Friday, September 19, 2008

A Birthday or a Funeral, for the United States Constitution?

Two hundred and fourteen years ago, President [ahem... congressmen] James Madison, known as the Father of our Constitution, vetoed [voted no] an appropriations bill from Congress that wanted to give aid to French refugees fleeing an insurrection in Haiti to Baltimore and Philadelphia.

President Madison took a look at the bill, and took a course action which became the norm, which future presidents such as Peirce, Cleveland, Buchanan would echo, he announced that,

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

How much did that congress wish to expend (read as Madison read it: Steal) from the pockets of the citizens of the United States of America?


Why? Because the constitution was based upon the principles of an Individuals Right to life and property as the source and safeguard of their Liberty, and the Gov't was designed as limited Gov't in order to protect those very rights. Limited in a way, that if the Gov't (and we're talking at the Federal level here) was not acting to defend a violation of fundamental rights, it was not supposed to act.

And at that time, the Progressives philosophical agenda was only just picking up speed.
But they weren't disuaded . They tried it over and over and over again over the years as the Progressives pragmatic (which you should never interpret as meaning 'good sense', what it means is taking action, any action perceived as 'doing something' based on appearances of the moment, rather than on timeless principles) ideas spread.

The anti-bodies of Freedom and Liberty, the principles which sustain Individual Rights and their political face, Property Rights, safeguards of our Freedom, were slowly lost through the degraded proregressive ideas circulating about Education. Those safeguards, limits and understanding began to weaken significantly during the Civil War with the Morill Act - which was the foot in the door of society, for Gov't to begin meddling with education and later taking over the education of the people as it saw fit.

The college presidents of the time warned that such measures would destroy education in America. Congress shrugged. People paid little or no attention. They wanted cheaper education, and vocational education at that, "something we can use!". Who cared if it meant taking money from people without having any right to do so... it wasn't that much, after all.

Fast forward through McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, Harding, (skipping only Coolidge) Hoover, FDR, and every president of either party ever since, none of whom has bothered to stand up for the Rights of the American People; and bearing even more of the guilt, are the American People themselves, who haven't bothered to see any problem with violating and spitting upon the Rights of their fellow citizens, in order to do what made them feel better at the expense of others "Oh... it's not That much. And besides, They can afford it".

Or in the words of Joe Biden - "It's the patriotic thing to do!". May he rot for that.

Fast forward to the Two hundred and twenty first birthday of the Constitution.

Voice of America - Cost Of Financial Bailout In Hundreds Of Billions
NPR - 2 hours agoAP Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has sketched out the sweeping outlines of what could be the biggest bailout in United States history.

May God rest James Madison's soul.


Unknown said...

What is both sad and funny to me is that what is going on is really a form of corporate socialism. Something that last I checked the U.S. Government was supposed to not be in favor of.

Van Harvey said...

At the opening of the 20th Century, Progressives such as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson agitated for such 'Third Way' policies of 'partnership' between Gov't and business. Third Way policies became the cornerstone of an up and coming political theory of that time, which in many ways looked to the U.S. for inspiration. The idea was to make the Gov't a 'partner' in all walks of life in order to unify and direct all the energies of the nation into a more efficient and effective goal, under the direction of intelligent management by specialists who knew best.

Such an enlightened and pragmatic practice, our 'intellectual' leaders told us, would be 'obviously superior' to the messy world produced by chaotic free market policies and constitutionally bound and 'straight jacketed' governing that was far too concerned with abstract ideas of 'Rights' instead of with 'what worked!', which those 18th century founding troglodytes had imposed upon us.

The name went out of favor after WWII, but the policies of Fascism have remained the apple of the progressives eye to this day. TR & Wilson were in opposing parties, but were of the same guiding 'philosophy' of progressivism. Wilson jumped the shark with his policies and programs and freaked the public out at the way Gov't was involving itself in their lives, and the term 'progressive' was shed pronto, in favor of swiping the status rich name of Liberal. Most of the true Liberals (which ever after has required the qualifier 'Classical'), found themselves less ill at ease in the Republican party, than with the alarming rebranded progressives and Marxists that were taking over the Democrat party.

The more radical progressives left the Republican party for the Democrat, but many of the 'socially conservative' ones remained, and it has been an odd mix of conservatives, low key progressives and classical liberals ever since.

The fact that many republicans hold Teddy Roosevelt up as someone to emulate (McCain, Palin, etc), is not a soothing thought. But less alarming than the blatantly socialist Dems. Neither of them will solve our problems, but one of them will destroy us less swiftly than the other.

Our leaders aren't going to correct course and save us, until We The People, and the leaders, understand what the Founders understood and why they created the Constitution as they did. Absent that, whatever our leaders lead us towards, will only be away from Liberty.

Unknown said...

We are looking at $700 Billion and the Secretary of the Treasury being allowed to purchase whatever he wants as a bail out with basically no oversight. What a mess

Ray Ingles said...

Even leftists and atheists hate the bailout.

Van Harvey said...

Ray said "Even leftists and atheists hate the bailout."

Atheism itself in and of itself shouldn't lend itself for or against such measures... shouldn't; but, since most of the strident atheists derive their atheism from the same sources that give rise to Leftism, that becomes a bit more problematic.

Against it? 50/50. Perhaps.

As far as the casual Democrat, the one who responds to "We must be fair, we must defend the little guy and the working people!" and pursues those thoughts no further... yeah, ok, they may be frightened by it, even repulsed by it.

But as far as the true leftists go - those whose thinking has gone well beneath the surface of leftism cant - they're against it?


This 'bailout' is making them drool. It's the crisis they've yearned for, and have tried to fake for decades. It's exposed the beating heart of capitalism (finance, property, and real power over peoples lives - mark my words, you ain't seen nothing yet) to their slavering maw, and they are dying to taste and gorge themselves upon it.

I'm not going over to the pessimists... not yet... but I can sure see them from here.

Ray Ingles said...

No true Scotsman... I mean leftist... :->

So, if capitalism is so cool (and I actually think it is), why is it in such a mess right now? I have my theories, and I think they might match yours, but I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Van Harvey said...

The detailed answer is too convoluted and to try answering at lunch, and the blame goes back a hundred years in an unbroken stretch (with possible exception of Coolidge, though there's a nagging memory out of sight, that says he wasn't quite pure either) through Democrats and Republicans.

The short answer is lack of freedom of economic activity.

I'm not even talking about rights and property rights here (though they are inextricably entwined with it), but the necessary free flow of economic activity and the information transmitted via that flow.

Capitalism (Dubbed so by Marx), better termed as the Free Market, or laissez-faire economics (roughly "Leave us alone!"), requires that the market and those in it, be free to make their decisions, purchases, sales, hiring’s and firings as they can best see is going to benefit them, that they be free to benefit by those decisions and fail by those decisions, without outside (non-market influenced aka Gov't) interference.

Every bit of interference in the Free Market, clogs, distorts and muddies the flow of information and capital. Everything from Tariffs to the Fed, regulatory restrictions, 'consumer protections' and 'fair competition controls'(?!)... to say nothing of medicare, or 'enabling home mortgages for those who unfairly can't afford one' and other banking and securities regulations and mandates... essentially every stitch and byte in the Fed and State volumes of regulations and economic policies and tax systems (taxation is a valid function of Gov't, but not in the way its been practiced).

Our system has diverted so much wealth out of the proper economic stream, and tried to hide it with so much Potemkin agency paper, that it is no longer obscurable. The idea that the Free Market is in any way responsible for this mess, is pure sewage. The economic mess we have the pleasure of experiencing right now, is due to the ignorance and 'me too!' hands out of all of We The People for the last century, and there's nowhere left to hide.

Reality can't be faked, and it can only be held off at the expense of the impact becoming more massive. The headlines aren't out of ink yet. Trust me.

Van Harvey said...

BTW, it's not a 'bail out', its robbery, pure and simple.

Unknown said...

Van said "Capitalism (Dubbed so by Marx), better termed as the Free Market, or laissez-faire economics (roughly "Leave us alone!"), requires that the market and those in it, be free to make their decisions, purchases, sales, hiring’s and firings as they can best see is going to benefit them, that they be free to benefit by those decisions and fail by those decisions, without outside (non-market influenced aka Gov't) interference."

You are, as usual, on the money I think. But I also think that the interference hasn't just come from the Gov't it has also come from corporations looking for ways to benefit themselves. I use for example the fact that on the West Coast their is now viable mass transit system like they have in the East Coast. I am not a total conspiracy theorist but this is a case where it was actually done by Firestone and Goodyear and several other companies. I think that in their own way these company's are just as culpable for the economic problems of today.

Ray Ingles said...

Van - I agree that the free market is best in principle, but I'm also troubled by the fact that anarchy doesn't work so hot in practice.

For example, 'consumer protections' can certainly be misplaced, but a big motivator for them was Sinclair's "The Jungle", and his description of how meat was actually processed back then. How to avoid that kind of thing without unduly impacting the market?

Van Harvey said...

Ray said "I'm also troubled by the fact that anarchy doesn't work so hot in practice. For example, 'consumer protections' can certainly be misplaced, but a big motivator for them was Sinclair's "The Jungle"..."

Regarding Sinclair's "The Jungle", If you do a quick google on "debunking Sinclair's "The Jungle"", you'll get about 10,000 hits. Of those, this one takes note of some of what I've found in the past, is this one

"The Jungle" was, first and foremost, a novel. It was intended to be a polemic—a diatribe, if you will—and not a well-researched and dispassionate documentary. Sinclair relied heavily on both his own imagination and on the hearsay of others. He did not even pretend to have actually witnessed the horrendous conditions he ascribed to Chicago packinghouses, nor to have verified them, nor to have derived them from any official records.

...President Theodore Roosevelt wrote of Sinclair in a letter to William Allen White in July 1906, "I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful. Three-fourths of the things he said were absolute falsehoods. For some of the remainder there was only a basis of truth."

Sinclair's fellow writer and philosophical intimate, Jack London, wrote this announcement of "The Jungle," a promo that was approved by Sinclair himself:

Dear Comrades: . . . The book we have been waiting for these many years! It will open countless ears that have been deaf to Socialism. It will make thousands of converts to our cause. It depicts what our country really is, the home of oppression and injustice, a nightmare of misery, an inferno of suffering, a human hell, a jungle of wild beasts..."

If you don't rank Michael Moore as a respectable source of factual reporting, you probably shouldn't rank Sinclair as one either. The Jungle was the 1900's equivalent of the 60's "Silent Spring", selective use of out of context facts to disinform and stir up passions to further a political cause, IOW propaganda.

Regarding regulations for public safety, 99.9% of them cause more harm than they help... unless you're a politician who looks better in the eyes of his constituents, because of them, such as another that notes,

"The first federal health effort was anything but impressive. It was the Act to Encourage Vaccination of 1813, which established a national agency for smallpox vaccine administered by James Smith, a Baltimore doctor who campaigned for passage of the Act. The Act was repealed in 1822 after Smith caused a smallpox epidemic in Tarboro, North Carolina."

Regarding "anarchy doesn't work so hot", anarchy, no anarchy is never a good thing, and will always wind up as some form of dictatorship. One of the side reasons why I keep libertarian ideas at a distance (a large portion of the google hits above, will be solid or libertarian leaning sites btw).

The proper place of regulation in the 'public interests', in the majority of cases, there should be stiff, swift and severe criminal actions, including large fines and imprisonment taken against anyone or company, which can be shown tho have deliberately, or with reasonable demonstration of negligence, either caused or allowed harm to consumers using their product or service in a reasonable manner.

Unknown said...

It seems that I agree with you more often then I thought at first encounter Van : ). I used to be a registered Libertarian and then one day I realized that really the difference between a Libertarian and an Anarchist was mainly one of age and income.

Van Harvey said...

Lance said "It seems that I agree with you more often then I thought at first encounter Van : )"

I hear ya... funny how that works, isn't it?

"But I also think that the interference hasn't just come from the Gov't it has also come from corporations looking for ways to benefit themselves"

Business's are in the business to take advantage of all available resources, and few businessmen, especially in the modern world, have any philosophic understanding of their actions or final causes. Unfortunately that also goes for those in Gov't.

One difference between a wise man and a fool, is their approach to power. The fool is the person who doesn't realize that what he uses power to take ahold of, is also taken ahold of by it. The Progressives were (are) fools. If those in Gov't can control businesses, then businesses will seek to influence those who have control of them. In order to help their businesses succeed, usinessmen will also seek to use those who they have influence over in order to give them advantages against their competition.

Once the door is opened, it can do nothing but open wider. Unless someone else slams it shut to both parties, and throws away the key, we ain't seen nothing yet. You think we had problems will corporations gaining undue influence before? What do you suppose is going to happen now that the Gov't is not only a shareholder, but a controlling shareholder in the financial world?

Unknown said...

"Business's are in the business to take advantage of all available resources, and few businessmen, especially in the modern world, have any philosophic understanding of their actions or final causes. Unfortunately that also goes for those in Gov't."

You are sadly correct, Sir. It is also, I believe, going to get far worse before it gets better, if it does.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding post, Van!
I would only add tha Obama profited the most from Freddie Mac and Fannie May. He has also been very quiet about it.

Also, from what I understand, after the depression, the Great Depression, Commercial and private banks weren't allowed to work together, as they were in 1999 when Lindsay Graham (a pox on that RINO) submitted a bill to Bill Clinton to sign that started this entire mess, taking away the former restrictions and adding the government, or more specifically, Congress to the mix.

The result is what we see today: greedy and unscrupulous politicians working with greedy and unscrupulous businessmen.
Not to mention increased power to the Fed, along with the SEC, FTC, and, no doubt, several other federal agencies.

The so-called reason for this unholy alliance was to make it easier for people to buy homes and get business loans, backed by the government.

The real reason was a get rich quick scheme for politicians and businessmen alike.

I'm not sayin' everyone involved was dirty, but it's obvious, even to me, that it wouldn't work.
There's always people that will take out loans or mortgages they can't possibly pay, and there will always be politicians who take advantage of stupid people.

Sorry, but that's what they were, stupid, or at the very least, ignorant and easily misled to think interest rates will never rise. But mostly stupid, and badly educated.

The politicians can say they helped the po' folk buy houses and take out loans and we should help those po' stupid folk (and the greedy politicians and businessmen who are stealin' from the federal/private trough.

And to fix this they wanna give nearly a trillion bucks to the same assholes who got us in this mess? With the Fed giving a long face and sayin' the longer we wait the worse it'll be? We gotta do it right now, no time to talk about this and get it out into the open?

Well, screw that! I say we put their feet to the fire, demand accountability, and demand that the US government get it's stinkin' nose outta business.
Along with a very thorough investigation.

Thanks, rant off! Feel free to correct me if I got something wrong, Van. :^)

Van Harvey said...

Ben said "Feel free to correct me if I got something wrong"

Au Contrar (a little fastfood lingo there) Ben, I think you're spot on.

Bernanke claims to be a student of the Great Depression... well if he is, he's getting failing grades. Anyone who can look beyond the headlines, is going to see that it wasn't caused by the market crash (itself a cause of previous measures to 'protect the public'), but by the Gov't efforts to 'fix' it.

FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression, by Jim Powell does a pretty good job of listing the issues in context, and points you towards all the documentation you might want. I'd send a copy to Bernanke, but I suspect he's been studying the Great Depression for reasons other than economic ones.

The actual solutions are easy - remove, scrap, do away with all regulations, controls and agencies, and taxes, beginning with Sarbanes-Oxley (the amount of I.I. work that one bill 'created' while contributing NOTHING to productivity was sickening, and then there's lawyers & accountants on top of that - the unimaginable wealth that one 'fix' stole from its rightful owners...), and not stopping until the Fed itself is gone.

I wouldn't hold your breath... but make 'em uncomfortable, let your congressmen & senators know you know better and aren't buying it.

Van Harvey said...

eh... "amount of I.I. work ", should be amount of I.T. work, geek work, coding, programming.


Ray Ingles said...

Van - Note that I didn't say Sinclair gave a "documentation" of meat-packing practices, just a "description". I'm aware of how biased "The Jungle" was, but even 1/4 of it being true is pretty scary.

I also agree with your prescription - consequences with teeth for unsafe products. I think there's a market, too, for independent rating agencies - we subscribe to Consumer Reports, for example.

Federal health - there we get into some interesting areas. How do we balance personal freedom with the very real (and highly desirable) phenomenon of herd immunity? It's one of the key reasons smallpox was licked - and anti-vaccine hysteria is endangering it now for other diseases. :-/

Van Harvey said...

BTW... why did none of you guys catch that I said "214 years ago President Madison"... come on, that's embarrassing to me... so much so that I won't alter it... I deserve to have that sticking in my side for a long time.

The 1794, date and the quote is correct, but at the time Madison was a congressmen, and I guess when I wrote this I was looking at, or thinking of, one of my Favorite Madison as President acts, his veto of a 'roads' bill.

Come on you guys... how am I supposed to learn from my mistakes if you don't catch them!

Sheesh. Blogo-autodidact it is.