Who Makes Laws?

In a “pure” democracy the majority of voters makes the laws, and the result can be that minorities have no rights at all, hence the term “tyranny of the majority”. In a republic such as ours laws are made by elected officials in bodies called legislatures. This system is breaking down. In response to demands from vocal groups that are funded by billionaire socialists and fronted by spoiled celebrities or teenage bullies, ( this is called mob rule), corporations have decided that they can make de facto laws and indulge in discrimination with impunity as long as they align with the liberals. Why is it acceptable for Dicks Sporting Goods to refuse to sell a legal product (a rifle) to legally qualified buyers (aged 18-20) based on personal opinions (indulging in age discrimination) but it’s not acceptable for a bakery to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage because it violates the owner’s personal religious beliefs? Regardless of their endless rants against discrimination, liberals clearly believe that discrimination is only bad if it violates their world view, otherwise it’s wonderful. If Dicks can get away with it the liberal judge who ruled against the bakery should be removed from the bench.

Now we have giant banks, notably BOFA and Citi, refusing to do business with legal firearms manufacturers and retailers. This is clearly an effort to shut them down, and if it’s allowed, who will the rich elitists decide to shut down next? As the foundation of commerce banks have a lot of power, and with it comes the responsibility to society to treat all legal enterprises equally. Corporations can do this in communist China, but it shouldn’t be happening here.

There is one sure way to stop bank lawmaking. If the banks have gotten so big that they think they can make de facto laws, it’s time to break up the big banks.

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Constitutional Rights Amendment Needed

I’d like to propose a preemptive addition to the Constitution that could prevent future erosion of our freedom.  This amendment would prohibit four things from happening to human beings in the future:

Universal marking or tracking of human citizens using implanted devices, mandatory tracking devices on their person or private vehicle,  tattoos,  branding, and/or any other personal marking or tracking technology to be developed would be prohibited.

Universal mandatory video or audio monitoring within private residences would be prohibited.

Embedding or attaching timed or remotely activated devices to humans that are intended to cause pain, suffering, immobilization, or death would be prohibited.

A universal biometric database containing all human citizens’ DNA profiles, fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition, and/or other unique markers later discovered would be prohibited.

This would not prevent maintenance of convicted criminal data by law enforcement, use of externally-worn GPS tracking devices as part of a court-ordered sentence or probation requirement, use of Tasers by police, or DNA databases for military personnel entering combat.  It would simply prevent such technology from being used to infringe on the freedom of the population as a whole.

Note: This is a revision to a previous concept.  I’ve added the word “human” to hedge against advances in technology.  While robots may look human and be given ever more sophisticated programming they will never be “human” and are not entitled to any human rights.

Habitat III – The New Urban Agenda

This month (October 2016), the UN is holding the third of it’s global conferences on cities; previous ones were held in 1976 and 1996.  The objective is to bring together government officials, industry leaders, planners, and environmental experts to discuss the future of cities around the world.  The State Department is representing the US government.  Increasing populations will have a major effect on urban environments and demands for services during the 21st century.  I’m all for sharing ideas, identifying best practices, and making the world better; however since the UN has become the global advocate for socialism we conservatives have to look at it with a bit of skepticism.  If you haven’t read their draft document it’s available on the Habitat III website.

Like UN Agenda 21 the draft has some lofty goals.  They’d like cities to be clean, safe, sustainable, and provide opportunities for all (nothing wrong with that).  They’d like to eliminate poverty, hunger, violence, inequality, discrimination, environmental degradation, and a list of diseases.

Like UN Agenda 21 the draft has the usual list of hypocritical goals.  The UN wants equality and equal opportunity for girls and women, and an end to discrimination.  We’re trying in the West, but no Muslim country will ever grant equality to women, who are often treated as less than human.  Countries that stone rape victims for adultery and hang men for being gay don’t see equality as a virtue.  The UN wants justice.  Tell that to countries that still torture, flog, and mutilate criminals.  The UN wants participatory government.  Tell that to communist countries like China where speaking out might get you 12 years hard labor.  The authors of this document are fully aware of these harsh and unchanging realities in totalitarian and theocratic states.

Unlike UN Agenda 21 there’s no obvious explicit demand for billions of dollars to be redistributed from developed nations to the third world but it is implicit.  Countries that can’t even end their own internal conflicts aren’t going to generate the cash to build clean water systems, productive farms, modern infrastructure, and the host of services needed in a city.

Their draft items often begin with “We will …” so let’s use that to draw our “line in the sand”.

We will listen, share, and learn.  We can combine past experiences with new knowledge to build better cities in the future.

We will work with the teams to identify best practices as well as chronic problem areas.

We will use new developments and best practices for our cities that will work within our legal, financial, and cultural environment.

We will work to protect our environment within current practical technology and will continue research on new technologies.

We will help other nations reach their objectives within financial reason and as long as the safety of US aid workers can be assured.

We will NOT implement any objectives that would deprive US citizens of their constitutional rights within our borders.  For example, if their “eliminate all forms of violence” means gun confiscation, that’s unconstitutional here.  There’s a fundamental reality that there will always be bad people who want to hurt good people and that self-defense is a fundamental human right.

We will NOT allow foreign troops operating under the UN flag to conduct any operations against US citizens within our borders.  The UN is an organization, not a legitimate state, so It’s military powers are limited, or at least should be.

None of this advocates isolationism, aggression, or abandoning our allies; it’s simply sovereignty.  Borders matter, and yes, I want secure borders.  A nation without borders will either descend into chaos or tyranny.

 

The USA can work with the world without surrendering to it.

Fixing Asset Forfeiture

I discussed civil asset forfeiture in “Spoils of War” and also discussed the IRS seizure of assets for “structuring” deposits in “Repeal the Bill of Rights” under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  I won’t say these policies should be eliminated because, in some cases, they do serve to disrupt cash flow for criminal activities, however when the NYPD boasts that they seized more cash than they can count they sound more like Blackbeard’s pirates than civil servants.  When innocent citizens have to file expensive lawsuits to recover wrongfully seized property the system is broken, so let’s fix it.  Here’s one way.

Assets seized from people not charged with a crime must be returned to the owner within one business day if criminal charges are not filed within a reasonable time, e.g., 48-72 hours.

Assets seized from people charged with a crime must be held in escrow pending outcome of the trial.  If the defendant is found “not guilty” the assets must be returned to the owner.  If the asset was cash it must have been held in an interest-bearing account and the cash returned with accrued interest.  If lawfully acquired real property (buildings, vehicles, firearms, etc.) was seized the state must preserve and maintain that property such that it can be returned intact and without loss.  If the individual is found “guilty” the judge will determine what happens to the seized property.

I think this is a reasonable balance between the needs of law enforcement to disrupt criminal activity and the rights of citizens to keep their lawfully acquired property.  When police departments consider themselves to be profit centers the entire concept of law enforcement is maligned.

Retroactive Laws: A New Assault on Private Property

A retroactive law is a law that criminalizes a past action that wasn’t a crime at the time.  Known as “ex post facto” laws, they are strictly and unambiguously prohibited by Article I, Section 9 (for Congress) and Section 10 (for states) of our Constitution.  They can be used to punish a person and/or to seize their property which is why such laws are banned.  Progressives, however, see the Constitution as an obstacle to their agenda.  I’ll look at one example of how they’re being used and then discuss the very slippery slope of ex post facto laws.

The state of California has passed some restrictive new gun laws.  One bans the manufacture and sale of high capacity magazines; the other (SB1446) prohibits possession of such magazines (hence requires confiscation) that were legally purchased in the past.  The constitutionality of the first law may be under debate everywhere but the second one is clearly unconstitutional.  It’s a retroactive ban, therefore it’s a ex post facto law.  Those who don’t submit to a mandatory “buyback” will be criminalized for what was a legal activity at the time of purchase.  The term “buyback” itself is a misnomer.  The government can’t buy back something it never owned.  If the government asserts ownership of all private property it’s a communist government.  Unless the government is paying full retail value for confiscated items it’s also theft.  Obviously confiscation of items obtained illegally or used for criminal purposes is a different matter that doesn’t involve ex post facto laws.

OK, you don’t care about the Second Amendment, but let’s look at just how slippery a slope ex post facto laws against private property could become.

The EPA has issued increasingly strict tailpipe emission and gas mileage requirements for cars and other light vehicles.  Tier I took affect in 1994, Tier 2 in 2004, and the Obama administration has approved even stricter mileage requirements in the future.  The standards that took effect in 1994 and 2004 effectively banned the future sale of new vehicles that didn’t meet those standards but they didn’t ban the ownership of older vehicles.  Suppose, however, that our progressive government, influenced by the socialist UN, decided to confiscate all vehicles that didn’t meet Tier 2 standards?  Of course they’d pay owners some token sum for surrendering their means of transportation but it would impose the greatest hardship on those who could least afford it.  Do they care?  NO!  Most politicians are rich.  As  I said once before, rich elitists will always live above the messes they cause for the masses.

You don’t think this could happen?  Don’t make me say “I told you so” again!  Over a year ago I predicted that we might someday see an environmental impact tax on meat.  Now the UN is actively recommending such a tax and Denmark is considering one.  Socialists are as relentless as ISIS when it comes to imposing their will on everyone.

The concept that private property that is obtained legally and not used for criminal purposes belongs to individuals, not the government, is fundamental to our freedom and our entire way of life.  Don’t let socialists incrementally deprive us of that freedom.

Tax And Destroy

Everyone has heard the famous quote “the power to tax involves the power to destroy” from Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1819 Supreme Court ruling that states could not tax the Federal government.  What about government use of taxation against the people it’s supposed to be working for?  What is that destroying?

For much of US history, taxes were collected to fund essential government services such as national defense, border security, law enforcement, public infrastructure, education, and resource conservation.  In fact Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said “taxes are what we pay for civilized society”.  Progressives have changed that through taxation for wealth redistribution and “social engineering”.  Social engineering typically involves the use of punitive taxes to discourage “wrong behavior” as defined by some omniscient Big Brother.  I’ll start with punitive taxation.

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is pouring millions of dollars into local efforts to impose a punitive tax on sugary sodas.  OK, they’re not particularly healthy, but where does that process end?  Under the influence of UN Agenda 21 Denmark is seriously considering a tax on meat.  Once the USDA includes sustainability in diet recommendations it won’t be long before progressives want taxes on meat, and eventually dairy products.  This is about controlling people, and more control equals less freedom.  Eventually the only choice progressives will allow is for an abortion.  Bloomberg also pours millions into local gun control efforts, some of which include punitive taxes on guns and ammunition.  No ammo tax will ever stop a street gang, psychopath, disgruntled worker, or jihadist from unleashing mayhem.  What it will do is hurt honest shooting sports participants, particularly those involved in competitive target shooting.  It takes thousands of hours and probably close to a million rounds to reach Olympic level competitor status.  It’s those honest achievers who will be hurt, not the criminal who loads a “Saturday night special” to rob a convenience store.

(Hey Mike, why don’t you ever ask for more taxes on billionaires?)

President Obama wants a ten dollar per barrel tax on oil, even though it would raise prices of gas and heating oil and could send the economy into recession.  This is a punitive tax to punish those who insist on using fossil fuels.  As I pointed out in “Alternative Energy: The Missing Link”, however, we don’t have the technology to convert to renewable fuels overnight.  How many cities are 100% powered by renewable energy 24/7?  The answer is none.  How many all-electric vehicles have a 500 mile cruising range, or even a 100 mile range that can recharge during a 5 minute rest stop?  Again the answer is none.  An all-electric vehicle is a great choice for commuting from the suburbs to the city but would you want to set out to “see the USA” in one?  Incidentally if that electric vehicle doesn’t recharge from a renewable source it isn’t fully “green”.  He claims that the tax revenue would be used for research, and while some might be, some of it might also be used for global wealth redistribution.

So, what about wealth redistribution?  Within the US wealth redistribution is accomplished through various welfare programs and a widely abused tax credit program called EITC.  If you read my proposal for the ISIC welfare reform program you’ll know that I’m not opposed to welfare as a hand up for the unfortunate or as assistance for those who are unable to fully support themselves due to disability.  When children are starving in spite of school meal programs, SNAP, and WIC, however, something in the system isn’t working.  When a person who is fully capable of working decides to live off the labor of others and then jokes about it on social media welfare fraud has gone too far and reform is past due.  That’s an insult to every working family that’s struggling to support itself.  I’m also opposed to allowing foreigners to enter the US and immediately land on extended welfare.  Traditionally our immigration policy only admitted honest healthy people who were capable of supporting themselves within a reasonable time frame.  See my “Immigration is a Privilege, not a Right” post for more.  Global wealth redistribution is a recent concept arising from UN Agenda 21.  Third world nations are demanding billions of dollars from developed nations to “go green” under Agenda 21 while having no intent to meet the human rights objectives specified in that agenda.  See my post “UN Agenda 21 vs the Wealthy Wimpy West” for more.  I believe that global wealth redistribution is unconstitutional.  Nothing in our Constitution allows the government to send our tax dollars overseas or be taxed by any foreign entity.

So, what are the socialist progressives destroying with social engineering and Marxist wealth redistribution?  Essentially everything that made the USA exceptional: freedom (choice, not control); individual responsibility (the flip side of the rights/responsibility coin); the value of the family, and national sovereignty.

As many have pointed out, the US will never be conquered from without, it will destroy itself from within..  Progressives/socialists are leading the charge.

2016 Update:  Not unexpected: the UN has advocated for all nations to tax sugary drinks like sodas.

Unexpected: the UN also wants taxes on 100% fruit juices.  Who wants their morning OJ taxed?  It’s past time to tell the UN that we’re a sovereign nation, and while we’ll work with them on international issues, we will not surrender our rights or our freedom to them.

A Privacy Paradigm

The left-wing/liberal/progressive position on individual privacy runs something like this: “If you’re not doing anything wrong what difference does it make if we track you?”.  The flaw in this position is the assumption that Big Brother has a fundamental right to know everything you do.  I can’t find that in my copy of the Constitution, can you?

The real privacy paradigm should be based on “Need to Know“, much as national security information is (supposed to be) controlled.  Suppose “the engineer” works for a defense contractor and has a secret level clearance.  That doesn’t mean that this engineer can go around accessing every secret document in the company because access is limited to the classified information needed to do the engineer’s job.  An engineer working on fighter jet navigation would have no need to access information on submarine nuclear power plants, for example.  Last week I bought a bag of chocolate chips.  Does Big Brother have any need for this information?  If not, leave me alone.

If privacy was based on “need to know” rather than “want to know” we’d all be both freer and more secure.