Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

19 August 2010

Sowell: Dismantling America

Thomas Sowell has written another excellent Opinion Editorial entitled "Dismantling America" in which he discusses the fact that our Constitution has always been seen as a terrible obstacle by those elitists seeking power over the People.  In particular, he notes that the Progressives in America have been at war with it openly and that President Wilson was the first President to openly attack it.  Progressive Teddy Roosevelt also attacked it by saying that he would do whatever he felt was necessary as long as the Constitution did not tell him he could not do what he intended to do.  See p.4 of Bully Boy by Jim Powell, where he quotes from Teddy Roosevelt's autobiography, published in 1913.  This is also an attack, because the Constitution says that the government and President can only exercise a few enumerated powers and makes no comprehensive effort to tell them what they cannot do in other terms.  Teddy Roosevelt's statement is a clear attempt to circumvent the restrictions of the Constitution on his power.  While he attacked the Constitution as President prior to Wilson, I do not know how publicly he did this while still President, so Sowell may be correct in his statement.  The Progressives have steadily eroded the interpretations of the Constitution ever since those earlier days and redefined words and read the white space between lines in a mad effort to circumvent it ever since.  There is now a huge body of legal precedent for doing just that.

Here are my further comments on his commentary from the Atlasphere website:

Ben Franklin clearly recognized that the American People had to believe in and understand the Constitution if the limited government republic it set up were to continue to exist. The failures attributed by some to our Constitution are actually failures of the American People to understand and support the Constitution. With due diligence, our Constitution would be strong to this day. That diligence required that each and every generation of Americans should have been educated in our colonial, revolutionary, and later history, as well as having an appreciation for the failures of monarchies, dictatorships, oligarchies, and, yes, democracies throughout human history.

Allowing the Progressives to turn us from private education to public education give them all the long-term advantages in the fight to maintain legitimate government as defined in our Declaration of Independence. Legitimate government protects the equal, sovereign right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All the implied rights should have been discussed endlessly in our schools and they almost never are discussed beyond the First Amendment.

The fact that Congress has only a few powers closely delineated and most of them relate to dealings with external countries and people is not taught. These powers are further restricted by the requirement that they be exercised only in accordance with the General Welfare. The power to tax is given only to carry out the enumerated powers and is further restricted in kind. The interstate commerce clause's purpose was to free interstate trade because a man in one state has a right to trade with a man in another state. The Ninth Amendment recognizes that the federal government cannot infringe upon our many individual rights or privileges and immunities. The Tenth Amendment further protects our right to local government for such other purposes of government as we may have need. The Fourteenth Amendment protects our privileges and immunities from infringement by state and local governments. All this could have been taught in the schools, but we gave the schools away to the Progressives and to the governments from which we need protection. Government-run schools have a serious conflict-of-interest. They will distort the Constitution in order to give government the power that governments always lust for.

The crucial issue of our day is the protection of our equal, sovereign individual rights. This cannot be achieved without the private education of American children with a greatly renewed interest in history and the principles of legitimate government.


Anonymous said...

'Rights' are also a social construct, subject to all the complexity, ambiguity, and paradox which inevitably accompany such a construct. The only 'sovereign' rights you possess are those which you can in fact exercise as sovereign. Try it some time, as a 'sovereign, acting alone, and see how far, without webs of social interaction, convention, and compromise, it gets you – individual 'sovereignty' extends, if you're fortunate, as far as the outermost layer of one's skin – and even that is subject to challenge, and to doubt.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

The rights one has derive from ethics, properly an ethics of rational egoism. A society may choose to be unethical to varying degrees and may then act unjustly to infringe the rights of the individual. Most societies do just this. What made the United States of America such an exception in the annals of the history of nations was that our Declaration of Independence recognized our equal, sovereign rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution was then an attempt to so limit the power of the federal government that it would not and could not infringe upon those sovereign rights. Because Americans have long forgotten these truths, as you appear to have done, our sovereign rights are routinely compromised and violated. But, might does not make right.

To say that society determines what one's rights are is to separate rights from rational ethics and to eliminate the possibility of justice being done between and among the people of a society.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Dr. Anderson. Foremost, what are rights? Rights are abstract and created out of the imagination of man. What are rights and the definitions of those rights can be very philosophical. Nevertheless, I tend to agree with Bastiat that life, liberty, and property are the basic rights that we all can agree with. For the reason that these three basic rights are corollaries to other rights. As Bastiat said, "[T]hese are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?"

Second, there is no such thing as "constitutional rights;" never was and never will be. Please, do not take my word for it. The people and the Founding Fathers believed that rights came from our Creator, neither from man nor from the State. For if man or the State can determine what rights we have, logic tells us that man or the State can deny them. The people and the Founding Fathers believe in natural rights that predate the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Rights are not granted by either document. Rights are not granted by man nor the State, either.

Third, Amendment IX essentially says that the list of enumerated rights naturally possessed by the people does not mean that these are the only natural rights the people possess. Furthermore, Amendment IX says that these natural rights cannot be construed as denying other natural rights possessed by the people.

Just my two cents.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for your excellent comments. I agree that there is really no such thing as Constitutional Rights, though sometimes we use that just to indicate those rights explicitly enumerated in the Constitution as a kind of shorthand. Unfortunately, some people then take that to mean that rights are created by the Constitution. Clearly we agree that they pre-exist the Constitution or any other social contract.