A Weekly View from the Foothills of Appalachia
July 26 , 1998 #95
by: Doug Fiedor
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Copyright © 1998 by Doug Fiedor, all rights reserved
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Remember Checkpoint Charlie? That was the famous "gate" that separated East and West -- free and communist -- Berlin until the Berlin wall came down. It wasn't a happy place, to say the least. A person could get themselves arrested there if they did not have their papers in order. Or, if one tried to sneak through, in either direction, they could easily be shot dead.
That checkpoint was propagandized throughout the world as a prime example of a totalitarian government run amuck. So, why do we allow somewhat similar checkpoints here in the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Members of Congress fly commercial aircraft a lot. They therefore have a personal interest in assuring they will not be inconvenienced in any way while traveling. A bad guy could get on one of their flights and maybe "do" something, they felt. So, they tried to fix it.
Nowadays, every commercial air passenger must submit to a search and provide government documents proving who they are. Carry a little extra cash, and the traveler is subject to arrest and the cash confiscated. Carry a personal weapon for self defense, and go directly to jail. Enter an aircraft without properly identifying yourself and men with guns come to take you away. And, if you do not leave willingly, you will be shot.
Roadblocks around the country are like that, too. Any police officer can set up a roadblock anywhere they wish. Police may now stop travelers for any reason or for no reason. Americans must stop, show their papers and answer questions. To not stop means instant arrest. Actively protest the arrest and one could be shot.
There is even a type of checkpoint for seeking employment nowadays. Employers must now act as police. That is, they are to properly question potential employees, check their government provided documents, and then contact the central government to see if the potential employee is government approved to hold a job in the United States.
That came about, of course, because of the negligence of the central government. Our country's borders have major holes in which thousands of illegal aliens walk through daily. The central government found it easier to bother all Americans with presenting documentation than to protect our borders. Conversely, instead of allowing the illegal aliens to earn a living, the central government gives them free medical treatment, education and welfare -- at the expense of all legal American citizens.
Now we are to have yet another set of official identification numbers and government issued documents for medical treatment. As with commercial Aircraft traveling and motoring down the highway, government will also set up checkpoints and impede the flow of treatment traffic. Already, the central government restricts the ability of senior citizens on Social Security to spend their own money for medical treatment. Seniors who violate this rule can have their assets "forfeited" and will probably be jailed -- and if they protest this violation of freedom too adamantly, can get themselves shot to death.
Liberty, as defined in law by Blackstone in the Commentaries On the Law, is "the power of locomotion, of changing situation, of moving one's person to whatever place one's own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by course of law." We find this right protected, to a limited extent, within the body of our Constitution, and further guaranteed within the Bill of Rights. Except for emergencies, government has no authority to violate liberty.
Our rights to life, liberty and property are said to be "unalienable" rights. That is, they are absolute rights and are incapable of being given up, taken away, or transferred to another. That's what the Founding Fathers intended, anyway. (For more in this, visit the first section of that text posted at: http://www.uhuh.com/reports/headsup/state98.htm and http://militia.gen.mi.us/headsup/sou.htm)
Yet, we Americans sit by quietly as our freedoms, rights and liberties are snatched one by one by the central government. Apparently, many Americans truly believe that the expediency of government agents really does supersede the freedom of the people. As long as the sports games are played on schedule and there's food in the refrigerator we don't seem to notice our rights evaporating.
Soon our driver's licenses, Social Security tax number, government approved medical treatment authority and identification, credit cards, and work permits will be on one central government provided internal passport. That will make it most convenient for bureaucrats. For any real or suspected violation of any law rule or regulation, they will then have the ability to instantly cancel most human functions with one change of their computer's database.
Checkpoint Charley was little more than an historical photo opportunity on the road to totalitarianism. Congress is giving modern bureaucrats in the United States potential for the real thing.
Do you have your papers in order?
What do you do when the people working for you refuse to follow their job description and then lie about it? You have that problem now, you know. We all do. Our public servants are disobedient.
Pick any part of the Constitution -- the very first line, for example: "All legislative Powers shall be vested in a Congress. . . ." There is nothing very difficult to understand about that statement. "All" means every bit. "Legislative Powers" means to make law. And "shall" means that is how it is to be done.
Written another way, Congress shall make all law. In this case, "law" being that body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority.
It would be a violation of the very first sentence of our Constitution, then, if any department of government other than Congress promulgates "rules and principles" which are "enforced by a political authority" over the people of the United States. Yet all of the regulatory agencies regularly pass rules and regulations having the full force of law. Even the president sometimes makes law via executive order.
Do we believe in our Constitutional way of government, or shall we continue to stand by silently and accept willful disobedience by our public servants?
The Social-Democrats among us would have us believe that our Constitution is a living document, that the meaning of the words change with circumstances over time, and that a strict interpretation would be overly restrictive to government. Last week, while substituting for Rush Limbaugh on the radio, Professor of Economics Walter Williams cut right through that baloney with one short sentence: "How would you like to play poker with living rules?"
Our Constitution is a contract between the States and the federal government. It was approved by the people, through the sovereign States for those purposes, and only those purposes, set down in the contract. We call those purposes "enumerated" powers. But they are also contractual duties.
Two of the most important functions of the federal government are to protect the integrity of the nation as a whole and the rights of the American people. The Preamble to the Constitution even mentions these functions: "provide for the common defence" and "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
One of the duties of the federal government, then, is to guard our borders against invasion. Yet, each day thousands of foreigners are allowed to sneak into the United States. Some states now have millions of illegal foreign residents, but the federal government does nothing to round them up and send them back. Instead of protecting our borders, and keeping out illegal aliens, the federal government placed tracking restrictions on all American citizens that are both obnoxious and unconstitutional. This is total disobedience of both the written word and the intent of the Constitution.
Another problem is the tons of illegal drugs freely entering the United States from other countries. The federal budget allocations for drug interdiction dropped from 33 percent to 12 percent of the total illegal drug fighting budget under the Clinton Administration. As interdiction decreased, the street price of illegal drugs decreased and illegal drug use by teenagers drastically increased.
Yet, instead of halting the flow of illegal drugs into our country and drying up the market, the federal government imposed hundreds of unconstitutional and oppressive laws, rules and regulations on law-abiding American people. This, too, is disobedience to both the words and intent of our Constitution.
Today, there are over 170,000 federal bureaucrats spending over $17-billion a year. Their only function in life is to control the actions of the American people. The demands of this regulatory bureaucracy currently cost the average American family approximately $7,000 a year in stealth taxes. Yet, few if any of the activities regulated by the federal regulatory bureaucracy are authorized to the federal government by the Constitution. Again, willful disobedience.
The First Amendment clearly states that "Congress shall make no law" regarding religion, speech, press, assembly, or to petition government. Yet, the federal government disobeyed the Constitution and passed laws restricting everything except the press. The Second Amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The federal government disobeyed that, too, by passing dozens of restrictions on personal arms.
The Fourth Amendment, protecting our right to privacy and to be secure in our "persons, homes, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," has been totally trashed in recent years. The director of the FBI even wants legislation passed prohibiting Americans from putting an envelope (encryption) on their personal e-mail messages. Forfeiture and warrantless searches are total disobedience to the Constitution. Yet, we Americans are learning to accept this unconstitutional behavior by public servants as normal.
It's time we the sovereign citizens of these United States join together to exert our rightful position over these wayward public servants. Because, if we fail in correcting these ills in government, we will be committing a major disservice to our grandchildren: committing them to living their lives in what is quickly developing into a highly regulated dictatorship.
Sometimes it does one good to admit to one's indiscretions. And, being one who would never be mistaken for a saint, I've had a few. For instance, every so often I like to mosey down the old highway to the local town's greasy spoon and have lunch with a group of old timer yellow-dog Democrats.
These senior citizens may be the quintessential yellow-dogs, but it's not a good idea to mistake them for Social-Democrats. Even hinting that one of these old timers is a socialist could easily get one knocked into the prone position.
They, of course, know that I am not a yellow-dog, and most of them have even read this publication from time to time. So it's interesting in itself that, with a twinkle in their eyes and a nod of their heads, a couple of them always invite me over to join them for a little political banter while we eat.
As they started on their list of real and perceived offenses by Newt and the boys in Congress, I tossed them a curve ball. "What are some of the differences between now and when you were young and just married," I asked. "And, I'm talking political stuff now. Like the differences in freedom of the people."
Unbeknownst to me, that question hit a raw nerve. I soon noticed that I had caused quite a bit of agitation, and probably a little bit of indigestion, around the table.
"My tobacco allotment is down to 10% of what it was," one farmer said disgustedly. "They have things so screwed up a man can't even make an honest living anymore."
"I saved all my life to have a good retirement," another said. "Now some (expletive deleted) tells me that I MUST accept whatever medical treatment the government thinks I should have. They told me it's against the law for me to use my own money pay a doctor."
That statement caused a bit of heated discussion around the table, and it was soon very evident to everyone in the restaurant that none of these old-timers agreed with that action by government.
"They searched my bags when we went out to (see his son in) California," one man said about his second ever commercial air flight. "Just like I was a common criminal, or something. Looked through everything we had."
"I was thinking about all the rules and regulations nowadays," I said.
"There weren't any regulations 50 or 60 years ago," one man said. "A man did what he wanted. Just so long as you didn't bother the neighbors, a man could do just about anything he wanted."
"We had restrictions under Roosevelt," one farmer said.
"Yeah, but who followed them?" another man laughed, with nods of agreement and chuckles all around. "Government men didn't visit these parts. They had bigger fish to check on. We had revenuers once in a while, but they didn't like to come here."
The conversation digressed from there, sticking mostly to local and State issues. But it was clear that these senior gentlemen recognized some very real changes in the amount of freedom allowed the people, and they were not happy about those changes.
And so it is throughout the country with groups of senior citizens. Get them talking a while and all too often they'll prefix a statement with something like, "I remember when we could. . . ."
This presents a problem many of us who are over 50 years old are noticing on the Internet. There is a lot of talk about the misdeeds of government, about freedom, rights and liberty. The problem is that America is quickly losing its institutional memory for freedom. It has been over sixty years since Roosevelt started corrupting the federal government -- removing personal and State's rights and putting federal agencies in control of everything. Few Americans remember "how it was" when we had true freedom.
And herein lies the shame of it all: Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, only about ten percent of us can remember how it was to be free. We Americans have learned to accept womb to tomb regulation of everything in our lives as being the duty of government. Perhaps it's time we all lunch with some old timers and query them on what this freedom thing was actually all about when applied to real everyday life.
Back in March, British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the French National Assembly in Paris concerning his ideas for the proper approach to economy, jobs and social policy in the new European Union. The Prime Minister called for the abandonment of old ideologies as governments respond to a rapidly changing world. There is no such thing as Left or Right in economic management any more, only good or bad, he said. Blair then challenged the French and other European governments to adopt the "Third Way" of government.
Blair emphasized the need for basic conditions for workers, but also said that job security comes through workers having skills rather than through regulating the job market. He believes that governments should play an active role in improving the employability of their workforces. Blair also warned that there can be no return to 1950s values, but called for a strengthening of family and community life: "We need to fashion some order among the disintegration. People want a society free from prejudice but not from rules."
Downing Street billed the address as "the most complete statement of the Prime Minister's personal creed since the election."
Another of the "Third Way" leaders is Gerhard Schroder, candidate for Chancellor of Germany -- currently with a 16 point lead over sitting Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In the July 20 edition of Time Magazine, Jordan Bonfante writes from Bonn in part:
As the latest member in the growing ranks of so-called Third Way leaders, Schroder hopes to emulate the success of left-of-center politicians like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who won office by scrapping traditional big-spending, big-government ideologies in favor of the free-market solutions advocated by their right-leaning rivals.
Wary of what he calls "philosophical catchwords", Schroder does not refer explicitly to the Third Way. The phrase seems to mean not simply a compromise between right and left but a synthesis of fiscal conservatism with social responsibility that can appeal across a broad middle. Schroder recognizes the idea in the rise of a like-minded international fraternity. "There's a mainstream of modern social democratic thinking, trying to find answers to the new questions arising from globalization," he says. "The main question is balance: how to modernize the society and modernize the economy and have social security -- how to keep that balance."
Closer to home, The New York Times reports:
This month Mrs. Clinton convened and presided over the first of what is expected to be several meetings at the White House at which prominent Democratic thinkers discuss ways of finding common ground on issues like trade, education and Social Security.
Sidney Blumenthal, the Times reported, organized the meeting but declined to discuss the immediate political implications. "This was a step in the long-term development of a new progressive politics in America that has been begun by the president," Blumenthal said. "And it reflects that the center of political and intellectual vitality lies here in what we call 'the third way'."
The New York Times reports that the "third way" strategy, as championed by Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, is founded on the notion that political parties should not feel limited to the traditional right or left approach to governing. That is certainly part of the story, but little more than the tip of the old iceberg.
The Third Way, as taught to Rhodes Scholars at Oxford University, and now at Harvard University School of Government, is a bit more ominous than what us serf-citizens are being told. The Third Way (not to be confused with the British political party) is actually a blend of the best of communism and the best of capitalism. Well, that's what Third Way proponents say, anyway, when they will answer.
Actually, in a third way society, the people are trained to support industry (structured school to work programs). Also, unlike in a strictly communist society, property ownership is acceptable under the Third Way doctrine. However, everything applicable to the citizens -- the workers -- is to be highly regulated and standardized. In other words, the elite get the freedom and the workers get controlled.
Needless to say, the Third Way is far afield from the "American Way." But, due to the control freaks presently running the central government, this "Third Way" is quickly coming our way.
This is a world wide movement on which we will continue reporting as information materializes. For more information see Heads Up issues #62 (December 7), #63 (December 14) and #72 (February 5).
-- End --
Time reset the "gun poll" they have been running for the past month. Apparently, they were unhappy with the real view of the American public. So, let's give it to them again. Vote early and vote often.