Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE—YEA OR NAY?

October 5, 2020

An article was forwarded to me by a friend predicting the low likelihood of major violence post election based on his research. Putting aside the evident but low-key political bias of the piece, it makes an attempt to inject some objectivity into something that is inherently speculative. I also think it’s wrong.

Predicting the future is a hazardous enterprise for anyone at any time (just look at the 2016 presidential election). That being said, it’s important to dig down below the superficial political animus to the values of the citizens if you want to get close to the mark. Analogies have been made to the unrest of the 1960s and the 1860s in attempting to extrapolate. Admittedly I’m influenced by the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe in The Fouth Turning and I view the 1960s as a period of Awakening and the 1860s as a more serious period similar to the present, a Crisis. Neither resulted in the dissolution of the Union. Neither accurately represents the present state of affairs, however.

It’s important to note that dynasties (the empires of Alexander, Ottoman, Rome, to name a few), even very stable ones, do not last forever, although those living within them at the time all share the illusion of permanence. What generally ends them is mismanagement born of a change in, or non-adherence to, the values that led them to succeed, causing them to disintegrate from within. In our case, the Founders, with unprecedented historical astuteness, developed a Constitution, designed to anticipate and ameliorate the forces constantly in play aiming to destroy the values upon which the country was based. As outlined in the Declaration of Independence, they are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The country was founded on the principle of rights granted by God, not government; they incorporated proscriptions to limit federal power over the states (it was also essential to getting it passed). Hence, they constructed a democratic republic and not a democracy. They recognized that tyranny of the majority was no better than tyranny of a monarchy.

Over the past few decades, the Left, via masterful commandeering of the educational system and the heretofore monolithic media have pushed the worn siren call of socialism effectively. A sizable portion of the country (we’re about to learn if it’s more than half) has accepted the notion of equality of outcome over equality of opportunity, and the concept of institutionalized racism as the founding principle and white privilege as its result. They’ve also moved from E Pluribus Unum (from many, one) to the concepts of diversity and intersectionality. These are divisive, not unifying principles; no country can survive widescale acceptance of these destructive doctrines.

Given the above, I predict the following with a Trump win: The protests and violence will continue and likely intensify, becoming more multicentric, requiring more police, military and National Guard intervention. Barring a shift in values, over the next decade or two we will start hearing state calls for secession. If Biden wins, a doubling down on the Leftist policies whose effects over time can be gauged by looking at the present state of the big cities will move the government more toward a socialist paradigm, the Constitution will be progressively weakened, the economy slowed by increased regulations, and the growth of the federal government accelerated. Democracy will be increased at the expense of republicanism in the political sense, with attacks on representative mechanisms such as the electoral college intensifying. Federal agencies and corporations with assail liberties such as free speech with cancellation, “diversity” training, and racial quotas with more alacrity, heightening the influence of the “mob.” An over-extended, indebted economy weakened by the pandemic will accelerate the malaise. A delayed result will be armed backlash by right-wing groups, at first those that are more extreme (including some execrable white supremacist groups) and, if pushed far enough, ordinary conservative Americans (possibly abetted by effective annulment of the 2nd Amendment by oppressive regulations). Alternatively, conservatives, who are less prone to demonstrate or initiate violence (remember the maligned Tea Party), will withdraw from Left-dominated tools and form their own schools, businesses, sports teams, and social media and we’ll be a divided country, ripe for secessions or outside attack. Disunity took decades to seed and grow; reunification. if it occurs, will likely take as long, barring assault from an external, mutual threat.

There is no Dumbledore or Hogwarts, and no magic wand that can be waved to unify us, no matter who inhabits the White House.

THE CURSE OF LIBERTY

September 18, 2020

In science, we’re always talking about sensitivity and specificity. As an example, consider the COVID-19 test: the more sensitive it is for detecting the disease, the more likely it will over-call it in some individuals; it’s a yin and yang thing. Now, as the tests improve, both sensitivity and specificity can too, but there’s always a trade-off. Liberty is something like that.

Everyone, including politicians, plays lip service to fealty to freedom. It seems a no-brainer. Then why, time after time, do people vote away their freedom? We’ve seen the Palestinians do it for Hamas, and the Venezuelans for socialism. These are just two of the dozens of examples that could be cited. It’s because the ying to freedom’s yang is law and order, or more broadly, security. It’s not that freedom is incompatible with law and order; we’ve admirably demonstrated this for over a couple of hundred years and have had remarkably peaceful transitions of power. It’s just that it takes constant effort and sacrifice. And the people have to decide if it’s worth the price.

The sacrifice is obvious in obtaining liberty; it’s usually a war with casualties and death and a tremendous outlay of resources. Maintaining it is another matter. Liberty naturally fades, even in (one might say especially in) a democracy. Over time, in a successful society, people become acclimated to security. A free society, with equal access to opportunity, naturally favors those with greater talent who exhibit greater effort; those who have high levels of competence and conscientiousness, in the words of Jordan Peterson. This results in disparity of outcome. It does not mean that a rising tide doesn’t raise all boats, just that some boats are much larger and more opulent than others. Every good society with a conscience strives to help the small boats in danger of capsizing; this charity, or welfare, is a good thing. The problems begin when the people in the small boats begin to think those in the large boats are bad, and that the government needs to fix it. Then the charity moves to sanctioned theft. The argument about the point at which this occurs is the basis for politics and ideology. The bottom line is that democracy inevitably deteriorates into socialism which more quickly devolves into poverty and fascism. History proves this. Unequivocally. So the founders tried to create a democratic republic with checks and balances to slow the deterioration, recognizing that it could serve only a moral people.

As government and the welfare state has grown and crony capitalism inevitably along with it, the family has shrunk. Charity is slowly being replaced by government largess. One or two generations ago a check from the government was seen as failure and often shunned. Now it’s more common to see it as an entitlement and something to be sought after. Being taken care of is slowly becoming more important than liberty.

With liberty comes free speech with the downside of allowing “hate” speech. Law and order with the downside of more rogue agents misusing it with criminal intent. More reliance on self, family and friends, and the Church, and less on government. Clearly, some societies favor less freedom and more security.

The coming election is so important because it will demonstrate the net vector of America in terms of this preference. It will serve as a bellwether as to how much time remains in our current system of government, founded on the values of the Declaration of Independence and implemented in the Constitution. History tells us this. Unequivocally.

The curse of liberty is that it has in its seed the very essence of its own destruction.

AMERICA DIDN’T BECOME GREAT BY ACCIDENT

July 27, 2020

America has been the greatest world power in history. The relatively young nation achieved a preeminence in influence, wealth and power in an astoundingly brief period of time. Despite those denigrating this as evil, there is a wealth of historical evidence to the contrary that is suppressed or buried using anti-American rhetoric (a few examples: overcoming slavery at great human cost, defeating Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan, and aiding in the fall of the USSR). But that argument is not the point of this rant.

I posit that the rapid ascendance of the US on the world stage occurred precisely because of the values upon which the Union was founded, and a common bond between the people that allowed it to function throughout most of its history as a cohesive nation. First, it was unique in affirming that the government existed to serve the people, rather than the other way around. Second, its Constitution was built on negative rights intended to restrict the government, rather than positive rights, which were acknowledged to come only from God. Third, it employed an economic engine of capitalism, which, when unencumbered, allows the individual to benefit from his/her hard work in proportion to demand for goods and services as determined by free trade. This combination of factors fuels the true engine for success: innovation. People haven’t flocked to America in droves since its inception because it’s a racist nation built on inequity, but because it’s a forum in which, if you have a good idea, you can achieve unimaginable levels of success, regardless of you race, creed, or socioeconomic status. While politically-motivated groups would have you believe otherwise, there is no caste system here. And this is demonstrated almost daily by the “victimized” millionaires decrying the system that made them rich and privileged.

If you doubt that we’ve found the recipe for success, remember the old adage, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” China, one of the most anti-American powers in the world, engaging formally in the group-think that is now starting to gain ascendance here, and committing endless political/humanitarian atrocities that make US corruption appear like a penny-ante poker game to a Las Vegas casino, has been stealing our intellectual property for years. It’s not that they’re not smart enough (on average, academically, Asians outperform other ethnic groups, including Caucasians); it’s that a repressive society run by individuals who think they know how things “should” be will always, in the long term, stifle innovation and choose courses of action that the marketplace, both economically and of ideas, will take far longer to correct. The Chinese have also been smart enough to understand that a socialist economy wouldn’t cut it, but would fizzle out in decades. So they borrowed capitalism which they grafted on to the weak Communist root stock to buy time. And if you measure their success by whether they outlast the US and achieve world superiority, it might work.

I have no illusions but that in the long term the Chinese experiment will fail. History is on my side. Watch what will happen to Hong Kong once they begin installing the mainland China ethos. A country without innovation simply can’t compete in the long run against a free society. The short run, however, is a different animal. At the present time, the sociopolitical climate in America has become alarmingly divided, and the common values that have made us a nation, a potent force to be reckoned with, are failing. From E pluribus unum we’ve gone to E unum pluribus in the name of diversity. Forget the “one nation under God.” We’ve become balkanized, and the effects of this are evident in the heightened racial tensions (ironically following the election, twice, of the first black president) and violence. Equally important, America has now turned inward, providing an opening for tyrannical nations, with China the most important, to take advantage. If we don’t take our heads out of our … the sand, we will all get a taste of what a world without the United States at the helm is really like. And it will make our “systemic racism” look like, well, a penny ante poker game to a Las Vegas casino.

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

May 28, 2012

One hundred sixty-six dollars. It’s not a lot of money. That’s the fine the IRS levied on a colleague who was off on his tax estimate by $11,000. Seems fair, doesn’t it? Oh, did I forget to mention?—he overpaid. They did return the money, minus the penalty. They did not return the interest they earned on the float, although, knowing the government, it probably evaporated on a bad green industry investment.

It’s not a lot of money, but speaks volumes on the state of the ruling class and the ruled—what we’ve become willing to accept as expected behavior. Our Founding Fathers, having felt the yoke of tyrannical government, did their best to restrain it with a series of prohibitions known as the Constitution. As government has grown, and grown, it has slowly pushed the limits on these constraints. Other countries, ruled by dictators that make whatever laws suit them, run things like the Mafia with a false veneer of legality, since there is no law but their own. In this country, stretching the envelope of the law of the land’s limitations takes creativity, and time. With each small gain in government power over individual liberty there is a period of adjustment by we the people, then acceptance, and it becomes the new norm, paving the way for the next abrogation of the intended constraint of power. The change is invisible to those that have been born and raised under the new paradigm, no longer indoctrinated in the principles of liberty and self-reliance, but in the values of social justice, environmentalism and equality. Not equality of opportunity, as the Founders had intended, but equality of outcomes. If this sounds very similar to Marxist philosophy, you’re getting the picture. Funny, though, how the ruling class in these socialist nations, as in our own, seems to be exempt. Freedom for the U.S. government has become freedom to run Ponzi schemes, engage in insider trading, and spend others’ money like, if you’ll forgive the cliché, drunken sailors.

When President Obama was elected, the new First Lady famously said that it was the first time in her life that she felt proud of our country. Over the last few years I’ve felt, for the first time, doubt of my pride in our country. My love of the values that made us a unique, shining star in the world is undimmed. I worry we may be drifting further and further from these cherished beliefs, approaching the point of no return. Too many have given their lives over the years to protect these principles to idly accept this.

Something to think about, especially this weekend. May you all have a peaceful, wonderful Memorial Day.