Monday, April 26, 2010

Statehouses are the key to restoring constitutional government

It’s true that a change in federal administration will prompt a disgruntled few to dream of revolutionary immortality. Equally true, opponents will use any questionable statement or action to paint the “revolutionaries” as violent, half-witted zealots. Welcome to America.

There’s no shortage of such right-wing resentment toward government, most of it justified. Also in large supply are opinionated leftists armed with word processors, a penchant for misinformation and a desire to mischaracterize any opinion with which they disagree.

Last year the decidedly left-wing blog Crooks and Liars reported a “million man militia”
march on Washington. Typically, the writer belittled the event as a gathering of paranoid right-wing lunatics determined to shoot something.

If this march occurred it must have went off without a hitch. In fact, reality has spoken and the pro-freedom rallies that have taken place have been entirely peaceful, contrary to the leftist’s dire warnings. No one has invaded the Capital or tarred and feathered a congressman, as much as they may deserve it.

So the question isn’t whether America’s revolutionary spark should be revived but in what manner. We are a people born of rebellion and nurtured on revolution. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote that the people have the right to abolish any government that’s hostile to basic liberty. Several states are taking Jefferson’s words to heart, including a group of
Oklahoma legislators who are mulling the creation of a state militia to resist federal encroachments on their sovereignty.

The usefulness of such militias is debatable, and will surely draw howls of protest from the left. But the idea of using state legislatures to counter the federal government’s fiscal irresponsibility and blatant disregard for constitutional limitations is workable.

The Founders themselves would be pleased, as evidenced in the language of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The Ninth recognizes federal authority but explicitly denies overt power to the central government in all areas not specifically delegated. The Tenth declares that all powers not expressly granted to the United States, or prohibited to the states, remain with the states and the people.

Our forefathers obviously intended a federal government that served the states and the people, not one that ruled over both. For the states to “delegate” any powers to the central government, via the constitution, they must retain all powers not granted to the United States.

States have previously exercised this option. Jefferson’s
Kentucky Resolutions (1798) decried what was viewed as the central government’s unconstitutional assumption of power. Jefferson noted that any federal adventure into areas not authorized was an assault on state sovereignty. Therefore, the states had every right to declare those extensions “void and of no force.”
For example, commenting on the over-extension of federal authority, Mr. Jefferson wrote in the Eight Resolution:

Where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy . . . every State has a natural right . . . to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits.

This is the outlet for our revolutionary fervor. No less than our third president endorsed state nullification of federal excursions into unauthorized areas. The left’s portrayal of limited government activists as lunatics is nullified as well and talk of armed revolt is at best premature.

Flippant references to armed resistance momentarily soothe the soul. However, it also fuels the left-wing cranks and propagandists--like Crooks and Liars--who love to paint limited government proponents as violent nutcases. We owe it to the Founders and their experiment in self government to exhaust all prudent options before considering drastic and uncertain steps.

The return of constitutional government begins in the Statehouses. State legislatures can draft resolutions rendering unconstitutional federal intrusions upon personal liberty and state sovereignty “void, and of no force.” States can refuse to enforce unconstitutional measures within their borders.

Nullification is a worthwhile, peaceful alternative to revolutionary rhetoric. Let’s see what it produces before storming Congress with torches and pitchforks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Deconstructing the health-auto insurance comparison

A frequent argument for nationalized healthcare is the comparison to auto insurance. Obamacare advocates reason that since government requires people to purchase auto insurance government can also require people to purchase health insurance. The flaws in that argument are numerous.

Compulsory auto insurance coverage is a state issue. Each state establishes minimum bodily injury and property damage
liability coverage requirements as it deems appropriate. However, liability insurance provides no benefits to the policyholder beyond the transfer of risk. The auto insurance requirement serves to protect the public from catastrophic losses the insured may cause.

While auto liability is compulsory, drivers aren’t required to purchase coverage that protects personal interests. The state isn’t concerned with how someone replaces their vehicle or pays personal medical expenses that result from their actions.

Antagonists may counter that banks require collision coverage. But the banks aren’t government. Banks are lien holders with vested interests in the collateral. Thus borrowers are required to protect their vehicles. Once loans are repaid banks have no interest in the vehicles and the insurance requirement disappears.

Whether liability or collision, the government healthcare advocate still argues that auto insurance is government mandated. This is a half truth. States require drivers to carry liability insurance as a condition of using the public roads. However, there is no actual demand on anyone to buy auto insurance. If a person chooses not to drive a motorized vehicle on the public roadways the auto insurance requirement is inapplicable.

Federally imposed health insurance isn't comparable to a state’s auto liability insurance mandate. First, the federal government is
forcing us--under threat of fine or possible imprisonment--to buy personal insurance from a private company. Second, you have no viable option to avoid the federal government’s imposition. Everyone will be required to carry personal health insurance. Third, congress has no legitimate authority to force free people to purchase products or services no matter the perceived good or value they may bring to the individual.

The Constitution’s interstate commerce and general welfare clauses (
Art. 1, Sect. 8) don’t provide cover for nationalized healthcare either. In Federalist #41 James Madison declares that applying those clauses to areas beyond Congress’ enumerated powers is, at best, a total misconstruction. Those powers are applicable only within the authority specifically granted to the central government.

Providing individual medical care or requiring individuals to buy insurance aren’t enumerated powers. Therefore, according to the Tenth Amendment, those powers are retained by the states and the people. Via their auto insurance requirements, states have indicated that their interest lies in protecting the general public against loss incurred from an individual’s negligence, not in protecting a person against their own actions. Thus health insurance and medical decisions are rights retained by the people.

No government has a vested interest in your health or health habits. Personal health is an individual responsibility with the rewards and consequences of each persons decisions borne accordingly.

What about catastrophic medical expenses? Doesn’t society bear that cost for the uninsured? Yes, but only in a collectivist society. In a free society people bear their own burdens whenever possible and seek charitable assistance when necessary. Involving government inhibits individual responsibility and encourages risky behavior.

Suppose government required drivers to carry collision insurance at a government-mandated cost. The financial incentive for safe driving is reduced. While personal expense motivates responsible behavior the opposite is true when consequences are shifted to third parties.

To argue for federal healthcare mandates based on the existence of state auto liability insurance requirements is political sleight of hand. Anyone making that case is banking on public ignorance for their success.

This column first appeared at

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Obama’s supporters and alliances tell us who he is

No one should be surprised with President Obama’s rush toward bigger, more powerful government. Politicians win support from people with like minds and the President is no exception. His supporters and associates tell us much about his political ideology.

Joe Sims is impressed with the Obama presidency. Mr. Sims wrote of Obama’s swearing in as the “
people’s inaugural”, the dawn of a new American era. Sam Webb shared that exuberance. In January, 2009 Mr. Webb praised Obama’s victory as the end of “30 years of right-wing extremist rule.” He wasn’t so bold as to declare the election a national referendum for socialism. But he did claim it signaled America’s willingness to experiment with socialist ideas. Thus Webb wrote of the Obama administration, “Yes, this is a socialist moment.”

Both Sam Webb and Joe Sims write for the People’s Weekly World, a Communist Party (CPUSA) publication. Webb himself serves as the national chair of the CPUSA, which publicly declared Obama’s election a triumph for their agenda.

The President has drawn international communist allies as well. Fidel
Castro compared Obamacare to his own communist nation’s medical system. Unfortunately, that’s not all. The old guard communist dictator admires Obama’s position on global warming and his charismatic personality. China has also joined the act. The Chinese commemorated Obama’s visit with “Oba Mao” t-shirts depicting the President wearing a Red Guard uniform. Artist Liu Bolin honored the occasion with a statue similar to one previously created for Chairman Mao himself.

Obama’s inner circle is filled with questionable liaisons and appointees. The administration’s communications director,
Anita Dunn, counts Mao Tse-tung among her greatest political influences. Ron Bloom is Obama’s car and manufacturing czar. Yet he has contempt for free markets, pals around with the SEIU and has worked with the leaders of the Democratic Socialists of America. Van Jones resigned an environmental post appointment because of his declared commitment to communism. And Obama’s idea of a fair-minded judge, Goodwin Liu, considers free enterprise, property rights and limited government to be radical ideas.

None of these associations flatter Obama. But the worst alliance may be his “safe school’s czar”
Kevin Jennings. Jennings supports indoctrinating teenagers with a radical sexual agenda, having gone so far as to conceal and condone child molestation. Jennings also defended the late Harry Hay, who dedicated his life to mainstreaming intimate relations between men and boys. And yes, Hay also had a little communism in his closet.

Is Barack Obama America’s first Bolshevik-in-Chief? He has certainly drawn support from staunch communists, apparent sympathizers and assorted oddballs. His policies thus far have done nothing to betray their faith and support.