Money and Freedom

Suppressing society’s ability to create wealth damages the strength of society and freedom itself. Experience proves, a strong society is a wealthy society. One of government’s essential roles is thus to enable people to create wealth and prosperity.

Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist Paper 30, “Money is…the vital principle of the body politic; as that which sustains its life and motion, and enables it to perform its most essential functions.”

The wealthier society is, the better government can perform its necessary and proper functions. In contrast, as society’s wealth decreases, taxes decrease along with government’s ability to properly function. The spiral is downward.

In addition, the more demands are on society, the greater the need for government function (e.g. courts, infrastructure, public services, etc.). Our circumstances today clearly require politicians to adopt policies that proffer, not stifle, wealth creation. The strength and future of Montana and our Union demand it.

Details

Why Do I Talk About Marijuana?

We all have personal preferences as to what should or should not be accepted in society. The problem is, however, that people want laws to enforce their personal preferences. Liberty and constitutional government suffer with this approach.

Many people do not like marijuana and think it  harmful to society. Perhaps it is in some respects. But what may be harmful does not paint a complete picture of what our laws should criminalize.

Despite the intentions of past generations that criminalized tobacco and alcohol, a further look into principles taught America that absolute prohibition on these things (a) does not promote good and small government; (b) leads to unnecessary black market criminal enterprise; and (c) unnecessarily grows government prosecution and taxation.

We learned that the laws created a greater evil to society than the prohibited thing. And as we accept in politics, the lesser evil is better than the greater evil, right? Thus, the focus should be, to what extent should government be limited in criminalizing human activity–not simply, is this activity considered generically harmful.

Details

Where Reasonable Doubt of ‘Evil’ Exists, Choose Liberty

America’s criminal jurisprudence rests on this universally-accepted principle: when reasonable doubt exists as to an alleged “evil”, we must choose liberty not government intrusion and punishment. This principle upholds the value of individual liberty and effectively limits State intrusion. Sadly, Montana’s criminal laws regarding marijuana reject this principle. Instead, Montana’s laws choose government intrusion over…

Details

Conflicts in our Federal System Protect Individual Liberty

To argue that federal court cases stand for absolute, unchanging rules ignores the US S CT’s own rulings and advocates originalist doctrines–a doctrine most, if not all, liberals or progressives reject.

This unchanging-rule view implies that the parameters of Congress’ power cannot change based upon the law’s letter, despite the fact that the circumstances which gave rise to that letter have changed or no longer exist; thereby leaving the people to suffer under a law that no longer serves their needs. Most people, including the courts, have rejected this approach to constitutional rules.

As the US S CT stated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, rules of Constitutional law are not absolutely fixed; they are analyzed based upon a host of circumstances, social and otherwise. This constitutional view is a discipline in both inductive and deductive reasoning, among other interpretative tools.

Where the facts in a specific case reveal a need to change a rule, the Courts will find the rule’s outer limits and begin shaping new rules. US S CT Justice Benjamin Cardozo stated the same in his book, The Nature of the Judicial Process.

To admit that the constitution is living admits that Congress’ power is subject to social and changing conditions, especially when the grant of power under review is vague and not subject to absolute certainty; such as, “shall have the power to regulate commerce among the States”.

This is what I argue in my Amicus Brief to the 9th Circuit recently (http://montanalibertyforum.com/mlf/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2012-6-2-Amicus-Brief-Final-MT-Caregivers-v-US-12-35110.pdf). The Appellant’s main brief argues the same: http://montanalibertyforum.com/mlf/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2012-6-5-Appellant-Brief-MT-Caregivers-v-US-12-351101.pdf.

Details

A Healthy Environment Requires a Healthy Economy to Protect It

Montana’s constitution (Art. 2, Sec. 3) recognizes the inalienable right to a clean and healthy environment. This right creates a corresponding responsibility on the people not to harm the environment and on the government to protect this right. Simultaneously, these responsibilities require a healthy economy that can afford to protect our rights.

No one should deny the fundamental importance of a clean and healthy environment. I certainly do not. Among other rights, a healthy environment is essential to freedom and prosperity. As the sole Republican candidate for House District 4 (Whitefish area), I agree with my Democratic opponents that our State government should address the issues relative to a healthy Whitefish Lake. But that is an easy answer to an easy question.

The hard question involves, where is the money to protect our rights? Enforcing the law costs money—lots of it. The more advanced and complex society is the more government function costs. This increase of costs demands the people to create more money to sufficiently provide for the State’s treasury. Shortly put, the more there is to protect, the more prosperity is required to protect it.

It would be quite curious how people who are having a difficult time paying their personal bills can pay to protect Montana’s vast environment at the same time.

Details

Stop State and Federal Charades

I have lived in Montana for over a year and have practiced law here for about the same time. I have handled various medical marijuana cases and have become familiar with the legal and political scenario regarding state and federal laws on medical marijuana.

During this time I have seen a most disturbing sign of our political condition, and it confirms what I have expressed for the past several years concerning state sovereignty verses federal usurpation.

Montana Medical Marijuana Laws

In 2004 the citizens of Montana overwhelmingly passed an initiative to legalize the medical use of marijuana. (Please, if you oppose legalizing marijuana, do not let the subject fog a clear understanding of the point of this article–personal views on morality is not the issue.)

Since then, the State legislature has essentially repealed that law and replaced it with another medical marijuana plan. Regardless of which marijuana law, the lawful use of marijuana for medical use remains.

Conflict with Federal Drug Laws

This state law is, of course, in violation of federal laws that outlaw all possession, manufacturing, growing, and use of marijuana. So, how does this conflict play out in the federal union of the United States? And what do the state and federal governments’ actions regarding the same reveal about this union’s condition?

Federal Prosecutions in Montana

Since early 2011, the federal government has initiated raids and prosecutions against Montana citizens for alleged violation of federal drug laws—in spite of Montana’s laws.

Federal agents focused their attacks on those who were doing business openly—using store front, public advertisement, incorporated registration, etc. This is significant given that the Feds claim they investigated these matters for “years”—it is comparable to investigating Wal-Mart for selling products made in China. Makes you wonder how proficient they are in tax-dollar use.

Details

Republicanism and Democracy

What is the source of political power and how it is executed? It is the question many people are asking today given the type of governance many are very dissatisfied with in the United States today. The answer to the question reveals much about how government treats citizens and how citizens respond to government; and how the constitution of the state is applied in society. Knowledge on the matter is crucial to the political student and observer of government and societal actions. Let us consider Enlightenment philosophy first, and then Hegel’s philosophy.

Enlightenment Philosophy

Charles Montesquieu goes into detail concerning the nature of States. He starts his Spirit of Laws by describing the types of government. “When the body of the people is possessed of the supreme power, it is called a democracy”, he says; “[t]here can be no exercise of sovereignty[1] but by their suffrage” (Charles Montesquieu,Spirit of Laws, Trnsl. Thomas Nugent, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952)] 4). Given the political power each individual holds in the exercise of the State’s sovereignty, “[a] free agent”, he says, “ought to be his own government; the legislative power should reside in the whole body of the people” (Spirit of Laws, 71). Thus, a pure democracy is a State where the people hold all sovereignty of the State and directly pass all the laws of that State. Each citizen is his own legislator.

In discussing the disadvantages of a pure democracy, Montesquieu observes, “since [direct participation in passing laws of the State] is impossible in large states, and in small ones is subject to many inconveniences, it is fit the people should transact by their representatives what they cannot transact by themselves…The great advantage of representatives is, their capacity of discussing public affairs. For this the people collectively are extremely unfit, which is one of the chief inconveniences of a democracy” (Ibid., 71). This disadvantage is observed as well by Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, who says, “[democracy] is too weak, leaves the people too much to themselves, and tends to confusion and licentiousness” (Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Politic Law, [Liberty Fund, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, 2006], 341). The solution to the Enlightenment philosopher is a republic, as explained by Burlamaqui:

“There are two ways of finding this temperament [between an absolute monarchy and popular democracy]: The first consists in lodging the sovereignty in a council so composed, both as to the number and choice of persons, that there shall be a moral certainty of their having no other interests than those of the community, and of their being always ready to give a faithful account of their conduct. This is what we see happily practised in most republics. The second is, to limit the sovereignty of the prince…by fundamental laws” (Ibid., 345).

Details

Interpreting and Applying the Constitution

Hegel Philosophy

Hegel’s philosophy on interpreting and applying the constitution of a State is perhaps the most tangible and evident as it relates to constitutional law and political direction in the United States. Hegel’s view of the constitution is similar to his view on the formation and purpose of the State as discussed in Part 3. As will be seen in this discussion, many politicians and office holders in the United States have, knowingly or not, adopted Hegel’s view of our federal and state constitutions. Consequently, it is destroying the very nature of the constitutions themselves and is accomplishing Hegel’s vision of the State.

Hegel determines that a State’s constitution need not be interpreted and applied in light of the framers’ intent and purposes. Hegel says, “Another question readily presents itself here: ‘Who is to frame the constitution?’ This question…is meaningless[.] [I]t is absolutely essential that the constitution should not be regarded as something made, even though it has come into being in time. It must be treated rather as something simply existent in and by itself” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press, 1952], 91). Just as the purpose of the State is not to be considered when factoring the power of the State (see, Part 3), Hegel likewise determines the organic meaning of the constitution is not to be considered. To Hegel, there are no reference points or “first principles” in interpreting and applying the State’s constitution.

To Hegel, a constitution is a living organism—taking a life of its own—to change and develop as society changes and develops without the need for formal amendments or the people’s expressed consent. The change and development of society is not determined by the people, but by government. The constitution is the State’s method of objectifying through laws its subjective will. Hegel states, “the constitution…depends in general on the character and development of its self-consciousness. In its self-consciousness its subjective freedom is rooted and so, therefore, is the actuality of its constitution” (92, emphasis added).

Details

Formation and Purpose of the State

Hegel Philosophy

As discussed in Part 2 of this article series, the State is the objectivity of individual freedom, in Hegel’s view. The State’s power is absolute and supreme in all regards. This objectivity of individual freedom is simultaneously the purpose of the State, because as Hegel puts it, the individual’s destiny is fulfilled by being subject to the State. There is no defined “purpose” of the State as it relates to natural law, constitution, logic, or reason. Rather, to Hegel, the real question is not for what purpose was the State created; but rather, what is the “concept of the State”. It matters not why a State is formed; it only matters that it exist. Once it exists, its purpose is accomplished by whatever actions it executes. The State’s purpose and power are thus coterminous.

Upon this supposition, Hegel rejects sentiments that the State is not “doing its job” or is “violating the social compact” to which it must adhere to be considered legitimate authority. To Hegel, the State’s authority exists independent of any purposes of formation whether in natural or constitutional law. “The people” as the creator of society and government is not even a factor in determining government power (a subject to be addressed in detail in a subsequent article series). The State’s subjects only need to consider what the State determines to be law at that time and obey. As Hegel puts it, this is the individual’s universal duty to the State (see, Part 2).

Hegel rejects the Enlightenment philosophy that society and government are formed on principles of social compact. Hegel states, “the notion of a contractual relation between him [i.e. government] and his people…stands opposed to the Idea of ethical life” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press, 1952], 95). This term “Idea of ethical life” means, to Hegel, the absolute power of the State as supreme over the individuals in society; so, the idea of a social compact stands opposed to the power of the State. Natural and constitutional limitations upon the State do not exist. By definition, there is no such thing as the “purpose” for forming society and government. There is only the “Idea of ethical life”—that is, the State’s absolute power.

Details

Individual Freedom and State Supremacy

One of the most fundamental issues concerning the formation of society, government, and federations is the lines of individual freedom verses government power. For the States and United States, there are no two philosophical schools of thought more influential on this matter than the philosophies of the Enlightenment period and Georg Hegel. As shown inPart 1, the United States was emphatically founded on Enlightenment philosophy; but in the late 1800s, Hegel’s philosophy greatly influenced and controlled the minds and actions of American law, politics, and education. However, the two philosophies are hardly compatible and form completely different structures of governance. When both are used by American politicians, collision is inevitable.

Hegel Philosophy

According to Hegel, the existence of “freedom” has its foundation in the “origin in the will” (Georg Hegel, Philosophy of Right, Ed. University of Chicago, Trnsl. T.M. Knox, [Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford University Press, 1952], 12). The will goes through a process leading to self-consciousness; thus, to “posit any content in himself by his own effort” (13). Hegel calls the destination of this process “individuality” (14). From this individuality, the will creates specific determinations and seeks to realize them (15). In short, the individual attempts to accomplish in real life what his will desires.

Hegel claims that for the individual to objectify his will, his subjective determinations must be made “universal” through an objective forum (17-18), or else, his will remains in a non-rational condition—like an animal. Hegel says, “the absolute goal…of free mind is to make its freedom its object, i.e. to make freedom objective as much in the sense that freedom shall be the rational system of mind, as in the sense that this system shall be the world of immediate actuality” (18). In a word, subjective freedom must have a rational method through which to objectify or make real his freedom. Hegel calls this kind of freedom,Moral Freedom, Idea of Freedom, and Ethical Life.

Hegel determines that this individual realizes this moral freedom through the State. Hegel says, “[t]he State is the actuality of the ethical Idea.” (80). To Hegel, the State is the only means through which individual freedom has any objectivity. He reasons in this manner, “Whoever wills to act in this world of actuality has eo ipso [by the thing itself] submitted himself to its laws and recognized the right of objectivity…In this objective field, the right of [objective] insight is valid as insight into the legal or illegal” (46). Hegel further reasons, “the nature of man consists precisely in the fact that he is essentially something universal, not a being whose knowledge is an abstractly momentary and piecemeal affair” (Ibid). Hegel means, exercising objective Moral Freedom is only accomplished by complying with the laws of the State.

Hegel sets forth premises to justify his position regarding “objective freedom”, stating, “the origin of evil in general is to be found in the mystery of [individual] freedom” (48). In other words, evil arises out of the subjective will without the State’s laws to determine whether those actions comply with objective freedom (i.e. legal or illegal). All individual freedom without the State amounts to irrationality, absurdity, and contradiction. In particular, Hegel is extremely sensitive about people in society who might claim their actions comport to a higher law than man’s law (i.e. natural and divine law). In mocking these positions, Hegel touts, “You actually accept a law…and respect it as absolute. So do I, but I go further than you, because I am beyond this law and can make it to suit myself” (54). Of course, this higher law Hegel mocks is the same law upon which the Enlightenment philosophy is based—the foundation of American jurisprudence.

Details