The lord of the land 1

“Be you ever so high, the law is above you,” said the English judge Lord Denning (quoting Thomas Fuller, the 17th century historian). That has been the case in England since the Magna Carta was  signed by King John in 1215. The idea crossed the Atlantic as an unquestionable and undoubtable principle, and was not doubted or questioned by the Founders of the United States.

But President Obama defies it – while paying lip-service to it.

This is from Phyllis Schlafly’s column at Townhall:

The Democrats are chanting that Republicans must fully fund Obamacare because it is the law of the land, passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court. Therefore, they say, it must be obeyed and can’t be altered by Republicans who want to defund it.

That argument is both wrong and hypocritical. Any federal law can be changed, repealed, amended or defunded by our legislative branch of government, Congress.

The Republican House wants to deal with the controversial huge “continuing resolution” [CR] bill in separate pieces, giving the OK to worthwhile federal spending purposes while leaving others (like Obamacare) without funds. Obama refuses to negotiate and demands a “clean” (blank-check) bill; his position is all or nothing-at-all.

Actually, the Supreme Court decision did not give a “clean” upholding of Obamacare. The Court effectively rewrote the law by allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, and other pieces of Obamacare are still being litigated in federal courts, such as the mandate that employer-required insurance must include objectionable abortifacient drugs.

Obama’s hypocrisy about the issue of considering Obamacare in pieces is obvious from the many times he has unilaterally messed with other matters that are clearly the law of the land. He has frequently refused to enforce other laws of the land he doesn’t like, and he pretends to legislate laws that Congress declined to pass.

Welfare reform is truly the law of the land; it was passed by Congress in 1996 and signed by President Clinton to “end welfare as we know it”. But in violation of the law’s explicit language, Obama unilaterally carved out (in effect, repealed) the “work” (or training for work) requirement for persons receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Obama’s use of waivers from various laws of the land is notorious. He has given waivers from the No Child Left Behind law of the land to more than half of the states.

Obama has even picked pieces out of Obamacare. He gave a one-year deferral of its insurance employer mandate to large employers, and he exempted Congress and government staff from the requirement on individuals to buy compulsory insurance or pay a significant penalty.

Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, admits that a federal law of the land prohibits the federal government from interfering with or dictating public school curriculum. But Obama used carrot-and-stick tactics to bribe or threaten a majority of states to adopt Common Core, and Duncan pretends it is OK for the feds to require states to be aligned with federally approved Common Core standards and Common Core tests, which will effectively dictate school curriculum.

Obama has repeatedly taken away from other branches of government powers that are specifically granted in the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution makes an undiluted grant of power to Congress “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” Obama is trying to co-opt that power for himself by demanding that Congress pass “Fast Track,” an enormous unconstitutional shift that would give Obama the authority to write our trade treaties in secret and then let Congress vote on them under rules that limit Congress’s power to debate or amend them, all within in a short preset time period. …

The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power of the purse in the Origination Clause in Article I. But Obamacare’s taxing and spending sections actually originated in the Senate, a maneuver not yet ruled on by the Supreme Court.

The Constitution starts with the powerful words, “All legislative powers” are vested in Congress, consisting of a Senate and House. Paying no attention to the Constitution, Obama has done his own legislating.

Congress declined to pass the Dream Act, but Obama is legislating it anyway through regulations. In defiance of the law of the land, Obama has allowed millions of aliens to stay and work illegally in the United States.

Congress declined to pass Cap and Trade, but Obama is legislating it anyway through regulations. His regulations are designed to bankrupt coal plants, skyrocket our electricity costs so we can’t “keep our homes on 72 degrees,” and spend our tax dollars to subsidize inefficient, costly solar and wind energy.

In April 2012, nine state Attorneys General issued a Memo listing 21 violations of law by the Obama administration, and now we have so many more examples. Obama is the one who doesn’t obey the law of the land.

Someone in charge 58

We are libertarian conservatives, “minarchists”, emphatically not anarchists.

Having a libertarian bent, we like much of what John Stossel writes in an article at Townhall:

Here’s my fantasy: Libertarians are elected to the presidency and to majorities in Congress. What would happen next? Well, if libertarians were “in charge,” you’d have more freedom and prosperity.

Freedom frightens some people. They say if no one is in charge there would be chaos. That is intuitive, but think about a skating rink. Before rinks were invented, if you proposed an amusement in which people strap blades to their feet and skate around on ice at whatever speeds they wish, you’d have been called crazy. There’s got to be speed limits, stoplights, turn signals. But we know that people navigate rinks safely on their own. They create their own order, with only minimal rules.

Society would work the same way — and does to a large extent even today. “Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government,” Thomas Paine, the soul of the American Revolution, wrote. “It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. … Common interest (has) a greater influence than the laws of government.”

Yes. Common interest is the wellspring of morality.

If libertarians were “in charge,” there would be laws to protect us from foreign enemies and those who would steal from us or injure us. Today, by contrast, under the rule of Democans and Republicrats, we’re drowning in rules — 160,000 pages’ worth. Micromanagement kills opportunity and freedom.

Maybe if there were a way to have more competition among governments, things would be better. Competition forces people to become more efficient and to get rid of stupid rules. What if we let people take over some unused land in America to create areas with fewer rules, simpler legal systems, smaller government?

Stossel quotes Michael Strong , who with his wife Magatte Wade founded the Free Cities Project.

Strong said, “We want to encourage thousands of people to create new governments that have different rules, each competing for customers with the best education and best health care, the most peace and prosperity you could imagine.”

We expect that where government interfered least with the economic life of the people there would be the greatest prosperity. Where it had nothing at all to do with education or health, the people would stand the best chance of being well educated and effectively cured. Where it most strongly protected liberty, they would probably endure the least crime. Where it armed the people most formidably they might least expect to be invaded.

Are there any free cities along the lines Strong and Wade envision?

“Hong Kong and Singapore are the best examples,” Strong said. “Now they are among the wealthiest places on earth.”

True – and proof that small government, doing little more than enforcing the rule of law, works well.

And there is a free city in Dubai because the emirate wanted to create a financial sector …

And did, though the emir had to abandon sharia law in the free city to achieve what he wanted:

“Dubai was brilliant,” Strong said. “They looked around the world. They saw that Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Chicago, Sydney, London all ran British common law. British common law is much better for commerce than is French common law or sharia law. So they took 110 acres of Dubai soil, put British common law with a British judge in charge, and they went from an empty piece of soil to the 16th most powerful financial center in world in eight years.”

It’s what libertarians have said: Freedom works, and government, when it grows beyond the barest minimum, keeps people poor.

As liberty is most likely to bring prosperity, why are libertarians a political minority?

Is it because many people fear it, and if so why?

Some want governments to be parental and care for them “from the cradle to the grave”. They think such welfare governments can guarantee that they’ll  be fed, housed, educated, medically treated all through their lives.

They could not be more wrong. The welfare states of Europe are rapidly going bankrupt.

And besides, what a government provides a government can withhold. To put yourself wholly in the power of a government is to put yourself not into safety but into danger. You are most safe when you control your own life, and the government does no more than guard your liberty. (And as everything governments do they do badly, it is wise to own a gun.)

Some need to feel that there is “someone in charge” – a king, a chief, a Secretary-General of the Communist Party, a powerful president, a Father in Heaven.

We don’t want someone in charge. Neither on earth nor “in heaven”. Throughout our earthly lives we want the rule of law, that wholly abstract authority, emotionless, fixed. (As Lord Denning, the British judge, said: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”.)

And we delight in a universe that does not have and does not need “someone” to make, maintain, rule, watch over, manipulate, or give a damn about it.