Myron Magnet Notes the the Founders Constitutional Intentions vs. Progressives

Here is a clip of a larger article I thoroughly enjoyed via Myron Magnet’s insight into the Constitutions history. I recommend reading the entire piece linked at the end of this clip:

…Much of what the Progressive Era had only hoped for, the New Deal brought into being, transforming America’s constitutional structure in ways that such Pro­gressives as Woodrow Wilson, with his belief that the Founders were antique, bewigged fig­ures with views un­suited to modernity’s more informed and ef­fective age of science, statistics, and profes­sionalism, had urged. –‑

Wilson, argues author Freedman, saw “the Found­ers’ checks and balances as an unnecessary drag on the efficiency of government,” which should be a vast mechanism in which expert bureaucrats with advanced degrees—working altruistically in nonpolitical agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission, formed in 1887, or the Federal Trade Commission, founded during Wilson’s presi-dency—would smoothly institute what advances in economics and social science would reveal as the common good. In 1908, Wilson swept the Founders and their cobweb-covered Constitution into the dustbin of history. “No doubt a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalien­able rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing specula­tion has been put forward as fundamental prin­ciple,” he wrote. By contrast with the Founders’ musty parchment, he continued, “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and practice.” Can’t get much more up-to-date and sci­entific than evolution.

And so arose the doctrine of the Living Con­stitution, which has now infringed nearly every guarantee of the Bill of Rights, from free speech to federalism. “The chief instrumentality by which the law of the Constitution has been extended to cover the facts of national development has of course been judicial interpretations—the de­cisions of courts,” Wilson wrote. “The process of formal amendment of the Constitution was made so difficult by the . . . Constitution itself that it has seldom been feasible to use it.” So the doughty courts have stepped in and taken over the “whole business of adaptation . . . with open minds, sometimes even with boldness and a touch of audacity,” becoming “more liberal, not to say more lax, in their interpretation than they otherwise would have been.” As Wilson saw it, writes Levin, “the federal judiciary was to be­have as a permanent constitutional convention,” making up the laws as it went along. Of course, at that point, as Lincoln had warned almost half a century earlier, “the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”

And indeed, it was this magic elixir of judicial constitution-making and rule by administrative agencies that Franklin D. Roosevelt employed to transmute the American political system into one that resembled George III’s system of rulers and subjects as much as it did George Washington’s government….

Myron Magnet, It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More, City Journal (Summer 2014), 47-48.

See also Myron’s article, Constitution Party, as well as his C-SPAN Book Discussion.

Socialism Has Never Been Tried (Mantra’s of the Left)

I wish to post some ideas and thoughts by others here that will allow a framework to reply to such a challenge. Many professors will infect young minds with this idea, which is, “you cannot criticize Marxism, socialism, or the like because its ‘pure form[s]’ have never been implemented on earth.” To which I would reply to said professor that he then would not be able to criticize Christianity, Republicans, Capitalism, etc…. because the ideal they hold has never been purely implemented on earth. [In Christianity I would note that the faith was modeled perfectly in the man of Christ Jesus.]

So if you have a professor who is harping on Capitalism, Bush, Republicans, Reagan, Newt, Ted Cruz, whomever…, you just need to point out that since  FDR’s “New Deal” and Johnson’s “Great Societyall they are really criticizing is regulation and redistribution. Because we are far from a truly free-market.

So, what are some good resources to build a cumulative case or allow deeper — non-sophomoric thinking as the author of The Politically incorrect Guide would say — on this subject? While I responded to the person where I work with the quick answer of, “that is essentially copping out of dealing with what is produced by such beliefs,” my thinking on the matter goes beyond how I could or can express it in the work environment. This frustration of quick interactions has led me partly to blog on various topics so not only myself, but others can access this “nugget” if-you-will for both personal edification and learning or linking to friends, co-workers, and family that you discuss this issue with. Especially young people at university.

I do wish to note that just because I am posting items by others below, it does not imply I fully agree with their position stated or worldview. For instance I use Student of Objectivism’s (SO) video (spliced with a quick “baked in the cake” precursor), while I enjoy and agree with Ayn Rand on many points… on many others I disagree. I CAN recommend wholeheartedly — for the lover of theology that really wishes to understand the political divide — a book by Thomas Sowell entitled, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. While this is a must read for any political junkie, it is all the more powerful for one who believes in The Fall of mankind, objective grounding of ethics, man’s spark of life/creativity as well as mankind’s depravity. So to all the pastors and apologists that read this… add that book into your reading hopper.

Okay, I wanted to begin with this chapter, at least the opening pages of it, the chapter can be seen below or on Google Books here.

In it the author notes that “baked into” socialism is serfdom… by violence if necessary. Scott Huber of Brightlight Books comments well on this idea and the book:


Williamson ended Chapter 1 (see that summary here) with the observation (from Hayek) that socialist planners always lead an economy on the “road to serfdom”. This is because socialist economic planning cannot work because the planners cannot have enough information or knowledge to make the proper economic decisions. So, in lieu of having enough knowledge to properly make economic decisions, they opt for varying and escalating levels of coercion to enforce their Plan.

In Chapter 2, he begins by refuting what he calls the high school debater’s trick of claiming that socialism in “theory” is great (and true and just and compassionate, etc.) but it just gets screwed up in practice.

Not so, he says:

In truth, the theory behind socialism is deeply flawed: it is intellectually narrow, inhumane, and deeply irrational in that it fails to account for the ways in which knowledge works in a society. Socialism in theory is every bit as bad as socialism in practice, once you understand the theory and stop mistaking it for the common and humane charitable impulse.

Here is a key question? How is economic value determined? Next, we can ask a slightly different set of questions: How should economic value be determined and, perhaps more importantly, by whom?

Williamson argues that on the issue of determining economic value Marx (and every socialist) is a moralist. How so?

Because for Marx, and every other socialist, the value of economic activity, which is to say the value of any product or service, is (or more precisely should) be objectively related to the labor of the worker who produces it. This contrasts with the subjective approach of the capitalist marketplace which basically says that the value of a product or a service is related to how people in the marketplace subjectively value it.

In other words, let’s say you spend a lot of time, human labor, and other resources to produce something. The socialist approach to value says that your product is, at least roughly, worth the sum of the costs required to produce it especially the labor costs. To price it higher or lower is an injustice.

Marx’s analysis is morally normative [i.e. what should be] in that he insists that, since labor is the measure of value, wages must equal the price of the product. The mere existence of profits – squeezing economic value out of a product beyond what workers are paid – for Marx was proof of capitalist’s exploitation of workers. It was indistinguishable from outright theft.

And, according to Williamson, it’s this moral (and moralizing) context that fuels Marxists’ and other socialists’ revolutionary fervor. Note Marx’s most famous quote: The point of philosophy is not merely to understand the world, but to change it. And at the point of a gun if necessary, which it usually is since free people do not readily cooperate with the revolution.


Here is Kevin Williamson, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, responding quickly to Mark Levine about the above… followed by a longer response by SO:

You see, even on paper, if really looked at, the ideal is corrupted. repression and violence surely follow any implementation of socialism or its satellite Marxian or communist outgrowths. Even prior to Marx socialism was tried in the earliest years of our country, and FAILED:

And one should note that ALL of the above have a current application to what we are seeing the Democrats implementing. Socialized Medicine. And who better to explain this to us that the Gipper himself:

Walter Williams makes this real for us in a way that should perk the interest of those who love and cherish freedom:

…Mao Zedong has been long admired by academics and leftists across our country, as they often marched around singing the praises of Mao and waving his little red book, “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung.” President Barack Obama’s communications director, Anita Dunn, in her June 2009 commencement address to St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral, said Mao was one of her heroes.

Whether it’s the academic community, the media elite, stalwarts of the Democratic Party or organizations such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Green for All, the Sierra Club and the Children’s Defense Fund, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism — a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.

Today’s leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from those of Nazi, Soviet and Maoist mass murderers. One does not have to be in favor of death camps or wars of conquest to be a tyrant. The only requirement is that one has to believe in the primacy of the state over individual rights.

The unspeakable horrors of Nazism didn’t happen overnight. They were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for “social justice.”…

Social Justice. This social justice always leads to repression, from the NAACP asking the rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask to be investigated, to, Dr. Benjamin Carson being audited after his prayer breakfast speech by the IRS. These are murmurings of the greater end that always ends in violent repression. From pro-lifers being threatened on university campuses, to suppression of free speech, to… eventualy, the outgrowth — naturally — to violent repression. The difference between Marxism, Socialism, Communism, and Fascism, is a matter of degrees, only:

A Marxist will scream at you, argue and fist-fight you down the road to his dream, as he carries your belongings and says, “They belong to the collective”.

A Socialist will grab you by the hand or the hair, and beat you on the head with a stick and drag you along, as they make you carry your own belongings and tell you they, “Belong to the collective”.

A Communist will get behind you and make you carry your own belongings to his dream, as he points a gun to the back of your head, and kicks you in the back and screams at you, “They belong to the State”… as in the collective.

A Fascist will will have your neighbor carry your belongings, and shoot you if you do not agree with his dream of “Centralized Authority, and it all belongs to the State”,… the collective”.

…a matter of degrees.

Question is, which is our temperature to stop this from going further in our country?

And any person should acknowledge why someone should “fear” government more than business. In fact, I made this point on my FB outgrowth of this blog in talking to my liberal friend:

…the point was to show how the Obama admin is stacking the books with GM. You see, when the government chooses winners-and-losers instead of getting contracts with private companies (like Ford, GM, etc.), they are invested to [i.e., forced to] only choose a government run business and stock their fish (so-to-speak) with GM fleets… leaving the non-government company to flounder.

This next audio deals with the differences of the Koch brothers, in comparison to the Left’s version of them, Soros. There are many areas that one can discuss about the two… but let us focus in on the main/foundational difference. One wants a large government that is able to legislate more than just what kind of light-bulbs one can use in the privacy of their own home. Soros wants large government able to control a large portion of the economy (see link to chart below), and he has been very vocal on this goal. The other party always mentioned are the Koch brothers. These rich conservatives want a weak government. A government that cannot effect our daily lives nearly as much (personal, business, etc) as the Soros enterprise wants. And really, if you think about it, what business can really “harm” you, when people come to my door with pistols on their hip… are they a) more likely to be from GM, or, b) from the IRS?

The possibility of them being from the IRS is even more possible with the passing of Obama-Care [i.e., larger government]. So the “fear” (audio in next comment) I think the Left has of “Big-Business” is unfounded, and the problem comes when big-business gets in bed with big-government. Here I am thinking of (like with the penalties that were found to be Constitutional in the recent SCOTUS decision) a government that can penalize you if you do not buy a Chevy Volt, or some other green car in order to save the planet. When this happens, guys coming to my door because of unpaid (hypothetical… but historical examples abound of the tax history of our nation) “fines” are likely to be IRS agents because of a personal choice made in the “free-market.”

Appendix: If the above example didn’t inspire any liberal fear (forced to go green or be penalized), maybe this one will?

…First, the government needs to issue a mandate that all households must own at least one firearm. We will need a federal agency to ensure that people aren’t just buying cheap BB guns or .22 pistols, even though that may be all they need or want. It has to be 9mm or above, with .44 magnums getting a one-time tax credit on their own. Let’s pick an agency known for its aptitude on firearms and home protection to issue required annual certifications each year, without which the government will have to levy hefty fines. Which agency would do the best job? Hmmmm … I know! How about TSA? With their track record of excellence, we should have no problems implementing this mandate.

Don’t want to own a gun? Hey, no worries. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts says citizens have the right to refuse to comply with mandates. The government will just seize some of your cash in fines, that’s all. Isn’t choice great? Those fines will go toward federal credits that will fund firearm purchases for the less well off, so that they can protect their homes as adequately as those who can afford guns on their own. Since they generally live in neighborhoods where police response is appreciably worse than their higher-earning fellow Americans, they need them more anyway. Besides — gun ownership is actually mentioned in the Constitution, unlike health care, which isn’t. Obviously, that means that the federal government should be funding gun ownership….

…read more…

(See More)

The Pilgrims could have benefited from sound theology which would have dissuaded their (and should ours) experiment with “communal” activities:


A. PRIVATE PROPERTY

According to the teachings of the Bible, government should both document and protect the ownership of private property in a nation.

The Bible regularly assumes and reinforces a system in which property belongs to individuals, not to the government or to society as a whole.

We see this implied in the Ten Commandments, for example, because the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:15), assumes that human beings will own property that belongs to them individually and not to other people. I should not steal my neighbor’s ox or donkey because it belongs to my neighbor, not to me and not to anyone else.

The tenth commandment makes this more explicit when it prohibits not just stealing but also desiring to steal what belongs to my neighbor:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exod. 20:17).

The reason I should not “covet” my neighbor’s house or anything else is that these things belong to my neighbor, not to me and not to the community or the nation.

This assumption of private ownership of property, found in this fundamental moral code of the Bible, puts the Bible in direct opposition to the communist system advocated by Karl Marx. Marx said:

The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.

One reason why communism is so incredibly dehumanizing is that when private property is abolished, government controls all economic activity. And when government controls all economic activity, it controls what you can buy, where you will live, and what job you will have (and therefore what job you are allowed to train for, and where you go to school), and how much you will earn. It essentially controls all of life, and human liberty is destroyed. Communism enslaves people and destroys human freedom of choice. The entire nation becomes one huge prison. For this reason, it seems to me that communism is the most dehumanizing economic system ever invented by man.

Other passages of Scripture also support the idea that property should belong to individuals, not to “society” or to the government (except for certain property required for proper government purposes, such as government offices, military bases, and streets and highways). The Bible contains many laws concerning punishments for stealing and appropriate restitution for damage of another person’s farm animals or agricultural fields (for example, see Exod. 21:28-36; 22:1-15; Deut. 22:1-4; 23:24-25). Another com­mandment guaranteed that property boundaries would be protected: “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess” (Deut. 19:14). To move the landmark was to move the boundaries of the land and thus to steal land that belonged to one’s neighbor (compare Prov. 22:28; 23:10).

Another guarantee of the ownership of private property was the fact that, even if property was sold to someone else, in the Year of Jubilee it had to return to the family that originally owned it:

It shall be a Jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan (Lev. 25:10).

This is why the land could not be sold forever: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23).

This last verse emphasizes the fact that private property is never viewed in the Bible as an absolute right, because all that people have is ultimately given to them by God, and people are viewed as God’s “stewards” to manage what he has entrusted to their care.

The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Ps. 24:1; compare Ps. 50:10-12; Hag. 2:8).

Yet the fact remains that, under the overall sovereign lordship of God himself, property is regularly said to belong to individuals, not to the government and not to “society” or the nation as a whole.

When Samuel warned the people about the evils that would be imposed upon them by a king, he emphasized the fact that the monarch, with so much government power, would “take” and “take” and “take” from the people and confiscate things for his own use:

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (1 Sam. 8:10-18).

This prediction was tragically fulfilled in the story of the theft of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite by Ahab the wicked king and Jezebel, his even more wicked queen (see 1 Kings 21:1-29). The regular tendency of human governments is to seek to take control of more and more of the property of a nation that God intends to be owned and controlled by private individuals.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 261-263.