IS THE UNITED STATES MILITARY A SOCIALIST INSTITUTION?

What is the purpose of a blog? I suppose that depends upon the blog and one’s perspective. From my perspective, this blog exists to encourage people to discover through discussion both the Bible and our country’s history. So I try to encourage comments, even from those who disagree. In fact, when it serves my purpose, I will go so far as to let commenters drive the discussion. Thus, we have this post.

I notice that you have not disputed my proposition that our military service was and is, by definition, a socialistic governmental institution necessarily paid for by enforced taxation. (There are other ways to do it, such as a mercenary army contracted by the rich or by corporations to support and defend only their pecuniary interests rather than to support and defend our Constitution, but because of the obvious consequences, no serious citizen from either political persuasion really desires such a purely capitalistic and libertarian alternative). Apparently, like most good conservatives, you accept this socialism and this enforced taxation as a good thing, or at least a necessary evil. In doing so, you must concede that it appears that you are not consistently against the concept of socialism or even of enforced taxation, but, inconsistent with your stated extreme ideological principles, against these useful institutional forms and mechanisms only when they are applied in areas that you simply do not like. (from here)

Did I accept by default Tony’s contention that the military is a socialist institution? As often happens Tony and I were talking past each other. Whereas I wanted to talk about the ethics of government, Tony appears to be devoted to making the existing system (based upon robbery) work more efficiently.   :wink:

Since Tony likes quotes, let’s quote Mr. Dictionary.  MSN Encarta provides several definitions, however, the first seems most applicable.

socialism

1. political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles

With respect to the military, the key phrase is “the means of production and distribution.” Is the military part of the means of production and distribution? To say that it is is a stretch. What the military is is a two edge sword. The military can either be used to abuse our rights or to protect our rights.

  • When government is of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite, government uses military force to control the means of production or distribution — and the People.
  • When government is of the People, by the People, and for the People, government uses military force to protect the People’s rights to life, liberty, and property (i.e., pursuit of happiness).

In the first case military forces exist as parasites feeding upon civilization. In the second case, military forces protect civilization from predators and parasites. Providentially, the United States military still serves as our protector.

Our military forces exists as an organ of our government. Thus what is true of our military is also true of limited 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. — James Madison from The Federalist No. 51

Consider our Courts, Congress, the IRS, US Customs and Border Protection, the Patent and Trademark Office, and so forth. Much the Federal Government, particularly those parts which existed before the 20th Century, exist solely because we are not angels.

About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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23 Responses to IS THE UNITED STATES MILITARY A SOCIALIST INSTITUTION?

  1. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom,

    Your ability not to see facts that you have put in front of your own face is absolutely amazing. In your response to the fact that the military is a socialist institution you site the definition of socialism which pretty much defines our military institution then you laughingly pretend that your own definition doesn’t say what it clearly says. You wrote:

    “Since Tony likes quotes, let’s quote Mr. Dictionary. MSN Encarta provides several definitions, however, the first seems most applicable.

    socialism

    “1. political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles

    “With respect to the military, the key phrase is ‘the means of production and distribution.’ Is the military part of the means of production and distribution? To say that it is is a stretch.”

    Perhaps what you are chosing not to comprehend is that “the means of production and distribution” is talking about the means of production and distribution of “goods and services”. The military provides the “service” to us of defending the U.S. and protecting our national interests – thus the reason it is called the miliary “service”. The “means of production and distribution” of the service that the military provides is owned by the government (the “people” if you like). You can judge for yourself whether our military is “operated according to equity and fairness” but I think that our military oaths are premised on the constitutional concepts of equal and fair protection of all citizens. (Whether or not it always lives up to that goal or instead is often used to protect certain special interests is another question). Military service is certainly not based upon “market principles.” Now, that would be a stretch.

    Thus, by your own definition, the military, like many of the goods and services that we all generally accept as governmental, obviously is a socialistic institution. Once again therefore, you can’t be against all forms of socialism and be for our military. You have to agree that socialism works best in providing at least some goods and services just as capitalistic market institutions work best in providing others. And you therefore necessarily have to be for balance and compromise in order to figure our how much of which one works best in any given situation.

  2. thatmrgguy says:

    Tony,

    You did say you were in the Military, right? As an officer, as I assume you were, being a lawyer, pilot and all, would you say that a Private was equal to you as an officer? Are you equal to your superior officer? According to the definition of Socialism, aren’t each and every individual [b]supposed[b/] to be equal? Well, in my experience in Military Service, Privates weren’t equal to Captains and Captains weren’t equal to General Officers. The Military is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Socialist Entity.

    Mike

  3. Citizen Tom says:

    Mike – Your observation is interesting. Socialism is, after all, a system supposedly designed to ensure equality. Yet the socialists always insist that the proletariat need this vanguard to lead them.

    Tony – The military, the police, the courts, and all that sort of stuff exists for one reason. We cannot be trusted to leave each other alone. We insist upon forcing our beliefs and foisting our problems upon each other. Do private firms sell security “services”? Yes, but to compare our military with private security firms is a joke.

    Military force is an essential part of government. Without the ability to bring force to bear against the “enemy of the public,” there is no government. Is government a socialist institution? Is government part of the economy, the means of production and distribution? If men had the character of angels, would we even want such a thing?

    Our nation does not operate the military as a socialist institution designed to provide services to the population. Our government “owns” the military to gain control over it, to use it as an instrument of sovereignty. Perhaps you are familiar with the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This act set up the our nation’s current command and control structure. To a large extent, that was designed to ensure the military remained under civilian control.

    Our military exists to protect our nation from predatory nations, particularly socialist states. That is, our military exists as a deterrent to socialism, not to demonstrate the efficacy of socialism. However, if you still think socialism is a great idea, I suggest you consider Mike’s observation. Do you really want our military’s rigid command structure extended throughout our entire society? Is that the kind of socialism you want? In practice, that is the kind of socialism you would get. When government takes over what more appropriately belongs in the private economy, government extends its methods.

    Consider the public school system. Because of this government bureaucracy has no real competition (Note that our military competes against the services of foreign nations.), the public school system has no strong reason to be either efficient or effective. Thus, our schools founder in a militaristic bureaucracy without any of the discipline or the accountability we normally associate with such bureaucracy. The public school system is suppose to provide a direct service to the public. Because it is organized as a socialist institution, the public school system instead serves the interest of politicians.

  4. Tony Salmon says:

    I suppose that this has already digressed into a semantics argument. I don’t think that there is a pure socialist government in the world, but all those that we consider the most socialistic have hierarchical structures such as a president, prime minister, cabinet heads, etc. Cooperatives are economic forms of socialism, and though owned by workers or farmers, they would also have to have some sort of management structure. A better comparison might be the “socialized medicine” that is found in many European countries and Canada (and in our military).

    Surely you don’t argue that a government owning or providing the goods and services of medical care isn’t socialistic. In fact, isn’t that exactly what you Tea Party types have been screaming – that it is indeed socialism (which you think is a four letter word, even while you support the military, enjoy public parks, use medicare and cash your social security checks)? Yet, like the military, socialized medicine is not equal in its structure (it has a ranking – administrators, doctors, nurses, orderlies, etc.) so much as it tries to be equal in the services that it provides to the public. And like our military, the in socialized medicine state also often owns the means of production and distribution of the services provided.

    The reason that we don’t have any pure socialistic governments or many institutions, just as we don’t have any purely free market ones, is because pure ideological extremes never work in the real world. A truly free market can’t exist because a market, to function at all, must have government involvement to define and protect property rights, contracts, prevent fraud, etc. Pure socialism doesn’t work either because its equality of reward kills the ambitionand incentive to create and build. The question is whether the military is more socialistic than free market, and however you want to define socialism, you must admit that on a scale from pure utilitarian socialism to pure libertarian free market capitalism, although not at the extreme end, our military exists far at the socialistic end of the scale.

    And that is my point. All our traditional american institutions exist on at a workable continuum somewhere between the two unworkable extremes. For example, I don’t claim to know whether socialized medicine is the best way to go, but what we have now is not a free market either. In a true free market many willing sellers compete to get many willing buyers who have perfect information on price and value to buy their goods and services, and in the process of this Darwinian competition, scarce resources evolve toward their highest and best uses. Like most americans, my company provides my insurance and that insurance company (one of only a few out there) sets the price that they will pay for the services that I need – ultimately it is more like a socialistic cooperative where we share risk than it is a free market.

    I’m not smart enough to know how to solve the problems of providing basic medical care to everyone, but like every other social problem out there, let’s quit pretending that all these issues are simple black and white choices between one of only two extremes when in reality working solutions really are a complex arrangement somewhere on a continuum between the two. Let’s quit glorifing stupidity simply because we don’t want to face the fact that these issues are nuanced, integrated and complex.

  5. thatmrgguy says:

    There are only two kinds of insurance you cannot purchase across state lines, Auto Insurance and Health Insurance. Before lobbyists, State governments and Congress got in the way, you could shop around and get better benefits and cheaper premiums.
    Here is a poll with overwhelming numbers suggesting that Americans want less expensive health insurance, but because of Federal and State government “mandates” that have been recently passed, health insurance is getting more expensive, not less as this administration promised. And insurance companies are leaving states that have extreme mandates and regulations. So there goes your “choice”.

    Another thing, people who are fortunate enough to have company provided health insurance, really don’t know the true cost of their health care because they may have a co-pay where they just hand the doctor 20 bucks and never see the true expense of the bill. I know our local hospital gives a 25% discount for uninsured who pay by credit card or cash.

    Another thing that will bring premiums down is tort reform. I’m just a “layman”, but I’d guess that 50% of health insurance premiums can be directly attributed to malpractice insurance that doctors have to carry which in turn means that they have to raise their rates. Their insurance rates go up every year, so guess what, the doctors have to raise their rates too.

    (When I’ve had jobs where they carry a group plan, the employee pays half of the premium for his own coverage and 100% of the premium of family coverage. My premiums would consistently go up 15 to 20% every year, even when we didn’t make any claims or didn’t go above the deductible.)

    If you want to make the claim that the military in some small way conforms to a form of government, I would say it more resembles a Totalitarian Democracy.

    And as for my views on most kinds of insurance, I think it’s legalized extortion. Even though you pay premiums for years before finally having to make a claim, the insurance company will always try to weasel out of it or try to “down-pay” the claim. So why have it if the insurance company is going to weasel out of the deal? You put your “ante up,( premium), and the insurance company gambles that you won’t have to make a claim and they just get to collect the money. But insurance companies are sore losers and don’t like to pay when they lose. And don’t get me started on lawyers. You know, the people you have to give at least 30% of your claim to because you have to hire a lawyer to get the insurance company to pay up.

    Sorry for the rant, but you brought up health insurance in your response. ;)

    Mike

  6. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – I am onboard with the Tea Party movement. I think it unethical to redistribute the wealth. I also think government-run health care socialism and a rotten idea. Are there exceptions? Should a military field hospital be run by civilians? I doubt that would be a great idea, but that is because the modern military has integrated medical care directly into combat operations. That, by the way, is a recent innovation. The alternative has been tried; it did not work.

    Private cooperatives are by definition not government-run systems. Private cooperatives do not force or coerce the People to participate. So I don’t know how you relate cooperatives to socialism. My electric power provider is a cooperative; it works as well as any other privately owned public utility.

    Life in any society involves compromises. Nobody gets everything their way. So there are various things I put up with because I don’t have any other choice. That does not imply an endorsement. Pointlessly fighting the system would just be stupid. So I use lots of government services, and I even try to make them work as well I can. Nonetheless, I still want as little government a possible. I don’t want to be a party to robbing Peter just so some fool politician can bribe Paul to vote for him.

    Every time we engage in commerce we vote. We tell the people around us how they can best serve us or how we would like to serve them. Such activity binds a society together in voluntary mutual cooperation.

    Socialism, on the other hand, is just a political fight. Socialism involves buying a pig in a poke. We “give” our money to politicians, and we hope the political elite will wisely buy what we need. Unfortunately, once the vanguard of the proletariat have our money, we lose much of our leverage. The elite, not the actual users of a government services, becomes the buyers. The buyers can do almost whatever they want once our money is in their possession. Therefore, in a socialist system, the actual users of government services tend not to get what they really want. Instead, they get what some politicians want to give them. That is why I want as little socialism in my world as possible.

    I do not believe there is a perfect system or even a perfectly optimal system. I have no interest in any Utopian vision. I don’t know enough to solve all the world’s problems. I also don’t know enough to vote for someone who can solve all the world’s problems. Was it Barack Hussein Obama? How is that hope and change working out?

    I just regard taxation as an ethical issue. When we force our neighbors to pay taxes or to use government services, we rob them. So it stands to reason, we need a mighty good reason for robbing people. What is a good reason? It is the only reason we need government, to protect each other’s rights.

    Government charity does not cut it; that can be done far less expensively by private concerns. Charity at the Federal level is just outrageous. There is nothing in the Constitution that even authorizes spending on social programs.

    You think that attitude extreme or “pretending”? I think any other attitude immoral. When it is God who gave our fellow men their rights, what business do you or I have taking them away?

  7. Tony Salmon says:

    Although I don’t generally agree with Friedman, this column is pretty spot on about the uselessness of the mixed Planters assortment that have been having a Tea Party lately:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2013031268_friedman30.html

    Other than that, Tom, it is nice to see that you have finally agreed that the reality of governing is about balance and compromise, not strict conformance to rabid ideology.

    As for Mike’s comments, it always amazes me that the same folks raging against “Big Government” want to replace tort law, historically a matter of individual state common law, with some new federal tort law, along with a new national agency to regulate the states I suppose. I’ve got nothing against the idea of national tort standards in concept, but you must realize that it means more federal control over an area that for hundreds of years has pragmatically evolved through experimentation and practical application in congresses and courts of 50 individual states.

    While in law school I published a student piece that studied the effects of a national law to reform state tort law in the area of aviation products liability. It’s not as simple as your demagogues would have you believe.

    The nation and the world keep getting smaller and more complex. Businesses want national and international tort standards for obvious reasons of simplicity and predictability. On the other hand, national and international standards naturally mean replacing our federalist system of slow experimental development as society and technology evolve with centralized national and international laws, regulations, and agencies that are not as nimble or flexible as 50 state systems experimenting and copying each other, balancing justice and keeping what works while eliminating what doesn’t. Anything you do on a national level will end up generating a multitude of unfavorable unintended consequences causing damage on a national/international scale that might have been controlled, foreseen and eliminated in the smaller crucible of each state.

    This is just one more example where we have painfully complex problems that require a great deal of specialized expertise to formulate complex solutions. If you think that anyone that you elect is actually going to solve these problems with simple slogans then you are setting yourself up for massive disappointment. You will get something that you didn’t bargain for or, when some quack hurts or kills you or your loved one, you will not get a fair day in court, thus encouraging more incompetance and more suffering by average people while the big corporations prosper.

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony, I will not live long enough to comment in detail on every editorial written by a Democrat who doesn’t like the Tea Party movement. Besides, I don’t care that much about the foolish editorials anymore. The Tea Party movement is doing what I want it to do, and it is doing it effectively. Thanks to the Tea Party movement the Democrats will most likely lose big, and the Republican Party will be both more socially and more fiscally Conservative.

    You know how we can tell Friedman is a Democrat? He thinks the leader is important, but a People get the government they deserve because of the criteria they use to select their leaders. Instead denigrating the Tea Party movement, perhaps you should be more concerned about what your choice of leaders says about you.

    I also suggest you consider what compromise involves. When Christians choose to regard other people as their neighbors, for the most part we have little choice except to accept those neighbors as they are. None can easily change another person’s heart. We may be able to protect ourselves from another’s actions, but we can only forgive each other for our beliefs. That is part of what the Lord’s Prayer is about. We can only expect God to forgive our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others.

    Imagine the plight of the slaves, even those who once lived in this nation. Although we now believe the practice evil, most once accepted slavery as perfectly appropriate. So it was in the Apostle Paul’s time. Because so few saw slavery as evil, the apostle did not tell slaves to rebel. Instead, he told them to serve their masters obediently and with Christian love. Yet by teaching people to love, with God’s help Paul conquered the idea of slavery.

    In our time we have this vile idea we call socialism. With excuse of pragmatism, “great” leaders preach class hatred and call for “fairness.” Then they proceed to rob Peter to pay Paul, and when their foolish notions create economic disruption and more unfairness, they excuse their conduct. They cite the great complexity of the difficult problems they are trying to solve. In fact, they blame the rest of us for not understanding and giving them all the money and power they “need.”

    Because our problems are complex, government cannot solve many of problems. Consider this passage.

    Matthew 5:21-26 (New Living Translation)

    “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someoneyou are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

    “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

    “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.

    Because we are so unjust, we cannot count upon our courts for justice. Because we are so foolish, we cannot count on men for wisdom. Because we are so ignorant and our problems so complex, we most certainly cannot count upon our leaders to run every last detail of our lives. Even if it were not wrong to start with, what socialism requires is too complex for our leaders to ever make it work. So we are best off doing the right thing, and that includes not not robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  9. Tony Salmon says:

    You presume much when you start speaking as if your rhetoric is the beliefs of all Christians brother. One could be anywhere on the political spectrum from star-crossed socialist to an island-unto-himself libertarian, and still be a Christian. To my knowledge, Jesus didn’t pick a political party and biblical heaven sounds more like a benevolent monarchy rather something that we are meant to emulate in life. Most of us accept some form of representative democracy as the ideal in this world. In a federal representative democracy made up of the representative democracies in 50 states, we have to chose good leaders who actually can get things done. What kind of elected representative should we look for? The Tea Party is a fascinating fad that has many of the best qualities of all grass roots american protest movements throughout history, but this is where I think that they are being misguided and co-opted:

    1. Folksiness seems to be more important to them than actual knowledge or intelligence (your movement’s self appointed idol, Sara Palin, comes to mind).

    One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist like you brother (yes, Tom won’t like to admit it for fear of seeming, God forbid, intellectual, but he actually was a rocket scientist in the military). It would be nice, however, if the people we elect have an IQ higher than room temperature, they are well read and they are also intellectually curious in several different areas. Advance degrees would be a plus, but I’m not against people who are self taught problem solvers and continuously learning. If you are going to interpret, write and pass laws, then it would also help if you knew something about the law even if you’re not a lawyer. And since no one can be an expert in everything, it would be nice if they knew their limitations and knew how to work with and manage experts. A job in Congress is not an entry level position. Folks with proven success at building something, running a company, leading a military unit, or at least running a government agency would be nice too. How many of the Tea Party’s picks match this bill? Not many.

    2. Quit being afraid of complexity.

    There is a reason why complex societies have division of expertise and labor and why specialization has increased as modernity has made the world more complex. Everything is not simple just because you want it to be. You wouldn’t want a high school dropout with no education or training flying the large commercial airplane that your family is in, and you wouldn’t want him performing brain surgery on you either. Tort reform, constitutional law, insurance reform, health care reform, tax reform, economic reform, etc. are all very complex areas with complex problems that will take complex and constantly changing solutions. Complexity is not an excuse for not solving the problem, but pretending complex problems in an increasingly interrelated complex word are are going to be solved by cliches like “less government” and “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is just as dangerous believing heart disease can by cured by a cliche. We need problem solvers who understand complexity, not people who want to pretend that that we can regress to some simple time that never was while modernity just keeps marching on in the rest of the world. Our nation will get left behind.

    3. Stop listening to anyone whose main message is either to hate and to fear some other group.

    It is neither conservative nor Christian to demonizing gays, immigrants, Muslims, or someone who has a different political opinion. Hate and fear is the historical last resort of tyrants to get the mob to help them to power. If you want to talk about “traditional American values” then those would be: welcoming immigrants who are just coming here to work hard and get a better life; it would be that of non-sectarian government defending the free practice of any religion or creed; and it would be a libertarian “mind your own business” answer to anyone who wants the government to tell consenting adults who they should have sex with and marry, whether they are in the military or not. If someone uses hate and fear as their message to get you riled up or scared, then you shouldn’t let them anywhere near your vote.

    I could go on but one gets the feeling of futility. Hopefully, I’ve at least given your readers something to think about. I’m off to enjoy the rest of my union bargained vacation. Carry on the good fight without me for a while.

  10. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Why do you do that? We pick a topic. You make point. I refute it. Then you start attacks on ten different subjects.

    There is a search function on this blog. If someone wants to find out what I think on the various topics you mentioned, they are welcome to use it.

    My message for you is relatively simple. Read the Bible, and stop trying to confine everyone to a box.

    Christianity is a belief system. If what I say does not conform to what the Bible says, you are welcome to correct me. In fact, I would appreciate it.

    Socialism requires that we confine everyone to a particular social order (or box). For example, in practice socialized medicine will confine the vanguard of the proletariat to one system and the rest of us (the proletariat) to another. Nonetheless, socialism does have the virtue of reducing complexity (which you apparently fear much more than I).

    Government that allows the People to live their own lives and to solve their own problems does not reduce complexity; it allows it to exist. What limited government does is concede that each individual has the right to work in voluntary cooperation with others. Socialism is by definition the enemy of that right.

  11. Tony Salmon says:

    Just when I was poised to leave you alone for awhile, you draw me back in.

    I am not trying to change the subject. My message in this string has been the consistent point that our government institutions (national, state and local) have always been a working mix of nearly socialistic to nearly free market, from mostly government run to lightly government regulated, and everything in between. However, as you say, we do have a habit of talking past each other.

    For example, you seem to think I am advocating pure Socialism. I am not advocating pure Socialism any more than I am advocating pure Free Market Capitalism. Just the opposite, I don’t believe that either extreme model has ever actually worked anywhere, and neither would either ever actually work in the U.S. What I have been pointing out is that our government, and the industrialized democratic governments in most of the western world, have always had a very workable combination of these two philosophical concepts of government.

    You continue to demonize the whole concept of socialism (as in government ownership of the means of production and distribution of a given good or service) while grudgingly conceding that it is the only system that actually works for us in many american institutions, including the military. While not wanting to actually use the word “socialism”, you agree that the more socialistic model of government ownership of the means of production and distribution works for the military “service”. In fact, neither one of us can even imagine a workable, purely capitalistic mercenary model for providing our nation with that necessary, constitutionally mandated government service. You just don’t want to call it “socialistic” because that would hurt your propaganda campaign to demonize a basically altruistic philosophical theory, “socialism”, as somehow “vile” and even the most modest government intervention as the first front of a “proletariat” revolt to nationalize all the means of production and distribution. It seems that the last thing that you want to do is have your readers actually realize that real governing in modernity is much more “complex” than your simple jingoism of “socialism bad, markets good”, that instead our most treasured institutions have always existed somewhere on the shifting complex spectrum between markets and government, with some institutions, like the military, needing to be more socialistic and with others needing to be mainly market based but still requiring modest government institutional regulation (legislation and enforcement of laws on property rights, contracts, fraud, etc).

    Tom, you can validly interpret the Bible to say all kinds of ridiculous things, including that stoning is God’s preferred punishment for adulterers and that it is an abomination before God to eat animals with one hoof that don’t also chew their cud (eg. pork chops), but you have to go through some amazing dialectic contortions to say that Jesus hated socialistic institutions, that all taxation is a commandment violating theft.

    As a Christian, I both deny your ridiculous premises and your holier-than-thou presumption to speak for all of us. In fact, I find it completely inconsistent with the most basic concepts of what Jesus actually said to misuse scripture as a vehicle to glorify your own political beliefs and demonize that of others. I love you brother, but beating people over the head with the Bible, as either a political weapon or an excuse to demonize another religion, is not just “unChristlike,” it is the most reprehensible form of political demagoguery.

    So to repeat my last post, although I admire the Tea Party for their political activism they should beware of being used and co-opted by anyone who:

    1. Glorifies stupidity by telling you that an intellectual, pragmatic approach to governing is somehow elitist and that we should only elect “folksy” folks who are barely able to rub two brain cells together but can speak in the home spun platitudes that we like to hear.

    2. Tries to demonize, especially using the Bible, anyone who has a different view on politics, religion, sexual persuasion, or because of their legal status. No matter what they say, hate and fear were not the inspiration that Jesus wanted us to get from His words. Just the opposite, His consistent and resounding message was compassion and love for one another.

    3. Tries to sell you the snake oil that complex problems such as health care, global economics and fair taxation have simple, one sentence cures. The history of middle class prosperity and freedom has been the history of complex government intervention in one form or another. Tom will always take my call for balance and moderation as somehow advocating a centralized totalitarian state, but the hyperbole is just not true no matter how many times he says it. On the other hand, I am for the least government that it takes to efficiently accomplish our concensous goals, but finding that balance in a multitude of possibilities is far more complex than the most complex engineering problem. Before we had complex governmental institutions to insure fairness in markets and individual rights, for most of the history of civilization most of us were slaves. If you get government down to the size that you can drown it in a bath tub, you will undoubtedly also find that you drowned yourself along with it.

  12. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony

    The Military and Socialism

    From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.
    Karl Marx

    That describes the military?

    Our military exists for one purpose: to destroy our enemies. Our military is designed to kill people and break things. Why can’t a self proclaimed pragmatist and realist see that? When bullets start flying and bombs begin to fall, the people who run the military don’t give hoot about some stupid socialist model or idiot social theories.

    Socialism

    What you say you advocate, and what you advocate in practice seem to me to be two entirely different things. Look at what the people you support have done. Do you still think they are not socialists?!!!!!

    Look at how you justify Democrat Utopia. Supposedly, “moderates” advocate this version of Utopia. Seventy percent of the population does not want Obamacare. That people who passed that legislation are moderates? :roll:

    When we do anything we should have at least two concerns. Is it ethical? Will it work? Democrats ignore the ethics. Instead, we get this nonsense about realism and how much you care. And if anyone points out what you want to do will not work, that person — well, you know what you do.

    Socialism is bad idea. The Pilgrims tried it, and half of them starved. Socialism has never worked.

    I don’t have to demonize socialism. Communists and Nazis beat me to it. Because Socialism is unethical, it does not work. Stealing is not an economic plan. Look what Socialism’s true believers are doing to our country. Obama and the Democrats are improving the economy? How so?

    The Bible

    The Bible is open to interpretation, but the Bible does not say all kinds of ridiculous things. The prophecies are hard to understand (Apparently, that is what was intended.), but most of the Bible is fairly straight forward. Keep in mind that the Bible is a book, an old book. So with some effort we can read the Bible just like we would read any other historical document.

    • We have to translate the document into our own language, and people have done that. There are numerous translations. These translations include the idioms, symbols, and the communications devices used by the people who wrote the Bible. Sometimes, for example, we exaggerate to make a point.
    • We have to consider the historical context. We have to study history. Unless we realize what the Egyptians worshipped, the ten plagues in Exodus don’t make much sense.
    • We must put ourselves in the position of the intended audience and consider what message the writer wanted to convey to that audience. Would Paul’s writings make any sense if we did not know he was writing to early Christians?
    • We must consider each part of the Bible in context. The writers of the later books had read the earlier books. Therefore, they often quote and alluded to the earlier books.

    Only after we have done that kind of homework can we understand any historical document.

    The Tea Party’s Political Activism

    The Tea Party is a movement to restore constitutional government. You don’t agree, so that makes us stupid bigots? When you read your last three paragraphs, look in a mirror. What are YOU doing?

  13. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom, I always find it interesting how you manage to read something the way that you want to read it rather than what it really says and then respond to the argument that you wish I had made rather than the one that I actually made.

    1. Socialism

    You claim that the military is not a socialistic institution and yet the military provides a service to the american people that is wholly owned and operated by the government. One the other hand, you call the recent health insurance reform “socialism” even though the government did not actually nationalize health care, as military service is nationalized, but instead just created new insurance reforms to regulate the near health insurance monopoly in this country.

    Health insurance reform is exactly one of those highly complex issues that I was talking about where people are easily mislead by the demagoguery of name calling and sloganeering (such as calling it “Socialism” when it obviously not). In a complex issue it is easy to throw out a one-liner falsehood, but takes far more time and education to refute it. As a result, health insurance reform became unpopular in the polls at the time of passage, but it has slowly become more popular as it has begun to be enacted and people have actually learned what it does. Although many people have said that they are against the whole package, when asked about the individual changes within the package (such as insurance companies not being allowed to deny coverage to children for preexisting illnesses), the American public is overwhelmingly in favor of each individual item of the Bill.

    2. Bigots

    I never said that the Tea Party was made up of “stupid bigots”, but I did say that I think that they should be careful about being used and co-opted by people who glorify stupidity and by people whose main messages are to hate and fear some “other” (Muslims, gays, immigrants, even Socialists). For example, your language in this regard reminds me of the Mccarthyism practiced during the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s. When the only way that you can win support for your political philosophy is to demonize some “other”, then average Americans of good will in the Tea Party who know a little history should reject you. Misusing the Bible and religion in an attempt to somehow sanctify what is ultimately just your own mundane temporal political belief and then to literally demonize some other group’s beliefs as immoral and unchristian is in the worst, most un-american tradition of such demagoguery.

    Personally, I admire the Tea Partiers for their enthusiasm and activism, but other than some vague sense that something is wrong, each of the average participants seem to focus on a different gripe and none present any clear solutions. It would also appear that many pundits and politicians seem to be trying to co-opt this genuine, although vague, sense of discontent just to cynically win elections.

    For example, you personally claim that the common theme of the Tea Party movement is a desire to “return to constitutional government.” OK, I suppose that sounds laudable, but what does it really mean? What particular government actions do they find unconstitutional and how do they propose to get rid of them? Once you get down to the complex details, supposed Tea Party “leaders” of this grass roots movement either obviously don’t know the history and the case law, or they run from the unpopularity of actually having to make a decision that would end many popular programs such as Social Security, Medicare, public parks, highway projects, NASA, damns, roads, etc.

    The biggest beef with the most liberal Democratic solutions is that they buy us with our own votes and government keeps getting bigger and more expensive. However, the Republican solution is not really to eliminate these necessary and popular government services, but instead to buy our votes by not even making us have to pay for existing and new programs with taxes. Republicans never eliminate anything; they just lower taxes and put the bill on a credit card that our grandkids will have to pay. Thus starving government has just not worked.

    Maybe it’s time to do something different. Maybe it is time to actually raise taxes and balance the budget. Then no new military cost, no new war, no new program can be started unless taxes are raised to pay for it. One wonders if Bush could have got us into two new wars and Obama could manage to keep us in them indefinitely if, unlike our brave men and women in the military, average Americans actually had to join the sacrifice by having their taxes raised to support these foriegn nation-building adventures. If those Presidents could not convince us that the mission was really worth the sacrifice of having to pay for it, and keep paying for it, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing it. And if we were all actually having to pay for each of these new government adventures instead of putting it off on future generations, then maybe, just maybe average tax payers would demand better efficiency and accountability out of governent.

    Just saying “government bad, markets good” gives us the self fulfilling prophesy of, not less government, but instead only more “bad” government. Instead of demanding accountability from necessary governmental institutions, we just slowly lose confidence in them and they don’t actually go away, they just become more and more corrupt. We put men on the moon because our parents (who fought and won WWII) had confidence that their government institutions were capable of anything. Now we can’t even prevent one of our own great cities from sinking in a flood or rescue thousands of our own citizens from drowning there. Instead of demanding excellence from government, we are told to hate government and government workers so that the only people that we appoint to work there are cronies and incompetants like “heck of a job” Brownie.

    Ultimately, the Tea Party needs to do is stop listening to the hate mongers and the unfactual and misleading slogans about everything being “socialism”, and channel that energy into getting rid of the current corruption and waste of their tax money. Actually paying for what they demand and then demanding more than a dollar back for every dollar that they put into a governent good or service, including the military. Government should buy only what we tax payers are willing to actually pay for, and demand accountability for every dime that we actually sacrifice. When we all have to pay for the government that we have and we just get crap, then we will have a real revolt more in keeping with the spirit of the original “Tea Party.”

  14. Citizen Tom says:

    Ultimately, the Tea Party needs to do is stop listening to the hate mongers and the unfactual and misleading slogans about everything being “socialism”, and channel that energy into getting rid of the current corruption and waste of their tax money.

    Yeah. You do admire the Tea Party movement so much.

    Tony, we could not raise taxes enough to balance a Liberal Democrat budget. In recent years, the only time we have had a balanced budget is when a Republican Congress refused to spend all the money President Bill Clinton wanted to spend. Then the news media gave a Democrat president credit. :-(

    Since then much of the news media has gotten out from under the thumb of government. Thanks to cable and the Internet, the FCC has less control. Thanks to Reagan and Limbaugh, we have talk radio. So the other side is being heard more and more.

    Anyway, I find your last note repetitious and boring. You won’t address the ethics of what you want to do. Except for term limits, you have no idea of how to fix government. As far I can tell, all you want to do is blame Republicans and spout the same platitudes we have been hearing for decades.

    Since I worked at Johnson Space Center, let me address that platitude about putting a man on the moon. Do you have any idea how much putting a man on the moon cost? Why did we do it? We had a MILITARY competition with the USSR. Once that MILITARY competition ended, NASA lost its clear focus. Bureaucratic inertia set in, and NASA became a plain ordinary socialist bureaucracy. It got so bad that President Reagan had to stop NASA from launching military and commercial satellites. Because NASA could not even launch the Space Shuttle for two and a half years, we had no choice except to use private companies to get the job done.

    Allowing NASA to launch military and commercial satellites did nothing but set our technology development and space exploration back a decade or more. The space station is not helping.

    Imagine flying an airplane designed to do everything. If you had an airplane designed to be a bomber, a fighter jet, a tanker, and cargo lifter; how well do you think it would work? That is what politics did to the Space Shuttle and is doing to the Space Station. These programs just waste money.

    Most people realize that airplanes and ground vehicles work best when they are designed for specific purposes. The same is true of spacecraft, but most people don’t know enough to realize that. The fact is that the expertise of most people only extends so far. Nonetheless, even if we were all experts on everything, the voting public simply does not have the time to keep politicians from doing stupid things.

    What we do have the time to do is spend our own money to satisfy our own needs — and to help our neighbors. Because socialists refuse to let the People spend their own money — to let each person spend their own money, Socialism fails to give anybody except power mad tyrants what they actually need. Socialism is not an economic plan; it is just an excuse for thievery.

  15. Tony Salmon says:

    As for the your comment:

    “Because socialists refuse to let the People spend their own money — to let each person buy what they want, Socialism fails to give anybody except power mad tyrants what they actually need. Socialism is not an economic plan; it is just an excuse for thievery.”

    As for your last comment, once again, I heartilly agree. I am not in favor of a pure Socialist Democracy. I am just pointing out that our capitalistic system in America is and always has been a constant and changing mix on a continuum between necessarily government run programs (such as the military) and government regulated market programs.

    With your NASA example, you simply prove my point. It was a government program that accomplished its goal. Has it become ineffective because we taxpayers have quit demanding accountability for wasting our tax payer money, or is it because it is no longer necessary and we taxpayers don’t want to pay for something that we don’t need. One way or another, it just goes to show that we taxpayers should either demand something more than what we are paying for or shut it down. Paying for it on credit card, expecting it to be wastefull and incompetant, and then getting what we actually didn’t pay for, well, that’s just the definition of “insane”.

    Finally, I personally think that both political parties have screwed this up. Looking at the previous administration and the previous Republican Congress, I just naturally hold them more accountable. If you want to fall in line and give some sort of blind alligience to a “ditto head” army of Republicans because even though are a crappy team, at least they are your team, that’s up to you, but I would rather vote for results.

    Tom, can’t you actually advance your argument by dealing with what I actually have written here. Can’t you actually deal with real facts and real issues without resort to falsely classifying me as a Commie or a Socialist and then dismissing me? Can’t you actually make a thoughful debate without resorting to hyperbole about the “liberal media” ? Because if you have to do these things rather than just dealing with the reasonability and reality of what I am actually saying, then perhaps you have already lost the argument.

    As a post script, the latest airplane that the military has purchased for all branches tries to do just what you say, costs a fortune, and doesn’t appear to work very well for the actual missions we are fighting. Under you line of reasoning, we tax payers should just say “that government, we just expect it to do a bad job” or we should just get rid of the military and contract the job out to the lowest bidding mercenaries from any country that is willing to be paid to defend us.

  16. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Don’t be dense. Establishment Republicans abhor the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is not Republican or Democrat. Tea Partiers seek the takeover the Republican Party.

    You asked a question.

    Tom, can’t you actually advance your argument by dealing with what I actually have written here. Can’t you actually deal with real facts and real issues without resort to falsely classifying me as a Commie or a Socialist and then dismissing me?

    I did not call you a Commie. I do think you advocate Socialism, and I think you naive to do so. Socialism is dangerous. As our own history indicates, once a government starts creating socialist institutions (particularly educational institutions), that government tends to grow uncontrollably. That is not hyperbole.

    How can I advance my argument with anything you have said? For the most part, I try to write about ideas, not personalities. That said, people think up, preach, and implement ideas. So I cannot avoid talking about people. The Tea Party movement consists of a large group of people advancing ideas.

    • Small government.
    • The decentralization of power.
    • An end to profligate spending.

    What the Tea Partiers want adds up to constitutional government, that is, government of the sort that the people who wrote the Federalist Papers defended. As near as I can tell, you favor a “living Constitution.” I think Tea Partiers oppose that sort of interpretation of the Constitution.

    You want to be relevant to the Tea Party movement? Stop thoughtlessly insulting the people involved. For example, you attack the Tea Party movement for not being of one mind. How do you expect millions of people to be of one mind?

    I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat. — Will Rogers

    Realistically, the Tea Party movement will have work in concert for years and perhaps decades. That is precisely because while there is broad agreement on the objectives people differ on the details.

    The Devil is in the details.

  17. Tony Salmon says:

    Now we are at least talking about reality. Tom, you wrote:

    The Tea Party movement consists of a large group of people advancing ideas.
    Small government.
    The decentralization of power.
    An end to profligate spending.

    Well, I am for all of these things, but like you said, the devil is in the details. I’m with you as long as by “small government” you don’t really mean “no government”, as long as by “decentralization of power” you don’t mean further centralizing one group’s concept Christian values with national laws against reproductive rights and gay unions while simply eliminating national control on economic issues, and as long as you mean by “profligate spending” that you don’t just try to starve government but instead mean to fairly tax in order to actually pay for what we want rather than putting it on the national tab.

    Unfortunately, the detail devil emerges from his fiery pit when you start talking about specifics plans. The scatterpated nature of the Tea Party movement is that one person in the group wants to get rid of social security while another (usually over 65) protester is holding up a sign that anachronistically states that the federal government needs to keep there hands off my medicare. One person wants to get rid of the federal government “Big Brother” who is reading their emails and putting people in jail without any constitutional due process while another fully supports a more heavy handed federal roll to combat terrorism. One wants to return to an antebellum, pre-14th Amendment concept of “federalism” that prefers individual state laws in matters of traditional state concern (criminal law, tort law, marriage law) while another wants to “centralize” these areas of law with national solutions.

    My guess is that as soon someone actually speaks about details rather than your broad platform (that I pretty much agree with too) then half your crowd moves away either in disdain or pure boredom. It’s not an insult Tom. Polling has been done at the rallies – it’s just a fact.

    How much actual detail do you actually risk on this website for fear of losing readers? How many compromises are you willing to make to pragmatism in your ideological purism just to get elected? If you don’t do so, your Tea Party candidate doesn’t get elected, and if you do do so, aren’t you just another “Republican” rather than actually taking over the Republican Party?

    You also wrote:

    “What the Tea Partiers want adds up to constitutional government, that is, government of the sort that the people who wrote the Federalist Papers defended. As near as I can tell, you favor a “living Constitution.” I think Tea Partiers oppose that sort of interpretation of the Constitution.”

    As opposed to a “dead Constitution”? If I could find one person in a thousand at one of your Tea Party rallies who knew what the dramatic interpretive effect the 14th Amendment had on the original Bill of Rights, I would be absolutely amazed.

    There are reasons for dispute and a range of rather esoteric juris prudential philosophies on constitutional interpretation. Constitutional law scholars vary from “Orginalists” to “Strict Constructionists” to the followers of “Critical Legal Studies”. However, the average person knows about as much about these complicated intellectual debates, the history of what actually happened, and the thousands of real cases, as I know about rocket science.

    Resolving real cases involving real people in a nation that is constantly changing socially, demographically and technologically are what makes the Constitution continue to be relevant and “living”. Does the Fourth Amendment protect us from only being personally searched in our homes, or does it apply to cars as well? Does it only apply to listening in on face-to-face conversations or does it apply to phone conversations, email, texts, and who knows what comes next? Do the 4th and 5th amendments imply a broader privacy right to not have the federal government interfere with how you chose to raise your own children? Does these along with the 1st Amendment protect the privacy of your marriage? Does the 14th Amendment application to the 2nd Amendment allow the federal government to prevent the individual states from regulating fire arms? If it does and federal courts can overturn state laws that restrict hand guns, does this also apply to a private citizen or group amassing explosives, rockets, stinger missiles, nerve agents? Is the right to bare arms unlimited in ways that the founders and framers of the 2nd Amendment and the 14th Amendment could not even imagine? Are there practical considerations in a national economy and now a global economy that our founders could not have imagined but that they would have expected from the “tax and spend”, the “general welfare” and the “commerce” provisions in the Constitutions?

    Most of the framers were lawyers whose practices were mostly in the constantly evolving system of judge made law that goes back hundreds of years called the “common law”. They were very familiar with judges using this method, not only to continuously update common law, but also to interpret real fact situations in the application of statutory law. Wouldn’t they make the Constitution purposefully broad and vague so that it could be expanded through the same methodology? Constitutional scholars argue endlessly about how far judges can go in this regard, but no serious constitutional scholar argues that the thousands of pages of federal constitutional case law are not as much part of the Constitution as the original document because the original document empowers the Supreme Court to make just such judicial review. These issues are so complex that lawyers spend their whole lives just becoming expert in one area (such as 1st Amendment law) of constitutional law, and you want to tell me that it is a dead document just because you want it to be simple.

    When you have studied all these issues, read the 200 plus years of case law in a given area, and know the real history, then we can talk intelligently about just one concept of constitutional interpretation. Until then, you are just pretending to know what you are talking about when you spout platitudes about the Constitution not being a “living document.”

  18. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony –

    When you have studied all these issues, read the 200 plus years of case law in a given area, and know the real history, then we can talk intelligently about just one concept of constitutional interpretation. Until then, you are just pretending to know what you are talking about when you spout platitudes about the Constitution not being a “living document.”

    What are we suppose to do? Should us peons give up the right to free speech until we each manage pass the bar? If we take what you said to its logical conclusion, no one but lawyers should be allowed to vote. Ignorant peasants — what do we know?

    You equate a constitutional amendment with giving life to a “living Constitution.” Then you start blowing smoke. Since when does case law actually override what the Constitution actually says? If judges make bad decisions, and other judges cite these bad decisions as precedent, why should anyone be impressed? Is it because manure piled higher and deeper must surely stink to the high heavens?

    Note the complexity you chose to talk about, amendments related to protecting our rights.

    These issues are so complex that lawyers spend their whole lives just becoming expert in one area (such as 1st Amendment law) of constitutional law, and you want to tell me that it is a dead document just because you want it to be simple.

    If just protecting our rights is so complex a matter, why involve government in things where there is no apparent need? When the private sector can satisfy a public need on its own, government involvement almost never helps.

    Since you will not discuss the ethics of the matter, you have yet to get anywhere near reality. You voted for Obama and the Democrats, and you are for small government? The commerce clause has been there from the beginning, and Democrats think they can use it to force people to buy health care. That’s simply ridiculous.

    Since I am not running for office, I don’t have any problem being specific. Since most of Federal spending is unconstitutional, I want to slowly get rid of most of it, starting with the Department of Education. Unfortunately, most of us have our own sacred cows. So when a politician starts running for office, every time he gets specific, he offends somebody. “Hey! That is my sacred cow. You cannot cut that!” That is why we have to consider the ethics of government. Unless we are willing to give up our sacred cows in obediance to God, we will lose our freedom. Our own greed — our own sins — will enslave us.

  19. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom, you don’t even have to be bright to fly as a passenger on an airplane, but to get to your destination most safely, at the cheapest price for the best value and comfort, experience and a little research helps. Still, until you have had a lot more education, experience and training, you don’t get to tell the pilot how to fly and you don’t get to fly the airplane yourself, and just because I tell you that you can’t, I am of course being elitist. Yet you want to lecture me on a subject that I have just scratched the surface on with a doctorate degree and several other years of study and experience. You are confusing the difference between being a good consumer and being an expert in the complex area of that which is consumed. The difference between flying the airplane and flying in it is very much the same difference between being a voter and being someone who you trust to actually write and interpret the laws. Most citizens got to vote under their new system, but fortunately we had some of the smartest, most educated men in the world who actually wrote our Constitution.

    Let’s look at one small example. Read the First Amendment Free Speech clause. Pretty simple huh? No speech can be abridged. However, even at the time of the founders, they would have considered yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre an exception. In interpreting the Constitution, once such a case came before the Supreme Court and they defined the exception, then those trying to interpret the First Amendment could not just read the Constitution, they had to read the holding in that case law to see if it was similar to their own case. Now suppose, as a Halloween prank, CNN decides to do what appears to be a serious, but actually fictional, report that we are being invaded by space monsters, and this incites nationwide panic, looting and riot. State officials charge CNN with disturbing the peace and inciting a riot. Does this prosecution for speech actually violate the First Amendment? The writers of the First Amendment could not even have imagined television speech, but isn’t this situation similar enough to the “fire in a theatre” exception to allow the prosecution of this kind of speech even though such prosecution violates the clear language in the First Amendment? When it comes on appeal before the Supremes, the lawyers for the prosecutors would make just that argument, that it is analogous, and the lawyers for CNN would make the argument that it is different. Reading the Constitution alone is no help. Because the founders didn’t have TV, original intent is only of minor help. You have to read the cases, and each case, even this hypothetical case if it were actually decided, for the sake of interpretation essentially become as much a part of the Constitution as the original document itself. Now extrapolate this out to literally thousands of First Amendment Free Speech cases that have come before Federal and State Courts since the Constitution was ratified along with thousands of appellate court holdings that each has some controlling precedential effect in actually figuring out what the short clause in the Constitution means. Now extrapolate that scenario out to the interpretation of every single word in the Constitution. You are now talking about law libraries full of federal and state holdings that are the law. That is our legal system. That is what the Founders created. That is constitutional law. That is the “rule of law” of law in America. That is what makes the Constitution a “living, breathing, still relevant document” even though the world is constantly changing.

    Does that mean that the Supreme Court always does it right? Does that mean that all constitutional lawyers always agree with every decision? The answers are no and no. Do you get to have an opinion about complex areas even though you don’t know what you are talking about. Sure, for what it’s worth.

  20. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – It is funny how we can take a doctor of medicine to court for malpractice and judgment by a jury, but lawyers get all bent out of shape when their own malpractice becomes evident. How could the peons possibly judge their august majesties?

    Make no mistake. The issue here is not whether the practice of law deserves respect. It does. What matters is whether anybody respects the law. When we lie about what the law says to gain personal advantage that is evil.

    As voters we manage the pilots who fly our airplane. We pick the pilots. When our pilots lie to us about the destination, or when they are incompetent, it is time to replace the pilots.

    As you suggested, not all constitutional lawyers agree. Well, our current pilots have this theory about flying airplanes that seems a bit dangerous. They fly strictly by the sit their pants; they do not bother to read the documents provided by the aircraft manufacturer. So some us voters think it is time to pick new pilots with a different theory about flying airplanes. We would like some pilots who think what the documents provided by the aircraft manufacturer says are important. That is, we would like our pilots to read and obey the Constitution.

  21. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom, I agree with what you say about the power of passengers, but a passenger is not a “peon” just because he/she is not the pilot. A peon is someone enslaved by the elite. Voters are no more enslaved peons than consumers are enslaved by the doctors, accountants, lawyers and pilots that they hire. Hiring someone is just not the same as actually being the surgeon that you hire, but hiring and voting do call for different type of education and judgment.

    Using the same flying analogy, although passengers don’t get to fly the airplane, by researching price and value and by what destinations they chose and what airlines they fly on, passengers collectively get to decide a great deal. They decide the routes, they pick which airlines get market share, and they chose where the pilots get to go. By the same token, by their votes, citizens do get to decide the general direction of the country. Voters, as consumers of government services, therefore hire the government policy makers who they hold accountable for in turn hiring the experts (judges, bureaucrats, etc.). Like passengers, every voter doesn’t have to be an expert on the law and on every complex issue, in order to intelligently pick best price and value for the services they want. And if voters don’t like the results that they are getting, then they have the collective option to throw the bums out. This is constitutional representative government.

    My only complaint with your making rash, generalized constitutional accusations of untruth and incompetence in the more technical systemics of our government is that you really don’t know jack about our constitutional system of law. You tell me that the Constitution is dead document but you don’t even understand how it lives every day in our lives to serve the social good and protect our individual liberty. You want to reengineer the system and you don’t know anything about engineering or the system.

    You may even be right in some particular cases and I may even agree with you, but you haven’t even read the cases, you haven’t studied the legal reasoning, you don’t understand the rules of juris prudence in our age old legal system, and you are not familiar with the competing theories of legal interpretation. To use your analogy about Bible interpretation, you are like the person, who after a cursory reading of the Bible, now thinks that you are expert enough to, not only to lecture others on the topic, but to try to tell other parishioners that they should fire their priests, change the church hierarchy, remodel the whole system of church governance, throw out all the age old rituals, and redo all the basic historic theological principles of your church. Or to use another of your analogies, you are like the person who takes one first aid course and comes to court and accuses your doctor of malpractice because you think his brain surgery technique is all wrong and that he should do it the way that you read in your first aid book. Average americans get to ultimately decide the facts of a malpractice case (if one of the parties opt for a jury trial) and judges decide the law, but if you come to a court of law with a medical malpractice claim, you better either be a recognized medical expert yourself or you better show up with one who will support you, or your so-called “peon” jury will never see your case.

    On the other hand, this is not a court of law, so you can make all the broad, unsubstantiated and uninformed accusations that you want. All I am saying is that your Tea Party followers should take them for exactly what they are worth. Aside from that, if you want to do more than apparently bare false witness by making uninformed rash generalizations about individuals and whole categories of people, then do the research of a given example where you think judges or politicians overstepped their constitutional powers, and I will be thrilled to talk about it. We might even agree.

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