In support of the Second Amendment:
Alexander Hamilton: “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” adding later, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.”
James Madison: “(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
Thomas Jefferson: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”
George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which inspired our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, said, “To disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey: “Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.”
We took these quotations from an article by Walter Williams. In addition he reminds us:
Notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives.
And arbitrary government no longer “appears remote in America” under the Obama regime.
We found this text, extracted from a speech Mitt Romney is to make in Missouri today, at PowerLine, posted by John Hinderaker:
Along with the genius of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, is the equal genius of our economic system. Our Founding Fathers endeavored to create a moral and just society like no other in history, and out of that grew a moral and just economic system the likes of which the world had never seen. Our freedom, what it means to be an American, has been defined and sustained by the liberating power of the free enterprise system.
That same system has helped lift more people out of poverty across the globe than any government program or competing economic system. The success of America’s free enterprise system has been a bright beacon of freedom for the world. It has signaled to oppressed people to rise up against their oppressors, and given hope to the once hopeless.
It is called the Free Enterprise System because we are both free to engage in enterprises and through those enterprises we ensure our freedom.
But sadly, it has become clear that this President simply doesn’t understand or appreciate these fundamental truths of our system. Over the last three and a half years, record numbers of Americans have lost their jobs or simply disappeared from the work force. Record numbers of Americans are living in poverty today – over 46 million of our fellow Americans are living below the poverty line. …
This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. …
John Hinderaker comments:
Conservative economic policies don’t just create more wealth than socialism or liberalism, they are morally superior to socialism and liberalism. Let’s hope that today’s speech is just a small preview of what is to come from the Romney campaign.
Socialism creates no wealth at all. It’s a wealth and prosperity killer. Vide Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, France …
As to the morality of socialism, we often say that to take money from someone who has earned it and give it to someone who hasn’t is intensely immoral. And that is what socialist governments do.
Walter Williams writes at Townhall:
Benjamin Franklin, statesman and signer of our Declaration of Independence, said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” … Are today’s Americans virtuous and moral, or have we become corrupt and vicious? Let’s think it through with a few questions.
Suppose I saw an elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. She’s hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention. To help the woman, I walk up to you using intimidation and threats and demand that you give me $200. Having taken your money, I then purchase food, shelter and medical assistance for the woman. Would I be guilty of a crime? A moral person would answer in the affirmative. I’ve committed theft by taking the property of one person to give to another.
Most Americans would agree that it would be theft regardless of what I did with the money. Now comes the hard part. Would it still be theft if I were able to get three people to agree that I should take your money? What if I got 100 people to agree — 100,000 or 200 million people? What if instead of personally taking your money to assist the woman, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take your money? In other words, does an act that’s clearly immoral and illegal when done privately become moral when it is done legally and collectively? Put another way, does legality establish morality? Before you answer, keep in mind that slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; the Nazi’s Nuremberg Laws were legal; and the Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal. Legality alone cannot be the guide for moral people.
The moral question is whether it’s right to take what belongs to one person to give to another to whom it does not belong.
Don’t get me wrong. I personally believe that assisting one’s fellow man in need by reaching into one’s own pockets is praiseworthy and laudable. Doing the same by reaching into another’s pockets is despicable, dishonest and worthy of condemnation. Some people call governmental handouts charity, but charity and legalized theft are entirely two different things. [And] as far as charity is concerned, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” To my knowledge, the Constitution has not been amended to include charity as a legislative duty of Congress.
Our current economic crisis, as well as that of Europe, is a direct result of immoral conduct. Roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of our federal budget can be described as Congress’ taking the property of one American and giving it to another. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for nearly half of federal spending. Then there are corporate welfare and farm subsidies and thousands of other spending programs, such as food stamps, welfare and education. According to a 2009 Census Bureau report, nearly 139 million Americans — 46 percent — receive handouts from one or more federal programs …
Ayn Rand, in her novel “Atlas Shrugged,” reminded us that “when you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good.”
Would a President Romney return America to virtue as well as to prosperity?
We know better than to hope that any government would shrink itself to the minimal size of the libertarian-conservative ideal. Or that entitlements such as Social Security will ever be entirely abolished.
But Romney respects the idea of individual liberty as the Founding Fathers did; and he knows that only the free enterprise system opens the way for every individual to become prosperous – by his own endeavors. So Romney would be likely to take steps to restore confidence in business, reduce the number of hampering regulations the Obama administration has imposed, encourage innovation, and generally reward self-reliance.
That would be a good start, and the expectation of it a good reason to support his bid for the presidency.
Greed is not a vice.
Envy is a vice. Envy is the besetting sin (in a secular sense) 0f the Left.
But greed is a virtue.
Walter Williams explains:
What human motivation gets the most wonderful things done? It’s really a silly question, because the answer is so simple. It turns out that it’s human greed that gets the most wonderful things done. When I say greed, I am not talking about fraud, theft, dishonesty, lobbying for special privileges from government or other forms of despicable behavior. I’m talking about people trying to get as much as they can for themselves. Let’s look at it.
This winter, Texas ranchers may have to fight the cold of night, perhaps blizzards, to run down, feed and care for stray cattle. They make the personal sacrifice of caring for their animals to ensure that New Yorkers can enjoy beef. Last summer, Idaho potato farmers toiled in blazing sun, in dust and dirt, and maybe being bitten by insects to ensure that New Yorkers had potatoes to go with their beef.
Here’s my question: Do you think that Texas ranchers and Idaho potato farmers make these personal sacrifices because they love or care about the well-being of New Yorkers? The fact is whether they like New Yorkers or not, they make sure that New Yorkers are supplied with beef and potatoes every day of the week. Why? It’s because ranchers and farmers want more for themselves. In a free market system, in order for one to get more for himself, he must serve his fellow man. This is precisely what Adam Smith, the father of economics, meant when he said in his classic “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” (1776), “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” By the way, how much beef and potatoes do you think New Yorkers would enjoy if it all depended upon the politically correct notions of human love and kindness? Personally, I’d grieve for New Yorkers. Some have suggested that instead of greed, I use “enlightened self-interest.” That’s OK, but I prefer greed. …
Prior to the rise of capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving one’s fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and then produce it as efficiently as possible. …
Free market capitalism has … enemies — mostly among the intellectual elite and political tyrants. These are people who believe that they have superior wisdom to the masses and that God has ordained them to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Of course, they have what they consider to be good reasons for restricting liberty, but every tyrant who has ever lived has had what he considered good reason for restricting liberty. A tyrant’s agenda calls for the attenuation or the elimination of the market and what is implied by it — voluntary exchange. Tyrants do not trust that people acting voluntarily will do what the tyrant thinks they should do. They want to replace the market with economic planning and regulation.
The Wall Street occupiers and their media and political allies are not against the principle of crony capitalism, bailouts and government special privileges and intervention. They share the same hostility to free market capitalism and peaceable voluntary exchange as tyrants. What they really want is congressional permission to share in the booty from looting their fellow man.
Communism: ”From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. A central authority with a monopoly of force – which is to say the state – must gather and distribute resources. Condition of the nation: serfdom and poverty.
Capitalism: “From each according to his need, to each according to his ability”. You decide what you need and work for it by providing others with what they’ll buy. The amount you get will be the measure of your ability. Condition of the nation: freedom and prosperity.
Collectivism: Economic equality achieved at the cost of liberty.
Individualism: The only desirable equality is an equality of liberty. My liberty should be limited by nothing except everyone else’s.
Walter Williams writes at Front Page:
Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, the phonograph, the DC motor and other items in everyday use and became wealthy by doing so. Thomas Watson founded IBM and became rich through his company’s contribution to the computation revolution. Lloyd Conover, while in the employ of Pfizer, created the antibiotic tetracycline. Though Edison, Watson, Conover and Pfizer became wealthy, whatever wealth they received pales in comparison with the extraordinary benefits received by ordinary people. Billions of people benefited from safe and efficient lighting. Billions more were the ultimate beneficiaries of the computer, and untold billions benefited from healthier lives gained from access to tetracycline.
President Barack Obama, in stoking up class warfare, said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” This is lunacy. Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire produced the raw materials that built the physical infrastructure of the United States. Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft and produced software products that aided the computer revolution. But Carnegie had amassed quite a fortune long before he built Carnegie Steel Co., and Gates had quite a fortune by 1990. Had they the mind of our president, we would have lost much of their contributions, because they had already “made enough money.”
Class warfare thrives on ignorance about the sources of income. Listening to some of the talk about income differences, one would think that there’s a pile of money meant to be shared equally among Americans. Rich people got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. Justice requires that they “give back.” Or, some people talk about unequal income distribution as if there were a dealer of dollars. The reason some people have millions or billions of dollars while others have very few is the dollar dealer is a racist, sexist, a multinationalist or just plain mean. Economic justice requires a re-dealing of the dollars, income redistribution or spreading the wealth, where the ill-gotten gains of the few are returned to their rightful owners.
In a free society, for the most part, people with high incomes have demonstrated extraordinary ability to produce valuable services for — and therefore please — their fellow man.
People voluntarily took money out of their pockets to purchase the products of Gates, Pfizer or IBM. High incomes reflect the democracy of the marketplace. The reason Gates is very wealthy is millions upon millions of people voluntarily reached into their pockets and handed over $300 or $400 for a Microsoft product. Those who think he has too much money are really registering disagreement with decisions made by millions of their fellow men.
In a free society, in a significant way income inequality reflects differences in productive capacity, namely one’s ability to please his fellow man. …
Stubborn ignorance sees capitalism as benefiting only the rich, but the evidence refutes that. The rich have always been able to afford entertainment; it was the development and marketing of radio and television that made entertainment accessible to the common man. The rich have never had the drudgery of washing and ironing clothing, beating out carpets or waxing floors. The mass production of washing machines, wash-and-wear clothing, vacuum cleaners and no-wax floors spared the common man this drudgery. At one time, only the rich could afford automobiles, telephones and computers. Now all but a small percentage of Americans enjoy these goods.
In a free country, the rich are not rich because the poor are poor; nor are the poor poor because the rich are rich.
Those are richest who serve others best. (In general, that is. There are of course exceptions, like George Soros.)
They create wealth.
So that, among free countries, where the rich are richest the poor are least poor.
As in the United States of America.
We quote from a column by Walter Williams at Townhall, which can be read in full here.
I believe that there’s little prospect for Arabs ever being free and that Western encouragement and hopes for democracy are doomed to failure and disappointment. Most nations in the Middle East do not share the philosophical foundations of the West. It’s not likely liberty-oriented values will ever emerge in cultures that have disdain for the rule of law and private property rights and that sanction barbaric practices such as the stoning of women for adultery, the severing of hands or beheading as a form of punishment, and imprisonment for criticizing or speaking ill of the government.
What should the West do about the gross violations of human rights so prevalent in North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere? My short answer is to mind our own business. The only case in which we should interfere with Middle Eastern affairs is when our national defense or economic interests are directly threatened. That is, for example, if Iran were to meddle with Middle Eastern oil shipments or if we discovered good evidence of its building nuclear weapons, then we should militarily intervene. What they want to do to one another is none of our business.
We agree with him. Certainly the West should not be so culturally insensitive as to interfere with the Arabs’ colorful customs, such as oppressing and mutilating women, stoning adulterers, hanging homosexuals, amputating the limbs of thieves, routinely torturing prisoners, keeping and trafficking slaves, using children as living bombs and training them to saw people’s heads off.
But we shouldn’t hesitate to act when our national defense or economic interests are under threat. If an Arab tyrant blows up an American plane in flight, he should be punished. Arab states that train terrorists pose a threat to every nation, with the US top of their wish list, so they should be promptly discouraged by fleets of well-aimed drones. And as the West needs the oil that lies under Arab feet, the despots must not be allowed to price it at extortionist levels. (To prevent that, the oil fields of the Middle East should have been taken under American control decades ago.) The best policy would be to keep them in constant fear that America might strike them without warning at any moment. Only an occasional salutary demonstration of American wrath would be necessary. Bring back that old Shock-and-Awe. Judiciously but zealously inflicted, it could obviate the need for long and costly wars.
And the UN must be destroyed.
American children must be taught the values America traditionally stands for, and why they are the highest and the best.
They must be taught that the United States of America was founded as a realization of the idea of liberty.
They must be taught that only in freedom are individuals able to achieve the best they are capable of.
They must be taught that the conditions necessary for a good life - prosperity, physical and mental well-being, the pursuit of individual aims - exist reliably only in a free society.
They must be taught that only the rule of law, not rule by a person or group of potentates, assures liberty.
Generations of American children have not been taught any of this. It is no exaggeration to say that for decades now the schools and academies have been teaching Americans to be ashamed of themselves. So millions of Americans believe that they are justly hated by other nations, and their country should change to become more like other countries. (See our post Zinn writes histories, December 11, 2009.)
William Damon, professor of education at Stanford University and a senior fellow of the admirable Hoover Institution, writes in a recent essay:
In our leading intellectual and educational circles, the entire notion of national devotion is now in dispute. For example, in a book about the future of citizenship, a law professor recently wrote: “Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete … American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization.” As a replacement for commitment to a nation-state, the author wrote, “loyalties…are moving to transnational communities defined by many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation.” In similar fashion, many influential educators are turning to “cosmopolitanism” and “global citizenship” as the proper aim of civics instruction, de-emphasizing the attachment to any particular country such as the United States. As global citizens, it is argued, our primary identification should be with the humanity of the world, and our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice. Devotion to one’s own nation state, commonly referred to as patriotism, is suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous “my country right or wrong” perspective. …
By “justice” the unnamed law professor probably means “social justice’ – the idea that wealth should be taken away from those who have earned it and given to others who have not. “Social justice” is Orwellian Newspeak for injustice.
William Damon points out:
Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country — and, indeed, from celebrating the traditional American quest for liberty and equal rights — is a sure way to remove their most powerful source of motivation to learn about U. S. citizenship. Why would a student exert any effort to master the rules of a system that the student has no respect for and no interest in being part of? To acquire civic knowledge as well as civic virtue, students need to care about their country.
It is especially odd to see schools with large immigrant populations neglect teaching students about American identity and the American tradition. Educational critic Diane Ravitch observed this phenomenon when visiting a New York City school whose principal proudly spoke of the school’s efforts to celebrate the cultures of all the immigrant students. Ravitch writes, “I asked him whether the school did anything to encourage students to appreciate American culture, and he admitted with embarrassment that it did not.”
At least he was embarrassed.
These and other American students are being urged to identify with, on the one hand, customs from the native lands they have departed and, on the other hand, with the abstract ideals of an amorphous global culture. Lost in between these romantic affiliations is an identification with the nation where these students actually will practice citizenship. Adding to the dysfunction of this educational choice, as Ravitch writes, is the absurdity of teaching “a student whose family fled to this country from a tyrannical regime or from dire poverty to identify with that nation rather than with the one that gave the family refuge.”
We are not “citizens of the world.” We do not pay taxes to the world; we do not vote for a world president or senator.
Professor Damon wants civics taught in the schools, and taught well.
How can we do better? Of course we need to teach students the Constitution, along with its essential underlying principles such as separation of powers, representative government, and Federalism. Excellent programs for such teaching now exist. But these programs are not widely used amidst today’s single-minded focus on basic skills. Compounding this neglect, the school assessments that drive the priorities of teachers infrequently test for civic knowledge. To preserve the American heritage of liberty and democracy for future generations, citizenship instruction must be placed front and center in U. S. classrooms rather than relegated to the margins. …
And he issues a warning:
There is a looming crisis … the very real possibility that our democracy will be left in the hands of a citizenry unprepared to govern it and unwilling the make the sacrifices needed to preserve it. A free society requires an informed and virtuous citizenry. Failing this, as Ben Franklin long ago warned, despotism lies just around the corner.
The citizenry should also be informed what life is like in other countries. Most people in the world are ruled over by despots or despotic regimes. Most democracies, like the European nations, are welfare states rapidly becoming poorer as a result of their socialist economic systems. A proper understanding of capitalist economics - “the natural order of liberty” as Adam Smith called it – should be taught in America as well as civics and truthful history.
Walter Williams writes at Front Page:
A recent Superman comic book has the hero saying, “I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship” because “truth, justice, and the American way — it’s not enough anymore.” …
The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28 percent of students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26 percent of students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States. …
Ignorance and possibly contempt for American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president. Obama spent 20 years attending the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s hate-filled sermons, which preached that “white folks’ greed runs a world in need,” called our country the “US of KKK-A” and asked God to “damn America.” Obama’s other America-hating associates include Weather Underground Pentagon bomber William Ayers and Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn.
The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his administration doesn’t say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the intellectual elite.
Actually, though we don’t disagree with the point Walter Williams is making, we think it does say quite as much about Obama. He epitomizes the sort of America-hating ideologue that the decades of debauched education have bred.
In a free society, anyone who wants to benefit a fellow citizen, by giving him money for instance, may do so; and if the giving makes the giver feel good, that shouldn’t trouble anyone else. Self-esteem also needs feeding.
But it’s an entirely different matter when it comes to a citizen being forced by government – the only agency that has the necessary power – to give money for the benefit of others.
For a society to be kept free, the power of government needs to be kept within narrow bounds. That’s why we conservatives list “small government” among our primary principles, following immediately and logically after “the protection of liberty”, which is the first and last thing government should exist for.
As soon as government takes it upon itself to extract money from prosperous Peter and give it to poor Paul, it has exceeded its legitimate power and become a threat to liberty instead of its protector.
Walter Williams writes at Townhall:
If a person benefits from a hamburger, a suit of clothing, an apartment or an education, who should be forced to pay for it? I believe the question has only one moral answer, namely the person who benefits from a good or service should be forced to pay for it …
Our country’s problem is that too many Americans want to benefit from things for which they expect other Americans to be taxed. …
Does one American have a moral right to live at the expense of another American? To be more explicit, should Congress, through its taxing authority, give the Bank of America, Citibank, Archer Daniels Midland, farmers, dairymen, college students and poor people the right to live off of the earnings of another American? I’m guessing that only a few Americans would agree with my answer: No one should be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another American.
We agree with his answer.
As long as government is doing what it must – protecting the liberty of all citizens equally from foreign enemies and domestic crime – it serves the people. If it uses its power to force some citizens to ”serve the purposes” of others, it oppresses the people.
Government should be our servant, not our master.
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare – all must go. If we were politicians we would propose a soothing program of phasing them out. But we have the luxury of being theoreticians only, airy-fairy philosophical types, who have reached our ivory tower after decades tramping the muddy and perilous highways and byways of the wicked world. So we can simply and bluntly say: it is not the proper business of government to feed, house, heal or educate the people, and the federal government must stop trying to do so or the nation will sink under the burden of debt this administration has laid on it.
The proper business of government is to defend the nation, protect every individual and his property by enforcing the law. It should not encroach on the freedom of the people. It is a thing that all too easily runs wild and ravenous. It must be kept within tight limits. At best it should be no worse than an annoying necessity. Always remember that anything government does, it does badly. So let it do only what it must; what only government can, nothing more.
In support of our view today we cite Walter Williams, who writes at Townhall:
Whether Americans realize it or not, the last decade’s path of congressional spending is unsustainable. Spending must be reined in, but what spending should be cut? The Republican majority in the House of Representatives fear being booted out of office and are understandably timid. Their rule for whom to cut appears to be: Look around to see who are the politically weak handout recipients.
The problem is that those cuts won’t put much of a dent in overall spending. …
More than 200 House members and 50 senators have co-sponsored a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution. A balanced budget amendment is no protection against the growth of government and the loss of our liberties. Estimated federal tax revenue for 2011 is $2.2 trillion and federal spending is $3.8 trillion leaving us with a $1.6 trillion deficit. The budget could be balanced simply by taking more of our earnings, making us greater congressional serfs. True protection requires an amendment limiting congressional spending. …
We need a rule that combines our Constitution with simple morality and plain common sense. I think it immoral for Congress to forcibly take one American’s earnings and give them to another American to whom they do not belong. If a person did the same thing privately, he’d be convicted of theft and jailed. We might ask ourselves whether acts that are clearly immoral and despicable when done privately are any less so when done by Congress. Close to two-thirds of the federal budget, so-called entitlements, represent what thieves do: redistribute income.
Some people might say, “Williams, the programs that you’d cut are vital to the welfare of our nation!” When someone says that, I always ask what did we do before. For example, our nation went from 1787 to 1979 and during that interval produced some of the world’s most highly educated people without a Department of Education. Since the department’s creation, American primary and secondary education has become a joke among industrialized nations.
Who made this happen and when? He points an accusatory finger:
There is a distinct group of Americans who bear a large burden for today’s runaway government. You ask, “Who are they?” It’s the so-called “greatest generation.” When those Americans were born, federal spending as a percentage of GDP was about 3 percent, as it was from 1787 to 1920 except during war. No one denies the sacrifices made and the true greatness of a generation of Americans who suffered through our worse depression, conquered the meanest tyrants during World War II and later managed to produce a level of wealth and prosperity heretofore unknown to mankind.
But this generation of Americans also laid the political foundation for the greatest betrayal of our nation’s core founding principle: limited federal government exercising only constitutionally enumerated powers. It was on their watch that the foundation was laid for today’s massive federal spending that tops 25 percent of GDP.
A good part of that generation is still alive. Before they depart, they might do their share to help us have a federal government exercising only constitutionally enumerated powers.
They might. But not all grow wise as they grow old.
As everyone knows or ought to know, socialism and freedom are opposites.
The more socialist a state becomes, the less freedom remains to the people.
Under President Obama the US has become an ever more socialist state; and as it has become more socialist it has become, of course, less free - though it’s still a long way from the totalitarianism which the Maoists and Alinskyites who officially advise the President would like him to aim for.
To bolster our argument we quote the libertarian free-marketeer John Stossel, who writes:
Last year, I reported that the United States fell from sixth to eighth place … in the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. Now, we’ve fallen further. In the just released 2011 Index, the United States is in ninth place. That’s behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland [?] and Denmark [?].
The biggest reason for the continued slide? Spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. (State and local spending is not counted.)
The debt picture is dismal, too. We are heading into Greece’s territory. …
New Speaker John Boehner, leader of the Republicans who now control the House, says he wants to cut spending. When he was sworn in last week, he declared: “Our spending has caught up with us. … No longer can we kick the can down the road.”
But when NBC anchorman Brian Williams asked him to name a program “we could do without,” he said, “I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.”
Give me a break! You mean to tell me the Republican leader in the House doesn’t already know what he wants to cut? I don’t know which is worse — that he doesn’t have a list or that he won’t talk about it in public.
The Republicans say they’ll start by cutting $100 billion, but let’s put that in perspective. The budget is close to $4 trillion. So $100 billion is just 2.5 percent. That’s shooting too low. Firms in the private sector make cuts like that all the time. It’s considered good business — pruning away deadwood.
GOP leaders say the source of their short-run cuts will be discretionary non-security spending. They foolishly exclude entitlement spending, which Congress puts on autopilot, and all spending for national and homeland security (whether it’s necessary or not). That leaves only $520 billion.
So even if the Republicans managed to cut all discretionary non-security spending (which is not what they plan), the deficit would still be $747 billion. (The deficit is now projected to be $1.267 trillion.)
This is a revolution? Republicans will have to learn that there is no budget line labeled “waste, fraud, abuse.” If they are serious about cutting government, they will ax entire programs, departments and missions.
I’m not confident they have it in them. …
And we are also supported in our opinion by the economist Walter Williams, who writes:
Here’s the House of Representatives new rule: “A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor has submitted for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” Unless a congressional bill or resolution meets this requirement, it cannot be introduced.
If the House of Representatives had the courage to follow through on this rule, their ability to spend and confer legislative favors would be virtually eliminated. Also, if the rule were to be applied to existing law, they’d wind up repealing at least two-thirds to three-quarters of congressional spending.
You might think, for example, that there’s constitutional authority for Congress to spend for highway construction and bridges. …
But there isn’t. Williams goes on to point out that President James Madison was not persuaded that there should be, though a law establishing such an authority might “facilitate commerce”, and even strengthen “the common defense“. So in 1817, Madison “vetoed a public works bill, saying: “Having considered the bill this day presented to me … which sets apart and pledges funds ‘for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,’ I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States and to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.”
Defense of the nation and the individual citizen is the first duty of government. It is the essential thing that government is for. Yet here was Madison, “the father of the Constitution”, refusing to sign into law a bill that was being promoted as an aid to defense, because he could not reconcile the nature of the expenditure with the Constitution.
“What about handouts to poor people, businesses, senior citizens and foreigners?” Williams asks. And to that too Madison gave an answer:
Madison said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
Some of his successors took the same view as Madison: if the Constitution does not authorize a dip into the public purse for this or that purpose, then neither should Congress:
In 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed a bill to help the mentally ill, saying, “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. (To approve the measure) would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”
President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill for charity relief, saying, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.” …
But, someone may ask, doesn’t the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution allow tax-payers money to be spent on “compassionate” projects?
To this President Thomas Jefferson had an answer, Williams tells us:
Suppose [Williams writes] a congressman attempts to comply with the new rule by asserting that his measure is authorized by the Constitution’s general welfare clause. Here’s what Thomas Jefferson said: “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
And he adds these words of Madison:
“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
The Constitution was designed to preserve liberty under the rule of law. It was not a set of rules for a Benevolent Association.
If the government turns itself into an agency for succoring the poor and handicapped, it can only do so by robbing the people of liberty.
Williams quotes a warning given by President John Adams:
“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
Which means that any governmental program of wealth-redistribution, all socialist legislation - social security, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, sub-prime housing loans, state-provided education and health-care, government compensation for loss caused by natural disasters, government grants to sport and the arts (to take only the most obvious examples of benevolent spending) - is unconstitutional and should be repealed and never introduced again.
Then there would be small government, low taxes, and true liberty – and money enough in every earner’s pocket to donate to charity if he chooses to.
Walter Williams writes a short, perfect essay titled “Who owns us?” Here’s a substantial part of it:
I am my private property and you are yours. If we accept the notion that people own themselves, then it’s easy to discover what forms of conduct are moral and immoral.
Immoral acts are those that violate self-ownership. Murder, rape, assault and slavery are immoral because those acts violate private property. So is theft, broadly defined as taking the rightful property of one person and giving it to another.
If it is your belief that people do not belong to themselves, they are in whole or in part the property of the U.S. Congress, or people are owned by God, who has placed the U.S. Congress in charge of managing them, then all of my observations are simply nonsense.
Let’s look at some congressional actions in light of self-ownership. Do farmers and businessmen have a right to congressional handouts? Does a person have a right to congressional handouts for housing, food and medical care?
First, let’s ask: Where does Congress get handout money? …
The only way for Congress to give one American one dollar is to first, through the tax code, take that dollar from some other American. It must forcibly use one American to serve another American.
Forcibly using one person to serve another is one way to describe slavery. As such, it violates self-ownership.
Government immorality isn’t restricted only to forcing one person to serve another. Some regulations such as forcing motorists to wear seat belts violate self-ownership. If one owns himself, he has the right to take chances with his own life.
Some people argue that if you’re not wearing a seat belt, have an accident and become a vegetable, you’ll become a burden on society. That’s not a problem of liberty and self-ownership. It’s a problem of socialism, where through the tax code one person is forcibly used to care for another.
These examples are among thousands of government actions that violate the principles of self-ownership. Some might argue that Congress forcing us to help one another and forcing us to take care of ourselves are good ideas.
But my question to you is: When congressmen and presidents take their oaths of office, is that oath to uphold and defend good ideas or the U.S. Constitution?
When the principles of self-ownership are taken into account, two-thirds to three-quarters of what Congress does violate those principles to one degree or another as well as the Constitution to which they’ve sworn to uphold and defend. …
If we accept the value of self-ownership, it is clear that most of what Congress does is clearly immoral.
Read all of it here,
It’s simply true.
It’s a libertarian conservative’s delight.