Liberty vs. Leviathan

Chronicling Liberty's battle against Leviathan

Under the bus

From Politico this weekend we’re informed that Rick Santorum says Ron Paul does not stand for life:

[Paul] doesn’t vote for anything restricting abortion on a federal level because he doesn’t think the federal government should be involved in restricting abortion…Well, that’s just wrong! The bottom line is that we need to have restrictions on abortion.

Santorum must have a bad memory at best, or be lying at worst.  For in 2003, despite his misgivings, Paul voted “Yea”  on HR 760 and “Yea” again on S3, the Santorum sponsored Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

And what were Paul’s misgivings?  There were two and they were big.  Both can be found in his remarks from the House floor but I’ll let him summarize here.  The bill…

  1. “…inadvertently justifies federal government intervention into every medical procedure…”
  2. “…ingrains the principles of Roe v. Wade into our justice system, rather than refutes them as it should.”

So despite his reservations, Paul voted for a bill that Santorum sponsored in order to save a life thus disproving Santorum’s claim that “…[Paul] doesn’t vote for anything restricting abortion…”

Paul made clear then as he does today, Santorum and all the other progressive GOP candidates seek to use the unconstitutional power of the federal government for their own causes.  Paul, and Paul alone, is the true conservative, seeking to preserve the constitutional republic our founders entrusted to us.

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Context

In an attempt to add some clarity to blogosphere conversations involving economics and the Catholic Church here’s a brief comment on “common good” and Doug Douma’s post  “Don’t be duped by this dope, errr, Pope” at Libertarian Christians (LC) .

In the post LC quotes a Reuters article that quotes Pope Benedict XVI.  The Reuters quote comes from a response the Pope gave during a Q&A session with reporters on his way to Spain last week.

In addition to being taken out of context (by Reuters, not LC), the Reuters quote does not accurately reflect the transcript of the Q&A session provided by Zenit.

Reuters’ version reads:

The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good,

The Zenit version reads:

Man must be at the center of the economy and the economy must not be measured according to greatest profit, but according to the good of all.

LC comments on the Reuters version that “one cannot “measure the economy” at all; neither by the common good nor by maximum profit.”

First let’s recognize that the Pope and LC are in agreement that the economy can not be measured by profit.

LC also states that the economy can not be measured at all, whether by profit or “common good” [emphasis mine] and welcomes an explanation of how one would measure the economy by the common good.

I doubt whether the Pope would make a case that the economy could quantitatively be measured by the common good.  I think instead he would discuss the implications of what it means for man to be at the center of the economy.  (The economy being for man, not the other way around, man for the economy.)

From this response of the Pope and from what I’ve read of Catholic social teaching (Rerum NovarumQuadragesimo Anno, Centesimus Annus, Caritas in Veritate), I think the point the pope was trying to make is that man, acting man, must be the focus of how we evaluate the economy, not the mere P&L of corporations or the growth rate of the GDP.  The “good of all” or the “common good” is what’s good for all of us (universally) in the context of justice and charity; equal application of the law (GM and Chrysler comes to mind), lack of favoritism for certain classes (TARP and Cash for Clunkers comes to mind) and so on.

Being the head pastor of the universal Church, the Pope would not offer specific economic prescriptions to be enacted in this or that local or national economy.  What he will do though is work to guide the discussion and reflection to the moral and spiritual framework which supersedes the economic framework.  I think in this case he was gently saying that the economy should not be evaluated by aggregate, materialistic statistics so prevalent in our Keynesian world but rather it should be evaluated in the context of “a [moral] framework that honors the dignity of man and allows man to pursue not only material gain but also his higher calling.

*Word cloud of Caritas in Veritate by Wordle

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War

Today’s email update from The Future of Freedom Foundation points us to James Madison‘s observations of war.

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Madison goes on to remind us of the separation of powers and the reasons for such:

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the legislature the power of declaring a state of war; it was proposed that the executive might, in the recess of the legislature, declare the United States to be in a state of war.

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the legislature the power of raising armies: it was proposed, that in the recess of the legislature, the executive might, at its pleasure, raise or not raise an army of ten, fifteen, or twenty-five thousand men.

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the legislature the power of creating offices; it was proposed that the executive, in the recess of the legislature, might create offices, as well as appoint officers, for an army of ten, fifteen, or twenty-five thousand men.

A delegation of such powers would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments.

The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.

The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them.

The separation of the power of creating offices from that of filling them is an essential guard against the temptation to create offices for the sake of gratifying favorites or multiplying dependents.

Where would be the difference between the blending of these incompatible powers, by surrendering the legislative part of them into the hands of the executive, and by assuming the executive part of them into the hands of the legislature? In either case the principle would be equally destroyed, and the consequences equally dangerous.

An attempt to answer these observations by appealing to the virtues of the present chief magistrate and to the confidence justly placed in them will be little calculated either for his genuine patriotism or for the sound judgment of the American public.

The people of the United States would not merit the praise universally allowed to their intelligence if they did not distinguish between the respect due to the man and the functions belonging to the office. In expressing the former, there is no limit or guide but the feelings of their grateful hearts. In deciding the latter, they will consult the Constitution; they will consider human nature, and, looking beyond the character of the existing magistrate, fix their eyes on the precedent which must descend to his successors.

James Madison ~ “Political Observations” 20 April 1795

We have ignored his wisdom at our own peril.

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Patriots

Twenty-six Republicans cast a vote for Liberty tonight by denying party leadership and voting down a fast track approval of HR 54, an extension of provisions of the so-called Patriot Act.  One among those was Justin Amash of Michigan’s 3rd District.

Small government, conservative Republicans voting to extend the unconstitutional legislation include Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan.

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Incentives

What do the AARP, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America and National Public Radio have in common?  Each is a member of Independent Sector, a lobby group for charitable organizations.  In fact it’s a lobby group that’s pushing Congress to not decrease your estate taxes so that you’ll be more inclined to give your money to charities.

From their web site:

Independent Sector is calling on Congress to preserve this critical tax incentive for philanthropic giving by ensuring that any modifications to the tax do not raise the exemption level or lower the tax rates beyond the 2009 levels.

See if your favorite charity is a member.  Maybe you need a word with them to let them know what you think of confiscatory estate taxes.

(h/t to LRC Blog)

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Confirmation

To all my pro-life, tea party, conservative friends:

If there’s any doubt that the GOP establishment takes your energy, concern and vote for granted, look no further than this SPIEGEL Interview with Karl Rove for confirmation.  He makes clear that pro-lifers and liberty minded conservatives are his lessers and fully expects them to be co-opted and to toe the party line.

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove: Sure. There have been movements like this before — the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.

SPIEGEL: Is the Tea Party movement a repeat of the Reagan Revolution?

Rove: It’s a little bit different because the Reagan Revolution was driven a lot by the persona of one man, Ronald Reagan, who had an optimistic and sunny view of what the nation could be. It was also a well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution. If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated. It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care.  (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Rove needs to know that people have and still do read Hayek.  Proving you don’t have to be “sophisticated” to appreciate Hayek, it was my first reading of The Road to Serfdom fifteen years ago that opened my eyes to the true nature of politics and, as Walter Williams said about Bastiat, “created order in my thinking about liberty”.  Reading Bastiat‘s The Law brought even more clarity.

To echo Taking Hayek Seriously, Rove is the first person I’ve ever heard to refer to Hayek as Freidrich August von Hayek. Maybe it’s Rove who has never read him.

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Dignity

The terrorists have won.  Liberty is vanquished.  Well, not quite.  Some of us are still living free despite the shackles of Leviathan.  This week, Lew Rockwell has featured two first hand accounts of TSA protocol for those opting out of x-ray scanners at airport security.

Monday, airline pilot Michael Roberts related his Memphis encounter in “Pilot to TSA: ‘No Groping Me and No Naked Photos‘”.

Today, Mike Adams of Natural News recounts his pat down at a California airport in “How To Opt Out of the TSA’s Naked Body Scanners at the Airport“.

This past July at LRC, Lad C. Hudac, told his tale from Columbus, OH in “Airport Peepshow”.

Also, from last July, Gottesdienst Online challenged people of faith to do as these men have done: Preserve your dignity.

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Crumbling pillars

One of the pillars of a thriving economy is the rule of law.  Those (entrepreneurs) who risk their capital and create things (which leads to job creation) need to know that private property and contracts will be protected, and that the legal environment is stable and predictable.  These no longer exist in today’s legal and economic environments.

Vox Day puts some practical application to the theory in “The feet, they vote too“…

…it simply doesn’t make much sense to start any business that isn’t a location-tied service one in the USA anymore.

As Schumpeter explained, no entrepeneurs means no economic growth, which means declining societal wealth and eventually grass hut city time.

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Democracy

In the forward to The People’s Pottage, Garet Garrett points out the semantic changes of words such as freedom and sovereignty that occurred during the two decades prior to his writing.  After the recent Obama commencement address at the University of Michigan, we could add republic and democracy to his list.  For while in his introductory remarks the president recalled the often told story of Ben Franklin after the Constitutional Convention responding to an inquirer that we had a republic if we can keep it, he then proceeded to give his view of what is needed to preserve our “democracy” not our republic.  As Franklin said though, a republic is what our founders left us, not a democracy.  Democracy, with all of its failings, is what the founders warned against and what’s been forced on us as our republic has been destroyed.

Now that Michigan graduates have heard Obama’s recipe for preservation they would do well to review Ron Paul‘s speech from 2003 based on the same Franklin story – Sorry Mr. Franklin, “We’re All Democrats Now”.  Rather than lauding democracy, Paul points out its perils and calls for the restoration of our republic.

Here’s a few of democracy’s traits left unstated by Obama:

Democracy…

  • consumes wealth
  • leads to tyranny
  • encourages the use of political money to buy influence
  • endorses special interest interventionism, inflationism and corporatism
  • brings about currency debasement

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Exactly

Politico reports on the Kentucky primary and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine bats .500 in his analysis.  First, by whiffing on his characterization of “…the Kentucky race as a victory for ‘the far-right Republican segment of the electorate’…”  Then he hits a blooper, when he makes a point while at the same time missing it, by “…calling [Rand] Paul a nominee “whose ideas are outside of the political mainstream.”

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