Archive for the ‘constitution’ Category

Rights

Posted: June 15, 2013 in constitution, freedom, politics
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“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The 4th Amendment, though not explicitly stating we have a right to privacy, does explicitly affirm it. In recent days, the 4th has been in the spotlight, and rightfully so. However, all of our rights are in danger. We need to stop thinking about rights that come from government or the constitution. Rights are not something someone gives to us. Rights that are given can be taken away, and if they can be taken away they aren’t rights, but privileges.

No, our rights aren’t given to us by anyone. We have these rights the moment we’re born. These rights are innate in each and every one of us and therefore cannot be taken away.

The constitution merely states these rights. It doesn’t grant them. Once we start thinking about our rights as innate and not granted, we’ll finally understand we hold power over the government, not the other way around.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

The very first words of the very first amendment to the US Constitution. These words are very important. The founders understood over 200 years ago that the freedom to practice your religion, whatever it may be, or no religion, is essential to securing all other freedoms.

This is just as true today as it was then. That’s why it bothers me when people from all sides of the political spectrum are calling for the community center (which is mistakenly referred to as a mosque) to not be allowed to be built two blocks away from the former WTC site. These supposed lovers of freedom are calling for two of the most basic freedoms, freedom of religion & the right to private property, to be denied to a select group of people based on what happened nine years ago (yes, it was a tragedy) perpetrated by a small group of terrorists from a country not even remotely like ours.

And it’s not just happening in NYC. Just an hour or so from my house, a community center (also referred to as a mosque) is finding opposition to a planned expansion in Murfreesboro. The kicker? The group has had a community center in the county since 1997. The reason for the epansion is because they’ve outgrown their current facility. Luckily, despite the opposition, the expansion will be allowed.

This battle is being fought all over the country. Newt Gingrich says that we shouldn’t allow mosques in this country until Christian churches are allowed in Saudi Arabia (or something along those lines). Howard Dean says it’s an affront. He also says those doing the project in NYC are doing it in good faith (that’s a little contradictory).

The fact is that none of these projects are in violation of any zoning laws, they’re being built on private property, and are run by those who have proven to be good citizens. Why should we deny them their constitutional right to practice their religion, especially on private property?

Do you disagree with Islam as a religion? If so, why? Are you aware that Islam, Judaism, & Christianity share many of the same tenets? Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, & the angel Gabriel all appear in the 3 religions, among other figures.

But Muslims stone people to death, right? Well, it’s allowed under their laws, but the majority of Islamic nations have ceased this practice. And don’t forget, stoning was an acceptable punishment in early Christianity & Judaism. 

Look, we all have our differences. But the fact is they have the right to practice their religion, especially on their own property. We have no right to take that away. And when you insult their religion, you most likely insult your own (unless you’re an atheist).

When did it become wrong to believe in individual people and right to believe in collectivist governments?

I know many people don’t like Ayn Rand or her philosophy (which was partly too difficult for even her to live by), but she had the right idea: keep governments out of private business. That’s the way the country was run for a long time.

Cut to today. Now we have big corporations (not all, but some), lobbyists, & special interests that have politicians in their back pockets. Case in point: the NRA. They recently pledged support for a campaign finance reform bill after being awarded exemption from the new rules through a provision they authored (see my previous post: Special Interest & The Government).

Google & Verizon recently published what they believe should be the guidelines for regulating the internet…rules that would hinder their competitors. Even the FCC, which is in favor of internet regulation, came out against these guidelines, as did a huge swath of the internet community.

This may seem like a rant against business, but it’s not. It’s a rant against government & businesses getting too cozy. When the government picks the winners, the populace loses. Look at the current “Summer of Recovery”: 9.5% unemployment, 131,000 net jobs lost last month (though the private sector has decreasingly added jobs every month this year), GDP growth that gets revised downward more often than not, etc. And this is after the trillions of taxpayer dollars that were pumped into certain companies, banks, and government departments to stop the downward economic spiral.

So where’s the recovery? Most major downturns are followed by quick recoveries. Look at the depression of 1920-1921: tax cuts, spending cuts, and some other noninterventionist policies paved the way for the roaring 20s. By contrast, the Great Depression lasted over a decade despite (because of) government interference, and unemployment didn’t see a sharp decline until America got into WWII & the draft was instituted.

Empirical evidence shows the less government interferes, the faster & more sustainable the recovery. Governments picking winners & losers means everybody loses.

Got off on a tangent there. You’ll see that happens a lot. Anyway, my point is that anybody that believes in giving power to the individual to do what he wants, with the caveat that he harms no one other than himself, is now considered an extremist.

Belief that we are free to live our lives our way, again- harming no one other than ourselves, instead of the government proclaiming how we should live is a crackpot. Not giving us control over our own bodies, what goes in our bodies, what happens in our bedroom, who we take to our bedroom (consensually and both being of legal age), how we spend our money, what we buy…these are a few examples of how government interferes with our lives. And we’re crazy because we want to take responsibility for our own lives & not have that responsibility taken away by government?

Then call me crazy.

They just can’t seem to make up their minds. At first, the individual mandate in the new healthcare law wasn’t a tax. Now that they’re going to have to defend it in court, they say it falls under, not just their power to regulate interstate commerce, but also their power to tax.

First, let’s get something out of the way. The commerce clause and taxing power both cone from Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution. It says:

“The Congress shall have Power To Lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;”

It goes on, but the last part is what we’re dealing with. “To regulate commerce…among the several States”. Lawyers at the DoJ say this gives them the power to force American citizens to purchase health insurance.

But if they can force us to buy health insurance in the guise of regulating interstate commerce, what’s to stop them from forcing us to buy other products or services?

Forcing us to buy health insurance has much broader implications than just buying insurance. Forcing us into formerly voluntary economic activity of any kind is unconstitutional. They will decide the minimum coverage we have to buy. They will decide if rate hikes can go through, taking that power away from the state regulatory boards. All we decide is which company we buy from, or if we pay the fine (tax)/ go to jail for voluntarily deciding not to engage in economic activity.

I know our system isn’t perfect, but this is definitely not the answer to fixing it. I don’t want bureaucrats making any health related decisions for me. Why not, you ask? Ask anyone in the military how they feel about the VA. They’ve done a piss poor job taking care of our vets, why should we expect a better outcome for the entire country?

Insanity- Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result

Forgot to add this earlier: Article 1, Section 9 states: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken”. This was changed by the Sixteenth Amendment, which states: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, without regard to any census or enumeration”.

The DoJ is also counting on the Sixteenth Amendment to uphold the individual mandate. I’m not really sure how that would work. Maybe just to uphold the fine for those who don’t purchase insurance?

In any event, I don’t see the mandate as constitutional. The government doesn’t have plenary powers. There is no power granted to them by the Constitution to force citizens into any economic activity, save for paying taxes. The Constitution doesn’t allow them to force us to buy a good or service. They are limited by the Constitution in what they can do. This is made clear by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments: 9- “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”, & 10- “The powers not delegated to the United Stated by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.

In other words, we have rights not listed in the Constitution (the right to decide what products we purchase?), but the powers the government has are listed in the Constitution (no power to force us to buy a good or service). How is that not clear?

Federal law trumps state law when explicitly granted that authority under the constitution. What the feds ain’t granted, is granted to the state.

Do federal & state laws overlap? Yep. For example: the federal government set a minimum wage (which was recently raised). Several states also have minimum wage laws. But according to the Department of Labor, whichever of the two is higher is the one the state must abide by.

But here’s the caveat: nowhere in the Constitution does it say the federal govt has power over how much pay we receive. So under the 10th amendment, shouldn’t the state minimum wage trump the fed’s?

The same could be said for several federal laws (the recently passed healthcare law comes to mind), but we have to start small. End the federal minimum wage law.

The feds finally filed a lawsuit to block AZ’s ‘tough’ immigration law, not on grounds that it unjustly discriminates against immigrants (as many have argued), both legal & illegal, but on the grounds that it usurps federal authority.

But answer me this: since there are federal laws setting minimum wage, why hasn’t the federal government sued the 5 states (AR, CO, GA, MI, & WY) with minimum wages lower than what the feds say it should be? (According to the Department of Labor, the higher of the 2 is the effective minimum wage, eg. since CA’s minimum wage ($8/hr) is higher than the fed’s ($7.25/hr), CA’s effective minimum wage is $8/hr)

Federal laws, when expressly granted the power by the US Constitution, trump state laws. There is no constitutional provision granting them authority over pay rates in the different states.

They are granted authority over immigration, however. But since the ‘controversial’ AZ law says basically the same thing as federal law, and the feds aren’t enforcing said law, what’s the problem? In my opinion, the AZ legislature only did what they felt they needed to.

But in order to truly curb illegal immigration, federal law needs to be changed. 1st, a temporary guest worker program that is truly temporary, should be instituted. And for those who have overstayed their visas, if they’re in the process of becoming a US citizen, they should be given amnesty. Not becoming a citizen? Well, you’re going back home. (Same should go for those on student visas, also).

2nd. End birthright citizenship. Yes, it’s guaranteed under the 14th amendment, which was ratified in 1865 to give slaves & their children citizenship, which means we would need a constitutional convention to overturn this part of the amendment.

3rd. You come here, you pay taxes, period. No grace period. (I would also do away with the progressive tax system & institute an across the board flat tax, but that’s different legislation)

4th. Encourage skilled workers that we need to come here, workers that the US needs & can’t find within its borders. (Also lower the corporate tax rate & eliminate the capital gains tax to encourage businesses to stay here or move here from other countries, but that, too, is separate legislation)

5th, and perhaps most important: End the drug war here & encourage Mexico to do the same. >23,000 Mexican people, some involved with the drug trade & some not, have been killed because of this failed policy since 2006. That’s almost 380% higher than how many US servicemen & women have been killed in Iraq & Afghanistan since 2001. Wouldn’t you leave if you could? No matter what?

And contrary to popular belief, the crime rate, even violent crimes, has declined over the last ten years in AZ, even though the immigration rate has risen.

My conclusion? Both the AZ immigration law and the federal suit to stop it are purely political. Neither are designed to cure the disease, & only one is designed to treat a symptom (for lack of a better analogy. I don’t think of immigrants as a disease.)

By the way, if you read my previous post(s) on immigration, you’ll see I’ve changed my view quite drastically. This is because I’ve done more of my own researching & less listening to talking heads.

“Exempt section 501( c)(4) organizations” are also exempt from new reporting requirements. These are organizations which have qualified as having tax exempt status under section 501( c)(4) of the tax code for each of the 10 years prior to making a campaign-related disbursement, that had 1 million or more dues-paying members in the prior calendar year, that had members in each of the 50 states, that received no more than 15 percent of their total funding from corporations or labor organizations, and that do not use any corporate or union money to pay for their campaign-related expenditures.”

The above is an excerpt from the DISCLOSE Act exempting certain nonprofit groups from publicly disclosing donors to political campaigns. It was a deal reached between congress & the NRA to gain the support of certain lobbying groups.

If passed as written, the bill will exempt nonprofit organizations from the new law if they meet certain requirements. Those requirements being: the organization is at least 10 yrs old, has at least 1 million members, has members in all 50 states, & get 15% or less of their funding from corporations and/or labor unions.

That’s all well and good for the big dogs that can already afford to play ball with the govt, but what about small, local nonprofits that don’t operate on a national level? They’re as affected by this new bill as much as the big boys, like the NRA, would’ve been without this amendment.

And what about corporations & labor unions? According to a recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, they have as much a right to free speech (yes, political contributions are a form of speech) as private citizens.

So here we have a bill that not only protects favored special interests & hinders their smaller counterparts, but also flies in the face of a Supreme Court ruling protecting free speech for ALL citizens.

They say that this will stop a flood of special interests from influencing elections. Really? How exactly will exempting big special interests from the law keep a flood of special interest money out of elections? And when was the last time an ad influenced your decision during an election?

The fact is, as an influencer, political ads are ill-suited to the task. at most, they should be viewed as an informer that may or may not aid your decision. This bill is an overreaction to a, some say, controversial SCOTUS decision. It’s purpose: to silence voices who are big enough to cause trouble and too small to play ball.

Tell your congressmen & women that you oppose this bill.