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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Two Fatal Flaws of Liberalism

(A Libertarian View) By Will Otey

It has long been my suspicion that even the most ardent and self-confident liberal understands at some level that their ideology is gravely flawed. I have seen many times when in serious discussion with left-wing people, that worried wince, that slightly guilty flashing of the eye, the almost imperceptible recoiling when peacefully confronted with facts and truths that run contrary to long held and deeply cherished beliefs. When I see these manifestations, it does not cause me to question the sincerity, honor or the patriotism of my friends on the left, but it does strengthen my understanding that this ideology is sadly and ultimately antithetical to the principals upon which our government was founded.
As a person who profoundly believes in the wisdom and genius of the Constitution, I am all too aware of the numerous inequities of liberalism. As someone who at a very young age was almost completely immersed in left-wing idealism, I believe I understand the impulses and motivations that are at the heart of its ethos. I know the feelings of compassion and the desire for justice that beckons the heart toward the goal of bringing about good. But I have also grown deeply aware of the fact that in this world, the best of intentions far too often pave the road to hell.
My own liberation from a liberal ideology was a slow and difficult passage. It started with me questioning many of my own beliefs and then challenging a host of assumptions that I had simply taken for granted. But over the course of time I slowly and painfully began to perceive what I believe to be the two most brazen and insidious elements of a very well intentioned, but nonetheless dangerously misguided political mindset.
The first is simple. There is no Constitutional authority for a large portion of social programs that the Federal government created and now administers. Any serious study of the document in question will yield no provisions for a great deal of the social legislation that our government has enacted either now or in the history of the United States. There have been quite a lot of references over time regarding the infamous line in the preamble to the Constitution that states “promote the general welfare.” This reference in regards to social legislation, however, rings hollow. James Madison, who was the chief architect of the Constitution, was asked about this matter and addressed it boldly. His answer was clear and concise. “With regards 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 sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” Here is another quote pertaining to that part of the preamble and proffered by the author of The Declaration Of Independence: “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” --Thomas Jefferson. There is no doubt that the issue of an extremely limited central government was one of the most salient and paramount concerns of the founding fathers. The Bill Of Rights stands as a monument to this truth. Article five of the Constitution provides for amendments that might alter the role of the Federal government. There have never been amendments that allow for (just for instance) corporate welfare. As far as I have been able to determine, this means that our government has been and is now taxing Americans for the administration of programs that it has no Constitutional right to be engaged in controlling.
To many of us, this in itself is a frightening reality. The majority of these programs were brought about during a time of economic depression. But this does not change the facts or the Constitutional ramifications. It simply means that public sentiment during a time of hardship, and a determined President were able to cause many people who should have known better to turn their heads the other way. This is nothing terribly new in the annals of history, but it does not bode well for any collection of people that believe in a rule of law and expect that they will be able to retain that rule of law. Constitutional amendments have come about on many occasions and have been produced over far more frivolous needs concerning the people. I would submit the eighteenth amendment prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages as an example.
Still, there is a deeper and more disturbing by-product built into this circumvention of our most important guiding document. There has been a horrifying precedent that has been established. It is a precedent that I believe has been onerously overlooked by most of my liberal compatriots. If the left wing of our leadership can bypass the Constitution during difficult economic times, what is to stop the right wing from doing precisely the same thing in similarly difficult, or perhaps, under even more arduous circumstances? I have never received anything close to a satisfactory answer from my Liberal friends on this matter. In fact, there is usually no reply at all.
The second major problem with Liberalism is that it is burdened with a great deal of hypocrisy. I have long listened to voices from the left speaking passionately about keeping government out of our bedrooms, away from a woman’s right to choose and of keeping religion out of public schools. And I have to say that I agree with them because I understand that all of these things are none of the governments business. What I don’t understand is how these same people can be against governmental intrusion concerning these issues on the one hand, and on the other hand, be for politicians reaching into all our pockets to support an unconstitutional welfare system that many of us disagree with fundamentally. Many on the left seem to want the rest of us to be perfectly tolerant of the kinds of freedom that they deem to be off limits. But when I object to having my money confiscated for the purpose of funding dubious social engineering schemes that endlessly tinker with the fabric of a society we all have to live in, well then it is another story. One of the great beauties of limited government is that it allows for people to live and let live without interference from a meddling, overarching or ideological central authority. It supports the notion that we can agree to disagree and make just about all our own decisions concerning the governance of our own lives. If the answer to this is that: “the people have decided.” I would ask those who would make this assertion to remember that at one time the majority supported slavery and that the Supreme Court upheld it as the law of the land.
I believe that the basic intentions behind Liberalism are essentially good and honorable for the most part. I started off leaning in that direction myself. At the ripe old age of nineteen, I once referred to myself as a Democratic Socialist. But I rallied, and eventually I got better. For this reason I do not look down with disdain upon those who see the world from that particular view. I know the world from that view. But one of the things that eventually jarred me to my senses was that I began to see the great wisdom of maintaining a limited government. I realized that the framers knew precisely what they were doing because they understood human nature and history. What history told them was that the greater the concentration of money and power into the hands of the ruling elite, the less freedom there will be in the hands of the individual. Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Liberalism has concentrated vast amounts of money and power into the hands of the government because it has sought to cure the ills of society through legislation that has raised trillions of dollars in tax money and expanded the role of the politician to a level that was unforeseen by the people who designed our system. It has weakened the freedom and liberty of the individual because an enormous amount of the welfare programs brought about by the left were instituted without any clear Constitutional authority. When Franklin Roosevelt’s first began to push through his sweeping social legislation, much of it was struck down by the Supreme Court. He then began threatening to stack the court. Finally, one member of the Court resigned ( Willis Van Devanter) and another Justices (Owen Roberts) capitulated because of unceasing pressure. This enfeebled, deluded and undermined perhaps the greatest document that man has ever given to himself and has placed everyone’s liberty at great risk. A precedent has been established because of those actions, that leaves the door wide open to virtual tyranny. If the Constitution has no great power of restraint upon the whims of a temporary and fleeting government, then I wonder what will happen when things get really difficult. Will the baby once again get thrown out with the bath water?
It may be important for all of us to remember that Franklin Roosevelt sent over one hundred thousand U.S citizens into interment camps during World War II without any due process whatsoever. And though the Constitution allows for Congress to suspend Habeas Corpus under certain extreme and specific conditions, none of those conditions were even remotely met during that time. Roosevelt simply decreed that it be so. Many of the people incarcerated were irrevocably damaged. Some of them were ruined completely. It was as if their legal and Constitutional rights simply never existed.
Liberalism has made enormous inroads into our system of government since the nineteen-thirties. Literally trillions of dollars have been amassed and redistributed through social legislation. The Courts have been stacked by various Presidents with political ideologues who legislate from the bench without regard for the written word of the Constitution and the express intent of the Framers. The size and scope of the federal government has expanded accordingly. The dependency of the people upon politicians has grown to an extent that would have been unimaginable just a hundred years ago. I do not think it is an unfair question to ask how much good this has truly brought about. Lawmakers now have an enormous reach into the lives of the average American citizen and each year they legislate toward more. Their next main objective seems to be to take over the American healthcare system (about 1/7th of the entire U.S economy) and make it safe for all the people. James Madison once wrote, “There are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by any sudden usurpation.” There is no doubt that Liberalism has gained a tremendous foothold within our political system and also within the lives of the American people. In this sense it has been a success. An important question to ask, however, might be “what is the ultimate cost?”

Friday, October 10, 2008

From Ownership Society to Owned Society

by Chuck McGlawn
Bush takes office for his first term soon thereafter he begins laying the ground work for what would become known as the "Ownership Society". Now, every Republican worth his salt knows that property owners, compared to renters overwhelming vote Republican. So Bush has Congress from “I George W. Bush” In 2001 there were steps to greatly increase the number of people that would qualify for the loans necessary to buy a home.

Follow me on this. The very “liberal” first two years of the Clinton administration spawned a movement that produced, a Conservative dominated Republican majority in Congress. Notables of that group are Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr. Add to that the resounding echo of Perot’s call for a “balanced budget”, combined with the huge success of a welfare reform adopted by beleaguered Michigan brought on by its dying auto industry and the concomitant reduction of tax revenues that was forced onto the Clinton Administration. Now add to all of those curbs on government expansion, a Dot Com boom unprecedented in America’s history with the possible exception of the “Industrial Revolution”, resulting in balanced budgets and a gradual rise in the standard of living, and a true increase in home ownership.

Enter from stage left George Bush jumping in front of this already significant move toward home ownership, saying, “The Bush Administration wants to make homeownership easier and more accessible to all. It sounds like he is going to expand the already growing homeownership. And, “sounds like” is where it ends. What he really meant, as it turns out is that the Bush Administration would “Own Society”. Now how long these plans were in the works before Bush took office I do not know. However, in 2001 there were thousands, tens of thousands perhaps even hundreds of thousands of families nearing the threshold of home ownership. These families were saving their money to participate in the American Dream of owning a cottage home with a white picket fence. At that time, the Maestro (name or group unknown) began to orchestrate events with the precision of a metronome. The Dot Com Boom went bust, and to keep America on an even keel the real estate bubble is launched. With each tick downward of the interest rate brought on by an increase in the money supply brought more and more people closer to that magic threshold of home ownership.

Lower interest rates made the “Stated Income” loan, where the borrower with a sufficient down payment can qualify for a loan, at a slightly higher interest rate, without having to verify or document the family income. This step coaxed tens of thousands to plunk down their life savings. Pushed ever closer by being allowed by the government to borrow against their IRAs and 401Ks.

Each of these steps was artificially pushing up and up and up the price of homes. Now everyone wants a piece of the action. The final inducement is unveiled in late 2000. It is a plan where the buyer can name his own interest rate (as low as 1%) for the first five years. This innovation (trap) causes a stampede of buyers, driving home prices through the roof.

Real Estate Agents eager for commissions told buyers, “Even if you do not get the needed raises on your job to be able to afford the payments when the rate adjusts, at the end of five years the house will have increased enough in value that you can sell for a hefty profit.” Needless to say, when the glut of homes coming on the market after five years popped the housing bubble, there was a huge transfer of wealth. People had invested their life savings, their IRAs and 401Ks. Others had been encouraged to refinanced and take equity out of their homes to install swimming pools, room additions or buying big SUV or paying for exotic vacations, often times found themselves out of a job and facing foreclosure. More houses on the market driving housing prices even lower.

Who will end up owning these homes? Well surprise surprise it will be the very same investment bankers that we are bailing out right now.