Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Big Government vs. Small Government

Yes, it's been a few days. Busy would be an understatement for my current schedule. No complaints here though, just a desire to teach. Let's see, what shall we learn today... I think we're ready for this. Big Government vs. Small Government is our topic today.

We discussed a lot about Smith and Marx and the Constitution and ways to interpret it. Today we ask the simple question: Which is better: Bigger Government, or Smaller Government?

First, we're going to go over the basics. We know that economics is directly related to government. For this reason, the difference between Adam Smith and Karl Marx is significant. Marx's security ideal, we have seen, has failed time and again. Smith's liberty ideal, we have seen, has created prosperous nations every time. More important, we understand that the liberty that Smith's ideal gives us keeps the government small and avoids using force excessively.

We've learned that using force (government) to enforce laws that don't protect life, liberty, or property not only infringes on liberty, but is innefective. We understand that excessive legislation stems from larger government and small governments are limited a great deal by their size.

Let's learn something we don't know yet. What did the founding fathers intend for our country? Did they want our government to be big or small? Let's find some quotes by them.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

Whoa! Hello Ben Franklin. Could you lay your feelings out any clearer? I think it's clear that Benjamin Franklin chooses Smith over Marx, or Liberty over Security. Let's hear from another one.

The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills. – Thomas Jefferson

Hmm... This is actually rather unnecessary. The quote atop the page and other quotes from Jefferson that I have used in the past show that he is a Liberty proponent. This one, however, I like most because he notes an interesting point. Even God himself will not save men against their wills. It is major evidence of the importance of Liberty over Security. It emphasizes the true meaning of Smith's arguments.

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. James Madison

James Madison seems to be against big government as well. I will be using more quotes from him in the future. In any case, I can go through a number of others, but let's just assume that a good number of the founders agreed on the importance of Liberty over security. If you don't believe me, then look at the Declaration of Independence and Constitution again. I have quoted them on several occasions. Let's ask the obvious question: Did any of the founders disagree? There are quotes out there that say that Alexander Hamilton and even James Madison disagreed with this small government concept. Let's look at one such quote:

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788

Ok, sure, but what did he mean by that?

But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States.
--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 32, January 3, 1788

Hmm... So, he did expand it to point out the importance of the limitations on the Federal Government. In fact, he was a major proponent of Liberty:

A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.
--Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775

And Moreso:

Good constitutions are formed upon a comparison of the liberty of the individual with the strength of government: If the tone of either be too high, the other will be weakened too much. It is the happiest possible mode of conciliating these objects, to institute one branch peculiarly endowed with sensibility, another with knowledge and firmness. Through the opposition and mutual control of these bodies, the government will reach, in its regular operations, the perfect balance between liberty and power.
--Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 25, 1788

So, yes, Hamilton wasn't as deeply rooted into the principles of liberty as the other founders, but he advocated it to, to a great deal even:

And it proves, in the last place, that liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other departments.
--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788

Now that we understand which economic philosophy is best for our nation, which size government our founders advocated, and which laws are effective and 'good', we find that ultimately, smaller government is the true foundation of a good nation. How small? That's another question entirely. Take care; I'll return when I can.


No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session. – Mark Twain (1866)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Economics In Government

Why do I keep talking about economics.  Where am I going?  Wasn't I talking about the Government?  What does economics have to do with government?  Everything.  That's right, everything.To understand why, we'll go over some of the things we've already discussed.
Economics is the study of how people make decisions in a world of scarce resources.
Ok, so economics is the study of how people make decisions on Earth, right, because Earth is a 'world of scarce resources'?  What do we know about government?
The government has one simple function: Force.
Interesting, how does force have to do with how people make decisions?  Well, force decides what decisions would recieve retaliation, right?  Obviously, but why does it matter that we consider force?  Doesn't the government make all the decisions for us?  If something's illegal, do we do it?  I addressed this in my last post:
Just because something is illegal, does not mean it stops occuring.
Oh, ok.  So the government uses force to help us make decisions a certain way, but it is not 100% effective in this means.  This means that the government is a guide for economics, right?  Let's put it all together:
The government uses force to compel people to make decisions a certain way.
But it is not 100% effective, so why use it?  Why are governments instituted?  Let's see if the Declaration of Independence can tell us:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Interesting.  So governments are instituted to compel men to respect each others' life, liberty, and property.  Therefore, the government is instituted so that people's decisions do not interfere with other people's decisions.  This is how we understand that economics is deeply integrated into the concept of governing.  See you tommorrow.
It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve. – Henry George

To Be or Not to Be....Illegal

A day late and a buck short, so-to-speak. Been busy. Why are we discussing illegality today? If you don't understand what illegality results in, you cannot truly understand the consequences of your government's actions. Let's try to understand the concept of legislation and I'm going to then post about economics in government later today.

So, what do we know about laws? We know that the laws are what the government uses to control our actions. In our case, the Constitution controls what actions the government can and cannot control. We know that the government can (and has) make lots of different laws about all sorts of things, most of which are related to Interstate commerce. How does the government enforce laws? Through force. In fact, the word 'enforce' has the word force in it. Fascinating how, over time, the definition has been politically corrected to:

en·force - To compel observance of or obedience to

Sure, this is accurate. It just doesn't explain that such compulsion involves force. If you don't obey the laws, the government puts you in jail. Compelling as it may be, the government enforces them by threatening one of your three Natural Rights. If you steal, they take away your property and/or liberty. If you rape, they take away your liberty. If you kill, they take away your liberty and/or life.

Today, we ask the question, what makes a good law? The ones above are surely good. They protect our three Natural Rights, but are there any bad laws? Well, clearly, good laws are where the government uses force to protect someone's life, liberty, or property. Because, in its own nature, it is forced to take one of the three from you. Ok, we're gonna stay away from touchy subjects like drug legislation and abortion for now, and simply address the government in this simple context.

Let's consider, when we make something illegal, is it not done? Are there still murderers? Murder is illegal. Are there still rapists? Rape is illegal. Are there still thieves? Theft is illegal. We have to come to the terms with an understanding that, by making something illegal, does not stop its occurence. Let me repeat that:

Just because something is illegal, does not mean it stops occuring.

What should and shouldn't be illegal then? Obviously, if your actions harm someone, take away their freedom, or steal from them, such actions should be illegal because the government can forcefully return such to you. However, what if your actions do none of the above? That needn't be legislated. In fact, by legislating it, the government is taking away your freedom to do it. Not only is it a bad law because it takes away our Natural Right to freedom, but it is ignorant on the government's part, because not all legislation is followed. Therefore, something should only be illegal if it takes away someone's life, liberty, or property.


Useless laws weaken the necessary laws. – Montesquieu

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Adam Smith vs. Karl Marx

- My computer acted up, so I'm expanding this post slightly and posting it a day late...
We've discussed their opinions. Let's discuss the relevancy and effectiveness of both with regards to human beings. First, we know they were both economists, so what is economics? Are we listening to a bunch of accountants? This is my favorite (based on simplicity) definition of economics:

Economics is the scientific study of how people make decisions in a world where wants and needs are unlimted, but resources to meet our wants and needs are scarce.

Let's simplify that a little further:

Economics is the study of how people make decisions in a world of scarce resources.

Interesting. Economics is the study of people. We're not looking at accountants. We're looking at the people who study people. These gentlemen studied people. Let's see how the people who followed these very different economic ideals faired 'in a world of scarce resources'.

Karl Marx advocated a society with governmetn intervention to equalize everyone. It has been attempted on several occasions, though never successfully implemented in full. He did not expand on his ideas, in his essay, so much as simply cite that the "Communist Party" was right in the matter. Therefore, Communism is commonly attributed to him today. Communism, as we said, though never full implemented, has been attempted in Cuba, Russia, China, and a number of other countries.

Using Russia (called the United Soviet Socialist Republic at the time) as one of our examples of the closest yet achieved, we can look at the lives of the people. The average person in the USSR spent 70% of their lives in line. That's right, 70%. In addition, many citizens were killed or tortured for disagreeing with the Communist philosophy of the country. This, you will find, is generally true across the board with communism. In fact, Communism is so well-known for this attitude that the "Socialist-Libertarian" party of England argues that communism needs to be effectively implemented without Marx's advocated revolution, and can only be effective when humanity's viewpoint changes. What about the other viewpoint?

Adam Smith advocated an 'every man for himself' type of system. The first government to be set up based on his economic policies in pure ideal, is America. Really? Yes. It's still imperfect. Frederik Bastiat addressed its imperfections in his famous "The Law". However, the US has brought about many inventions (inventors even flocked here from Europe and Canada) and was able to become a Major World Power under the direction of this approach in less than 100 years.

Their policies can be compared by Stalin's "Iron Fist" approach and Smith's "Invisible Hand". The 'iron fist' is that of the government wiping out those who disagree by whatever means necessary. Adam Smith argued that market forces act like an 'invisible hand' creating the best possible outcome. Some have found middle ground between these two philosophies and the majority of today's governments fall in that middle ground. If you look at it on a graph from Liberty (Smith) to Security (Marx) it looks kind of like this.

Anarchy-Capitalism-Types of Socialism-Communism-Totalitarianism
Complete Freedom----------------------------------Complete Security

Smith advocated a small government because the market, he argued, more effectively helps people and the environment. He was expanded later, but that will be for another day. Marx advocated large government to equally distribute everything. While benevolent, it creates problems with human beings competetive nature. In the end, people wanted things instead of wanting to work. This resulted in 70% of lives in line on average. Also, we find that these countries cannot effectively compete in a global market with Capitalistic countries. The Capitalistic countries expand knowledge faster because they are freer to think.

Further, lets examine how things are done. With Adam Smith's small government, the government only protects our three Natural Rights. By doing so, it only uses force when it has been initiated by the person it is using force on. Karl Marx advocates using the government to take money and distribute it evenly. Not only does this violate our Natural Right to property (resulting in revolts or worse), but it is THEFT. The government is taking our money, through its only function: Force. This is forced theft. We cannot justify theft, even in the event of helping others. Charity is the only proper option ethically, within Rights, and legally.

Adam Smith vs. Karl Marx. Who won this? Marx wrote an essay; Smith wrote a book. Marx advocates Forced Theft; Smith advocates protecting our Natural Rights. Marx advocates an Iron Fist; Smith advocates the Invisible Hand. Those following Marx's ideals stop growing; those following Smith's expand exponentially. I'm not going to spell it out any more than this. You must decide for yourself: Liberty or Security?


There is only one way to kill capitalism – by taxes, taxes, and more taxes. – Karl Marx

Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention. – Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Monday, September 19, 2005


Today we'll go over what it is the government does. We're going to be very basic and take it to the fundamental. What does a government do? Ok, it helps us. Maybe it protects our rights. But not all governments throughout time have helped their people. Some nasty dictators have enslaved their people. So what power do governments have? What do they do?

To understand this, lets examine all types of governments. When there were feudal lords and serfs, what did the lords do? They gave the serfs' a plot of land in exchange for yearly pay. How did they enforce this? If they didn't pay, the government forcibly removed them from the land or killed them. Seems that this government owned everything and controlled it with force.

What about Britain? There are quite a large number of laws in Britain that define everything from property rights, to speech rights. But what do they have in common? If you kill someone in Britain, what happens? They force you into a jail cell (or the London tower) and then might force you to die (depending on the time period). The government thus controls your actions through force.

Let's look at slaves. They were owned by those who would whip them for not working. They were given almost nothing in exchange for immense amounts of labor. How did this work? If you (a slave) were to stop working, you would be whipped, and punished until you either work or they kill you. If you tried to run, they would kill you and/or rape your family. They forced the slaves to work by forcibly controlling their actions.

Let's look at America. Here we have Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property. If someone else tries to forcibly take these rights from you (or govern you), you can find aid in the government. It protects you, by controlling other's actions through force. You can be electricuted to death for taking someone else's life. Even here, the actions are similar.

What does a government do? Clearly, it controls your actions, but how? With what function? It controls your actions through force. The government has one simple function: Force. It uses force to achieve its goals. We'll examine this further soon enough.


Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. – George Washington

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The "Commerce Clause"

It seems my last post showed up under yesterday. Meh. Today we are going to check out the 'Commerce Clause'. We mentioned earlier the 'Welfare Clause' and how it is not a hole in the Constitution from the strict constructionist perspective that Congress views it. But today we have lots of government welfare programs. Where did Congress find this power? That's right; the 'Commerce Clause'. This is very close to the 'Welfare Clause'. It is Section 8, Clause 3:

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

If read with the beginning of Section 8, as appropriate, we get:

Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with Indian tribes.

Where's the hole here? "among the several states" is not defined effectively in this document. As such, the Supreme Court expanded it immensely. According to "Anderson's Business Law and the Legal Environment":

"In 1937, the Supreme Court began expanding the concept of interstate commerce. By 1946, the power to regulate interstate commerce had become very broad. By that year, the power had expanded to the point that it gave authority to Congress to adopt regulatory laws that were 'as broad as the economic needs of the nation.'"

Since the Supreme Court took the Living Document approach and read the Constitution differently, Congress suddenly had much more power than it had before. This is where we get welfare programs, business subsidies, Social Security, and much much more. The government has grown immensely from what it was originally intended to be. Again, whethe or not this is a good thing, I leave for later. I'm keeping it short today. Happy Constitution day!


It took about 150 years, starting with a Bill of Rights that reserved to the states and the people all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government, to produce a Supreme Court willing to rule that growing corn to feed to your own hogs is interstate commerce and can therefore be regulated by Congress. – David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom

Living Document and Strict Constructionism

Sorry, I missed a day. I had to attend my brother's school's reading of the Constitution. Today, however, is Constitution Day. I will make up for it... Today we discuss the differences between the Strict Constructionist approach to reading the Constitution and the Living document approach to the same.

A Strict Constructionist reads the Constitution literally. He holds to its words and tries to remember the meaning when it was written. A Living Document approach advocate sees the Constitution as adjustable to fit the times. He would argue things like: the founders didn't understand the level guns could become when they wrote the 2nd Amendment.

Strangely, there is a discrepancy in our own government's reading of the Constitution. The Congress and President read it from a Strict Constructionist perspective and only 'adjust' what the courts say they must. The Supreme Court has taken to a Living Document approach and tries to understand what might change if it were written today. This was not, however, always the case. Because Congress and the Executive branch are both 'bound' by the Constitution they are limited to reading it as a Strict Constructionist would. They were well tied by it for more than 70 years because the Supreme Court was reading it from that same perspective.

In Pollock v. Farmer's Loan and Trust Co. 158 U.S. 601, as recently as 1895, the Supreme Court had this to say, IN ALL CAPS:

"The words of the constitution are to be taken in their obvious sense, and to have a reasonable construction. In Gibbons v. Ogden, Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, with his usual felicity, said: 'As men whose intentions require no concealment generally employ the words which most directly and aptly EXPRESS THE IDEAS THEY INTEND TO CONVEY,'"

Resulting from this approach, the federal government was kept extremely small and limited for quite a while. The Living Document approach has resulted in a larger, more powerful federal government and has moved much of the governing powers from the states to the federal power. Whether or not this is a bad thing, I leave for later. I will expand on how the government has expanded recently later today when I address the Commerce Clause. It's Constitution Day, sit down, take out a copy of the Constitution, read a small portion and look up any words you don't know. Then sit down and try to understand what was being said.


The strength of the Constitution, lies in the will of the people to defend it. – Thomas Edison

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The First Amendment

Since I am apparently the new freelance political columnist for a not-so-known newspaper, I guess I should take this time to start discussing the first amendment. I'll keep things simple today.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The first little bit is almost a whole sentence. The rest is just different endings to it. Let's examine it:

Congress shall make no law

Ok, that seems pretty straight forward. The only part of the government that can make laws is not allowed to make laws... about what? Let's look at the first thing:

respecting an establishment of religion

OK, we know the religion line, but what does 'respecting' mean?

re·spect - 1.To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem. 2. To avoid violation of or interference with: respect the speed limit. 3. To relate or refer to; concern.

Feel? Regard? I don't think it's the first one. This is an important political and economic document. It wouldn't allow emotion in it. The second two definitions actually contradict each other, so let's look at the way it would look if defined by each definition. Under the first, congress must make no law avoiding interference with religion. Let's try that again:

Congress shall make no law that doesn't interfere with an establishment of religion.

Not only is this a double negative, but it would mean that every piece of legislation would have to intefere with religions. This is obviously not the intended meaning. It must be the last meaning. It would look like this

Congress shall make no law referring to an establishment of religion.

Short, simple sweet. Next:

prohibiting the free excercise thereof

Obviously this is a reference to the first. So this is further emphasizing the point.

Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free excercise of religion.

I don't think there's any confusion there, so lets go to the next one.

abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press

First we need to find out what abridging means.

a·bridge - to diminish or reduce in scope

Well that's interesting...

Congress shall make no law lessening the freedom of speech or freedom of the press.

Fascinating. Speech and the press, according to this, must be 100% free and cannot be touched. What's next?

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

Hmm. That's a long one. Let's assume that it has no reference to the other phrases and try to read it:

Congress shall make no law or the right of people...

No, that doesn't work. It must use another portion of the sentence. According to English, you draw back to the most recent. That would be abridging. We've got that, but do we know what all of that phrase means? It all seems pretty clear, but what's a 'redress of grievances'?

re·dress - 1. To set right; remedy or rectify. 2. To make amends to. 3. To make amends for

griev·ance - 1. An actual or supposed circumstance regarded as just cause for complaint. 2. A complaint or protestation based on such a circumstance. 3. Indignation or resentment stemming from a feeling of having been wronged. 4. The act of inflicting hardship or harm. 5. The cause of hardship or harm.

According to the dictionary, the 4th and 5th definitions of grievance are obsolete. They are, however, the ones the Constitution was written with the understanding of. The first 3 definitions are all related to legislative definitions that have been doctored by the law. As is quite apparent if you tie the first definition of redress with the 3rd or 4th definition of grievance, this is the most clear way to define this sentence:

Congress shall make no law lessening the right of the people to peaceably assemble.

Congress shall make no law lessening the right of the people to petition the government to rectify any harm it caused.

That, in essence, is the First Amendment. It's much more complicated than it looks, huh? It's been a long day. I'll talk to you all tomorrow.


Painful as it may be to hear it, there's nothing special about the people of this country that sets them apart from the other people of the world. It is the Bill of Rights, and only the Bill of Rights, that keeps us from becoming the world's biggest banana republic. The moment we forget that, the American Dream is over. – Alexander Hope

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Adam Smith and Karl Marx

Adam Smith is sometimes referred to as "father of modern economics". His most famous publication was titled "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" which is more commonly known as "Wealth of Nations". This book expanded his political philosophy that: Self-Interest most effectively guides the market to the best possible end.

Let's break that sentence down and make sure we understand it. Self-Interest, ok, interest in oneself. Also known as selfishness if you consult your dictionary. Guides the market. What did we say the market was? A purchase/sale made when there is supply and demand, the seller is serving something the buyer wants or needs, and the buyer is willing and able to make the purchase. So he's saying that being selfish most effectively guides a purchase/sale to the best possible result? Yes. He argued that the market forces (which are based on self-interest) are the fastest solution to problems and that government involvement slows things down and weakens the economy.

Karl Marx is another famous economist. His most famous publication was titled "Manifest der kommunistischen Partei" or "Communist Manifesto" in English. His basic political argument is much different from Smith's. He argues that the interests of the rich force the poor to become only poorer. He argues that the best way to fix this is for the government to take all of our money and redistribute it to us equally. He idealizes a society where everyone is equal. In it, doctors and scientists make the same as gas station attendants and grocery baggers. While Smith's arguments are placed in a rather lengthy book on Economic Philosophy, Marx (and Engels) produced more of an essay.

In this essay they emphasize the class warfare between the lower and upper classes and argue that the interests of the upper classes ultimately force the poor to work harder and harder for less money. The argument further evolves to state that the only way to solve this is through a revolution of the lower classes. Stalin further expanded this idea and emphasized the need for an 'iron fist' in controlling those who disagreed with this argument. It is argued (even by Karl Marx) that the only way for Communism to work is through force.

These are the two opposite ends of the economic spectrum. Many nations have taken to somewhere in between. Later on we will discuss the merits and flaws of both. For now, think about it for yourself. I'll leave you a famous quote from each.


In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. – Manifesto of the Communist Party - Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens. – Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations"

The 'General Welfare' Clause

When many people first read the Constitution, they are confused by its vagueness. The phrase that most people are taken aback by is:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Because of the way this phrase is written, many people assume that it actually says:

"The Congress shall have the for the...general welfare of the United States."

This comes from a blatant misunderstanding of the English language. The phrase contains a preposition within a preposition. This means that everything in the second preposition is subservient to the first. It would look like this in today's U.S. Code or other legislative actions:

The Congress has the power 1)to lay and collect taxes, duties,
-------------------------------------imposts, and excises
----------------------------------------1)pay the debts and
----------------------------------------2)provide for the
------------------------------------------a)common defense and
------------------------------------------b)general welfare of the United
--------------------------------------B)but all duties, imposts and excises
----------------------------------------shall be uniform throughout
----------------------------------------the United States;

Therefore, the only power given to the legislative body under this clause is to lay and collect taxes. Ok, but how can Congress spend this money? This is answered in several other clauses in Article I. The first, is Section 6:

"The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services"

The rest are all listed under Section 8 right after that clause. Here they are, as listed:

Sec. 8, Clause 7: "To establish post offices and post roads"

Sec. 8, Clause 8: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"

Sec. 8, Clause 9: "To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court"

Sec. 8, Clause 12: "To raise and support armies"

Sec. 8, Clause 13: "To provide and maintain a navy"

Sec. 8, Clause 16: "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia"

All the powers are listed right there for you. Now, I know some of you are asking "But where does the government get the power to provide for the general welfare?" Believe it or not, they read this clause just as we have. They did not find the power here. It is in another Clause in the Constitution which we are not addressing today. Go ahead and have a read of Article I Section 8, digest this information, and come back tomorrow. We've got lots to discuss.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Market

I was going to discuss Adam Smith today, but the market looks to need explanation.  What is the market?  No, its not the place we go to buy things. We're going to examine the market in a purely economic sense, so let's use an economics dictionary.
market: The organized exchange of commodities (goods, services, or resources) between buyers and sellers within a specific geographic area and during a given period of time. Markets are the exchange between buyers who want a good--the demand-side of the market--and the sellers who have it--the supply--side of the market. In essence, a buyer gives up money and gets a good, while a seller gives up a good and gets money. From a marketing context, in order to be a market the following conditions must exist. The target consumers must have the ability to purchase the goods or services. They must have a need or desire to purchase. The target group must be willing to exchange something of value for the product. Finally, they must have the authority to make the purchase. If all these variables are present, a market exits.
Ok, that's a whale of a definition.  Let's break it down.  Market is: the organized exchange of goods, services or resources--buying stuff--between buyers and sellers within a specific geographic area --at a certain place--during a given period of a certain time.  Lucky for us, a good portion here is explanation, but we have an explanation of what is required for a market to exist.  Let's examine that.  " The target consumers must have the ability to purchase the goods or services." Ok, the buyer has to have money in our case.  "They must have a desire to purchase."  Ok, they have to want it (or need it).  " The target group must be willing to exchange something of value for the product." Ok, they have to be willing to buy it.  "Finally, they must have the authority to make the purchase"  They have to be able (by law or physics) to purchase it.
Let's look at this again.  A market is a purchase at a certain time at a certain place.  But for it to exist, the buyer must have money, they must want the product, they must be willing to buy it, and they must be able to buy.  What does this all boil down to?  Basic economics.  Markets only exist when there is a supply (seller) and a demand (buyer) and the buyer is willing and able to purchase something that serves their wants or needs.
Let's simplify our definition a bit and forumulate a definition that makes sense.  If they are able to buy the product, they have money, so we can skip that portion.  Let's word it like this.  A market only exists when there is supply and demand, the seller is serving something that the buyer wants or needs, and the buyer is willing and able to make a purchase.   If we look at what this all says at once, what is going to happen?  A purchase is going to be made.  That is the market.
P.S. Why do I keep citing dictionaries?  They're unbiased.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Theft is a funny concept when looked at in perspective. What is theft? What constitutes theft? Let's consult the dictionary.

theft - The act or an instance of stealing; larceny.

Is theft simply the act of taking? Is there no middle ground? Let's make sure we know what stealing and larceny mean.

steal - To take (the property of another) without right or permission.

lar·ce·ny - The unlawful taking and removing of another's personal property with the intent of permanently depriving the owner; theft.

It looks like this is so. Sometimes it can take reference to legality, but we're leaving complexities like that for later. It looks like theft is taking another's property without permission. Now, the big question: Can theft be justified?

Let's ignore current government legislation in answering this question and leave it at its fundamental. Can theft be justified? If you are to steal $50 from my wallet for your healthcare, is that ok? If you break into my car and steal my stereo to feed your children, is that ok? The question quickly becomes: Can theft be ethical?

eth·ic - 1. A set of principles of right conduct. 2. A theory or a system of moral values

OK, but who defines them? Society. That's right, society sets ethics. Ethics are based on the general consensus of the population. Personal morals are completely irrelavent to ethics. For proof of this, look to the concept of situational ethics and find that there is no such thing. So, what does society say about stealing? The answer, of course, is that its wrong. There is no justification for stealing when there are plenty of charitable organizations out to help. This is society's stance. How do we know that? Simple, who calls the police when they find the $50 missing from their wallet or the stereo missing from their car.

We, as human beings, extend our Natural Right to Property over our things with ferocious intensity. Some people go to the extent of taking another's life for stealing or damaging their property. This, of course is our other definitive conclusion about theft. It violates our Natural Right to Property. We have discussed Natural Rights, but I left Property Rights for this occasion. That is what pursuing happiness is.

The right listed by our founders was "pursuit of happiness" because that gives both perspectives on Property. Whether pursuing happiness means acquiring property or giving it away, it can only be referenced to property. Prove it, you ask? Easy. Pursuit of Happiness was listed after both Life and Liberty thus it is least in importance. Name all pursuits of happiness that do not infringe on another's Natural Rights to Life and Liberty. Whether it's running in your yard, playing video games, or caring for your children, it all involves property. Property is a Natural Right that even the smallest animals in our planet fight to protect.

Let's Summarize. If we understand that theft is only the taking of property, taking property is unethical, and theft violates our Natural Right to Property, this leaves us only one conclusion. Theft cannot be justified.


Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body and the work of his hands are properly his. – John Locke

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Constitution Basics

As elementary as this particular post will be, these basics are often missed by even some of our most popular politicians. We are going to discuss exactly what it is the Constitution does. The Declaration of Independence is vital to this understanding. This is where we will begin.

To continue where the last quote from the Declaration of Independence left off:

"--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --"

This is what the government should do. Its purpose is to protect our rights. The only powers it has, are those that we give it. The word "just" in that phrase, however, is too often forgotten, but that debate will be left for a later date. What does the Constitution do? Some argue that it gives us our Rights. We've already discussed Natural Rights. A piece of paper can't give us Rights that we already have. Let's take a look at the Preamble to the Constitution.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

What was that? "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity". This is one of our founders' many direct references to liberty. Obviously, at least part of our constitutional purpose was to make sure we had freedom. Let's look deeper into this with a quote from our founders. This is one of my favorites:

"In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." - Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson helped write our Constitution, so what is he trying to say here? Bind? Chains? The Constitution must be a restraint of some sort, but on what? "In the matters of Power" Is our Constitution a restraint on power? Yes, yes it is.

Let's examine a few other notes before we summarize all of this.

"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words "no" and "not" employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights." - Edmund A. Opitz

Wow, that's a lot of No's! It's almost like pointing a finger at the government and telling it "No!" like you would a dog peeing on the carpet. Let's look at a couple of my favorites:

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Whoa! That's a big one. Just because it isn't written here, doesn't mean it isn't a right. In other words, 'Government, you don't have the power just cause we didn't say you don't have it."

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

They said it again, only more directly. 'Government, this is it. You have nothing else, everything else is for the States and the people.' It seems like there is a lot of evidence to show that the Constitution was written speaking to the Government, not the people. It is a "chain" on the government. Let's also note the words of a woman who made quite a name for herself as a writer.

"The government was set to protect man from criminals - and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government." - Ayn Rand

Now, don't take my word for it, combine these facts and the words straight from the Constitution. It seems a given that the purpose was to restrain the government. Even the preamble of the Constitution says "to secure the blessings of liberty". The Constitution ties up the government to keep it from interfering in the freedom we have inherent of being human. It does not give us that freedom, freedom is a Natural Right. This is what the Constitution does. It was written and directed at the government, not the people. Power to the people!


P.S. We have a long way to go still, but if you understand this, then we are moving in the right direction.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Taxes vs. Revenue

A common mistake people make is assuming that the higher the tax rate is, the more money the government is making. This is excessively innacurate. In fact, it has been tried.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to increase government revenue in the 1930s and 40s. He instituted a 100% income tax on all income over $25,000 in 1942. Sadly, this information is hard to find. Even harder to find is the number of Americans who filed for taxable incomes over $25,000 dollars that year: 0. People don't like taxes. As a result, higher taxes just cause more people to try to evade them. This is the origin of the Laffer Curve.

The Laffer Curve Posted by Picasa

The Laffer Curve tells us that there is a point T that is the highest possible revenue the government can recieve from taxing. When the tax is raised above point T, revenue begins to fall again. Most economists agree that point T is somewhere between 27 and 29%.

Why, then, does the government tax more than 29%? It is simple, they want more money. As much information is out there to prive this point, the government continues to try to sneak higher taxes past the people so that it can get more revenue. Why do I say sneak? It's true. The government has to make the law confusing in this manner because if people know what they are being taxed, they will not pay. This is proven by the Laffer Curve which politicians know all too well.

Still, human beings are found to be overwhelmingly good at protecting their property (note: Property is a Natural Right). The government has yet to slip something past us. The obvious example is that the massive businesses that are being taxed the highest are paying accountants to find every possible tax exemption including moving headquarters overseas.

Conclusive of this information, we find that higher taxes do not equal higher revenue. Next time the government mentions raising taxes on the rich (they're the ones with the money to pay 15 accountants) remember that you will be the one suffering the burden of debt.


Inalienable Rights

Natural Rights are often discredited or ignored as being undefined or nonexistent. This idea that Natural Rights don't exist is, of course, idiotic. The simplest way to explain that you have Natural Rights inherent by birth or given by your Creator is to propose a hypothetical. Let's try one.

Assume you are walking down the street and a man starts firing a machine gun and spinning around in circles near you. What would you do? The obvious answer is that you would duck and run. Even the youngest child will make efforts to protect his/her life, no matter the cost. This is your Natural Right to Life. Let's try another.

Assume that you are enslaved by another person. If it were not a risk to your life to escape that enslavement (and sometimes even if it were) would you make every effort to escape it? A good example here is loans and credit cards. If your credit card company told you that you had to either pay of the card or work for them for free for the rest of your life, you would do the former. You will make every effort short of risking your life (and sometimes even with that) to avoid enslavement. This is your Natural Right to Liberty.

The founders understood these rights and one other. The third is the Right to the "Pursuit of Happiness" which can best be described as "Property" by any economics professor. This I leave you to look up on your own. So, where did the founders say all of this? To quote the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

Now, the real question. What exactly is meant by "unalienable"?

unalienable - Not to be separated, given away, or taken away; inalienable

just for safety, what's inalienable

inalienable - incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred

So what does that mean? The answer is that unalienable is an adjective. Inalienable rights cannot be surrendered. You cannot surrender your Right to Life for someone else's use. It was not to state that such Rights would not be surrendered so much as they could not be surrendered. Inalienable Rights are those which we cannot surrender to another's will.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Here's a pic of me. I'll be uploading this to my profile accordingly.

Me Posted by Picasa

Open Up

The first requirement of this blog is that you open up your mind. Those who are close minded will not understand that which I am posting here. I do not plan to be anywhere near perfect in my endeavor to raise the understanding of Freedom, but I take on this task to do that to the best of my ability. I wish you all well, and hope you will share this with all those who need to learn the true meanings of the words: "Let Freedom Ring!"


If my mind can be pure and simple like that of a child, I think that there can be no greater happiness than this. - Leonardo DaVinci