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I watched the Democrat Party debate this evening with a primary objective – to account for the amount of discussion relative to government coercion over individuals and society as compared to the amount of discussion relative to individual liberty and freedom from government imposition. My expectations were sadly, but unsurprisingly fulfilled. Though America was founded on limited government and unimpeded individual liberty, we’ve seen a slow but persistent movement toward representative majoritarianism which in turn, has led inextricably to the use of state power to coerce the conduct and activities of individuals under force of law.

The following coercive topics were commented upon by the candidates favorably throughout the debate:

  1. Attacks on high income earners
  2. Income inequality
  3. Climate change
  4. Economic injustice
  5. Attacks on free speech relative to campaign financing
  6. Gun control
  7. Free college/college debt relief
  8. Increased funding for public education
  9. Forced corporate profit sharing
  10. Forced paid family leave
  11. Race issues
  12. LBGT issues
  13. Regulated health care
  14. Increased economic regulation
  15. Expanding social security
  16. Expanding Medicare

The following liberty related topics were commented upon favorably during the debate:

  1. Medical marijuana
  2. Gun freedom
  3. Criminal justice reform
  4. Anti-TARP
  5. NSA/Patriot Act

The following liberty related topics were not discussed at all during the debate:

  1. Religious liberty
  2. The burdening of future generations with a crippling national debt
  3. Economic freedom
  4. The oppressive regulatory state
  5. Agency abuse of power (EPA/IRS)
  6. Breach of separation of powers
  7. Breach of federalism
  8. Centralization of public education

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Within a few hours of the shooting yesterday in Roseburg, Oregon, President Obama took to the microphone for his predictable demagoguery on the issue of gun control. Whenever such a crime occurs, he and others who support restricting or eliminating our liberty to keep and bear arms can be counted on to make an almost immediate appeal to the public’s understandable emotional response to such irrational violence. At the time of his comments, there were absolutely no details available upon which he could judge that adoption of some restriction or regulation would have prevented the shooter from acquiring guns. But that didn’t stop him from pontificating regarding the need for unspecified gun control.

“The notion that gun violence is somehow different and our freedom and our constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who can hunt, protect their families, under such regulations, it doesn’t make sense… Each time this happens, I’m going to say, ‘We can actually do something about it.’ But we’re going to have to change the laws. I’ve got to have Congress, state legislators, governors who are willing to work with me on this.”

The obvious chasm between the unknown facts regarding how the shooter obtained guns and the call for “modest regulation” and a “change” in “the laws” in order to “do something about it”, is far too wide for any tortured logic to span. He might as well have said, “we don’t know how this shooter obtained his guns, but we need legislation to stop anything like this from happening again”. Barring a complete ban on guns, what does that mean? Obama doesn’t need to concern himself with whether his call for gun control makes sense for two reasons. First, he is making an appeal to emotion rather than reason. Second, he can count on the main stream media to ignore the fallacy of his argument, or more likely, reinforce it.

Those who seek to curb our liberties often complain that Second Amendment advocates aren’t willing to engage in ‘common sense’ compromise in order to ‘stem the tide of senseless violence’. Notwithstanding the fact that they rarely support their arguments with the pesky details of how their proposals will stem gun violence, they ignore the fact that compromise is not always a good thing. ‘Compromise’ is a blessed word in American politics and is often invoked in the spirit of ‘getting things done’ and ‘avoiding gridlock’. When it comes to our liberties, ‘compromise’ is an evil word. ‘Getting things done’ always means yielding more of our liberty. When it comes to maintaining freedom, gridlock is good.

Since the advent of the New Deal, America has a long history of diminishing individual liberty ostensibly in exchange for coercive legislation which is always promised to make American life better and more productive. In reality, the impositions on our liberties have led to a lower standard of living and have created an administrative leviathan which is ever expanding and utterly unproductive. We should learn from past mistakes and keep an iron grip on our remaining liberties, including the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. We should identify emotional demagoguery for what it is, a cheap, unsupported appeal for our acquiescence in the usurpation of our freedom. We should insist on well-reasoned position statements from our political representatives. When those who seek to persuade us to yield our rights ultimately make specific proposals for “common sense” gun legislation, we should insist that they explain exactly how such legislation would have stopped any of the mass shootings they so often use as an emotional springboard to launch their efforts against gun liberty and how they will prevent such violence in the future. Without exception, we’ll find their logic is lacking.

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The ‘Civil War Amendments’ (Amendments 13, 14, and 15) were swiftly adopted and ratified after the close of the Civil War in order to constitutionalize the full citizenship and equal protection under the law of former slaves and their progeny.  Unfortunately, state induced discrimination continued.  The ‘poll tax’ was one of the many manifestations of the “legal” discrimination of blacks via ‘Jim Crow’ laws.  The point of the poll tax was to prevent blacks from exercising the franchise, thus eliminating their participation in our system of self-governance.  Because the franchise is fundamental to citizenship in a self-governing political system, the poll tax was nothing less than an effort to diminish the citizenship of blacks then guaranteed by the Constitution as amended.  Ultimately, the poll tax was a tax on democratic participation.  The Supreme Court rightfully held in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that state poll taxes are unconstitutional because they violate the 14th Amendment.

The city of Seattle recently imposed a tax on the purchase of any gun or ammunition within the city’s limits.  The tax is unique to guns and ammunition, applying to the purchase of no other goods or services.  By design, the tax would increase the cost of gun ownership and use, thus discouraging purchases and negatively affecting citizens’ ability to acquire and use firearms.

America’s founders recognized the necessity of the right to keep and bear arms in establishing and maintaining liberty.  Richard Henry Lee wrote that “to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms…” As a result, they adopted and ratified the Second Amendment, thereby making the Constitution expressly recognize and protect the right to keep and bear arms.  Because the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental to liberty and its preservation, the gun tax is nothing less than an effort to diminish liberty.

The National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation along with others, have filed suit against Seattle in order to seek a judicial determination that the gun tax is illegal because, among other reasons, it violates the 2nd Amendment right to purchase guns and ammunition and thus, to keep and bear arms.  Just as the poll tax was an unconstitutional impediment to the constitutional right to vote, the gun tax is an unconstitutional impediment to the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  The NRA should prevail in its lawsuit and the Court should rule that the Seattle gun and ammunition tax is unconstitutional as it violates the 2nd Amendment.

 

 

 

 

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Hillary Clinton’s effort to avoid blame for her breach of protocols due to the “ridiculousness” of the rules she broke violates her core statist principles which dictate that the state should regulate human activity because it does more good than harm when it does so.  Those principles motivate her policy positions…at least as long as they don’t inconvenience her or get her into trouble.

Last week, Hillary Clinton seized on Fildena 25 authored by Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department official, in defense of her e-mail account misconduct.  Miller wrote that “the sheer volume of information now considered classified, as well as the extreme, and often absurd, interpretations by intelligence officials about what is and is not classified, make it nearly impossible for officials charged with operating in both the classified and unclassified worlds to do so without ever mixing the two.”  Clinton jumped at the chance to justify her conduct linking to the article and tweeting “‘Our ridiculous classification rules’ are the real problem”.  In doing so, she acted contrary to her core beliefs as a statist in order to provide a defense for her misconduct.

Hillary Clinton is a modern liberal statist and advocates government regulation of human activity.  She thinks the government should regulate citizens in farming, industry, employment, health care, food safety, drug safety, and virtually anything potentially affecting the environment (which of course means just about everything).  She thinks the government can and should undertake such an aggressive and all-encompassing regulatory effort because society benefits if it does so.

She is aware of the monetary costs, inefficiencies and lost opportunities these regulations impose on citizens.  She knows that the rules and regulations which touch upon every aspect of life must prove unfair or unreasonable on a daily basis in their application to specific individuals whose unique circumstances could not have been considered in the adoption of rules to be universally applied.  She obviously does not think that a plea of “ridiculousness” is a defense sufficient to overcome the application of a rule or regulation applicable to society at large.

The three legitimate functions of government are, (1) ensuring individual liberty, (2) securing the nation from foreign aggression and (3) administering civil and criminal justice.  Though modern liberal statists like Clinton go far beyond, advocating the routine violation of the first function by virtue of myriad regulatory and redistributive schemes mandated by force of law for the supposed benefit of society at large, modern liberals still formally acknowledge those three core functions of government.  Obviously, the classification of information for national security purposes falls within one of those core functions, namely, securing the nation from foreign aggression.  Accordingly, virtually everyone agrees that the protocols for classifying that information play a key role in fulfilling one of the government’s core functions.

Without hesitation, Clinton seized upon the argument that the rule proscribing her conduct is unfair, unreasonable, or “ridiculous”.  She made this point despite the fact that the rule she complains of is integral to one of the primary functions of any government.  Implicit in her tweeted statement, is an acknowledgment that the government cannot always get it right, even when performing its most essential functions.  Also implicit in her statement, is an assertion that the statist political class isn’t, or shouldn’t be, subject to the same stringent inflexibility with respect to the rule of law as the great unwashed masses.  Of course, hypocrisy in the application of laws to the political class is nothing new.  Recall Congress’s ObamaCare exemption.

The bottom line is this – top down, invasive, abusive regulations are just fine when imposed on you for any reason the government thinks is a good idea.  If regulations aren’t reasonable and you suffer expense or inconvenience, that’s ok because it’s all for the greater good.  You aren’t sufficiently important and don’t have enough “pull” to achieve an exception for yourself.  But expect the Secretary of State to comply with protocols deemed crucial to national security which she thinks are unreasonable, cumbersome or inefficient?

Don’t be ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

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The topic of the day is the use of the term “anchor babies” by certain Republican candidates for president.  Both Donald Trump and Jeb Bush were recently asked by members of the press why they are using this “offensive” term.  Put on the spot, both candidates asked their inquisitor for a less offensive substitute.  They might, instead, have asked what exactly is offensive about the term “anchor baby”.  The short answer – only it’s intended meaning.

Confucius said that “when words lose their meaning people will lose their liberty.”  Language control has been a staple of those who would impose their political will since the dawn of politics.  In our self-governing society, the usurpation of language has always been a favored tool of the left.  By controlling language, they affect messaging and ultimately thought.

Sometimes they co-opt words which have gained favor with the public and redefine them, presumably in the hope that the positive connotation will continue even after it has been redefined.  There is perhaps no better example of this tactic than the progressives’ theft of the word “liberalism”.   Once, “liberalism” defined a political perspective which valued individual and economic liberty, private property, very limited government and the strict application of the rule of law.  Because the progressive movement stole the term and redefined it for its own purposes, this original conception of “liberalism” is now typically referred to as “classical liberalism” in order to distinguish it from modern liberalism.  As Ralph Raico wrote so succinctly, “The qualifying ‘classical’ is now usually necessary…because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals.”

On other occasions the left usurps language by demonizing it.  By deeming a term or phrase politically incorrect, offensive or even racist, they hope to block the transfer of ideas in two ways.  First, they seek to gag the messenger.  Most people are concerned for their reputations and do not want to be seen by the public as intolerant or narrow minded.  If an idea can be squelched before it’s uttered, it never makes its way to the intended audience.  Second, they hope to poison the potential listeners’ perspective.  If the public can be made suspicious of certain words and phrases, the message being communicated may not find open minds willing to consider it.  By demonizing language, the left seeks both to gag the speaker and taint the receptiveness of the listener.

The term “anchor baby” refers to children of illegal immigrants who are argued to have achieved U.S. citizenship by virtue of having been born here.  The babies’ alleged citizenship, provides a legal tether to the U.S. for their families thus “anchoring” them here.  Those who are here illegally and wish to stay, as well as those who support them may find the term offensive because it calls attention to their illegal status or because it might lead one to speculate that illegals intentionally birth babies in the U.S. in order to provide them that tether.

There’s a stark distinction between being offended by words and phrases that society has generally come to disdain for their ugliness or insulting nature and being offended by words and phrases because they effectively communicate an idea with which one simply disagrees.  “Anchor babies” falls in the second category.  To suggest that the term is offensive and should not be utilized is to advocate the stifling of an idea which is particularly pertinent in the greater debate over illegal immigration.

Perhaps the next time a candidate has an opportunity to challenge an inquisitor on this issue, he or she will challenge the notion that the term is offensive rather than merely suggesting that there is no better alternative.  They would do society a favor by standing in the way of yet another leftist attempt to highjack language in order to thwart effective communication and thus control public thought.

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It’s now fairly widely known that the U.S. Treasury has changes planned for the ten dollar bill.  It is anticipated that by 2020, a depiction of a woman will share the ten spot with its current occupant, Alexander Hamilton.

While we have a history of using postage stamps to honor various important historical Americans for substantial achievements and contributions to society, we’ve treated our currency differently.  The American heroes depicted on our currency haven’t changed for decades.  The currency has not been used to recognize the historical achievements of myriad people.  Rather, it has been a model of consistency, lending itself to nostalgic and historical reflection on our country’s founding and formative history.

Accordingly, one might think the suggestion that our currency should bear the likeness of any new personage would be the subject of serious and thorough debate and consideration.  Hamilton’s portrait has graced the $10 bill since 1928.  Surely Treasury must have identified someone of peculiar historical standing who made supremely important contributions to America as being worthy of such an honor.  Not exactly.  You see, the identity of the woman to be honored has not yet been determined.  The point of the effort is to put “a woman” on the $10 bill, not to honor any specific woman for her contributions or importance to our country.  Ultimately, the finer point is to celebrate our own contemporary importance – we will be the first generation to put a female face on U.S. currency.

The idea is the brainchild of U.S. Treasurer, Rosie Rios.  The reportage on the decision and her comments on the subject clearly illustrate the real purpose of the change.  CNN reported that after being sworn in as Treasurer in 2009, “she became fixated on a goal: putting a woman on the U.S. currency.”  In making early public remarks about the change, Rios reported getting choked up because “it hit me then that this was going to happen.”  In describing the change she said, “this is historical.”  Clearly Ms. Rios is moved by the fact of a woman being placed on the currency.  Who the woman will be or what she accomplished for America, is not critical.

Rios isn’t the only government official whose comments reveal the real accomplishment being pursued in this effort.  Regarding the fact that the yet to be determined honoree will share the $10 bill with Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “I think a woman should have her own bill.”  Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) went further.  The fact that “the woman selected for the $10 note might have to share space on the bill with Hamilton is misguided and demeaning.”  An as yet undetermined woman sharing a stage with Alexander Hamilton is automatically, ipso facto, demeaning?  Why?  Would it be demeaning were a worthy man to be selected to share the $20 bill with Andrew Jackson?  Clearly, the importance of the moment is the recognition of a woman, ultimately any woman, on U.S. currency.

These comments, together with the fact that nobody seems to have considered whether a woman can be identified about whom a consensus will exist concerning her worthiness of being placed on the $10 bill, lead to an easy conclusion – the accomplishment being celebrated here is not the accomplishment of the woman to be selected; the accomplishment that causes Rios to get choked up, Clinton to opine that a woman “should have her own bill”, and Shaheen to call the sharing of the bill with Hamilton “demeaning”, is the accomplishment of placing the likeness of a woman on the currency.  The accomplishment is contemporary, not historical.  The achievement is ours, not the yet to be identified honoree’s.  The celebration is over our self-importance in making the change; our own making of history.

At bottom, the emplacement of the likeness of a woman on the currency is a matter of fairness in the context of identity politics.  How else could one ever justify or explain the compulsion to place “a woman” on currency that hasn’t reflected anyone other than Hamilton for some 87 years, without any consideration whatsoever of her specific accomplishments or contributions?

This feat achieves the advancement of two causes the left doggedly pursues.  It moves two processes forward, both of which fit perfectly within their vision for America.  The first is the process of transforming American institutions to fit their narrative of the world as they believe it should be.  The currency, like just about everything else these days, is being transformed into an avenue for the left to do “social justice” and to force American institutions to reflect egalitarian and social justice principles.  The second, is the systematic phasing out of the icons of our founding, our first principles and our original creed.  Individual liberty, limited government, constitutionalism, and the rule of law are principles the left believes are out of date, antiquated, even dangerous.  That they can simultaneously transform the currency into a device for reflecting their view of a “progressing” society while demoting on that same currency the founders who created our country upon the foundation of those principles must be doubly satisfying.

Though it may seem somewhat trivial in light of the many significant issues we face as a country, the revision of the currency for the purpose of advancing leftist principles serves as a striking metaphor for what has been slowly transpiring for many years—the left’s effective assault on the founding principles and effort to replace them in the hearts and minds of Americans with principles of egalitarianism, distributive equality, and social justice.

Whether there is another shoe to drop when the identity of the woman to be honored is announced remains to be seen.  Will the leftists at Treasury be satisfied with the achievement as it is and choose a woman whose contributions can be appreciated by all?  Or will they take the opportunity to further their agenda and select a woman whose accomplishments advanced their statist principles and worked counter to those Hamilton cherished?  Time will tell, but it’s worth noting that among those who have been suggested are Margret Sanger, the founder of the organization that became Planned Parenthood and outspoken advocate of eugenics and forced sterilization.

 

 

 

 

 

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Much has been made of Ted Cruz’s comments from the floor of the Senate this past Friday.  In summation, the Export-Import Bank’s authorization expired on June 30, 2015.  Cruz, a critic of the Bank, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured him in May that McConnell had no “deal” with a group of senators who wanted to revive the bank in exchange for their votes on a trade bill.  On Friday, McConnell took steps to revive the bank, leading to Cruz’s comments from the floor.  “What we saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over again was a simple lie.

What has followed since is nothing less than a circling of the wagons around McConnell, but few seem to be noticing it.  While so called “main stream”, corporatist republicans have taken to criticizing Cruz for his lack of decorum, the main stream media has focused entirely on the fact of Cruz’s comments rather than their merit.  Whether what Cruz said was appropriate is the question, not whether it was accurate and, if so, whether McConnell’s conduct should be scrutinized.  Cruz’s fellow republicans and the national media have made Cruz the focus of attention for his comments and have completely ignored the substance of the comments; McConnell’s conniving to revive the Bank.

At best, the Export-Import Bank is government meddling in free markets.  At worst, it is a conduit for corporate cronyism and the pre-selection of winners and losers by someone other than free market consumers.  That McConnell is playing fast and loose with the truth in his back room dealings in order to manipulate an effort to save the Bank illustrates the pull the likes of the Chamber of Commerce has with McConnell.

As for Cruz and the corporatist republican effort to discredit him, perhaps that wing of the party doesn’t understand that Senator Cruz has his own constituency and it does not consist of corporations who stand ready to make big campaign contributions in exchange for even bigger patronage and favoritism.  Senator Cruz’s constituency consists of individual citizens and he understands that their lives are always made better when the free market is left alone, unaffected and unmolested by special interests syphoning off patronage in the name of “promoting exports”.

Senator Orin Hatch’s comments are illustrative of the effort main stream republicans have made to discredit him.  “Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated on the campaign trail, but not in here.  We are not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions. We are here because the people of the United States have entrusted us with the solemn responsibility to act on their behalf.  It is a sacred trust in which pettiness or grandstanding should have no part.

Talk about sanctimony!  One wonders whether Senator Hatch and the rest of Cruz’s detractors ever really consider their “sacred trust”.  Does Hatch think that honoring that trust requires a Senator to just keep quite when others scheme, connive and lie?  Perhaps Senator Hatch excuses such conduct so long as it occurs somewhere other than the Senate floor.  After all, that Cruz made his comments there rather than on the campaign trail seems to be the primary cause for Hatch’s concern.

This saga reflects so much of where we are as a society at large.  “Form over substance” is too often the rule; “reason” too often the exception.  Good intentions matter more than actions and results.  Pandering to the politically correct trumps objective reality.

  • A murder becomes a “hate crime” because of what motivated the perpetrator to violence.  The wrongfulness of the act of intentionally killing another human being is thereby made relative to the motivation of the perpetrator.  One who slays for money, or even to satisfy a twisted pleasure, is thereby judged by society as less culpable than one who slays in response to a twisted hatred.
  • Of course, “all lives matter”; but be careful where you say so, or else be prepared to apologize.
  • “He” must now be referred to as “she”, even though “he” is still objectively a male.
  • We must not profile for terrorists or criminals on the basis of race, gender, religion or anything else, even when we know as a matter of objective fact that members of a certain race, gender, religion, or anything else are the most likely perpetrators.

I suspect that what rankles so many about Ted Cruz is that he is decidedly not a “form over substance” guy and he won’t act as though he is.  He believes that actions and results matter more than good intentions and he won’t pretend otherwise to assuage anybody.  Objective reality greatly outweighs political correctness because he is a man of reason who values objective reality greatly and political correctness not at all.  Cruz is a man of principle, not expediency; and he is unwilling to compromise the first for the latter.

Perhaps Ted Cruz has calculated that many Americans value substance over form, results over intentions, and a demonstrable grasp of reality over a quivering deference to someone else’s notion of correct behavior and commentary.  Perhaps he believes that he and they together, might persuade still more American’s to those values.  Or perhaps he simply knows what he stands for.  In either case, he’s not likely to be silenced by adversaries pleading a loss of decorum when he judges so much more than decorum to be at stake.

As a subset of the same media that is ignoring the question of McConnell’s veracity and methods, the political pundits are unsurprisingly focusing on Cruz rather than McConnell, but their focus is obscured by virtue of looking through dual prisms. The first is the prism of the presidential election. They seem incapable of scrutinizing Cruz’s comments from any perspective other than considering his motives as they might relate to his candidacy for the presidency. The second is the prism of their own cynical echo chamber. Excepting only their consideration of leftist, statist politicians who promise “hope and change” or “the fundamental transformation of America”, it seems that once a journalist joins a national press corps, he is doomed to be blinded to any possibility that principles, rather than political expediency, might motivate the conduct of a politician. The national press, including the so called “conservative press” is missing the entire point of Ted Cruz as an elected official. He is standing for no less than a return to the original Constitution. For him, the principles of constitutionalism and real respect for popular sovereignty, like the principles of reason and objective reality, are not negotiable – not even in a run for the presidency. What a breath of fresh air. Here’s to a thousand more like him.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hillary Clinton garnered praise from organized labor for backing New York’s increased minimum wage.  Organized labor is a special interest looking for its share of patronage from government.  Whether organized labor praises any policy position is not the question.  The question is, what does that policy position do for (or to) society at large.

It is illegitimate in a free society for government to use the force of law to modify what would otherwise be voluntary exchanges.  Consider; I am willing to work for you for $1 an hour.  I’ve judged it in my best interest to do so.  Otherwise, I would work elsewhere. 

You are willing to pay me $1 per hour and are satisfied with my services.  The government forces you to pay me $2 per hour and you say, “well, at least everyone else has to pay more too.  I’ve lost no comparative advantage.  But now my profits will suffer unless I raise prices.” 

What do you think you will do?  You will raise prices because you will lose no comparative advantage in doing so.  You know that everyone else who hires so called “minimum wage workers” will make the same decision to raise prices. 

However, later, when your customers decide to purchase less of your product, you will suffer.  Over time, you may realize your sales have decreased somewhat so you may reduce prices a bit in order to increase sales.  But your profit margin will then be lower than it was before the government mandate came into effect. 

Through this process, the immediate benefit of higher wages for me, is counterbalanced by your widely dispersed and far less identifiable lower profits and by higher prices for consumers.  Finally and ironically, those higher prices will end up neutralizing the original coerced pay raise.  Those who received the mandated pay increase have living expenses which must rise as well.  They are consumers, and no consumer is immune from the choice which must be made; pay more for the product or use less of it. 

The minimum wage is a ruse used by the political class to dupe voters, nothing else.  At the end of the day, the statist politicians get what they want…votes.  Everyone else is, at best, left in the same situation as before the mandate. 

In a free society, government has no business compelling the terms of voluntary transactions.  When it comes to the economy, we must demand that our elected officials “make it free and leave it be”.

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In Federalist No. 40, James Madison wrote that “the general powers (of the new federal government) are limited, and … the states in all unemumerated cases, are left in the enjoyment of their sovereign and independent jurisdiction.”  Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45 that “the States will retain under the proposed Constitution a very extensive portion of active sovereignty” and that the powers “which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite.”  Further, he wrote that “the powers delegated by the Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined” and that the “operations of the Federal Government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger” and “those of the State Governments, in times of peace and security.”  The states’ retention of sovereignty was crucial to the ratification of the Constitution.  It was important to the people that they retain local governmental control over the things that affect their lives the most.  In that vein, Madison wrote that “(t)he powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

As American government continues to move inextricably toward complete centralization in Washington D.C., our governance exhibits ever fewer indicia of the strong federalism intentionally established by our founders via the Constitution.  Like virtually every other manner in which our original Constitution has been deconstructed, the weakening of federalism began as an idea in the minds of the early progressives and was brought to life by the policy initiatives of the New Deal under FDR.  In 1913, Theodore Roosevelt complained that “the State’s rights fetish” was “effectively used…by both courts and Congress to block needed national legislation.”  But it was not until the 1930’s that Franklin Roosevelt was able to breach the Supreme Court’s constitutional sensibilities and usher in the era of big central government and diminished state authority which we have lived with ever since.  Interestingly, FDR didn’t come into the presidency as an outspoken advocate in favor of central government and against federalism.

James P. Warburg was one of FDR’s original economic advisors.  He was impressed by FDR’s first campaign for presidency, but quickly became disillusioned when he realized that FDR “has done a few things that he promised to do – more things that he promised not to do – and still more things that his Socialist opponent (Norman Thomas) promised to do.”  Warburg left the administration mid-way through FDR’s first term and wrote his book, Hell Bent For Election, in an effort to alert the country to the dangers of FDR’s policies or, as he put it, “to flag an express train before it reaches a broken culvert.”

Though only 78 pages and easily readable in a sitting or two, Hell Bent For Election provides meaningful insights from an FDR insider as to the changes in his attitudes toward governing once he came into office.  In assessing Roosevelt as the time came for the country to determine whether he deserved a second term, Warburg sought to answer a few seemingly simple questions, including: how have his actions since becoming president compared with his pre-election statements and promises?  Of particular relevance to federalism, Warburg quoted the following excerpts from an FDR speech delivered in March of 1930, almost exactly three years before he took the oath of office.  Though FDR’s comments in favor of state sovereignty in 1930 are curious when considered in the larger context of his presidency, they are no less true now than they were when originally spoken:

The preservation of this “Home Rule” by the States is not a cry of jealous Commonwealths seeking their own aggrandizement at the expense of sister States. It is a fundamental necessity if we are to remain a truly united country. The whole success of our democracy has not been that it is a democracy wherein the will of a bare majority of the total inhabitants is imposed upon the minority, but that it has been a democracy where through a division of government into units called States the rights and interests of the minority have been respected and have always been given a voice in the control of our affairs.…

Now, to bring about government by oligarchy masquerading as democracy, it is fundamentally essential that practically all authority and control be centralized in our National Government. The individual sovereignty of our States must first be destroyed, except in mere minor matters of legislation. We are safe from the danger of any such departure from the principles on which this country was founded just so long as the individual home rule of the States is scrupulously preserved and fought for whenever it seems in danger. Thus it will be seen that this “Home Rule” is a most important thing, a most vital thing, if we are to continue along the course on which we have so far progressed with such unprecedented success.…

Let us remember that from the very beginning differences in climate, soil, conditions, habits and modes of living in States separated by thousands of miles rendered it necessary to give the fullest individual latitude to the individual States. Let us further remember that the mining States of the Rockies, the fertile savannas of the South, the prairies of the West, and the rocky soil of the New England States created many problems and introduced many factors in each locality, which have no existence in others. It must be obvious that almost every new or old problem of government must be solved, if it is to be solved to the satisfaction of the people of the whole country, by each State in its own way….

So it was that FDR got federalism right – before he began his presidency, completely changed his position, and began the unconstitutional transition of power from the states to the federal government which continues to this day.

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