Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Commitments that transcend personal choice

"People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice — commitments to family, God, craft and country.

The surest way people bind themselves is through the family. As a practical matter, the traditional family is an effective way to induce people to care about others, become active in their communities and devote themselves to the long-term future of their nation and their kind. Therefore, our laws and attitudes should be biased toward family formation and fertility, including child tax credits, generous family leave policies and the like."
David Brooks

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Certain Permanent Truths about the Human Condition

How did President Wilson's view of government differ from the founders?

"Wilson saw government as a problem solver. As problems change government has to adapt. So, people should be free to adapt their government to whatever problems they wanted government to address.

From the point of view of the founders, certainly they wouldn't have disagreed with Wilson that people have to make of government what they think best. What the founders would have said that we are all governed by our human nature, that our Creator gives us a certain nature, that brings with it certain permanent truths about human condition.  We have passions that may be a danger to us.  Just as well, we have reason that gives us the capacity for self-government.

While we are free to do with government what we wish, we are not able to free ourselves from the basic law of human nature which binds us all as human beings."

(Ronald J. Pestritto, Part 2 of Hillsdale College course "Constitution 201 Schedule", "Woodrow Wilson and the Rejection of the Founders’ Principles")

Saturday, September 1, 2012



“Experience constantly proves that every man who has power is impelled to abuse it; he goes on till he is pulled up by some limits. Who would say it! virtue even has need of limits.”
Charles de Montesquieu

Here are a few quotes I keep referring to.  I will put them here for easy reference.

"we will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less. That is enough. The choice is whether to put hard limits on economic growth, or hard limits on the size of government, and we choose to limit government." Paul Ryan VP acceptance speech

This is a money quote

"We own this country. We own it. Poltiticians are employees of ours... When somebody does not do the job, we got to let him go." -Clint Eastwood, GOP Convention 2012

Be kind to others, even on the internet


And this, "To Everyone I Know During This Election"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Definition of Tyranny

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. "

(James Madison "Federalist 47" Via Constitution 101 - "Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny")

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Recovery of the Constitution

"What is the nature of the choice [between two ideas of government]?"

1) "The same thing that makes us need laws, makes it necessary that those who administer the law also live under law and restraint."


2) "A government really about progress, about history, about changes over time.  The claim of that kind of government is, we've advanced to a place.  And science and technology and organization and knowledge so that we can actually take control of everything.  That means the government can be big and needs to be because it can do so much more than used to be possible. And because so much more in a modern, complex society is needed to be done. And the old restraints are in the way and they impede us from being what we can be.

Those are the two claims. They are not compatible with each other.  You can have one or the other but you can't have both.  And that's the choice that's pending."

(Larry P. Arnn, "The Recovery of the Constitution" lecture 10 in a series from Hillsdale College)

Update 2016-06-22

My FB Comment

Any new law may be a new infringement on a natural right.  
The central issue is whether humans are flawed and must live within checks of our tendencies to abuse power or if we are innately good and therefore government made of people is innately good, ergo more laws would be good.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Value of Compromise and Civility

In the great debate in the Constitutional Convention, the populous states compromised over the popular election of US Senators.  Here is an exchange between the characters of George Washington and James Madison

GW: A simple majority is not enough. What we need Mr. Madison is consensus among us, harmony. That alone will ensure the Constitution's success.

JM: History will not forgive us.

GW: You persuaded me to come to this convention. Well, here I am, Mr Madison, and I will not see this convention crumble around me because the brightest and stubbornest of us will not yield the Senate to the states.

Earlier in the exchange (8:50) Washington comments on the music playing. He says that the flute is a noble instrument and that Jefferson prefers the violin. 

I love the allusion Washington makes here. That it is possible for all kinds of instruments to make harmonious music. That even their collaboration might make a greater creation that they could on their own.

Each of us has our own political opinions. Some stronger than others. Some pointedly opposed to the other. If we allow ourselves, we can make the circles where we talk about politics, bitter. Accusations and flaming tongues break apart what might be a good place to discuss where we might agree.  What we might do to effect change on the agreed points. To learn what we might not be aware of otherwise.

In order for that to happen, there must be a degree of friendship among the group.  A spoken or unspoken agreement to seek to understand before we seek to be understood.  A measure of good will must be cultivated among those who wish to constructively discuss politics.  Even more is needed for those who wish to identify common ground and want to act to make it reality in our public policies.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"a contrast between two ways of governing"

I'm going to try to draw a contrast between two ways of governing. I think this contrast is the choice we have to make. We have to decide if we are going to be governed one way or the other. I don't think they are compatible. I don't think this particular house can remain divided against itself indefinitely .
- Centralized, administrative, bureaucratic rule
- Constitutional rule
They depend on different principles. They have different ways of proceeding. I think they can be distinguished. I think you can tell the difference between the works of one versus the works of the other. 
This come from the fourth part of the introduction to the Constitution 101 series.

Principles and Arrangements of Government

"These are the things to know"

Equality             good
Separation of Powers
Limited Government

What a great introduction to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  Watch them all.  I am enjoying them ever so much. He talks about these principles and arrangements in part 4 of the introduction.

If these principles are true, they are describing a being of such a kind that he may not be governed except with his consent. But, also, being of such a kind, he must be governed in these ways.  Because we are the kind of creature that will take advantage of each other, if we get a chance; either the many or the few of us.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Common Sense or Class Warfare

Obama said yesterday, "Now I hear folks running around calling this class warfare. This is not class warfare, let me tell you something. Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as a secretary, that is just common sense. That is common sense."

Here is a video that rebutts this argument. Dan Mitchell listed 5 reasons of "Why Class-Warfare Taxes are Misguided".  Here they are and my summary of them.

1. "Higher Tax rates discourage productive behavior." When you tax something you less of it. When you subsidize something you get more of it. Do we want to tax investments? That will shrink the amount of available money that can be invested in starting and expanding businesses. Investment creates jobs.
2. "High tax rates generate Laffer Curve Responses" People making over 200K a year paid 5 times more tax in 1988 under a lower tax rate than in 1980. In 2008, Obama was questioned on the rationality of raising capital gains tax when it was demonstrated that the government collected less money with it. Obama responded, "I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness"
3. "Higher tax rates on the rich don't help the poor. Class-Warfare types mistakenly assume the economy is a fixed pie... The best way to help the poo is faster growth. The chart shows that per Capita GDP has increased dramatically over time"
4. "High tax rates reduce competitiveness. Globalization increases the reward for good policy, and also increases the penalty for bad policy. Simply stated, it is now increasingly easy for labor and capital to cross national borders."
5. "Higher tax rates on the rich lead to higher tax rates on everybody." In 1913, when federal income tax started, the top tax rate was 7% applied to the top 1% of all citizens.  Now that top rate is much higher but so are the rates for everyone earning less.

One of Obama's arguments on raising the capital gains tax is that we would go back to the same rate as we had under Bill Clinton and we would gain the same kind of sucess in the economy. I would argue that our failure in the last decade had more to do with the repeal of Glass-Steagall and its consequences and other Crony-Capitalism trends over the last 20 years.

Here are a couple of articles that led me to this video.
The Cato Institute Responds to President Obama's State-of-the-Union Address
Warren Buffett’s Fiscal Innumeracy


Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr.

This starts at 12:12 where the speech of Martin Luther King Jr. turns from what is to the future and what might be.

Some of my favorite quotes.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!""

See also, Subconscious racial bias in children, CNN Apr 2012