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A Citizen's View by Scott A. Strzelczyk

Romans did not believe Rome would collapse.  Hundreds of thousands of Jews refused to leave Germany by the mid-1930s.  There are hundreds of others examples throughout history where people were unable to process events and rationally conclude something they’ve never experienced is about to transpire.  This inability is called “normalcy bias” and Americans are infected with it.

For most, it is incomprehensible to believe the United States, the most powerful country on the earth, could self-destruct.  Everyone under the age of seventy has lived a relatively comfortable life.  The poor of this country are wealthier than 80% of the inhabitants on earth.  Most Americans work and provide a decent life for their family.  The modern incarnation of the banking system and the dollar is all they know.  A centralized government growing in size, scope, and power is all anyone has known.

This is what we know and all we know. …

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Wonderful essay by Scott Strzelczyk!! A must read.

A Citizen's View by Scott A. Strzelczyk

Policy and program debates are argued generally on one of three planes; constitutional authority, moral and value judgments, or economics.  Constitutional and economic issues are rarely discussed on their merits.  Instead, arguments degrade into a morals or values debate.  To some degree or another, the topic may be germane across all three planes but it’s important to recognize on which plane an issue is debated.

Trouble arises because much of the ruling class’s arguments rely upon moral and value judgments.  Obviously, moral and value judgments vary from person to person.  Moreover, they are based upon abstractions on fair and unfair, moral and immoral, good and bad, or good and evil.   For instance, the rhetoric from President Obama about the so-called rich paying their fair tax share illustrates how moral and value judgments are used to distract citizens and distort truths.  Any impartial, objective person would concede that the majority of…

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Thank God for a strong central government?

by “Johnny Law”

Recently I was in a debate with someone on facebook who commented on the following post of mine from George Mason:

“The very idea of converting what was formerly a confederation, to a consolidated Government, is totally subversive of every principle which has hitherto governed us. This power is calculated to annihilate totally the State Governments. Will the people of this great community submit to be individually taxed by two different and distinct powers? Will they suffer themselves to be doubly harrassed?” – George Mason

In the debate my “friend” had this to say:

“So are you advocating a return to the Articles of Confederation or do you just wish to shrink government to a size by which you can “drown it in a bath tub”?  Regardless of the Jeffersonian arguement against a large centralized federal government, that is what we have built over these 200 years which has left us with the world’s largest economy, one of the most prosperous nations, one of the highest per capita GDPs, one who hasn’t felt the threat from another nations since 1812, one which enjoys more civil liberties than any other, and unquestionably the most democratic country on the planet.  So I would say that Mason’s fears were unfounded.”
What follows is my response:
“And I would argue that you have that wrong.
It wasn’t strong centralized government that made this Union great, strong, and prosperous. It was liberty. It was the people being free enough to achieve prosperity. Government creates nothing. People do. I don’t know what government actions you could say created prosperity. Individuals create prosperty throgh action of invenstment, production, hard work, and yes, profit motivation for sustenance and/or wealth (like you don’t want to provide for yourself or better yet, be wealthy right?). I don’t know how one can argue centralized power isn’t dangerous or the warnings of our founders against it were unfounded. Of course there are positive results from strong central government…there always have been and always will be. But, name the government that has remained good, strong, or limited itself from violating rights as it assumed more and more power. Name the government that hasn’t continually grabbed more power until it imploded, became despotic, or didn’t over expand it’s empire to the point of it’s own destruction.

Since the midddle of last century, when the federal government actually obtained enough power that it was able to break free from the boundries set by the constitution, has it has not become more intrusive, corrupt, and unmanageable. Has it not expanded it’s “empire” beyond sustainability? Are you not doubly taxed? Are you not doubly harrassed? Do not swarms of federal regulators hinder productivity, innovation, and prosperity? Do we not see monopolization of industry through laws created to protect those who can pay for the protection? (facism= merger of corporation and state)

There is a balance that must be maintained between effectiveness and limitations in any central government….ours is way out of balance. As the federal government is constantly asking for and assuming more power, extending it’s reach, spending/borrowing/creating money well beyond it’s ability to afford/repay/contain, and restricting or violating the rights of it’s citizens in the name of “security”, it should be obvious to everyone that the nature of centralized power has not changed and those founders like Mason, and Jefferson were not wrong.

They were absolutely right.”

What is it that posesses people to believe in the state over the individual?

Libertarian Centralizers

In his defense of the constitutionality of Lochner v. New York against the critics in the last issue of Claremont Review of Books, professor Richard Epstein invokes the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment. He claims that this clause, “properly read,”

places a huge limitation on what the states can do to citizens … the state may retain huge powers to initiate legislation, but all that legislation (and its enforcement) remain subject to a judicial override on constitutional grounds.

It is not immediately clear what professor Epstein means by the “proper reading” of the clause, but that obviously is not the “reading” of the framers of the 14th Amendment, because they thought this clause placed a very slight, and not a “huge,” limitation on the state police power. As Raoul Berger has demonstrated, the framers adopted a very narrow, common-law meaning of the Privileges and Immunities Clause, as pertaining to “life, liberty, and property.” The meaning of those guaranties was just to prevent the states from arbitrarily denying to the newly freed blacks their elementary rights to jury trial, due process of law, right of settlement, and freedom of movement, as well as the right to acquire property. In other words, to prevent the discrimination against them in elementary civil-rights issues, protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1866. It is very important that all social and political rights, including suffrage, were explicitly excluded from the privileges-and-immunities guaranties (at least by the understanding of the framers of the amendment)………

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The Dangerous Supreme Court

by Kevin R. C. Gutzman

The schoolboy version of the American system of government centers on the three-branch structure of the Federal Government established by the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. Integral to that structure are a system of checks and balances among those three branches and the division of powers between the Federal Government and the states. The Tenth Amendment makes that federalism principle explicit.

The dirty little secrets, however, are that the division of powers disappeared long ago, and the checks and balances do not work. Instead of a decentralized, republican system in which the Federal Government bears responsibility for only a few issues, then, Americans now groan under an unlimited central government whose taxing, spending, borrowing, and printing seemingly know no limits either of law or of sense.

In light of their distended significance, Supreme Court justices now occasionally bless the rest of us with their ruminations. The latest specimen of the genre is John Stevens’ Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir.

To read through this tome is to be struck by the unalloyed banality of both Stevens’ writing and his mind. Stevens spent thirty-four years on the Court, and yet the 282 pages in his book include a 32-page Appendix reproducing the Constitution, the signatures affixed to the Constitution, and the amendments, two pages of acknowledgements, and several blank pages. In addition, he gives thirty pages over to an extremely shallow account of the history of the Supreme Court up to the middle of the twentieth century.

An impressive intellect might have turned the excursion through the Court’s early history to good effect. Stevens, on the other hand, seems not to recognize the ways in which events he glosses over laid the groundwork for his own career.

For example, Stevens’ account of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s tenure as chief justice is notably brief. Its one paragraph merely summarizes the Court’s outrageous decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) and says that, “The only good thing that can be said about that case is that Abraham Lincoln’s criticism of it in his famous debates with Stephen Douglas received nationwide attention and helped get him elected president.” (p. 20)

Yet, Stevens actually based much of his performance as an associate justice on the foundation of Dred Scott. It was after all in Dred Scott that the Court invented the idea of what scholars and judges alike now call “substantive due process.” That idea is that the Fifth Amendment’s statement that, “nor shall any person … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” did more than guarantee that before one could be punished, he must first be afforded all of the incidents of the traditional Anglo-American adversarial process.

No, the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause was used in Dred Scott as an empty vessel into which seven entirely partisan Democratic justices could pour their desired partisan outcome: a holding that Congress could not bar slavery from the western territories. Far from merely procedural, as it seemed to be (and had always been thought to be), the Due Process Clause was substantive.

When in the 1860s Congress came to draft the Fourteenth Amendment, it inserted a clause nearly identical to the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, this time applying the requirement to the states. Beginning in the early 20th century, federal judges used this provision as an empty vessel into which they could pour all of their favorite policy outcomes, this time making them enforceable against the states.

Stevens in the slim portion of the book on his own career trumpets various rights-creating lines of the Court’s recent product, such as the cases in which the justices invented various sexual rights enforceable against the states, various religious rights enforceable against the states, etc. He calls some of these outcomes “correct” without ever saying how one can know which outcome is correct.

Stevens makes clear what he does not mean: that the outcome is consistent with the intention of the people in adopting a particular legal or constitutional provision. He provides only the assertion that one must not be guided by any such intention.

Here we find the fundamental theoretical shortcoming of the current American regime: that no one ever consented to it. As I showed in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, federal judges long ago abandoned the notion that constitutional interpretation was about, well, interpretation. Instead, Taney-like, they use constitutional cases – and, when it comes to enforcing made-up individual rights against state governments, Taney’s Dred Scott doctrine of substantive due process – as opportunities to impose their will.

This problem was uniquely grievous in the case of Justice Stevens. As the sole Supreme Court appointee of President Gerald Ford, Stevens was the sole justice appointed by a man who had never been elected either president or vice president. Even if one accepted the legitimacy of substantive due process as a way for people indirectly elected to enforce their superior wisdom on the rest of us, then, it would still be hard to see how Ford’s appointment of Stevens could justify wide-ranging legislative behavior by Stevens.

Stevens blithely accepts that the Supreme Court is a kind of super-legislature. Indeed, Five Chiefs gives not the slightest indication that Stevens has ever considered this matter. One might wonder whether he has thought about the Constitution much at all. For example, I am certain that every student in my recently concluded undergraduate course in American Constitutional History knows that the Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Stevens, on the other hand, refers to “the first eight amendments to the Constitution, commonly described as the Bill of Rights.” (p. 19)

No, this doubtless is not a typographical or editorial mistake. Rather, it reflects the Hamiltonian approach to federal power taken by virtually all of our ruling elite today. As James Madison and his fellows explained the Constitution, it was to create a few islets of federal power in a sea of liberty. The Bill of Rights’ purpose was to ensure that the limits on the Federal Government’s power were respected, and thus to help preserve the principle of subsidiarity so integral to the Constitution’s original structure.

Thus, the Ninth Amendment said that the list of rights earlier in the Constitution was not exclusive, and the Tenth said that all powers not given to the Federal Government by the Constitution or denied by it to the states were reserved to the states or the people. Clearly, neither of these amendments serves the purpose of Stevens and the like, whose goal is to impose their will regardless of petty issues like popular consent. They have ignored the Ninth and Tenth Amendments for so long that, like a Trotskyite of old, those amendments no longer appear in the official photos. Now, the Constitution as they understand it stands for a few small islets of liberty in a sea of power.

Stevens’ ideas thus reflect not some well-considered jurisprudential perspective, but the Common Wisdom of our Betters. Rather than burdening readers with discussion of such matters, Stevens devotes more than two pages of his book – a memoir of thirty-five years on the Supreme Court – to an explanation of the placement of the conference table in the room where justices meet to discuss pending cases. (pp. 212-14) Utter inanity.

Numerous journalists have spilled lakes of ink describing absurdly low-brow discussion in American legislative bodies. John Paul Stevens’ memoir shows why we should not assume that decision-making by unelected, unaccountable, politically connected lawyers meeting in secret in Washington is a superior alternative to parliamentary politics. If you have a low opinion of American legislators, you ought to favor less government, not government by judiciary. Come to think of it, that was the Constitution’s bias as well. At least, as it was originally understood.

Kevin R. C. Gutzman, J.D., Ph.D. [send him mail], Associate Professor of History at Western Connecticut State University, is the author of Virginia’s American Revolution: From Dominion to Republic, 1776-1840 (newly available in paperback) and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. He is also the co-author, with Thomas E. Woods, Jr., of Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush. His latest book is James Madison and the Making of America.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Difference Between Streamlining the Military and Isolationism

Jan 23, 2012 – FBN’s John Stossel on why reducing spending on the military and making it more efficient is different than having an isolationist foreign policy.

The Free Market: Fallacies and Facts

What are they Actually Conserving These Days?

by Mike Maharrey

When I hear the term “conservative” in a modern political context, I can’t help but wonder – what exactly do they want to conserve?

One would assume a conservative in the United States would seek to “conserve” the principles upon which the Republic was founded. That would lead me to further assume that a conservative would stand up as the fiercest defender of the Constitution, not as a living breathing document, but as the instrument the framers intended. I would assume a conservative would adhere tenaciously the ideals of limited government, enumerated powers and the Tenth Amendment admonition that all authority not delegated to the federal government remains with the states and the people.

But you know what they say about assume. It makes an ass out of you and me.

Conservatives talk a good game, preaching limited government, individual responsibility, blah, blah blah.  But all of the talk floats off into the air like a comic strip thought bubble when the self-described conservative finds an issue he thinks government power can “fix.” How many “conservatives” voted for TARP? How many voted for the Patriot Act? How many supported NDAA? How many voted to expand Medicare with a prescription drug program? How many show any real inclination to phase out Social Security?

I could go on.

And on.

Modern conservatives show more interest in “conserving” the status quo of about 30 years ago than they do “conserving” the constitutional foundation of the United States. The conservative movement in America reminds me of a dinghy trailing a big sailboat. The larger vessel leads the way, cutting a new path through the water. The dingy perpetually follows behind, but always progresses forward as well, getting further and further away from the point of origin.  In the meantime, a sailor stands in the dinghy chastising the captain of the sailboat for moving forward, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they he continues to push ahead as well. He rails against the direction of the ship, all the while gradually accepting his current location – the very spot that was so abhorrent just a short time ago.

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New Hampshire Will Shock The Republican Establishment?

America’s Forgotten War Against the Central Banks

“Let me issue and control a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.” (Mayer Amschel Rothschild, Founder of Rothschild Banking Dynasty)

Prominent Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson have argued and fought against the central banking polices used throughout Europe.

A note issued by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve Note, is bank currency. These notes are given to the government in exchange for an interest-bearing government bond. The primary means to pay for the interest on these bonds is to borrow more bank notes, thus beginning a vicious cycle that ultimately ends with the complete destruction of the currency and bankruptcy of the nation. History is replete with such occurrences. (For a list of countries that have experienced hyperinflation click here).

This begs the question as to why such a doomed system would exist? The reason is that during the course of the arrangement, which can last for centuries, the central bankers who issue the money amass great fortunes from the large sums of interest collected. In essence it is a transfer of wealth from the many to the elite few. Government leaders prefer such a system because it does not require budgets to be balanced. It is far more politically expedient to borrow, then to directly tax the citizens.

The effects of currency debasement and debt accumulation are not obvious and in the words attributed to Vladimir Lenin by John Maynard Keynes,

“By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens…There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.” (John Maynard Keynes)

Throughout the history of the United States there has been a struggle between central bankers and their interest-bearing money and those who oppose them. In fact, the United States was created as a direct result of that struggle.

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