Archive for the ‘Democracy/Government’ Category

Terrorists – civilian courts or military courts?

How do we handle terrorists? Are they prisoners of war? Are they civilian criminals? The argument is about where they should be tried, civilian courts or military courts. And, though those on each side have good arguments, the law of war and an opinion by the Supreme Court suggest both sides may be correct, depending on the circumstances.

In 2010, the executive branch failed in an attempt to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others in a civilian court on charges of plotting the Sept. 11th attacks. Recently, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, bin Laden’s son-in-law, was quietly brought into the United States and quickly appeared in federal court before anyone had the opportunity to block it, the executive branch still determined that terrorists be tried in civilian courts rather than military courts.

What is a “fair share?”

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non work.”

~ Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize economist

Was Friedman forecasting today’s reality? In one tax year reported in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, millionaires earned 100 times as much as people earning $30,000, but paid 300 times as much tax. The top 20% of wage earners now pay nearly 70% of all income taxes, leaving 80% of Americans to pay the remaining 30%; 46% pay no income tax at all. Is this a progressive “fair share” income tax or is this a redistributive, punitive income tax? Our politicians are finally nearing their ideal of 49% of the voters paying all taxes and 51% paying none, the perfect re-election guarantee.

Does the federal government work for us?

“Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest.”

~ Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

More than 200 years ago, the states united and wrote a contract, the Constitution, creating an employee, the federal government; and that contract outlined specific tasks the federal government would perform for the states’ combined welfare.

However, in the early 1800s, the Supreme Court ruled that it alone presided over the Constitution and it alone would decide what the Constitution said. Is this what the Founding Fathers and the states intended? Did they mean for the Supreme Court to decide its own powers and those of the rest of the federal government?

The Welfare State

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Shouldn’t those advocating the United States continue its ever-expanding welfare state look more closely at what is happening in Europe under the staggering weight of its “cradle to grave” welfare mentality? Though it sounds charitable and caring, is “cradle to grave” welfare possible? How long can you sustain giving people more than they earn? When you pay people to do less, don’t they do less and continually demand more?

Roe v. Wade – Did we get what we wanted?

Recently, parents successfully sued for “wrongful birth” because their child was born with Down syndrome, claiming if it had been accurately diagnosed early in the pregnancy, they would have chosen abortion.

With Roe v. Wade, did well-meaning people start us down an unintended path to a child being worthy of birth only if the parents find him or her desirable? Are we heading toward designer babies, babies who come with guarantees of perfection? Was this the intent of those supporting Roe v. Wade?

Gun control – the wrong discussion

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.”

~ Thomas Jefferson, 1781

A Connecticut man murdered 20 children and 6 adults, gun control proponents again advocating that disarming law-abiding citizens will solve the problem. And though I believe their logic is folly, we still need a reasoned debate on the issue.

But, lest we forget, gun ownership is still a constitutional right; it is not a constitutional privilege; it is not a governmental privilege; it is not a presidential privilege. The Constitution does not allow the federal government to “evolve” the Constitution to address perceived changing times and needs. It must have the permission of “We the People” in the form of an amendment for change to occur.

Their choice, not ours

Posted by | Filed under Democracy/Government, World Issues | Mar 30, 2012 | 1 Comment

“I’m no longer willing to let them oppress people as they please for fear of war.”

– Harry Truman, 1948

Are we dealing with threats to our national security appropriately? Have invasions and occupations of threatening nations yielded the needed results? Or, might there be another approach, a safer, less costly approach? And, if so, need we look further than President Reagan’s response to Moammar Gadhafi’s sponsored bombing of a German nightclub that killed American citizens?

Mediocre and entitled

“There is an infinite difference between a little wrong and just right, between fairly good and the best, between mediocrity and superiority.”

Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924), American writer

 

November 2007, KMGH television Denver Colorado – “To end complaints about the sometimes fierce competition among overachieving high school students, the Boulder (Colorado) Valley School District is getting rid of the practice of crowning a single valedictorian,” ending “unhealthy” class rankings. And in 2010, Boulder graduated its first class without a valedictorian.

Avoiding consequences

“Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”

-William Penn, 1644-1718, founder of Pennsylvania

Recently, I read about a church in Virginia that was newsworthy because it wanted to do something its insurance company directed it not to do. It wanted to tell the truth; but the insurance company disagreed, worried that if the church did so, their legal liability and financial risk would rise.

Avoiding debt

Posted by | Filed under Democracy/Government, Economy | Dec 27, 2011 | 3 Comments

“We contend that for a nation to try
to tax itself into prosperity is like a
man standing in a bucket and trying
to lift himself up by the handle.”
– Sir Winston Churchill

Before Christmas, Pamela Yip wrote a column in The Dallas Morning News offering advice on ways to avoid holiday debt, including suggestions from several experts.

She said, “Don’t charge up a storm . . . or you’ll end up with a financial hangover” for years to come. Also, remember that “debt is expensive,” said John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com.

What happened to our “Hallmark” values?

Each Christmas season my wife and I look forward to days we spend watching one Hallmark movie after another; hopefully a snowy day with a fire in the fireplace.

We just finished watching Hallmark’s “Have a Little Faith,” which I taped earlier this week. As the first commercial began, I realized I was not fast-forwarding through it as I normally would. Instead, I wanted to watch the Hallmark commercial.

Why? Their commercials are as good as their movies and they still bring tears to my eyes. They remind me of our faith, our values, our traditions, of what we were, and of what we could again become.

Judicial ‘good Behavior’

We hold Supreme Court Justices in high regard, but should we? The Constitution says they “shall hold their Office during good Behavior?” Well, let’s look at their behavior.

The process of confirming a justice leaves little doubt; they are political appointees who serve for life. Although they occasionally surprise their advocates, they usually vote as expected. From the time of the very first Supreme Court appointments, judicial restraint and respect for the Constitution has progressively given way to judicial legislation.

Three sitting judges, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, have made public statements suggesting they believe the Constitution is theirs to evolve; to decide based on their personal values, no need to amend it.

A state religion?

Understanding the founding fathers’ fears of government offers insight into the meaning of their words in the United States Constitution. Many of their demanded freedoms were born from the British trail of William Penn who challenged the sovereignty of the Church of England, the state religion. On its steps, he dared to gather and preach a different belief, a capital offense.

Following a short trial, the judge instructed the jurors in the law, telling them to “render the proper verdict.” But, a lone juror named Edward Bushell claimed the law was wrong and voted not guilty, with repeated deliberations bringing fellow jurors to his point of view. The infuriated judge put the jurors in jail and demanded they do as the bench instructed.

I’m entitled

“Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity.”

Irving Kristol, 1920-2009

American columnist

Undercover Boss is a television reality show in which a company CEO goes undercover in his or her own company, pretending to be applying for a job. On a recent episode, the CEO of Mack Trucks was learning how to put bumpers on the trucks, voicing concern that he was not going to get the job. His trainer offered a fascinating response, “I will give you a good opportunity.” What a wonderful definition of the American promise – “a good opportunity.”

“Other people’s money”

“Socialist governments do traditionally make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”

Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, 1979 – 1990

She added, “. . . They’re now trying to control everything, . . . reducing the choice available to ordinary people.” Does this sound like our government since the 1940s when President Roosevelt’s Supreme Court gave Congress the unconstitutional power to spend unlimited amounts of “other people’s money” for the “general Welfare?”

Reclaiming the Constitution – Part V

In 1804, the United States Supreme Court claimed absolute control over the Constitution, declaring only it could decide the Constitution’s meaning and neither the president nor Congress could overrule it. More than 100 years later, through sheer intimidation, President Franklin Roosevelt got the Supreme Court to use this control to give Congress powers not in the Constitution.

In 1937, the court changed the meaning of the “general Welfare” clause, allowing Congress to do anything it deemed needed for the “general Welfare.” In 1942, ignoring the meaning and intent of the commerce clause, the Supreme Court ruled that anything an individual or company produces or purchases, even if only sold intrastate or if only for personal use, can be regulated by the federal government because it impacts “commerce among the several states.”

Unlimited power – Part IV

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” – W. C. Fields

Though I hope this quote refers to the following Supreme Court rulings, some might suggest it better refers to my assessment of the rulings.

After giving Congress the power to do whatever it determined was for the “general Welfare of the United States,” the Supreme Court had to wait 5 years for President Franklin Roosevelt’s next constitutional target, the opportunity to give Congress control within the states and control over individuals.

Unlimited power – Part III

Since ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the Supreme Court has found a constitutional answer to every case brought before it. Doesn’t it seem unlikely that a document prepared in the 1700s could address all issues for more than two hundred years? We currently have nine justices, none elected by the people, all appointed to their office for life, who claim absolute control over the United States Constitution. Is this what the founding fathers and the states intended? With their fear of government, why would they give unchecked power to any branch of the federal government?

The beginning of the end – Part II

Three Supreme Court rulings changed our lives, making our Constitution near irrelevant. One gave the Supreme Court unlimited, unchecked power; the other two gave Congress unlimited power.

The first ruling created the concept of judicial review, which is the claimed power by the Supreme Court to have the final voice in all issues concerning the United States Constitution. This power is not granted it in the Constitution; moreover, it is not granted to any branch of the federal government. Why might that be? Why would such a critical power not be assigned to one of the three branches of the federal government?

The path to socialism – Part I

“We do not have socialism. We have regulated capitalism.” – ISJ reader comment

Is that true? Is it all or none? Or is the path to socialism a process so slow that each individual step is logical, masking the eventual outcome and encouraging inattention and indifference until it’s too late? More important, if we are not yet socialist, is our federal government still the limited government the founding fathers created with the United States Constitution?

Does it still respect state’s rights? Does it still respect individual rights and freedoms? Before answering, remember that this past summer the Second Amendment was upheld by only a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court, a constitutionally guaranteed right only one political appointment away from revocation.

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