Repeal the Bill of Rights?

In “The Freedom Triangle” I explained how freedom is defined by three components: democracy, rights, and responsibilities.  Our basic inalienable rights are found in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.  Every one of them is important.  Every one was included because the authors of the Constitution, in their wisdom, had seen how authoritarian governments had abused their subjects and sought to protect us.  In fact the Constitution doesn’t talk about “subjects”, it talks about “We the People”.

Now the Constitution can be changed by the deliberately cumbersome process of amendment.  It’s long and tedious and the outcome is uncertain, but in this case that’s a protection, not an inefficiency.  Democrats, socialists, and other progressives, however, have found ways to weaken our rights by DE FACTO means.  That term simply means “that’s how it is”.  If you don’t like a law but can’t easily change it, find ways to circumvent it.  These tactics might be unofficial, like intimidation, or official, through restrictions or taxation.   In this article I’ll look at how several amendments are being attacked.

First Amendment:

Intimidation (aka Bullying):  At this time intimidation is the primary weapon against free speech.  It began with political correctness, a crybaby concept that has grown from a minor nuisance into a state religion.  We see intimidation on college campuses where students complain about “micro-aggression”, demand “safe spaces”, and are even told to call police if they hear something “offensive”.  Now that’s intimidation.  On a larger scale, political correctness stifles communication to a point where serious issues can’t even be discussed.

Intimidation also threatens religious freedom by erasing religious equality.  When Christian churches remove exterior crosses so they don’t “offend” Muslim immigrants they’re not accommodating newcomers, they’re surrendering their right to exist as a public entity; doing exactly what is required in Muslim countries.  From a Christian point of view they’re denying Christ just as Peter did.  When a restaurant owner is bullied into removing a sign advertising bacon for breakfast his free speech is suspended.  Jews don’t eat pork either but they’ve never tried to impose their dietary rules on others.

Legal Action:  Can the USA have laws against free speech beyond the “don’t yell fire in a theater if there isn’t one” and “don’t threaten violence”?  Maybe, because it’s happening in European countries that guarantee free speech.  In Germany a comedian has been arrested for insulting the president of Turkey, and In Sweden people can be arrested for ethnic slurs.  Some in the US are saying that “climate change deniers” should be arrested and oil companies should be sued because they “knew” their products would cause climate change.

Second Amendment:

Propaganda:   No amendment is under heavier public attack than this amendment, even though self defense it a fundamental human right.  It’s in common law because historically only the un-free (prisoners, serfs, slaves) were denied the right to protect themselves and their families.  We hear anti-gun propaganda everywhere, much of it funded by billionaires who are surrounded by armed bodyguards.  Their message: “be rich or be dead”.  They blame the NRA for Chicago violence, not the gang members doing the shooting.  They make their case with bogus logic that anyone who has learned how to think can spot as invalid.  Any criminal act is the act of a person, not an object.

Legal Action:  In addition to funding propaganda campaigns, billionaire Mike Bloomberg spends millions to buy local elections for anti-gun candidates who will then enact restrictive laws.  The result is a confusing patchwork system of laws that turn honest people into criminals while doing nothing to stop crime.  Liberal San Francisco’s laws are so tough that the last legal gun shop had to close, yet they did nothing to stop an illegal immigrant with a stolen gun from murdering an innocent young woman.  Chicago’s tough gun laws can’t stop the endless gang wars that have made it the murder capital of the US. The latest effort to drive gun makers out of business is to attempt to sue them for gun violence.  No company has ever been held liable for criminal use of their products because the company has no control over the consumer.

Taxation:   Everyone has heard Chief Justice Marshall’s statement that “The power to tax is the power to destroy” and liberals know punitive taxes can be used to deny “little people” their rights while preserving “billionaire rights”.  Seattle has a $25 tax on guns, a US territory has a $1000 tax per gun, and Hillary wants a 25% tax on guns (all for more money to squander).  What part of “right” don’t they understand?

Health care:  President Obama and his British-born Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy want to draft doctors into their war on legal gun ownership.  They have decreed that “gun violence” is a public health problem (but gang violence isn’t) so doctors should question patients about gun ownership, presumably to then evaluate their mental fitness to own a firearm while simultaneously creating a national gun registry in those digitized medical records.  Since doctors don’t get “gun violence” training (they don’t get knife or fist violence training either) they’ll be fed the far left agenda and sent out on a mission to declare as many people “mentally unfit” as possible (it’s already happening at the VA).  That won’t work on doctors who are also hunters but it will on many.  The answer is “no”.

Intimidation:  I discuss the DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point” under the Fifth Amendment.

SCOTUS:  In the case “D.C. vs. Heller” the Supreme Court upheld the right of honest people to own a firearm for self defense.  Progressives would love to get this ruling overturned.  That would effectively repeal the Second Amendment.

Fourth and Fifth Amendments:

Legal Action:  The fourth Amendment protects private property from unreasonable search and seizure without due process.  The fifth Amendment protects individuals from being deprived of “life, liberty, and property” without due process.  Government departments are using often dubious tactics to deprive people of their property without adjudication.  Here are two of them.

The IRS can seize bank assets of individuals or businesses if they suspect small deposits are being “structured” to avoid reporting requirements of amounts in excess of $10,000.  They don’t need any evidence of criminal activity, indictment, trial, or conviction to proceed.  Victims are often small businesses that deposit money regularly just to avoid being a robbery target.  Even innocent people must file an expensive lawsuit to get their money released.

Police can seize property under “civil asset forfeiture” if they suspect criminal activity, and that includes “untainted” assets, i.e., those not associated with the suspected activity.  Again the word is “suspected”; no indictment, trial, or conviction required.  Asset seizure can make it difficult for an accused person to hire attorneys and prepare a defense; a right guaranteed by  the Fifth Amendment.

Eminent Domain:  Eminent domain was included in the Constitution to allow governments at all levels to take private land, with compensation, for public projects that would benefit the community.  The intent was to support construction of roads, bridges, schools, and other public facilities.  That concept has unfortunately been expanded to allow taking of private property for private developments under the guise that they will expand the local tax base.  This “public good ” is nothing but a gift for wealthy developers at the expense of the people.

Intimidation:  The DOJ has initiated a process of intimidation not supported by any law called “Choke Point” to cut off “high risk” businesses from having bank accounts and obtaining credit.  Basically banks are threatened with legal action so they cancel the accounts of many honest businesses that pay taxes and wages.,  High risk businesses include firearms dealers, short term lenders, used car dealers, and adult entertainment.  So, what constitutes “high risk” is determined by politically motivated bureaucrats, not the law.  Congress has been urged to outlaw this practice but liberals support it because it furthers their agenda of control of the people.

Ninth Amendment:

Legal Action:  This amendment protects “unenumerated rights” of the people, i.e., those not specifically guaranteed by the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights.  The most important right that has been asserted under this amendment is the right of privacy.  As the Federal government demands more an more tracking of peoples’ lives privacy is being lost, often in the name of the “common good”.  That is collectivism, the antithesis of what the Constitution stands for.  To make the situation even worse, neither the government nor various private data collection agencies can adequately secure their data against hacking or insider misuse.

Tenth Amendment:

Congress:  This amendment says that all responsibilities not specifically assigned to the Federal government by the Constitution remain with the states or the people.  Congress has been more than happy to de facto repeal this amendment with “one-size-fits-all” programs.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to control public schools yet Congress created the Department of Education and has given it unlimited power over the states and parents.  This has allowed billionaire Bill Gates to fund development of Common Core, his vision of an ideal system, and coax the government to enforce it.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to use the IRS to enforce health insurance yet it approved the ACA.  All the promises associated with this program were lies: costs will go down, you can keep your doctor, etc.  Even the insurers are losing money on this one.  Rising health care costs are a problem but the ACA does nothing to solve it.

Intimidation:  The Department of Education uses threats of withholding education money from school districts that refuse to comply with it’s directives.  Simply put, it uses our tax dollars against us.

So, that’s the picture, and it isn’t a good one if you value freedom because without rights you are not free.  Can the Bill of Rights be saved?  Yes, but time is running out.  The 2016 elections will pretty much determine whether your children will stand in freedom or kneel in servitude.

 

If you like your rights you can keep them… NOT.

Responsibility and Authority Disconnected

Fifty years ago colleges didn’t need remedial math and English courses; today they do.

Remedial courses cost students time and money, things they can’t afford in today’s high cost higher education world.  One state lawmaker has proposed an innovative way to relieve students of this cost.  The plan would charge local school districts the tuition for remedial courses required by their former students on the grounds that the local school didn’t adequately prepare the students for college.  To families of students and people fed up with poor public school performance this sounds great.  To property owners who would see their taxes go up this sounds like a bad idea.  It’s actually a disconnected idea.  The disconnect with holding local school districts responsible for college remediation is that local education is no longer under local control; it’s dictated by the Federal government through Common Core, NCLB, required testing programs, and numerous unfunded mandates.  The concept of being responsible for something implies that you have the authority to control that for which you’re responsible.  When your actions are dictated by an external authority your sole responsibility is to follow orders.  The outcome is presumably assured by the authority figure issuing those orders.  In the case of public education the Federal government doesn’t “know” the outcome, it’s just trying yet another approach in an ongoing series of costly experiments to “improve” public education.

The Federal takeover of public schools is also another progressive attack on the family as the basic unit of society. When control is local parents have far more influence over the schools than when control rests with the Department of Education and it’s head who thinks that all children should be raised by the state.  Even the former Soviet Union didn’t go that far.

If you want to hold local school districts responsible for student outcomes abolish the Department of Education (which has no Constitutional basis for existence) and return control of education to the states (where the 10th Amendment says it should be).  If you’re happy with Federal control of your schools ask the Department of Education to pay for remedial college courses and see how fast that department points the finger back at the local school districts.

Authority must always be commensurate with responsibility.

RIP 10th Amendment: What’s Left for the States?

When the Constitution was being drafted the anti-Federalists feared that a central government would become too powerful and oppressive, so they demanded a bill of rights, which became the first 10 amendments.  The first 9 of these grant rights to the people, while number 10 grants rights to the states.  We’ve seen attacks on the 1st and 2nd amendments; the 4th through 6th are in question as the government can now conduct warrantless surveillance and detain people indefinitely without charges, counsel, or trial; and the 10th has been overwhelmed.   We don’t hear much about the 10th though.  It’s the one that says “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”.  We could call it the “vanishing amendment”.  Over the years the Federal government has used a combination of legislation (aided by a broad interpretation of the “commerce clause”) and “carrot-and-stick” (C&S) motivation to infringe on states’ rights.  For example, the Feds responded to states’ resistance to a 55 mph national speed limit in 1974, by threatening to withhold highway funds.  Those funds were paid by taxpayers who had every right to expect highway repairs without being held hostage to Federal demands.  This administration has imposed even more Federal control on two of the last remaining state responsibilities: health care and education.

The ACA imposes a “one-size-fits-all” health care plan on the nation.  In an effort to insure around 15% of the population that was uninsured it has taken affordable plans that worked away from millions of people, forcing them into expensive plans with ridiculously high deductibles, narrow networks, less access to cancer centers, and often higher drug costs.  It’s a giant tax increase, and the IRS, a bloated and politicized agency, is it’s enforcer.   The sole purpose of a tax should be to raise revenue, and the sole job of the IRS should be to collect that revenue.  It shouldn’t be a welfare agency or a health care cop.  The president is even attempting to institutionalize his attack on the 2nd amendment by nominating a left-wing campaign supporter for Surgeon General, where he could use his position to intertwine health care with gun control.  It’s obvious where that could lead.

Government control of education is prohibited by law, but it has used C&S to barge into education with politically popular but academically unsuccessful programs like Head Start and No Child Left Behind.  The latest push into public education is Common Core, a “one-size-fits-all” education program that reduces local control and establishes a privacy-violating student database.  Admittedly it’s not a Federal program; it was heavily funded by Bill Gates.  It’s goal is to turn out obedient workers, something J. S. Mill warned about in 1859.  Even though barred from imposing a national curriculum the Feds are using C&S with promises of money or relief from other requirements for states that adopt Common Core.  Testing and textbook companies are happily complying because they see dollar signs, as do technology vendors.

Now if we add in the Feds’ interference with states’ efforts to curb voter fraud and illegal immigration (a Federal responsibility that it’s willfully neglecting), what’s left for the states?  State land permits don’t mean much any more either.  A state can issue a pond permit to a farm owner and the EPA can then fine the owner for digging it.  The EPA owns the water and the BLM owns the land.

I’ll close with two remarks.

Notice the “one-size-fits-all” similarity.  This is characteristic of socialism, where the individual is subordinate to the state.  Individualism is not a valued trait with socialists.

Also note that the 10th amendment, while granting rights to states, does not empower them to deny to the people the rights enumerated in the first nine.