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)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Why We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy

From "Why We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy" Walter E. Williams | January 19, 2018

Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy. 
But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any other of our founding documents.

Amazon Burning Is Mostly Farms, Not Forests

"Don't Panic: Amazon Burning Is Mostly Farms, Not Forests"
Problematic deforestation continues, but the "lungs of the earth" are still breathing.
Ronald Bailey | 8.23.2019 4:35 PM

"A 2018 study in Nature reported that the global tree canopy cover had increased by 865,000 square miles from 1982 to 2016. As Brazilians become wealthier, the deforestation trend in the Amazon will likely turn around toward afforestation, as it already has done many other countries." Most of the burning today is on land that was already cleared for farming.

Defend the rights of others


If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon," I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. 
—Joseph Smith, 1843

Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, that the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals, Universalists, Unitarians, Mohammedans [Muslims], and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city ... 
—Ordinance in Relation to Religious Societies, City of Nauvoo, [Illinois] headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, March 1, 1841

From "Church Points to Joseph Smith’s Statements on Religious Freedom, Pluralism", 8 Dec 2015

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Marriage and Religion are good for Us

A former classmate from Yale recently told me “monogamy is kind of outdated” and not good for society. So I asked her what her background is and if she planned to marry. 
She said she comes from an affluent family and works at a well-known technology company. Yes, she personally intends to have a monogamous marriage — but quickly added that marriage shouldn’t have to be for everyone. 
She was raised by a traditional family. She planned on having a traditional family. But she maintained that traditional families are old-fashioned and society should “evolve” beyond them. 
What could explain this?
Some examples of 'luxury beliefs' that are harmful to those with less resources.
- monogamy is kind of outdated
- all family structures are equal
- religion is irrational or harmful

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Not Yours to Give


The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. ("Not Yours to Give", fee.org, 18 Nov 2012)

The intro to the above article says

[The following story about the famed American icon Davy Crockett was published in Harper's Magazine in 1867, as written by James J. Bethune, a pseudonym used by Edward S. Ellis. The events that are recounted here are true, including Crockett's opposition to the bill in question, though the precise rendering and some of the detail are fictional.]

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Can't Be Evil


"Can’t Be Evil vs. Don’t Be Evil" hackernoon.com

"Can’t be evil", by Muneeb Ali

Cycles in the Climate

From a FB Post of Bjørn Lomborg.

One of the reasons climate alarmism works so well: when something bad happens, it gets blamed on climat, but when nothing bad happens — you don't hear about it. 
For instance: the US is right now experiencing the lowest amount of drought since 2000.  
Read more: http://ow.ly/8NvB50uSsrj



Thursday, August 8, 2019

Can ordinary people be trusted with democracy?

Brexit was voted on in June 2016. Over 3 years later and they are still a part of the EU.


I remember lecture I once watched by Larry P. Arnn that spoke of the separation of powers in the USA Constitution. Part of that separation is that the people only get power at the most every two years. It is not a democracy. It is a democratic republic. It is not mob rule, it is rule of law. The highest law is the Constitution. If you want to change the Constitution, you have to have enough support from the people to have it go through Congress as well as get a ratification by 3/4 of the states.

It seems like England needs a similar structure. I agree to some extant that the system of government should not change based solely on an election.

It is also important to follow through on your promises. The Brexit election was presented as a binding contract to the people that those in power would follow. 3 years later and they have not.

Here is a lecture from a course from Hillsdale College on separation of powers.

Larry P. Arnn said that the majority is the most dangerous thing in American politics because we are the sovereign. Just like the King is the most dangerous thing in a monarchy, the people are the most dangerous in a democratically selected republic government.  How we protect from this is that we only have national elections every 2 years.

Only with a large effort can the Constitution of the United States be formally amended.  This was not an accident, but the intention of its framers. 
If the Constitution is changed too often and for the wrong reasons, the people of America, the Founders held, will lose reverence for its principles, and respect for its rule.  With reverence lost, they might cease to be a self-governing people.  Tyranny itself could topple liberty. 
The Constitution is difficult to amend not because the Founders distrusted the people.  In fact, they trusted the American people more than any other constitution-makers had ever before trusted a people.  They took pride in the fact that no separate or special class of persons would hold any authority under the Constitution.  They created no aristocracy or favored group, and their design did not pit one group of citizens against another. 
Instead, they rested all power in the hands of the people.  Then they divided that power so as to encourage fairness and deliberation in their judgments.  It is the “reason alone of the people that must be placed in control of the government,” writes James Madison in Federalist 49.  “Their passions must be controlled by the government.” 
Our American regime is the first in which sovereignty lies outside the government—in the people.  The Constitution’s structure in its original form was designed to bring power and restraint together.  The people must come to respect the restraint of the government so that its properly-limited power might be upheld.  The Constitution provides for limited government so that the natural rights of citizens can best be secured. 
In this sense, Alexander Hamilton noted that the Constitution itself, even before it was amended, was “a bill of rights.”  Adding the first ten amendments, which the First Congress did in 1791, marked a reaffirmation and an explicit statement of rights held by the people and the states, but all of these are affirmed in the original structure of the Constitution—with its separation of powers, representative form, and limited grant of power to the government.  All of these essential features of good government were stated with unmistakable clarity in the Declaration of Independence. 
Today, the Bill of Rights is often confused as the source of American liberties.  In fact, as both Madison and Hamilton knew, it is the Constitution’s structure that provides the surest bulwark of our liberties.  Destroy the structure, and liberty will be lost.  Alter the structure significantly (see the Seventeenth Amendment), and liberty is endangered.
Without reverence for it, the Constitution, like the Bill of Rights that is now part of it, will be but a “parchment barrier.” 
Out of the more than 5,000 amendments to the Constitution proposed in Congress since 1789, only 27 have been adopted.  There are two possible ways to amend the Constitution, both of them specified in Article V.  All of the current amendments to the Constitution have been adopted following the first path, wherein votes are required by two thirds of both houses of Congress, followed by a vote of three-fourths of state legislatures. 
The other path, to date not used successfully, is the convention method, in which two-thirds of the state legislatures can call a constitutional convention, after which three-fourths of the state legislatures or state conventions must then ratify the proposed amendment or amendments to the Constitution.  Conventions have been avoided probably for good reason, since it is not clear to anyone whether a convention would be bound to changing only one item in the Constitution.  We Americans have been pleased to have only one Constitutional Convention. 
The New York Times recently noted that outside of the defunct Yugoslavian constitution, there is no other constitution in the world so hard to amend as ours.  By coupling our Constitution with a failed state, the article seemed to imply that if we don’t get with the times, we will be left behind.  Our country, they quote a justice of Australia’s high court as saying, is becoming a “legal backwater.” 
For over a hundred years the Constitution has been assailed as undemocratic, and in need of an overhaul. 
Long is the list of books written recently suggesting ways—formal and informal—to make our Constitution better.  When formal amendment efforts fail, informal methods are advanced.  Efforts to informally amend the Constitution—to bring it into better congruity with fashionable legal and political norms of today—can be successful only if citizen reverence for the Constitution is lost. 
—Dr. Larry P. Arnn is president of Hillsdale College, and author of The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It. Hillsdale’s “Constitution 101,” an online course which features lectures by Dr. Arnn and others, starts today.  For more information on Constitution 101, go to: http://constitution.hillsdale.edu (From https://constitutingamerica.org/february-20-2012-%E2%80%93-the-amendment-process-february-20-guest-essayist-%E2%80%94-dr-larry-p-arnn-president-of-hillsdale-college-and-author-of-the-founders%E2%80%99-key-the-divine-and-na/)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Progressive Income Tax: A Tale of Three Brothers

From https://youtu.be/S6HEH23W_bM

"The Progressive Income Tax" is one of those economic terms that gets bandied about, but few actually know what it means or how it works. This tale of three similar brothers with three different incomes (but one shared expense) helps explain the tax system under which we live. Adapted from an article by noted investor and economist, Kip Hagopian, and narrated by actress Carolyn Hennesy of "General Hospital" and "True Blood" fame, this animated story will change the way you think about how you pay your taxes. 
Another way to teach the same lesson.


Thinking for Yourself in An Age of Unreason

There are many areas where we disagree. On one of the most important, we do agree. We must be willing to engage with people we disagree with in good faith.

I am looking forward to his book.