When I first heard black teenager, Trayvon Martin, had been shot to death in his own neighborhood walking home from an early evening trip to the store, I felt disheartened. The news indicated he had been gunned down by a zealous leader of a community watch group. How could this still be happening in America? Now, as we learn more about the events surrounding the shooting, I am reminded of the importance of the principle of justice, that an individual should be assumed innocent until proven guilty, and give thanks for the protection provided to all Americans by the Fifth Amendment. Justice in this case requires a full vetting of the facts by a grand jury, and then, in the event of an indictment, a public trial in which the state can present the evidence of the crime, and the accused can defend himself against those charges, allowing a jury, not a mob, to render a verdict.
In his lead Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Fox News contributor Juan Williams challenges those leading and joining the marches demanding justice for the black teenager, Trayvon Martin to consider this additional all important question: ”But what about all the other young black murder victims?”
This question deserves our thoughtful consideration, as does Williams’ essay below.
The Trayvon Martin Tragedies — Juan Williams, Wall Street Journal
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida has sparked national outrage, with civil rights leaders from San Francisco to Baltimore leading protests calling for a new investigation and the arrest of the shooter.
But what about all the other young black murder victims? Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for them? Read entire article
The Supreme Court Weighs ObamaCare — David B. Rivkin, Lee A. Casey, Wall Street Journal
The authors are the two lawyers who represented the 26 states in their challenge to ObamaCare before trial and appellate Courts. As the Supreme Court wraps up its extraordinary 3 days of arguments on ObamaCare, what is at stake is more clear than ever: in the author’s words: “the Constitution’s structural guarantees of individual liberty, which limit governmental power and ensure political accountability by dividing that power between federal and state authorities. Upholding ObamaCare would destroy this dual-sovereignty system, the most distinctive feature of American constitutionalism.”
They conclude their article by pointing out if ObamaCare is found Constitutional, then the Federal government has the power to rule us a subjects. Under ObamaCare, we must do the bidding of the governing elite as a condition of being a lawful resident, thus inverting the relationship between the government and the people.
“Americans cannot escape the individual mandate by any means because it regulates them as people, simply because they are alive and here. That requires police power authority. Permitting Congress to exercise that authority—however important its ultimate goal—is not constitutionally proper and would forever warp the federal-state division of authority.” Read entire article
Can Mitt Romney Lead the Rebirth of the American Revolution? — Charles Kadlec, Forbes.com
“The government does not create prosperity; free markets and free people do.”
Starting with that declaration, Mitt Romney last week delivered what could be the breakthrough speech of his candidacy for President of the United States. Speaking first at the University of Chicago, and then in his victory speech after winning the Illinois primary, Romney embraced “economic freedom” as the political philosophy that gives purpose to his run for the Oval Office.
The embrace of economic freedom has the potential to broaden Romney’s base among Republicans, Tea Party activists and independent voters while increasing the intensity of his supporters. As his distant second place finish in Louisiana shows, Romney’s proven competence alone is insufficient to energize the Republican base and may not be enough to win a fall match-up against President Barack Obama.
However, a clear and unapologetic advocacy of economic freedom would align the Romney campaign with the powerful political tide the Republican party rode to its landslide victory in the 2010 election, and that is fueling a rebirth of the American Revolution.
Romney used his speech to position economic freedom as the defining issue of the 2012 campaign:
“For three years, President Obama has expanded government instead of empowering the American people. He’s put us deeper in debt. He’s slowed the recovery and harmed our economy. And he has attacked the cornerstone of American prosperity: our economic freedom…
“This November, we face a defining decision. Our choice will not be one of party or personality.
“This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot. And I intend to offer the American people a clear choice.” Keep reading »
The Supreme Court today began listening to three days of arguments with regards to the Constitutionality of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The Wall Street Journal editorial provides a précis on the political, historical, and future implications of this historic case.
Liberty and ObamaCare — Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal
“Few legal cases in the modern era are as consequential, or as defining, as the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court hears beginning Monday. The powers that the Obama Administration is claiming change the structure of the American government as it has existed for 225 years. Thus has the health-care law provoked an unprecedented and unnecessary constitutional showdown that endangers individual liberty.
“It is a remarkable moment. The High Court has scheduled the longest oral arguments in nearly a half-century: five and a half hours, spread over three days. Yet Democrats, the liberal legal establishment and the press corps spent most of 2010 and 2011 deriding the government of limited and enumerated powers of Article I as a quaint artifact of the 18th century. Now even President Obama and his staff seem to grasp their constitutional gamble.”
“The constitutional questions the Affordable Care Act poses are great, novel and grave, as much today as they were when they were first posed in an op-ed on these pages by the Washington lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey on September 18, 2009. The appellate circuits are split, as are legal experts of all interpretative persuasions.
“The Obama Administration and its allies are already planning to attack the Court’s credibility and legitimacy if it overturns the Affordable Care Act. They will claim it is a purely political decision, but this should not sway the Justices any more than should the law’s unpopularity with the public.
“The stakes are much larger than one law or one President. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Supreme Court’s answers may constitute a hinge in the history of American liberty and limited and enumerated government. The Justices must decide if those principles still mean something.” Read entire article
I just read these two reviews of Conserving Liberty, by Mark Blitz, and have added his book to my must read list. The first, by Princeton Professor Robert George, the second from Amazon.com Mr. Blitz is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Political Philosophy and director of the Henry Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College.
Conservatism Properly Understood — Robert George, The Claremont Instituted
What is it, exactly, that contemporary American conservatism seeks to conserve? What should it conserve? What is worth conserving?
How about liberty?
Most American conservatives would applaud that proposal, which shows, among other things, how far the American Right is from the “throne and altar” conservatism of old Europe, with its class system and devotion to hierarchy and stability. American conservatives are, in truth, old-fashioned liberals—in the tradition of the American Founders, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Abraham Lincoln. Because American conservatives prize liberty, they might be described—as Mark Blitz describes them in his new book, Conserving Liberty—as “conservative liberals.”
A professor of political philosophy and the director of the Henry Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College, Blitz points out that just as contemporary American conservatism differs from European conservatism, it differs, too, from contemporary liberalism with its “affirmative action, gender politics, and ethnic spoils and sensitivities that affirm such groups.” American conservatives believe in equality, to be sure, but theirs is the God-given equality of the Declaration of Independence, not the equality of results or the “equality”—based moral relativism promoted by many contemporary liberals.
Although the book’s title might sound like a brief for libertarianism, Blitz quickly sets the reader straight. It is not that he opts for “big government conservatism,” but rather that he recognizes that liberty is valuable not so much for its own sake as for the sake of something larger, namely, human excellence or human flourishing. And he understands that liberty is sustained—if it is sustained at all—by virtues that themselves must be transmitted by healthy institutions of civil society, beginning with the marriage-based family and communities of religious faith.
And so Conserving Liberty is divided into four chapters: (1) “Conserving Natural Rights”; (2) “Conserving Virtue”; (3) “Conserving Excellence”; and (4) “Conserving Self-Government.” When we understand conservatism as conserving these ends, in part because—but not merely because—they serve and support liberty, we begin to see how and why conservatism today, far more than liberalism, stands not only for liberty, but also for “good character, strong families, the worth of religion, economic growth, limited government, and vigorous national defense.”
As Blitz observes, there is no reason in principle why contemporary liberalism could not prize the same purposes, but today’s liberals have chosen a different path. Thus, the division between conservatives and liberals has become a contest of worldviews, of principles; it is no longer—if it ever was—merely a difference about the best means for achieving agreed upon ends.
* * *
Even those like me who have long admired Mark Blitz’s scholarship will marvel, as I do, at his achievement in Conserving Liberty. How on earth did he manage to pack such an enormous amount of moral and political wisdom into a mere 132 pages? The book explains and brilliantly defends the full-blooded conservatism that contemporary adherents (and their liberal critics) associate with Ronald Reagan—a conservatism that is robust in its faith in limited government, the rule of law, the market economy, traditional moral virtues, flourishing institutions of civil society, a strong national defense, and the right of people to govern themselves by the principles and institutions of constitutional democracy (or what the founders and Lincoln referred to as “republican government”).
Some have labeled conservatism of this sort a “three-legged stool”—the “legs” being economic freedom, morality, and national defense. This metaphor is misleading, however. These dimensions of contemporary American conservatism are connected to each other in ways that are not well represented by the image of separate legs. They derive from the same fundamental moral-political principles, beginning with the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of each and every member of the human family, as a creature made in the image and likeness of God. Thus, respect for religious, economic, and political liberty, for example, and for human life in all stages and conditions (including the life of the child in the womb), and for marriage and the family as institutions essential to the well-being of all, as well as the obligation of government to provide security against domestic criminals and foreign enemies, all have the same basic ground.
One of Conserving Liberty‘s great virtues is its appreciation and lucid explanation of the connectedness of the elements of contemporary American conservatism. Blitz understands, for example, why economic conservatives should also be social conservatives, and vice versa. This in itself is a laudable contribution to the growing body of literature devoted to the question of what it means to be a “conservative” today.
Conserving Liberty — Book Description, Amazon.com
Originating in Hoover Institution discussions held under the auspices of the Boyd and Jill Smith Task Force on Virtues of a Free Society, Conserving Liberty defends the principles of American conservatism, clarifying many of the narrow or mistaken views that have arisen from both its friends and its foes. Author Mark Blitz asserts that individual liberty is the most powerful, reliable, and true standpoint from which to clarify and secure conservatism—but that individual freedom alone cannot produce happiness. He shows that, to fully grasp conservatism’s merits, we must we also understand the substance of responsibility, toleration and other virtues, traditional institutions, individual excellence, and self-government.
Blitz first sketches the elements of conservatism that appeal to individuals, reminding us that to consider ourselves first of all as free individuals and not in group, class, racial, or gender terms is the heart of American conservatism’s strength. He then shows that we need certain virtues to secure our rights and use them successfully—responsibility being the chief among these virtues. The author also explains how institutional authority works, why it is necessary, and where it supports the intellectually and morally excellent. He clarifies how natural rights and their associated virtues can be a base from which to secure and preserve necessary institutions.
The Economics of The Lorax — Steven Horwitz, The Freeman
Where are the Property Rights?
“The release of the movie version of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax has already generated some commentary about the economics of the land of the Truffula Trees. Having used the book in my introductory economics classes for over a decade to teach students how to apply the economic way of thinking to environmental issues, I will add a few more words.
For those who don’t know the story, the Once-ler comes to the land of the Truffula Trees and discovers they can be chopped down and made into Thneeds, an article of clothing that “everyone needs.” He begins to cut the trees to make Thneeds, slowly at first, but as demand grows he begins to cut more and more and adds a factory that spews pollutants into the air and water, destroying the flora and fauna of the forest. The Lorax is a forest dweller who warns the Once-ler of his evil ways and how he will destroy the whole forest to satisfy his greed, but the Once-ler pays him no mind. Eventually the trees are clear-cut and the animals and plants are severely harmed, with only one Truffula seed left to protect.
Dr. Seuss clearly portrays greed and profit-seeking as antithetical to environmental health. Is he right? Must profit-seeking always end in environmental disaster? The answer from economics is a definite no. The key, as is almost always the case in these matters, is property rights.
The problem in The Lorax is that Dr. Seuss never clearly indicates who has the property rights over the trees. If the animals of the forest do, then the Once-ler clearly violates their rights by cutting down the trees, not to mention the pollution he creates. However, if the Once-ler has the rights, then he may cut down the trees, though the pollution he creates might still be a violation of the rights of the animals.
If the Once-ler does have the right to cut down the trees, would we imagine that he would clear-cut the forest? Read complete article
The Rising Price of the Falling Dollar — Charles Kadlec, Forbes.com
Do you know why oil and prices are moving sharply higher? Some blame the oil companies, charging they are manipulating prices. Others cite U.S. sanctions on Iran and the threat of a military encounter that would disrupt the flow of oil from the Middle East.
Speculators, too are blamed for ostensibly bidding up the price of oil. In the political arena, President Obama is taking credit for increased domestic oil production even as his critics point out the slow pace of drilling permits issued by his Administration soon will hamper additional increases in the U.S. oil production.
Yet, the basic reason for higher energy prices is being overlooked, even though it is right before our eyes: Oil prices are up because the value of the dollar is down. Our common sense hides this source of higher prices because we view the dollar as fixed, and prices as moving. News reports explain the sharp rise in consumer prices in February were caused by higher energy and food prices, implying that higher prices cause inflation. Of course, higher prices do not cause inflation. Higher prices are inflation.
The cost of this deception goes well beyond the vilification of the oil industry and free markets. The real price of the on-going debauchery of the dollar is measured by the loss of our prosperity and the debasement of our liberty. Read entire article
As Progressives and many in the media complain about gridlock, Carla Garrison of the Washington Times reminds us the Founders took into account the power motive that animates those who seek government office and purposely created a system of checks and balances that make it so difficult to get things done in Washington.
Utopias, rights, freedom, and big government — Carla Garrison, Washington Times
WASHINGTON, March 17, 2012 —The debate over the size and role of government is about to reach a crescendo in America. The arguments are not new or unique to this country. They are the same ones that led to the American Revolution and at root every revolution. Deciding where you stand is important to our future.
The American formula is unique: big society, small government.
The formula that led to the only real free country to ever exist, hinges on checks and balances distributed among three branches of government with regularly elected representation of the people by the people. The technical form is constitutional republic. James Madison, primary author of the Constitution, explained in Federalist #51 that only this structure could preserve a free society because human nature will not change. By nature, humans are both bad and good. People that are smart enough to run government will inherently be ambitious. Ambition leads to power seeking.
Madison said, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” It is through the constitutionally created checks and balances and relative autonomy of each branch that ambition counteracts ambition.
“It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself,” Madison explained.
What is the role of government?
by Richard Callahan
In the balance, our liberty and President Obama’s liberal vision of the future of America
A significant milestone will occur beginning the 26th of March which will have a major impact on the economy, political climate and governmental powers for the United States. On that date the Supreme Court of the land will commence hearings on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health initiative the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as Obamacre.
Beginning on that date the court will hear attorneys present their arguments on the constitutionality of the act with a final decision expected in June. The high court could uphold the entire law, strike down it’s controversial central requirement that forces most Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay stiff penalties, let stand or void major expansion of Medicaid, or defer any decision on the matter until 2015. Keep reading »
The House GOP Authors A Jobs Recovery — Charles Kadlec, Forbes.com
“Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and their fellow House Republicans should claim credit for this jobs recovery. It never would have happened had they not stopped the counter-productive fiscal policies of the Obama Administration — starting with blocking the job killing increase in personal income tax rates that otherwise would have taken place on January 1, 2011, and then last fall refusing to vote for yet another round of wasteful “stimulus” spending and money losing investments in “green jobs.”
“Remember last August when the Administration charged that the House Republican show-down over increasing the federal government’s debt limit without meaningful spending reductions threatened the recovery and Vice President Joe Biden called opponents of an increase in the debt limit “terrorists”? And then how the President last fall demanded House Republicans pass “now” $400 billion in new stimulus spending, relabeled a “jobs bill,” or be held accountable for the coming slow-down in economic growth?
“Well, here is what putting a stop to Obamanomics has produced: The strongest six months of employment growth since the President took office.” Read more