Category Archives: Principles Of Government

Why Don’t We Care About Stormy Daniels?

According to a recent poll, 73% of voters do not believe President Trump’s alleged affair with pornographic actress Stormy Daniels is an important news story.  I agree.  And that saddens me.  We once had the luxury of concerning ourselves with the personal character of candidates for elected office.  Unfortunately, those days are gone.

When government was small and its powers constitutionally limited, it’s capacity to influence the individual lives of its citizens was marginal compared to today.  Because the government could only do so much, it made sense to seek people of high character for public office.  It’s nice to be proud of elected officials.  It’s good when our children can look up to them as role models.

With the systematic and incremental deconstruction of the Constitution’s limits on government power came bigger government.  That government now inserts itself into our everyday lives to a degree never imagined at our country’s founding.  The halls of government have been thrown wide open to influence peddling, special interests, patronage, protectionism, and innumerable coercions and restraints over the citizenry.

Where the Constitution provided limited government with enumerated powers coupled with textual and structural protections of individual liberty, the deconstruction of the Constitution has resulted in comparatively limitless government and a subjugation of the citizenry to the will of the majority as expressed through our elected representatives.  Where we once enjoyed the constitutional republic the founding generation gave us, we now suffer the representative majoritarianism which has resulted from the incremental diminishment of the Constitution’s limits on government power as well as those structural and textual protections of liberty.

Because representative majoritarianism has resulted in a government that has an expansive capacity to exert influence over our lives and seems determined to do so with reckless abandon, it is no longer prudent to place much importance on the personal character of elected officials.  Given a choice between a loud mouthed lout with a long and open history of philandering who is a stalwart constitutionalist and a highly trustworthy, intelligent, competent, family oriented, church goer who is seeking office in order to mold society through his or her legislative efforts, I’ll take the lout every time.

This isn’t to suggest that Trump is a stalwart constitutionalist by any means.  But the principle applies – because of the myriad permutations of what might be imposed by the government under a system of representative majoritarianism implemented as a result of the hollowing out of our Constitution, a voter’s concern over a candidate’s character is dwarfed by the concern over what a candidate will do once in office to affect the voter’s life.  Accordingly, our perception of a candidate’s character is now only important to the extent that perception relates to our evaluation of how he or she will govern.  Promiscuity and infidelity have little if any bearing on the decisions an elected official will make.  As a result, it’s natural that the public would not find instances of promiscuity or infidelity to be particularly important.

The fact that we can no longer afford the luxury of concerning ourselves with a candidate’s character is just another in a long line of sad outcomes which necessarily result when a society opts for statism and collectivism over liberty and individualism.

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The Teacher Pay Debate In W. Va.

West Virginia is currently in the throes of a teacher pay debate.  The teachers want raises and a cap on their exposure to increasing health insurance premiums.  Much of the debate has centered around the insufficiency of past pay increases, the comparative pay of teachers in surrounding states, and the effective diminution of their disposable income if it is subjected to market based health insurance increases.  The debate misses the larger problem with the manner in which teachers’ salaries and benefits are determined in West Virginia.

We’ve unnecessarily eliminated all free market pricing mechanisms from the process of setting teachers’ salaries and benefits. The free market would set the price of teacher labor by virtue of what actual consumers would be willing to pay for a particular teacher’s services and benefits. That function of the market having long ago been eliminated, there is no way to determine the ‘correct’ price for an individual teacher’s services.  Instead, it’s left to political (rather than market) processes, where price is determined by the political pull of teachers’ unions weighted against representatives’ mandate to balance the budget while (as always) operating under the perpetual influence of the next election.

Good teachers would undoubtedly benefit immensely from a system that determined teacher pay based upon free market mechanisms rather the ‘one size fits all’ deals cut by unions on behalf of all public educators.  Teachers unions will never support free market initiatives because they 1) necessarily result in higher pay for more effective teachers and therefore, 2) create a class of teachers who perceive themselves to be unfairly treated and thus not adequately served by the unions and thus, 3) erode the unions’ power and influence.

This political issue over teacher salaries and benefits is a good context in which to see this inefficient paradigm at work first hand.   Elected representatives are trying to cope with a budget that must be balanced and an electorate that is clamoring to be heard from both sides of the issue – but particularly from the side advancing the cause of teacher pay raises and increased benefits packages.  Why particularly the teachers?  Because they have the political pull, a perceived vested interest, and the most to gain from winning the issue.

On one hand there is a self-interested political power base in the teachers’ who, for the most part, individually had nothing to do with creating or maintaining this system, but have operated within its paradigm their entire careers.  They’re organized and they want what they want.  They perceive that they wear the white hat in this political battle and they’ve taken that mantle for themselves in the press and in the public statements made by their union leaders and by many political officials who either truly agree with them or are willing to patronize them in hopes of gaining their political support in the future.

On the other hand there is everyone else – the mass of citizen tax payers who have varying experiences with their respective employers and health insurance. No doubt, many have long suffered the experience of seeing their disposable income reduced annually by increasing annual health insurance premiums. As a result, this group is naturally somewhat unmoved by teacher complaints that their disposable income may now suffer because of their own health insurance premiums increasing.  Many who are not employed in government jobs have been laboring under that harsh reality for years.  But as a group, they are not sufficiently organized to take a strong position in opposition to unions who are demanding benefits for members which non-government employees cannot get in the private sector.  The individual benefit or detriment regular citizens will realize from whatever pay scheme the system ultimately puts in place is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify.  Their perceived individual interest in the outcome of the issue pales in comparison to that of the teachers.

Everything about this problem ultimately lies in the fact that that there is no market based pricing mechanism for teacher pay and benefits in West Virginia.  As a result, the teacher faction makes appeals as to what the universe of all teachers in West Virginia “deserve”.  If free market mechanisms were employed we would see that some teachers deserve a raise and some don’t.  And some deserve a bigger raise than others.  Rather than implementing market mechanisms to determine what individual teachers actually deserve, the entire question gets dumped into the arena of representative majoritarianism – can a political faction persuade or threaten a sufficient number of elected representatives to their side of the issue to get what they want as a collective group from the public fisc.  That is no way to set the price of labor in a free society, regardless of how much flexibility West Virginia has, or doesn’t have, in the budget.

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The Anthem: What Do We Stand For?

Like so many, I have a negative visceral reaction when I see athletes refusing to stand for the national anthem as a form of protest.  I like to try to understand my visceral reactions if I can.  Understanding them helps me to come to a logical, reasoned decision as to whether they’re warranted or not.  I realized though, as I considered the question, that my answers were still mostly instinctive rather than well-reasoned.  “It’s just not right” or “they’re just trying to stir up trouble” don’t really cut it.  I had to dig much deeper than that.  It occurred to me that it might be easier for me to determine why I’m motivated to stand-up for the national anthem than why I’m angry and frustrated at others choosing not to do so.  Perhaps that process might lead me to the answers I was looking for.

I’ve heard a lot of reasons some folks have said they think people should stand for the anthem.  They don’t generally ring true to me and I often find myself frustrated, shaking my head and thinking “that’s not right…that’s not why I stand for the anthem”.  Some say not standing is disrespectful to soldiers and veterans who have served under the flag and risked their lives as directed by the commander in chief, sometimes for our very freedom from an encroaching tyranny.  While I respect and appreciate soldiers completely, and have no complaint with them whatsoever on those occasions when I disagree with policy decisions that may send them in harm’s way, my respect and appreciation for them is not why I stand.  I still get a swell in my chest and once in a while, even goosebumps, when I hear the anthem and see the flag presented at a ball game.  Those reactions don’t come merely from respecting and appreciating soldiers and veterans.  There’s something deeper going on there.

More generally I’ve heard some suggest that it’s simply unpatriotic not to stand.  The idea is that one should stand for the anthem in order to demonstrate fidelity to the country, no matter what.  Though this probably comes a little closer to my personal perspective, I can’t quite get there either.  I think in particular the “no matter what” bit gives me pause and prevents me from jumping on board.  I’m sure there must be hypothetical circumstances in which I might decide not to stand for the anthem anymore, though I’d prefer to avoid the discomfort of considering what those circumstances might be.

Like most of us, I started standing for the anthem because that’s what I was taught to do, and I don’t discount that factor as a motivation for why I think it’s important to stand now.  I suspect that a general respect and appreciation for the country legitimately known as ‘the land of opportunity’ as well as good old fashioned tradition are not insignificant factors motivating most of us to stand for the anthem.   But I don’t think they’re sufficiently moving so as to account for the sense of pride or the goosebumps.  There has to be more.

As I grew up, learned, and gained a deeper understanding of the American experiment and what it had accomplished, I came to a real appreciation of America and an understanding of how very fortunate I am to have been born here.  In later years as I read and studied even more about the principles upon which the country was based such as limited government, a strict adherence to the rule of law, equality under the law and the unalienable rights of individuals, my appreciation grew more profound.

Not everything in our history has been perfect, nor could it have been.  We call this planet we inhabit ‘Earth’ rather than ‘Heaven’ for a reason.  Only delusional Utopian dreamers have ever suggested that the perfectibility of mankind is even approachable.  No human institution will ever be perfect.  But in the span of history, we’ve seen only one society become such a desired destination and such a consistent source of human hope and happiness.  That society was created as a direct result of the institution of those founding principles.  Such a society could only exist in an atmosphere of individual freedom, autonomy and responsibility, conditions which only existed because of those founding principles which informed the creation of limited, rights respecting governments.

When I feel pride in my chest or goosebumps on my skin, it’s because of those principles and the wellspring of goodness and happiness their implementation created.  Those principles and the common creed we once shared which allowed those principles to remain in place and essentially unadulterated for so long, are truly what gave rise to American exceptionalism.  Should ever the sad day come that I conclude those principles are dead from sea to shining sea, I’ll probably still stand for the anthem for the sake of tradition and a nostalgic appreciation for what once was, but instead of pride in my chest, or goosebumps on my skin, I’ll have a tear in my eye.  Over the years, those principles have been tortured.  They’ve been re-defined by those who have tried to hijack them for purposes contrary to their actual meaning.  Sometimes they’ve even been vilified outright.  And they’re in danger of fading into obscurity as we fail to teach them to our children.  But they’re not gone yet.  The ideal of small government and big individual liberty is alive in the hearts and minds of millions, if not in the halls of Congress or our state capitols.  If embraced and re-implemented, that ideal will return society to the exceptionalism of which we are so proud.

In the end, my reaction to those who refuse to stand is no longer visceral, but it’s as negative as ever.  I see those who started the effort as petulant and self-aggrandizing and the more recent tag-alongs as drone-like, choosing the ease of capitulation over the effort of exercising their own judgment.  In any case, the effort further obscures the greatness of what America once was and could be again.  It works to push that greatness a few pages further back in our history book and, I fear, toward being excluded altogether from a future edition.  Their kneeling serves as a stark reminder of how under-appreciated and much endangered are our founding principles and what our long term fidelity to them achieved for humanity.  The unique and successful idea of America warrants much more.

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Citizens, Government And Big Data

Classically, the only proper functions of government are 1) to provide security from outside threats, 2) to administer justice and 3) to secure individual rights.  A more recent development has been the general acknowledgment that government also has a significant role with respect to infrastructure such as road, airports and utilities.

Of course, our government has gone far beyond these well-defined limits and has inserted itself into virtually every aspect of our personal and economic lives.  Practically everything is regulated in some manner –  the rate of pay for which we may agree to work, the specifications of our homes and vehicles, the information we must be provided on food and merchandise, the types of light bulbs we can use – the list is so long it’s beyond the capacity of any one person to complete.

As frustrating as such examples are, there are circumstances in which government interference in society goes beyond such typical meddling, big brotherisms and into a nightmarish arena where the concept of who is to serve whom is turned upside down.  As troublesome as they are, most government regulations are ostensibly intended for the benefit of society and the citizenry.  But there is a unique class of government regulation in which the citizenry is regulated/controlled/manipulated, not for its own good, but for the good of the government.

One example is the proliferation of testing in public school systems, not to monitor the advancement of individual students, but to create, record and utilize ‘big-data’ in the service of the school systems and the governments that run them.  It short, millions of students spend millions of hours doing work, not for their own benefit, but to create data for the government to use.

Even more recently, as this article explains in more detail, the “Commission On Evidence-Based Policymaking” was created by a bi-partisan Congress to analyze how to use data collected by governmental agencies including educational and workforce databases in order to determine how well government programs are working.  It’s a classic “tale wags dog” story.  Government overreach results in innumerable programs and agencies doing the unlimited work of government.  In order to measure, evaluate and improve these myriad functions of government, the Commission wants ‘big data’ on citizens.  A current ban prevents gathering such data but the Commission would like to see the ban lifted.  It’s justification is an eerie example of how, under the guise of improving government, the citizenry can be transformed from the ‘served’ to the ‘servers’.  “(B)ans on data collection and use create a serious impediment to evidence-based policymaking, and could make it difficult or impossible to hold government activity accountable.”

Get it?  Our behemoth government says it needs your personal information so it can monitor itself and make itself better.  So questions arise.  Are there any impositions upon the citizenry which are not permissible in the interest of monitoring or improving government?  If so, what are they?  Are there limits upon which the people will insist?  Or should privacy concerns always come second to whatever the government decides will make itself more efficient?  More broadly, government is already largely unmanageable, corrupt and incompetent.  Why would anyone think it is a good idea to turn over all our personal information to its great computers to be sliced, diced, examined and manipulated to God only knows what ultimate purposes?  Who serves whom?

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The Constitution Cannot Be Restored At The Ballot Box

When it comes to an Article V convention of states to propose amendments to the Constitution, there is no shortage of opinions.  Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments and the existence of serious and well organized efforts to achieve an Article V convention such as Compact For America and Convention of States have induced public debate for many months.  More recently, Texas Governor Greg Abbott came out with his own plan for an Article V convention.

Some who might otherwise sympathize with the government limiting objectives of these efforts criticize the idea due to concerns over a ‘runaway convention’.  They argue that there is no effective way to limit the convention to specific topics and they fear that a convention might propose radical and dangerous amendments.  Such arguments ignore the Compact For America approach which leverages consensus among the paritipating states to build in safeguards at every stage in order to prevent the convention from so much as discussing an amendment outside of the specific text of a pre-drafted amendment.  More obviously, they ignore the requirement that three fourths of the states must ratify any amendment such a convention might propose before it could take legal effect.  The likelihood that 38 states would ratify a radical and dangerous amendment is remote in the extreme.

But the most dangerous perspective often advanced by these Article V naysayers is found in their explanation of what should be done to reinstitute constitutionally limited government.  A recent article by Mark Pulliam, a contributing editor of Law and Liberty, typifies this fatalistic thinking with respect to the viability of the Constitution as the definitive statement on the limits of government power.  After making the usual arguments regarding the supposed dangers of a ‘runaway convention’, Mr. Pullium offers the following as the proper way to re-establish constitutional fidelity:

(T)he ultimate solution to our current dilemma lies in the election of a conservative President and a principled U.S. Senate, who would appoint and confirm a majority of sound, committed originalists to the U.S. Supreme Court. We don’t need to amend the Constitution. We need to enforce it. Our nation has been led astray by feckless legislators and progressive jurists who for generations have failed to follow the Constitution that was ratified in 1789. It is time for voters to restore the Constitution, at the ballot box, by insisting on constitutionalists–elected officials who will respect the Constitution and the rule of law. (emphasis added)

Unfortunately, this attitude is not uncommon among those who desire a return to constitutional fidelity. It’s danger exists in the fact that it necessarily implies that the Constitution is not only already a dead letter as the supreme word on the limits of the federal government’s authority, but that we should not attempt to rejuvenate it – rather, we should rely on the electorate as the ultimate check on federal power.

The Constitution was drafted and ratified as the definitive articulation of a sovereign people’s creation of, and delegation of power to, their new government.  The very specific point of the Constitution was to preserve individual rights and limit the federal government so that it could not interfere with those rights or with the sovereignty of the states.  The founders believed that majoritariansim was to be avoided because individual rights would be non-existent if exposed to the whims of electoral politics – rights subject to the will of the majority are reduced to mere privileges.  As a result, the founders made the expansion of the government’s powers “off limits” to normal electoral politics.  No mere majority could infringe on the unalienable rights of others by voting the government more power.  The idea was to limit the government’s powers subject only to expansion, or reduction, by amendment pursuant to Article V.

The great and terrible victory of the progressive movement was to circumvent Article V and achieve vastly expanded federal power by judicial fiat.  ‘Living constitution’ theory permitted judges to amend the Constitution from its original meaning by reinterpreting it so as to expand federal power based on society’s perceived ‘needs’ as determined by judges and the politicians who appointed them.  This extra-legal revision of the Constitution by ‘interpretation’ fundamentally transformed the nature of the Constitution from a permanent charter of individual liberty chiseled in granite to a hunk of soft clay subject to easy manipulation.  As federal power has expanded, our ability to effectively limit it has been shifting from the Constitution to the ballot box.  Where we once could simply appeal to the Constitution itself to negate any attempted expansion of federal power, we’re now too often forced to the ballot box where, if sufficient numbers exist, we might induce the government not to exercise power (as opposed to establishing that the power does not exist at all)Accordingly, we now often find ourselves in a situation the Constitution was specifically designed to avoid – appealing to the sympathies of voters as our last line of defense in restraining governmental power.

Thus, the notion that we could “restore the Constitution, at the ballot box, by insisting on constitutionalists–elected officials who will respect the Constitution and the rule of law” is a fallacy.  Just as an addict cannot be rehabilitated by overdosing, the Constitution cannot be “restored” at the ballot box.  Subjecting the Constitution’s limits on government power to the ballot box is the problem; it cannot be the answer.  We must return the Constitution to its status as the definitive statement on the limits of government power.  When the government is once again effectively constrained by the Constitution without reliance on electoral politics, we will again have our real Constitution and the constitutional republic envisioned by our founders.  We should defy all efforts to continue our metamorphosis into a majoritarian republic where the people might once in a while (and temporarily) be convinced to return to first principles.  ‘Restoring the Constitution at the ballot box’ is a contradiction in terms.  Pretending otherwise serves only to invite further erosion in public respect for the Constitution as the definitive word on federal authority and to usher in the representative majoritarianism which naturally follows.

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Trump’s Muslim Border Policy And The Echo-Chamber

Only a small fraction of the news coverage and hand wringing over Donald Trump’s suggestion that non-citizen Muslims be temporarily barred from entry into the United States has addressed the policy’s merits. The question of whether it is necessary or helpful to temporarily bar non-citizen Muslims from entry in order to protect the homeland from terrorism has been largely overlooked. Instead, the focus has been on whether such a policy, if implemented, is a betrayal of American values, or worse, indicative of racism or a step toward ushering in fascism.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the focus has been on the subject of our American values rather than the efficacy of the suggested policy. Focusing on the values question enables media and politicians the opportunity to demonize disfavored candidates while shoring up their own ‘political correctness’ bona fides. There’s more opportunity for widely broadcast soundbites and for political mileage to be gotten out of debating the moral qualifications of a disfavored candidate than debating whether his policy is simply wrong or unnecessary. Moreover, by now we should all be accustomed to the fact that politicians and the national media live inside of the elite media echo-chamber where every word written or uttered is examined through a prism of political correctness. Washington elites almost instinctively pounce upon anything that smacks of political incorrectness. Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” in response to Trump’s call for such a policy. Because politically correct positions are seldom challenged, there was no need for Graham to explain why Trump’s position on this border policy is sufficient to conclude he is a bigot.

Which brings me to the question I wish to address — assuming that one has made an honest assessment and determined that temporarily closing the borders to all non-citizen Muslims is necessary or helpful to ensuring the safety of the homeland against terrorism, does suggesting the implementation of a policy in accord with that assessment constitute race-baiting, xenophobia or bigotry? Is the implementation of such a policy ‘un-American’? Does suggesting such a policy indicate a lack of appreciation for American values? I’ve concluded the answer to each of these questions is ‘no’.

The United States of America, exists for the benefit of its citizens. The U.S. government has no higher obligation than the safeguarding of American citizens within our borders from external threats. No non-citizen has a right to cross our borders. We should permit non-citizens to enter only when it is in the interest of our citizens to do so.

We can objectively recognize that the vast majority of the terrorism with which we have been threatened and to which we’ve been subjected has been threatened or perpetrated by persons who identify themselves as Muslim and claim that their actions are perpetrated in the name of that religion. At a time when we have heightened concerns over terrorism from abroad, if the information available as to whether persons seeking to cross our borders intend us harm is insufficient for us to make a determination, excluding the larger set (Muslims) from which the smaller subset (terrorists) comes, may be a necessary and intelligent policy reaction.

Under those circumstances, the implementation of the policy is not racist or bigoted, because it is not motivated by hatred or unfounded bias. Rather, it is motivated by the objective facts. That the United States has not implemented such a policy in the past should demonstrate that it has no ill-regard toward Muslims. It may be proper to implement such a policy now, not because we have developed an unfounded bias against Muslims, but because it has become necessary to our security. Excluding those Muslims who cannot be vetted from entry does not make us bad or evil. It does not mean that we’re deviating from our values. We can fully recognize the dignity and decency of the vast majority of Muslims who might wish to cross our borders while implementing the policy as a necessary reaction to the unfortunate circumstances we face — we cannot identify which of those seeking entry are terrorists. The implementation of such a policy is not intended to offend Muslims; nor should it, given the objective fact that terrorists almost exclusively come from their ranks.   Under such circumstances, a policy excluding from entry all non-citizen Muslims who cannot be properly vetted simply reflects the reality that we have no other way to ensure the security of Americans at home. Those who wish to portray the suggestion of such a policy as necessarily based on racism or a broad disdain for Muslims are either ignorant or trying to spin a political agenda.

Many have expressed surprise that Donald Trump’s support among the citizenry does not appear to have eroded as a result of this policy suggestion. I suspect that surprise is born of the echo-chamber, where punishment for violations of the code of political correctness are swift and harsh. Forgotten is the fact that the electorate does not live in the echo-chamber and is therefore untainted by its perverse effects. Individuals know the content of their own hearts. They understand their own desires and motivations. They are acutely aware whether they harbor a nefarious, unfounded disdain for a people unlike them or whether they are merely making a rational judgment concerning the events taking place around them. As a result, no amount of slick marketing or amplified and oft repeated politically correct dogma can convince the American people that a policy suggestion which makes common sense to them is actually an expression of racism or bigotry. Because the American people are not racists or bigots, because they do not harbor hatred or disdain for Muslims in their hearts, they are able to accept Trump’s policy suggestion for what he represents it to be — an unfortunate, but potentially necessary, common sense approach to safeguard American citizens.

 

 

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Hillary’s “Ridiculous” Hypocrisy

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 a Politico article 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 Corrupt Operating Principle of Modern Liberalism

Like individuals, organizations conduct themselves based on their values and their principles.  What they value determines their ultimate goals and objectives.  Their principles determine how they go about conducting themselves as they strive to achieve those goals.  Modern liberalism’s overarching value is that government should be an active force for good in society.  This value in turn results in the modern liberal goal of a ubiquitous Federal government actively involved in affecting most aspects of society.  Many who value liberty find modern liberalism’s values and goals offensive because large, active government necessarily translates into the exercise of power over individuals.  Because I believe strongly that the proper scope of government is limited to protecting individual rights, administering justice and providing for national security, I also find modern liberalism’s notion of good government offensive.  But the liberal establishment’s goal of big and active government is not the most offensive aspect of modern liberalism.  What is most offensive is how establishment liberals readily violate the structural underpinnings of our governing processes in order to advance their policy agenda.  What is most offensive, is the principle that directs its conduct.

Establishment liberals focus exclusively on the ends they want to achieve.  They have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to employ almost any means to institute their policy objectives.  Indeed, their most radical adherents have perpetrated criminal violence as a means of reaching their policy goals.  The fact that ex-convicts such as Bill Ayers and Kathy Boudin committed acts of unspeakable violence in order to advance their collectivist ideology, yet are welcomed and admired by the modern liberal establishment demonstrates the left’s relativist approach to violence.  Violence perpetrated for “good” reasons is more easily forgiven, a fact which corroborates my thesis; modern liberalism is an “ends justifies the means” ideology driven by a single corrupt principle – expediency.

Many on the left pay lip service to the democratic process and would certainly prefer that people believe public policy proceeding from the elected representatives of a fully enfranchised populace is the fundamental principle underlying modern liberalism.  But the most casual consideration of their actual tactics demonstrates otherwise.  Modern liberalism uses whatever tools it can muster to advance its policy agenda.  Whether environmental, health care, fiscal, economic or redistributive, modern liberalism focuses on winning the policy issue by whatever means necessary.  Fidelity to democratic processes and adherence to constitutional principles are not required.

Accordingly, when they were able to win the congressional vote on the passage of The Affordable Care Act, the left was satisfied.  But they are just as happy to impose their policy proscriptions for environmental policy through EPA regulations, regardless of what the majority of our elected representatives might think about the particular policies involved.  Once the power to affect policy is placed within a regulatory agency such as the EPA, modern liberals are satisfied to leave it there to be exercised by administrators insulated from the electoral process so long as the policies they favor are advanced, regardless of whether the public at large and/or Congress oppose the EPA’s overreach.

Further, where policy objectives can’t be won through either the democratic process or imposition by the regulatory state, the liberal establishment resorts to the courts.  Even where the electorate had considered and rejected same sex marriage, modern liberals didn’t hesitate in seeking its mandate upon society by court order.  To the extent the Constitution doesn’t comport with their policy objectives they argue for a new interpretation and seek to appoint judges who will mollify the Constitution to remove any impediment it poses.  And as is so obvious in the case of illegal immigration, the liberal establishment consciously disregards the rule of law and the will of the electorate when it overtly refuses to enforce existing laws which run counter to their policy objectives.

Finally, modern liberalism employs identity politics in order to maintain or strengthen political power.  The left constantly works to identify subgroups and convince them they have a grievance against society at large.  Having stoked the fires of a newly contrived “cause”, modern liberalism then takes on the mantle of champion of the supposedly disadvantaged subgroup.  No better example can be found than the ridiculous “fight” over contraception.  To be sure, there is undoubtedly a collectivist fringe that actually believes society has an obligation to provide everyone their contraceptive of choice free of charge.  But the liberal establishment doesn’t gain anything by championing that cause because the fringe that holds this belief certainly consists entirely of diehard leftists.  In order to benefit politically from such an issue, the liberal establishment must use it to create new voters or drive existing voters to the polls when they might otherwise have stayed home.  Accordingly they demagogue, demonizing and ascribing false policy positions to political adversaries in order to create the perception of a debate over contraception that doesn’t exist.

Because modern liberalism as reflected by the actions of its establishment flag bearers is entirely policy driven and has no regard for our constitutional rule of law, the democratic process, or the truth, it is bankrupt of any guiding principle other than expediency.  Its approach to governance and the acquisition of power is ultimately tyrannical because it seeks to impose its policies and obtain the political power necessary to do so by whatever means possible, without regard for any of the fundamental principles of our founding; principles which they no doubt deem outdated…the democratic process, limited government constrained by a constitution created by a sovereign people, and the unalienable rights of free individuals.  These were the founding principles employed by our forefathers to achieve what they valued most, a value modern liberalism does not share – a society free of tyranny and despotism.

 

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