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Libertarian Ideals Are Here to Stay! Thank You Congressman Ron Paul!

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 08-10-2012
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Why Ron Paul and Libertarian Ideals Are Here to Stay

The Republican primaries have generated a lot of new interest in Libertarianism, as a result of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, Tea Party protests, and public debate over Austrian economics. The Libertarian movement is usuallyregarded as an extension of right-wing thought that is slightly little more friendly to homosexuality and abortion. Is that really the case and why does it matter?

Libertarians are as far from the right wing, as they are from the left. The distinction is important because the two philosophies actually yield very different results despite thier apparent similarities. Libertarian reasons for rejecting Republican candidates will become much clearer if the difference is established.

Famed author and economist Murry Rothbard opined that political philosophy should establish a system based on a moral code which is applicable to all. Conservatives argue “traditional values” derived from a Judeo-Christian background, Puritan ethics, and Victorian sensibilities meet that criteria. Morality can be objectively determined in a conservative world and is therefore universally applicable. Society should be built on these principles since they seem to meet Rothbard’s requirements.

Problems arise when people choose to deviate from these morals. Dissension is dangerous to society as a whole. Anything which goes against conservative morality must be quarantined, lest it corrupt and erode society. Conservatism is not that different from liberalism in this manner. The only difference is that both sides disagree on what is actually harmful to society. No one should be surprised when conservatives elect politicians who promise to enforce conservative ideals, even if they might not fit the conservative philosophy’s moral standards and then end up being morally bankrupt and embroiled in some
controversy or scandal.

Libertarian political philosophy is morally motivated as well, but it comes from a different standard than conservatives. Self-ownership, which establishes exclusive ownership rights for individuals to their own body and property, and the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), which holds that it is immoral to initate force against a peaceful person or their property, govern libertarian morality and are actually universally applicable. In other words, people should be able to volutarilly interact without violent interevention.

Social problems are caused by violating the non-aggression principle in a libertarian paradigm. This is why libertarians prefer market forces for resolving issues. Profit and property are extensions of the person and therefore the individual’s representative in the market. People that act in an anti-social manner (violating the NAP) become market pariahs. This should encourage them to start cooperating and is much more humane than jail or execution, and also does not involve violence or the threat of violence.

Republican party platforms such as war, “social conservatism,” drug prohibition, and economic intervention are all unpopular with libertarian voters. These positions are actually fairly unpopular with most voters to some degree or another. Most people don’t appreciate outside interference. They resent it, in fact. Libertarians that are personally dedicated to their ideals will reject them outright. Others will only be suspicious. They won’t vote for it enthusiastically. That’s why Mitt Roney’s campaign is failing to generate a lot of enthusiasm. Most supporters are actually opposing Obama. They feel like they are being forced to choose the lesser of the two evils. Republican leaders will continue to repeat 2008 and keep losing elections if they do not change their platform.

Libertarians and libertarian-minded voters will probably reject Romney this election, leaving those that believe in authoritarian government to decide who the next person that will get to interfere with Americans’ lives. Ron Paul’s support did not come from devotion to a person, as it did from devotion to an ideal. It is an ideal of freedom, liberty, and non-interference, and it applies to everyone.

By James Wyss August 2012

Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Federal Government Has Unlimited Taxing Power: Constitution Irrelevant!

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 07-01-2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council (FRC) criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the entire 2010 health care law through its decision in NFIB v. Sebelius.

FRC has been at the forefront of this debate over what can only be described as a government takeover of healthcare. FRC uncovered and rallied opposition to the taxpayer funding of abortion contained in the bill and after its narrow passage continued to fight the measure in the courts. FRC’s legislative advocacy arm, FRC Action, scored the votes on the Obama health plan in its annual scorecard, and aired a national TV/radio ad campaign against the legislation.

FRC submitted an amicus brief, authored by legal counsel Ken Klukowski in Florida v. HHS, that was cited by federal district Judge Roger Vinson in his decision to strike down the entire Obama health plan as unconstitutional. FRC submitted another brief, also authored by Klukowski, in NFIB v. Sebelius cited by the National Federation of Independent Business in its brief before the Supreme Court.

Of the decision, Family Research Council Legal Counsel Ken Klukowski, J.D., made the following comments:

“The Supreme Court has today given the federal government unlimited authority to use its tax power to require Americans to engage in specific commercial activity. The obvious implication is chilling: Uncle Sam can make you buy anything, at any price, for any reason,” said Klukowski. “That’s why today, the American dream gave way to a real American nightmare. President Obama’s vow about ‘fundamentally transforming the United States of America ‘ was fulfilled. The Supreme Court essentially said it cannot articulate any limiting principle on the power of the federal government.

“By ruling that the law is constitutional, the Supreme Court gave the federal government the power to order private citizens to enter into contracts with private organizations and give those organizations their money. This ruling fundamentally transforms the federal government from one of limited and specified powers in the Constitution to an all-powerful central government with plenary power over every area and aspect of Americans’ lives from cradle to grave.”

Of the Supreme Court’s decision, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among hundreds of provisions in the law that will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate their conscience rights, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families.

“The Obama administration has created, for the first time in American history, new federal regulations that toss aside the constitutional right to religious freedom by forcing religious institutions and employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations.

“It’s now time to replace those leaders who disregarded the constitutional limitations of their authority and the deeply held religious beliefs of their constituents, voting for the government takeover of healthcare. We must repeal this abortion-funding health care law and restore the Constitution to its rightful place,” concluded Perkins.

June 28, 2012

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Virginia Nullifies NDAA Detention Law

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 04-22-2012

RICHMOND, Va. – On Wednesday, the Virginia legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that forbids state agencies from cooperating with any federal attempt to exercise the indefinite detention without due process provisions written into sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act.

HB1160 “Prevents any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a United States citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”

The legislature previously passed HB1160 and forwarded it to Gov. Bob McDonnell for his signature. Last week, the governor agreed to sign the bill with a minor amendment. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed the amended version of the legislation 89-7. Just hours later, the Senate concurred by a 36-1 vote.

Bill sponsor Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) says that since the legislature passed HB1150 as recommended by the governor, it does not require a signature and will become law effective July 1, 2012.

Several states recently passed resolutions condemning NDAA indefinite detention, but Virginia becomes the first state to pass a law refusing compliance with sections 1021 and 1022.

“In the 1850s, northern states felt that habeas corpus was so important that they passed laws rejecting the federal fugitive slave act. The bill passed in Massachusetts was so effective, not one single runaway slave was returned south from that state. Today, Virginia joins in this great American tradition,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said. “When the federal government passes unconstitutional so-called laws so destructive to liberty – it’s the people and the states that will stand up and say, ‘NO!’ May the other states now follow the lead taken today by Virginia.”
April 18, 2012

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Ron Paul Can Win in 2012!

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 01-01-2012

A rowdy pack of ever dedicated supporters makes its presence known at most of Ron Paul’s campaign events in Iowa. But beyond those who show up already wearing “I voted for Ron Paul” T-shirts, there are those who are more curious than diehard. Many of them are Democrats and independents — recent polling suggests that as much as half of Paul’s support in the state is coming from non-Republicans. And when asked what has piqued their interest, these non-Republicans sometimes cite the same reasons as conservatives: Paul is a straight shooter; he values the Constitution; he’s consistent. But there are also parts of the Texas Congressman’s philosophy that uniquely cater to those outside the GOP, even if inadvertently. Here are six reasons Dems and indies are staking out space in Paul’s tent.

A Hands-Off Approach to Personal Matters

The central thesis of Paul’s stump speech is that the government’s singular role is to protect our liberties. And part of true liberty, Paul believes, is making personal choices without interference from the federal government. In every speech, Paul reaches a moment in which he relays that We don’t have to agree on everything: people should have their own religion, their own intellectual pursuits and the right to live their private lives however they see fit. That last part strikes some as a tacit acceptance of liberal positions on social issues like abortion and gay marriage — and on some level, it is. While Paul himself would support state bans for such things, his stay-out-of-people’s-business philosophy is absolute at the federal level. “I like that he’s for less governmental involvement in our lives,” says Erin Nevius, a 24-year-old who classifies herself as independent and attended a Paul town hall on Thursday, Dec. 29. “For being a Republican, I think he has some pretty liberal ideas.”


Jordan Leckband, a registered Democrat, checked out Paul at a town hall in Newton, Iowa, on Wednesday after hearing his father rave about the man. “I’m a little bit of a pacifist,” Leckland says. “So his whole antiwar strategy … I’m a big fan.” By the end of the talk, Leckband said he’d be willing to switch parties to caucus for Paul on Jan. 3.

Polls consistently show those on the left and in the center to be more wary of entering wars and more supportive of ending them. A recent CNN/ORC survey, for example, showed that 73% of Democrats and 70% of independents now oppose the war in Afghanistan, while only 38% of Republicans do.

Paul wants to bring troops home from both war zones and from bases in countries like Germany and Japan. He believes other countries should solve their own problems and that meddling in far-removed conflicts will only bring havoc to America. He also opposes foreign aid. “The easiest place to cut spending is to cut spending overseas and to deal with our problems at home,” he told a group assembled in Perry, Iowa, on Thursday. “There’s a lot of expense and a lot of killing, and it goes on and on.”

The Golden Rule

When explaining his foreign policy positions or his beliefs about personal liberty, Paul often explicitly invokes the golden rule. He also presents golden-rule scenarios. Imagine, he suggested on Thursday, that a country like China was treating us the way we treat Iran. “It’s natural for [Iranians] to say that they want defense,” he said in Perry. “What we need to do, if you want to quiet things down, is don’t put sanctions on them. It’s just going to cause more trouble.” Sanctions, he said, are painful for Iran, and American behavior that causes hardship abroad unites fractured countries against us, just as factions of America were all united after 9/11.

Studies have shown that certain “moral triggers” lead Democrats and Republicans to make different decisions. Democrats place more importance on factors like harm and fairness, while Republicans give more weight to values like loyalty, authority and purity. Paul’s appeal straddles both groups.

Drug Legalization

Paul’s support of states’ rights has its extremes: if Vermont wanted to legalize heroin or Alabama wanted to legalize cocaine, his ideal government wouldn’t object. But with marijuana becoming increasingly popular for medical use, Paul’s argument for legalizing drugs is often music to liberal ears, and he frequently decries the so-called War on Drugs. “When it comes to personal liberties and personal lifestyles and the way people live — and the way they eat and drink and smoke, it seems like … we don’t trust people to make decisions on what do with their own bodies, and we should,” he told a standing-room only house Thursday night, to hoots and hollers.

He Doesn’t Blame Obama

While candidates like Michele Bachmann call for the repeal of ObamaCare, Paul also calls for the repeal of the Patriot Act. In his dire warnings about the state of the country, he often points out that the problems in the country are not “three years old” or even three administrations old. He doesn’t say it outright — and rarely even breathes Obama’s name — but his point is clear: this mess we’re in does not start and end with the current President, so don’t try to goad him into saying so. This, in fact, is about as raw as his criticisms of Obama usually got during speeches on the trail in Iowa this week: “People who are President right now are said to be working on getting more involved in Syria.” Paul disagrees with current policies, of course, but his general restraint makes it easier for Iowans who caucused for Democrats four years ago to consider Paul this time around. (They’ve got no Democratic game to play, after all, and they can switch registration with a mere signature when they show up to caucus.)

Notes of Occupy Wall Street

Couple that with Paul’s support for the Occupy movement — its spirit, not its preferred tax policy — and you have a liberal-friendly message. “Wealth is being accumulated into smaller and smaller hands,” he said on Thursday. “Right now, Big Business makes more money paying high-paid lobbyists going to Washington to get a good deal than trying to satisfy you, the customer. And that needs to be reversed.” Paul’s message focuses on the weak economy, a grievance pretty much everyone can get behind. There is always the possibility that liberal voters will realize how conservative he is on issues like taxation, entitlements and abortion, but Paul’s libertarianism acts as a buffer. And that could make all the difference when voters caucus Tuesday night across Iowa.

By Katy Steinmetz | December 30, 2011 | TIME Swampland

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The Age of Hamilton & the Need for Jeffersonianism…

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 12-14-2011

As President Obama travels to John Brown’s old stomping ground in Osawatomie, Kansas where Theodore Roosevelt made his New Nationalism speech in 1910, Newt Gingrich has announced that he is a Theodore Roosevelt Republican.

If you asked Theodore Roosevelt what kind of Republican he was, he would — and did — tell you that he was a proud standard bearer of the Hamiltonian tradition in American politics.

Ron Paul, who would have fought TR tooth and nail as much as he is currently fighting both President Obama and ex-Speaker Newt would agree. Gingrich, Obama and TR are all Hamiltonians, and Ron Paul thinks they are all dead wrong.

As we gear up for 2012 and beyond, American attention is increasingly returning to the oldest battle in our political history: the battle between the Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians that split George Washington’s cabinet down the middle and established our first party system.

That fight was essentially over three things that divide us intensely today: the role of the federal government, the nature of the credit system, and the future of the social hierarchy. Alexander Hamilton favored a strong federal government at home and abroad, a centralized credit system similar to the British one with a Bank of the United States acting as our central bank, and believed that the best educated and most widely experienced people in the United States constituted a natural aristocracy and should play the leading role in our politics.

Alexander Hamilton

Thomas Jefferson disagreed with virtually everything Hamilton believed. He wanted a weak federal government, detested Hamilton’s banking system, and feared that the alliance of a social elite with a powerful government and a strong central bank would turn the US into a European-style aristocratic or monarchical society.

Thomas Jefferson

Bipartisan Establishment, meet Mr. Tea Party.

The disagreement between these two men continued to reverberate down the years. John Quincy Adams, Nicholas Biddle, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln sided with Hamilton up through the Civil War. Presidents Madison and Monroe followed Jefferson, more or less; so in his own irascible way did Andrew Jackson. The Southern Confederacy tried to write Hamilton out of the constitution when it modified the Philadelphia document to serve the rebel government.

Andrew Jackson

Hamiltonian Hegemony

Alexander Hamilton owned the 20th century. America’s growing global role made his vision of a strong military look like simple common sense; as US corporations became more globally focused and responsibility for the international financial order shifted from Britain to the US, his support for a strong federal role in promoting US economic interests around the world grew much less controversial.

While the 20th century was in some ways a very democratic one, with both women and racial minorities gaining the vote, it was also an unusually hierarchical period by American standards. The 20th century was more elitist than the 19th; while access to the educational and social elite was open to talented outsiders, more and more power flowed to “experts”.

This was partly because the United States shifted from being a nation of small farmers, beholden to no one, to a nation of employees living in cities and suburbs. The administration and management of a large urban unit requires a larger and more powerful government than does a region of small farmers and rural communities. The rise of an interconnected national economy made the federal government’s power to control interstate commerce relatively more important; in the age of the automobile and even more in the information economy, more and more commerce is interstate, less and less purely local.

The rise of large fortunes also helped. The Ford Foundation and other large philanthropic organizations employed, empowered and deployed experts to solve social problems. The experts followed the doctrines of the new social sciences, believed at the time to be a source of objective wisdom.

This brief list only scratches the surface of the forces that made 20th century America what it was, but put these and other trends together, and the 2oth century saw the steady eclipse of the agrarian and Jeffersonian American vision by the urban, commercial and hierarchical Hamiltonian ideal.

The Kennedy-Johnson administrations saw the peak of this Hamiltonian era. The son of a plutocrat summoned the “best and the brightest” from Harvard to carry out an ambitious program of national and international change. From the Alliance for Progress abroad to the War on Poverty at home to the Apollo space program aimed at reaching the moon, the Democratic administrations between 1961 and 1969 brought all the elements of 2oth century Hamiltonian America onto the stage.

John Maynard Keynes

Keynesian economics was a cornerstone of the new Hamiltonian vision. Keynes is Hamilton on steroids. Hamilton (like the British visionaries who built the Bank of England on which he modeled his Bank of the United States) believed that a well-managed federal debt was a national blessing, not a national curse. Keynes made the same argument about deficits that Anglo-American thinkers had long made about government debt: an appropriate and well-managed government deficit could be an engine of economic growth. And if Hamilton believed that the central bank could manage debt effectively in a world of specie-backed currency, Keynes argued that central banks and even a global central bank could manage debt and deficits in a world of paper or fiat money.

The Hamiltonian vision was further reinforced by Theodore Roosevelt’s vision of government as the protector of the little man against the unchecked power of large corporations. Jeffersonians had classically worried that the federal government was the leviathan that, unchecked, could destroy American freedom. Rooseveltian progressive Hamiltonians saw the federal government as the park ranger, protecting the tourists and ordinary citizens from the corporate velociraptors in the Jurassic Park of modern American life. The stronger the ranger, the safer the people.

Big Tent Hamiltonianism

The blue social model, the progressive American system of the 20th century, was the love child of Hamiltonian liberal theory and social democratic aspirations rooted in the Industrial Revolution and the class struggle it spawned. It used a capitalist state, and capital markets, to advance both classic Hamiltonian objectives and the social goals of the urban working class. For a good chunk of the twentieth century, the American party system reflected this division: Rockefeller Republicans stressed the liberal and Hamiltonian roots of the system, liberal Democrats stressed the social democratic aspects of its agenda.

George Washington

In addition to the large social and cultural forces that made 20th century America so hospitable to the Hamiltonian vision, there was a very specific political switch. During the New Deal, the South rediscovered the virtues of an economically active national government. George Washington (who decisively favored Alexander Hamilton in his arguments with Thomas Jefferson), John Marshall, Henry Clay and even the young, nationalist John Calhoun had all seen the virtues of a national government acting to promote state development. But as the Hamiltonian cause in the early republic became linked to a high tariff, pro-manufacturing stance, and as southern slaveholders came to favor constitutional theories that limited the power of the federal government to interfere in the South’s “peculiar institution”, the South threw itself squarely into the Jeffersonian camp.

After the Civil War, the control of the federal government by Hamiltonian, high-tariff business interests, tribal loyalty to the Democratic Party, and the war-hallowed cause of states’ rights, plus fear that a strong federal government would meddle in southern racial policies reinforced Dixie’s attachment to Jeffersonian views.

That began to change in the New Deal. Lyndon Johnson typified the new kind of southern politician who understood that federal spending on infrastructure, electricity generation, and agricultural subsidies could transform the South. Right up through the War on Poverty — which developed formulae for federal funding that gave the greatest federal support to the poorest states (almost all southern) — a strong federal government, once the bane and the nightmare of the South, became its strongest ally in Dixie’s attempt to close the development gap with the North.

America’s rise to world power further improved the position of Hamiltonians at home. The transfer of financial power from London to New York and the liberation of the financial system from the gold standard allowed American Hamiltonians to reconcile their own preference for sound, internationally convertible money and the interests of capital-hungry entrepreneurs and farmers. Under American leadership the global monetary system became far more expansionary than in the British era, and the sharp contrast between Hamiltonian banking interests supporting tight money against populists clamoring for debt relief was blurred in post World War Two America.

As the US shifted from a trade policy based on being a free rider in the global British trading system to being the organizing power in the postwar system of free trade, Hamiltonianism also shed its support of protective tariffs and embraced the cause of free trade. Hamiltonian tariff and tight money policy had set farmers’ teeth on edge from the earliest days of the Republic; 20th century Hamiltonians shed this political baggage and, with government crop subsidies, the regulation of railroad rates, and infrastructure projects (irrigation, highways) supporting agricultural interests, the increasingly corporatized agricultural interest in the United States moved from the Jeffersonian to the Hamiltonian camp where it remains today.

Wrestling With Founders

The long Hamiltonian ascendancy in the United States has brought many benefits. It is in my judgment neither possible nor desirable to go back to the weak farmer’s republic that Thomas Jefferson thought he was building in the 1790s. At home and abroad a healthy Hamiltonianism is an essential building block of American prosperity and security.

But there is also no doubt that the Hamiltonian-social democratic synthesis of the twentieth century is not adequate for the times in which we live. Corporatism has bred the kind of cronyism and corruption Jeffersonians have always feared. The alliance of the wealthy and the elite with strong state power is creating class divisions and class conflict. The remoteness of the federal government from popular control (to be one of 300 million citizens is to have no effective control over the governing power) threatens to hollow out Americans’ sense of self reliance and independence while keeping most people at a great remove from any real exercise of political power.

Some of the problems we face are due to essential defects in Hamiltonianism, against which a Jeffersonian revival is our only safety. The unchecked Hamiltonian ascendancy of the twentieth century has led to a lopsided America. A revival of the Jeffersonian element in American political thought and practice is essential to our national health.

Other problems are due to the need for Hamiltonianism to reform itself: to develop new economic and social approaches for a new era. Hamiltonianism at its best is forward-looking and revolutionary. It is not the tool of established interests but a force for innovation.

Either way, a long revival of American traditions of individualism, skepticism of elites, and distrust of the federal government is a rising force in this country. Add to that suspicions of finance and of the influence of firms like Goldman Sachs in politics, and a full blown Jeffersonian reaction is beginning to emerge.

The decline of the blue social model, part Hamiltonian, part social democratic, is the reality that shapes the debate. Jeffersonians like Ron Paul argue that the decline of the blue model exposes the essential fallacies of Hamiltonian governance and that the US needs to rebase itself on a Jeffersonian foundation. Hostility to the Federal Reserve echoes Jefferson’s hostility to Hamilton’s First Bank of the United States; the desire to limit federal authority and revive states’ rights similarly echoes some of the country’s oldest political arguments.

In Osawatomie and beyond, President Obama will run for re-election as a Hamiltonian and a custodian of the 20th century progressive state. He will argue that modest and careful reforms, trimming a few excesses here, making some innovative policy shifts there, can keep the old ship afloat in the twenty first century. Like JFK, he will argue that the best and brightest can develop government policy that will guide the nation to a brighter future through collective action and state investments.

Governor Romney, so far as one can discern, is at his core a Hamiltonian as well, but he has less sympathy than President Obama and the Democrats for the blue synthesis of Hamiltonianism and social democracy. He stands roughly in a line of Republican presidents like Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush who accepted the basic elements of the progressive state. Former Speaker Gingrich is also a Hamiltonian, but much more than either Romney or Obama he believes that Hamiltonianism needs to be re-imagined for our times. Congressman Paul is the one Jeffersonian in the race, and of the four he seems the least likely to be elected in 2012.

What America needs is a debate between 21st century Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians. Obama and Paul in their way are both looking backward; Gingrich feels the need for a deep reworking of the Hamiltonian tradition and his surprising surge in the polls suggests that he has touched a nerve in the public — despite the baggage of his past and the sometimes sketchy nature of his proposals. Paul’s popularity also points to the growing public discontent with political approaches centered on the defense of the status quo.

On the whole, 2012 is not shaping up as the kind of epochal contest the country saw in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt used his Osawotomie speech to launch the Bull Moose Party. The three way contest between Taft, Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt was the first election in which the dominant ideas of the 20th century were on display; we seem to be headed for something more modest this time.

The country needs a livelier and richer debate; over the next few days and weeks at Via Meadia we will do our part by trying to work through some of the ways in which Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian thought offer avenues for renewal and reform here in the twilight of Big Blue.

December 6, 2011
Walter Russell Mead

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Tenth Amendment Movement Aims to Give Power Back to the States

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 10-09-2011

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
– U.S. Constitution, Tenth Amendment

Fed up with Washington’s involvement in everything from land use to gun control to education spending, states across the country are fighting back against what they say is the federal government’s growing intrusion on their rights.

At least 35 states have introduced legislation this year asserting their power under the Tenth Amendment to regulate all matters not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.

“This has been boiling for years, and it’s finally come to a head,” said Utah State Rep. Carl Wimmer. “With TARP and No Child Left Behind, these things that continue to give the federal government more authority, our rights as states and individuals are being turned on their head.”

The power struggle between the states and Washington has cropped up periodically ever since the country was founded. But now some states are sending a simple, forceful message:

The government has gone too far. Enough is enough.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently signed into law a bill authorizing the state’s gun manufacturers to produce “Made in Montana” firearms, without seeking licensing from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Similar laws are being considered in Utah, Alaska, Texas and Tennessee.

The Montana law is expected to end up in the courts, where states’ rights activists hope judges will uphold their constitutional right to regulate firearms.

That would reverse a longstanding trend, said Martin Flaherty, a professor of constitutional law at Fordham Law School.

“From 1937 to 1995 there is not one instance of the Supreme Court knocking back Congress,” he said. “In the Constitution the interstate commerce clause gives Congress the right to regulate commerce between the states. That gives them a lot of power. There were questions of how far they can reach, but then comes the New Deal, and Roosevelt gets all these picks on the [Supreme] Court, and they come upon a theory whereupon congressional power is almost infinite.”

That 1930s understanding of the Constitution is now the norm, with advocates for the federal government arguing that issues of a certain size and scope can be addressed only by an institution with the resources of the federal government.

As an example, federal authority is necessary in the economic crisis, said U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, whose home state of Oklahoma recently passed a sovereignty resolution.

“The economic situation in our nation over the past year has not been contained in any one community or state. The industries and institutions affected by the recent economic crisis touch multiple layers of our economy and are not confined to any one state or region,” he said in a statement. “I feel there was Constitutional justification for Congress’s recent efforts to stabilize our economy.”

But for many state leaders, the degree to which Congress regulates issues within their boundaries, using the interstate commerce clause to regulate just about everything and anything, has become untenable.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently when he made a passing reference to the possibility of the Lone Star State seceding from the U.S., saying, “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?”

States rights advocates offer countless examples of what they believe is Washington’s overreach.

In Utah, 67 percent of the state’s land is controlled by the federal government through wilderness preserves, limiting state leaders in their bid to fill government coffers through oil and natural gas drilling after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cancelled 103,000 acres of leases this year.

In Idaho, ranchers are furious that federal endangered species law prevents them from shooting the wolves that prey on their cattle.

“The balance of power between the states and the federal government is way out of whack,” said Georgia state Senator Chip Pearson.” The effect here is incalculable. Everything you do from the moment you wake up until you get to bed, there is some federal law or restriction.”

Up until recently, the state sovereignty movement has remained almost entirely Republican, drawing supporters from the ranks that voted against President Obama and attended tea parties last month to protest federal tax hikes.

But the movement’s rank and file are just as likely now to criticize Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, as they are the new president, pointing to what they believe were Bush’s overreaching policies on education and homeland security.

Many are becoming frequent visitors to a Web site,, which was founded in early 2007 and has become a community bulletin board for states rights activists and politicians. Up to 20,000 viewers log on to the site every day.

The site’s founder, Michael Boldin, a 36-year-old Web marketer in Los Angeles who says he has no political affiliation, says he decided to launch the site after watching the Maine State Legislature fight the Department of Homeland Security on the Real ID act, a controversial Bush-era law that will require states to issue federally regulated identification cards, complete with biometric data and stringent address checks.

“Maine resisted, and the government backed off, and soon all these other states were doing the same thing,” Boldin said. “The bottom line is, if there’s widespread support, people can resist the federal government at the state level.”

The deadline for states to comply with Real ID has now been pushed back until 2011.

The Tenth Amendment movement is not without controversy. In Georgia, a columnist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution called a sovereignty resolution in the state Senate a threat “to secede from and even disband the United States.”

The resolution, which was passed as part of a group of bills that were banded together, affirmed the state’s powers under the Tenth Amendment, taking its inspiration and language from Thomas Jefferson’s 1798 resolution opposing the Alien and Sedition Acts — laws enacted by the federal government during wartime to quiet protest against the government.

The resolution asserts that any instance of the federal government taking action beyond its enumerated powers “shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America.”

“It’s been taken out of context by some editors,” said Pearson, who sponsored the bill. “It certainly never meant secession. The intent was to communicate that the actions of the federal government are an infringement on states’ rights.”

Robert Natelson, a law professor at the University of Montana who was involved in drawing up that state’s sovereignty resolution over a decade ago, argues that states up until now have been unwilling to take action of any real consequence in checking federal power.

“Back then they passed the resolution, but they didn’t turn down any federal dollars,” he said.

“If the states are serious about returning the federal government to its historical origins, they’re going to have to do more than pass resolutions. They’re going to have to turn down money and litigate.”

By James Osborne

Published May 26, 2009

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Ron Paul & Barney Frank Introduce Congressional Legislation to End 73-Year-Old Federal Marijuana Prohibition

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 06-24-2011

In early June, a 19-member international panel of luminaries called the so-called “war on drugs” a failure, and recommended the United States consider legalizing marijuana in order to better undermine criminal organizations and stop punishing those who “do no harm to others.”

It apparently only took a few weeks for Congress to hear them, as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), along with other congressmen, will be introducing legislation in the House on Thursday to “limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling,” reports, which claims to have gotten its information from the Marijuana Policy
  The bill is not an attempt to legalize pot, the authors insist, but is instead intended to clear up the conflicts between federal and state law that exist throughout the country. As many as 16 states currently allow the use of medical marijuana, an allowance that falls into direct conflict with federal law.
According to the MPP: “Rep. Frank’s legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.”
By Joshua Norman
CBS News

While GOP presidential candidate Paul and the very liberal Frank might seem an odd pair, this legislation is right up Paul’s libertarian alley, as it focuses on allowing states to do what they want without interference from Washington, D.C.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

While some, including the MPP and The Los Angeles Times, claim it is the first legislation of its kind to be proposed in Congress that would end the 73-year-old federal marijuana prohibition that began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, there have been other marijuana-related bills in Congress in recent years.

In fact, Rep. Frank himself introduced as many as two marijuana-related bills in 2009 alone, both of which appear to have died in subcommittee and never even been considered for a vote. H.R. 2835 sought to “provide for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States.” H.R. 2943 sought to “eliminate most Federal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use, and for other purposes.”

While it is very likely the current piece of marijuana legislation will end up in the same place as Frank’s previous two efforts, it is still part of a growing chorus of voices seeking to alter the debate on the war on drugs. With the U.S. spending $15 billion per year on the war on drugs, and with little to no apparent gains made in the last 40 years since it started, theirs will surely not be the last prominent voices to question why marijuana is illegal.

By Joshua Norman CBS News

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Even FDR Understood: No Collective Bargaining for Public Servants

 :: Posted by Limited Government on 03-04-2011

There is no legitimate role for government unions.

Public servants — meaning government employees — don’t work for greedy miscreants exploiting them for personal profit. They work for democratically elected officials representing the will of the people. This is just one reason why there is no legitimate role for government unions, and there should be no collective bargaining rights for public servants.

Since public servants work for the people, their wages, benefits, and working conditions are set in accordance with the will of the people, as determined by the democratic process. This is why it is not legitimate to ask the people to compromise with public servants in collective bargaining. And this is why the pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal workers are set by acts of Congress, not through collective bargaining.

If public servants do not like the pay, benefits, and working conditions offered to them by the people as determined through the democratic process, nothing requires them to be public servants. This is why public servants are not slaves without collective bargaining, as soon-to-be-unemployed collective bargaining agents have suggested.

Since public servants work for the people, any strike by them would be a strike against the people. The government cannot allow the essential public services it provides to be shut down while it negotiates the pay, benefits, and working conditions for public servants through collective bargaining.

The right of collective bargaining for private sector workers is not at issue in Wisconsin, though the government unions, the Democrats, and President Obama want to confuse the public on precisely that question. Under current law, there are plenty of market and legal checks on private sector unions to keep them from abusing the public. The ultimate limit if they push too far is that their company will be driven out of business. Though that does happen sometimes, it only happens when management fails to do its job in resisting excessive union demands. Otherwise, within current market and legal checks, private sector unions actually perform a helpful market function in ensuring that employers keep up with market wages and working conditions as expeditiously as possible.

Not so for government unions, as governments cannot be driven out of business. They gain their revenue forcibly through taxes. As a result, there is no market limit to how much such unions can milk the public.

Moreover, government unions themselves can choose who negotiates with them on behalf of the people, through their votes and political support. In return for lavish pay and benefits far exceeding private compensation, the unions provide a kickback in campaign contributions and muscle to their political benefactors, financed by the taxpayers. This inherent conflict of interest involved in government unions leads to oppressive political corruption, where there is no political limit as well as no market limit to the plunder of the public by government unions.

What is at stake in Wisconsin is whether public servants work for the American people, or whether the American people work for a “public servant” aristocracy enjoying far greater pay and benefits than the taxpayers who are forced to subsidize them through the above-described political corruption.

These are the reasons why even an ultimate liberal like Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed with me that there should be no collective bargaining for public servants. As quoted by Michael Walsh in yesterday’s New York Post, Roosevelt said:

All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public-personnel management. The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people.

What we are witnessing in Wisconsin today is the total breakdown of democracy, and the collapse of the rule of law. The Democrat Party in the state has refused to abide by the results of the election last November, and so has shut down the state legislature. The government unions are breaking the law by going out on strike. The anti-democracy protestors in Madison are breaking the law by continuing to occupy the state capitol. Doctors are breaking the law by writing fraudulent “sick notes.” The remaining Democrat state senators after last fall’s election have fled the state to hide from the law.

The only people expected to obey the law in Wisconsin now are the taxpayers.

Governor Walker and the Republicans are trying to pass a moderate bill to the left of FDR that still maintains some collective bargaining rights for government workers.  Moreover, their bill would greatly benefit state and local workers by terminating government collection and payment of their union dues. This gives power to each worker to voluntarily decide if they want to pay those dues. That is like a tax cut of as much as $1,000 a year for state and local government workers. That policy needs to be adopted in every state, as taxpayer money going to government union dues is the root of political corruption in America.

Moreover, it is Governor Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin who are protecting the interests of working people in the state, as it is these working people who must pay the taxes for the lavish pay and benefits of public sector aristocrats, and suffer their own lost jobs and wages resulting from high taxes.

February 23, 2011 – by Peter Ferrara

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