What do you mean no Helicopters and McNukes?

In usual fashion I have come across some inspiring material to write my own article on. I’ve been thinking recently about what the ends of a libertarian party or movement would or should be. In this blog I consider the means of getting there. I’m always pushing steps toward a libertarian society. These steps seem to never make any progress. I have always viewed the libertarian society as an idealist notion. I think to some degree its true. On the other hand, I feel like its entirely possible that a libertarian society is achievable. The problems are numerous and the solutions are few. One main problem and probably the biggest one is the lack of education of outsiders on the libertarian values and beliefs. People tend to misinterpret or misunderstand what libertarians stand for and what we want to achieve.

I’ve recently said on social media that I believe I’m in the minority of libertarians that believe that achieving the ultimate goal of a libertarian society will come instantly once it happens. I feel that many libertarians, anarchists, anarcho-capitalists think that once we overthrow the current government then we can just easily transition to that libertarian society that we all agree is the goal. I don’t believe its so easy or fast. I think there is a number of factors to consider about means and ends of libertarianism.

The first and foremost is that the way to change the government is to vote for politicians who hold the same beliefs, values and morals as libertarians.  We can all agree politicians of this caliber don’t exist right now with the exception of Rand Paul, maybe. After voting for Gary Johnson in two consecutive elections I have realized that we are going too big. (Nothing wrong with him, just a walking meme.) We need to find libertarian congresspeople. I know of 3 libertarian leaning congresspeople, Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash. Once we can turn the Congress into a majority of libertarians then we can work on the white house.

The second factor is education like I mentioned before. A lot of people have misconceptions of libertarians. Even I used to subscribe to these common myths. For example: Libertarians are both Republican and Democrat because they support a little of each. It might be true that we hold similar positions but we are actually against both parties. The two main parties are a snake with two heads. They don’t care about you. They care about their interests and their money! We need to educate the masses on libertarianism. The essential thing is liberty and freedom. The government shouldn’t play much if any role in our everyday lives. The government doesn’t need to over regulate and get involved in everything we do. The government doesn’t need to tax our hard earned income. For over 100 years, the US government collected no income tax. Who will build the roads? Private corporations that need to ship things by truck. Businesses that need to drive around. My point is that if we can educate people then eventually will lead to more people accepting and more importantly voting for libertarians.

The third factor of the means is simply cohesive-ness among libertarians. We have to unify our ideas. I know we all agree on certain things. But we have to compromise on other things. Example: Abortion. One of the hottest button issues because there is no stasis for argument. Pro Life or Pro Choice? For me, I’m torn between both because choice is guaranteed by the 14th amendment. Yet I’m also catholic so I can’t possibly support the killing of something that is alive. My position is Pro-Adoption. It gives a choice and saves the life of the baby. Also there are many parents out there who can’t have kids. My point here is that a compromise takes a little bit from each side and makes palatable to everyone. Compromise is something that our country was founded on. I strongly believe we should get back to that.

The forth factor is concerning the ends. I find it hilarious but helicopters and McNukes are a standard must have in any libertarian society. But lets all be honest its a little far fetched. I do believe that no taxes, open carry (guns), NAP and very small government are possible to have. I think we all have to be realistic about the ends. The ultimate goal is for everybody to live their life without the interference from government. But I think we miss the point that libertarian is also one of the most charitable types of societies. Its not fake charity like socialism and communism. In a libertarian society, you would give to the poor, give to the sick and give to government if you felt like it was worth it. Thats the wonderful thing about it, its your choice to give your money or not. Government is ineffective at helping people. But there is a million examples of where everyday people throw their support at something and get it done without government.

My conclusion is that we need to educate, vote, come together and be realistic about our ultimate goal of a libertarian society.  We can do it all once too. My inspiration was an article that basically said no more Libertarian party but we need a movement. In order to achieve a movement, we have to educate people on the benefits of joining this movement. We have to vote in politicians who reflect our positions. Its not going to be easy. The steps towards a libertarian society will be methodical. All I hope is that I see this libertarian society come to fruition before my time is up. I’m still young so I got hope.

Just remember kids, Taxation is Theft.

Thanks For Reading!

 

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Hiatus Break: NFL Protests and Tax Reform

I have previous written about the original NFL protest by Colin Kaepernick. This post basically tells Kaepernick to put his money where his mouth is. He did exactly that. Now the protest has spread around the league. President Trump has tweeted, spoke and commented on the protest on multiple occasions. In apparent backlash, NFL ratings are down pretty significantly. The owners and players are seemingly at odds. (I’ll get into this more) I won’t just be talking about the NFL protest in this post. I also want to touch on tax reform which is currently the hot issue in Congress. I hold an extreme belief about taxes. I mean extreme by that its a position that isn’t possible in today’s circumstances. However, it doesn’t mean its not achievable eventually through some means. I will lay out my own set of tax reforms in the second part of this post.

I have been an NFL fan my whole life. Quite literally since I was in second grade I remember watching the Jets. I remember wearing Jets jerseys (I still have them). I absolutely love football. Although I never played in an organized manner. If I was athletically gifted I would be a Quarterback in the NFL. Generally I’m one of those people who doesn’t care to mix politics with anything but politics. So when Kaepernick started his protest I wasn’t that happy. Its not that I don’t care about the issues he is protesting or that I dislike him. Its just I watch football to watch football. I don’t care about the political leanings of the players or owners or coaches. Aside from that, they all get paid handsomely (Players) or are extremely wealthy to begin with (owners).

The problem with the protest now is that its gotten way out of control. At first it wasn’t too crazy. The craziest comes from a unlikely source in President Trump. Now Trump himself isn’t shy about creating controversy or saying incredibly inflammatory things. However, the President of the United States typically doesn’t pour gas on a fire like he did with the NFL protests. I basically have two issues here and the main issue is Trump’s position on this. Trump wants the owners and NFL to force the players to stand for the anthem. I think that many conservative thinking people probably agree. They think its disrespectful to the flag and the military. Which I don’t fully disagree.

However, the constitution has a bill of rights. In that bill of rights there is a first amendment. The first amendment is the freedom of speech. Over the years the Supreme Court has ruled that speech isn’t just talking, it can also cover symbolic speech and others. In this regard I have disagree with Trump, he or the government can’t make a law forcing them to stand. Its the players right to protest and there is nothing that Trump or the government can do. However, the NFL could do something like fire the players. But they won’t do that. Let me tell you why they won’t: Backlash would very bad for the NFL probably twice or three times as bad it is now. However, the NFL could force players to stand, its not a violation of first amendment rights. The reason is because the players represent the NFL as brand and the NFL has right to protect its brand from being unnecessarily tarnished especially by its own employees. The NFL also has a collective bargaining agreement which apparently does state that players must stand. If its true, then its over because the players agreed to that agreement and therefore would have to follow it or be fired.

In my opinion, I think that players should stand because of the ratings and money. I mean they are only affecting their own livelihood. If the owners still feeling the pinch then so will they. In the end, its better if they stand and try to protest in a different way or become an activist and use all those millions to do something about the problem. I don’t think anyone can deny that police oppression is real. However, I think the solution lies within criminal justice reform. I won’t get into this because I’m not an expert and I didn’t do any research yet. However, look out for future posts.

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Tax reform is one of my favorite topics to discuss. Its because they are a lot of solutions to a problem that seems to never go away. I think one thing that is always missing from the tax reform debate is spending reform. You might say that’s a totally different reform! But actually taxes are based projected government spending.  For example: the government spends approximately 600 to 700 billion dollars on the military each year. In order to cover that they need to raise that in taxes.

Generally the federal government’s budget is anywhere from 2 to 4 trillion dollars. It is supposed to be a certain percent of GDP or gross domestic product. (I have a post dedicated to this subject of GDP) So my ideal tax reform in a perfect world would zero taxes. You may have heard taxation is theft. If you haven’t then its pretty plain what that means. Yes the government is stealing from us. This is a very extreme way to view taxation but its not as crazy as you think.

Originally the US government didn’t really collect taxes. In fact, the US government taxed products and used tariffs up until about 1913. So our government was able to run entirely without any income tax. Income tax is now the largest category of revenue of the US government. Its also the worst way to fund the government. Income tax really sucks. There will never a true, fair way to split up the weight of paying it. Its awful. However, there is no way the government could survive with 20 trillion dollars of debt and absolutely no tax income. That insane.

My proposal is essentially this get rid of the current tax format. Install a universal basic income (See this post). Then install a flat tax starting around 15 percent. No more brackets. No more loopholes. My plan does a lot of things but the two main things is that it cuts spending and will eventually lower taxes! So with basic income it would cut out most of social welfare programs and replace it with a government check to everyone over 18 and not a criminal. This saves approximately 200 million dollars a year. Each year for about 10 years you fix or pay off the debt. Plus the 15 percent over ten years would generate enough income to really pay off the debt and run the country. After ten years you lower the tax rate to 10 percent for another 10 to 15 years. Essentially the goal is to make the government so lean that it won’t need tax money. Its definitely possible over time.

This a simplified version which I think is good start. The details and actual numbers would have to be worked out by someone in a math oriented field. I can only hope that this tax plan eventually happens. Its not a popular one because usually conservative politicians advocate flat taxes. Basic income isn’t too popular either because it sounds a little crazy. But I feel like the two very different approaches really balance each other out. Also you can’t possibly say a flat tax isn’t fair. Its fair by nature. Also it still ensures that the poor pay less and the rich pay more. Which is why I don’t understand why people don’t like it. I guess they would rather get fleeced by the current system.

Thank you for reading! Have a awesome day!

 

 

 

Hiatus Break: Big Picture Policies

Once again, I have been inspired to write. This time its because I witnessed a discussion in a class that I’m taking in college (Occupational Therapy Assistant is my major).  The class is a community health lecture. I expected to learn about health and how to be a healthcare professional.  Instead I got a lot of political statements that were pretty controversial. Given the fact that it was a health class and not politics 101 I kept my mouth shut. Trust me I was probably one of the few to feel that way.  I won’t even mention what was said but it got me thinking.

When people espouse political views and opinions do they actually think about the big picture? My personal belief is that most of time, people just have beliefs and views in a vacuum with no reference to the realities. I have studied history and politics for years and have learned to think about the reality before choosing to accept a certain view. A lot of times for me, I don’t know about anyone else, but I find myself objecting to the means of political policy not the ends. Typically political views and beliefs express the need for a positive outcome that everyone should want. However, I feel that most of time the means is either impossible, more destructive than helpful or just plain nonsense. I want to give a few examples of policies that express positive outcomes but the means of getting there is just not worth it.

Before I give my examples I want preface it with just a little explanation on my title. Big Picture Policies. I think the title is simple enough to understand because the words aren’t complex. But grasping the big picture of complex and difficult issues is very hard to do. It takes something they rarely teach kids anymore, critical thinking and logic. I know they say that they teach it but the reality is that kids are guided too much and aren’t allowed to have an original thought because education is all repetition and brainwashing. Fortunately, you can break it by studying things on your OWN. Self learning is very important. So when dealing in Big Picture Policies or BPP as I want to abbreviate it, you need to look the realities of your surroundings.

The realities of your surroundings is basically the effect that a policy has on other policies and people. For example, my first example is healthcare. Recently Bernie Sanders is back at again with a universal single payer healthcare system. (changes every week?) So Sanders supports this single payer medicare for all system. Now lets say he get his way and Congress (by some unholy miracle passes a friggin law!!! Unreal!) passes this single payer medicare for all. Obviously the outcome is positive for everyone because they get government subsidized healthcare. But what about the policies affected this legislation? Once again this sounds great in a vacuum but when you start looking around at your surroundings you can see the problems. One of the biggest policies affected is the US Federal budget. This new single payer healthcare cost billions even trillions of dollars. Recently, the national debt went above 20 trillion dollars! Massive debt is never a good thing. Another surrounding affect is the doctors, nurses and hospitals that have to deal with the changes in payments, patient frequency, and increased operational expenses.

Expanding medicare for all would also affect tax policy because the federal government doesn’t just have money they would need to raise taxes. Which directly affects everyone with a tax increase, rich or poor. So you could say it would even affect yourself. Unbelievably many people are just fine with these realities. I imagine they aren’t thinking too clearly about the consequences of massive national debt that is being bought up and held by our enemies and rivals as leverage over US interests.

Okay Garrett, so you made your point the realities are shitty but isn’t healthcare is a right? Glad you brought that up. Healthcare is in fact a privilege that you pay for. Let me explain like this: If you are doctor with a private practice, just imagine you drive a Mercedes Benz and live in a nice house in a gated community. One day the police and someone in need of medical care barge into your practice. The police tell you that this patient requires medical care. You oblige and say is it life threatening? They say no. So you ask for the potential patients health insurance or however they might pay. The patient refuses to give you any health insurance info or money. The police threat to take you to jail. Do you still help this patient? If you still help them would you continue to do for every patient? If you don’t help then its obvious that healthcare is privilege because taking care of patients might be your passion but its also your only source of income.

The point is that healthcare for everybody is achievable but you can’t force it. The government is not good at running things. (Country is a mess have you looked around? Veteran Affairs is government healthcare program and its horrible) I believe that good ideas don’t necessary need to be laws. One easy way of making healthcare for everybody is by decreasing the price. One of the best way to decrease prices is to let the consumers decide which service is the best for the money. This is called a free market system. Also natural competition creates lower prices because companies are competing for business. All it would take on the government’s side is the repeal everything and replacing it with just a few regulations to keep everything fair in terms of monopolies and consumer safety.

This is essentially how I look at every policy and judge it based on how it affects other policies. One of my favorite policies is Universal Basic Income. I did a whole post explaining how it might be implemented. Go read that first. Obviously UBI (Universal Basic Income) is a positive outcome for everyone because every citizen over 18 (non-felon) would receive a monthly stipend from the government. This policy over top of all other welfare programs would quite literally end America because of the massive amount money it would take. Things like inflation and lack of motivation would be huge problems. In my post, I revised it so that it could eliminate some of those problems.

One thing that I didn’t cover or even really think of in that post was inflation. I read something recently that made me go: oh shit! I think the easiest solution is to end the Federal Reserve. This would allow the government to stop printing money and readjust the interest rates and all that. To stop inflation created by UBI, basically no money could be printed and they would have take money out of circulation. By my calculations, the government would put about 500 billion dollars into the economy artificially so they would need remove 500 billion dollars from the currency circulating.

If you don’t know how inflation works then here is simple example: If you and five of your friends each have 5 dollars. You can all go to subway and buy a six inch sub of the day with your 5 dollars. Now lets say everybody gets an extra 2 dollars bringing each person total to 7 dollars. You all go to subway to buy that same exact sub which now instead of costing 5 dollars they raised it 8 dollars. So you can’t afford that sub. Inflation is devaluation of money. Essentially can it occur when minimum wage is raised, more money is printed than is backed up by gold or government bonds or when the government artificially stimulates the economy.  Now you may ask why did subway raise their price by 3 dollars? Well remember if everyone gets a two dollar raise then so do those subway workers. The cost of pretty much everything that is required to run that subway goes up, the workers are paid more so the ownership has to cover those costs. Usually its pass to the consumer because profits might be slim especially if his location has high renting cost.

Once again, this is a very simplistic example. Its much more complex than I explained. My point of this post is that when you espouse political views or beliefs try to think about the surrounding realities. Try to understand that policies don’t just have one positive outcome. You also understand that the negatives of policies might weigh more than the positives for some people. Its hard for people to understand but I’m for affordable healthcare, free college, and personal freedom on every level. However, I’m not a democrat or republican. I want all those things but I want them in a way that doesn’t hurt our future or present. Once you understand the realities and complexities you can come up with solutions to make dreams a reality. Unfortunately, the hardest part will be getting Congress to pass anything, so Good LUCK!

Thank you for reading! Have an awesome day!

Mixed Bag: Wrong on Tariffs, Got Hacked?, Garrett for President 2028?

My last post on tariffs was very good if you haven’t read it yet. I just want to make one clarification about that post. Throughout the post, I mention the possibility of plan to make tariffs a bigger source of national revenue. The problem is that I wrote it just trying to educate people about tariffs and thinking after research I could present a plan to help relieve the tax burden. After some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was totally misguided. I know that free trade is a great economic benefit for every country. I never proposed doing away with it. I’ve come to the realization that I was wrong about tariffs. I don’t think there’s way to make tariffs viable without starting multiple trade wars or killing off American businesses. The explanation is simple. Its basically a tariff on imports would make many products that aren’t produce here in America very expensive to the consumer. A tariff on exports would create tension between the US and other countries whom export to us. The bottom line is that tariffs in this free trade world just won’t work either politically or economically.

This particular post is a mixed bag of goodies such as the tariff plan which is not happening. I’m going to try to keep short, not sure that is possible for me. (See any other post) I think that first I want to address the Russia hacking. I don’t usually like to give these ridiculous stories that people call “news” any sort of attention. However, its been bothering me. The problem I have with the story is not that Russia tried to hack, or that Trump wanted to them to hack, or even the debate over whether or not its true. There are conflicting reports that the hacking was made up. Whatever the case is, I find it completely ridiculous. The best I came up with to describe it was this unusual status I made on my facebook:

The Russians interfered with my whole life, hacked my SATs scores, college transcripts, my facebook, my old myspace account, and all four of my email addresses. (I lost count actually) Apparently its totally a valid excuse for why I’m such a failure. You want to see proof just look at how big of a loser I am. This my friends is what the federal government and Democratic party are doing. How pathetic and sad can you honestly get? Trump won because people are tired of Obama and his socialist policies that really haven’t worked. They don’t like the increased terrorism and racial strife. I don’t believe that Trump is the solution but blaming your problems on Russia is ridiculous. Trying to start World War 3 is dumb. If I could run for President in 2020 I would, because the only people who seem to be politicians are idiots.

I think that I make a valid point of how this Russia hacking is playing out in the media. I’ve never actually believed anything the media tells me. I would recommend you don’t listen either. As they say: Don’t drink the kool-aid.  I thought I would just share that.

In an unrelated matter, I want point out that I made a half hearted declaration for President in 2020 even though I’m only going to be 30. If you didn’t know you need to be 35 to run for President. In the event that I turn 35 and I decide to run, I promise that my readers will be the first to know. If you are curious, I will be 35 in 2025, and eligible to run in the 2028 election. So uh, mark your calendars. If Trump doesn’t ruin us then I hope I can count on my educated readers for your support. I will be on running on the libertarian platform with a little bit of my own ideas mixed in. Just for fun, lets review my positions:

  • Against Minimum Wage
  • Pro-Adoption (Pro-Choice because 14th amendment and Against Abortion because its killing)
  • Audit the Fed (Reserve) (Hold them accountable)
  • Pro-free trade
  • Cut spending and actually lower taxes (Against raising taxes on anyone)
  • Hold the Department of Defense accountable (military industrial complex)
  • Make Healthcare a free market system (fix regulations)
  • Repeal the Patriot Act
  • Make gay marriage legal everywhere (states rights be damned, gov’t shouldn’t control marriage
  • Make marijuana legal everywhere (kills the black market and raises revenue)
  • Basic Income, see my post, Which also leads to cuts in all of the welfare portions of the budget plus a savings of about 200 billion dollars
  • Invest in infrastructure like high speed rails and roads
  • Pay down the national debt (again extra money from cuts over a course of 10 to 20 years)
  • Pull all troops station abroad and put them on the Mexican Border (Simultaneously, I would institute a streamlined immigration for legal and illegal immigrants basically just giving them citizenship after a background check and psychological evaluation plus for illegals a higher tax rate to ensure they really want to come here. No handouts here. All countries citizens welcome.
  • Slowly end all unnecessary government functions or phase them out because a big bureaucracy isn’t necessarily great in terms of cost and effectiveness. Including but not limited to my own power once I get what I see fit to be done.
  • Eliminate all Federal government regulation regarding education such as common core because teachers know their own students better.

Granted my plan is ambitious but I don’t just win the presidency not to make a major impact. I made this list off the top of my head. I made some vague positions and perhaps in the future I will get to expand on them. If I had to describe my presidential ambitions in a sentence or two I would describe it as:

I want America to be a fiscally smart, diplomatic savvy and self aware as a nation and as a people. Americans have always thrived on their freedom and their ability to govern themselves and that is exactly what I aim to do, is put the control in hands of the people.

I think my plans are simply for freedom and not much else. America has become extreme and its painfully obvious with the election of a person like Trump. I think we need to go back to our roots. People need to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These are the documents that built the country. I think the words have significant meaning that puts being American in great honor. I also think that we shouldn’t forget our past mistakes whether its invading Iraq or the whole cold war, we should not let history repeat itself. I really don’t fancy getting elected or being President easy. However, I think i would really enjoy working to make a country that I’ve been living in and studying since I was a child.

That’s will do it for this post. I had to address a few things and next post will be more coherent, I promise. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Preventing Dictator Trump: Judicial Review and Separation of Powers

An important principle of our constitution that set ups our government is that of separation of powers. It is a part of checks and balances. Separation of powers has always been a hot topic especially in the Supreme Court. It keeps our government running smoothly. It helps determine the jurisdiction of each branch of government. In order to understand the separation of powers, you have to understand Judicial Review. In middle and high school history the concept of separation of powers and judicial review is taught. Mainly because it’s on the regents. Many students sort of zone out on it because it’s not all that interesting. Once again I want to take two Supreme Court cases and review them. After briefly reviewing each, I want to put some modern context on the separation of powers and judicial review. Let’s just say when an election rolls around with a controversial president being elected, my mind goes to thinking about how the constitution allows for checks and balances that keeps our democratic president from becoming a dictator. It’s really petty to blame the election results on Russia or voter fraud. A choice was made and we should deal with it by invoking the constitution. Without further or do, I want to present Marbury vs. Madison.

Marbury vs. Madison was decided by the court in 1803 by the Marshall Court. It was unanimous decision. Now you might remember some of the facts of case from high-school. If you don’t then I suggest you read up on it here. Like usual, I want to skip directly to the questions of the case and the majority opinion. The court had to decide whether or not the officers had the right to go court over the commissions and  whether or not Section 13 of the Judiciary Act was valid? The court held that because Adams had signed the commissions they were legal and should have been given out despite Jefferson’s order to not give them out. They also voided Section 13 of the Judiciary Act because it interfered with Article 3 section 2 of the constitution. The Court had an obligation to uphold the constitution over the congressional law. Here was what the Judiciary Act, section 13 says :

That the Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies of a civil nature, where a state is a party, except between a state and its citizens; and except also between a state and citizens of other states, or aliens, in which latter case it shall have original but not exclusive jurisdiction. And shall have exclusively all such jurisdiction of suits or proceedings against ambassadors, or other public ministers, or their domestics, or domestic servants, as a court of law can have or exercise consistently with the law of nations; and original, but not exclusive jurisdiction of all suits brought by ambassadors, or other public ministers, or in which a consul, or vice consul, shall be a party. And the trial of issues in fact in the Supreme Court, in all actions at law against citizens of the United States, shall be by jury. The Supreme Court shall also have appellate jurisdiction from the circuit courts and courts of the several states, in the cases herein after specially provided for; and shall have power to issue writs of prohibition to the district courts, when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and writs of mandamus, in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts appointed, or persons holding office, under the authority of the United States. [NOTE:  Text in bold of particular relevance to Marbury v. Madison. (Source, here)

The Court invalidated the last part of this law in favor of the constitution.  The constitution goes against the Judiciary Act, more specifically Article 3, Section 2:

The judicial branch has jurisdiction over any case involving: 

  • The US constitution, the laws of the United States laws, treaties, or any cases involving ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls.

This particular quote is what the Supreme Court cited as their jurisdiction to hear Marbury’s case. Marbury essentially tried to argue for a broader Supreme Court jurisdiction. The Judiciary Act would have allowed that if not for the constitution’s strict view what the Supreme Court is allowed to do. Marbury vs. Madison was the first case to strike out part of a congressional law. Its become known as judicial review. This is only the first case of it, comes up again years later in the Dred Scott decision. (another blog post)

I want to go over just one more case before I bring it into a modern context. I think that one of the most interesting Supreme Court cases is McCulloch vs. Maryland. If you want to read the facts, then click here. The McCulloch vs. Maryland is not so much about judicial review but it does establish an important pecking order within our government. You may have heard of federalism. This is a case that shows what federalism. In this case, a uanimous decision was made that the state of Maryland could not tax the federal government. The question the court had to answer was simply one of federalism. Congress legally created a bank and Maryland tried to pass a bill to tax it. The court found on the basis of the 9th amendment (see my last post) or the enumerated powers amendment. The court set the precedent that federal government has constitutional power over the states. The federal government is allowed to establish banks because of the 9th amendment and the states can’t tax it because its a constitutional function. This is monumentally important case especially with the civil war later in the century. (case was decided 1819)

Marbury vs. Madison gave the Supreme Court the power to strike out congressional laws that are unconstitutional. McCulloch vs. Maryland gave the federal government the priority over constitutional functions within the states. So why are these cases so important today?  I alluded to the controversial election in the beginning of the post. I believe these two cases give the people some hope that President Trump won’t become Dictator Trump. Obviously, he has a favorable Congress and he might even get a favorable Supreme Court pending a successful nomination. But Trump and Congress still have to follow the constitution. In the end, the Supreme Court has a duty to uphold it. So no matter what happens with Trump, I think the separation of powers and judicial review will keep him in check.

Let’s quickly for example, take President Obama and his presidency. Obama’s biggest accomplishment (depends on how you look at it, failure is more accurate) is Obamacare or the Affordable Health Care Act. It was a very controversial becuase it mandated that everyone get healthcare or pay a fine. Parts of it went to the Supreme Court to be decided if they were constitutional. Some parts of it were unconstitutional and others remained. In my opinion there wasn’t enough struck down. However, I think that knowing that obviously unconstituional laws will be struck down is comforting. Nobody saw Trump getting elected. I think we all gotta have a little faith

This definitely won’t be the end of this topic, it went a little longer than I wanted but I hope to revisit it soon.  Thanks for reading!

 

Citations:

Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech. “McCulloch v. Maryland.” Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1789-1850/17us316 (accessed December 12, 2016).

Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech. “Marbury v. Madison.” Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1789-1850/5us137 (accessed December 12, 2016).

 

Flag Burning: A Burning First Amendment Controversy.

If you haven’t heard already, President-Elect Donald Trump wants to make flag burning a crime. A federal crime. In case you were born yesterday, this is not a new or radical position to hold. Although flag burning is highly disrespectful and controversial, it is protected by the first amendment. The freedom of speech has been interpreted in many ways since the original amendment was written. I wanted to weigh in on the controversy or as I’d like to characterize it a non-story. Before I get into why I think flag burning shouldn’t be penalized, I want to explain in some depth analysis about how the Supreme Court came down on flag burning. If you don’t know already, I’m a huge nerd and love looking at policies and politics. One of my absolute favorite branches of government is the Judiciary branch.

If someone told me I could be whatever I wanted for the rest of my life, I think a Supreme Court Justice or Constitutional lawyer would be in the top 3, right along side NFL Quarterback and Historian. The fact is I love the constitution and its intricacies and I’ve studied many of the men who wrote it. I think the document is a testament to the human experiment. The constitution is ageless, timeless and perfectly logical. The language is quite simply genius. The beauty of our constitution is that it can interpreted many different ways and that allows the US to have flexibility like no other nation before us. I honestly believe that most people don’t truly understand the constitution. The truth is that what they teach you in elementary school up to highschool is all true. The constitution sets up the rules and rolls of the government. The Bill of Rights is much deeper than just guaranteed rights by nature but it’s how the actual laws of this country are defined.

All of this introduction to say that the first amendment was written to protect many different types of speech. I took a constitution law class in college. One of my hardest and most favorite classes of all time. I really got my affinity for the constitution during the class. However, the class required me to memorize approximately 20 to 30 supreme courts cases on a few different topics. I had to know the facts, the reasoning, the ruling , the dissent and sometimes the precedents. So before we can discuss the case of flag burning, we should probably read over the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

For this particular case, Texas vs. Johnson, we want to focus on “abridging the freedom of speech”.  The freedom of speech is pretty vague phrase which is why flag burning is protected. If you want to read about the whole case, I would recommend doing that here. I won’t be going over the ‘facts’ because it’s not that important other than to say that quite a few states tried to pass laws to make flag burning a crime. Those states, specifically Texas tried to prosecute someone named Gregory Lee Johnson for burning a flag. Now the court decided that the issue with the flag burning was whether or not its protected by symbolic speech. In order to understand the phrase ‘symbolic speech’ in a constitutional meaning, you have to know two other supreme court cases. In other words, the court cited two precedent.

In Stromberg vs. California, this was case where the court decided that California could not ban red flags. It was unconstitutional because it was protected by symbolic speech and due process (a 14th amendment right). It was a landmark case because it gave symbolic speech the protection of due process. Which if you missed that in history class, due process protects the denial of life, liberty or property by the government, outside the sanction of the law. In other words, the government has to have a legitimate reason to pass a law that is vague or unfair.  The second precedent which I believe is slightly more relevant and well-known is Tinker vs. the Des Moines Independence Community School. In this case, the court voted 7-2 in favor of kids wearing black armbands to school as symbolic speech. It is the most cited and often best supported argument for symbolic speech. The students were voicing their opposition to the Vietnam war with the black armbands and the court justified this as their right because “students and teachers don’t shed their rights to freedom and expression at the schoolhouse gates.” This is how symbolic speech has been defined in the past. If you read the actual briefs, the judges cite many cases but these two clearly show how symbolic speech is protected especially as pertains to flag burning.

In Texas vs. Johnson, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling of 5-4. The Majority opinion was written by Justice William Brennan. The dissenting opinion written by Justice Stevens. The court ruled that flag burning was in fact protected by symbolic speech. Why? The court decided that the Texas law used viewpoint to try to justify the ban of flag burning. Court said that viewpoint wasn’t justifiable objection alone. However, it did exempt flag burning to get rid of an old flag. They also said that the offensiveness of flag burning is notwithstanding in a law to ban it. Now to me, this might bring up the another constitutional issue of obscenity, however, I’ll leave that for a different post.

The dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens was that flag burning should be ban because of the flags unique symbolization of the unity of America. Justice Steven was suggesting that national unity outweight symbolic speech and free speech. Whether you agree or disagree with either opinion, I think there is a fundamental problem with Justice Stevens argument. I believe from what I’ve heard that Donald Trump pretty much has the same line of reasoning. The fundamental problem is that suspending freedom of speech or symbolic speech in just one instance, could lead to future expansions of that suspension. What I mean is that if flag burning becomes illegal because it’s a symbol of unity, then eventually that might turn to censorship of the press, the quelling of protests, and the silencing of the people. This flies directly in the face of the first amendment, which says prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom speech.

So I believe the court got this right the first time. Now you ask the question, what does that say about your loyalty to the American Flag and the country itself if you support flag burning? Well, the answer is easy. I am a loyal American who votes and participates in our wonderful republican democracy. I do not support flag burning. I think it’s really disrespectful because our troops have fought for that flag. They have given up everything for that flag to wave in the air. They died for that flag and our country. My grandfather was enlisted in the military during World War 2. He served his country and help make the flag a symbol for peace, liberty and unity. What I do support is anybody’s right to burn the flag in protest or anger or hate or honor. It doesn’t matter the viewpoint of why your burning it. The fact is not everyone will agree with your decision. There is no way to possibly legislate a viewpoint. Its an opinion, not a fact. Therefore I believe that Justice Brennan and the Majority opinion was the correct one. Justice Stevens dissent is fundamentally flawed.

I hope that you found this to be somewhat educational and interesting. I didn’t want to bore out every single detail. I’m also hoping to do more this type of post. Constitutional law is fun to me and its interesting, challenging and tedious. I think its a very cognitive thought producing process that can really expand your argumentative skills and make you consider the simplest facets of life and how they are related to the government. What people say that politics doesn’t interest them, I wish I had the time and attention to explain them that it matters deeply to every individual. The constitution protects our freedoms which allows many people to ignore the fact that politics is in everybody interests especially in democracy. Trust me, the founding fathers experience a government that was unresponsive and didn’t allow them representation. They fought a war to govern themselves. The beauty of the revolution was the ability to participate in your own governing.

Thank you for reading!

On the Basis of Democracy: John Locke, Part 2.

Welcome to Part 2 of on the Basis of Democracy with John Locke. If you missed Part 1, you should read that first. The purpose of this blog post is to simply figured out the origins of Democracy and how it works within our American democracy. In Part 1, I went over some of the ideas of democracy from Aristotle. Political theory is a pretty easy theory to follow because each political philosopher usually builds off philosopher’s of time past. Therefore, the more ancient political scholarship you understand, the more modern/current political thoughts you can understand. In Part 2, we will be discussing John Locke and his ideas on democracy.

Who is John Locke? He is an english born political philosopher. Born in the early 1600s. He was influenced by Aristotle. Locke has a deep range of writings. He is often considered to be one of the fathers of the enlightenment. Similar to part 1, I won’t give a full biography but go to straight to Locke’s ideas about democracy. Starting from his first writing and going forward, Locke’s main premise is the consent of the governed. In his first writing called “Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina”.  In this piece, Locke and his mentor, wrote a constitution meant for the Providence of Carolina in England. It was never adopted. However, the ideas that he mentioned became the basis of political philosophy going forward.

The most influential of Locke’s writings came in his Two Treatises of Government. Instead of trying to paraphrase his great words, I will just show you. Then I will explain how the founding fathers use Locke’s ideas especially in the Declaration of Independence. Here is just a few excerpts of Locke’s Two Treatises of Government:

Sect. 95. MEN being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent. The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of it. This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were in the liberty of the state of nature. When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.

Sect. 96. For when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority: for that which acts any community, being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way; it is necessary the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority: or else it is impossible it should act or continue one body, one community, which the consent of every individual that united into it, agreed that it should; and so every one is bound by that consent to be concluded by the majority. And therefore we see, that in assemblies, impowered to act by positive laws, where no number is set by that positive law which impowers them, the act of the majority passes for the act of the whole, and of course determines, as having, by the law of nature and reason, the power of the whole.

If you want to read more of Locke: Click here.

Locke’s main point is that the governed hold the power of the government. Locke believes that a government cannot operate without the consent of the government. This is a basis of democracy. The reason why Locke believes that the consent of the governed is so important is because of the freedom or liberty that it offers. If the government is ruled by the people it can prevent tyrants and better rule the people. Locke is also coming from a monarchy in England and in a time when the dark ages we’re not that far off. In the dark ages, it was a small oligarchy who wealthy that ruled over the poor and working class who had no say. Locke’s ideas are perhaps best expressed in Thomas Jefferson’s document.

Thomas Jefferson was a philosopher in his own right. Jefferson also understood that Locke’s philosophy fit perfectly with the American cause for revolution. If you didn’t pay attention in history class then you want to know to that one of the rallying cries was “no taxation no representation”. The American people were clamoring for representation in the British parliament. The unilateral rule of the British Monarchy over the American colony was directly what John Locke was trying to get at. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson took a page for Locke and wrote this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Thomas Jefferson essentially took Locke’s words and used it as a justification for the revolution of the American people. Locke’s vision for democracy did not just end with Jefferson but kept going. Locke’s idea that the consent of governed is needed in democracy still holds true today. Unfortunately, in today’s America we have gotten lazy. We seem to have ignored the fact that our democracy is supposed represent the people. Many people blame our representatives. We should look at the majority of governed who don’t vote. I think in a very indirect way, Locke is also advocating for participation in government. I feel that political participation has gone down as politics has become more polarizing.

We can blame Trump. We can blame Hillary. We blame our politicans. However, I think that democracy in the words of Locke lies with “the consent of the governed.” I think to wrap up this series, I want to just conclude a few major considerations for the basis of democracy. One basis that Aristotle outlined is the authority over aduits. In other words, Aristotle thought that the people should hold purse strings and keep the government accountable. Aristotle gave us a second basis that is the foundation of our judicial system. The right to a fair trial with a jury of your peers. Locke gives us the basis of the consent of the governed. The theory that democracy should always be run by the people and for the people. The majority of people should have the power to control the government. This means everyone must vote. Everyone must participate. These are the three main bases of democracy as written by Aristotle and John Locke.

This will be end of this series for now. I may continue it with different philosophers at another time. Below you will find my sources especially for the quoted stuff. Thank you for reading!

Citations:

https://www.johnlocke.org/about-john-locke/who-is-john-locke/

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7370/7370-h/7370-h.htm

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/