Third Party & Independents Archives

LP Platform: Statement of Principles

Part one of sixteen. Because of a lot of misinformation about the Libertarian Party exists, some innocent and some malicious, over the next sixteen articles in this series I plan to discuss each section of the national Libertarian Party platform as way to illuminate readers on basic libertarianism and the Libertarian Party in specific. In this first article we begin at the beginning, the Libertarian Party’s Statement of Principles.

The rest of the platform is ever changing. It deals with issues currently presented to us as a society that must be dealt with and how the Libertarian party, at this time, sees as the best way to deal with those issues. However, this part of the platform, the Statement of Principles, is a statement of the basic views that we not only choose how to vote or run a political party by, or even how a government should be managed, but how we live our lives. They are not about to be changed lightly, or at all, though the rest of the platform will invariably change over time as new issues are raised, old ones are dealt with and new ways of solving an issue that may not have been thought of before are debated and presented. Libertarians are at odds with each other on many of the remaining platform, much as any party is going to have disagreements and discussions amongst its members on how best to deal with issues before us.

The full text of the LP Party Platform can be viewed here and everyone can see that I am not taking anything out of context or omitting anything. The Statement of Principles states:

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

The rights of the individual. It’s a political concept that isn’t mentioned much in today’s politics anymore. In fact, if it were I doubt that the need to start the Libertarian Party in 1971 would have existed. But what does it really mean? The problem is that everyone is for individual rights. It sounds right and good, but these days the notion of what an individual’s rights are and where they are defined is decidedly suspect. In fact, many people, thanks to our wonderful educational system, think that these are the rights listed in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. In reality, they aren’t defined there are all.

But, if the individual rights that we speak of are not defined in the Constitution, what are they? These rights, these ‘inalienable’ rights, are those rights we have simply by being sentient beings. They cannot be granted by a government because they exist outside of the notion of governments and ruling bodies. These rights ensure that a human being is in charge of his own body, his own property and his own life. What he says, what he does and how he chooses to live his life, as long as he does not intrude on another’s rights to the same. These rights can only be usurped by governments. And that is exactly what the Bill of Rights was designed to prevent.

    "Man [is] a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights and with an innate sense of justice." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823.
    "I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Danbury Baptists, 1802.
    "Each of us has a natural right, from God, to defend his person, his liberty, and his property." -- Frederic Bastiat
    “The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right” -- James Madison
    “Citizens have the natural right and the common sense duty to protect themselves, their families, their communities, and their property...guns are the equalizing tools of self-protection, utopian lamentations notwithstanding.” -- Edgar A. Suter
    “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can” -- Samuel Adams
    “There are natural and imprescriptible rights which an entire nation has no right to violate.” -- Marquis De Lafayette

Wikipedia has a well written article on the issue of Individual Rights.

Individual rights are distinct from civil rights; civil rights are rights granted by government and individual rights are assumed prior to government. Individual rights are often codified into law so that they may be protected by impartial third parties such as the government. Governments that respect individual rights often provide for systemic controls that protect individual rights such as a system of "due process" in criminal justice. Police states are generally considered to be oppressive because they do not respect individual rights. With respect to individual rights the role of the government is as a third party protecting, identifying and enforcing the rights of the individual while attempting to assure just remedies for transgressions.

But what are these rights exactly? A lot has been written about that.

    Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can. – Samuel Adams
    "I do not like... the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land and not by the law of nations." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.

I could go on but statements made at the time resolved around the notion that natural rights, those rights granted to us because of our humanity not from the government and therefore unable to be superseded, existed. In the debates between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, the argument was not that these existed nor that they should not be absolute, but whether or not there was a need for these rights to be enumerated in the new Constitution.

The argument went as such: “Since the document was a list of the limited ability of a government to perform a function, there was no need for that document to list those natural rights. “ Unlike many other ‘agreements’ between the government and the people that existed at the time and did list rights, the constitution was not intended as such, the belief being that the government came from the people, not a monarchy or aristocracy. As such, the document was created as a limitation on what the government could do in order for the people to allow it to exist, not a list of what a citizen could do by a government that existed for other reasons.

The Federalists and Anti-Federalists argued two different sides of the debate on listing these rights.
Federalists demanded a list be in place. They were forward thinking and by placing a list into the Constitution they were certain that if in the future a form of aristocracy or apparent monarchy were to surface, it would be clear that these rights were absolute. This ensured that in future generations that might forget or be taught differently, we would still ensure that this rights were written down and locked away. All we have to do is look around and see how right they were, the attempts by those seeking power in the most pure form, the use of compulsion that the government wields, are numerous.

Anti-Federalists, however, looked ahead also. Their fear was that if a list of rights were listed out that in the future some people looking to solve problems or gain power would make the argument that our rights come only from the Constitution and if they aren’t listed then they don’t exist. Again, all we have to do is look around and see how right they were, many people argue that exact thing today when looking to either protect us from ourselves or enforce the government’s power over us.

In fact, it was this argument between the states that nearly prevented the Constitution from being ratified. Several states refused to ratify the original Constitution because it did not list out some of our natural rights to ensure their protection.

James Madison summed it up best when he stated:

It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution.

This is where the ninth amendment of the Constitution comes in to play. The ninth amendment reads:

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

This statement is simple and powerful at the same time. It does not mince words nor is it open to ‘interpretation’. Simply stated, we still retain our natural rights even if they are not spelled out specifically in the Constitution.
A classic example of the ninth amendment being used properly can be seen in regards to our Right to Privacy. This right is not explicitly detailed in our Bill of Rights, however since that right is a natural right it is still protected by the ninth amendment. Several examples of how this applied to a right to privacy can be listed from history, including Roe V Wade, but Justice Goldberg’s explanation of the case of Griswold V Connecticut is one of the best decisions written to date, stating:

The language and history of the Ninth Amendment reveal that the Framers of the Constitution believed that there are additional fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement, which exist alongside those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight constitutional amendments....

To hold that a right so basic and fundamental and so deep-rooted in our society as the right of privacy in marriage may be infringed because that right is not guaranteed in so many words by the first eight amendments to the Constitution is to ignore the Ninth Amendment and to give it no effect whatsoever. Moreover, a judicial construction that this fundamental right is not protected by the Constitution because it is not mentioned in explicit terms by one of the first eight amendments or elsewhere in the Constitution would violate the Ninth Amendment....

Nor do I mean to state that the Ninth Amendment constitutes an independent source of rights protected from infringement by either the States or the Federal Government. Rather, the Ninth Amendment shows a belief of the Constitution’s authors that fundamental rights exist that are not expressly enumerated in the first eight amendments and an intent that the list of rights included there not be deemed exhaustive.

It’s a hard pill for many today to swallow, however. The thought that our rights specifically spelled out as the Bill of Rights (ninth and tenth amendments excluded, in fact there are many who happily ignore their existence) is ingrained in our collective political conscience by an overreaching and expanding government, mostly based on good intentions, that has replaced the notion of self determination and individual rights.

In fact, many looking to the Constitution as a way to solve issues see it more as a document of what limits a citizen’s rights. One prime example is that of the General Welfare clause of the Constitution. That clause states:

“The Congress shall have the 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. . .”

Many point to that clause and say ‘aha, see! The government has a right to provide welfare’.

Unfortunately, they get that wrong. The statement ‘general welfare’ had a specific meaning, relating to making sure that all uses of government were presented equally to all individuals and would not harm anyone.

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers wrote about this clause exhaustively so that we can see exactly what was meant and not meant about it. Most specifically, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.”

"I say... to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless: If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives." --Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803.

"The construction applied... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States," and "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof," goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to [the General Government's] power by the Constitution... Words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798.

"To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, "to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare." For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791.

"Aided by a little sophistry on the words "general welfare," [the federal branch claim] a right to do not only the acts to effect that which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think or pretend will be for the general welfare." --Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, 1825.

"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please... Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791.

That last quote is eerily prophetic.

So that is the basis of what the Libertarian Party principles lie. When we say principles, we mean that instead of looking at each individual issue, law or proposed action, they should be filtered through these stated principles.

It would be very easy to say that to ensure our public safety we can legislate the installation of cameras in the houses of each citizen, wired to a central database, so that if something happens to an individual in their own home where they should feel the most safe it will be captured and the offender arrested immediately. But that would violate our right to privacy. Does that mean we should not attempt to provide safety and protection for our citizens? No, of course not, but we have to make sure any enacted solution does NOT violate those principles.

It would be very easy to say that all people should not smoke or eat fatty foods. Smoking provides no benefits and causes great health issues; to protect the citizens from this we should make it illegal to smoke cigarettes. And fatty foods are causing our society to become obese and unhealthy. But these would violate our rights as well. Does that mean we should not attempt to educate and ensure that everyone is made well aware of what harm the act can place on a person’s body? No, of course not, but we need to make sure that in combating dangerous drugs and unhealthy actions we do NOT violate those principles.

It would be very easy to say that we should not allow people to speak out against the government or our actions in case our enemies become emboldened by them. It would be easy to make it illegal for people to burn a flag. It would be easy to tell people that they can’t enter into business agreements that are not financially safe. It would be easy to tell people how they should think or feel towards others. But these would again violate our rights.

It would be very easy to say and do a lot of things that we personally think should apply to all, but before we ask for that to happen, we have to ensure that we are not violating the natural, individual rights that we all maintain merely by being human beings.

We are a smart people. We have the ability to see these limitations not as hurdles and obstacles but proper blocks put in place to ensure that we don’t violate the rights of others through our own attempts at doing good works. We are smart enough to find a way to deal with the issues presented before us without having to resort to violating these principles. This is what Libertarians believe in; this is what makes the Libertarian Party the “Party of Principle”.

Posted by Rhinehold at September 12, 2007 4:57 PM
Comments
Comment #232658

“(3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.”

Should not this instead say the right to maintain and keep private property. As presently worded saying “the right to property” it sounds like it is a basic right that all people should have property, when in fact many people do not have property.

I do understand what it means I just think it is poorly worded.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at September 12, 2007 6:32 PM
Comment #232659

Nicely done…

I am glad you included the bit about natural rights vs civil rights. All too often these two things are confused. Governments cannot, by nature, ‘take away’ our natural rights… they can choose to not recognize them and punish you for using them, but they cannot take them away. There is a difference.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 12, 2007 7:03 PM
Comment #232664

Rhinehold, Jefferson has a real problem with his cautions. They lack specificity. He never defines who is the decider of what are included in unenumerated rights to be protected, vs. claimed rights which should not be protected.

Given that the Constitution contemplated and approved of slavery and denied slaves the vote or choice in their chattel disposition, would Libertarians, in accordance with their principles, argue that the original Constitution was correct, and the Emancipation and Civil Rights eras constitute a violation of individual rights of slave owners enumerated as protected from the taking of property without due process? Or, would they agree with Emancipation and the Civil Rights era outcomes, on the basis that the will of the victors of the Civil War and the Congress and Courts during the Civil Rights era constituted due process?


Jefferson too runs into a problem in his failure to define who is the decider or where the line is drawn to proscribe either Congressional limitation regarding “general welfare” justified, vs. “general welfare” unjustified. Was the federal government’s decision to abolish slavery in accordance with Libertarian principles of general welfare, despite its taking of personal property? Or was it a violation of Libertarian’s view of due process? How does Jefferson address this? (Hint: as a slave owner, he conveniently doesn’t? )

And finally, he obviously defers to the Constitution’s amendment process which permits the will of the state’s legislatures supported by their public constituents, to amend the Constitution in accordance with the will of the majority, by virtue of his signature and drafting of the Constitution. How does this amendment process by majority vote comport with Jefferson’s view of individual protection of unenumerated rights?

Jefferson was a great man. Jefferson was also a flawed man, failing to live by his own prescriptions. A central flaw was his illogical position on unenumerated rights. How can one decide between those claimed as being fair game for legislative denial, and those claimed as inviolate, without enumerating them?

As a slave owner, he was one of those do as I say, not as I do kind of politicians, similar to some Republican Congresspersons of late. Great man. Far from perfect, and in many ways inadequate to the task of proscribing for a future such as our present became.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 12, 2007 8:25 PM
Comment #232669

David,

If Jefferson were alive today, I have no doubt that he would abhor slavery as I do. Yes, he was flawed, we all are. I think that is the VERY best reason to ensure that this principles are followed in government, who are we, as flawed individuals, to say what other flawed people can do with their lives? In fact, he violated his own view of the Constitution when he signed the deal for the Louisianna Territory.

The simple fact is that our Constitution was a document limiting the powers of government, not listing what rights people retained. The ninth and tenth amendments are very clear about that.

As for his ‘illogical position’ on enumerated rights, it was not just his position, but the position of many others as I detailed. It was the ideals that this country were founded upon. If you want to throw those ideals out, which it appears that you do, then you are proscribing that we are only guaranteed the rights listed out in the Bill of Rights, ignoring the ninth and tenth ones (not exactly full support of the Bill of Rights if you go that route, IMO) and believe that government should do whatever it wants to do.

In which case there is nothing in the Constitution that is valid. In fact, by doing so, you are in the same camp as President Bush when his said it was “just a goddamn piece of paper”. It makes it laughable that so many people just ignore the parts of the Constitution that gets in their way or that they don’t like but expect it to be upheld for the things that they believe should be there.

And I find your definition of ‘logic’ somewhat laughable, as we have previously discussed.

Are you saying that we don’t have rights unless they are written down in the constitution? Was Griswold v Connecticut a ‘bad ruling’? Was Roe V Wade? Please help me understand your ‘logic’ David.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 12, 2007 8:56 PM
Comment #232672

Excellent post, Rhinehold

I can hardly wait for the next one. Thank You.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 12, 2007 10:01 PM
Comment #232675

Nice article Rhinehold. Very well written.

Regarding the founders and slavery, I think most were well aware of the contradiction between the slavery protections that were written into the Constitution and the description of natural rights. Both Madison and Jefferson took a run at removing the slavery protections (and Madison even went so far to try to outlaw slavery) during the Constitutional Convention.

Ultimately slavery in the South until the civil war is a lot like the problem politicians that dislike campaign contributions find themselves in today. You have to have them to get elected and chnage the laws. The immorality bothered Madison and Jefferson greatly. Madison during the convention presciently predicted that slavery would lead to a major tear in the country.

“How can one decide between those claimed as being fair game for legislative denial, and those claimed as inviolate, without enumerating them?”

The 9th would not have so much trouble were it not for the gutting of the 10th. The framers believed heavily in a Federal government. With the Constitution, they intended primarily to proscribe the actions of the central government not that of the States. The States were only subject to the judicial review regarding the violations of these natural rights.

States were intended to take on much more of the day to day administration of government. The Fed’s were to manage foriegn policy and to arbitrate among the States. This to the framers made sense both from a practical standpoint as well as an idealogical one. Keeping the power closer to the people allowed for a better check on that power. Additionally, it lessened the ever present fear at the time of seccession.

The 10th was encroached upon little by little throughout the 19th and 20th centuries until in 1985, the court said that “[t]he political process ensures that laws that unduly burden the States will not be promulgated” in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority. I find it hard to believe that the framers wouldn’t find such an argument laughable.

It is important to keep in mind that the entire text of the 10th includes, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.” Thus, the court essentially that the power of the people was revoked because the political process was so sound. How’s that working out?

The encroachment on the tenth went hand in hand with an expanded view of the Commerce Clause that with an ever expanding view of what was allowed by the Fed’s. This got to the point that in 1942, the Court ruled that the Fed’s had the right to regulate what could be grown on your own land for your own consumption. This case was used as a precedent to prohibit the personal cultivation of marijuana for use under state laws allowing it for medical use.

Additionally, increased federal revenue through the income tax has allowed the Federal government to further erode the 10th by forcing laws on to the States through the power of the purse. The attaching of strings to federal funding has allowed Congress to make further inroads into activities far beyond the intentions of the commerce clause even in its most broad reading. This power has been upheld based on the “general welfare” clause.

And now, we have come full circle back to Rhinehold’s argument.

Posted by: Rob at September 12, 2007 10:21 PM
Comment #232678

Rhinehold,

I’m glad you’re doing this.

I need to take more time when I’m less tired to truly comprehend even part one of your series, but I truly will try to be open minded.

Have no doubt I’ll ask lots of questions.

So, please, convince me that my preconceptions about the Libertarian Party are wrong.

Posted by: KansasDem at September 12, 2007 11:54 PM
Comment #232679

KansasDem,

Thank you, that was my hope that people will open-mindedly listen to a ‘hopefully’ adequate explanation of the Libertarian Party views and even if we can’t come to a meeting of the minds at least see that our views are based and understand where we are coming from.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 12, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #232684

Rhinehold, You have quite a ways to go to prove to me that Libertarians are more than just a cult of Ayn Rand types that just want to smoke pot, avoid taxes and hand over power to the corporations of this world. But like KD says I to will try to keep an open mind.

Posted by: j2t2 at September 13, 2007 1:02 AM
Comment #232685

j2t2,

Thanks. I’ve never read Ayn Rand, I don’t smoke pot and I don’t think that corporations should have any rights other than any other business, as well as thinking that monopolies should be outlawed…

We’ll see, I’m just glad you are keeping an open mind as well.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 1:15 AM
Comment #232687

Rhinehold,

I am sincere about being open minded.

Maybe I should be better rested before I start, but I do have a question. It’s not particularly a question limited to Libertarian Principle, but rather a question regarding the very beginning of “American” society as we know it.

It almost seems like we Americans of European decent seem to believe we “discovered” a new land mass that was uninhabited by intelligent beings and we therefore “created” a new “land” or at the very least began a new society where NO society existed before. That of course is not fact at all.

Our ancestors (speaking in general terms) actually stole this land (property) from the indigenous owners ——- quite often at the end of a gun! So, where does modern day Libertarian philosophy leave the American Indians claim on American property?

And, this is not just “play-time” for me. I’ve long believed that we, as a nation, have failed to offer proper restitution to the American Indian. My activism in this regard resulted in a major career change in the 80’s, specifically regarding the Pine Ridge Reservation.

I tend to think we achieved our status as the worlds ONLY superpower through deception and two horrendous acts of genocide. The first of those was so effective we’ve yet to see an American Indian run for POTUS.

So, I’m just curious how far back should we roll property rights? To the original owners, or just the thieves that we now revere as our founding fathers?

Posted by: KansasDem at September 13, 2007 1:46 AM
Comment #232690

KansasDem,

Part of me says “the past is the past” in these regards, and keep in mind that my wife and several branches of my family are part Indian.

Remember, Indians did not believe in ‘owning land’. The concept that someone owns land was foreign to them. I’m not sure that ‘giving them land’ would make sense to an Indian who still believes in the old ways.

And the Indians weren’t the first peoples here either, they stole the land from the people who existed here before them.

I am not at all proud of how we treated the Indians, or the Africans, or the Asians, etc… in the past. But nearly all land in the world was originally someone else’s. There were a lot of Spanish people in the West that weren’t too happy with our concept of Manifest Destiny.

As for what Libertarians believe, there is no way at all we would support doing what we did to the Indians (or other atrocities) today and you can see by the Principles mentioned, the initiated use of force on another is not acceptable. But I don’t think that ‘rolling back’ the ownership of land that has been held for several hundred years to someone else’s descendants achieves anything.

What sort of reparations are you suggesting we give?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 2:40 AM
Comment #232694

Rhinehold,

For the most part I’m just pointing out the difficulty of defining “ownership”, but I very strongly believe that WE are still neglecting the reservations, which were generally the poorest parcels of land we could provide. Oddly WE still feel confident in our legal right to profit from oil and gas on those same lands.

We also like to control behavior (ie: casinos) on these same lands. I think we should all be ashamed even though most of my ancestors moved here after the beginning of the 20th century. I’d start by guaranteeing government funding of four years college to any American Indian that completed the 12th grade. Of course we’d also have to provide PROPER K-12 education on all reservations.

I’d also like to see all reservations declared indigenous land, totally exempt from any of the laws of the USA. We’ve actually been nearly there in the past, then came oil and gas ………. and of course the imposition of “morality”.

It’s a tough history to live down, but it is our nations history.

Posted by: KansasDem at September 13, 2007 3:59 AM
Comment #232699

Rhinehold said: “The simple fact is that our Constitution was a document limiting the powers of government, not listing what rights people retained. The ninth and tenth amendments are very clear about that.”

It is also a simple fact Rhinehold that our Constitution granted immense latitude to the states directly and the people indirectly to govern as they chose fit for their times, including amending the Constitution. So, yes, it is true their are limits proscribed in the Constitution but, also unlimited opportunity for the people to govern themselves and their nation through a democratic process of majority vote, amendment, and federal legislation constrained only by the Courts and veto of the President.

Our courts were supposed to be the non-partisan non-political branch of government, and we in America today have corrupted that branch of government enormously from that original intent. I agree with Libertarians that this is a weakness for America today, but, it is a genie that can’t be put back in the bottle without Constitutional Amendment which can appoint and confirm judges on the basis of non-partisan scholarship and experience, it that is even possible.

And that is the rub. There are some parts of the original Constitution we never want to return to or reinstate, like slavery. There are other parts that we have injured ourselves and future by departing from. But who is to determine which is which? This is Jefferson’s dilemma revisited in modern times and the weakness of the unenumerated rights concept and Constitution itself, that granted so much latitude to the hopefully enlightned self-interest of future generations.

Rhinehold said: “As for his ‘illogical position’ on enumerated rights, it was not just his position, but the position of many others as I detailed.”

So you subscribe to the principle that consensus makes right? I thought you had a problem with that principle. Because others shared Jefferson’s illogical position on unenumerated rights, makes it logical? That is consensus government, Rhinehold, and by that principle, the majority may define what those unenumerated rights are and aren’t for themselves with each successive generation. Therein lies the illogical flaw of NOT enumerating rights. It is illogical and contradictory to both posit that the original unenumerated rights were fixed and defined by popular consensus of the Jefferson’s day, and then attempt to argue that our current government should not have the authority to define those unwritten rights for themselves in what manner suits consensus today.

If you want to throw those ideals out, which it appears that you do,

This is an illogical statement. How can you presume I want to throw out rights which were never defined, and which I have not defined as being for or against?

then you are proscribing that we are only guaranteed the rights listed out in the Bill of Rights,

As a practical matter, our rights today consist of what the SC interprets the Bill of Rights to grant as established by the Constitution, and such other rights as the Congress defines and protects by force of law through legislation. That is the reality, Rhinehold. The real questions that need to be asked here are:

  • What additional rights would Libertarians enumerate as applicable today beyond the Bill of Rights?
  • How would they proceed to make those rights defined and enforceable?
  • And which of the 10 Bill of Rights would they alter, redefine, or eliminate in order to effect the principles they hold dear?

You see, Rhinehold, principles are all well and good, but, at some point they must be converted to action to have any real meaning or effect, and be tested for real world consequences so that history may judge whether such principles have the merit their author’s thought they would have. Karl Marx’s principles swept parts of the world with rhetorically sounding common sense and common appeal. But, when they were implemented in the real world of cause and effect, they proved to be horrible in terms of real world consequences.

So, please, answer these practical questions above.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 7:28 AM
Comment #232700

Rob said: ” “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.” Thus, the court essentially that the power of the people was revoked because the political process was so sound.”

This is an entirely illogical statement Rob. The Constitution’s reference to the ‘The People’ is a reference to the consensus political process. That court did not say the power of the people was revoked, quite the opposite. The court says here that the power of the people which, is embodied and enacted through the political process, shall have dominion along with state legislatures where the Constitution does not delegate powers to the federal government, or prohibits them to the states.

‘The people’ is opposite to ‘The Individual’. Unless one accuses the drafters of incompetence with language and can support that evidenciarily, one has no logical choice but to accept the Constitution’s deference to the political process of consensus of the people as “the People”.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 7:43 AM
Comment #232702

Rhinehold said: “Remember, Indians did not believe in ‘owning land’.

Some tribes historically had no concept of land ownership though they did have a concept for territorial hunting rights. But, today, nearly all American Indians believe in owning land as evidenced by their many legal suits to try to force the federal government to live up to its treaties, many of which remain violated by our federal government to this very day.

I highly recommend spending some hours with some American Indians dealing with these issues. Most non-American Indians are very ignorant of the diversity of issues and philosophical differences that exist between our many Tribal councils. In fact, there has been a huge movement to try to unify the many tribes on a core set of issues and philosophy in common, with some success.

Rhinehold said: “there is no way at all we would support doing what we did to the Indians (or other atrocities) today and you can see by the Principles mentioned, the initiated use of force on another is not acceptable.”

That appears to be a true enough statement in both principle and adherence by the Libertarians I have discussed such issues with.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 7:51 AM
Comment #232708
WE are still neglecting the reservations, which were generally the poorest parcels of land we could provide.

And still are among the poorest parcel of land in the US…

Posted by: Rachel at September 13, 2007 9:18 AM
Comment #232712
Rhinehold said: “The simple fact is that our Constitution was a document limiting the powers of government, not listing what rights people retained. The ninth and tenth amendments are very clear about that.”

It is also a simple fact Rhinehold that our Constitution granted immense latitude to the states directly and the people indirectly to govern as they chose fit for their times, including amending the Constitution. So, yes, it is true their are limits proscribed in the Constitution but, also unlimited opportunity for the people to govern themselves and their nation through a democratic process of majority vote, amendment, and federal legislation constrained only by the Courts and veto of the President.

David, I agree with everything you said, except for the ‘unlimited’ part. I don’t believe that any government has the power to deny human beings their natural rights.

But yes, the Constitution is amendable and I support that process. The problem is that that process is not being followed. Instead of seeking a Constitutional amendment to allow the federal government to have the power it seeks, it just simply steps around it and does it anyway.

I hate to go to the pot issue so quickly, but it is one of the best examples available to explain. In the early 20th century, a Constitutional Amendment was necessary to outlaw the manufacture, transportation and sale of a checmical substance, alcohol. It was actually never illegal to drink alcohol, that would have gone against the ninth amendment, but the government could block the sale, etc, with an amendment.

Today, we make marijuana illegal to own but miraculously we did not need that same Constitutional amendment that was required for alcohol? AND, we now make it illegal to use it, not just sell, manufacture and transport. What magic happened in the Constitution to give the Federal Government the power that they needed to do this when they didn’t have it before?

By all means, if the majority agree that a change to the Constitution to give the federal government should have some power it is not proscribed, then it should seek a Constitutional Amendment. I, and most Libertarians (save the anarchists) support that process and through Jeffersonian principles would acquiesce. It is the bypass of that process that makes the Constitutional “just a goddam piece of paper” that we reject, because if you ignore the part that is inconvenient without altering through the proper methods then you invalidate the concept and power of the whole thing.

So you subscribe to the principle that consensus makes right? I thought you had a problem with that principle.

No, I don’t have a problem with that principle, as long as the consensus does not violate the rights of the individual.

And you are misunderstanding, I think. It is not that the consensus was that we had these rights, it the unarguable facts that this principle is part of our Constitution and detailed in the ninth amendment. While I happen to believe it to be true, and I am amazed that someone woule think that it is not, it doesn’t matter because it is definately detailed right there in our Constitution and to ignore it, to ignore part of the Bill of Rights, because you find it inconvenient devolves the Constitution into an impotent historical footnote.

And that is the rub. There are some parts of the original Constitution we never want to return to or reinstate, like slavery.

No one is advocating rolling back any amendments of the Constitution, David. So the argument is illogical on your part. Slavery was done away with (I believe it was never Constitutional to begin with…) when we amended the Constitution to make it clear that it was no longer allowed and until anyone suggests another amendment to change that I don’t see how your argument makes any sense.

Libertarians are not asking that any part of the Constitution be change or altered in any way. We just want the government to operate within the limits detailed in the current Constitution and any attempt to move beyond it without amending the Constitution according to the rules within should not be allowed.

What additional rights would Libertarians enumerate as applicable today beyond the Bill of Rights?

None, the Bill of Rights is pretty detailed when the ninth amendment is included, for our needs. However, you could say that we believe, as our Principles suggest, that our natural rights are those rights each human has, that we have the sole dominion over our own lives and as long as someone is not attempting to violate those rights of another, that person should be making those choices themselves. It is not a hidden agenda, it is not any more complicated than that.

How would they proceed to make those rights defined and enforceable?

Again, there is no need, the Constitution is clear and support the Principles of the Libertarian Party as it stands.

And which of the 10 Bill of Rights would they alter, redefine, or eliminate in order to effect the principles they hold dear?

There is no need to change any of the 10 Bill of Rights. Only that we actually follow what they say and stop ignoring the inconvenient ones.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 10:41 AM
Comment #232714

David,

I may agree with you regarding my comment, but I’m not sure I understand what you mean by this, “The court says here that the power of the people which, is embodied and enacted through the political process, shall have dominion along with state legislatures where the Constitution does not delegate powers to the federal government, or prohibits them to the states.”

In general though, I think that the framers had as their primary intention in the Constitution to define and limit the powers of the Federal government. I believe that the statement instead means that where the Federal government is proscribed from action except where the powers were delegated to them through the Constitution. The remaining powers were delegated to the States and where they were limited from acting or chose not to, those powers lay in the people themselves.

The word people is only used twice in the original text of the constitution as far as I can find. The first instance was in the preamble. The second was in the section concerning the election of House Members. In both instances, I took it to mean the collection of individuals that inhabited and inhabit the United States.

I do not believe that the framers were careless with language. I believe that they were quite specific. I believe that the Constitution was meant to reflect a document that transferred powers from the people/ States to the Federal government. Those powers were specifically limited to certain actions and for all other powers were not delegated to the States but rather remained with them. Those not delegated remained with the people or the States.

There are many such powers that could be considered solely the province of the people. For instance, the power to engage in commerce. The Federal government is given the power to regulate but not to engage in commerce (as a provider anyway, certainly they have the right as consumers to meet their other powers). Thus, the people can organize and incorporate and operate businesses in any way they see fit so long as they do so in accord with the regulations enforced by local, State, and Federal law.

The same can be said of the ability to organize churches or civic organizations. The view that the powers reserved to the people are solely political is to ignore the myriad of other social constructs and interactions that the people can develop absent a political process. This decision strikes to the very heart of that and when taken with the expanded view of the Commerce Clause, this gives broad powers to the Federal Government that goes will beyond the framers intent.

Posted by: Rob at September 13, 2007 11:38 AM
Comment #232724

Rhinehold said: “No one is advocating rolling back any amendments of the Constitution, David. So the argument is illogical on your part.”

You don’t advocate on LP principles the roll back of the 16th Amendment? My argument is very valid, Rhinehold in light of your previous assertions that the income tax is wrong. It was an amendment to the Constitution.

And your previous arguments in opposition to majority control is invalidated in part by the 17th amendment passing more direct representation of the people via direct election of Senators as opposed to the prior Legislature’s appointments thereof.

The Ninth Amendment speaks to this in part, positing the power to the people of their respective state to define and retain for themselves other unenumerated rights applicable only to their state, and positing the power to the people collectively other unenumerated rights defined and retained (or disposed of) by the people collectively. If the people have the power to retain other rights, they also have the power to drop other rights previously retained.

Key to this debate is the power granted to the people to define what those unenumerated rights are and posit with them the responsibility to retain them if they so choose. This is true precisely because such rights are UNENUMERATED, therefore undefined, until the people define them either through amendment, legislation, or law suit in the courts seeking constitutional sanction for the protection of an undefined right (civil rights of the 1960’s and 1970’s.)

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 1:39 PM
Comment #232725

Rob, see my reply just above to Rhinehold. It explains my argument in response to your comment.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 1:41 PM
Comment #232728

Rhinehold said:

What additional rights would Libertarians enumerate as applicable today beyond the Bill of Rights?

None, the Bill of Rights is pretty detailed when the ninth amendment is included, for our needs. However, you could say that we believe, as our Principles suggest, that our natural rights are those rights each human has, that we have the sole dominion over our own lives and as long as someone is not attempting to violate those rights of another,…

You dodged the question, Rhinehold. What are those natural rights you talk about? Define them for me, please. You say each human has them, so, it should not be too difficult to state what they are, since you claim to have possession of them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 1:46 PM
Comment #232742
You don’t advocate on LP principles the roll back of the 16th Amendment? My argument is very valid, Rhinehold in light of your previous assertions that the income tax is wrong. It was an amendment to the Constitution.

We would like to see a new amendment go through the process to counteract the 16th amendment just as we saw the 21st used to counteract the 18th. We are not calling for it to be ‘struck down’ or made invalid outside of this process, or the same process that any new admendment that anyone else would call for would have to go through.

And your previous arguments in opposition to majority control is invalidated in part by the 17th amendment passing more direct representation of the people via direct election of Senators as opposed to the prior Legislature’s appointments thereof.

No, it is not. You’re saying the 17th amendment invalidates the 9th now? That is no logical leap that anyone can make with a straight face.

Now, let me get this right. You’re asserting that since the 17th amendment was ratified, requiring that citizens vote for their senators and congressmen instead of leaving it up to each state to decide how the respresentatives were chosen, that flops the whole premise of the Constitution from being a document limiting the power of the federal government to a document detailing only those rights that citizens retain and eliminating the ninth amendment in the process?

I’m sorry David, but the more I see your ‘logic’, the more I am convinced that you don’t really seem to understand the meaning of that word, much like Vizzini kept using the word ‘inconceivable’.

The Ninth Amendment speaks to this in part, positing the power to the people of their respective state to define and retain for themselves other unenumerated rights applicable only to their state, and positing the power to the people collectively other unenumerated rights defined and retained (or disposed of) by the people collectively. If the people have the power to retain other rights, they also have the power to drop other rights previously retained.

No David, to believe what you just stated you would have to ignore, completely, what the people who wrote the Constitution meant when they put the ninth amendment in. In fact, as I detailed, they warned against just such notions when debating whether or not a Bill of Rights was needed. And indeed, the fact that you think we need to enumerate an exhaustive list of all of the rights we retain simply by being human goes to the heart of the matter, that you see the document as not a detailing of what limits the federal government has but a list of the few areas that they cannot tread, all else is up for grabs.

And it is the main difference between what you think it is and what I and the people who originally wrote the Document say it is.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 5:13 PM
Comment #232743
You dodged the question, Rhinehold.

No, I answered the question very succinctly. Perhaps you didn’t ask the question you really wanted answered?

What are those natural rights you talk about? Define them for me, please.

I did in the original article as well as in the Principles of the party. We retain all rights over ourselves as long as we don’t violate those same rights of others.

Are you looking for an enumerated list that you can check down and see where you can wedge some legislation in, David?

You see, the problem with such a list is that people will do just that, which is why one was never written down in total, because by doing so they may miss one or not list every single one and therefore that right is lost. You can’t ‘lose’ natural rights, you can only punish people for exercising them. As the current federal government does many times over.

By your reasoning, there is no Right to Privacy afforded to us by the Constitution, David. So why would someone like yourself fight so hard to defend it if the majority is willing to write laws, like say a ‘Patriot Act’? By your very own ‘logic’, you should not be upset that those laws are in place and certainly the Supreme Court should not be striking them down.

Personally, I’m glad STILL have that right, even though it is not enumerated specifically except in the ninth amendment, and that the Supreme Court is at least doing its job in some small way.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #232744

BTW, David, it might be a different story if we were picking up this document with no historical context and trying to decipher what it meant. However, we have the luxury of having the words of the writers written down for us to go back and check to make sure we get it right.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 5:23 PM
Comment #232745

Wow… a Princess Bride reference… nice one.

I, for one, am looking forward to your breakdown of the rest of the platform, as the truths of the introduction above are rather self evident (sound familiar?) as a general philosophy… individual rights while being held responsible for your actions and not interfering with the rights of others… seems pretty cut and dry.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 13, 2007 5:23 PM
Comment #232746
seems pretty cut and dry

Well, to a few of us anyway. :)

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2007 5:28 PM
Comment #232768

Rhinehold said: “I did in the original article as well as in the Principles of the party. We retain all rights over ourselves as long as we don’t violate those same rights of others.”

OK, you want to play games, I will play.

Do I have a right to kill people illegally trespassing on my property and invading my nation without permission?

Do I have a right, assuming I believe that LSD is a mind expanding experience and enlightening experience, to give it to my children?

Do I have a right, to refuse to pay my taxes because I believe they are unfairly levied? Toll roads for example, bypass the entrance and use it without paying.

Do I have a right to offer assistance to people in need on the condition they sit through my religion’s sermons?

Do I as a mother of two with limited means have a right to abort a pregnancy which occured accidentally (the condom broke or the pill failed as happens in a small percentage of cases)?

Do I have a right to consumer vastly more government services and protections and influence elections through campaign contributions to lower my tax rate below that of persons who use government services far far less than I do?

Let’s start with those. What say you on these unenumerated rights?

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 8:47 PM
Comment #232769

Rhinehold said of the 16th Amendment: “We would like to see a new amendment go through the process to counteract the 16th amendment just as we saw the 21st used to counteract the 18th.”

Then, you now admit that Income Taxes are constitutional? Because many Libertarians claim they aren’t.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 8:50 PM
Comment #232770

Rhinehold said: “I’m sorry David, but the more I see your ‘logic’, “

That’s the problem with debating you Rhinehold, you don’t recognize logical arguments when they are made, and conclude the they aren’t logical. Let me spell this out as if you were a 5th grader. The 17th Amendment modified the reference in the 9th Amendment in regard to remanding rights to the states, by remanding many of those state’s rights directly to the people collectively.

You have previously stated on WB:

Yes, the Libertarian party is against ‘mob rule’. There are rights that individuals and the minority have that the majority CANNOT take away. Which is what you are advocating.

Do you not accept there is a right to private property? Does that right only exist as long as the majority allow it to exist or does it exist ESPECIALLY when the majority attempt to circumvent it?

Yet, this is precisely what the 16th Amendment was all about, the majority agreeing to an income tax that many individuals in the minority felt was an infringement upon their personal property.

So, which is it Rhinehold, are you opposed to the democratic process (mob rule as you refer to it), and do you believe unenumerated rights to private property supercede the will of the majority as expressed in the 16th Amendment? Or, as you now say, do you believe the 16th Amendment was appropriately constitutional via the majority rule amendment process? Please resolve the hypocrisy and contradiction of your own words here where you state you stand by the 16 Amendment as Constitutional, but, previously argued the right to private property supercede’s majority rule.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 9:04 PM
Comment #232771

Rhinehold said: “And indeed, the fact that you think we need to enumerate an exhaustive list of all of the rights we retain simply by being human goes to the heart of the matter, that you see the document as not a detailing of what limits the federal government has but a list of the few areas that they cannot tread, all else is up for grabs.”

I did NOT and have NEVER said that all rights must be enumerated. DO NOT PUT YOUR WORDS IN MY MOUTH. It is an inappropriate debate tactic. Again, you fail to see the logic. If unenumerated rights can be declared in any form and fashion as an individual my desire for themself, (the right to pedophilia with the child’s consent for example), there must be a way of deciding IF that individual’s declaration of an unenumerated right is, IN FACT, a right which the Legislature and Courts shall deem a right that extends to all persons or not. Which is the power the Constitution extends to the people to decide on a democratic basis through their representatives in the legislatures to decide for themselves.

If the legislatures can and do decide what unenumerated rights are legitimate and what are not, then your entire argument that unenumerated rights are preserved and protected by the Constitution is NOT VALID! For it is not the Constitution that defines what those rights are outside the Bill of Rights, but, the courts and the legislatures. Hence the will of the majority has the legitimate authority under the Constitution to both define and validate or invalidate what an individual may claim as an unenumerated right.

Will you now accept that the Constitution by referring to unenumerated rights without defining what they are, leaves the matter of what they are ultimately to both the courts and the legislatures, federal and state, and hence, there is no such thing as natural unenumerated rights of an individual protected by the Constitution IF the Courts or the Legislatures deny the claim of an individual that they have such a right?

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 9:22 PM
Comment #232800

Jefferson was not a great man. His views on states rights and individual rights went too far. Without a strong federal govt, a navy would not have been possible which was critical at holding off the British. He was wrong about most things including backing the french revolutionaries.

He slept with an underage slave; he couldn’t begin to manage his finances and live within his means.

Washington was a great man, John Adams was a great man. Jefferson was a nut.

Posted by: Schwamp at September 14, 2007 8:15 AM
Comment #232801

Schwamp, I really don’t see how anyone who has read Jefferson’s writings, can conclude he was a nut. Some of his conclusions were flawed, yes. And he was hypocritical in his personal life, but what great person in retrospect, wasn’t also human, and therefore flawed? Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, and Ben Franklin, just to name a few. My greatest person of the 20th century was Mahatma Ghandi. He too was certainly not without his flaws and wrong conclusions. Another of mine was Freud. So, wrong about so much, but, that does not diminish the fact that he brought the modern world out of witchcraft and demonic posession as explanations for behavior, and placed the locus for human behavior within the brain and mind of the individual, opening the door to enormous medical breakthroughs in helping and curing millions of people with organic, emotional, conceptual, and learning disorders.

Jefferson’s mind and its grasp of the classics, and their import upon and applicability to the 18th century events occurring in Europe and the colonies, was nothing short of brilliance.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 14, 2007 8:54 AM
Comment #232814

If I may… I know these questions were posed to Rhinehold, but let me take a stab…

Keep in mind these are my answers and my interpretations of libertarian principles, and may not be shared by all within the party or with libertarian leanings…

“Do I have a right to kill people illegally trespassing on my property and invading my nation without permission?”

It depends… is the person an imminent threat to you? Are you in danger of losing life or limb? Or valuable property? Does this villain have intentions of doing harm? Or is Little Red Riding Hood cutting across your wooded, unfenced, and unutilized back forty to get to grandma’s house?

Self defense is pretty well established as a reason for killing a person, other than that the libertarian view of respecting human life is pretty clear. We have laws on the books against trespassing, complete with appropriate punishments.

“Do I have a right, assuming I believe that LSD is a mind expanding experience and enlightening experience, to give it to my children?”

To quote Bart Simpson… pretty lame, Millhouse.

Let’s assume you think hitting a child on the head with a hammer is a good way to knock some sense into him and, in the end, will do him some good… do you have the right to do this?

No reasonable person would argue that LSD is good for children, and most would equate it with child abuse.

“Do I have a right, to refuse to pay my taxes because I believe they are unfairly levied? Toll roads for example, bypass the entrance and use it without paying.”

I think you’re getting taxes and fees mixed up here. A tax is something that is involuntarily levied against you with no immediate payoff. A fee, on the other hand, is a direct charge for a service that will be rendered immediately… you don’t want the service, don’t pay the fee.

“Do I have a right to offer assistance to people in need on the condition they sit through my religion’s sermons?”

Coming from a devout non-religious guy… uh… yep. It’s your resources with which you are using to render the help, you can attach whatever reasonable stipulations you see fit. If you find sitting through a boring sermon so detestable so as to refuse help instead, well… that’s on you.

“Do I as a mother of two with limited means have a right to abort a pregnancy which occured accidentally (the condom broke or the pill failed as happens in a small percentage of cases)?”

I’m not 100% certain on this, but I do not think the party has an official stand on this issue because of the valid arguments from both sides. There are those that believe life begins at conception and would equate this to murder. There are those that believe the life does not have a seperate identity until after it is extracted from the mother and therefore argue for the woman’s right to choose.

Personally, I see both sides of this touchy issue as being inhabited by well meaning people. My solution is that once the unborn is able to live outside of the womb, we should consider it a life and protect it, except in the extreme cases of health, of course. When exactly this point is, I’ll let the experts decide. For my lay mind, I’ll say that after the third trimester begins, abortions should be illegal (except as noted above).

In the example you give, my answer would be yes, she does have the right, provided she gets it done before the child could live and breathe on its own. By that time she has had ample opportunity to think it over and weigh the options.

“Do I have a right to consumer vastly more government services and protections and influence elections through campaign contributions to lower my tax rate below that of persons who use government services far far less than I do?”

Thanks for summing up the libertarians’ argument of why we need a complete overhaul to our tax system! Geez, David, I never thought of you as one of us…

A million other questions could be pondered with the slightest tweaks to those posed above and be submitted as evidence against libertarian principles… and that is nothing but bunk. The fact is that these principles can be used as a guide to make political decisions. Is every little muinutae of detail outlined in the LP platform (or any political party’s platform, for that matter?)? No… of course not. Can the principles of individual rights and responsibilities be used as a guide? Yep.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 14, 2007 12:14 PM
Comment #232822

Nice article Rhinehold; I enjoyed reading it. Just a couple of thoughts….

The LP will never be relevant as a political party because the members are, uh, libertarians. The only real reason a LP candidate would get him or herself elected is in an attempt to limit the power of government. Not much of a platform to run on there.

The Federal government has used a drug pusher’s strategy to effectively circumvent the Constitution. The drugs they push are called grants and cooperative agreements, now representing over 19% of Federal expenditures. Unanimously held as constitutional as long as a State, local government, or non-profit requests the money (SF 424, Application for Federal Assistance), there is not a single State today that could survive if they didn’t receive their grant funds. The 10th Amendment is traded for their latest “fix”.

Posted by: George in SC at September 14, 2007 1:38 PM
Comment #232823

Doug answered: “It depends… is the person an imminent threat to you? Are you in danger of losing life or limb? Or valuable property?”

There is the dilemma for Libertarian principle. Which is a higher priority, live or personal property? A rational answer is, it depends.

The illegal immigration population of up to 20 million is costing taxpayers much more than they are contributing in taxes. Does this constitute a threat to personal property when their illegal behavior costs everyone higher taxation?

And if your government refuses to uphold the laws regarding trespassing as is the case along some points along the Texas border? Then does a property owner have a right to take whatever means are necessary to halt the traffic and trashing of his ranch land?

Doug said: “Let’s assume you think hitting a child on the head with a hammer is a good way to knock some sense into him and, in the end, will do him some good… do you have the right to do this? … No reasonable person would argue that LSD is good for children, and most would equate it with child abuse.”

So, are saying parenting free of government interference is not an unenumerated natural right? Your example is not the same as mine. There is no evidence LSD would be definitively a harm to one’s child, where as a hammer in the head clearly is. Let’s stick to my example so we don’t mix apples and oranges.

And are you saying as a Libertarian, you are qualified to say who are reasonable people and what reasonable people would think or do?

This person in the example believes their view is reasonable. Are you arguing the majority opinion should prevail? That of course runs contrary to Rhinehold’s previous arguments that Libertarians don’t believe majority opinion should impinge upon unenumerated natural rights, like parenting in a manner the parent believes will aid in their child’s development and awareness.

Doug said: “I think you’re getting taxes and fees mixed up here. A tax is something that is involuntarily levied against you with no immediate payoff. A fee, on the other hand, is a direct charge for a service that will be rendered immediately… you don’t want the service, don’t pay the fee.”

Hogwash. Every citizen has the choice to move to another country if they don’t like taxation, same principle as user fees. Taxation approved by the majority assent of voters, is a user fee for accessing the services and benefits of government or, having them readily available upon need, like military defense, public education, space exploration, contract protection and enforcement, etc.

Doug said: “Coming from a devout non-religious guy… uh… yep. It’s your resources with which you are using to render the help, you can attach whatever reasonable stipulations you see fit.”

Thank you. So, if I am a charity accepting donations from the public, I can elect to give that charity only to white people or Christians, right? Is that Libertarian principle in action according to Doug?

Or are you going to argue it only applies to an individual giving charity? If that’s the case, then we have to rely upon government to help all people in need, as individual charities lack the reach to help millions in need like Katrina victims, and private charities according to you, have the right to condition their giving on any criteria they choose, which could and often would exclude a large number of persons in need.

I respect your answer on the abortion question, and agree that the Libertarian principles would not be able to address this issue for everyone or even a clear majority.

Doug said: “Thanks for summing up the libertarians’ argument of why we need a complete overhaul to our tax system! Geez, David, I never thought of you as one of us…”

LOL!! I am all for tax overhaul. That agreement however, leaves us parting company as to how.

It’s not bunk, Doug. These are real life situations faced by real Americans. If Libertarians want to be elected, the public has a right to know how their principles would translate into laws passed by libertarians that would affect them in such situations as these, which are not esoteric, by any means.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 14, 2007 1:39 PM
Comment #232834

David… a few responses to your responses… to which I am looking forward to your… uh… responses…

“A rational answer is, it depends.”

You took that out of context. I was pretty clear that self defense is a reason to kill someone and there is no conflict of principles here. In the Little Red Riding Hood example, I heavily implied there was no reason to kill. I was very clear in my abiguity! (uummm… please don’t use that quote as evidence of anything more than the fact that I am not that funny… as it was ONLY a joke.)

Parenting, 100% free of government interference, is certainly not something for which I would argue. There are things the government needs to be able to do to protect children, and these things need to be balanced with the freedom of a reasonable parent to raise their child.

Yes… I am saying that as a reasonable human (not libertarian) I can say that it is not acceptable for a parent to give a child LSD. Again, I am saying that as a human and not a libertarian, and that answer is self evident. The hammer example is valid as it is also self evident.

We do not have a natural right to give children LSD, as you implied Rhinehold implies… If it is agreed that we do not have the right to abuse children, then what exactly is at issue here?

I made no comment about unfair taxation, so your diatribe about moving to another country was irrelevent. I simply pointed out the difference between taxes and user fees. In the example you cited, if you do not want to pay the toll, don’t use the road…

Assuming that the ‘public’ giving the resources to charity in your example are doing it of their own free will, then the answer to your question is ‘yes’. Charities are private organizations funded by private individuals. Most charitable organizations do not have the means to give to every needy cause out there. Because of this fact of economics, they have to go through a decision making process as to how they are going to dole out their resources to do their charitable work. If the privately, voluntarily funded charity organization chooses only to give to people who agree to paint their toe-nails five shades of green… well… so be it.

I am glad we agree that we need an overhaul to our tax system… I look forward to discussing just how we go about that with you in the future.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 14, 2007 2:32 PM
Comment #232842

David,

I’m not trying to be argumentive when I say, I’m not sure how your response to Rhinehold provides a response to my post. If it does, I missed the connections. Please elaborate/ explain if you don’t mind.

Posted by: Rob at September 14, 2007 3:23 PM
Comment #232848

Doug said: “We do not have a natural right to give children LSD, as you implied Rhinehold implies… If it is agreed that we do not have the right to abuse children, then what exactly is at issue here?”

I made the issue very clear. Do you want majority opinion to determine parenting prescriptions for others in their homes? There is no evidence LSD given to a 12 year old under the loving guidance and care of a parent would be in anyway abusive, as opposed to enlightening. But, here you personally say it is abusive because most people think the same thing. As a libertarian do you not find this position of yours at odds with Libertarian philosophy? It certainly appears to be from my perspective. Don’t parents have the right to privacy in raising their children? Libertarians advocate the people have every right to ingest whatever they deem appropriate into their bodies.

Please clarify this dissonant position of yours with Libertarian principle.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 14, 2007 5:06 PM
Comment #232857

David - I don’t know if you’re just playing devil’s advocate here or what, but you can’t possibly be advocating the supply of LSD to 12 year olds? People can get pretty messed up on that stuff and see some pretty scary things that I do not think a 12 year old is ready to see… and yes, I did just use the phrase “I do not think”… and it is a reasonable one.

Yes, the average libertarian believes we should be able to put into our own bodies what we want… into our own bodies… just as, as consenting adults, if we want someone to slap us with a leather belt while having sex, well… we have that right as well… but no one would argue we could do that to a 12 year old. Again… our own bodies.

As the father of two, yes, I do not feel the government has a right to tell me how to raise my children, provided I am not doing anything detrimental to their mental, physical, or emotional health. I would sincerely hope that if my neighbor caught me forcing LSD (or even giving voluntarily) upon my children they would notify the authorities.

This conversation is not even rational anymore…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 14, 2007 6:24 PM
Comment #232881
Rhinehold said: “I did in the original article as well as in the Principles of the party. We retain all rights over ourselves as long as we don’t violate those same rights of others.”

OK, you want to play games, I will play.

I’m not playing games, I find this all very serious.

Do I have a right to kill people illegally trespassing on my property and invading my nation without permission?

For simple trespassing, no. But you do have a right to protect your person and your property from other people. In those cases, yes you have that right and need not ask PERMISSION.

See, a very obvious word you used there, David, Permission. Must we beg and scrape from the government to protect ourselves and our property from others? Really? Do I have to get a permit or must I call the police when someone is violating my, my property, my family…?

Do I have a right, assuming I believe that LSD is a mind expanding experience and enlightening experience, to give it to my children?

This is an interesting quandry and I’m glad you brought it up. You see, contrary to your life view, I never pretend to have all of the answers to every possible situation that may come up now or in the future. That is precisely why many of our rights are unenumerated, future events may bring up something that don’t have written down specifically for and why the ninth amendment was written.

And I am not ‘dodging the issue’, because I would have to give it some thought, but to be honest what is different from LSD or some other medicine that may do more damage to the child?

But, the answer that I will give, because it is the most obvious, is that the child should be protected from harm by anyone, including a parent. If the parent was beating a child with a chain, that is a clear violation of their human rights. Isn’t giving a dangerous substance, whether they think it is or not, the same thing?

Do I have a right, to refuse to pay my taxes because I believe they are unfairly levied? Toll roads for example, bypass the entrance and use it without paying.

A right? You can choose to do anything you want, but I would not suggest it as you would be putting yourself in danger of being killed by the police state. You may have a right, certainly, but it would result in your death so I’m not sure how much good it will do you.

Do I have a right to offer assistance to people in need on the condition they sit through my religion’s sermons?

Of course, you have a right to do what you wish with your money as long as you are not violating the rights of others. Saying that you’ll give someone $100 if they listen to your sermon is no different than vacation property companies in Florida that will give you tickets to Disneyland if you listen to the sales pitch.

Now, I might find it repugnant, but that’s the whole point David. You do NOT have the right to enforce your social morays on others.

Do I as a mother of two with limited means have a right to abort a pregnancy which occured accidentally (the condom broke or the pill failed as happens in a small percentage of cases)?

I think that the right to privacy, one NOT listed as an enumerated right, covers this and why Roe V Wade was a good decision.

Do I have a right to consumer vastly more government services and protections and influence elections through campaign contributions to lower my tax rate below that of persons who use government services far far less than I do?

I agree with Doug, thanks for clearly spelling out one of the myriad of reasons why an income tax is worse than charging for services based on use.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 14, 2007 10:35 PM
Comment #232882
Rhinehold said of the 16th Amendment: “We would like to see a new amendment go through the process to counteract the 16th amendment just as we saw the 21st used to counteract the 18th.”

Then, you now admit that Income Taxes are constitutional? Because many Libertarians claim they aren’t.

I don’t believe I ever said that I thought the 16th amendment was constitutional. Who is putting words in who’s mouth?

Just because I find it more sensible and realistic to counter the 16th amendment through the channels that were afforded us by the people who wrote and passed the Constitution does not mean I think it is a constitutional or just law.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 14, 2007 10:39 PM
Comment #232884
That’s the problem with debating you Rhinehold, you don’t recognize logical arguments when they are made, and conclude the they aren’t logical. Let me spell this out as if you were a 5th grader. The 17th Amendment modified the reference in the 9th Amendment in regard to remanding rights to the states, by remanding many of those state’s rights directly to the people collectively.

And the problem with debating YOU, David, is that you make nonsensical statements, just as you have made here, without ANY supporting evidence or even a train of logic that makes sense, and claim it to be IRREFUTABLE logic, then get incensed that someone doesn’t just accept it as a statement of fact.

You’re attempt at logic that makes the HUGE stretch, not just that the ninth amendment was invalidated by the 17th but it ALSO changes the entire dynamic of the constitution, is illogical, simply because now all states, current and future, must allow the citizens to vote for their senators and congressmen, instead of leaving it up to the states to decide if the citizens should vote for their senators and congressmen.

At least I had the good sense to back up my views with qutoes and case law, you have provided nothing to back up your assertion that the constitution now is no longer a list of limits on the government but in fact an enumerated list of rights that we maintain against the government.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 14, 2007 10:44 PM
Comment #232887
These are real life situations faced by real Americans. If Libertarians want to be elected, the public has a right to know how their principles would translate into laws passed by libertarians that would affect them in such situations as these, which are not esoteric, by any means.

Then why aren’t they asked of the other parties, based on their principles (of which they have none) to make statements of how they would make laws on every possible situation that comes along when the party’s members themsevles would have difficulty all agreed to a solution?

It’s a game you like to play but it falls flat because even though a libertarian will NEVER have the answers to all possible questions you propose without sitting and thinking about it, as we are human beings like everyone else, at least when we do think about it our answer will attempt to use well stated and logical principles that have been put forward for everyone to see to get a solution.

And it’s a great example of the type of wishy-washy unprincipled out for yourself attitude that independants attempt to lord over everyone else that attempts to have some logical view on politics.

So, now that I’ve played, it’s your turn David. And, along with the answers to the questions you asked me, I want you to tell me what principle you used to come to your answer and how it fits into human rights and the constitution.

It will be fun!

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 14, 2007 10:50 PM
Comment #232918

Doug, I was given LSD at 12 by a loving family member, 3 different times actually by the time I was 13. It was an awakening for me, entirely positive experience. The only downside was that my teen years were spent in contempt of drug laws in general which led me to experiment with heroine when I was 19. But, twice was enough for the addictive drugs to realize their seductive danger.

By the time I married and had a child, I no longer used drugs of any kind. Responsibility came into play. Responsibility I partly learned from my first experiences with LSD. I was given strict ground rules for its use and safety, and took those to heart.

So, from personal experience, I can attest that there are some circumstances when LSD use by a young person can be an immensely educational experience in how to see the world through different eyes, and how expanding one’s viewpoints beyond the conventional conventional can be an asset one carries with one throughout their lifetime.

That said, I can also attest from personal experience of other’s usage, that it is not for everyone, and harm and danger can occur to adults and children given, or, taking LSD if they are not sound in mind or emotionally confident, or in wholly inappropriate surroundings like driving in a car.

I view it like alcohol. Many parents have taught their children responsible drinking habits from very young ages, as in wine with dinner for teens, in some Italian, Greek, or Albanian families for example. Responsible parents can tell if their children can handle the disciplined and responsible use of alcohol, and proffer or withhold the experience as appropriate.

Only difference with LSD, is so few parents have any experience or, discipline with it themselves, and therefore have no business allowing their children to take it from a purely responsible parenting point of view. I don’t have access to it and haven’t had since before my daughter was born.

But, if I did, and my daughter expressed an interest in it around 12 years of age or older, I would accommodate her if it weren’t illegal. I would not subject my daughter to growing up without her father around due to his being incarcerated. That too is part of responsible parenting.

Doug said: “This conversation is not even rational anymore…”

It appears that way to you because of your prejudiced view and lack of experience on the matter. A true libertarian would recognize that cookie cutter experience should not limit other’s rights to explore, responsibly.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 15, 2007 2:43 AM
Comment #232923

Rhinehold,

I’m going to throw out a scenario that actually does exist. The much debated “Farm Bill”. I’m very tired and I’m nursing a sick dog which is a major challenge for a guy that wears diapers so I’m going to keep this very basic. It’s something to keep in mind for the more detailed debate regarding …….. well, maybe I should just say the “nanny state” and Libertarianism. (you always tear me up on liberalism, and properly so, the tags liberal and conservative each hold at least 5 different meanings now)

Position #1: There is no longer a need for a farm bill …….. period!

Position #2: The farm bill should be limited to “subsidize” only the actual family farm and only if their net worth and net income fall under a certain level.

Position #3: The farm bill should do everything that position #2 does but not be limited based on income because it also needs to “entice” wealthy landowners to produce crops rather than build “parking lots”, fun parks, drill for oil, etc!

(yes some of those are intentionally ridiculous ideas)

At any rate I can see at least three major controversies involved with any “farm bill”. I certainly look forward to your opinion whether in this thread or in a later more specific thread.

Again, I really do applaud your effort to explain your Libertarian views. No matter how much we might disagree I do believe we all have good intentions and we all hope for a continually bright and even brighter future for the USA.

Posted by: KansasDem at September 15, 2007 3:21 AM
Comment #232924

David,

Re: the whole drug thing. I was exposed to it enough I could have and I tried pot but honestly I just never cared for it, and I was kinda scared. My dad died when I was nine years old mostly due to old WWII wounds but he was also an alcoholic.

Since you’re educated in psychology you know the different roads children of addicts take. I was the caregiver/overachiever. Nothing can be better than being a martyr and taking care of everyone else, eh? Sadly no one with a free mind can stand being around a martyr for very long because thy’re flawed ————— there is no balance to life.

Drugs are bad for some. Alcohol is bad for some. Drug and alcohol laws are stupid beyond belief. We’ve only accomplished the creation of a system that punishes addiction rather than treating it.

Arrrgh. My explanation is too simplistic but I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Posted by: KansasDem at September 15, 2007 3:47 AM
Comment #232925

Rhinehold said: “For simple trespassing, no. But you do have a right to protect your person and your property from other people. In those cases, yes you have that right and need not ask PERMISSION.”

Yeah, we finally agree on a Libertarian principle. Though I would add, that if it were me with the choice to make, I would have to weigh the consequence of being incarcerated for having used force to protect my property. That too is part of Libertarian principles, assuming responsibility for one’s actions in whatever context that action takes place.

Rhinehold, I very much respect your deliberation on my question regarding LSD. Your approach to the answer was very similar to what mine would be were I you. Your answer demonstrates a respect for Libertarian principle while also considering the possibility of other’s circumstances being different, and therefore right on the issue being different.

And I agree that circumstances cannot be anticipated to the extent that all potential legitimate rights can be proscribed. Where you and I differ on unenumerated rights is where you tend to lay claim that they exist outside the will of the majority in legislation in a society, such as mandating manufacturer product safety standards for example.

The way I view this is, the collective society has the same right to protect its health and property as an individual does, so that, legislating against lead in paint for toys is a very appropriate subjugation of a individual’s perceived right to buy such a toy at a lower cost with lead in the paint. The individual’s right is outweighed by the public’s right to demand safe toys for their children in the form of legislated regulations, regardless of where purchased in the U.S.

Rhinehold said: “Of course, you have a right to do what you wish with your money as long as you are not violating the rights of others. Saying that you’ll give someone $100 if they listen to your sermon is no different than vacation property companies in Florida that will give you tickets to Disneyland if you listen to the sales pitch.”

Yes, it can be different when the person made the offer is in desperate need. There is a moral imperative that comes into play. If I come across a starving child, and offer that child food but only if they renounce their religion for mine, the offering or withholding of the offer is immoral and unethical. The same can be said of Christian relief agencies who strike the same bargain with starving people in the Sudan, China, or Phillipines.

I disagree that there is an inherent natural right to spend or withhold spending of one’s money in circumstances such as these. Such tactics are exploitive in motivation and nature, like getting consent of a child with candy to have sex with an adult, not generous as surface appearances would indicate, nor in the realm of free consumer choice.

Rhinehold said: “I think that the right to privacy, one NOT listed as an enumerated right, covers this and why Roe V Wade was a good decision.”

Yeah, we agree again. Libertarian principles are right to recognize in this circumstance, privacy and the moral decision lie in the province of the individual, and not the society to impose its collective religiously based sense of morality upon another individual. That is clearly implied in the Constitution and Declaration as a right to freely exercise one’s own choice of religion or absence thereof, free of coercion by others of other religious doctrines. It is a clear case of the mother making the best decision for herself and fetus on the merits of her own religious morality, whatever that may be.

A distinctly different situation than, if the mother decided to kill a living child to afford the newborn. The question of the status of the fetus is ultimately a religiously based one. The question of the status of a born person, is not, since the empirically observable status of that person is verifiable by all in that society without resorting to religious differences to establish that status.

Rhinehold said: “I agree with Doug, thanks for clearly spelling out one of the myriad of reasons why an income tax is worse than charging for services based on use.”

Sorry you lost my agreement on this one. The fact that my scenario on government usage demanded a more just solution, in no way implies usage fees (a very regressive and unjust system as well) are the only, and best way, to resolve the inequity. Usage fees are inherently unequal due to the fact that they levy taxes in total disregard for one’s ability to pay for life necessities, like lacking coinage to get on the toll road to drive one’s injured child to the Emergency Room. Usage fees also are subject to political influence by the wealthy to levy more revenues from usage fees on items most used by the less wealthy and exempting or capping user fees for items out of reach of non-wealthy persons.

Flat rate taxation accomplishes equity with an exemption for those in poverty. The more one makes, the more government protections and services one benefits from by default. The wealthier are in greater need of police protective services and SEC protections for example, than the non-wealthy. (Those in poverty excepted of course, but, that is an entirely different set of circumstances.)

And this is where the Libertarian Party clearly favors the wealthy and chooses to burden the non-wealthy with the lion’s share of revenues by not distinguishing between sales taxes and usage fees as inherently creating government revenue on the non-wealthy, who make the least use of many of government’s services. A regressive sales tax and usage fees implemented will become inevitably skewed toward high percentages of non-wealthy person’s earnings producing the lion’s share of government revenues, while exempting entirely, vast sums, and growing sums of the wealthy, whose wealthy sums themselves, demand government protections and services not even required of non-wealthy persons.

As I have said for years, I have an affinity for some of the Libertarian principles, but, by no means all, due to a tendency of many of them to disregard the existence and needs of the vast consumer and labor class population in deference to the self-made person ‘ideal’: as fallacious a concept as ever invented to lord over, and coopt the services and skills of those of lesser means, for one’s own wealthier benefit and sense of distance from those of lesser means, to obfuscate the reality of the dependencies the wealthy create upon those of lesser means.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 15, 2007 3:55 AM
Comment #232928

Rhinehold said: “And the problem with debating YOU, David, is that you make nonsensical statements, just as you have made here, without ANY supporting evidence or even a train of logic that makes sense, and claim it to be IRREFUTABLE logic, then get incensed that someone doesn’t just accept it as a statement of fact.”

Well, it is not nonsensical unless one is ignorant of the content of those amendments. Because you cannot follow the logic does not mean the argument presented to you is not logical. But, I thank you for resorting to claims without substantiating them as I have done with mine. That is proof enough to me you cannot follow this sophisticated dialogue and have to resort to claims you can’t back up or delineate.

If you want to refute my argument please refer to the Amendments I reference and demonstrate my misunderstanding of them, if you can. To just rail accusations that my arguments are not logical and nonsense, without resorting to the Constitutional references I made, is amateurish as debating capacity goes. And pointless to continue unless you will provide substance to your protests.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 15, 2007 4:03 AM
Comment #232986

David,

My protests are substantiated by the following things, some of which I’ve already detailed.

1) You are saying that changing the way the senate was elected altered not only the ninth amendment but also the entire purpose of the constitution. As I’ve detailed in not just my view but those of the framers and case law

2) You have provided 0 evidence to back up this claim, no quotes from anyone associated with the amendment when it was introduced and voted on, nor any case law or quotes since that backs up your assertion.

3) For a lark, I actually did look to find someone, anyone, to suggest what you are suggesting. I’ve searched case law and the internet and have yet to find a single person, among all of the nutjobs and kooks, that are making the giant leap you are making.

4) Your own support for the right to privacy, this is only guaranteed with the ninth amendment, even if a majority of voters wants to curtail that right, backs up that you don’t really believe what you are saying.

Well, it is not nonsensical unless one is ignorant of the content of those amendments

Unfortunately, David, I am very aware of the amendments to be fooled into thinking that I should just let this go because you want to appear smarter than the rest of the class.

For everyone else still reading, btw, this is the entirety of the 17th amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature. When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Now, David is saying that by changing the way Senators are selected, from being appointed by the states (since the senate was originally set up to represent the states and the house the people) to being elected by the citizens of that state, that the notion that federal government is bound to the letter of the constitution is no longer valid.

David, I understand very clearly what logical route you are taking to come up with this, it just nonsense and not backed up by any person involved with passing the amendment, anyone suggesting it today or any case law on the subject that I’ve been able to find. Perhaps had you given me ANYTHING to back it up it would be easier for me to swallow but you just saying it doesn’t make it right or logical.

All that was changed was that the Senate, instead of being appointed by the State leadership (who was voted in by the people of the state), are now voted in directly by the people of the state. This does *NOT* mean that congress, the president and the supreme court can now violate unenumerated rights protected by the ninth amendment. Even if those laws are passed by people who were ALL directly voted for by the citizens as opposed to people who were ALMOST ALL directly voted for by the citizens.

In fact, the purpose of the amendment was an attempt to get rid of influence over the Senate. Yup, it was a progressive’s dream, to curtail the power of ‘the man’ by eliminating the middleman in selecting these representatives and getting greed and corruption out of our government. And it’s worked so well as history has shown…

A great quote I read while searching for the ficticious rulings on the 17th amendment flipping the purpose of the constitution was this:

“By enacting this amendment the progressives are seeking to fix the ills of democracy with more democracy”.

But anyway, its like beating a dead horse at this point, I know you think that your point if valid but you’ve not provided anything to back it up and I have at least attempted to show framer’s quotes and case law, so until I see something from you backing up your assertion I’ll let the dead horse lay.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 15, 2007 1:45 PM
Comment #232988
If I come across a starving child, and offer that child food but only if they renounce their religion for mine, the offering or withholding of the offer is immoral and unethical

Yes, and I agree. But not illegal. And to make it illegal would be against your human rights to be a right bastard.

And which is more immoral and unethical? Not giving anything to help or agreeing to give something to help but asking that they listen to a short sermon?

If we take away your right not to help unless they listen to a sermon, then by inferrence we should take away your right to be a bastard and not help at all since that is MORE immoral and unethical.

Which, of course, is where we are going with this, isn’t it?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 15, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #233081

Rhinehold said: “Now, David is saying that by changing the way Senators are selected, from being appointed by the states (since the senate was originally set up to represent the states and the house the people) to being elected by the citizens of that state, that the notion that federal government is bound to the letter of the constitution is no longer valid.”

Your postulation bears no resemblance to anything I said or proposed. If you want to refute, refute what I have said, not what you wish I had said to allow you to score points.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 16, 2007 1:03 PM
Comment #233112

Sounds familiar, David.

The constitution is very clear that there are rights that government cannot violate. You suggest that the 17th amendment changes that, that is what the 9th amendment is.

If this is not what you are saying, please re-explain it, because going back over what you wrote it is still making no actual sense how the ninth amendment is altered by the seventeenth.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 16, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #233113

Ok, I’ll go back to what you said previously since it seems that I’ve somehow misunderstood what your ‘argument’ is.

And your previous arguments in opposition to majority control is invalidated in part by the 17th amendment passing more direct representation of the people via direct election of Senators as opposed to the prior Legislature’s appointments thereof.

No, because the minority and individual are still protected by our constitution because of two reasons.

1) It is not a document detailing our rights, it is a document limiting what government can do. To allow government to do more things an amendment must be enacted. And no matter what laws are passed they still cannot violate the rights guaranteed to us by the bill of Rights no matter what. The ninth amendment is, if you look closely, part of the Bill of Rights.

2) Just changing how senators are elected does not change anything else in the constitution. It does not change the purpose of the document and the meaning behind the Bill of Rights. All it changed, quite simply, is how the senators were selected.

The Ninth Amendment speaks to this in part, positing the power to the people of their respective state to define and retain for themselves other unenumerated rights applicable only to their state, and positing the power to the people collectively other unenumerated rights defined and retained (or disposed of) by the people collectively. If the people have the power to retain other rights, they also have the power to drop other rights previously retained.

I think you are reading the amendment wrong or somehow combining the 9th and 10th amendments…

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

These are not rights that the majority can give up for the minority, David. They are rights that exist and can’t be voted out.

Using the right to privacy again, as it is not in the bill of rights other than the ninth amendment, if it can be violated by the government through majority vote, then it actually doesn’t exist at all. By this logic, the Patriot act is legal and constitutional, it was voted in by the senate and congress and signed by the president, so what’s the problem with it again?

AND, your view that those rights can be given up by a simple majority of citizens voting means that the meaning of the constitution is not what the framers wrote it to be and the notion of natural rights, which are what the Bill of Rights details to us, are not what the framers meant them to be.

So I am curious where I missed your subtle and nuanced point, David? Where do I get it wrong? You said that I got it completely wrong, which I’m willing to admit I did, but do nothing to help set me right in my thinking by clearly stating what your point is, or at least what part of my understanding of our views were wrong.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 16, 2007 8:50 PM
Comment #233119

David… fair enough comeback to my ‘rational’ comment, and I retract it.

No… I cannot advocate making mind altering drugs legal for children. That may put me in disfavor with some libertarians, but so be it. There are too many ‘bad trips’ to be had for a child to be able to handle it. I know nothing of your personal situation and can therefore not comment on it.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 16, 2007 9:31 PM
Comment #234130

Kansas Dem said: “Drugs are bad for some. Alcohol is bad for some. Drug and alcohol laws are stupid beyond belief. We’ve only accomplished the creation of a system that punishes addiction rather than treating it.”

I couldn’t agree with you more.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 24, 2007 9:24 AM
Comment #234131

Rhinehold asked: “AND, your view that those rights can be given up by a simple majority of citizens voting means that the meaning of the constitution is not what the framers wrote it to be and the notion of natural rights, which are what the Bill of Rights details to us, are not what the framers meant them to be.”

The flaw in your argument, Rhinehold, is right there in the Constitution. The Amendment process and Article V. The Constitution itself gives the people and states the process by which they may amend, revoke, or add by majority consent, any rights enumerated or unenumerated. In fact, Article V affords the people the process by which they may scrap the entire Constitution itself and all rights, and start over from scratch.

Your entire argument that the Constitution holds rights inviolable against majority rule is contradicted by the provisions in the Constitution itself to permit the majority to revise, redefine, or eliminate any portion, or the whole, of the Constitution itself.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 24, 2007 9:32 AM
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