Lying in Plain Sight

Here’s a question. Who has the final authority to decide what the U.S. Constitution means? The answer presents itself when one examines the preamble of the document. It is the folks who “establish and ordain” the charter:
“We the People”

This is a common sense statement. You will never hear this from those who favor the expansion of the powers of government to manage your life. The simple fact of the matter is We the People of the United States of America own the government, lock, stock, and barrel. We authorized the government in the corporate charter we call the Constitution. We, not the courts or any other part of the government authorized therein, are the final authority on what that charter means. They are our contractor. They would be more than happy to demand to us the conditions under which we must employ them. So would any other employee.

That's just too bad.

Over the course of several years I've also argued that the United States government is a corporation. This, too, is a common sense statement, but again and again voices of opposition will attempt to define away the corporate-ness of the organization we have authorized to defend and stabilize our society. "Government does not make a profit" they complain, a statement that is both baldly false (Prove that the tangible value of the government's assets has not grown in the last 220 years...) and irrelevant (Are there no "non-profit" corporations?)

The word "profit" is being used by those who wish to do harm to the private economy as a bogey-man, a personification of presented evil when profit really is only acquisition of resources. By using different, undemonized, words to describe the gathering of stuff and power by government and supposedly "non-profit" corporations people seek to confuse you. Power and resources seized by people in government is supposed to be good. Power and resources earned by people in business is supposed to be bad. Either way, though, power and resources are placed in the hands of people. To believe people in one kind of corporation will inherently use the power and resources well while people in another kind will inherently use them badly is to propose the kinds of institution have the power to magically transform the souls of human beings.

That is religious-like thinking.

We are hearing more and more about the old Nazi technique of the "Big Lie", the bold falsehood so often repeated that the population accepts it, unthinkingly, purely out of social pressure. Here I have shown you three examples of just such "Big Lies": Profit is bad, government is fundamentally different from a "corporation", and government is the final authority for our society. Society has become used to thinking the way these concepts have been presented to us are the only viable ways of thinking of them. That is just a warm and fuzzy presentation of big lies.

For any republic of free people to survive its citizens must be willing, even eager, to critically examine its cultural assumptions. Ultimately no physical freedom can exist where minds are chained.

If the people who govern us can make us comfortable with the idea we work for them it will be so. If we blithely accept that those who may extract from us what they claim to need at the point of a gun are good while those who must provide something to us for what we give them are bad we should not be surprised that we work more and more for less and less. If we accept that the label affixed to stuff and power makes a difference in how we should regard stuff and power we should not be surprised that people will seek to apply such seemingly magical labels to things throughout our world.

The quickest path to slavery is not physical defeat. It is uncritical acceptance of cultural dogma.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at April 8, 2010 12:52 PM
Comments
Comment #298625
Here’s a question. Who has the final authority to decide what the U.S. Constitution means? The answer presents itself when one examines the preamble of the document. It is the folks who “establish and ordain” the charter: “We the People”

In the broad, general sense, yes. But more specifically (and here’s where many on the right are unclear on the founders original intent):

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

[…]

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority…

Which following Marbury v. Madison has been taken to mean that the Courts can decide what laws are constitutional and which are not, with the legislative branch have the check of confirming them, and the Executive branch of nominating them for that appointment.

Since we elect all these people, and can kick their butts should they choose wrongly, we have a strong degree of influence.

But we delegated that power to a government, because no one individual can be trusted to exercise that power over another without the checks and balances that our system of democratic republican government provides. The government does function as the agent of its people. It can operate from the top down, but it can also be operated upon from the bottom up.

Corporations, though, are decidedly less accountable. They are accountable to a much smaller group,investors, who can accumulate power with shares the way the law does not allow a person to gather with votes. You can’t buy yourself a controlling share of votes as a citizen, as you would a stockholder.

While there is no hard and fast law of physics that demands that corporations act differently, the imperatives of a corporate environment, includin the profit motive, and the decidedly narrower set of interests that a corporation servers shape its conduct, its goals, and its ultimate actions. Governments of necessity must deal with more general interests, the interests of the majority of constituents, and the greater number of states. Now if you’re in the minority, this can be annoying, but the way our government is constructed, the definition of what is minority and majority can be very flexible.

Which is to say, Congressmen and women can shift their votes, as can Senators, and by doing so, pass or defeat bills accordingly. While we decry the wheeling and dealing that go on in Washington, at least some of that negotiating is meant to happen, supposed to happen.

Corporations are somewhat less flexible. Henry Ford was actually sued by his stockholders once because he gave his workers a raise, because he couldn’t demonstrate how it would profit the company to do this.

It is not that profit is inherently evil. It’s that profit itself is neither moral nor immoral, and can lead to both good and bad outcomes. Without an outside force deciding what’s permissable, the narrow interests and profit motive of corporations can make monsters out of them.

It is not a lie to distinguish between government and corporation, because corporations are formed under the law. Only with a very ambiguous definition do we subsume the former under the definition of the latter.

As far as government goes? A government must at least have the power to make binding decisions. Otherwise, it’s not a government. If a court decision can be safely ignored, what’s the point of taking a corporation to trial, or even of a contract? The rule of law is what makes a contract binding and worthwhile, a corporation accountable for its actions under the law.

I think you are badly confused about what most Liberals think about business. The truth is, we’re fine with enterprise, but we don’t want our government run at the mercy, at the beck and call of a small narrow group of interests. We want our government to belong to us, to all citizens, in more than just a nominal sense.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 8, 2010 3:04 PM
Comment #298626

Excellent post, Lee.

I agree totally. Profit isn’t bad, but greed sure can be, just as power can corrupt.

I tend to think of it as a mistake to believe that Government or a Constitution gives people rights. Rights are asserted and “self evident”, some would say, God given. Since I am an atheist, I wouldn’t use the last phrase, but agree with the idea that people are endowed with certain rights simply by being human beings.

As most lawyers will tell you rights must be asserted and fought for, even if enumerated on a piece of paper, or supposedly sanctioned by a government.

Posted by: gergle at April 8, 2010 3:10 PM
Comment #298627

Stephen,
I don’t have time to answer all the points, but let’s deal with this one.

As far as government goes? A government must at least have the power to make binding decisions. Otherwise, it’s not a government.
And our government does have that power within it’s charter. Nothing, however, gives even the courts to act outside their powers in the Constitution. Nothing. That has not stopped the courts from construing powers the Constitution does not give based on uses of things like the Commerce Clause, even when given the clear and unambiguous guidance of the people who wrote those words.

The Preamble makes perfectly clear from whom the powers granted to our government come. When the government seeks to go beyond those powers, no matter who in the chartered government is asserting the pretense of a right to do so, they are in violation of their contract with us. When they seek to enforce such violations they act seditiously.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 8, 2010 4:41 PM
Comment #298628

Lee Jamison-
Within the Constitution. We call it a charter, but it’s nothing so narrow or specialized as a corporate charter is. In fact, a corporation is chartered UNDER that authority.

As for the courts construing powers they don’t have?

Trouble is, I get the sense that you’re draping your opinions of how the constitution should be interpreted with the constitutional flag, not really talking about current jurisprudence, or making the actual arguments that would allow others to put your constitutional point to the test.

You’re asserting this from the authority you believe you can draw from the constitution. But an opinion in this country was not what framers gave power to; rather, they gave power to elected officials to decide law, the President how to carry it out, and the courts to decide the interpretation and the workings of the law in the real world.

The constitution sets up the framework of how it is itself judged, but it gives the courts the authority to interpret it in a binding sense.

We also have to realize that the constitution’s changed since then, and therefore the interpretation of the laws. We’ve actually made some of the guidance they left with us obselete.

History itself has complicated our interpretations, because courts have to decide cases now that are entirely outside the experience of the framers, who never encountered a computer who wasn’t a man scrawling numbers, nor a genetic engineer who wasn’t creating new breeds the old fashion way. We deal with planes, trains and automobiles, and all the infrastructure that keeps them in the air, on the road, and going down the rails.

America’s government was designed to adapt, not be a perpetual shrine to its founder’s personal opinions. Their wisdom is that they created a government and a citizenry that was free to change things, and free to deal with the consequences of the changes.

What you are trying to justify here is defiance of laws and rules you don’t like. You don’t want to have to be bothered with recognizing authority that doesn’t agree with you. You don’t want government to adapt to a majority that’s not yours.

The price of Democracy, is that everybody spends time in the minority, looking on as something they don’t like and interpretations they dislike win. If you were willing to pay that price, willing to recognize that your party can survive being in the minority and can rest and regroup, then your party could fare better. But your people are going to keep on running this marathon though you’re burning muscle up. You’re going to keep on beating the dead horse as Democrats offer a better alternative.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 8, 2010 5:59 PM
Comment #298629

Lee, I generally agree with your article. Just a point of clarification, however. The Supreme Court is the interpreter of the U.S. Constitution, as provided for in the Constitution. That said, the people can override the Supreme Court in several ways, one being legislatively, and the other being the forced demand at the polls (via voting out incumbents) for a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the Constitution or through the amendment process.

The fact that the people are so divided as to make the latter two ways impossible, is no fault of the government or the Constitution, but, of the political parties. The only options to redress the political parties is to stop supporting them, and vote for challengers to their incumbents, or independent, or third party candidates.

These are the powers granted to the people to address change in their government. It only remains for a sufficient number to exercise those powers to force consensual change. Of course, that is precisely what elections are all about, voting to keep government as it is, or voting to change it.

The ultimate power over the Constitution does rest with the majority of the American people, but, they must act as a majority with consensus to effect such change. Absent that exercise, the interpretation of the Constitution does rest with the Supreme Court, as set forth in the Constitution.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 8, 2010 7:42 PM
Comment #298630

Good job Lee.

But Stephen made a statement that I wholeheartedly agree with:

“But we delegated that power to a government, because no one individual can be trusted to exercise that power over another without the checks and balances that our system of democratic republican government provides. The government does function as the agent of its people. It can operate from the top down, but it can also be operated upon from the bottom up.”

One individual should not have all the power and in the case of the President, there are two more branches of government to keep things in check. But what happens when the two branch of government fail to do their job, or refuse to do their job?

Posted by: Beretta9 at April 8, 2010 8:33 PM
Comment #298634

Lee the federal government is not incorporated and the constitution is not a charter despite your repeated attempts at the “Big Lie”.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 8, 2010 8:56 PM
Comment #298636

Stephen,

You consistenly err in assuming the rights of the people descend from the Constitution. They do not. The very existence of the Constitution itself is proof that such is not the case because the Articles of Confederation did not provide for constitutional conventions. The statement contained in the preamble asserting the right of the people to “establish and ordain” inherently recognized the right of the people to DISSOLVE a governmental charter that failed in its stated purpose. Were it not recognized to be so the Constitution itself would be illegal.

You have made this error before, having stated at one point that the Declaration of Independence was not a legal document. Then again, had that been so the rationale for our separation from Great Britain would never have been found in a so-called “legal” document.

The kernel of that rationale is found in the statement-

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (emphasis mine)

It is, as inconvenient as it may seem to those who see their path to power and wealth through the formalities and constrictions of government, on these grounds this nation, a nation built on an IDEA, even exists.

This insistence, so often characterized by bureaucratic powermongers as lawlessness, is in fact the opposite of lawlessness. It is the unyielding DEMAND that government come to heel when it is told to do so. When a government forgets it is allowed to serve only by the “consent of the governed” and starts to insist as this one has that the people owe their rights to it the time has come once again to wave the Declaration of Independence as an intellectual banner of freedom by which even governments must be held to the limits of the law.

Does this mean some individual should be granted the power to act alone on the people’s behalf? No. Nor should it ever be construed to mean that any NINE individuals should have the right to extend the limits of powers the founders so carefully forged to protect us from the overreach of even the most well-meaning leaders. If a government needs a power but can’t convince the people to grant it by the means provided in the Constitution itself it is still lawless overreach to imagine it into existence without our consent.

What the Constitution wisely provided for was a means to give our revolutions an orderly process by which to proceed. What I am suggesting here is not that we should depart from that way, but that it is time for the people to understand that we have been complacent as people in government figured out how to ovethrow US.

To correct this we need not resort to violence, but we must get serious about how freedom works. It requires us, the citizens of the United States to recognize the most important office in the United States is the office of CITIZEN. When we fail to take that office seriously, even when we’ve been taught to be complacent by people our neglect empowers, we can be ever so comfortably slipped into slavery.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 8, 2010 11:23 PM
Comment #298638

Stephen,

Marbury v. Madison was decided in 1803. James Madison’s (a successful party to the foregoing decison) assertion about the Commerce Clause happens 26 years afterward. Presumably he understands both the document for which he was the principal author and the concept of judicial review which was developed by the three authors of the Federalst Papers, of which he was one.

That a law means what those who wrote it meant it to mean is not a ridiculous straightjacket for the government. It is what stands between us as a society protected by laws and the rule of men. When the law becomes problematic the way to change it is to CHANGE it.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 8, 2010 11:56 PM
Comment #298641

Lee
Corporations are legal constructs granted by individual states for the purpose of engaging in commerce. They are NOT natural occurences. They are not anthropological systems like nuclear families,tribes or ,yes, even governments. This is akin to discussing how many angels can dance on a pin.Maybe someday we can get to discussing the new arms reduction treaty with Russia or new approaches to middle east peace or how is the best way to regulate banking or what is the best way to help create more jobs or address energy concerns or……..

Posted by: bills at April 9, 2010 1:05 AM
Comment #298644

The Declaration WAS a legal document…just not the legal document of and for America today. The Declaration can be placed in mothballs, because George III lost the war and lost again in the after-war of 1812. The Declaration has zero effect on the laws that govern We The People, in our current situation (it can be used now only as a written guide to revolution. But, if you are going to revolt, rather than to just be revolting, you can likely write a more modern version that would suit the purpose better). For that we have the Constitution, and it was written and designed to carry us forward as a GOVERNMENT. The only reason it was written was to carry us forward as a GOVERNMENT. Look at the document…can you see any other reason for its existence than to carry us forward as a GOVERNMENT?

Business is necessary…trade is necessary…the only reason corporations are necessary is the Commerce Clause. The GOVERNMENT gives meaning to corporations that corporations do not have without the Clause. Change the Clause and America will be a safer place for We The People. A corporation cannot be part of a ‘more perfect union’, nor can it be a promoter ‘domestic tranquility’…etc. The goals of a corporation are radically different, because ‘freedom’ is not part of a corporate lexicon.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 9, 2010 5:40 AM
Comment #298659

Bills,
“Corporations” are defined by authorizing agencies in documents to which the initial parties agree. We have a general definition that comes down from the heritage of past examples of the creature that goes something like this: An organization legally chartered to act as an individual for defined purposes on behalf of the interests of many individuals.

Now, you can attempt to jigger the DEFINITION of the word “corporation” to intentionally EXCLUDE chartered governments from the concept, but that is blatant lawyerly dishonesty. I call chartered governments corporations because they are organizations legally chartered to act as an individual for defined purposes on behalf of the interests of many individuals.

In any such organization it is easy for the officers to lose track of their fiduciary responsibilities to the stakeholders, attaching their psychological self-interest instead to the organizational structures with which they deal on a daily basis. They become more attached to the organization and their personal security, their jobs, than to those whom the organization is intended to serve. To imagine otherwise is to be false to one’s self

People favoring government in this debate argue as though human beings functioning in the structure of a government will generally lay self-interest aside. That is simple nonsense. People within the structure of government have an institutional bias to grow the organization in order to protect their personal interests. They will see the national interest and the interest of government as being one in the same because, from their perspective, the nation exists to keep the government strong. People invested in this notion are far more threatened psychologically by the idea of government losing control of something it dominates than they are of government itself impeding the effectiveness of the society or economy.


Marysdude,

The Declaration of Independence establishes the foundation for comprehending our government as a true revolutionary government. The Constitution then takes the next step in creating a form of governance that establishes the revolution as a permanent and inseparable feature of a sustainably constrained yet potent reflection of the people’s will. The very fact that the people can, by measured steps, “overthrow” the government gives them a greater (sometimes mistaken) confidence their voices will be heard in the halls of power. That revolutionary sensibility is the foundation of our national identity.

The Declaration is indespensible no matter what has followed it.

Commercial corporations preexisted the Commerce Clause by several centuries. Partial charters of government for far longer than that. Your statement makes no sense.

The notion that corporations, as I have defined them above, are unnecessary in a modern economy is unsupportable. I challenge you to present a convincing scenario in which you need no organization to represent your personal interests beyond yourself and in which, likewise, you need no other agency to represent the interests of others in society to whom you would go to market your wares or seek redress of grievances or gather your material needs.

Tell us, please, how your world works.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 9, 2010 11:36 AM
Comment #298662

Who said that corporations (how you define them or in reality either) are unnecessary? I merely pointed out that corporations should not be part of governance in a free society, because their goals are at odds with freedom. Corporations would like nothing more than to have a captive society that the corporation could mold in its image. That is not what the founders wanted, nor is it good for America today. If you have eyes to see, you can see that corporations are not what’s best for us unless they are controlled by us in the form of regulation, which would include laws against excessive electioneering. Concentrated dollars in the hands of giants, with the unfettered freedom to use those dollars can do nothing but destroy our country.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 9, 2010 12:04 PM
Comment #298664

Marysdude,

You’re right about corporations in some regard. I especially liked this statement: “Concentrated dollars in the hands of giants, with the unfettered freedom to use those dollars can do nothing but destroy our country.” In fact the giant that is our government exactly fits this bill, and, as I have said many times these great corporations, both industrial and governmental, have far more in common with each other than either has in common with us. Thus, with edicts like this- DOE standard -government will partner with great corporations to force the people into purchasing products from the industrial giants we would not have purchased otherwise, or we will not be able to sell our homes.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 9, 2010 1:58 PM
Comment #298674

Lee,

Strangely enough, I agree with at least some of your complaints. The thing I still do not understand is how you can believe in the Constitution, a Constitution that is at the very heart of our government, and still think we can embark on a governmentless future. To me, the alternative is chaos.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 9, 2010 3:22 PM
Comment #298676

PS:

If the Clause can be rescinded, and we are free of the yoke of corporate America, perhaps our government, the government you love to hate, can get back to the matters facing the people…who knows, ‘cause it’ll never happen with final say in the hands of the Roberts Court.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 9, 2010 3:26 PM
Comment #298679

Marysdude,

It is a misinterpretation of my remarks to believe I want a “governmentless” future. The government that was established with the Constitution launched right into conflicts on things like taxes on particular products. The first crisis faced by George Washington was a tax revolt by distillers of hard liquor. He rode with the Army to quell the uprising and enforce a federal tax, something quite a few people thought he would not be able to do.

The distinction I’m making is that government has crossed a line with the Healthcare Law that free people must not permit. It is one thing for the government to tell us that our voluntary participation in the public commons will have certain costs, or certain percentage costs. We can make such efforts and accept such risks as are necessary not to participate in the public commons to avoid those strictures. It is another thing entirely for the government to state that our very existence will involuntarily commit us to certain costs. At that point we must do labor to service those set costs, a minimum duty set on our freedom. That is a violation of the 13th Amendment, no matter what powers are imagined to accrue from the Commerce Clause.

It is not anarchy to reject such an intrusion on freedom of personal choice. It is simply stating that the government has no standing to decide how my body will be cared for.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 9, 2010 5:59 PM
Comment #298685

Lee,

There is precedent:

John Adams signed it into law before the turn of the 19th century…

In Salem, and elsewhere in the young United States, merchant mariners thus appeared at the customhouse in search of “a passport to the hospital.” In 1799 the federal government established these hospitals, or marine hospitals, in most ports throughout the country to care for sick and disabled merchant mariners. The government financed the hospitals by a tax on sailors’ monthly wages. As ships returned to port, customs officials collected the marine hospital tax and forwarded it to the federal Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. The Treasury then distributed these funds to customs officials to hire doctors and nurses to care for merchant mariners. In larger ports, such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, and New Orleans, the federal government operated its own hospitals. Throughout the nineteenth century the marine hospitals grew westward with the nation. By 1900 the hospitals had treated hundreds of thousands of merchant mariners.

That the federal government created this health care system for merchant mariners in the early American republic will surprise many. This is due in no small measure to the tenor of political debate about health care in American society. Advocates of government structured, universal health care plans claim that the times are too fast and costs too high to return to the old days of “pay-as-you-go” care. Deregulationists counter that only by removing the stamp of government from health care can society relive the great success of decades and centuries past. Both sides presuppose that government regulation and provision of health care is a new development. But the story of the marine hospitals in the early American republic suggests that the United States has a long history of using institutions to manage public health. Through the marine hospitals, the federal government used health care to regulate a crucial labor force in an age of maritime commerce. Treating sick and disabled merchant mariners helped stabilize the maritime labor force. More broadly, through the marine hospitals, we witness the actual points of interaction between government, community, and individuals. A glimpse within hospital walls reveals the rich, diverse personal experiences of working in, or being treated in, an early federal marine hospital. To be sure the marine hospitals were effective instruments of politics and policy. But within the marine hospitals, medical practice and administration was far more than an abstract tool of political economy. Rather, the stories of sickness, injury, admission, treatment, resistance, and regulation that characterized life within the marine hospitals reveal how the federal government shaped the social, economic, and political order of the early republic to a degree scholars have only just now begun to appreciate.

This is from: www.common-place.org

Merchant Marines were civilians in those days…just American citizens.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 9, 2010 7:38 PM
Comment #298717

Marysdude,

You treat this as though it speaks to the same issue. It does not. There was a substantial infrastructure in place for the support of ports and international trade. The Merchant Marine used this public common, which was also the largest source of federal revenue before the Income Tax, to make its living. If someone did not wish to pay the tax they could do almost any other job. So, though the tax was mandatory on those working in the Merchant Marine, it was still voluntary.

This situation is different. There is no non-action a free person may take within the confines of the law to make non-compliance legal. Merely to LIVE legally one is required to pay a tribute to the government. If one wished not to do so there is no legal way out.

Voila! Involuntary servitude.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 10, 2010 8:00 AM
Comment #298723

“It is not anarchy to reject such an intrusion on freedom of personal choice. It is simply stating that the government has no standing to decide how my body will be cared for.
Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 9, 2010 05:59 PM”

Lee isn’t that the pro abortion argument?

Posted by: j2t2 at April 10, 2010 8:38 AM
Comment #298731

j2t2,

Good question. That is, of course, the argument by which Roe pretends to be decided. Try using it to excuse euthanizing your grandmother in the privacy of your own home even with her consent, though, and you’ll find the heart of the issue because you’d be charged with murder.

The presumption of fundamental civil rights for every class of human being OTHER than the unborn is that they have the right to live, though not necessarily to die. That is to say that what the law defines as human has a presumption of civil protection, even in the case of non-citizens.

The REAL issue, then, is the DEFINITION of a human being before the law. This is something no government has any business taking out of the hands of the people, but it is precisely what the Warren Court did in a de facto manner in Roe. Seven unaccountable human beings effectively took the definition of a human being into their own hands. There is today, just as there was in the time of slavery, a class of human beings the government has decided are not human.

Now, j2t2, there is, I think, an argument that could be made based on the legal theory imbedded in the Third Amendment, which prohibits the involuntary accommodation of soldiers in time of war, for not forcing an individual to HOUSE a person who is unwelcome. I actually think that could be a strong argument founded in real personal freedom. There are people throughout the nation who suffer from exposure because they are homeless, but the authorities do not compell ordinary citizens to house them against their will.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 10, 2010 9:52 AM
Comment #298735

Lee Jamison-
I don’t think they descend from words, but agreed upon ideas. I think by and large people are happy with the constitution as it is, they’re just very unhappy with those they sent to uphold it.

Unfortunately, Republicans refuse to believe that public opinion has left them behind. Was not enough of a clear signal sent?

Clinton, for all his problems, for all his serious mistakes, is judged a better leader than Bush because he could take those hints. Bush is judged a terrible one, because after all his failures, after all his bungled policies and incompetent decisions, after all that went so seriously wrong on his watch, he could not believe that he himself had erred, or his party.

I believe all this rubbish you folks have been going on since Obama was elected has been a failure to take a lesson from his horrible example and rethink what your party and your political movement are doing.

This system was meant to punish people like yourselves, people who in their hubris can see no one else’s right (or rights), and do not register their own wrong.

You talk airily about how you’re following the constitution. Well, then, show the sixty vote threshold in the senate, right in Article One. Demonstrate for me that the Framers intended such gridlock, rather than productive competition of ideas.

What if the governed consent to be more governed, despite the protests of a vocal minority? What in the constitution justifies the ignoring of inconvenient election results?

And what in the constitution says that anybody but the Supreme Court can interpret our laws with finality?

We didn’t set up some system that magically produces the result of the will of the people, that makes everybody’s opinion equally manifest in the government. Individuals, to a certain extent, don’t matter. Consensus between individuals, and the rights that allow it to develop naturally, are what matters.

The main question is why the framers gave the nine their lifetime power, made them appointees by the President, confirmed by Congress. Why not have the courts rule on the law from the executive branch, or make them purely congressional appointees? Why not make them elected officials?

There were ways to make the courts directly accountable to the people. The framers didn’t take it. Why?

The answer is the stability of the law. You may not like or agree with the constitutional interpretations as they exist. You may think that they betray the spirit of our Democracy. But then, have other folks in the minority not thought the same thing about other laws? Has there ever been a point where everybody agreed on what the constitution means?

The whole point of having courts is to have some place where such disputes can be put to rest, not to cut off the ability of people to dispute YOUR interpretation. Our republic works off the premise that government is a thing agreed upon, and laws must have a clear, agreeable meaning, even if it’s not popular. The Framers did not design this government to give everybody instant gratification. They designed this government to keep the peace and allow resolution of conflict between the citizens of our nation in an orderly and peaceful manner.

As you threaten conflict, keep that in mind. Keep in mind what you are setting yourself in opposition to, and allying yourself in concordance with.

That a law means what those who wrote it meant it to mean is not a ridiculous straightjacket for the government. It is what stands between us as a society protected by laws and the rule of men. When the law becomes problematic the way to change it is to CHANGE it.

As I said, the commerce clause in his time was built to deal with corporation that were far less far-reaching, economic operations far less integrated by communications and transportation. Hell, with the Internet, the commerce clause is tripped by default, given its nationwide, worldwide reach.

I would say, before you start writing new law, see how well the old law is operating, and how and where it can apply. Legislate where necessary, Amend where necessary, not as a means to instant gratification.

As for this whole corporation schtick?

You can talk of generalized similarities. Gee, folks get together for a common purpose. Well, we could call that a corporation, a government, a family, a church, a secret society, or whatever. There are documents involved in all, rules, this, that, and the other. Your definition is so vague that all kinds of other absurd examples could be included. Could a Church not have self-interest, like the Catholic Church that tragically hid child molesters out of their paranoia at secular society’s antipathy towards organized religion? Could a family not also be chartered by agreement (marriage license, promises of various kinds, adoption papers)? When a step-parent adopts their partner’s kids, should that be governed by laws concerning mergers and acquisitions?

Are your child’s allowances capital gains, or wages?

A corporation is a specific kind of thing under our law, your arguments notwithstanding. They are chartered in states and under the Federal Government’s authority. While a Government might have, like any group, self interests of its own, that’s what our Democratic system of electing officials is supposed to be a form of check on, because at the end of the day, their interests are supposed to be ours.

What frightens me and concerns me about the way Republicans and Conservatives, and others on the right deal with government is this constant despair that government can do anything. I think that is part and parcel of why Republicans have fallen and failed the way they do.

What incentive does a Republican have to run government well, when they’ve painted themselves into the corner of supporting themselves mainly on the notion of the hatred of government? If you demonstrate government as useful, government programs as successful, keep government budgets in line, people will not have that useful kind of alarm that helps folks to vote for people who hate and loath government.

Despair at the ability of government to function is a good thing for Republicans. That is why they could get away with shutting down the government, blockading the Senate, and naysaying the Democrat’s Healthcare Reform Proposal without offering a counter proposal of their own.

Republicans depend on a kind of political philosophy nowadays that basically requires people to see government as something above them, alienated from them.

But government goes on, doesn’t it? What happens when government is alienated from its people, but still exercises that same power? Well, its going to be made to serve the self interests of those in charge, and those who serve the self interests on the outside.

I believe there are two necessary components to government rule as a Democratic Republic: that the structures be in place for the people to place their checks and balances on the government, and that they have the will to demand what they want from the government, and deal with the consequences in an adult fashion. This takes long term responsibility and the will power to stick with that.

So, to put it plainly, I believe that what your party is essentially doing is sapping people of the will to rule their own government, to rule themselves. You folks balk at just about any law where the people of this country take control of their circumstances, impose their will on the corporations, the the interest groups, and others, instead of letting those organizations come in and write things to their own tastes.

So, contrary to what you say and believe, I am not against the people taking control. I am very much for it, and I am fighting against your side’s unwillingness to yield power to the majority so that Americans in the majority can finally see constitutional results as they would like to see them.

I am also much more confident that should things go wrong, we should be able to fix our mistakes, rather than sit around wailing and gnashing our teeth about it, doing nothing, letting things get worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 10, 2010 10:34 AM
Comment #298739

Stephen,

The problem with the premise of your whole post just now is the blithely vacant assumption that the overreaches of formal government can be undone as easily as they are done. No casual student of history can believe such a thing. Indeed the very idea of the Constitution itself is proof that the founders knew very well that for each power one granted government there must be some means of constraining power.

To put it another way, you’ve just spent more than 1000 words to say “Dude, leave it to the people who care. It’s gonna be OK.”

There is not, in the whole diatribe, one cogent answer to any point I’ve made in either the article or in the subsequent discussion. You paint me as a de facto supporter of the Bush administration and its policies, a patent falsehood, further pretending that the Bush administration is representative of conservatism, an even more blatant falsehood.

You imagine that failure to support government solutions to the problems of the world is a failure to support solutions to those problems- a fine example of high philosophical quackery.

You continue to try to fight off the statement of the obvious that the government is a corporation because you instinctively understand the import of the statement. You even SUPPORT the import of it by your disdainful reference to the Catholic Church! What clearer illustration of the nature of corporate psychology could there be in a supposedly non-corporate environment than people compromising the stated mission of the organization to protect the organizational structure? That is exactly, exactly what I am illustrating by repetitions of the fact that government IS A CORPORATION.

Having blithely whitewashed the psychology that makes corporate thought so dangerous you proceed to blithely whitewash the process by which that psychology can grant itself even greater powers without our consent. You correctly note that we are happy with the Constitution we have, glossing over in so saying the difficulty of the process of amending the Constitution to legitimately get for the government the powers it claims, thus confunding the apathy most people feel over the workings of government with satisfaction. When one gets down to it blithe disregard seems to be your whole modus operandi, save that it is so important to you that you feel compelled to scream “Don’t care!” at the top of your lungs.

For once I’d like to see a poll of people who do care. I’d frame the poll in this way: From a sample of registered voters who could correctly identify what the three branches of the federal government are, what Article I of the Constitution defines, and what the first ten amendments are called, I’d ask questions about whether government is listening to the people or is trying to dictate to the people, whether the government is not powerful enough or is too powerful, Whether the government should control the economy more or less, whether health care is a basic right or not, etc.

Something tells me you wouldn’t like the result of a poll of people who know something, even only so little as I describe above, about the Constitution.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 10, 2010 12:02 PM
Comment #298782

Lee it is actually much more basic than that IMHO. Why would it be an acceptable argument to suggest that the government has no standing on how your body will be cared for yet condemn another for saying the very same thing when it comes to her body. You can’t have it both ways.

The real issue on health care is more of a monetary issue, a health insurance issue than a health issue though. The government is not actually becoming the Doctor despite the misinformation campaign we have seen from the repubs and tea baggers.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 10, 2010 11:18 PM
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