“I have no doubt but that the misery of the lower classes will be found to abate whenever the Government assumes a freer aspect and the laws favor a subdivision of Property.” — James Madison
My brother oft times tells me that it takes only a few minutes in any conversation for me to bring up a reference to James Madison — considered by most historians to be the father of our Constitution. I plead guilty to that charge. If Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, is consider the icon of the American Mind then James Madison must be considered the icon of the American Regime.
It was Madison, who along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, authored 85 essays on government and the rights of citizens collectively known as the Federalist Papers. These essays were published under the collective pseudonym of "Publius", in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola, and were intended to advance the argument for a federalist form of a republic as our regime for the government of the newly independent 13 colonies and a replacement of their Articles of Confederation.
One of the more important of these essays was Federalist Paper No. 10, authored by James Madison and published Friday, November 22, 1787. This essay is the most famous of the Federalist Papers, along with Federalist No. 51, also by Madison, and is among the most highly regarded of all American political writings.
Federalist No. 10 addresses the question of how to guard against "factions", or groups of citizens, with interests contrary to the rights of others or the interests of the whole community. Madison argued that a strong, large republic would be a better guard against those dangers than smaller republics—for instance, the individual states. Opponents of the Constitution offered counterarguments to his position, which were substantially derived from the commentary of Montesquieu on this subject. Federalist No. 10 continues a theme begun in Federalist No. 9; it is titled, "The Same Subject Continued: The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection". The whole series is cited by scholars and jurists as an authoritative interpretation and explication of the meaning of the Constitution. Jurists have frequently read No. 10 to mean that the Founding Fathers did not intend the United States government to be partisan.
In Federalist No. 10 Madison not only wrote about Factions he also commented of the role of government in protecting the property rights of citizens. In our Declaration of Independence when Jefferson referred to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness he was using “happiness” in the context of John Locke as meaning the right to your property. In Madison’s view property meant your money, your land, your labor, and you opinions.
Central to the tenth paper in the Federalist series is faction. The argument Madison makes is that faction and liberty are inseparable. Instead of focusing on trying to eliminate the causes for faction, the choice that government can control the effects of faction. Madison makes the argument that the means to control the causes of faction is to stamp on dissenting opinions, and remove liberty. In other words oppress until all the society is of the same opinion. This is totalitarianism. Madison dismisses this as being against the nature of man:
“As long as the reason of man continues to be fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.”
Faction is a normal part of liberty, and wrapped in the fallibility of humankind. John Stuart Mills makes similar arguments as to why freedom of expression should never be curtailed. An individual can never be sure that they are not suppressing a truthful opinion as humanity's reasoning abilities are not perfect. Madison uses a similar argument to Mills as to why liberty cannot be abolished in a functioning government:
“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”
From this Madison concludes that liberty and faction are essential in any healthy government system. What isn't healthy is the violence of faction. Madison argues that controlling the effects of violent faction can be achieved through the Republican model of government.
Any individual needs to be concerned about government using the apparatus of the nation-state for the purposes of coercion. Madison was also concerned with this issue. He saw the violence of faction being when a group of individuals created a faction with a common interest that was adverse to individual rights, the rights of minorities and against the common good. Madison's view of common good is similar to the Aristotlean notion of virtue being necessary in the ruling elite.
Madison also shares Aristotle's disdain for the workability of a democracy. Aristotle wrote that a democracy fails as the individual is too distracted with the day to day trivialities like working and eating to have an understanding of the public good. Aristotle believes that only an idle class have the time and hence virtue to devote themselves to the public good and the glory of the nation-state.
Madison writes that humankind naturally falls into animosity and this clouds the ability of individuals in a democracy to be aware of the common good and articulate legislation for that purpose:
So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities that where no substantial occasion presents itself the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their infriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.”
Another flaw that Madison identifies in a democracy is that it allows individuals to be their own judge in their own interests. This assumes that an individuals self-interest will blind an individual to the public or common good. A notion that individuals are not capable of public good without the coercion of the nation-state. Madison writes;
“No man is allowed to be a judge in his own case, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time.”
Madison in Federalist Paper No.10 writes that property and its unequal distribution is the most constant source of faction. He is undoubtedly correct, that the new federal government kept in place the practice of allowing one human to own another is testament to this.
Madison argues from the opposing points of view of creditors and debtors. Legislators are subject to the advocacy of their constituents, and if this advocacy is biased by a faction, then there is no justice in the legislation, as the larger party or faction will drown out the smaller factions. With the recent changes in the U.S. system of advocacy being dominated by lobbyists, attorneys, and money, the public good has been ignored by legislators in areas such as spending of the taxpayers’ money. Legislators have created new forms of property and property crimes in an ever expanding definition of what can be owned or controlled by governments and corporate interests. This is the classical definition of Fascism.
Madison states in 1792 Essay on Property:
“This term in its particular application means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual."
In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.
In the former sense, a man's land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.
In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.
He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.
He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.
In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”
“More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man's religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man's house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man's conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest. A magistrate issuing his warrants to a press gang, would be in his proper functions in Turkey or Indostan, under appellations proverbial of the most compleat despotism.
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations, which not only constitute their property in the general sense of the word; but are the means of acquiring property strictly so called. What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favor his neighbor who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the economical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!
A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities.”
I have referenced Madison’s thoughts on factions and property to lay the groundwork for the remainder of this post. I do this in order to illustrate the vast difference in government philosophies that will, hopefully, be presented to the American electorate for the next 84 days.
In 1944 in his annual address to Congress President Franklin Roosevelt presented his vision for American by proposing a second Bill of Rights — rights that would be granted by government. In his progressive agenda he proposed an Bill of Rights based on the equality of results and not on the rights stated in the Declaration. Roosevelt proposed:
“The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”
It was Roosevelt’s plan to institutionalize Progressivism in the United States — something that has come to fruition drip by bit over the past 68 years. Let’s take a look a each of these so-called government granted rights.
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation.
By this right Roosevelt was stating that the federal government should mandate a minimum wage to be paid by business to their employees. It was Madison who stated:
“He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.
He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.”
A minimum wage not only reduces the chances of employment for unskilled and untrained persons to entry-level positions where they can learn and develop their skills it also causes inflation of prices and in this instance could be considered a tax. The Progressives, while proposing feel-good programs, take no responsibility for the unseen consequences of their actions.
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
Again we see the Progressives desire to dictate how much a person should earn based on the term “adequate food and clothing and recreation.” What is considered adequate? Some masterminds in Washington, D.C. will sit in an office and decide what is adequate. Should every American be able to have a 60” flat-screen TV or a new pair of $100 Nike sport shoes? Should every American get a two-week vacation to Hawaii or a 10-day cruise?
If you look at what is considered necessary and adequate by our welfare and food stamp programs you would be astonished to see what is considered adequate. If you doubt me just stand in line at the supermarket checkout counter and watch someone with an EBT card or WIC voucher check out and see what is considered adequate by the government. Of course all of this is paid for with tax dollars — dollars are taken out of the economy and your pocket. This is pure Marxism and the root cause of class warfare. In essence one class states I need or want this or that and you have an obligation to pay for it with no accountability accruing to me.
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.
On the surface this sounds good, but once again government intervention has turned the price of food and the freedom of the farmer upside-down. Farm subsidies are nothing more than coercion by the federal government telling the farmer what he can grow when he can grow it and what he can sell it for. Once again the unseen consequences of this program has driven many small, family owned farms out of business and allowed large agribusiness corporations like Archer, Daniel, Midlands to monopolize the farming in this country. Under Roosevelt’s own Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 a small Ohio farmer, Roscoe Filburn, was sued by the United States Government for growing wheat that would be used for his personal use. (See Wickard v Filburn)
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.
Once again we have the federal government intervening how people run their businesses and determining the winner and the losers. It was Madison who stated:
“What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favor his neighbor who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the economical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!”
What is considered “unfair”?” Will federal government dictate how fairness is defined. If a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina or a clothing manufacturer in New England believe he can increase his business and serve his customers better by buying furniture from China or having their clothing made in Sri Lanka is it the government role to dictate where and how he should obtain his products?
Progressives believe that the government has the responsibility to regulate all aspects of business today and have passed numerous and onerous laws and regulations, including guitars, on small businesses. Large business, who have lobbyist to support their faction are often immune from these rules.
The right of every family to a decent home.
This “right” has been one of the main causes for our current recession and the collapse of the housing market in the United States. By forcing lending institutions to make loans for mortgages to people they knew could not pay back the government not only destroyed the housing market it damaged people’s lives. Talk about Bastiat’s seen and unseen, this one takes the cake. Yet the progressive masterminds take no responsibility for their actions. They blame the banks they coerced into making these loans by using the force of the Department of Justice and their Civil Rights Division. Banks and lending institution were in fear of being brought into court by the Justice Department for violation of civil rights by discriminating who would be able to pay a loan back. Once the toxic loan was made it was sold to the federal government and the taxpayers took the hit.
This so-called right also pertains to the many public housing projects the federal government has financed where each and every one has failed and turned into a ghetto slum.
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
The United States has had the best health care in the world. Our cancer survival is much higher than Great Britain with its National Health Care. According to FactCheck.org the U.S. has a cancer survival of 83.9% while the Brits have 69.7% and the average European survival rate is 73.1%:
“It’s certainly the case that we have higher survival rates than the United Kingdom and other countries with nationalized health care. Across the board, the United States boasts a higher five-year relative survival rate than the European average, according to a 2008 study in the British medical journal Lancet. For breast cancer, for instance, the U.S. survival rate was 83.9 percent, the U.K. rate was 69.7, and the average European rate was 73.1.”
Kathleen Doheny writes in WebMD that cancer survival rates vary by states and race:
“A racial gap in survival was evident, with white patients more likely than blacks to survive, especially breast cancer. "The comparison is confirmed right across the USA, in all 16 states," Coleman says of the racial gap.”
Could this mean that those with access only to public health care have a lower rate than those with access to private health care? It is also true that the lowest rate of cancer survival in the United States is for those patients on Medicare.
The United States has developed more advanced medical devices, drugs, and procedures than any nation in the world under a free-market health care system. The one single thing that is draining our health care resources and driving up the costs is what we are paying for the health care for illegal immigrants.
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
Our system of social security is a fraud. Originally touted by the progressives as an insurance program, social security is anything but that. If you and your employer pay into the program your entire working life and die soon after retirement your estate gets nothing except a pittance for burial costs. All of the monies you and your employer paid into the program belong to government to give to some other recipient who manages to outlive you. If this was a true insurance annuity you would receive all of the funds acquired from your contributions, including interest, and not paid out. The program is a fraud and is nothing more than a tax-funded Ponzi scheme where the government takes the money and then decides what to do with. They can stop payments anytime they desire.
Unemployment insurance and welfare is also a fraud as the federal government takes from workers and doles the money out to those who do not work. In socialist Denmark they discovered that as long as unemployment insurance was available people did not aggressively look for work until the last days of the insurance. While they were paying 99 weeks if benefits they found out that the recipients would find a job in week 97 or 98. When they reduced the term of payments to 40 weeks they discovered that people would find a job in week 38 or 39.
Today we have federal unemployment for 99 weeks and an average unemployment rate of 9% (much higher in some states). Unemployment insurance programs should be left entirely in the hands of the states. The federal government has no warrant in the Constitution to pay tax dollars to the unemployed. As Madison stated:
“That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.”
The right to a good education.
A few weeks ago I was having a conversation on education with my sister-in-law who is a school teacher. When I expressed my belief that the federal government should not spend one cent on education either in direct payments, grants or student loans she responded “what about the right to an education?” This took me back for a moment as I was a that surprised that a person with a Master’s in education would not know the Constitution.
My reply was to her was very simple. I asked her to show me where in the United States Constitution there was a warrant allowing the federal government to spend tax dollars on education, certainly not in Article I, Section 8. I explained that funding for education was an issue our Founders, while in favor of, left to the people. Otherwise to the states. Education is a state and local issue and the federal government has no business in taxing us for the purpose of sending money back to the states for education, money bound in a wrapper of corrosive requirements and regulations. This includes money for school lunches.
Most Americans pay for education though their property taxes. This money is then passed on to local school boards, run by local, elected officials beholden to the local taxpayer, not some mastermind at the Department of Education. Local control of education has and should be the keystone of public education. It is up to the states to set education standards and policies along with providing addition funding, if needed, to poorer school districts. Each state has it their state constitution as to how public education in that state shall be dealt with.
Some states may spend more per child on education than other states. That is the business of the people of that state. If they are unhappy with the way their state is dealing with public education the people can change their state’s constitution, change those in office overseeing education, or move. As I said above there is no warrant in the Federal Constitution claiming education as a right or in funding it. People in Arkansas are not responsible for funding public education, including school lunches and teacher union benefits in California or vice versa.
In 1979, President Carter advocated for creating a cabinet-level Department of Education. Carter's plan was to transfer most of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's education-related functions to the Department of Education. Carter also planned to transfer the education-related functions of the departments of Defense, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture, as well as a few other federal entities. Among the federal education-related programs that were not proposed to be transferred included Headstart, the Department of Agriculture's school lunch and nutrition programs, the Department of the Interior's Indian education programs, and the Department of Labor's education and training programs.
Upgrading Education to cabinet level status in 1979 was opposed by many in the Republican Party, who saw the department as unconstitutional, arguing that the Constitution doesn't mention education, and deemed it an unnecessary and illegal federal bureaucratic intrusion into local affairs. However many progressives and Democrats see the department as constitutional under the Commerce Clause, and that the funding role of the Department is constitutional under the Taxing and Spending Clause. The National Education Association supported the bill, while the American Federation of Teachers opposed it.
As of 1979, the Office of Education had 3,000 employees and an annual budget of $12 billion. Congress appropriated to the Department of Education an annual budget of $14.2 billion and 17,000 employees when establishing the Department of Education. Today the Department of Education has over 5,000 employees and an estimated annual budget (2011) of $71 billion dollars.
With the trillions of taxpayers’ dollars spent by the federal government on education since 1979 education has not advanced one iota, in fact it has been dumbed down with federal regulations such as No Child Left Behind, another progressive/socialist good idea with unseen consequences. Once again refereeing to -Frederic Bastiat when he stated in treatise The Law:
"These socialist writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols, cubes, vases, fans, and other forms, just so does the socialist writer whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor-corps, and other variations. And just as the gardener needs axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, relief laws, and school laws."
This next presidential election presents a choice between two social contracts: the socialist-fascist contract of Mr. Obama and the Democrat Party, and the limited government-free enterprise-capitalist contract of Mr. Romney and the Republican Party.
(A simple description of Socialism is a philosophy that disfavors individual property rights and autonomy and places them in service to centralized governing elite; a Fascist philosophy cedes industrial control over private-sector market forces to a central government.)
To help you choose your contract, please answer the following question. A simple Yes or No will do.
Do you have and inalienable right to your neighbor's labor?
(I use the term inalienable in the same sense it was used in our Declaration of Independence: a right self-evidently granted by Nature's God and Creator. It is a permission granted to you by no other merit than your existence. It does not come from others or a government; you are born with it, and to diminish it is inherently evil and against the natural order.)
If you believe that you have this right, than it is perfectly acceptable to demand that your neighbor labor for you, and you for him. Practically extending this right, you have a right to the earnings of your neighbors' labor, such as wages and rents — and they to yours. It means that private property is a meaningless fiction. This sort of social contract — where one is not permitted private property — is either indentured servitude or slavery.
If you believe that you do not have this right, then by definition, you must receive permission to acquire your neighbor's labor or private property. You must not steal. You must exchange something of sufficient value in trade for your neighbor's labor.
If you believe that someone less well-off than another self-evidently justifies your forcing the better off to labor for the worse — because it is the right thing to do — then indeed, you obviously believe that your neighbor's labor is yours to claim. You have the same worldview as America's antebellum slave owners and indentured servant contractors. Our Constitution's 13th Amendment established that slavery is forbidden, so how is it that you now wish to philosophically bring slavery back?
Once again to quote Madison; “…nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.”
If you believe that it is in the community's interest to provide a safety net for the less well-off in order to prevent more burdensome expenditures, such as a public education or childhood health care, then it might be best to create economic incentives that promote voluntary charitable support for less fortunate.
Consider national health care. If you believe that you have an inalienable right to another's labor, you might compel a hospital to provide emergency services (skilled medical labor and private medical supplies and lodging) to the indigent without compensation at market prices. Such an arrangement requires the hospital to subsidize the emergency room by raising the costs of other hospital services offered to patients who have the means to pay or else the hospital can operate at a loss and eventually shut its doors.
An alternative approach — one that does not claim a right to skilled medical labor or property — pursues tax incentives that make charitable contributions to hospitals compellingly reasonable. If you want to provide a benevolent safety net to those who are willing but unable to work (the only population that merits assistance), then make such benevolent assistance to them more valuable than investing money elsewhere. This might be accomplished by granting a 150% gross income tax reduction for all charitable contributions to health care facilities that serve the indigent. For every $100 one gives to an inner-city health clinic, $150 is deducted from gross taxable income. Let's legislate a social contract that makes benevolent giving economically compelling, without placing a claim on our neighbors' labor.
We concluded our most deadly Civil War (1860-1865) with the affirmation that one did not have an inalienable right to another human being's labor. How ironic it would be to elect a president of color who will return us to such plantation thinking?
On November 6th you will have the opportunity to select the vision for America that fits your thinking. You can vote for the socialistic/fascistic compact or the vision of America espoused by our Founders — a vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The debate is on.