“Well, What Do You Expect?”

In an essay titled “The Criminality of the State,” appearing in the March 1939 issue of The American Mercury, Albert Jay Nock lists many of the nations that consolidated power to a central authority, became corrupt, and tyrannized their own citizens, seeking to control other nations as well. Nock then addresses those of his day who express shock and indignation over the then-current goings-on overseas. To them he asks the question: “Well, what do you expect?”

There is no doubt that that very question would also elicit the same shock and dismay from his contemporaries, as well as those of our present day. He then goes on to say his question should be shouted and repeated from the highest mountain.

Regarding the consolidation of power, what is more fearsome to the hiker: encountering a lone wolf, or being surrounded by a large pack of wolves? Does a soldier stand a better chance against a solitary enemy soldier, or would he fare better against an entire company of the enemy? It’s commonly referred to as strength in numbers. It’s the consolidation of strength to wield power. Why shouldn’t unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats replicate what comes naturally to many animals? But at least animals can blame their nature. People have no such out and are supposed to know better. They have natural as well as man-made law. They also have history—if they choose to heed its brutal lessons.

Aside from the big state’s obvious transgressions against the U.S. Constitution. Aside from the countless deaths and destruction the big state has visited on young military personnel in undeclared wars and police actions where our nation was not under direct—and in many instances not even an indirect—attack. Aside from all of that, what other damage has the big state done to humanity. Nock states it plainly: the state has assumed power to “…afford relief to proletarians; and see what the state has done to those proletarians now in the way of systematic debauchery of whatever self-respect and self-reliance they may have had!”

And this was in 1939!

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My Lost Causes in D.C.

When I was a child I would sometimes hear someone say: “Pray to St. Jude.” [the patron saint of lost causes] when the subject came up about some perceived lost cause or another.

I have a few lost causes to add to that neverending prayer list: my state of Iowa’s elected officials in Washington. (Most of Iowa’s own state legislators and senators are another story, for another time.) What prompted my recent dismay was a short article that appeared in my local paper. This news note stated that Senator Charles Grassley was “…glad the Obama Administration came to its senses.” Ol’ Chuck’s gladness was in reference to the Labor Department’s decision to withdraw its regulations that would have placed strict restrictions on teenage and younger people working on family farms.

Now, you would think that I would be glad that Chuck was glad. Well, maybe I would have been a few years ago, but not now. Blame the Tenth Amendment Center for that. Anyway, piqued by Chuck’s response on this issue, I searched the Web site of the other Iowa Senator, Tom (too good for Iowa) Harkin, and heard…crickets chirping.

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What If the Founding Fathers Win. Again?

cross-posted from the Iowa Tenth Amendment Center

Ian Millhiser, writing for the Center for American Progress, poses an interesting question: “What if the Tea Party wins?”

It turns out that this question is the only interesting thing among the standard progressive boilerplate served up by Mr. Millhiser. I know I shouldn’t waste my time in responding, as these alarms pop up from progressives like so many prairie dogs across the landscape, but, to be honest, it’s too much fun to avoid.

First, setting that bothersome Constitution aside for now, let’s address those terrible things that Millhiser is confident will happen if the Tea Party “wins.” “Rotting meat,” “sub-minimum wage jobs,” “higher education” as a “luxury,” “Medicaid,” –the list is endless in the eyes of the fed worshippers. But I won’t address these items too much individually, but rather as a batch, which can be addressed by the fifty states—in their own way. Everything on his list of wonderful things performed by the federal government in a sloppy, wasteful, and heavy handed manner can be done at the state level, as long as the states’ residents actually want them. It would be up to them to craft and implement the programs, but they would have control and they would have to watch spending because their respective state would actually be operating under a true, honest budget where they would be unable to print money out of thin air to enable further, reckless spending on programs that they can’t afford. And future generations wouldn’t be saddled with crushing debt.

Millhiser claims that the Tea Party wants to “reimagine the Constitution as an anti-government manifesto.” (Speaking of “manifesto,” what has been done to our Republic must have been inspired by another manifesto.) Really? “Reimagine”? (John Lennon could have changed the title of his song, if he’d been more creative.) I have been to Tea Party meetings and events and I hear no such talk about reimagining the Constitution. The opposite is actually true, as most, if not all Tea Partiers are pretty devoted to restoring the Constitution as it was written and intended by the Founding Fathers.

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Reality Check for the Commerce Clause

From the Wall Street Journal:

MISSOULA, Mont.—“With a homemade .22-caliber rifle he calls the Montana Buckaroo, Gary Marbut dreams of taking down the federal regulatory state.
Montana passed a law that tries to exempt the state from federal gun regulation. But the law is now before the courts, in a test of states’ rights. WSJ’s Jess Bravin reports.

He’s not planning to fire his gun. Instead, he wants to sell it, free from federal laws requiring him to record transactions, pay license fees and open his business to government inspectors.

For years, Mr. Marbut argued that a wide range of federal laws, not just gun regulations, should be invalid because they were based on an erroneous interpretation of Congress’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. In his corner were a handful of conservative lawyers and academics. Now, with the rise of the tea-party movement, the self-employed shooting-range supplier finds himself leading a movement.

Ten state attorneys general, dozens of elected officials and an array of conservative groups are backing the legal challenge he engineered to get his constitutional theory before the Supreme Court. A federal appeals court in San Francisco is now considering his case.“

Read the rest here

Gary Marbut has a colossal fight on his hands, but it is one I believe he can win. To me the issue lies not in the word “commerce,” but in the word “regulate.” Wikipedia, in its coverage of the commerce clause, is overly concerned with the definition and application of the word “commerce.” (Let’s put aside for now the common-sense definition of the word commerce as pertaining to economic activity only.) In doing so, they (as with many courts in the past) are focusing on the wrong word. The key word in the clause is “regulate.”

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The Big Laws

Joe Blow down the street doesn’t pay his taxes and he gets fined. Tim Geithner (or pick from an array of politicians or bureaucrats)
doesn’t pay his taxes and he becomes the U.S. Treasury Secretary.

Get it? If you’re an Ivy Leaguer (preferably Harvard or Yale), and if you have the right connections, as Obama’s mother had with Geithner’s father, and if you are a politician or high-ranking bureaucrat on the federal level, you can often operate above the law, with little or no fear of being prosecuted, much less fined, even if you get caught.

You can skirt not only the little laws that everyone else has to obey, but also the big laws, as spelled out in the Constitution..

But for lowly Joe Blow, ignorance is no excuse.

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