If a deal hasn’t been reached by the time this is posted (the agreement reached by congressional leaders and the White House over the weekend is pending caucus approval), then tomorrow will be a day of infamy. According to public consensus, our credit rating will be downgraded, our borrowing rates will skyrocket, Social Security checks won’t go out, we’ll have to lay off millions of government workers (oh hyperbole), China will get mad, and our cost of living will sharply increase while the quality of living decreases dramatically. The sky will fall, the world economy will collapse, unemployment will make what we have now look like a cakewalk. It will be Disaster;.
Except it will be none of these things.
August 2nd, if a deal is not reached, will not spell the end of the world. Even if S&P and Moody’s try and downgrade the United States. Why? Three reasons: One, if the markets thought we were going to be screwed, they would have done it before. Second, the credit rating agencies are utterly superfluous and worthless when it come to US debt. Third, even if we hit the debt ceiling, Turbo Tax Geithner will be permitted to prioritize interest payments on the debt and send out Social Security checks, meaning we won’t have a default (and Grandma can still buy the ingredients for her damned fruitcake.)
Taken together, these three things illustrate a picture where August 2nd isn’t the end of the world, and that we should really slow down, take a deep breath, and then have a shot of whiskey. Preferably rye, but that’s just me.
Every day, there’s another lesson in why the government must be limited, restrained, put on a leash and forced to go on a massive diet. But some times, those lessons are more twisted and sick than others. Radley Balko fills us in:
On April 10, 2010, Raquel Nelson lost her 4-year-old son. Nelson was crossing a busy Marietta, Georgia, street with her son and his two siblings when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Police were able to track down the driver, Jerry Guy, who later admitted he had been drinking and had taken painkillers the night of the accident. He was also mostly blind in one eye. Guy had already been convicted of two prior hit-and-runs. He pleaded guilty, served six months of his five-year sentence, and was released last October.
If it ended there, this story would merely be tragic. But it gets worse. Last week Nelson herself was convicted on three charges related to her son’s death: reckless conduct, improperly crossing a roadway and second-degree homicide by vehicle. Each is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. Nelson could spend up to six times as many months in jail as the man who struck her son and then fled the scene. Nelson’s crime: jaywalking.
That’s right, folks: a poor woman just lost her son, and now she’s going to jail because they weren’t in the crosswalk when they were hit. Three years in jail, to be exact. This brings up an important point: the distinction between law vs. justice.
This week we celebrate the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the act of which broke ties with King George’s England and gave birth to a new nation. The decision to break with England was not one made lightly, but one that came after “a long train of abuses and usurpations” which finally made the oppression unbearable. And what comprised this long train of abuses? In part, it was the denial of self-governance and obstruction of the administration of justice. It was the erecting of “a multitude of New Offices, and [sending] hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance”, the subjection of citizens “to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution”, and cutting off our trade. It was imposing taxes on us without our consent, and exciting domestic insurrections.
It was this and more that led us to dissolve our political bands with England, declare our independence, and shed our collective blood in defense thereof. Yet, if we truly believed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what else could we have done? When we truly comprehend that we are all children of God, sovereign by virtue of our very creation, how can we be content to be slaves? How can we be content to suffer the indignities of oppression?
It was this new philosophy that emboldened the hearts and minds of Americans. It was this belief that led Patrick Henry to declare “give me liberty or give me death!”, and that led Nathan Hale to proclaim moments before his execution by the British that “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”.
Fudgeknuckles. You can never be happy with politicians as a libertarian—just when they look like they’re on the path to true limited government, free markets, and individual liberty, they come out with something stupid like this:
“I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman,” Christie said. “I wouldn’t sign a bill like the one that was in New York.”
That sound you are hearing is my head slamming into my desk at Warp Six.
I admit, I was becoming a fan of Chris Christie. The way he was socking it to the parasitical public unions in New Jersey was inspiring. Sure, he was not perfect—he probably could have cut back more in some areas—but considering political inertia, he was doing a tremendous job.
Naturally, while I’m feeling really great about this guy, he throws a social conservative curveball just to keep me a grumbling libertarian.
The article does state that he will push for civil unions in New Jersey, as if, “Well, he’s not so bad.” But it is, in fact, horrific: what Christie is saying is that he supports discrimination based on sexual orientation, a boundary that says “You are not like us, you cannot be like us, you cannot have the same rights and privileges as us.” That’s a very disturbing thought. What I don’t understand is how it meshes with the small government ethos of most conservatives. Let’s end regulation and meddling in the economy, let’s make government smaller, cheaper, and more efficient—but then try and wedge it into the bedroom?
The general welfare clause is one of the most horribly understood and most misused pieces of the United States Constitution, second only to the Interstate Commerce Clause. With it, Congress has exercises many wealth redistribution schemes with the argument that it’s constitutional. However, when you look at the Founding Father’s intent, nothing could be further from the truth.
To start with, let’s look at this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
James Madison agrees:
“With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
It all looks pretty straight forward to me.
The phrase “general welfare” didn’t create a broad power that could be thrown around whenever someone wanted to justify taking from the rich and giving to the poor. No, it was guidance on how best to use the powers given to the Congress. They weren’t to work towards the benefits of a particular group, but for the benefit of Americans as a whole.
I’m temporarily living in a small Alabama town that’s still safe enough to allow my children to ride their bikes down the street unattended and to leave your door unlocked while you run to the store. It’s quaint and seems untouched by the goings on in Washington, DC… and sometimes even Montgomery. But of course, it’s not. And conversations with the people you meet at the grocery store or the park reveal that. People are angry. Very angry. Thankfully, they’re also becoming organized and that is starting to make a difference.
I’m not a whole-hearted Tea Partier. I have my doubts about its long-term effectiveness, especially at a federal level if they continue to put all their efforts behind big-ticket races. But I think their potential is almost unlimited when it comes to smaller, local offices.
Recently, our town had a street festival featuring music, crafts, vendors and of course, politicians running for office, busy greeting people and kissing babies. I stopped to talk to one of the candidates who is running for a state house seat as he stood in the middle of the street handing out balloons. Though my questions were asked with cynicism, the answers returned were thoughtful, sincere and refreshing. Before too long, I realized I was talking to a real Tea Party candidate. This guy was a true believer in the need to shrink government and his mannerisms were about as un-politician like as you can get.
But it got better. As he told his story, it become clear that he had been the underdog in the primary, battling against a better-funded, establishment-picked candidate who hardly qualified to even be called a Republican. But he’d won. By a very large margin.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourself why a liberty-themed site that hits on tough national issues like the 2nd Amendment, Eminent Domain, Civil Liberties, and the like now has a post talking about playgrounds. So let me explain:
This is my first (second) post on this illustrious forum. I created another site about a year and a half ago, where UL-writer Tom Knighton is my business partner. I also wrote “The Cult of Christianity”, which appeared here as a guest post this past Easter. My own philosophy for promoting Liberty is to work from the ground up building support locally and then spreading from there. Hence the reason I wanted to start off by exploring various ways to promote Liberty Locally and show people that we who value Liberty are not crazy anarchists who don’t want government to exist at all.
So let’s talk about playgrounds, shall we?
Nearly all of us played on various playgrounds as kids. Whether it be swinging, sliding, climbing monkey bars, or simply playing tag on an open field, play is an important part of childhood and one many of us look back on fondly.
The problem for local governments is that these days, playgrounds can be expensive. Depending on exactly what you want, they can easily cost upwards of $20K for a small one, and in the six figures for larger ones. Even for larger towns, this is a lot of money - and my town only has a population of around 3,000 people!
So how do we as a community promote small government while also providing ample play space for our community’s children?
One way is to get a single rich donor to donate the money to both buy the equipment and have it installed. No government expense at all, but sufficiently rich donors can be hard to come by in small towns like mine.
In 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, in which he engraved into our national consciousness the concept that “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Those words provided an earth-shattering salvo which would blast a gaping hole in the world’s understanding of the nature of government. No longer would men be servants, mere subjects bound to obedience by the Divine Right of Kings. Men would now be free; sovereign individuals free to live as they so chose, answerable only to God for the conduct of their life provided they did not infringe upon the rights of others.
After years of abuse at the hands of King George, under whom they were taxed without representation in Parliament, forced to quarter the very soldiers who would punish disobedience to the Crown, unable to pass laws of self-governance and in general being treated as slaves rather than fellow citizens with rights, the American colonists declared that they would no longer be subject to such abuse, but would form a new government in which every man was bestowed the same rights and no man was favored above another in the eyes of the law.
For nearly a decade war was waged upon the American continent. Mangled, broken and torn bodies littered the battlefields along the eastern seaboard. Families were separated; husbands and brothers lost…all because the people of this nation decided to rise up against tyranny and oppression. When the sounds of cannon and musket-fire were silenced, when the smoke cleared and the soldiers returned home, a new era had begun.
For months now, the American people have watched in horror as a dark, viscous fluid has hemorrhaged out of a well. It continues every minute of every day, day in and day out, with no end in sight. Even though we know it threatens the livelihood of everything and everyone in its path, we have been unable to stop it. We have elected officials that we have called upon to put an end to it, yet they have thus far proven completely incompetent, unable to get the job done and end the leak. Indeed, most of the time, despite the grandstanding and the bold talk, it seems as if the government is not only unable to end the leak, but unwilling. For, despite the rhetoric, the actions of government thus far have not been the kind that will end this disaster.
“Plug the damn hole!” our president cried in frustration. I agree. But…
As bad as the oil spill in the gulf most certainly is, the leak I am talking about is the unending gusher of red ink which comes from the “well” in Washington, D.C. This leak is doing far more damage to our country and will take much longer to correct than the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Its effects are far more problematic for the health of our country, yet far less is being done to combat it. At least BP is making an effort to stop their leak, even if most attempts have proved futile so far. In our nation’s capitol, everyone talks about the need for fiscal responsibility, but few have shown they believe those words by allowing the danger to galvanize us into action.
Chris Dodd, everybody’s favorite hairdo, has introduced a “tough” financial “reform” bill that he claims will “limit the risk [financial institutions] can assume.” Of course, most people with a pulse realize that a 1565 page bill introduced by one of the top recipients of financial industry lobbyist money in Congress probably will do little to ‘reform’ the financial industry in the best interests of the American people. That, however, doesn’t fully capture the perniciousness of this bill.
When we look at it closely, we can see it is one of the most dangerous bills introduced in Congress in years.