HAVE WE TURNED THE CONSTITUTION UPSIDE DOWN? — WITH AN AFTER THOUGHT

constitution1.pngThis post is the continuation of a debate with sean samis. What I will do here is summarize the key points I think sean made in four different comments. Then I will offer my own counter arguments.  Of course, I will also link to the comments.

The Comments

Comment #1

Here are Sean’s key points in comment #1.

  • Sean went to law school.
  • He does not believe we have escalated Congress’ power to tax to the point we are using government to steal from each other.
  • Sean believes the Federal Government can do whatever the Constitution does not bar it from doing.
  • The Courts interpret the Constitution. So the Courts decide the constitutional limits of Federal power.

Comment #2

What is the key point Sean made comment #2? Government exists to make us happy.  Here Sean links to a curious article (http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2013/01/05/what-the-dalai-lama-can-teach-us-about-temperatures-below-absolute-zero/) to make his point. That article argues that when government redistributes the wealth, government increases the total amount of happiness. In fact, truly enlightened people want to give away their money to the truly unenlightened.

Comment #3

In this comment, Sean uses a couple of examples to illustrate his belief that the Federal Government can do whatever the Constitution does not bar it from doing.

  • Sean notes that the treaty making power of the president, with approval of 2/3 of the Senate, is apparently open-ended.
  • Early in our history the Federal Government chartered a national bank, but the Constitution does not specifically mention a bank.

Comment #4

In this comment, Sean expounds once again on his belief that the Federal Government can do whatever the Constitution does not bar it from doing.

Sooo … if we justify something as a defense measure we can do whatever? How about we designate every civilian as a member of a Last-Resort Inactive Military Reserve? Then welfare programs are compensation and preparation for the potential need, and your complaints about them get circularly-filed!  OooH!  I LIKE it!

Again, the question is not whether this is a good idea, but whether it would be legal; your argument supports legality.

The Age-Old Concept of Honor

We could tackle Sean’s comments point by point, but that gets down into the weeds. Besides, we already done that. Instead, let’s consider where Sean is coming from.

legalism
n : strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its
spirit

When we look at Matthew 23, it is not particular hard to see what angered Jesus. Instead of honoring the spirit of the Law, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees honored only the letter of the Law. Moreover, they multiplied their sin by giving more authority to their traditions than they did the letter of the Law.

In our time, our leaders, judges and lawyers often often do the same.  Consider Sean’s argument.

Was it really the intention of the Framers to hog-tie the Federal Government to a particular year or generation?  If they did, then given the amount of change they experienced in their own lives, they had to know the future would be different too, and in ways they could not predict, and present problems they could not foresee.  To encumber the Federal Government in the way you think they did would mean that not only were the Framers not “pure and perfect”; they would not have even been marginally bright. To pin the Federal Government to any particular year would be contrary to their stated purpose of creating a government adequate to all times. (from here)

The Framers of the Constitution did in fact include an amendment process. So, no, the Framers obviously did not intend to hog-tie the Federal Government to a particular year or generation. What they specifically intended to do is hog-tie our leaders sufficiently to keep them from abusing their powers.

How is the Constitution suppose to work?  We can either turn it upside down to serve the convenience of the moment, or we can honor the document’s original intent.

The Constitution says what each branch of government is supposed to do, and then it grants each branch the necessary authority. For example, Article 1 of the Constitution describes the role of Congress, and Section 8 lists most of Congress’ powers. Section 8 then ends thusly:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. (from here)

Instead of writing a long, complex document no average citizen would have the time to read or hope of understanding, the Founders wrote a short charter. Instead of writing an impossibly long document that list all the things we do not want the Federal Government to do, the Constitution just lists what the Federal Government can do.  In fact the 10th Amendment clearly states as much.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. (from here)

We will never achieve perfect agreement. That’s not the object. Even if we had the wisdom, we are too greedy and prideful. When Congress started making Laws that exceeded its authority, the Founders just expected the nation’s citizens and their state officials would read the Constitution, discuss the issues, and reach a reasonable consensus.  Then, to protect ourselves, our neighbors, and our state governments — that is, our rights — we would replace those leaders who refused to scrupulously honor the spirit of the Constitution. We would replace those leaders unwilling to honorably accept lawful constraints on their authority.

What the Founders intended is that every citizen would understand that all us, not just judges, have a role in interpreting the Constitution and making it work. So they wrote a document we can all read and understand.

Unfortunately, too many of us now think interpreting the Constitution is some expert’s job — a job that requires years of instruction in Law school. So when politicians rob our neighbors in our name, we just make certain we get our share of the loot. Does that sound harsh? It is not.

When we vote for politicians to take money from one set of citizens just to give it to another set (too often a set that includes the voter himself), we give those politicians license to steal in our name. We give the people we vote for the authority to make our neighbors pay up or else.

Then we stupidly rationalize. Consider this article (http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2013/01/05/what-the-dalai-lama-can-teach-us-about-temperatures-below-absolute-zero/) that Sean referenced. What’s funny is what the article equates to happiness. Increasing entropy?

What is entropy? Here is the relevant definition.

entropy
n 1: (thermodynamics) a measure of the amount of energy in a system that is available for doing work; entropy increases as matter and energy in the universe degrade to an ultimate state of inert uniformity [ant: ectropy]

Is that not what Socialism does? When we govern with goal of redistributing the wealth, don’t we seek to degrade individual citizens to an ultimate state of inert uniformity? Doesn’t Socialism, by seeking to level society, destroy all personal incentives to work and produce?

Study thermodynamics, and you will learn there is nothing “happy” about Entropy.

Thus, entropy is also a measure of the tendency of a process, such as a chemical reaction, to be entropically favored, or to proceed in a particular direction. It determines that thermal energy always flows spontaneously from regions of higher temperature to regions of lower temperature, in the form of heat. These processes reduce the state of order of the initial systems, and therefore entropy is an expression of disorder or randomness. (from here)

To live is to defy entropy. In a universe slowly sliding into chaos, our bodies serve as testimonials of order, not disorder or randomness. Just to live, we must seek order and logic in our thoughts, and that requires the strength of the God who created us. As the term entropy suggests, if we substitute for God the promises of politicians who will say anything just to get elected, we will just degrade each other to an ultimate state of inert uniformity.

An After Thought

Wonder where the entropy in your body went? When you defecate or urinate, that is your body’s effort to dispose of entropy. That is similar to a byproduct of our factories, that waste from factories we call pollution.

How do we deal with the problem of pollution? Either we recycle, or we take our waste and render it harmless by breaking it down to an ultimate state of inert uniformity. That is what the Socialists wish to do to us, break us down to an ultimate state of inert uniformity.

About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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11 Responses to HAVE WE TURNED THE CONSTITUTION UPSIDE DOWN? — WITH AN AFTER THOUGHT

  1. Teresa Rice says:

    The Constitution outlines the rights of citizens and limits the powers of the government. The Constitution outlines the specific powers the government has and the Founders made sure that checks and balances on each branch of government were included. The Constitution is more of a list of authorizations but does not give the government de facto carte blanche to do whatever it wants because the Constitution doesn’t say the government can’t do this or that.

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  2. sean samis says:

    Tom,

    There is so much misrepresentation of me, my comments, and the article I shared with you that it is pointless to respond. I am sure that you will declare this a victory; I really just don’t care. Life is short; there is much to do; I enjoy a good debate; but now I have no incentive; you obviously are not able or not willing to actually read what I write, and recall it’s context.

    I didn’t expect you to agree with me, but I hoped you’d treat me the way you probably want to be treated. Unfortunately, that is not to be.

    Good Bye. Farewell. Sincerely.

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  3. Citizen Tom says:

    sean samis –
    1. Will I declare this a victory? No. What do I gain from your departure? Nothing. Even if you conceded “victory” to me, what do I gain? Is there a prize? No.

    There are only two rewards in a debate such as this: stimulating conversation and learning from another. If lose an argument and learn something, then I actually “win” the most.

    Proverbs 15:31-32 Good News Translation (GNT)

    31 If you pay attention when you are corrected, you are wise.

    32 If you refuse to learn, you are hurting yourself. If you accept correction, you will become wiser.

    2. Did I misrepresent you? I certainly did not intend to do so. What I did is summarize the points I thought you were trying to make. So people could see for themselves, I linked to your comments.

    I don’t read minds. Therefore, if you think my “representations” were simply straw men, what is there to stop you from correcting my “misrepresentations”?

    Imagine if our positions were reversed. What if you summarized my comments? Would I be pleased with your summary? Would I think it fair?

    3. You want the opportunity to represent your own opinions? Then send me an email, citizen_tom@hotmail.com. I will first post what you send to me privately and take a screenshot. If you are happy with what I send you, I will then make your post public. I have only two conditions. (1) What you send has to comport with what I have on my blog ethics page (http://citizentom.com/blogging-code-of-conduct/), and (2) your post must include a link back to this post.

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    • Yay! You chased a troll away! You are indeed a strong and valiant knight, Citizen Tom. I really loved the dramatic exit best: “Goodbye. Farewell. Sincerely.”

      Hey Mr. “I went to law school:” that and 99 cents will get you an iced tea at McDonald’s.

      I worry that mocking others does an overall disservice–a whole WWJD thing I guess. But really, some people act so silly. And so many things in todays politics are so ridiculous, and still treated seriously. So I try to temper my mockery, but when the emperor is naked and yet so very pompous, and let the kid in me declare: “he’s naked! ha ha ha ha ha!”

      have a great weekend
      Lin

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      • Citizen Tom says:

        Hello Lin

        Thank you for your comment. I enjoyed it. Just as everyone else does, I too need moral support. Nonetheless, what you said left me wondering. In a way similar to the way I debated with sean samis, I have debated with one of my brothers. My brother is a lawyer too, and he is hardworking and intelligent. Just the same he voted for Obama, at least in the first election. Therefore, we disagree about politics (and religion too).

        My brother tries to be cool, but he knows I think voting for Obama and his policies dishonorable and unethical, and he also knows what I think of a “living” Constitution. There, what I have say about politics eventually infuriates him.

        Because of our differences have become so great and matter so much, our nation now suffers civil conflict just short of violence. Because of our hurt, disappointment and anger, we feel compelled to call those on the other side names. “Troll” is one you have used, but since one of those “trolls” is literally my brother, I don’t what to call to our Secular Socialist opposition. I guess wrong suffices; that seem to hurt their feelings more than enough.

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        • I sure am sorry if I’ve behaved on your blog in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

          If it helps any, the term troll is a technical term for someone who disagrees in a disagreeable manner in comment, not towards the opposition generally, which I tend to call “the Left,” or collectivists or statists.

          Still, even in the narrower sense it is namecalling. It’s just, dang. The pompousness, the arrogance, the fake sincerity (that’s a “concern troll” tool), plopped on your personal site like a splat of bird poo. I guess my motive is to discourage that behavior. On my own internet spaces, I pretty quickly move to deleting and blocking if they won’t go away. But I can surely refrain from using the term over at yours. Best to you my friend,
          Lin

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      • Dear Linda,

        Writing as a practiced troll-chaser with some success ;) I think that Sean Samis is not one. The interaction has been a fairly protracted one between him and Citizen Tom, and has not been calculated simply to support the goals of trolling.

        SS made points which CT disagreed with, and the two debated the issues at length with SS providing links and quotes to support some points. Both sides got some details wrong, it seems: It was Monroe, not Madison, who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in Paris, and Jefferson himself considered the stunt a rather audacious expansion of executive power (his own, as president!) that troubled him and in his opinion threatened the Constitution. Jefferson’s previous few years had been spent fighting just such expansion.

        But such tidbits aside, it was Sean Samis’ rather sudden decision to depart that made him seem troll-like; the prior weeks of interaction are not (in my opinion) the machinations of a troll.

        His departure certainly was odd — and he’d been tending toward snark in recent days. Without a view of the history, his abrupt stunt here seems to have invited the charge of trolling.

        Best wishes!

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        • thanks for explaining, Level Head. You are indeed a troll vanquisher–the first to ever come to my aid in fact. How did you even run into my blog??

          I need to tread more carefully on other people’s virtual spaces! I get into trouble with my zealousness. I remember coming out swinging with Tom’s brother awhile back, having no idea who he was.

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  4. Citizen Tom says:

    Linda, I think Keith explained the situation with more tact and authority than I can muster.

    I have written several posts that use the word hypocrite. So if were to suggest that you should never call anyone a name, I risk a bit of hypocrisy. Whatever his sins, I just do not think Sean is a troll.

    You want to see what an indisputable troll looks like. Google rr edwards site:citizentom.com. I wrote about that troll here, http://citizentom.com/2009/10/29/infested-with-an-internet-troll/.

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