Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

10/23/2009 (10:45 am)

Toleration and the Crown

Earlier this week Kenneth Feinberg, unelected agent of King Obama tasked with managing the executive compensation of subjects of the Crown, announced severe cuts in pay for highly paid employees at those companies that have still failed to pay back money forced on them by the King. At the same time, the Federal Reserve, a board appointed by the King and ruling with no authority except that obtained by its power to lend funds to banks, announced plans to review and approve the compensation plans of member banks, even those who received no funds from the King.

Before the rise to power of King Obama, compensation for employees of publicly-held companies was determined by the owners of those companies, expressing themselves through their boards of directors. The concept of private property, which is the cornerstone of a self-governing republic, demanded that only those who owned the company could speak to its practices, allowing only those laws that were necessary to protect the peace and safety of the American people an additional voice. Of course, the number, power, and intrusiveness of laws “necessary to protect the peace and safety” have multiplied like aggressive, carnivorous rabbits, eating more and more of the nation’s substance as they overran free trade. But still, there were limits.

But the government became part-owners of those companies by lending to them, an action not contemplated by the authors of the Constitution from which administrations prior to the Obama administration drew their legitimacy by obeying its strictures. And I have seen no effort on the part of the Crown to limit its intrusion into the operations of these companies based on a fair evaluation of the numbers of shares they hold in each; no, it seems that when a firm accepts a dollar of public money for any reason, that firm becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US Treasury Dept., and must obey its every command.

And by similar measure, Congress created the Federal Reserve in 1914, exercising authority it did not possess and forcing banks to become members. Now the Federal Reserve is exercising authority not specified by Congressional act, claiming the power to approve or disapprove the compensation structure of banks that were coerced to become members.

This brings to mind a vital distinction that was made in the century prior to the establishment of the American republic. It was in the years of Queen Elizabeth I, I believe, when the British Crown decided to extend its toleration to religious dissidents, choosing not to prosecute those Catholics and Protestants who refused to join the Church of England. Implied, and clearly understood by all, was the claim that Crown had every right to demand obedience, that it could, at any moment it chose, revoke that benign toleration and arrest and prosecute those dissidents. The fact that subjects of the Crown exercised liberties did not mean they were free; it only meant that for the time being, the Crown chose to grant them liberty. They were still subjects of the Crown. This same concept of toleration covered every other aspect of subjects’ liberties in England; they were free because the Crown granted them liberty, but the power to grant or revoke liberty remained with the Crown.

When the American republic was established, it instituted a new and revolutionary concept for the first time in the planet’s history: namely, that the government had no powers at all other than those specifically granted by the people. Religious liberty, economic liberty, political liberty — the government did not grant them, they inhered to the people. What belonged (and still belongs) to the English people only by toleration from the Crown, belongs to the American people by birthright. At least, it did before King Obama.

Simply by claiming that he has the right, Obama has made himself King over America. It is he who holds all rights, and he who grants, or tolerates, the liberties of the people. He reserves for himself the power to revoke liberties wherever and whenever he chooses, limited only by Congressional cooperation. Rights no longer inhere to the people; now they are all held by the President, and we all live by his benign toleration, just like subjects of the Crown.

There are plenty of valid objections to these ham-fisted measures to limit executive compensation. I predicted months ago (here and here) that top executives would flee from companies subject to pay restrictions, and this is already taking place as the smartest people in the industry anticipate the inevitable and find safer havens from which to earn what the market says they are worth. I also noted (here) that partisanship inevitably affects measures controlled by the government, and sure enough, the compensation caps are not going to affect the King’s favorites at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who were permitted to repay their TARP loans (not all recipients of the King’s largess were so lucky.) In all his major policy moves, King Obama picks winners and losers from among the largest firms — and the winners are always supporters. Curious. And finally, it is crucial to remember that the Fed, which is claiming urgency to control compensation because that’s what caused the meltdown a year ago, is itself the body most directly at fault for the meltdown, having created the housing bubble by its aggressively low interest rates in the wake of multiple shocks to the economy in 2001.

The real objection, though, is that President Obama (he’s not really King… yet) is busily erasing the core distinction between American liberty and the monarchies that preceded it — he asserts, by bold action completely devoid of Constitutional empowerment, that the liberties of a free people exist only by his toleration. He grants us liberty to continue free trade in some small measure — for now. By his actions, he indicates that he reserves for himself the power to revoke those liberties at will. We, the people, do not own those liberties; King Obama does.

Many individuals in the nation applaud these limits on executive compensation, exclaiming that such levels of pay are “obscene,” that they are “unjust,” that the fact that even the poor in America live at a standard unheard of through most of the world through most of history does not justify the extraordinary wealth of the most productive and effective among us. They should look to themselves; for if the Crown can tell executives how much they are entitled to make, then the Crown can also tell anybody how much they are entitled to make. Tyrants obtain the power they desire by setting precedents against the unpopular, and then taking the power granted against the unpopular and using it against everybody else. The super-rich have become unpopular here in America, and by controlling their pay, Obama is establishing his Sovereign Right to control the pay of all. He wants the right for a reason, and you can be sure it is not to prevent riches; he’s not limited his own pay, nor the pay of his “Czars,” has he? Most likely, his goal is to prevent riches among his opponents, and to give himself the power to reward his supporters. That appears to be the one, guiding principle under which this King operates.

We are so screwed…

« « TFJR: Civil Magistrates Must Be Just | Main | Oh, Boy, Here It Comes » »

139 Comments »

October 23, 2009 @ 2:28 pm #

Phil,

Your constitutional analysis preceeds the passing of the 16th Amendment.

Your legal analysis omits the fact that Congress passed TARP legislation – which I have not read, but which almost certainly grants the executive the powers he is exercizing with regards to the banks and the salaries he is imposing on their executives – don’t you think someone would challenge this action in court if the legislation did not authorize the President to act as he is acting?

And Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.

You may not like what the President is doing, and it may be, as you say, unwise. But it is neither unconstitutional, nor illegal, nor undemocratic. Also, it fits with the basic maxim that “he who pays the piper calls the tune” and acknowledges the fact that paying huge salaries to people who wrecked their finacial institutions and nearly destroyed the economy of the entire world – after their instituions were bailed out by tax payeres, is an obsceen gesture of scorn.

Joe H.

October 23, 2009 @ 2:40 pm #

Obama has no respect for the law or the Constitution. He will continue to run over the rights of Americans until he is stopped. Part of his strategy is clearly to move so fast, on so many fronts, that the public is thrown off guard with this appearance of omnipotence.

The first challenge that has held even partially is the judge that has agreed to hear the question regarding his eligibility to serve as president. This has clearly shocked Obama’s lawyers who expected the case to simply be thrown out a priori. It remains to be seen how this is going to play out.

His actions regarding the dismissal of the CEO of GM, the forced merger of Chrysler with Fiat, the giving of a major ownership position to the UAW, and countless similar actions were simply exercises in raw power. Some of these things are being challenged in the courts, but this is a long, slow process, and the damage is impossible to undo in most cases.

He must be removed from office very soon. His abuse of the office and violation of the oath to protect and defend the nation and the Constitution is manifest. Unfortunately, we have a Congress that will not impeach him, so some other means (tar and feathers?) will need to be found to remove him from office.

October 23, 2009 @ 3:19 pm #

This really belongs on the other thread – the one about “both sides think they’re right”, but it seems to be dead. So…here it is.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/10/the_end_game_of_the_left_1.html

>>It remains to be seen how this is going to play out.>>

I hope the judge has good protection…

October 23, 2009 @ 5:06 pm #

Suek,

I read the article you linked us to.

The author’s take on the leftist mind is a caricature. As I said before, there are degrees of conservativism and liberalism. And there are also different emotional temperament among the holders of various political philosophies. There are sane people on the left and right. There are also haters on the left and right, probably in similar proportions. Tarring political opponents in this manner is counter-productive. It ensures that there will be no fair minded discussion.

How would I reformulate the “tax the rich until there are no more rich” line. I’d say something like “tax higher levels of income at higher rates, and set taxes at levels that would provide sufficient revenue to insure: (1) a minimally decent degree of subsistence (including medical care) to all adults, regardless of fault or desert; (2) that every child has access to the material means necessary to have “a fair go at a meaningful life; and (3)to pay for the necessary public goods (like the Army, police, courts, etc.)

That’s a fair representation of economic liberalism, based on the work of John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and others. It embodies no animosity to success, freedom, and/or accumulating wealth.

Joe H.

October 23, 2009 @ 5:21 pm #

Hey Joe…

Was Robin Hood a good guy or a bad guy?

October 23, 2009 @ 5:27 pm #

>>It embodies no animosity to success, freedom, and/or accumulating wealth.>>

Heh. If a white man hits a white man over the head and steals his wallet, it’s just assault and robbery. If a white man hits a black man over the head and steals his wallet, it’s a hate crime, assault and robbery. If a black man hits a black man over the head and steals his wallet, it’s a statistic and proof that the black man is oppressed.

In other words, you don’t need animosity for theft to be theft.

Your solution also embodies no impetus to achieve success, freedom, and/or accumulating wealth.

What kind of hours do you work? why? why did you spend the kind of money and hours you invested to get a law degree? How much do you get paid an hour? more than $65? If so, why? Why is your time more valuable than an electrician? (going rate in my area)

October 23, 2009 @ 5:29 pm #

I’d say “well intentioned, but lawless.”

Why would you ask me something like that? If it was to counter argue that by imposing a progressive tax, the government is acting like Robin Hood, I’d reject the analogy. I could give you reasons for rejecting the analogy, but because I’m not sure that was where you were going, I’ll refrain for now.

Joe H.

October 23, 2009 @ 6:41 pm #

I can give me reasons for rejecting the analysis as well…but the underlying principle is whether the ends justify the means.

Do you think the ends justify the means?

October 23, 2009 @ 6:57 pm #

More on those super rich…of all sorts…

http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/1540-BOOM!-Friends-Of-Angelo.html

October 23, 2009 @ 7:25 pm #

The author’s take on the leftist mind is a caricature.

This is your stock excuse, Joe, but that’s all that it is. Every time you screech “THAT’S NOT WHAT WE BELIEVE!!!!!” you’re objecting to observations drawn from real interaction with real leftists.

October 23, 2009 @ 7:26 pm #

Suek,

I do. The ends, by the way, are what I take to be the minimum conditions of social justice.

But I would not agree that the means are problematic. There is nothing inherently problematic with leving a tax for legitimate public purposes. What we are disputing is what purposes are legitimate, not whether taxing is a legitimate activity.

Joe H.

October 23, 2009 @ 8:01 pm #

Phil,

I do not quote your extremists as typical examples of conservative thought. I take the credible versions of conservative thought and, when due, give it its due and, when wrong, explain why I think so.

For you to lump mainstreem liberals in with crazy people is unfair and unproductive. At the end of the day you will not have refuted liberalism. You will have refuted a straw man vision of liberalism. What prominant political figure on the left believes that we should “tax the rich to feed the poor until the rich are no more.” None of them! Most of them are to the right of the standard description of liberalism that I provided you with.

>You are an intellectual joke, completely incapable of addressing facts as they exist, and I’m done with you.>

What facts? Your reader points us to an extremist caricature of a liberal, based on statements made by the most extreme liberals. You then assign these views and the corresponding hate filled temperment to liberals as a whole, and declare victory.

You think that’s a credible argument style?

Then, when someone tells you that that are more credible statements of the liberal vision, AND ACTUALLY STATES ONE OF THEM IN YOUR BLOG RESPONSE PAGE, you call that person an “intellectual joke” who you can’t waste time on.

Phil, by refusing to confront the more defensible liberal visions, and by insisting that everyone on the left hates wealth and holds views to left of Chairman Mao, you’re discrediting yourself. You look like you’re trying to avoid hearing reasonable arguments that might persuade you (or your readers). That’s not what a thinker does – its what a polemicist does.

By the way, I’ve realized why I like to spend time on your blog. I have no hope of convincing you or your readers of anything. But I am worried that people are becoming so polarized that they will be unable to listen to people they disagree with. You seem to be far along that path, what with your “hellish, mindless, hate-filled servants of hell” description of your political opponents. When that happens en masse, civil discourse will break down altogether.

I go on your blog to try to preserve your and your reader’s ability to interact with people who don’t agree with you. Think about it Phil. You’ve got a geunine love filled liberal who refuses to respond in kind to your constant insults, and you still don’t want to talk?

What are you hiding from my friend?

Joe H

October 23, 2009 @ 9:29 pm #

Suek,

You said:

>In other words, you don’t need animosity for theft to be theft.>

Is redistributive taxation theft? That is precisely what I, and other liberals, deny.

Of course, my statement, in itself, is not an argument. But I didn’t want you to think that your statement was self evidently true. Plenty of people disagree with you, and they’re not all evil or stupid.

By the way, do you have any idea what their arguments are? I mean their good arguments, by the way. Not the caricature arguments, but the arguments that convinced the nation to democratically enact the income tax and set up redistributive social programs (like public schools, and medicaid, and aid to families with dependent children).

Joe H.

Joe H.

October 23, 2009 @ 9:34 pm #

As I’ve observed, from a work-filled distance, Phil move further and further into his polemic, it is now moving toward a certain “screeching” that he used to accuse liberals of, when they did not want to hear anything but what supported them.

But this is not particular to Phil…many on the hard right are now engaged on a “I don’t give a sh*t what the Dems are trying to do right now, if we let them succeed at anything, we’re screwed” course.

To be expected from certain quarters whenever a single party holds power, of course. But your diatribe above, and your statement to Joe, Phil, says the intellectualism of all of it is OVER. It is now a game among the conservatives to make it sound as smart as they possibly can, without any real goal in the end but defeat of the enemy.

They could actually make a choice to have some reasonable open dialog…but I know they’re very busy with the game.

October 24, 2009 @ 12:04 am #

Just to be clear – I was speaking of the hyper-conservatives, not conservatives in general.

October 24, 2009 @ 10:12 am #

>>There is nothing inherently problematic with leving a tax for legitimate public purposes. >>

Well now, that’s kind of the point of Phil’s essay – in _this_ country, the right to tax is one given to the government by the people – it is not an inherent right as was presumed by the kings of old.

What the people give, the people can take away.

The government – by its existence – does _not_ have the right to tax. You even point that out yourself – you state that the 16th amendment made it legal. The 16th can be revoked – just as the 18th was revoked by the 21st.

So…I’d say that this is incorrect – or at least not entirely correct – there is certainly the possibility of a problem with imposing a tax. Of course, the second part of that statement is “for legitimate purposes”. The only legitimate purpose the federal government is supposed to have is the defense of the country and regulation of interstate commerce. And the post office, I think. Not sure about the post office.

The general welfare clause doesn’t begin to encompass all the programs which use it as justification. If General Welfare was indeed justification, the founders wouldn’t have needed any other specifications – the general welfare alone would have sufficed.

So – I question the right to tax “at any rate”, and I definitely question the right of the government to use taxes for such purposes as _some_ might choose to consider proper.

I think the basis of success of this nation is twofold: the right to own private property (that is, the protection of private property from seizure by the government) and equal justice under the law which means that your position of influence or wealth should not protect you from prosecution if you violate laws. These two protections make the difference between the US and banana republics. We are in danger of losing both. The Kelo decision was the first, and the unwillingness of Congress to hold its own members responsible for violating laws is the second. Include in that the apparent inability to hold legally responsible those moguls on Wall St who have apparently broken laws – among them, possibly Tim Geithner, who now sits in the seat of power.

If this continues, it will not end well.

You consider this liberal in question as being extreme…but his position is logical. You can’t raise the improvident or incapable up by pulling the provident and capable down. All you succeed in doing is making everybody poor.

And you never answered my question – would you be willing to work for $65 per hour? If not, why not?

October 24, 2009 @ 11:58 am #

How about $13 per hour?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/us/22hire.html?_r=1&ref=business

Why is your time worth any more than a bookkeeper’s time?

October 24, 2009 @ 12:42 pm #

Apparently they aren’t using the General Welfare clause – they file this one (mandatory insurance purchase) under interstate commerce.

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/10/pelosi-stunned-senseless-by-health-care.html

October 24, 2009 @ 6:49 pm #

Suek:

“The only legitimate purpose the federal government is supposed to have is the defense of the country and regulation of interstate commerce. And the post office, I think. Not sure about the post office.”

Your constitution is very lifeless and very dead. We are not ruled by a document, but by the vision behind it that gave choice to the people to govern THEMSELVES as they see fit.

We have taken a lot of good steps, and some bad, in using our best understanding as a people to amend the vision of the Founders (AS THEY INTENDED).

But the point of Phil’s essay, and much of his writing lately, as well as most of your posts, is that Obama is acting unconstitutionally in everything he does. That is pure crap. The way the constitution stands right now, redistributive taxation is PERFECTLY legal.

If you would like it to be illegal again…go ahead, start a movement! Only, realize that you are now part of a small minority that most of the country has left behind.

And, this minority now says: “We know better than you. What we need to do is take the country back by force so we can impose our arrogant intelligence back over those of you who have lost your way.”

I hope most of you learn to laugh at yourselves over time…you take yourselves far too seriously.

October 24, 2009 @ 8:01 pm #

>>We are not ruled by a document, but by the vision behind it that gave choice to the people to govern THEMSELVES as they see fit.>>

Is that how you treat contracts?

October 24, 2009 @ 8:30 pm #

>>Your constitution is very lifeless and very dead.>>

Guess that means we can dispense with the Supreme Court then, right?

Here’s a “by the way”…article. Worth a read, but unrelated to the topic.

http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/2599000/

October 24, 2009 @ 11:07 pm #

I remember a discussion I had with a Professor in college after submitting a term paper. She did not have any problem with the facts or arguments I made in the course of the paper. She told me that I had made the mistake of assuming that the reader was coming from the same place that I was, both intellectually as well as historically.

I am also reminded of something that Joe said during a previous comment thread on Sarah Palin. He said that the people on his side of the argument came from “a different world” than we lived in. This was a very good point, as it illustrates the many problems that conservatives and liberals have. Given the same amount of data we obviously reach different conclusions.

In order for any argument to have purpose, both sides have to be able to communicate with each other, beyond mere contradiction. I assume here that the reason we have all come to these comment threads is to actually have a meaningful discussion. So many of our arguments dissolve into: “Yes, he will” “NO, he won’t” or variations on that theme that we never really even listen to what anyone is saying.

Not to pick on Joe but I will take something he said as an example:

“Is redistributive taxation theft? That is precisely what I, and other liberals, deny.”

This statement is exactly a microcosm of where Conservatives and Liberals reach an impasse. I inherently rebel against the entire idea of taxation used for the redistribution of wealth. It is theft, in my eyes. Joe’s facts are different from my facts.

Now I could write a three page post on my reasons for why redistributive taxation is wrong, but that is not the point I am trying to make here. I am saying that in it is sad that the gulf between Joe’s “Two worlds” has grown so vast. We are still all Americans, after all. That should count for something, after all.

I guess George Washington wasn’t so stupid when he warned against factionalism.

Of course, sometimes there is a point when no compromise can be made. When the cost of merely compromising is too much to bear. This is where all democratic governments fail. When the gulf between the factions becomes so large that they no longer both accept the same fundamental truths, then no compromise (which is the soul of democracy) can be made.

To everything there is a season.

October 25, 2009 @ 9:47 am #

Horatio…

Exactly. That is why I’ve asked so often about “what do you mean by…” and “do you think such and such…” because you’re right – if there are basic underlying differences of values or ideas then the discussion is never going to proceed to an agreement.

I will say this – Joe and darkhorse’s statements on this thread and one other have finally been clear and open. We at least know what our disagreement is. I felt before that both were trying to make it appear as if they agreed with the basic philosophy of capitalism, when in fact they didn’t but didn’t want to make it known.

To be honest, if the majority clearly and openly were to vote for socialism, I could accept it. I might think it was wrong and I might not like it but I could accept it. What I strongly oppose and will resist as I am able is the deception of the people into thinking that they are voting for something other than what is intended, when that deception is intended because this administration knows that if they were open and clear about where they want to take the nation – they could not win.

October 25, 2009 @ 10:12 am #

Suek -

I’ll be back later, but you’re lying to yourself by importing things into what I say that are not there. It offers you comfort, I know, and I wouldn’t want to deny you your comfort. But if you didn’t have such a need to pigeon-hole for your own comfort, dialog might happen.

October 25, 2009 @ 10:26 am #

Me, then Suek:

>>We are not ruled by a document, but by the vision behind it that gave choice to the people to govern THEMSELVES as they see fit.>>

Is that how you treat contracts?
______

What a pithy, unthinking answer. I spoke plainly about the Founder’s intent that we grow in our understanding, by giving us the ability to amend their document.

There is no violation of any “contract” in that.

October 25, 2009 @ 12:24 pm #

Disagree. What a surprise.

>>using our best understanding as a people to amend the vision of the Founders (AS THEY INTENDED). >>

As they intended was to use Amendments. Amendments require approval of a majority of citizens. Drastic changes have been made without that step taken.

Your statement was that because the Constitution was “an old document” we could ignore it since our understanding is so much better than theirs. In fact, the Constitution was a contract between a government being established and those who were to be governed. By making changes without using the amendment process which requires the consent of the governed, the administration violates that contract.

If you make a contract and then discover that the other party had assumed you knew certain facts that in fact you didn’t know…is the contract invalid? Can you disregard a contract simply because it is a contract from 5 years ago?

October 25, 2009 @ 1:04 pm #

Suek:

“Your statement was that because the Constitution was “an old document” we could ignore it since our understanding is so much better than theirs.”

You could avoid such obvious dishonesty if you would just post a quote of mine that said this. Please, do yourself a favor and stop lying just to win an argument. If the problem is you are refusing to read carefully, then don’t bother responding, it is a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

October 25, 2009 @ 1:06 pm #

Case in point, Suek:

“As they intended was to use Amendments. Amendments require approval of a majority of citizens. Drastic changes have been made without that step taken.”

You are agreeing with me, and then convincing yourself that this is winning an argument. We were speaking of the 16th Amendment, and whether following it was constitutional now. Go back and review.

October 25, 2009 @ 5:20 pm #

No, darkhorse. I don’t think I will. That would be time wasted.

October 25, 2009 @ 7:52 pm #

Thank you, Suek, now back to constructive discussion.

Horatius, you bemoaned the gulf between the “Two Worlds” as an impediment to discussion, and I agree. I contend that Joe made a good observation – that Phils’ (and the more famous conservatives’) current project seems to be to quote the most fringe people of the liberal movement, and then treat liberalism as a whole as if “they” ALL believed the same.

I can think of no worthy goal for this endeavor – except simply to try and defeat people one disagrees with at all costs.

Horatius, I was curious why you chose Joe’s statement as an example of prohibitive argument, rather than this practice itself (which Phil, with not much credibility, denied).

October 25, 2009 @ 8:40 pm #

Horatius,

You said:

“This statement is exactly a microcosm of where Conservatives and Liberals reach an impasse. I inherently rebel against the entire idea of taxation used for the redistribution of wealth. It is theft, in my eyes. Joe’s facts are different from my facts.

Now I could write a three page post on my reasons for why redistributive taxation is wrong, but that is not the point I am trying to make here. I am saying that in it is sad that the gulf between Joe’s “Two worlds” has grown so vast. We are still all Americans, after all. That should count for something, after all.”

Horatius, this is where the discussion should START. We disagree. Okay. Let’s present our reasons. Lets remonstrate with each other.

“Redistributive Taxation is theft” is a factual type statement, but it is not a fact in the ordinary sense. It is better understood as a moral judgment. We don’t disagree about the facts. We disagree about the moral status of redistributive taxation.

My comment was not meant to end the discussion. My statement was to suggest to Suek that her statement was a conclusory allegation – a statement embodying a moral judgment that is not self evidently true. I meant to suggest to her that it was not a premise that we could agree on as means for further discussion.

That doesn’t mean I’m right. It just means that I don’t agree with Suek or you on this point, and that if Suek or you want to convince me, or if I want to convince you guys, we need to have a discussion.

Joe H

October 25, 2009 @ 8:54 pm #

Suek,

You said:

“Joe and darkhorse’s statements on this thread and one other have finally been clear and open. We at least know what our disagreement is. I felt before that both were trying to make it appear as if they agreed with the basic philosophy of capitalism, when in fact they didn’t but didn’t want to make it known.”

Let me make it clear – Darkhorse and I agree with the basic philosophy of capitalism. The problem is that you guys seem to think there are only two options: (1) unregulated, unintervened with, pure Lassiez faire, free market capitalism; abd (2) socialism.

I think capitalism, properly regulated and taxed, is great. But it would be foolish for us to deny that markets, left to themselves, fail and heap misery on the just as well as the unjust when thgis occurs. That’s why I’m for managed capitalism.

Joe H.

October 25, 2009 @ 8:58 pm #

By the way, amending the federal constitution requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of congress and ratification by 3/4 of the States.

When this happens, there is a pretty strong agreement.

Joe

October 26, 2009 @ 8:39 am #

I do not quote your extremists as typical examples of conservative thought.

Nor do we quote yours. We quote the norm for what we encounter when we encounter progressives. You just lack the intellectual integrity to admit that what would be an extremist among conservatives, is the norm among progressives.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

October 26, 2009 @ 10:50 am #

>>That’s why I’m for managed capitalism.>>

Managed by whom? The government?

You _do_ realize that that is the definition of facism, do you not?

October 26, 2009 @ 2:34 pm #

Suek,

Facism is much, much more than managed or regulated capitalism. Come on now . . .

Philwynk,

You said:

>Nor do we quote yours. We quote the norm for what we encounter when we encounter progressives. You just lack the intellectual integrity to admit that what would be an extremist among conservatives, is the norm among progressives.>

Progressives have won the last two election cycles in this country. Are you telling me that you think a majority of voting Americans hate wealth and the wealthy and want to “tax the wealthy to feed the poor until the wealthy are no more?”

That is pure nonsense.

The vast majority of Americans favor government regulation of capitalism and mildly redistributive taxation policies. They are in no way full blown Marxists. Your (and Phil’s) continued effort to portray all progressives (or all liberals) as crazy extremists is an exercise in self delusion.

Joe H.

October 26, 2009 @ 4:26 pm #

Ah yes. A centrally managed economy. Such an asset to the people of that blessed country…

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/10/mainstream-media-forgot-to-cover-this.html

October 26, 2009 @ 5:57 pm #

DECELERATION OF FREEDON:
I believe in the rule of law which at its highest level is articulated in the United States Constitution; the rule of law was to be supreme, and all men were to be subordinate to it. I also believe that at this time in our nation’s history we no longer live under a Constitutional government.

Let it be known that I no longer wish to engage in civil discussion those who try and make our country’s Constitution meaningless, or a document to guide our vision. Since words are only used by the progressive left to obscure the truth and promote lies, civil discussion has become impossible, and foolish. Nor do I worry about lumping all progressive leftist with the extreme left, because it’s the extreme left fringe that are implementing their polices at the highest levels of our government, and it is that fringe we must address ourselves too, for they are leading the charge.

Yes we are now ruled by a vision, but it is not my vision, it is the progressive lefts vision. My vision rests on the Constitution of our Country and the rule of law that it represents. The view of the progressive left rests on the rule of The One, and the hope that he will implement policy’s they approve of, and are to their personal benefit, and if not that One, then they will find some other One to take his place. The vision of the progressive left is really one of anti law; the idea that written law, including our Constitution, can be made to say whatever they want it to say or, that it can be simply and safely ignored.

Let me be clear about this; as long as I’m alive our Country’s Constitution cannot be safely ignored.

I will not willingly live under tyranny even if every other person in our country votes for it, no more than I would be willing to live under the tyranny of the few. It is for this that our Constitution was drafted.

I claim that I have the moral right to use every resource at my disposal to resist those who would make of me a subject.

To my enemies I say, “I will no longer attempt to engage you in civil discourse, no more than I would attempt to engage someone in the process of mugging me”. I understand that your job is not to defeat us in battle, but to make us think that battle is impossible and that we have already lost. We have not lost yet!!!

To those who might be my friends the first thing we must do is stop treating our enemies as honorable adversaries, they are not. They are evil people who use the best within us as weapons against us. They have always known what we were about; it was we who foolishly allowed them to use our good will as one their most effective weapons against us. I tell you truly, they have always believed in us, it was we who would not allow ourselves to believe in them. If you don’t believe that, ask yourself how many times they have used our morals against us while having none of their own?

I PRAY THAT THE REPUBLICK WILL LIVE AGAIN.

October 26, 2009 @ 6:30 pm #

>>Facism is much, much more than managed or regulated capitalism.>>

Ok…so considering that the term originated in Italy with Mussolini, and derived from the Italian for “bundle” as in gathering together in a single group…

tell me what more it is.

October 26, 2009 @ 6:46 pm #

“The super-rich have become unpopular here in America, and by controlling their pay, Obama is establishing his Sovereign Right to control the pay of all. He wants the right for a reason, and you can be sure it is not to prevent riches; he’s not limited his own pay, nor the pay of his “Czars,” has he? Most likely, his goal is to prevent riches among his opponents, and to give himself the power to reward his supporters. That appears to be the one, guiding principle under which this King operates.”

OH yeah…

http://www.floppingaces.net/2009/10/24/why-no-union-pay-czar-it-helps-to-be-a-friend-of-obama/

October 26, 2009 @ 8:23 pm #

Dale, you might want to dial back the rhetoric a bit. It is one thing to refuse to engage in civil discourse – it is quite another thing to issue thinly veiled threats of violence against “the One.”

Just out of curisosity, and not to try to engage you, what part of the constitution is “the One” violating?

Joe H.

October 26, 2009 @ 8:28 pm #

“Ah yes. A centrally managed economy. Such an asset to the people of that blessed country.”

I must say, the temptation to insult you keeps growing with every dense response you post. There is a big difference between a “centrally managed economy” and regulated free market economy. If you want to dialogue, you’ll need to respond to what we actually say.

Joe H.

October 26, 2009 @ 9:03 pm #

I must say, the temptation to insult you keeps growing with every dense response you post. There is a big difference between a “centrally managed economy” and regulated free market economy. If you want to dialogue, you’ll need to respond to what we actually say.

If you engage in insult on this topic, expect to be banned. Permanently. I’ve about had it with the lies, Joe. The difference between a centrally managed economy and a regulated “free market” economy (which is, in fact, a contradiction in terms) is only a difference of degree, and given the incredibly rapid increase in the level of regulation, it is ENTIRELY proper to warn against a slide into a managed economy. Don’t like it? Tough shit. Deal with it, or leave.

October 26, 2009 @ 9:18 pm #

“Horatius, this is where the discussion should START. We disagree. Okay. Let’s present our reasons. Lets remonstrate with each other.”

That is part of the point I am trying to make Joe. However, the other part is that any constructive argument has to start with where the assumptions differ.

Your comment on factual statements vs moral judgments is well taken. However, this is the point: There is only one truth. Finding that truth is the true difficulty but it does not remove the fact that it is there. However, people do not make decisions based on what is in reality factual, rather they operate on their perception of what the facts are.

An example: Before 9-11 many believed that that was no real threat of terrorism on American soil. Policies were put in place that took that belief to heart (lack of sharing between agencies, etc.) This did not change the reality of the threat. Everyone operated as if there was no threat. The facts did not change, however, everyone operated on their perception of facts.

My larger point here is that I think one of the primary problems between Conservatives and Traditionalists on one side and Liberals on the other is that we start the argument in the wrong place. To borrow a legal phrase: both sides assume facts not in evidence.

Understanding how an opponent is making an argument is at least as important as what he is arguing.

October 26, 2009 @ 10:16 pm #

“If you engage in insult on this topic, expect to be banned. Permanently. ”

If I engage in insult? ME!

One of your readers repeatedly and intentionally mistates or misrepresents what what I or our friend Darkhorse says. I finally gently scold her by calling her response, not her mind you, HER RESPONSE, “dense.” and you’re ready to ban me? Permanently?

Dale, on the other hand, slandered me (and my kind) as virtual traitors, as enemies who are not worthy of decent treatment. And you utter not one word in our defense?

Don’t you see the irony Phil? Shouldn’t your behavior tell you something about your mindset?

Phil, you have repeatedly called me a liar and impugned my character without apology.
Yet instead of banning a man who hinted at threats of violence towards “the One,” or apologizing to me for your extremely unchristian conduct, you threaten to ban me!

Phil, you’ve got no beef within insults – as long as they’re directed at people you disagree with. Don’t think for a moment that your threat to ban me is an act of principle. It is an act of inscurity.

The simple truth is that you guys are not used to being challenged. You’re not used to having your conclusory allegations examined. You’re also so committed to maintaining your worldviews that you’ll do what ever it takes – including threatening to ban a critic at the slightest provacation while ignoring a violent rant.

I’ll tell you Phil. I don’t envy you. It must be hard to keep it all together. As Bertrand Russell once said, ideology is the worst tyrant, because it rules from within.

If you want me to leave, let me know. But don’t think for one second that a ban is anything other than the act of an ideologue trying to escape scrutiny.

And by the way, you’re correct that the difference between a regulated free mark economy and a centrally planned economy is a matter of degree. But its still a big, big difference.

Joe H.

October 26, 2009 @ 11:07 pm #

Phil:

“The difference between a centrally managed economy and a regulated “free market” economy (which is, in fact, a contradiction in terms) is only a difference of degree”.

I think Joe asked you, Phil, and the other conservatives here whether that was your “Golden Rule” – is absolute laissez-faire capitalism the highest ideal, which turns to Full-on socialism with the very first attempt to balance its inequities?

That is how you speak. Correct me if I’m wrong. But it feels like a kind of idolatry to me – especially given the misery that near-pure capitalism caused at different points in our country’s, and our world’s, history.

The “contradiction in terms” in the phrase “regulated free-market economy” comes about by idolizing the free-market end of a SPECTRUM. It is like speaking of a dam with a flood-gate mostly open, and calling it a “regulated free-flow”. The water is still flowing; but the damage of a wide-open gate is avoided.

They do that regularly in the Grand Canyon using the Glen Canyon Dam…pretty remarkable to see. They have tested the spectrum, and discovered the most useful point on in for both water regulation, and cleansing of the river.

October 26, 2009 @ 11:10 pm #

Hey Dale:

It doesn’t appear you are describing anybody who posts here with these words:

“Let it be known that I no longer wish to engage in civil discussion those who try and make our country’s Constitution meaningless, or a document to guide our vision. Since words are only used by the progressive left to obscure the truth and promote lies, civil discussion has become impossible, and foolish.”

However, if, for your cranial comfort, you must paint your perceived enemies so that you can justify your opposition, might I suggest that you have been the one obscuring the truth?

October 27, 2009 @ 11:43 am #

Dale is simply recognizing the similarity of any discussion with Joe and darkhorse with negotiating with Iran.

They’re willing to talk and talk and talk ad infinitum, but have no intention of moving off their locked in positions. As long as the talking results in Conservatives “giving” an inch of space, they’ll take a mile. At some point talking must be recognized as futile.

I agree with him.

October 27, 2009 @ 11:59 am #

Another aspect of the Constitution attacked from a different angle:

http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16042

But then … >>Your constitution is very lifeless and very dead. We are not ruled by a document…>>

Wouldn’t want to just _suggest_ that we could just ignore it because it was “old”.

October 27, 2009 @ 12:18 pm #

Joe,
I re-read what I wrote. My violent rant seems to consist of one sentence:

I claim that I have the moral right to use every resource at my disposal to resist those who would make of me a subject.

And it was not directed at the ONE. Making open threats against a sitting President is not a good idea. However, I still claim the right to resist a Government no longer restrained by a constitution that they are mandated to uphold and defend.

You asked what part of the constitution is “the One” violating. I’m going to confine my answer to one current example, “Health Care”.

There is no way for the United States Constitution to be interpreted in such a way as to allow the Federal Government, without an Amendment, to impose nationwide Health Care such as currently being discussed in Washington. Indeed, if this kind of thing can be done without going through the Amendment process, there is no point in having Amendments.

There are so many other examples it is almost pointless to try and list them.

Oh, by the way Joe, I understand why you took what I wrote personally, and yes I did have qualms about posting that particular post on Phil’s blug. At the end of the day it’s his blog, not mine and I’m sorry that you thought he should have to defend or reprimand me for posting that comment. What’s going on between you and Phil should have nothing to do with me.
Dale…

October 27, 2009 @ 12:22 pm #

Worth a read:

http://vdare.com/roberts/091025_next_crisis.htm

October 27, 2009 @ 12:26 pm #

More about the claim that the corruption lies _within_ the government:

http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/1547-More-Arrogation-Of-Power.html

October 27, 2009 @ 1:06 pm #

Suek,

You said:

“They’re willing to talk and talk and talk ad infinitum, but have no intention of moving off their locked in positions. As long as the talking results in Conservatives “giving” an inch of space, they’ll take a mile.”

Suek, have you made any arguments? Have you explained why our positions are incorrect? Have you explained, for example, why you think redistributive taxation is “theft?”

You can’t expect us to move off our positions if you don’t provide any reasons for us to do so. True, I’ve yet to supply reasons for my position that redistributive taxation is not theft, but I’m not complaining that you refuse to abandon your position. Most of the engergy spent here is highlighting insults, or mistatements, or any number of things that are not really argument.

So let’s try it – starting with the issue of redistributive taxation. The people who think redistributive taxation is “theft” start from the premise that individuals are entitlted to keep what the earn or acquire from others in a system of free and uncoerced interactions. So long as the interactions are not coerced, and people are free to interact with each other on terms they choose, people are entitled to what they acquire. A government that comes along after the fact, and forcibly takes what individuals acquire simply to give it to others who need it, is stealing.

Is that a fair statement of your position?

People like me start from a different premise. We believe that people are entitled to whatever they acquire within a just system of social cooperation. But for us, “just” means more than “uncoerced.” For us, “just” means “reciprocal” – it means a system of social cooperation goverend by rules that recommend themselves to everyone, including the least well off members of society.

Put another way, “justice” to us means a system goverened by the rules that people would choose to govern society if they did not know anything about their personal situations (i.e., whether they were going to be male or female, rich or poor, sickly or healthy, talented or not, gay or straight, smart or not, have good parents or bad, and so on).

For us, redistributive taxation is a necessary feature of a just system of social cooperation for several reasons, all of which I will articulate upon request.

So my position is that “uncoerced” is an inadequate conception of justice, and that people are not necessarily entitled to what they acquire under an unjust system of social cooperation. Which of these premises do you reject and why?

Joe H.

October 27, 2009 @ 2:14 pm #

Horatius,

I agree with your comments. Truth is difficult to obtain, and humans have no choice but to interact with reality using their perception of reality – which is often misinformed.

And I agree that truth is not relative. Some propositions are true and others are false.

But we can think rationally about moral issues – such as whether or not redistributive taxation is theft. And there is a correct answer to that question. However, the problem with moral reasoning is that there are different sorts of considerations underlying any moral analysis, and the considerations that strike some people as most important often seem less important to others.

So, achieving agreement on contentious moral issues is more difficult than is reaching agreement about facts. But that doesn’t mean there is no moral truth. I agree that there is – its just difficult to obtain, or be sure about, in the hard cases.

However, moral discussion is made inifinitely more difficult when we demonize those who disagree with us, or assume they lack good faith. We must resist the temptation to think of ourselves as victims of evildoers, or to think of those who disagree with us as enemies. otherwise we’re limited to talking only to those who agree with us, which is a terrible way to stay in touch with reality.

Joe H.

October 27, 2009 @ 5:17 pm #

>>“justice” to us means a system goverened by the rules that people would choose to govern society >>

Yes…and that’s what we did with the Constitution.

>>if they did not know anything about their personal situations (i.e., whether they were going to be male or female, rich or poor, sickly or healthy, talented or not, gay or straight, smart or not, have good parents or bad, and so on).>>

Whatever in the world do the personal situations have to do with anything?

I’m _assuming_ that you’re talking about “personal situations” as referring to people who are either capable of providing for themselves or incapable of same. In other words, your idea of justice would provide an equality of outcome – not of opportunity, since (I assume) certain “personal situations” tend to limit an individual’s opportunities even if the economy/laws didn’t.

If in fact, that’s basically correct, then we’ll have to agree to disagree on the concept of “justice”.

And, by the way, since you’re also a Christian, I’d like to point out that your concept of “justice” – if I’ve understood it correctly – also would eliminate the virtue of charity. There can be no charity if there is no need. There is no charity if the government allows no choice in whether to give to the needy or not.

Not that I’m in favor of establishing need just so some people have the opportunity of exercising charity in order to earn merit for the next life (wouldn’t that be a bummer – rich in this life, and rich in the next because of the wealth in this life!), but neither am I in favor of government coercion – which is as powerful as a gun in hand.

October 27, 2009 @ 6:31 pm #

Dale,

You said:

>There is no way for the United States Constitution to be interpreted in such a way as to allow the Federal Government, without an Amendment, to impose nationwide Health Care such as currently being discussed in Washington. Indeed, if this kind of thing can be done without going through the Amendment process, there is no point in having Amendments.<

Unfortunately Dale, that is simply not true. For a professional legal analysis, consult the following link.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-chemerinsky6-2009oct06,0,5658134.story

Eric Chemerinsky is the Dean of the Law School at U.C. Irvine.

This is what I was getting at a while back on another thread. Many libertarians believe that libertarian political philosophy was written into the constitution. It was not.

Most of the founders thought along libertarian lines. Heck, our country was founded on the political philosophy of John Locke – so we should hardly expect otherwise. But they did not lock that Philosophy into the constitution. Over time we, as a nation, we moved away from a libertarian political philosophy, most significantly with the passing of the 16th Amendment to the constitution.

Libertarians don’t like that – which is fine. They should, as Darkhorse suggested, start a movement to repeal the 16th Amendment. But they’ll quickly discover that they are very a small minority.

My point, however, is that none of Obama’s acts are unconstitutional in the least. They may be sinister, or stupid, or whatever – but they are not unconstitutional.

Joe H.

October 27, 2009 @ 8:55 pm #

Suek,

If you want to understand this “personal situations” argument, go to wikipedia and type in “A theory of Justice” and/or “the Original Position” or “The Veil of Ignorance.”

The entries are essentially accurate.

As to your opportunities for charity argument, there would still be plenty of hardship to remedy in a just society.

Joe H.

October 27, 2009 @ 9:34 pm #

Suek, you said:

> How about $13 per hour? . . . Why is your time worth any more than a bookkeeper’s time? <

I bill at $170.00 an hour. If you ever get in a legal jam, you won’t have to ask why my time is more valuable than a bookkeeper’s.

It is true that I invested considerable time and energy to prepare myself to practice law. And I don’t disagree that the primary beneficiary of all that effort should be me and my family. I’m a capitalist – pure and simple.

However, I could invest all the time and effort in the world and not be able to earn what I earn as an attorney if I lived in . . . Kenya.

The reason I can earn such money here – and believe me, that’s a modest sum for an attorney – and not in Kenya, is that our modern social system (our institutions, infastructure, human capital, etc.- facilitates commercial and others forms of activity that require (and ultimately finance) complex regulatory systems and dispute resolution procedures. If that social system were not in place, we could not collectively employ our skills and talents to create the wealth and comfort that we all enjoy.

The obvious question is “how should we pay for this system?” The Liberal answer, roughly speaking, is that the people who are benefiting the most from its existence should bear the largest share of the cost of maintaining it. That strikes me as a fair way of distributing the costs. How about you? . . .

Don’t look now, but we’ve just heard an argument for. . . progressive taxation.

So take 35% of each $170.00 I earn – after I earn the first $250K, of course – and leave the bookkeep alone. I need her to be here and thrive – she’s part of that system I was talking about – as are her kids.

If she is too poor to purchase health insurance for when her child gets sick, use some of my taxes to help her. She’s part of that system – the system which gives me all these great opportunities.

By the way, now that you know what I bill at, you must realize how much I value discussion.

Joe H

Joe H.

October 28, 2009 @ 10:48 am #

One bad legal precedent piled on top of another does not prove that it’s constitutional; it only really proves that we started down the path of an unconstitutional government a long time ago. It would seem that between the “general welfare” clause and Congresses responsibility to regulate “commerce among the states” there is very little they can’t do. I can see no limit to this Joe, and yes I think your side going to win – enjoy. Dale…

October 28, 2009 @ 10:48 am #

>>Eric Chemerinsky is the Dean of the Law School at U.C. Irvine.>>

And a fine dean he is, I’m sure. I’ve heard him on Hugh Hewitt’s show. And, as with many of the legal profession, he’s very “progressive” if that’s what you call socialist promulgators these days.

And that’s not an argument for your position, by the way. I believe it’s what’s called an “appeal to authority”. He’s not a judge, and until the matter is tested in court, it isn’t ajudicated.

Here’s my counter “appeal to authority”…

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204518504574416623109362480.html

October 28, 2009 @ 11:04 am #

>>If that social system were not in place, we could not collectively employ our skills and talents to create the wealth and comfort that we all enjoy.>>

Once more we disagree.

How long would you say that this social system has been in place? Certainly not before your beloved 16th amendment, right? Probably not before middle of the 20th century – wouldn’t you say?

So how did we accumulate the wealth we accumulated prior to that time? without the social system, that is.

I’d love to see a graph that detailed the progression of lawsuit damage awards from about 1950 to present. My guess is that the line would be at a 45* angle or steeper.

Have you read the book “The Death of Common Sense”? The subtitle of the book is “How Law is Suffocating America”. I would argue that you lawyers have managed to create laws that have circumscribe the ambition and productivity of the nation for the last 50 years by setting barrier after barrier – and which can only be defended against by other lawyers. Absolutely super job security. Fantastic demonstration of capitalism at its best – and one I’d like to see controlled by government – except it won’t be, since government has been infiltrated and dominated by … wait for it…_LAWYERS_!! Nice job guys.

I guess I’m with Shakespeare on this one.

And lest you think I hate all lawyers – my father was a lawyer(although he practiced only a short time before entering a military career) and my brother in law is a judge(and one of the straightest arrow guys I know). One of my sons is studying law. I consider law to be right up there with fire and water – the right amount is absolutely necessary for decent living. Too much is deadly. I think that’s where we are now.

October 28, 2009 @ 11:49 am #

>>So take 35% of each $170.00 I earn – after I earn the first $250K, of course – and leave the bookkeep alone.>>

35% = pocket change. Do you really think you’re going to get to keep that much? Try 70% … 90% even. I mean – really…why do you even need $250k to live on? How much can you eat? How many square feet do you need for each family member? How many _in_ your family, by the way? Lets say you, spouse and two kids. I know Hawaii is expensive, but if we allow say 600 square feet per person, you’d get a 2400 square foot house. Let’s just make it 3000 for good measure. How much would that cost in Hawaii?

In the 50s, my mom gave me the rule of thumb that your house shouldn’t cost more than 3x your annual income. Assuming your annual at $250k, that means that you shouldn’t pay more than $750k for your house. (that wasn’t based on “social consciousness”, it was considered financial prudence). If your house is paid for, or if your mortgage is within prudent limits (about 25% to 33% of monthly income, according to Mom)where does the rest of your income go? Why should you have more than housing and food if the State takes care of your medical and retirement income needs? Maybe because you _want_ more??? How greedy of you!

>>If she is too poor to purchase health insurance for when her child gets sick, use some of my taxes to help her. >>

Now this gets interesting. When I was a child, we were in the military and therefore were eligible for military medical care. No payments in those days – just army doctors. Emergencies and active duty military went first, then dependents. Still, my parents paid for a family doctor. In cash. Vaccinations, regular yearly health checks, and we usually could be seen the same day in case of sickness. Paid for in cash, out of my Dad’s military pay – which isn’t and wasn’t very high (military pay, that is). Maybe not even as high as the bookkeep’s. When my Mom had to go to the hospital for an operation, we used Walter Reed – for everything else, we used the local civilian doctor – and paid him. Out of pocket.

Insurance. It’s an interesting concept. I’m betting I’m going to have major bills…the insurance company is betting I won’t. It’s a gamble for both, but you probably know…the House always wins. The odds are stacked. Gotta pay the overhead. You lawyers are messing this up as well…malpractice suits cause huge damage awards because persuasive lawyers (like Edwards) can appeal to an undereducated jury on the basis of emotion and get monster judgments that may not even have a medical basis. If doctors are guilty of malpractice that warrants multimillion dollar payouts for damage, they should not be practicing. GET THEM OUT! But no…they’d have a lawyer to defend them against losing their license, wouldn’t they. Or provide professional juries…but you lawyers would yell and scream about a “jury of peers” wouldn’t you. You’d get that one thrown out PDQ. But, in fact, if the defendant is a doctor, aren’t his peers other doctors?

Why shouldn’t the bookkeeper pay for her medical care? and that of her children? at least on a normal maintenance basis. and why can’t I buy a bare bones insurance policy that allows me to pay for my own care up to whatever limit I decide on – $5k per year, $10k per year – whatever _I_ decide I can tolerate? I can for automobile insurance – why not medical insurance? The real problem is twofold: those who have serious chronic illnesses, and old age. We need to address the first – the second should be handled by some sort of savings plan – because it’s predictable.

Ah yes…because the _law_ decides what insurance can be offered by those nasty insurance companies. The law doesn’t strive to make certain that the companies pay out one what’s offered and paid for – keeping them honest – the law tells them what to offer. And what they can’t.

Nice gig you lawyers have set up. And you’ll also make sure _you_ don’t get penalized. Oh yeah. Like congress doesn’t want to give up their government insurance plan and have the same one they want the rest of us to have.

(And I’m not insulting you personally – even if you feel insulted. You may be a blood sucking leech of a lawyer – and you may be one of the excellent good guys. When I say “you lawyers”, I mean those who use the law as a weapon against the rest of us.)

October 28, 2009 @ 12:04 pm #

Suek said:

“How long would you say that this social system has been in place? ”

I’m guessing, if you take all of the Old Testament literally, the social system probably existed since Cain’s first city in Genesis 4.

The only question we’re after is the best way to make it run — act as if it’s not there, and every man for himself…or cooperatively. Joe’s description was a good argument for the latter.

October 28, 2009 @ 12:15 pm #

Suek,

Citing an expert is not an appeal to authority. I pointed you to his arguments. My mention of his authority was meant to show that he is a publicly recognized expert.

I will let the constitutional arguments of our two authorities speak for themselves.

Joe H

October 28, 2009 @ 12:32 pm #

Suek:

“Ah yes…because the _law_ decides what insurance can be offered by those nasty insurance companies. The law doesn’t strive to make certain that the companies pay out one what’s offered and paid for – keeping them honest – the law tells them what to offer. And what they can’t.”

Wow Joe, you’re pretty powerful : )

A little sense of humor there, Suek…

I’d be interested in a link or two documenting the solid connection you’re painting here…I actually know of quite a few lawyers fighting to make sure the insurance companies pay what they promise.

October 28, 2009 @ 12:36 pm #

This is what happens when producers are tapped to support non-producers.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/10/city-of-houston-is-bankrupt-so-are.html

Now…consider the Social Security funds – which are supposed to be kept separate in a trust. Except they haven’t been.

The Federal Government is on the same track.

October 28, 2009 @ 12:39 pm #

>>I’d be interested in a link or two documenting the solid connection you’re painting here>>

You mean between the law and insurance company offerings?

Are you serious?

Why can’t we buy insurance across state lines? Vehicle insurance is bought across state lines – why not health insurance? Maybe because of state laws? you mean _those_ laws?

October 28, 2009 @ 12:57 pm #

You know…I wouldn’t even mind helping out the bookkeeper, but this???

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125668489932511683.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTWhatsNews

http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/1548-Ending-Too-Big-To-Fail.html

October 28, 2009 @ 1:05 pm #

Suek:

No, I mean the direct blame you seem to be putting on lawyers in general for your complaints.

I think the insurance companies themselves are the ones affecting the laws the most. And I believe there are plenty in the law profession fighting them.

October 28, 2009 @ 1:14 pm #

And you remember that old dead piece of parchment we call the Constitution? The reason for it was to define the rights of the citizen – for protection _against_ the over reach of government. Eliminate it, and what do you have?
This kind of thing:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1222777/The-raid-rocked-Met-Why-gun-drugs-op-6-717-safety-deposit-boxes-cost-taxpayer-fortune.html

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6892830.ece

Couldn’t happen in the US, you say? why not?

http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Alvarez_v._Smith

What limits government power, if not that original contract with the people?

October 28, 2009 @ 1:16 pm #

>>And I believe there are plenty in the law profession fighting them.>>

True. And plenty in the law profession who are in the halls of the law makers who are continually coming up with more of them.

Neat racket, eh?

October 28, 2009 @ 1:50 pm #

Suek:

“Neat racket, eh?”

It was absolutely guaranteed, once economic level of the average person in the country rose, that people would need legal help to protect their interests.

The lawyers are there because the demand is there. And often because the need is there. I’ve often mourned the fact that the Philosophy departments of colleges couldn’t secure a solid position for my friend Joe here, and that he had to move into law. Philosophy seeks truth; law seeks victory.

When someone hires me as a land surveyor, I am to determine the boundary line no matter what the interests are of who hire me. It is then often the job of a lawyer to cast doubt on my decision (or support it, depending on who he represents).

But make no mistake; when the difference between two placements of a boundary line means millions of dollars one way or another, it is that amount of money that decides the need for a lawyer…not some ethical problem of the law profession itself.

October 28, 2009 @ 5:05 pm #

Dale,

You make a valid point about “bad legal precdents piling up.” There is a school of legal thought, often referred to as “the Constitution in Exile” school, who argue that the New Deal, and the Supreme Court’s subsequent acquiessence to it, betrayed the “true constitution,” which is now in “exile.”

I’m not conceeding that this is so, but it could be. However – and since its the World Series, I’ll use a baseball analogy – a “strike” is defined in the rules as “a ball that crosses the plate within the strike zone,” which is itself defined by reference to the batter’s body. We can call that a “Platonic” strike (in honor of Plato’s theory of the eternal forms that express the true essences of things).

Of course, the strike zone that umpires actually enforce is much smaller than Platonic strike zone. We can call such strikes “practical strikes” because, practically speaking, a pitcher has to thorw a ball within this zone to get an umpire to call it a strike.

The rules tell umpires to call balls and strikes by reference to Platonic strike zone. Umpires call them by reference to the practical strike zone. Sometimes they get their calls right – sometimes they don’t (and a shoutinig match ensues).

However, one thing is certain. For the purposes of determing who wins the game, a strike occurs whenever the umpire calls a pitch a strike – end of story.

Same thing with the Constitution. Whether there is a Platonic constitution in exile or not, as a matter of law, the Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it means.

Joe H.

October 28, 2009 @ 5:10 pm #

>>once economic level of the average person in the country rose>>

And how did that happen … before lawyers, and before all the social programs?

October 28, 2009 @ 5:47 pm #

Me, then Suek:

“>>once economic level of the average person in the country rose>>

And how did that happen … before lawyers, and before all the social programs?”

That analysis looks a bit naive – the economic level for the US rose (and likely will continue to rise) during most of its history, lawyers and social programs notwithstanding. By far the greatest rise for the greatest amount of people was happening most recently – that is, until the last decade or so, in which the gap between rich and poor started to widen.

October 28, 2009 @ 6:35 pm #

>>By far the greatest rise for the greatest amount of people was happening most recently – that is, until the last decade or so, in which the gap between rich and poor started to widen.>>

Don’t suppose there’s any correlation between that timing and the reduction of US manufacturing to almost 0, do you?

Bonus link:
http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/19-10-2009/109977-self_immolation-0

October 29, 2009 @ 11:53 am #

A consideration about the “social safety net” and personal responsibility.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/nation/story/8930D7A5FCC615028625765A007F8205?OpenDocument

October 29, 2009 @ 12:01 pm #

About that manufacturing decrease – this is relevant to _why_ our manufacturing base is decreasing:

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/10/boeing-expands-operations-in-south.html

October 29, 2009 @ 4:56 pm #

Obama, Roosevelt, Constitutionality and the Supreme Court.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/10/does_the_supreme_court_still_s.html

I have to wonder – since the specified function of the Supreme Court is to determine if laws passed by Congress are Constitutional, if the Constitution is >>…lifeless and dead>>, what function does the Supreme Court serve? What is its standard of the “Constitutionality” of laws if there is no functional Constitution?

October 29, 2009 @ 6:11 pm #

Food for thought:

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/10/from-one-that-lived-under-communism.html

October 29, 2009 @ 7:03 pm #

Suek said:

“What is its standard of the “Constitutionality” of laws if there is no functional Constitution?”

You’re offering another false dichotomy here – suggesting that progressives say that there is no authority in the constitution, only in what the Supreme Court says.

It’s actually far more complex than that. Even for hyper-conservatives, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what the Constitution says. They just favor the court holding the original intent of the founders as a highest priority with which to interpret the letters themselves.

Further left on the Spectrum, people know the constitution is authoritative, but they believe that the Founders purposefully spoke generally about their beliefs, rather than specifically, which allows the Constitution to be applied over a wider variety of situations.

Of course, there are fringy people on both the left and the right who don’t respect the document at all…but sticking with the main bulk of reasonable people in both camps, the main difference is in how to interpret the authoritative document.

Same as with the Christian Denominations with the Bible.

October 29, 2009 @ 7:39 pm #

>>You’re offering another false dichotomy here – suggesting that progressives say that there is no authority in the constitution, only in what the Supreme Court says.>>

darkhorse…

This was _your_ statement:

“Your constitution is very lifeless and very dead. We are not ruled by a document, but by the vision behind it that gave choice to the people to govern THEMSELVES as they see fit.”
Comment by darkhorse

October 24, 2009 @ 6:49 pm #

_You_ stated that the Constitution was dead, lifeless, and we are not ruled by a document.
So…what _are_ we ruled by? What standard should the Supremes use?

I don’t think it’s _my_ false dichotomy…!

October 29, 2009 @ 8:42 pm #

No, Suek,

In context, I was commenting that YOUR (that, my internet friend, was a very important word) Constitution was dead and lifeless. It was a specific comment on your view of it – that the ink on the paper was to rule us, alone.

Insert a word in my comment: “We are not ruled by [only] a document, but by the vision behind it…”

My comment was just as I just explained above – the rule you had stated that wants to take the document as a static view of the Founders, bound to exactly how THEY understood it and that alone, is not as they intended…they intended the Constitution to be alive and applicable to situations beyond what they were experiencing.

I apologize if I was not clear on that…there had been other indications that you had misunderstood my meaning…but I let it go until now.

October 30, 2009 @ 10:57 am #

>>they intended the Constitution to be alive and applicable to situations beyond what they were experiencing.>>

If laws are not fixed, what guides do they provide?

I agree that changes can be made, but there is a process for making those changes – and the “living constitution” view allows changes without following those processes. _That_ I disagree with. I do _not_ disagree that the original document can be amended.

If you take the view that “oh…it doesn’t mean that any more – it means _this_”, you’re going down the garden path to a point where it means nothing, and there’s absolutely nothing to restrain the grasp of power by those who want to install themselves as dictators.

Changing interpretation is not the same as making amendments.

The 16th amendment changed the method by which the Federal Government could collect taxes. It did not change the function of the Feds in the use of those taxes. That supreme court case (4:56) was interesting from that standpoint. There’s no doubt that Roosevelt was a Socialist, and Obama intends to follow in his footsteps. The Supremes frustrated Roosevelt’s attempts to socialize the nation which is why he attempted to pack the court. I look for Obama to do the same thing – if he has time and enough Dems in Congress to do it.

October 30, 2009 @ 11:52 am #

Here’s an interesting article(link below) that belies Joe’s original point of ..>>acknowledges the fact that paying huge salaries to people who wrecked their finacial institutions and nearly destroyed the economy of the entire world – after their instituions were bailed out by tax payeres, is an obsceen gesture of scorn.>>

It appears that while those leaders in the financial institutions were indeed guilty of greed and fraud, there was complicity within the government that permitted that fraud and should not be ignored, but will be if the law is not enforced without regard for political position. This is _not_ a good thing!

http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/1556-Is-The-Press-Waking-Up.html

October 30, 2009 @ 1:08 pm #

Most people agree that the Constitution means something. And if the text of the constitution means something, that meaning must be rooted in the intent of the people who wrote and enacted it.

So far so good.

The main source of disagreement, particularly regarding the Bill of Rights, concerns how we understand the founder’s intent. How did they want us to apply phrases like “Due Process,” “Equal Protection,” and “Cruel and unusual.”

However, before we can apply language, we have to be aware that terms and/or phrases have both a “connotation” and a “denotation.” A term’s connotation refers to the essence of the concept. For example, the connotation of “even number” is “a whole number divisible into two equal whole numbers.” The denotation of a term is the set of things that are identified by the connotation. The denotation of “even number” is “2, 4, 6, 8 . . ..”

Conservatives have taken the position that, with regards to constitutional language, we should interpret terms like “Due Process” in light of BOTH the connotation and denotation as understood by the founders. That is, conservatives believe that we should refer to the founders’ understanding of the essence of the concept “due process” as well as their understanding of what they thought “due process” required. They argue that if due process required X in 1787, then that is all it requires today. If someone went to court to argue that a requires that the due process clause of the constitution requires
that a convicted murderer be represented by counsel at the sentencing phase of a prosecution, a conservative will refer back to 1787 to see if that was a requirement. If it wasn’t, then due process does not require representation by counsel at a capital sentencing hearing today.

Constitutional interpretation on this view is mainly a historical analysis.

Progressives have taken the position that we are limited only to the connotation of the concept as the founders understood it – but we are free to apply our own understanding of the concept’s denotation. They argue that we should apply the connotation of Due Process Clause in light of what we have learned about process, human bias, etc., and in light of our changed circumstances. For a progressive, the analysis is more moral than historical.

That’s because they see “Due Process” as a moral concept. Its connotation is something like “a level of procedure sufficient to provide a fair adjudication of a matter.” That connotation has not changed from the founders time to our own. What has changed is our circumstances, our understanding of human behavior, our understanding of human psychology, and the complexity of our sentencing guidelines. Progressives argue that we should apply that moral concept, which has remained intact, to our present circumstances and understanding – to the “evolving standards of decency” if you will.

I side with the progressives on this issue.

Joe H.

October 30, 2009 @ 4:53 pm #

>>I side with the progressives on this issue.>>

I think we could have guessed that…!

October 30, 2009 @ 5:30 pm #

Oops…hit enter …

So…what is the point of the Supreme Court?

They have a duty of determining if laws conform to the Constitution. If the Constitution has no form, so to speak, what standard should they use?

>>the “evolving standards of decency” if you will. >>

But your standards and my standards of decency may differ – how do we decide _which_ standards of decency we go by?

October 30, 2009 @ 6:04 pm #

Suek:

“But your standards and my standards of decency may differ – how do we decide _which_ standards of decency we go by?”

I think Joe will give a good answer here, but looking at what the Founders wrote — and DIDN’T write — into the Constitution is instructive here.

On Standards of Decency, they had every chance to explicitly write Christianity (or the 18th Century understanding of it) directly into the Constitution…yet they didn’t. Why do you think that is?

Personally, I suspect it showed their brilliance. They used general terms like “Due Process” – and left it to future users to define what that meant.

Similarly, most here agree that the Founders were very libertarian in their outlook – but for the most part, they did not explicitly write Libertarianism into the Founding Document. For example, the Amendment on “unreasonable search and seizure” was one of the first additions to the document…but even that did not directly define “unreasonable” (i.e. stating “without a warrant”, or “never” or anything like that).

Again, I think this showed without a shadow of a doubt that they were producing a document that was not frozen in time, but one that would apply to ALL times. And they did a pretty miraculous job, really.

October 30, 2009 @ 7:28 pm #

Suek,

The constitution surely has content and form. It is a binding document. It means something.

The connotations of terms like “due process,” “equal protection,” “cruel and unusual punishment,” and so forth, are clear and stable. The debate is about how to determine what they require (or forbid) – i.e., the debate is how to determine their denotation.

Conservatives believe the Courts should look to HISTORY to determine the DENOTATION of these concepts. On this view, it is inconceivable that a Court could find that the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment or of similar state clauses requires the States to extend marriage rights to Gays. That’s because the founders could not have conceived of our current evolved attitudes towards gays.

Progressives, on the other hand, believe that courts should apply the moral content (the Connotation) of the great clauses to our current circumstances, including our enhanced knowledge and evolved social attitudes, to determine their Denotation – what they require. Wise progressives (Ahem!) think Courts should do this carefully and slowly, being mindful of the importance of precedent and the need for legal stability. But they reject the notion that we are forever stuck in 1787 constitutioinal jurisprudence.

That’s how modern Courts have “found” new rights in the constitution, such as the right for Gays to marry. Of course, they didn’t really find a new right. They updated the denoation of “equal protection” and created a legal right.

Conservatives often refer to themselves as “originalists” or “original intent” theorists. But that is misleading. Progressives also think we should refer back to the original intent of the founders. Our disagreement is over what the founders intended.

The question now is, which approach is best? I’m prepared to explain why the progressive approach is best, but I’ve got work to do (its still only 2:20 p.m. in Honolulu).

I’ll get back to you on this.

Joe

October 30, 2009 @ 8:00 pm #

The answer to your question regarding whose standard of decency our Courts should rely upon is “our current collective” standard. There are problems with this approach – Courts can get ahead of the public concensus, and the concensus is never universal. Courts can also fall behind public sensibilities.

But courts tend not to get to far ahead or behind the public, otherwise they loose credibility – the only asset a Court has to enforce its opinion is public respect for its determinations.

Courts frequently nudge the concensus along, as happened on interracial marriage, race in general, and is how happening with Gay rights.

At any rate, that’s how our system works.

Joe

October 30, 2009 @ 8:18 pm #

>>“due process,” “equal protection,” “cruel and unusual punishment,” and so forth, are clear and stable.>>

No time…
but…

due process and equal protection …yes. But cruel and unusual punishment? Not so clear and stable, I think.

50 years ago, there was _no_ problem with the death sentence. Today, many consider it cruel and unusual. Hanging wasn’t considered cruel and unusual at one time …today it is.

More tomorrow…

October 30, 2009 @ 10:52 pm #

Suek:

“50 years ago, there was _no_ problem with the death sentence. Today, many consider it cruel and unusual. Hanging wasn’t considered cruel and unusual at one time …today it is.”

But don’t you see that you are illustrating exactly the slow, incremental change that Joe is talking about? There are two kinds of people who have come to oppose capital punishment:

1. Those who have problems with the practice itself, especially with the vindictive, vengeful feelings we call on in order to support it.

2. More importantly, those who increasingly see the entire process of capital punishment, from the length of time it takes, to how it is carried out in many cases, as cruel and unusual punishment.

These have been a gradual development in our society…and, as the years pass, the majority of people will consider the whole practice to fall under the “cruel and unusual” banner.

And then the US will likely apply that phrase and cut the practice based on our collective conscience.

I don’t see anything unstable at all going on there…uncomfortable for those who like things never to change, ever, perhaps.

October 30, 2009 @ 10:54 pm #

By the way, are you sure that “due process” and “equal protection” have undergone a significantly less amount of change than “cruel and unusual”?

October 31, 2009 @ 8:13 am #

Joe wrote:

But courts tend not to get to far ahead or behind the public, otherwise they loose [sic] credibility – the only asset a Court has to enforce its opinion is public respect for its determinations.

Courts frequently nudge the concensus [sic] along, as happened on interracial marriage, race in general, and is how happening with Gay rights.

This is incorrect on several levels.

First, credibility is not, by far, the only asset a Court has to enforce its opinion. It has the force of law, and the full power of the government behind its dictates. The courts in the US have been losing credibility steadily for decades, but still have the full force of law, and the only avenue to overturning dictates from the highest courts is legislation or, failing that, revolution. Regarding gay marriage, the citizens in California discovered that legislation won’t do the trick; so did the citizens in Massachusetts; and so did the US Congress in the matter regarding military tribunals for captured Jihadis.

Second, the court system is not, and has never appropriately been, an organ of public consensus. Ever. Not even a little. This is DEAD WRONG. The organ of public consensus in the American system of government is the legislature. The court’s job, the court’s ONLY LEGAL AND MORALLY PROPER job, is the interpretation of law. If you did not learn that in law school, Joe, then you need to get a refund from the school, because this is the bedrock of American and English jurisprudence. This is an “Introduction to Western Law” precept that no attorney has the slightest excuse for getting wrong.

Third, the court has no business nudging the consensus along, and that is not what they’re doing with gay marriage, nor is it what they did with race or interracial marriage. What they did in those other two instances was enforce the acts of the legislature, or hold those acts of the legislature against the higher written standard of the Constitution. What they’re doing regarding gay marriage is REINVENTING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. This is not an act of judicial prerogative, it is a thoroughly destructive act, utterly corrosive of the very basis of equal protection under the law. If the language of the legislature is not sacrosanct, if the court does not consider itself bound by the terms that exist in writing, then no citizen’s rights are safe in any sense at all.

At any rate, that’s how our system works.

Uh… no. That’s how our system gets corrupted and ruined by tyrants.

October 31, 2009 @ 8:29 am #

Wow Phil, you’re seething!

Think you’ll be able to treat your position on this as an arguable opinion, rather than “plain fact” that you’d have to be a moron to disagree with?

Take your hypersensitivity toward the gay marriage issue into account before you give into your lowest instincts to attack what is most important to those you’re addressing:

“If you did not learn that in Law School…get a refund”, indeed! Skirting back to the edge of “your philosophy students were ripped off”.

There is certainly a kind of evil afloat.

October 31, 2009 @ 8:47 am #

As to Phil’s argument vs. Joe’s:

Joe: “But courts tend not to get to far ahead or behind the public, otherwise they loose [sic] credibility – the only asset a Court has to enforce its opinion is public respect for its determinations.”

Phil: “First, credibility is not, by far, the only asset a Court has to enforce its opinion. It has the force of law, and the full power of the government behind its dictates.”
___

I don’t see the problem with how Joe stated this. It is not hard to imagine the set of justices in the Supreme Court, looking at the Constitution, and the legislation it has to work with, and coming to a significantly different opinion than the “popular” opinion about what all the documents mean, and the best way to interpret them.

But if they were to immediately push to the furthest implementation of their understanding, public respect could turn so far as to incite a riot…even if they were more or less right about their interpretation.

So it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they would move slowly, based on that. That is not a judgment of whether this is “right” or “wrong”…it’s just how it is. Thinking back to Civil Rights times, the courts moved rather quickly (and justice probably dictated that they do so), and students of history remember the upheaval.

October 31, 2009 @ 9:22 am #

darkhorse,

Why don’t you try and prove, or at least bring evidence against, Phil’s ‘impassioned’ point as being more obviously wrong, before you try to paint his person as being obviously “seething” and evil? I grant you he did not give much for specifics on his point, but he at least did mention a seemingly obvious distinction between the Legislature and the Court. If you are right you should have no problem coming up with something. If Phil is right then a little passion might not only be excused, but be appropriate.

And the conversation would then stay on a constructive track.

October 31, 2009 @ 9:50 am #

Hey Dullhammer,

I think you and Phil could both see, upon a little reflection, the instinct to defend one’s best friend from a baseless attack on his character, intelligence, etc., for the sake of winning an argument. If that is less than honorable to you…well…I’ll let that speak for itself. Joe doesn’t need a putz like me to stand up for him, but friendship is friendship, and bullying is bullying.

And why would you ignore the post where I did just what you suggested?

October 31, 2009 @ 10:28 am #

I ignored it because it does not address the point in question. The ‘seething’ point. It was listed as number 2. You addressed 1 and 3.

Did I miss something, or did you, in this rush to play ‘putz’ as you put it?

October 31, 2009 @ 10:36 am #

I’m sorry, Dullhammer, but I don’t understand.

October 31, 2009 @ 11:01 am #

Yes…darkhorse, that _does_ seem to be the problem.

The purpose of the Constitution was to limit the power of government. The Founders had seen clearly that throughout history whatever the form of government had been, the people had been suppressed and had no recourse. The Constitution was deliberately designed to place limits on the government – not to indicate a path of proper behavior for its citizens.

What you and Joe are advocating – along with your leftist friends – is the “Second Bill of Rights” advocated by Roosevelt, which would specify _obligations_ of government to supply to the citizens. The problem with that is that the government has no source of support other than its citizens. It sows not, and neither does it reap. It has no means of supplying goods to one citizen except by taking from another. That _is_ theft – whether you want to call it that or not. You say that the majority wants it that way – well duh. We’ve reached the point where there are more takers than givers – of course they’re going to vote to take when they are the ones who will receive. At one time, you had to be a property owner to vote…if we presently had a system that required that you actually had to have paid taxes to vote, do you think the majority would still be in favor of redistribution?

We have more and more corruption in government – I’ve posted links that show that many of the super rich that you’d criticize are super rich because of government regulations that are not enforced. They are not enforced because the lawmakers are “bribed” with various concessions. _Prosecute_ that – don’t just tax it.

You talk about the original intent being one of allowing us to change the Constitution – maybe so, but one thing doesn’t change…”The government that’s big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything away”. People keep tigers as “pets” and sometimes, those “pets” kill the people who keep them. Government is a potential tiger. The Founders wanted to cage it – you want to set it free. It will mean the death of the nation.

October 31, 2009 @ 12:23 pm #

Darkhorse,

Phil’s comment was not ‘seething’ in the first place. Nor was it “a certain kind of evil afloat” (whatever that means) if the point he was making was true (i.e. that “The organ of public consensus in the American system of government is the legislature. The court’s job, the court’s ONLY LEGAL AND MORALLY PROPER job, is the interpretation of law.”). It would have been appropriate astonishment expressed in obvious hyperbole.

But you never addressed his point. You just charged him with ‘seething’, ‘evil’ and now ‘bullying’.

Then you claimed I ignored your response to his point.

I pointed you to the specific context of Phil’s quoted remark, conveniently listed by both him and myself as point 2 or “Second”. And said you did not address it.

You said you don’t understand.

Hence this pedantic post.

Please read my original post again in light of this one.

Maybe then the conversation will then stay on a constructive track.

October 31, 2009 @ 12:37 pm #

Oh I get it Dullhammer,

You believe that it’s just fine to jump in and question everything from a person’s educational background to their heritage to just about anything in order to win an argument.

I disagree. And I think you have a stronger character than that. If you expect me to do anything less than defend my best friend against tactics that disrespect God’s image in him (the basis of ALL sin against brothers), then you underestimate me and sell yourself far short. I will always do so, and you are trying to encourage me to be a lesser person.

Now, where I don’t understand is, in my mind, I was giving the only reasonable context that Joe’s comment could be understood – and, to boot, it was directly on track with Phil’s No. 2 – the interplay of public consensus with court opinion. And I gave a very Germaine historical example where it came to play.

Phil took Joe’s comment the worst possible way – that Joe must have meant the courts should ONLY pay attention to public consensus – and then dragged him through the mud with it. This was not the first time (note my reference to his questioning Joe’s ability to teach philosophy), and it’s just plain weak.

But go ahead, a hero is a hero, defend him to the end if that makes you feel better.

October 31, 2009 @ 1:14 pm #

Suek:

“What you and Joe are advocating – along with your leftist friends – is the “Second Bill of Rights” advocated by Roosevelt, which would specify _obligations_ of government to supply to the citizens.”

Leftist = left of you, right?

A great rant here…despite the very poor cheap shot at me…but not topical. The Court’s very clear job is to interpret the law. Arguments on that?

We were talking about how they do that. What does your rant further the discussion?

October 31, 2009 @ 2:29 pm #

Darkhorse,

“the interplay of public consensus with court opinion”?

No. Not “interplay”. Phil’s point was more fundamental.

You did not, nor have you yet, addressed the point of whether the Supreme Court IS the organ of public consensus in the first place or whether the Court’s job is the interpretation of law. And that IS point #2. And essential to everything else, especially your charge of Phil’s ‘seething’ ‘evil’ and ‘bullying’ (which is my main beef here).

Without addressing that essential point, I do not see how you have any business writing a post and complaining about Phil’s supposedly trying to win an argument with bluster– while you . . .

never mind. This is old. I’ve said enough. And I’m not interested in where this is going. Think I’ll just get off here, thanks.

October 31, 2009 @ 3:37 pm #

Me, then Dullhammer:

““the interplay of public consensus with court opinion”?

No. Not “interplay”. Phil’s point was more fundamental.
____

Yes, because of the way he chose to push what Joe said to a far end of a spectrum. My point was that was not a reasonable move, especially considering the things Joe had already said about SCOTUS’ job being tied to the interpretation of law.

But we can leave it there.

October 31, 2009 @ 3:46 pm #

>>Leftist = left of you, right?>>

No…left of me would probably be centrist. When I say “Leftist”, I mean those who would subvert the original intention of the Constitution.

That probably _does_ mean you.

October 31, 2009 @ 4:01 pm #

Suek,

Amazing. Able to take every bit of the constructive argument so far (and no, not all has been constructive), wipe your rear with it and flush it down the commode.

What exactly the original intent of the Constitution was, is the whole point of discussion. And a good discussion it was!

October 31, 2009 @ 4:19 pm #

You are _so_ delicate in your conversation, darkhorse.

Guess that means you never read the one up there where I said that the original intent of the Constitution was to restrict the power of government – the federal government in particular?

And not “was”… “has been”. Imperfect past tense – not past tense. We may not be done yet.

October 31, 2009 @ 4:50 pm #

Phil Said:

> First, credibility is not, by far, the only asset a Court has to enforce its opinion. It has the force of law, and the full power of the government behind its dictates. <

Judge made law has no force if the people don’t respect it, and if the other branches of government won’t enforce it. Courts can have all the “force of law” they want, but if the law has no force, the courts have no force. Courts do not have armies or law enforcement resources. They rely on their credibility.

Phil said:

“Second, the court system is not, and has never appropriately been, an organ of public consensus. Ever. Not even a little. This is DEAD WRONG. The organ of public consensus in the American system of government is the legislature. The court’s job, the court’s ONLY LEGAL AND MORALLY PROPER job, is the interpretation of law.”

I did not say (or mean) that the Court system was an organ of public consensus. I said that the courts should rely on current public consensus (not on the historical consensus at the time of the founders) to determine the legal implications (the denotations) of the moral language found in the Bill of Rights.

I agree that the function of the court system is the interpretation of the law. Our constitution is the foundational law. The Bill of Rights limits government action, and also forces government to do things that the people might not like (like allowing interracial couples to marry – at the time of Loving v Virginia, the majority of the public opposed legal interracial marriage). What we’re talking about is HOW JUDGES SHOULD INTERPRET CONSTITUTIONAL LANGUAGE.

Phil said,

“Third, the court has no business nudging the consensus along, and that is not what they’re doing with gay marriage, nor is it what they did with race or interracial marriage.”

Courts should interpret the law. But doing so sometimes requires the Courts to get ahead of the public consensus on the denotation of the language of the bill of rights. A few years ago, a majority of the Supreme Court concluded that executing juvenile offenders violates the constitutional ban on government imposing “cruel and unusual” punishment. They were definitely ahead of the public consensus on this issue, as they were on interracial marriage, gay marriage, the rights of criminal suspects, and so forth. The effect of the court decisions on these issues was to nudge the public consensus – so that is what they were doing.

Phil said:

“What they did in those other two instances was to enforce the acts of the legislature, or hold those acts of the legislature against the higher written standard of the Constitution.”

When the Supreme Court concluded that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional, there was no federal statutory requirement and there was no Supreme Court precedent on point – so you’re wrong about this. Same with its decisions banning anti sodomy laws, anti contraception laws, and so on.

Phil Said

“What they’re doing regarding gay marriage is REINVENTING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.”

Phil, the link below is to the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Iowa legalizing same sex marriage. It is a model of clarity. It is also an excellent model of the constitutional analysis courts apply in these types of cases. Perhaps you can read it and criticize it for your readers.

http://www.iowacourts.gov/Supreme_Court/Recent_Opinions/20090403/07-1499.pdf

By the way, since you continue to attack my credentials and the quality of my education, I think it is worth noting that you are an expert on far more subjects than I. You are an expert on climate science, economics, history, philosophy, law, and so forth. Enough of an expert to dismiss real experts (Nobel Prize winners) as “morons.” Where do you find the time?

Please don’t ban me Phil. You’ve repeated called me a liar and demonic, questioned my loyalty to the country as well as my sanity. This is a fairly gentle criticism. Lets call it even – forgive and forget.
Deal?

Joe

October 31, 2009 @ 7:01 pm #

Suek said:

What you and Joe are advocating – along with your leftist friends – is the “Second Bill of Rights” advocated by Roosevelt, which would specify _obligations_ of government to supply to the citizens. The problem with that is that the government has no source of support other than its citizens. It sows not, and neither does it reap. It has no means of supplying goods to one citizen except by taking from another. That _is_ theft – whether you want to call it that or not. ”

Suek, Jim and I are not advocating for redistributive taxation – although I think there should be more of it. The issue of redistributive taxation has already been decided as we prefer (16th Amendment, federal spending programs) so we don’t have to advocate for it.

Granted, the fact that the issue was decided as we prefer does not prove that it was decided correctly. It might be “theft,” as you say. But it might not, as I say. Calling it theft doesn’t prove your point any more than denying it is theft proves mine.

Awhile back, I presented the liberal justification for redistributive taxation (Justice as Reciprocity, the Original Position, the veil of Ignorance). Did you look at any of that stuff – in wikipedia? What did you think?

Joe H.

October 31, 2009 @ 7:07 pm #

About that tax money…

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/10/economic-stimulus-q.html

October 31, 2009 @ 7:09 pm #

“Guess that means you never read the one up there where I said that the original intent of the Constitution was to restrict the power of government – the federal government in particular?”

But this is a general statement of the Founder’s political philosophy, and is simply not true as a blanket statement. Limits were certainly one of the purposes. But a general statement like this isn’t helpful any more when we’re down in the trenches discussing specifics – such as “How should the Courts interpret the law?”

That’s why it’s a huge step back. Whether or not you agree with Joe about Gay Marriage in particular (and make no mistake, it is a clear matter of justice to him…there isn’t a bit of dishonesty or guile when he is discussing it), Joe’s discussion about the interplay between public consensus and court decisions is extremely insightful.

And it seems likely that this is what the Founders had in mind.

October 31, 2009 @ 7:11 pm #

I think that if a man earns his wealth by the sweat of his brow, it should be his. If he chooses to give it to another who is in need, it’s charity. If it is taken him in a manner that leaves him no choice, it is theft.

No…I didn’t read the “justification” – there _is_ no justification for theft. When you take from another by dint of superior power, it is theft, no matter what you choose to call it. If a man’s choice is to have his goods or land taken or go to jail, it is force.

October 31, 2009 @ 9:04 pm #

Suek: “If it is taken him in a manner that leaves him no choice, it is theft.”

Well, there it is then.

Let all building of roads cease. Unless private citizens pay for them.

Let all guidance and oversight of commerce cease. Unless private citizens pay for them.

Let all military activity cease, except for what can be paid for by private donation.

Let all law enforcement cease, unless the cops hold a bake sale

October 31, 2009 @ 10:19 pm #

Suek Said:

“I think that if a man earns his wealth by the sweat of his brow, it should be his. If he chooses to give it to another who is in need, it’s charity. If it is taken him in a manner that leaves him no choice, it is theft.”

I agree, except for one important caveat. The man has to obtain what he obtains within a just system of social cooperation. If the system is not just, then the holdings are not just and the man is not entitled to them.

So, before we can make the argument you make, we have to discuss the justice of cooperative systems. There are various theories of justice. I think justice as reciprocity is the most defensible.

Suek Said:

No…I didn’t read the “justification” – there _is_ no justification for theft.

Yes, you can refuse to discuss justice and declare victory – like you did in the statement above. But that would be like refusing to move a chest piece in a game of chess and then declaring victory. Not very convincing.

Joe H.

October 31, 2009 @ 10:24 pm #

Joe / Suek -

By Suek’s definition, if someone did not want to pay for the military, then it would be theft to take their money from them.

The same for the other cooperative societal purchases I listed.

But we still tax those who disagree with those things and pay for them. Theft, Suek?

November 1, 2009 @ 9:17 am #

Neither of you sees _any_ difference between a tax which is used for the purpose of building a road, e.g., and taxing money from one person and giving it to another because the “other” for some reason has less than some arbitrary standard?

>>If the system is not just, then the holdings are not just and the man is not entitled to them.>>

The system that I believe is just, is one that envisions a willing seller and a willing buyer.

November 1, 2009 @ 11:28 am #

Suek:

:Neither of you sees _any_ difference between a tax which is used for the purpose of building a road, e.g., and taxing money from one person and giving it to another because the “other” for some reason has less than some arbitrary standard?:

Please, let’s just deal with your original statement:

“I think that if a man earns his wealth by the sweat of his brow, it should be his… If it is taken him in a manner that leaves him no choice, it is theft.”

So, if someone does not agree with the current wars the military is engaged in, then taxing that person to pay for those wars “leaves him no choice, it is theft.”

Isn’t that right?

November 1, 2009 @ 12:14 pm #

My goodness, I haven’t visited PBB in a while and return to find that Phil has been under attack by a darkhorse and the joeker.
I’m amazed at the energy these progressive bloggers expend trying to defend their defeated, outmoded bigbox ideas of proggism as the rest of the world moves right and the great revival for the Left in the US has started to resemble the Titanic just before it sunk. Cheer up Phil, stay true & strong, as Senator Demint proclaimed the Left is looking more & more at an impending Waterloo sized defeat.

November 1, 2009 @ 12:24 pm #

Constructive, WestWright,

It’s nice to be able to hop in, drop a bomb, and have no obligation at all to defend a thing you say. Chant with me: WEAK!

Personally, I agree with you that I hope Phil remains true to his beliefs…and continues to combine that commitment with a desire to seek truth WITH those who may disagree with him…even slightly.

November 1, 2009 @ 12:26 pm #

Also WestWright:

“…as Senator Demint proclaimed the Left is looking more & more at an impending Waterloo sized defeat.”

You are probably right that a cyclical turn against one-party rule will come as it always has…but Krauthammer predicts a second term for Obama…let’s see, which do I believe…WestWright or Krauthammer…

November 1, 2009 @ 1:09 pm #

>>So, if someone does not agree with the current wars the military is engaged in, then taxing that person to pay for those wars “leaves him no choice, it is theft.”>>

No…

First there is the right to tax. We agree that the government has a right to tax to some degree. Then the question arises “to what degree”? The Constitution lays it out – the sole purpose of the federal government is to defend the country and regulate interstate commerce.

That’s it. That is the extent of the use of taxes in the original document. Taxes were originally limited to import/customs taxes and levies on the individual states. That proved inadequate and unreliable (which should have been a clue right then), so the 16th amendment permitted the Feds to tax the citizen directly. It was not the intent of the 16th amendment to pay for the myriad of social programs that have since exploded until they have the potential to consume everything we – and our grandchildren – produce and own.

Part of the problem – imo – is having a full time Congress. They could probably do what actually needs to be done in about 3 months of the year – especially if they actually worked the days and hours the rest of us work. The rest of the year they just get into trouble thinking up more stuff to regulate and more ways to get a bigger slice of the pie.

Believe me – _they_ are capitalists even if the programs they push are completely and totally socialist. They make sure that they get theirs!

November 1, 2009 @ 2:09 pm #

You’ve repeated called me a liar and demonic,

You make it sound like this is a daily occurrence. I call you a liar when you lie (and yes, you do,) and I’ve mentioned the fact that you have a couple of times. I believe I said something about demonic influences once. Man up, stop playing the martyr, and admit when you’ve been caught.

By the way, since you continue to attack my credentials and the quality of my education, I think it is worth noting that you are an expert on far more subjects than I. You are an expert on climate science, economics, history, philosophy, law, and so forth. Enough of an expert to dismiss real experts (Nobel Prize winners) as “morons.” Where do you find the time?

So, Joe, did I misrepresent the basic facts of American jurisprudence? If not, what’s your objection? That I claim to know things that I actually know on a number of subjects? Explain to me why that’s a problem for you. If you think I’m overselling my learning, PROVE. ME. WRONG.

I have no difficulty admitting when I’ve got the facts wrong. You don’t hear me do it often because you don’t demonstrate often that I’ve erred.

By the way, I’m curious: do you acknowledge that you’ve just accused me of hubris (and that this is not the first time)? or are you still maintaining that you never engage in personal attacks, and that reforming my defective character is not part of your agenda here?

“What they did in those other two instances was to enforce the acts of the legislature, or hold those acts of the legislature against the higher written standard of the Constitution.”

When the Supreme Court concluded that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional, there was no federal statutory requirement and there was no Supreme Court precedent on point – so you’re wrong about this.

Allow me to quote the relevant argument from Loving v Virginia (388 U.S. 1. June 12, 1967):

Justice Warren argued that there existed standing precedent requiring a “very heavy burden of justification which the Fourteenth Amendment has traditionally required of state statutes drawn according to race.”

His argument then proceeds, in brief:

The Equal Protection Clause requires the consideration of whether the classifications drawn by any statute constitute an arbitrary and invidious discrimination. The clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination in the States…

There can be no question but that Virginia’s miscegenation statutes rest solely upon distinctions drawn according to race…

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification.

Whether you agree with his reasoning or not, he bases his reasoning directly and unequivocally on the clear intent of the 14th amendment, and states that the intent of Virginia’s miscegenation law was to violate that clear intent. Sounds to me like at least an attempt at holding the law against the higher standard of the Constitution, which is precisely what I said. What am I missing?

Same with its decisions banning anti sodomy laws, anti contraception laws, and so on.

You will get no argument from me over whether the Court was imposing popular opinion when it decided Lawrence v Texas, Griswold v Connecticut, and other decisions along this path. They certainly were — and they were overstepping their power as judges when they did so, and acting as tyrants.

Please don’t ban me Phil.

The threat was specific to the incidence of you slipping into abusing my guests, over matters where they were actually on better ground than you. Also, I think I overreacted. So you’re not really in any danger. But don’t go calling SueK stupid, ok? She isn’t.

You should acknowledge that you and darkhorse — particularly you — have become the center of attention in the comments on this blog. I don’t mind, although I have not had time or energy to participate for a while. The times are such that the discussion will be heated and will cover topics of vital importance to the participants. I expect some agitation. If it feels to you as though I’m uneven in my complaints, you’ll have to simply live with the fact that the owner of the blog has taken sides, and feels just as strongly as some of the participants on some matters. I do try to be fair, but my blog is not a democracy.

I’ll read the Iowa case and comment in a while. I have some other matters to attend to now.

November 1, 2009 @ 8:23 pm #

Suek:

“First there is the right to tax. We agree that the government has a right to tax to some degree. Then the question arises “to what degree”? ”

Then we can abandon your blanket statement about stealing then, agreed? The one that said it was stealing if it was against my will?

And now, I can ask you, since we agree to live by the current interpretation of the Constitution, if then MOST of us can agree to limit the minimum level that, say, seniors can fall below in their income, and pool some tax moneys to guarantee that minimum level.

Hint: the overwhelming majority support the practice of Social Security.

Now, if the 16th Amendment, as currently interpreted, allows this practice, is collecting taxes from those who disagree stealing?

I posit that it is the exact same situation.

And thank GOD we did not move over to a private investment of these funds before the great fall, as the GOP suggested.

November 1, 2009 @ 10:26 pm #

>>since we agree to live by the current interpretation of the Constitution>>

You presume too much.

November 1, 2009 @ 10:43 pm #

>>if the 16th Amendment, as currently interpreted, allows this practice,>>

The 16th amendment has nothing to do with the application of the funds collected. It permits the Federal government to collect taxes directly from the citizens instead of using the states as was done prior to the 16th.

>> is collecting taxes from those who disagree stealing?>>

You keep saying “from those who disagree” as if personal disagreement had any meaning…the taxes are collected by dint of superior power. There is force involved. If the majority of the populace do not agree with the application of the taxes, then yes – it is theft. The problem we now have is that the populace has not been asked – we have reached a point where elections are nearly pointless due to gerrymandering, and those in Congress vote more and more benefits to those who are not contributing to the GDP. The result is approaching inevitable bankruptcy – through no fault of those who are productive members of society. Not only will those you wish to help suffer, but so will all of us.
On the other hand, maybe we need to suffer a real depression every 3rd generation or so in order to maintain fiscal sanity and balance.

We all feel sorry for those who are incapable of work. we owe them some sort of support out of charity and duty. But there are shiftless lazy people out there who have learned to game the system, and to those we owe nothing. In our softhearted “Aww geee” attitude, we seem unable to let those who fail – fail.

For example – I would be happy to vote in favor of legalizing drug use – of any sort – as long as society’s assets were not used to “save” or maintain those who use those drugs or abuse those drugs. Is society ready for that? I don’t think so. So our answer is to outlaw drugs. Has it been successful? I think it would have better to allow them to suffer the result of their irresponsible actions. What you reward, you get more of.
I would have no objection to any one who came over the border to work – as long as they didn’t expect medical benefits and other social services – but the honey lures the flies. That’s one of the big differences between the immigrants of 100 years ago and today.

In other words, the worker is worthy of his keep. If he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get his keep. (Please understand than in any case where I refer to this, I assume that exception made for those who are unable to work. From henceforth.)

November 2, 2009 @ 12:16 am #

Me, then Suek:

“>> is collecting taxes from those who disagree stealing?>>

You keep saying “from those who disagree” as if personal disagreement had any meaning…”
___

I’m sorry, I’m going to ignore much of the rest of your reply because it doesn’t follow from this question. Don’t be offended…we can take other stuff up later.

I’m asking you the question straight out…if the majority of people believe in collecting tax for a certain purpose, and the courts have agreed that the tax is Constitutional, is it “theft” to take that money from you, if you disagree and believe the tax is UNconstitutional?

November 2, 2009 @ 3:05 am #

Phil said:

“You make it sound like this is a daily occurrence. I call you a liar when you lie (and yes, you do,) and I’ve mentioned the fact that you have a couple of times.”

Name one lie I have ever uttered. And remember Phil, it is not enough to merely point to some statement I made, that you think is false. You also need to provide evidence that I knew it was false when I made the statement.

If you don’t have this evidence, apologize.

Phil said:

“By the way, I’m curious: do you acknowledge that you’ve just accused me of hubris (and that this is not the first time)? or are you still maintaining that you never engage in personal attacks, and that reforming my defective character is not part of your agenda here?”

Yes, I am accusing you of hubris. As far as I know, you have no training in climate science, economics, or on other disciplines on which you summarily reject the opinions of Nobel prize winners. I think that takes a good bit of hubris.

I cannot prove you wrong on these matters because I am unqualified to offer opinions on climate change and economics (although I do understand that a recession is caused by a gap between consumer demand and an economy’s ability to produce, and that government spending is the standard remedy in such circumstances). I am not a trained scientist, or a trained economist, so I need to rely on the consensus of the experts. My point is that neither are you. But I don’t call Nobel prize winning economists “morons.” You do.

Accusing someone who disagrees with you of being demonic, or a liar, or a traitor, is a personal attack. Confronting someone about their hubris is not. Hubris is a rather ordinary human flaw. You should be grateful for the input.

Regarding your analysis of Loving v. State of Virginia, there had been a good deal of constitutional jurisprudence regarding race, including Brown v. Board of Education, by the time Loving was decided. And yes, the 14th Amendment was passed to protect newly freed former black slaves (in particular, to keep the Supreme Court from declaring the Civil Rights act of 1866 unconstitutional).

But these later cases (decided in the 1950′s and 1970′s respectively) perfectly illustrate the progressive approach to constitutional interpretation. Does anyone seriously think that the Congress and the States that enacted the 14th Amendment – in the 1860′s -believed that the 14th Amendment required integrated public schools and/or the abolishment of State laws prohibiting mixed race marriages?

Obviously not. We’re talking about a span of 90 to 110 years before we reached this point in our racial attitudes (and the Supreme Court was still ahead of public opinion in both cases). So how can Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. State of Virginia – which interpreted the 14th Amendment as requiring integrated public schools and prohibiting state legal prohibitions of mixed race marriages, be correct on the conservative view of constitutional jurisprudence?

If the conservative (historical) approach to constitutional interpretation is correct, these decisions were decided wrongly. Are you prepared to say that?

Joe H.

November 2, 2009 @ 7:43 am #

Name one lie I have ever uttered.

You repeatedly represented here in the comments on this blog — wouldn’t shut up about it, in fact — that the classification of the Bush administration’s interrogation regime as a violation of both national and international law was a matter of settled law. Your basis for claiming this was the prosecution of a regime of torture that has as much to do with the Bush administration’s practices as arson has to do with burning rubbish, or as rape has to do with an unwelcome glance. This is as clear a misrepresentation of the facts as I can imagine.

Yes, I am accusing you of hubris. As far as I know, you have no training in climate science, economics, or on other disciplines on which you summarily reject the opinions of Nobel prize winners. I think that takes a good bit of hubris… I am not a trained scientist, or a trained economist, so I need to rely on the consensus of the experts. My point is that neither are you. But I don’t call Nobel prize winning economists “morons.” You do.

You’re correct about my formal training. However, knowledge is not conferred by pieces of official-looking paper, it is something one acquires by personal action. I did not stop learning when I left the University in 1979, I continued to learn, and to learn from the same books and papers from which I would have been learning if I had been studying at the University. A college education, at its core, is little more than directed reading. So, I consider myself qualified to comment on matters that I understand, given my current level of knowledge. Furthermore, I am willing to accept correction from qualified experts insofar as they are willing to offer me correction; I’ve been approached by individuals more expert than I on one or two matters I’ve posted here on the blog, and I’ve made appropriate corrections with appropriate thanks.

And frankly, Joe, I don’t think you’re much different. I’m certain you continue to read and learn, and to represent your learning candidly when asked about it. And your claim to “rely on the consensus of experts” is… well, I think it’s bunk. There is no consensus among experts on any number of topics, and you choose between which experts you’re going to call “the consensus” on the basis of your politics and learning.

Climate science is a perfect example: it was never true that there was an expert consensus on the matter, although it was closer to being true back in the 1990s. It most certainly is not true today; none of the major finds of the 21st century support the thesis that man is catastrophically warming the planet. It does not take specific training in climate science to know when “experts” are making claims about their level of certainty that their research is insufficient to support; climate science as a discipline is only decades old, and the debate that Al Gore (also not a climate scientist) claimed was “over” had not really even begun. And yet, there you are, claiming to “accept the consensus of the experts.” Bunk. You accept the conclusions that fit your predispositions. Or rather, to be fair, you accept the conclusions of those experts who happen to share your philosophical presuppositions, and who therefore draw conclusions that comport well with your personal philosophy. So do we all.

I intended to add that you should stop using lack of expertise as an excuse for letting others do your thinking for you, but then I thought better of it. That’s not what you do. What you do is use a lack of expertise as an excuse to flee debates you know you’re losing. You don’t seem to have a problem engaging in the debate so long as you’re not being shown up.

Accusing someone who disagrees with you of being demonic, or a liar, or a traitor, is a personal attack. Confronting someone about their hubris is not. Hubris is a rather ordinary human flaw. You should be grateful for the input.

Puleeez.

You’re making a distinction where no distinction exists. Either you’re going to focus on what the facts say about the issues, or you’re going to focus on the character of the person making the arguments. If you focus on character, it’s personal, by definition.

Worse than that, the distinction you’re trying to make boils down to that it’s not personal when you’re right, but it is personal when I’m wrong. Sorry, that’s not going to wash. By the same token you raised, if you’re truly being misled by demons, you should thank me for saying so, and if you’re truly deceiving yourself, you should thank me for pointing it out, etc.

Furthermore, there does exist a valid distinction in the opposite direction. If the facts of the public debate actually support the thesis that the central, motivating spirit of an entire political movement is a culture-wide desire for unrestrained sex, for example, or a genuine, popularly common hatred of the concepts we have come to identify with our nation, then it is factually correct and politically relevant to say so. To object to the point, not because the facts are wrong, but because the claim pointed to by the facts says something about the character of individuals, usually constitutes an attempt to change the subject. It’s a favorite liberal tactic, actually.

Apart from that, though, Joe, what I’ve pointed out about you is in the same spirit as what you’ve pointed out about me. We’re both bright guys with good educations, we’re both aghast at what each other defend, and we’re both scrabbling to explain how the other guy can be so stupid when it’s obvious that we’re anything but stupid. I could say “You should thank me,” and in fact I mean that, but I’m not so dense as to imagine that you like having your flaws pointed out or even that you’ll admit to those flaws.

If the conservative (historical) approach to constitutional interpretation is correct, these decisions were decided wrongly. Are you prepared to say that?

If by this, you’re asking “Are you willing to claim that a decision that’s universally regarded as racial justice was in fact legally wrong,” then yes, I’m prepared to say that. What’s right is right, regardless of popular opinion.

If you’re asking, “Do you actually think these decisions are wrong,” then I have to say that I’m not sure. It’s been too long since I read Brown, and when I did I was so young and under-educated that I doubt that I understood it. Griswold, with its theory of penumbral rights, I do think was wrong. At this moment, I think the reasoning in Loving was sound, but my depth of knowledge about the relevant precedent is not sufficient for me to claim confidence about it. I noticed that Warren claimed a “tradition” of legal reasoning about the 14th amendment without actually citing any of the reasoning, and that looks suspicious to me. I need to read further.

You’re not completely wrong about popular opinion affecting judicial reasoning. It does, and everybody knows it. What I object to is theories of judicial reasoning that claim that the application of popular opinion is the law, and ought to be, rather than merely acknowledging that it happens. A theory of judicial reasoning that recognizes how contemporary points of view affect reason may be historically useful, but one that claims that current instances of the same constitute proper judicial reasoning has the effect of making the law meaningless, which in turn removes the protection of law from our liberties. The very purpose of the law is to protect us from both popular and governmental whim; if the terms of the law can be made to mean what current popular interpreters want them to mean, how can law protect us?

As to the specific reasoning in Loving, it appears to me that what changed in the 90-100 years was the Court’s interpretation of the facts. The law did not change, and the Court made no attempt to change it. Warren simply observed that the purpose of the law appeared to have been X, and while precedent claimed that laws separating the races but treating them the same in their separation could achieve X, history had demonstrated that it could not. This is not the same as what was done in your Iowa case, in which the court simply assumes that the meaning of the word “marriage” encompasses something that even the modern legislature had made clear that it does not encompass. The California court made the same assumption, and the same error; the Massachusetts Court, same. This is not anything like Loving, in which the Court took the law as always understood and applied a current understanding of fact to it; this is clear and unequivocal alteration of the law by redefining the terms. On further reflection I may decide that Warren was actually doing something similarly wrong, but at least on the surface he acknowledged that he was bound by the intended meaning of the 14th amendment. The Iowa, Mass, and California cases do not show similar respect for the law.

November 2, 2009 @ 1:36 pm #

Phil said:

“You repeatedly represented here in the comments on this blog — wouldn’t shut up about it, in fact — that the classification of the Bush administration’s interrogation regime as a violation of both national and international law was a matter of settled law. ”

I said that waterboarding is an act of torture that our government has criminally prosecuted several times. It is a matter of settled law. The fact that current American officials refuse to prosecute these acts is itself unlawful. I won’t go over the legal argument that the measures that the Bush Administration have admitted authorizing fall squarely within the definition of torture provided by the Convention on Torture and our Federal Statute. I have covered all this before.

If this is the basis for your calling me a liar, you owe me an apology. I stand by each and ever one of these assertions.

As far as my accusing you of hubris, I agree that, as a general rule, these kinds of accusations should not be part of a discussion. I thought it appropriate to point this out after you repeatedly insulted me regarding the quality of my education. And I stand by my assertion. I don’t think you are qualified to comment on many of the matters that you comment on. They are far more complicated than you imagine. You certainly are in no position to dismiss Nobel Prize winners as “morons.”

Consider the fact that you just said that the Massachusetts, Iowa, and California SUPREME COURTS all made the same error. Do you know what it takes to be appointed to a State Supreme Court? Come on Phil. It would be one thing for you to say you disagree with their approach to constitutional interpretation. But you’re neither a lawyer nor a constitutional scholar, nor a political scientist. Where do you get the confidence to flatly state that they erred?

But that is a matter for you to consider privately. For the record, I don’t question your character, your patriotism or your spirtuality – except to note that you sometimes exhibit a hostility that is certainly not compatible with Christian charity. But I’m not without flaws – as Darkhorse will attest, I am a bad winner and a bad loser. But I am not a liar, a traitor, or a demon – so let’s let all of that go.

As for your distinction between Brown, Loving, and the marriage decisions – that the race decisions were based on a factual discovery, whereas the other decisions invented new law – I’ll give that some thought. I don’t think its correct, but I do think it is a distinction deserving careful consideration. I will say that the marriage decisions might also be construed as based on factual discoveries about gays – that gayness is a condition rather than a circumstance and that it, in itself, is not harmful to society. I’ll also add that the Equal Protection clauses of the state amd federal constitutions were not enacted merely to protect racial minorities, but to protect anyone we might subsequently discover was a victim of unjustifiable governmental harm. On this argument, the law did not change with the marriage decisions – newly discovered facts determined the decision.

Joe

November 2, 2009 @ 1:39 pm #

I said:

“gayness is a condition rather than a circumstance.”

I meant to say:

gayness is a condition rather than a behavior.

Joe H.

November 2, 2009 @ 3:56 pm #

Phil,

I also wanted to respond briefly to this comment:

“I intended to add that you should stop using lack of expertise as an excuse for letting others do your thinking for you, but then I thought better of it. That’s not what you do. What you do is use a lack of expertise as an excuse to flee debates you know you’re losing. You don’t seem to have a problem engaging in the debate so long as you’re not being shown up.”

I don’t know the first thing about climate science. I do know that that it is the consensus view of the vast majority of climate experts that human activity is warming the planet. That’s good enough for me.

How you continue to convince yourself that there is no general concensus that human activity is causing global warming is beyond me.

I’m not losing these debates. I’m declining to participate in them because I am not qualified to say anything intelligent on these subjects. I’m demonstrating the virtue of “Sophrosyne.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophrosyne

Sophrosyne is the exact opposite of calling Nobel Prize winning experts “morons.”

Give it some thought.

Joe

November 2, 2009 @ 4:04 pm #

How you continue to convince yourself that there is no general concensus that human activity is causing global warming is beyond me.

If you admit that you know nothing about climate science, then you admit that you’re not competent to judge this. That would explain why it’s beyond you.

The fact that you believe there IS a consensus, indicates that you’re only reading reporters biased in a particular direction. Would you be willing to accept, from somebody claiming a greater level of expertise (namely, me) a source to read that might expand your knowledge a little?

November 3, 2009 @ 11:19 am #

You might start here – if you’re willing to consider the possiblity that there are other opinions:

http://www.globalclimatescam.com/

Also suggest you research “Maunder minimum”…

November 3, 2009 @ 1:56 pm #

Tables of taxes required to pay off the new debt accumulated by Congress:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/11/a-952.html

November 3, 2009 @ 4:37 pm #

About that “social justice”

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/new-video-of-jeremiah-wright-surfaces

November 3, 2009 @ 5:32 pm #

More on disagrement of scientists on the topic of global warming…

http://www.climatedepot.com/a/3606/Team-of-Scientists-Open-Letter-To-US-Senators-Claim-of-consensus-is-fake

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