economy, in what Jean Baptiste Say had to say in his essay “Of the Right to Own Property” (1819)
"...Political economy recognises the right of property solely as the most powerful of all encouragements to the multiplication of wealth, and is satisfied with its actual stability, without inquiring about its origin or its safeguards. In fact, the legal inviolability of property is obviously a mere mockery, where the sovereign power is unable to make the laws respected, where it either practises robbery itself, [26] or is impotent to repress it in others; or where possession is rendered perpetually insecure, by the intricacy of legislative enactments, and the subtleties of technical nicety.

Nor can property be said to exist, where it is not matter of reality as well as of right. Then, and then only, can the sources of production, namely, land, capital, and industry, attain their utmost degree of fecundity. [27] There are some truths so completely self-evident, that demonstration is quite superfluous. This is one of that number. For who will attempt to deny, that the certainty of enjoying the fruits of one's land, capital and labour, is the most powerful inducement to render them productive? ..."
The self evident fact, to those who've given careful attention to, and who care about reality and facts, is that without which individual rights cannot be upheld or defended under law, liberty is an impossibility in Communist China, and because the only transactions that occur in Communist China, are those which the state permits and is enriched by, to trade with any person or business in Communist China, is to support the tyrannical government of Communist China.

Ignoring and disregarding the philosophical first principles of moral & ethical human reality, is how we transitioned away from thinking about the fundamental prerequisites of a Free Market, to policy positions of 'Free Trade!', and so we entirely miss the fact that there is and can be no 'Free' in 'Free Trade!' with Communist China, whose system violently repudiates the fundamental first principles which were the self-evident starting points of Political Economy advanced by Jean Baptiste Say, yet these same people virtually bathe in talk of 'Principles!', while demanding we unilaterally establish 'Free Trade!' with Communist China.

Far from the fantasized 'Lessons of History!' that many Libertarian's presume to be informed by, an actual regard for history, and attending to the real experiences which a worthwhile understanding of history has to be developed from, those experiences show us that Hong Kong, once the epitome of Free Market principles in action which were the model used by Milton Friedman in his 'Free to Choose' (Friedman expressed his disappointment and fears for at the imposition of 'one two policies' on Hong Kong), is the one that is being transformed by the immoral, unethical and brutal political realities of a communist state. It is a tragic testimony to the inadequacy of holding economic principles, and economic power, as being a nation's primary concern, while allowing political philosophy and ethics to take a back seat to what a nation is, and has to rely upon. Whether you take that experience into account in the 'Lessons of History!' you choose to learn from... varies, depending upon whether you'd rather further your understanding of man through history, or to further your ideology in order to 'make' history.

Next post, the greater harm in using political power for 'the greater good'.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Don't miss the Impeachment Follies' relevance to your life!

I'm worried that people are missing the most important point in the impeachment hearings. One point, which is not that point, has been made often recently, that impeachment is a political process, not a legal process. Yes indeedy that is true, and if you want to get all of the legal details supporting its extra-legal status, I recommend Andy McCarthy's post "Right to Confrontation: The Latest Bogus Legal Argument over the ‘Whistleblower’".

But that isn't the point you should be paying attention to right now.

Let's sneak up on that point kinda slowly. Our legal system, with of its adversarial structure, its methods of what is and is not permitted to be said in court and why, its rules of evidence, its procedures for examination and cross-examination of testimony - these and more, are features that have been developed over the course of 2,500+ years, and developed and refined for a particular purpose. That purpose, is to devise as objective, as verifiable and as fair of a means of getting to the truth of a matter, by those (the judge, jury, public) who do not have first hand knowledge of what actually happened, and who cannot have indisputable knowledge of who is innocent and who is guilty in a given event. In addition to that, our legal system has developed with the understanding that even with all of those rules and systems and checks & balances, the jury's verdict could still be in error, and so we've built in a system for appealing the decision of the court.

IOW: the goal of our legal system is to come as close as possible to achieving Justice, as is possible to mortal men, without forgetting the foreboding fact that our conclusions could be wrong.

And here's the point: the Democrats want no part of that system in the operations of their impeachment hearing.
Whatever their excuses, whatever their assertions and pretensions, the bottom line is that they do not want their political passions to be hampered by a system designed to be as fair as possible and to produce the best conclusions possible. Instead, they simply want to impeach President Donald J. Trump, as they have since before his inauguration. And some, like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), ran for congress for the express purpose of :
' we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf-----.”'.
Pardon me, but for myself, in regards to those who want to put on the appearances of having a 'trial', with all of the trappings of our legal system, with few to none of its functional features, in order to achieve their prejudiced and predetermined purpose - which is manifestly not Justice - I'm sorry, but their impeachment follies are of next to no interest or value to me.

But what is of the deepest interest to me, is that what they are demonstrating most clearly in these follies, is that they - the Pro-Regressive Left & Right - believe that their interests are best served, through unjust means, and that is why they are doing what they are doing.

Remember that!

And along those lines, here are two very important points that you should keep foremost in mind, much more than whatever silliness is said in the impeachment follies, as Dana Loesch noted, these people who are right now demonstrating their preference for getting their way, preferring favorable hearsay over serving Justice, these same people want very much to use that same power over you and your right to defend yourself against them.

Keep that in mind in each and every election, and in every discussion of one:
"This video is INSANE: "Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) on evidence: "Hearsay can be much better evidence than direct ... and it's certainly valid in this instance"

These lawmakers who say “hearsay can be much better evidence than direct” are the same ones who want to subject you to a due process-less red flag system. I’m sure that will just stop with guns, right?

Are those who support that bonkers red flag policy still cool with it?"
Oh Hell no!

Monday, November 11, 2019

For Veterans Day - Thank You For Persisting 'The Harder Right', Across Time

Commemorating Veterans Day once again with two earlier memories; one from four years ago now, which was itself remembering this day from 5 years before that, and doing so recalls what persists across time on this day, our fellows who choose 'the harder right' by volunteering to serve in our military. No matter where they may end up being stationed, when they volunteer to serve they are volunteering to put their lives on the line, period. There is no assurance that they won't at some point be sent to physically put their lives at risk, be injured, or be killed. None. Whether their service ends up being given entirely stateside in administrative duties, or repeatedly at hazard in war zones, the worst case is risked by all at that moment when they sign their lives on the dotted line. In pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live lives worth living (should we choose to).

To all of our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2015:]

[For Veterans Day this year, I'm going with a re-post from four years ago, which isn't - for me or others - the typical Veterans Day post, but for me it really goes to the heart of the occasion. This post came back into mind a couple days ago when a 'Memories' app popped up some pictures from the 2011 Veterans Day parade in St. Louis that I took part in with Chris & Dana Loesch, "Patch" Po/ed Patriot and our kids [Patch just confirmed my sketchy pictureless memory, Stacy Washington was with us too). The memories were a nice tug - I mostly only see Patch online now, and the Loesch's have since moved to Dallas (catch "Dana" on the BlazeTV), but more than the sentimental value, was the point of this post, well illustrated in the movie clip, of the importance of choosing the Harder Right - not only in the sense of putting your life on the line for it, but the importance of choosing the harder right to a life worth living, and that is what I associate most with our Veterans.

Our Veterans volunteer their lives onto the line, and in pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live a life worth living, should we also take the harder right, and choose to.

To our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2011:]

For Veterans Day, a clip that doesn't at first appear to have anything to do with Veterans or Veterans Day. It's the climactic scene of a movie that's really grown on me over the years, The Emperor's Club. In this, the point of not only an Education, but of a life well lived - or squandered - is conveyed in just a few moments.

The now aging Mr. Hundert, a Classics Professor, is found in the restroom after a debate competition, by his former student, Sedgewick Bell, who is now grown and launching a campaign for the Senate. Bell was a student he'd tried far more than he should have to help, and Hundert has realized that Sedgewick has yet again cheated in the "Mr. Julius Caesar" debate, which Mr. Hundert was moderating.

He lets his former student know that he knows he tried to cheat, again...
Mr. Hundert:"I'm a teacher Sedgwick, and I failed you. But I'll give you one last lecture, if I may. All of us, at some point, are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror, and see who we really are, and when that day comes for Sedgewick, you'll be confronted with a life lived without virtue, without principle - for that I pity you. End of lesson."

Sedgewick Bell:"What can I say Mr. Hundert? Who gives a shit. Honestly, who out there gives a shit about your principles and your virtues. I mean, look at you, what do you have to show for yourself? I live in the real world, where people do what they need to do to get what they want, and if that means lying, and cheating... then so be it.
So I am going to go out there, and I am going to win that election Mr. Hundert, and you will see me EVERYwhere! And I'll worry about my 'contribution' later.
(Sound of a toilet flushing, stall opens, Sedgewick's little boy comes out, stares at his dad in disgust)
Sedgewick Bell:"Robert? Robert...."
(Robert turns and leaves)
Sedgewick stares after him, stares down, glances at Mr. Hundert, and leaves.
What Mr. Hundert has, he has without need of power, position or wealth... what Cedric threw away, he can't replace through any amount of power, position or wealth.

The best things in life are free... but you've got to earn them, and sometimes fight for them; and some worthy few even choose to risk their lives for your chance to enjoy them.

Thank you to all those who chose the harder right, and especially the Veterans who agreed to risk their lives for it, if need be.

UPDATE - Pictures from the St. Louis Veterans Day Parade
Special thanks to Dana Loesh for inviting us to march with her crew in the parade, my daughter & I were honored to show our support.

Dana Loesh (in a strep throat burqa), Me, Patch Adams and Chris Loesch , ready to roll

... coming around the corner... (pic swiped from Patch Adams)
Parading past Soldiers Memorial
The best message of all!

Patch posted a video that should be an alarming shame in contrasts to all. For those who did turn out for the parade yesterday, thank you, your quality isn't questioned, but for the quantities of others who couldn't be bothered, shame on you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What if 'Free Trade!' Undermines a Free Market and Liberty itself? - Economic Politics vs Political Economy pt1

Of the hot topics making the rounds at the moment, bringing up the Hong Kong protests, or economic Tariffs, or both, is sure to get you peppered with opinions from all perspectives, each more confidently given than the last (glances at mirror, winks), many of which are sure to be delivered with a rousing round of 'Principles!'. Funny thing though, many of those 'Principles!' folk who are upset about LeBron James and some in the NBA & Hollywood caving in to Communist China to keep the $$$ flowing despite China's lawless abuses of 'human rights', are often the very same Libertarian-ish folks who are advocating for 'free trade!' with Communist China to keep the $$$ flowing despite China's lawless abuses of 'human rights'.... because... uhhh...hmmm.

Why... it's almost as if some people's 'Principles!' are more rooted in ideological positions, than in a principled view of reality.

What do I mean? Well, if you've read any of my posts, I probably don't need to explain why I support of the Hong Kong protesters against the actions of Communist China. But maybe you question how 'Free Trade!'rs opposition to 'Tariffs' against Communist China, somehow conflicts with fundamental principles of Liberty?

I'm so glad you asked!
What if it's thinking that "It's all about the Economy, stupid!",
that's stupid?

We'll eventually need to clarify what is meant by 'Free Trade!' of course, but starting with first things first, let's look closer at those "Principles!" folks, who're so adamantly insisting that their economic "Principles!" should be consulted first in anything and everything that's even remotely related to economic matters. There are several questions which, if they take their 'Principles!' seriously (most do not, hence my annoying italics) they should have carefully considered and worked their way through in the process of arriving at their "Principles!", which if you ask them questions like these the next time they raise their 'Principles!', the blank stares that will follow from most, will help separate the principled from the posers. For instance:
  1. From what basis does the core of those principles of yours come from?
  2. ... and what sort of principles, if any, do those 'Principles!' of yours displace...?
  3. Did you derive and develop your 'Principles!' through those fundamental first principles that are rooted in the beginnings of Western Civilization?
  4. Or... maybe you feel those that (somehow) 'sprang up' from the 18th & 19th century political economists such as Richard Cantillon (if you don't recognize that name,Hayek did), Adam Smith, Jean Baptist Say, Frédéric Bastiat & Richard Cobden are plenty good enough all on their own, so... why ask why?
  5. Or do you trace your "Principles!", as most today do, to those who built the appearances of them into our lives in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, as Pro-Regressive 'Progressives' actively pursued political power and influence in their take over of America's systems of higher education... and beyond?
Did you realize that there may be some conflicts between what are taken as 'principles', between one or more of those groups? How do you evaluate and decide between them (or do you bother to)? Of those groups, how much do you want to bet, that the latter one's "Principles!", have more to do with exerting political power, than with what is right and true - economically or otherwise?

If you're not sure what I mean by that, I've got an outstanding book that'd be well worth your while to read, from, of all people, a Professor at Princeton, Thomas C. Leonard, "Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era ". Each page is an eye-opener, and to this particular point, on page 19. he notes how the original vehicle of the Free Market, under 'Political Economy', began to be progressively transformed into a more statist friendly system of ideological thinking under the more progressive name of 'Economics', whose rise:
" ...can be measured against the classics, the longstanding foundation of the traditional college curriculum with which the upstart social science disciplines were vying. In 1880, college courses in Latin outnumbered courses in political economy by ten to one. By 1890, however, the ratio had decreased to three to one, and by 1900, it was down to two to one. At leading schools in 1900, there was parity. By 1912, only English had more undergraduate majors than did economics at Yale University.

The course of American political economy's establishment as an academic discipline was tracked by the increasing currency of its new name, "economics." The name was exceedingly rare in university catalogs and other literature in the 1870's. "Political economy" predominates well into the 1890's. But by 1900, "economics" had displaced the older term altogether."
(a good overview of and interview about the book, can be found here)
It's critical to understand that the purpose of the new Economists wasn't simply to graft 'Economics' onto academia, but in keeping with the still popular German model, it was their intention to put their ideas at the very center of education, and of society, and so to operate as the default start of all justifications for the uses of government power.
"...The American university gave the economists more than academic chairs, a decent library, and students. The American university gave the economists scientific authority - a gift not elsewhere obtainable and one that was essential to the progressives' mission..."
The particular policies they advanced, whether as Free Trade, or Socialist, or a Managed or Statist economy, are of less importance, than the ominous proposition which all then, and most now, agreed upon - that 'Economic Thinking' should be at not only the center of modern thought, but that for 'thoughtful' people, it should be the starting point of all such thought. Those who thought differently, were snickered at, or mocked, for their 'unprincipled' thinking.

Even those of you today who see yourselves as being all about 'Liberty!', and opposed to the statist direction of the AEA (American Economic Association), and more inclined to the views of Hayek than Keynes, by buying into the notion of having your economic "Principles!" at the center of all social and political thought and action, you are already buying into a revolutionary way of thinking which overthrows much and that reaches far deeper and wider than you may have considered, and which were central to the Pro-Regressive 'Progressives' ideal: that the world should revolve around their expertise, efficiency and pragmatic utility - with that accomplished, it really didn't matter much whether you identified with Marx, Keynes, Bastiat or von Mises: the critical work having had already been accomplished within you - the rest is but a matter of time & degree.

Are those the principles which you understood your principles to be following from?

Because for me, seeing as a Free Market (yes, we'll need to define that as well) cleansed of morality and ethics, is but utilitarianism in the early stages of fermenting into socialism, which leaves the minor fact that your particular economic ideals oppose the communists in 'practical economic matters', as being about as reassuring as whether or not the poison that you are asking me to drink is organically grown, or synthetically manufactured - Sorry, but no matter how you concocted it, I'll pass.

Another question I'd like to ask of the principled folk's approach, is this: Is it enough that you say you believe in and are committed to liberty, without having to consider or show how these "Principles!" of yours comport with liberty, or with how well (or poorly) your conception's of Liberty integrate into those wider principles which make Liberty possible? Hint: We're talking about more than mere economic prosperity here. To put a finer point on the issue, let me come at that from an entirely different direction: Consider the matter of the professional men of science who were unquestionably dedicated to saving lives in the late 1700's. It was just such men who tried their best to save George Washington's life... by heavily bleeding his ill body, as 'common sense' medical understanding of the day advised, which doubtlessly weakened his ability to survive and perhaps hastened his death - did that matter? You might well protest that that's not fair of me, as they didn't know that the practice would soon be repudiated, which is very true. But those well intentioned doctors had nearly the same medical knowledge as the fellow who soon afterwards began questioning the efficacy of the practice of bleeding patients, the real difference is that another doctor questioned, what they didn't. I'm not blaming them, I'm just asking this: did their ignorance masked as 'common sense', matter? It did to George Washington's life, didn't it?

It's with that image in mind that I ask you, do you know from your own considered judgment, that what you are promoting won't actually hinder or undermine liberty, but will in fact support and strengthen it - both now and in the 'long run'? Do you yourself know what your principles are developed and derived from, and for what purpose? Do you yourself have a clear conception of what Liberty is and what it requires to prosper? I'm not suggesting that you don't, I'm just asking if it's your own understanding that you argue for, or the words of some other well meaning 'doctor' with a reputation for being knowledgeable, which you've accepted and committed to memory as common sense truths to be trotted out as need be in lieu of being able to make an actual argument of your own?

But then I'm also asking... if your answer to those questions was 'no', have you ever dismissed another person's position as if you did understand the concepts behind the arguments you gave? Do you see the problem here?

Current events and commentary on them, bring these questions up often, and as with the protests that are still going on in Hong Kong, rarely are such matters confined to 'economic principles' alone, even though many of the "Principles!" folks try to deal with them as if economics was the first, and last, word in thinking that we need be concerned with.

A case in point: A Libertarian Facebook friend, Duane, posted some memes earlier this year that've been typical of on-going popular responses to Trump's tariff policies, and without taking anything away from the good work that he does in his extensive travels across the nation, the discussion threads sparked by those memes, illustrate my concerns that the reflexive promotion of 'Free Trade!', too often serves to undermine the Free Market, and Liberty itself. You've probably seen the memes:
"Are you tired of #winning yet?"
, as well as, following Trump's threat to apply tariffs on Canada, China, Mexico, etc., as the 'experts' declared that prices would go up because of those tariffs (shortly before Trump announced that a deal had been reached to remove those and other tariffs, which reportedly was his actual goal) they meme'd on:
'...If only someone had warned us...'
While these lines do have a certain "Told-ya-so!" cuteness to them, they hide, even evade, a couple of key issues which seems to blur out the full context involved. The reason why that matters, is that when the full and proper context isn't being considered, then the thinking that you think you're doing with your "Principles!", is probably thinking about the wrong things, in the wrong way, because when principled thinking becomes so narrowly focused upon your own favorite issue, to the point where it seems to be all that matters, then those principles that you are so intent upon the process of principled thinking with, are at great risk of reducing your thinking to something more akin to a mindless compliance with ideological bullet-points. And of course, it doesn't help matters that so many tend to do so while virtually bathing before you in ideological pools of their own virtue signalling. Blech.

Unfree Traders
And it's to that point, that I have a particular problem with the "Principled!" thinking of most 'Free Trade!'rs, and especially in regards to the Tariffs issue. My disagreement with them has less to do with the best aspects of having the liberty to trade freely (I absolutely support a Free Market, within which trade is best able to be conducted freely, once the prerequisites of Individual Rights and the Rule of Law have enabled a Free Market Economy to appear and operate... which is not the same thing as 'Free Trade!'), than with what the issue of 'Free Trade!' typically evades, and even hides.

For example, 'Free Trade!'rs' like Duane are quick to trot out economic truisms and principles, such as,
"Tariffs are a tax upon your own people, the other nation doesn't pay them, you do"
, which is a line that packs a punch - in the right context, such as between America and pre-1997 Hong Kong, for instance, which Milton Friedman rightly celebrated as a paragon of a Free Market. But as true as the line is when used in the proper context, it is less so in a different context. For instance, if the context is that of trading with Communist China and you repeat the 'Principle!' that tariffs hurt the economy of the nation imposing them, as if that was the whole truth which needed to be considered in that context... shouldn't Communist China be eager for us to impose more tariffs upon them... in much the same way that a boxer would be thrilled to see his opponent punching himself in the nose? Well... if that were the whole truth, yes, but... it isn't and they don't. Why do you suppose that is? The answer to that is more easily found by attending to what the purveyors of 'Principles!' leave unsaid. I asked:
"While I don't think that tariffs have any positive economic value, that they amount to taxing your own people, etc., why do you suppose the Chinese don't want to have them imposed on them?"
, and after some prompting the reply came that no one wants such policies imposed on them, as
"...They create a barrier to markets which makes their products higher priced and therefore, less attractive."
Not only does that grudgingly acknowledge what his initial statement obscured (that there is a cost born by the targeted nation), but this is a very economic reply concerning actions and consequences taking place between nations, without even a hint that there are any more fundamental political concerns which might (should?) be involved in the consideration of such issues. The full context takes such a beating in an answer like that, that it becomes fragmented and casts shadows that should not be left unexamined. I asked,
"... so is the proper response to other govts imposed market barriers, to accept them, or to take counter measures, and if the latter, what measures other than tariffs, should be taken?"
, to which came the adamantly economic reply that the only proper response to trade sanctions being imposed upon the people of your nation, was to eliminate any restrictions and tariffs that your nation might be imposing upon their nation, without regard to the nature of that nation and the status of the individuals living, working, perhaps slaving, in that nation - in order to achieve that Libertarian ideal of:
"...unilateral, unrestricted, free trade..."
... to keep the $$$ flowing? How does that differ from the much reviled LeBron James wanting to keep people's mouths shut so he can make a buck off of Communist China? Is he not seeking unimpeded 'Free Trade!' without regard to the abuses of the Hong Kong protesters at the hands of Communist China? How do Libertarians and an awful lot of Conservatives, not deserve the same derision?

This is the worldview of someone who holds Economics as the fundamental starting point, aim, and justification for all such concerns. Really... with no need of concern for, or regards to, any other contextual concerns, such as to the nature of the nation (and those it subjects) that your good intentions of trading with, will enrich and entrench the power of? There's a lot of important context being ignored in that, if not flat out dropped, which, again, makes taking actions based upon the sort of principled thinking that our nation was founded upon, difficult, if not impossible to even begin to apply. I replied,
"So given that no nation enjoys market barriers being imposed upon them, because that "...makes their products higher priced and therefore, less attractive...", on the world market, the proper response is to unilaterally remove all such barriers, in order to create a one sided, unrestricted, 'free trade'... with, in this instance, Red China? Is that an economic response to a political issue, or a political response to an economic issue? Or something else?"
And his reply was that it was:
" economic action in response to an economic reality, with political repercussions globally..."
IOW: Economics (in this view) comes 1st, and 2nd, in thinking about any such matters of international relations, with political concerns (such as, I dunno, the health & safety of your own nation, and other 'free' nations later dealing with a dangerous tyranny enriched from the $$$ of your 'Free Trade!' with them) being a mere afterthought to the more important economic issues involved. There is a limited sense wherein that can be true, but it's nowhere near the whole truth in this context or about the nature of the repercussions being felt, or pursued, and it is, IMHO, closer to having the matter exactly backwards. There are a number of negative consequences of that, not the least of which being, what if what he considers to be " economic reality...", isn't looking through a broad enough perspective to be representative of the larger reality which he is trying to illustrate and guide us through? And of course, because what is actually meant by the supporters of 'Free Trade!', as being 'Free Trade', varies wildly depending upon the philosophy or ideology of the person or group you hear promoting it, the term is able to be misused and abused as a means of sanctioning (and even sanctifying) political behaviors that fall well outside of the limited context of purely economic concerns, even while doing so on the basis of purely economic concerns.

As a consequence of such an impossible perspective as that, 'Free Trade!'rs view of reality is too often distorted, leading not infrequently to bad political and economic advice (with not a few collectivist and protectionist tendencies of their own). And with 'Free Trade!', meaning very, very different things to very different people who're promoting it for very different reasons, we're left stumbling about in a target rich environment for error and self deception.

Or in other words, what if it's the thinking that "It's the Economy, stupid!", that's the stupid thinking?

That's something which I think is worth paying closer attention to, even if it takes a bit of digging to reveal it, because the 'Free Trade!'rs good intentions towards liberty aren't going to help preserve our liberty, anymore than the faulty premises of 'common sense' medicine on the part of those well intentioned professionals, who diligently tried to save George Washington by bleeding him to death's door(!). As George discovered, reality wasn't much impressed with their good intentions and much admired credentials. Personally, I'd like to guard against such a thing on a national level.

There's much to dig into here, beginning with examining the many conflicting meanings of 'Free Trade', the 'Free Market', and what separates one from the other, which we'll begin doing in the next post.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Happy Columbus Day!

I do think it's time to re-post this, from Columbus Day, 2015 - Why? Because after years of being bombarded with unsubstantiated charges and hysterical outrage from the most outrageous folks imaginable, I think it's time, even with as small a nod as this is, to explicitly disregard the rantings of the failed and the botched, and to lift a glass of cheer and celebrate the heroic adventures of those who actually dared to do what others feared; deeds which, even though tinged with a great deal of error, led to the greatest advances for mankind in all of our nations known histories. Celebrate this day, even moreso because everything it represents is loathed and feared today by those who oppose celebrating this day (as the 'Sultan of Knish' said so well) of commemorating the voyage that Christopher Columbus undertook to take in 1492.


  Happy Columbus Day!
"In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

If you don't know the rest, or refuse to repeat it, your ignorance is too deep for me to fix in so little time and space. I won't bother a protest, qualification, any hint of apology or take any other sort of a defensive stand on what is and should be recognized and celebrated on this day.

What we like to think of Captain Kirk doing, Christopher Columbus actually did, and he did it without electronic wizardry, without science officers or communication specialists or even replaceable extras in red shirts, but with only wooden boats, a compass and a number of guesses about how the extent of the world might be shaped.

He and some ninety crew, set out on an uncharted ocean with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and it was incredibly brave and bold, and resulted in Western Civilization expanding westward around the globe, and even entertaining the notion that we today need to defend or justify that, is not only stupidity on stilts, but a repudiation of all that is good.

In fourteen hundred ninety-twoColumbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain; He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day; He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know How to find the way to go....
If what Christopher Columbus ventured and accomplished isn't laudable and self-evident bad-assery to you, begone and darken my door no more, but do so with my Happy Columbus Day! ringing in your ears.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Red Flag down on the battleground of our Bill of Rights: the American Mind - To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time - pt6

The Bill of Rights which once defined and united us as Americans, is now the issue which least defines and most divides us. Unfortunately what we are so divided over is not what those amendments of the Bill of Rights were written to protect - our individual rights - but over various particulars involved in aspects of exercising them, while the rights themselves are rarely even mentioned. This is especially noticeable in the targeting of the first two, as the importance of those rights that are protected under them, in favor of spittle spewing matches over particular types of speech: 'hate speech','divisive', etc, or in favor of shrieking hysterically over one of the particular types of arms which the 2nd Amendment secures from abuse for us: Guns. This is not the behavior of people who understand and are concerned with the 'inalienable' nature of their individual rights, but that of a people who consider such rights (to the extent they do at all) for their utilitarian usefulness or nuisance value, to the conveniences of everyday living.

This lack of interest is a tri-partisan affair, shared by most on the Left and Right and the non-aligned, so it's not surprising that the rights that are protected by the first and second amendments, are treated not as individual rights, but as lists of privileges that were permitted to us in the past by an old landlord, but which need to be tinkered with so as to be made more useful for the 'greater good' today. In everything from Beto O'Rourke's 'Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47', to Mitch McConnell & Atty General Barr's memo proposing 'common sense gun laws' (for political purposes), we're awash in proposed legislative assaults such as Red Flag laws, Safe Speech Zones, national gun registration databases, Hate Speech Laws, waiting periods, 'gun buy-backs' or flat out confiscations, all are proposed as a means to alter and reform us by adjusting this or that environmental factor in society, to bring about the 'change!' that they so desire to see in you & me.

The fact that there is absolutely no proof that such tinkerings have ever, or will ever work (and much to indicate that they make matters tragically worse), or that their marching and chanting has more in common with efforts to work sympathetic magic than with objective law, doesn't sway them for a moment, should hint at just how contentedly disconnected from reality such people are - the flashing lights and sounds of the political games they are playing, and their relative ranking amongst the players, are more than enough reward for them.

The responses of those who do still grasp the importance and inalienable nature of our rights, shy away from the virtue signaling and calls for limiting everyone's liberty because the criminal actions of a few, they focus on reminding us of the dangers which these proposals pose to our lives, individual rights and responsibilities; the sober need to punish actual wrongs, and the importance of having a deeper understanding of these important principles. The people who care about our individual rights, tend to see you, not as a statistical blip in a political pinball game, but as a human being, and the need to be secure from our own worst and best intentions, because they see the deep and widespread damage which such tinkering will have on our ability to live lives worth living. Case in point, Dana Loesch's comments about the various proposals of Red Flag laws, has been focused on what most other people seem to work so hard at not noticing, that these proposals are reckless attacks not just on guns, but are attacks [as all regulatory law is] upon concepts that are fundamental to all of our rights, such as “innocent until proven guilty":
1) #RedFlagLaws are an inversion of “innocent until proven guilty.” The standard of evidence is low and while state laws vary, many different people, not just family, can report you.
, and the right to face your accusers:
2) You don't have to be in the room (and advance notice isn't required) for the petition to be granted meaning you must wait to defend yourself. Most laws provide no penalty for abuse and no state law allows for civil cause of action against false accusers.
, a speedy trial,
3) Time varies as to how long until respondents can have their day in court. A study conducted on Indiana's law, which said 14 day wait, revealed that the average wait was 9 months. Rights delayed are rights denied.
, and more, while doing nothing to solve the crisis they strive not to let go to waste, no matter what harm they may cause,
4) @davekopel , who has done excellent research on this, has noted that of the four states with the oldest gun confiscation laws, Connecticut, Indiana, California, and Washington, no research has revealed any statistical reduction in crime. #RedFlagLaws​ (Also still No. 4) Furthermore, Kopel notes that nearly 1/3 of such orders are improperly issued against innocent people."
"5) No advance notice is given ahead of serving a #RedFlag order. That worked out horribly for Maryland resident Gary Willis, who was shot and killed when answering his door early morning before the sun was up. This puts LEO in a HORRIBLE position of enforcing these orders," Loesch continued. "
6) Counsel is not provided (Blumenthal draft does, it's of little solace considering), meaning you could be like FL man Jonathan Carpenter, who is waging an expensive court battle to clear his name and reclaim his property because his name was too similar to a drug dealer's."
"7) We aren't arresting people, we're arresting guns. State laws ignore the very reason the petition was granted in the first place: danger resulting in violence or mental instability. No mental evaluations given, no charges for a crime," Loesch continued. "
8) How will confiscated firearms be stored? Local police will be tasked with figuring out storage and bearing the cost of any liability or insurance -- at a time when some struggle with budgets to afford body cams."
"9) This isn't just about the 2nd Amendment. It doesn't matter if you're a 'gun nut' or even own guns. The deconstruction of due process calls into question your 5th and 14th Amendment rights, too," Loesch continued. "
10) Lastly (not really, but I'm sticking to 10), if there is enough evidence to strip you of your rights THERE IS ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO CHARGE YOU or commit you. There are NUMEROUS other options to start fixing this problem WITHOUT sacrificing due process."
Those shrieking for such legislative assaults shrug off concerns for the dangers posed to all, they take it as a given that because some people are dangerous, all should be disarmed of their rights. They take no concern for the likelihood that Red Flag laws will be made use of by the same sorts of people that continue accusing Bret Kavenaugh of high crimes and misdemeanors with less than zero evidence, and those who will destroy lives and reputations in order to further their ideological agenda, out of fear for what a person might do to their favorite cause. This shouldn't be surprising, as the nature of those who act on their good intentions, do so because they expect pleasing outcomes, and consequently the question that is always on the minds of those who intend to 'do good', is not 'should they do these things', but "How best to get around those ten amendments?" in order to transform our lives into something better suited to meet their expectations of their treasured 'greater good'.

Ever since James Madison introduced his first draft of our Bill of Rights as "... an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive ...", it has been seen as, and has served as, something of a 'No Trespassing!' sign thrust into the faces of those who, seeing themselves as being 'the best of us', seek the power to do what they so clearly see that the rest of us need done to us, for our own good, a good which they are supremely confident is in their ability, and responsibility, to bring about, for their vision of 'the greater good'. When you hear and see those who respond to tragic events by shrieking for more laws to ban, censor, reform and re-educate, you know that you're in the presence of a Pro-Regressive of the Left or Right who's seeking to use our laws to tinker with and control your life, as a pinball wizard might shake the table and bang its flippers to control the movement of a pinball through to winning the game.

We are not in a Left vs Right battle, but in one between those who believe in the reality of truth and its centrality to what is good, and those who prefer to think that good is what poll numbers show to be preferred by sufficient quantities of people, and then to pragmatically taking whatever actions would be most useful in making those things 'work'. When you hear some calling for 'common sense' laws to limit your rights and power to live your own life, what you should hear is a call to ignore what is real and true, in favor of what they prefer and find most appealing. It bears repeating: The battleground of our individual rights today, is not primarily on the field of politics or popular culture, but upon our understanding of and regard for what is real and true, versus how pragmatically utilitarian views could be useful in making things 'work'.

No Conspiracies needed - Only a point of view -
If you wonder how this has all come about, I think that the most important point to consider is the way in which we got here:

  • Willingly
Until we realize that, and how, we are unlikely to understand why it's happened, why it's a problem, or how we can even begin to find a way towards remedying it. It was the once widespread understanding of the inalienable nature of our individual rights that enabled the Bill of Rights to serve so effectively in preventing government from trespassing upon our individual rights and powers for so long, but once We The People faltered in seeing those rights as being vital to the hard work of living lives worth living as human beings, and more as things that might help or hinder us in pursuing an easier path to pleasantries, popularity and entertainment... our willingness to thrust the Bill of Rights' 'No Trespassing!' sign in the faces of those who also intend to 'do good' unto us, also began to falter.

For those of us who desperately want the Bill of Rights to remain standing guard, it's important to understand how such vital rights are transformed into merely useful things in people's minds, and to recognize what it is that we ourselves habitually do, which aids them in that. Those who want to find a way 'through the gate or over it', intuitively follow a pattern of actions which circumvent them, and it requires focusing on anything but what the point of each amendment is about, and that gives the battleground over without a fight. How is that done? Conspiracy? Nope, just seeking to 'do good' for useful reasons, with little understanding of the the fundamentals involved or of the consequences likely to follow from such actions, and in the process, all the barriers you would've put up to doing what you may secretly have most wanted to do, fall.

Denis Prager formulated an excellent expression for this, is:
"GI - W = E", which means, "Good Intentions (GI) minus Wisdom (W) leads to Evil (E)."
Sums it up well. It takes real thoughtfulness and attention to be able to see self evident truths and to avoid unexpected evils, and all it takes to blind people to them is by not mentioning their need to do so. Our educational system has been deliberately not doing that for well over a century, and the pay off for that has been the endlessly entertaining spittle spewing matches over everything except what should be attended to and considered, and the steady encroachment of govt power on our politically essential individual rights which the Bill of Rights was written and ratified to defend and protect, moves on.

One way to notice more of what mostly goes unnoticed in all the spittle spewing matches, is to, for just a moment, ignore the language of the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and looking instead at what they were written for.
  • 1st Amendment's purpose is to shield your actions from government interfering in your right to think, question, worship, assemble, and hold your government to account.
  • The 2nd Amendment's purpose is to preserve your right to defend your life and what is rightfully yours, by forbidding government from interfering in your ability to keep & bear those arms which you deem best suited to that purpose.
Now compare that with how their opponents attack them:
  • The 1st Amendment's protections are reduced to only 'free speech', and while it makes no mention of what kind of speech it is to protect, the amendment is attacked for permitting 'Hate Speech!' to be spoken.
  • The 2nd Amendment's protections for your ability to protect you and yours, is reduced to being a permit for, not even arms, but to what the amendment makes no mention whatsoever of, guns - today the AR-15 and yesteryear the .38 'Saturday Night Special' handgun - and it's then attacked (and defended) by behaving as if that's what it's all about.
By such means, both amendments are scarified and polarized and reduced down into more easily assailable particulars of 'Hate Speech' and 'Assault Rifles', through our ignorance of and inattention to their purposes, and without reference to or concern for those rights which they were written to secure us from govt trespasses, and if unchecked both they and all the other individual rights which are protected by them, will vanish along with their abridgment. And yet, predictably, the issue has devolved into actively preventing 'hateful' speakers from assembling, worshiping, or speaking, and all arms are reduced to some guns which are to be banned, and those 'arguments' are made through attacks that are promoted by those who are most willing to be loud, obnoxious and even violent.

Of course these assaults are made most effective with the unwitting co-operation of its enemies and its defenders. We are awash today with those who oppose guns, and who oppose offensive speech, but equally damaging are those who weakly or misguidedly defend particular things, be they types of speech or particular guns, rather than the right which that amendment preserves, consequently they either emphatically defend keeping all guns (which is itself a concession against all arms), or those who concede that some (and implicitly all) guns are scary and require regulations upon them, or those who assault freedom of speech with campaign finance laws or calls to 'get tough on' hate speech. This is what both Beto's 'Hell yes we're coming for your assault rifles!', and GOP's eagerness to agree to 'common sense' background checks and red flag laws, have in common, and exemplify. Neither one deals with those rights which a well lived life depends upon, but only with permitting those things that promise to make the daily activities of life easier, safer and more pleasant. Of course making life easier, safer and more pleasant is not a bad thing, but making that the point and purpose of life, is, and using law to ensure that is the key to the gates of hell on earth.

Another problem here, is that along with the desire to 'do good!', comes the hunger for enough (which always translates as: more), and the need for enough power (which always translates as: more) to do that good unto you, and of course the need to have enough power (which always translates as: more) over those in their way. The desire to 'do good!', coupled with the pragmatic desire to ignore what's true, in favor of what will seem to work, for now, can easily accomplish the destruction of any system of laws and justice, no matter how good and strong they might be. Look around you for reference

We are where we are today because we willingly went along with pursuing the useful and 'greater good' in our schools, in our politics, and in our lives. Moving the direction of your thoughts and purposes from what is Good & True, to what is useful - of utility - is not only the means of, but the actual action of, diminishing individual rights in the substance of your thinking. Not only is accepting that utilitarian purpose a means to tyrannical ends, but the danger of that is inherent in the very moment of accepting that as your purpose, as it philosophically dissolves the conceptual substance of those rights within your own mind, as surely as salt chemically dissolves into water, or a 'conservatives' spine dissolves in Washington D.C.

Making usefulness the point of your thoughts and actions, on that purpose which is common to its attackers and its 'defenders' - it serves their needs and their purpose and their vision of the 'greater good', and not the Right itself. It's at this point in time that our newly denatured rights must battle it out for popularity with every other preference that's been newly elevated to the status of 'rights!' - 'Gay rights' and 'Worker's rights', and 'Women's rights', 'Gun rights', 'Constitutional Rights!', 'Right to live near work!', 'Right not to be offended!'. As a result of that continual popularity contest, we are explicitly dividing our culture and ourselves apart from what was once an integrated one, back into a fragmented many, and as it's being done at the very root of our national identity, it's progressively eroding our understanding of our inherently individual rights, into group based privileges of power, which feed upon supplying you with what you 'need', which always involves threats to other group's power, and requires more and more power be given to the state, in order to satisfy ever more competing 'needs'.

It's not a plan that has or will lead to anything actually good.

There's more to say about that process of pitting our individual rights against 'Rights!', to the detriment of our liberty, which... I'll get to in the next post.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happy Constitution Day - The 232nd Birthday of considering the greatest of all reflections on the perils of human nature

[Combining two previous posts marking what today apparently doesn't warrant a 'Google Doodle', it is the 232nd birthday of the United States Constitution. Learn it or lose it... and the liberty it was written to preserve.]
Today marks the completion of what both Patriot and Protester, knowingly or not, are unified in referencing. What was signed as completed upon this day, two hundred and thirty-two years ago, September 17th, 1787, by thirty-nine of the fifty-five Framers, was the Constitution of the United States of America, and whether you stand in respect for, or disrespectfully turn away from, the Flag, the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance, you do so in reference to that document which is the oldest existing instrument of its kind, still in operation.


Is it simply a list of rules for governing by? Is it nothing more than a favorite fossil of 'white people'? A document of oppression? Frederick Douglass once thought so, but because he was a thinker in order to understand what was true, he didn't stop with answers that were given him by others, but continued on thinking upon the matter, and discovered the Truth which such vile falsehoods seek to smother and erase.

But today I'm really not much concerned with your answers to those 'points', but am only interested in whether or not you are familiar with the ideas, principles and purposes which animated the writing of it - are you? And if not... what worth can your opinion - pro or con - have for me, or for anyone else?

Whether you mouth its praises, or make showy protests against it, without understanding what it is you are referencing - your praises and protestations fail to even rise to the level of being wrong, they are but verbal dust to be brushed away, meaningless and of no consequence. But if you are one of that thoughtless many, you may take comfort in the knowledge that you are in the happy company of millions of such Pavlovian 'Conservatives', Pro-Regressive Leftists and Libertarians, for whom the United States Constitution is little more than a paper bell which they bark at.

But for those of you who do see it, not as a mere object of ink upon paper, for those of you who don't insult the memory of they who strove to produce it as having been anything other than men of flesh and blood, for you who understand that it was written so as to give physical form to, and to best enable, the implementation of some of the greatest political ideas of Western Civilization -
  • that Individual Rights result from the nature of being human("...are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."),
  • that men who understand that are capable of self governance,
  • that well ordered argument can lead to a self-correcting means of governance,
  • that such a system, established by such a people, can enable lives lived in liberty while in society with others, so long as the beast of Power is bound down and limited by laws whose purpose is to uphold and defend the Individual Rights of every person
, and that for such a people, intellectually armed through a document such as this, Liberty is possible.

But it is only possible for those who understand that.

For those intemperate folk who simply wish to sing the praises of, or rain curses down upon, that which they know little or nothing of, so that they can 'do what they will', as they want, because they desire to... well for them, as Edmund Burke said in the face of the debut of Fascism:
“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
Whether you are 'for or against it', especially on this day, in our day, you'd be wise to consider what would happen if we should lose the last vestiges of it, and those protections it uniquely extends to both sides.

For those of you who already do, or who are at least willing to make the effort to, understand those ideas which animated the framing of this document, those of you who understand that such principles and ideas as these cannot be owned by any race or culture, but can only be discovered by some for the benefit of all, then by virtue of that understanding, you and I are unified through these thoughts which were so well formed, written down, and 'completed' (and not to forget the first debate on amending its completion), on 'the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven'.

What is it that we celebrate today, Constitution Day, but the efforts of our Founding Fathers, 232 years ago, to harness the pursuit of power, and force it to serve the pursuit of happiness? It is simply the greatest achievement in history, to date, to enable men to live in liberty, with one another, while disagreeing with each other, under the protection of the Rule of Law.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
It's worth noting that our Founding Generation found the efforts of the Framers of the Constitution... wanting. They very nearly refused to ratify the document, not because it wasn't an elegant solution to harnessing power, but because they felt it didn't go far enough in securing our Individual Rights. But, in the end, they took a risk, that politicians could be trusted to provide the lacking Bill of Rights afterwards, and though they almost reneged, James Madison insisted that their word be kept, and though he disliked the idea of a Bill of Rights, he submitted a series of amendments which, after vigorous debate, became the original Ten Amendments to the Constitution that we know of as the Bill of Rights, amended to the Constitution for the purpose of restraining the power which the Constitution harnessed into the hands of men:
"Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.
The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;--"
Madison didn't dislike the idea of a Bill of Rights because he didn't want to secure our Rights, but because he feared that any list of Rights, in the hands of politicians, would serve as snares and loopholes to all our Rights, limiting them to only those words written upon parchment. But in the process of writing his amendments, he hit upon the ideas that would become our 9th and 10th Amendments, reserving all those Rights and Powers not listed, to the people and those powers not listed, to the states.

And now we are engaged in an elections, an election, "testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." If you have not considered what rests at the core of our Constitution, the balancing of powers against powers, forcing ambition to serve liberty... not an easy task. As Madison put it in Federalist #51:
"But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack..Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
Coming into another election year, forget about the personalities of the candidates, and look at what they propose. Consider whether or not a federal agency that can arbitrarily decree that Americans must purchase no less than four gallons of gasoline; consider whether or not that power is balanced against anything at all, so as to serve your liberty - or to extinguish it.

Our Constitution was devised so as to put Government at the service of your ability to live your own life. Is it still serving that function, or imperiling it? That's a question you'd better consider, because it will determine the direction of this government turns towards, or forever away from, enabling you, your children and your children's children, to live their own lives - or not.

One final point, whether you are an old hand with, or relatively new to, this document and its ideas, I take it as an obvious point that your reading of it can be greatly improved and informed by those arguments for, and against it, that were in the minds of those who debated the writing and ratifying of it. One of the best tools I've ever found for considering and reflecting upon the whole or particular parts of the Constitution, is the University of Chicago's site "The Founders Constitution". Scroll down on the contents page and you'll find that it goes through the Constitution clause by clause, and that each is supplied with a list of links to those relevant portions of not only the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, but to documents which the Founders had in mind when writing the Constitution, to what the Anti-Federalists objected to (this is particularly helpful in understanding the arguments for the Constitution which the Federalist Papers make), as well as early Supreme Court opinions and judgments that were relevant to that clause being acted upon, as well as the commentaries by early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (which are fantastic).

Without further ado:

Constitution of the United States and the First Twelve Amendments 1787--1804

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article. II.

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article. III.

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article. IV.
Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article. V.

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; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of it's equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, The Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page. Attest William Jackson Secretary
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

Go: Washington--Presidt. and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire { John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts { Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King
Connecticut { Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman
New York Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey { Wil: Livingston
David Brearley.
Wm. Paterson.
Jona: Dayton
Pensylvania { B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris
Delaware { Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom
Maryland { James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl Carroll
Virginia { John Blair--
James Madison Jr.
North Carolina { Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight.
Hu Williamson
South Carolina { J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler.
Georgia { William Few
Abr Baldwin
Amendments to the Constitution
Preamble to the first ten Amendments:

Congress of the United States; Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789. 
The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;--

Article I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article II - A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Article III - No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Article IV - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article V - No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article VI - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Article VII - In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article VIII - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 1, Document 9

The University of Chicago Press
Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Edited by Charles C. Tansill. 69th Cong., 1st sess. House Doc. No. 398. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.