WHAT IS CIVICS? — PART 1

 Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825)

Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825)

Civic Virtue

Here is an interesting word.

civics (n.)Look up civics at Dictionary.com“study of the rights and responsibilities of a citizen,” 1886, originally American English, from civic, by analogy withpolitics (see -ics).

Wikipedia has a couple of interesting articles on this subject. Civics includes a Criticism of civic education. That article includes this quote.

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. — Aristotle

Unfortunately, in the context of that Wikipedia article, that quote is used to justify a particular mode of education which risks putting the students in charge of the teachers. So as much as we might agree with the quote, the application is dubious. Another article, Civic virtue, considers how the definition of what constitutes civic virtue has changed over time.

What is our definition of civic virtue today?  Google the news for civics. Our politicians want to “teach” civics. What will our politicians do to teach civics? What do they usually do? They will use the poor quality of civics education they already provide as an excuse to spend more money. In addition, they will use their failure to “teach” civics as an excuse to further indoctrinate our children in the various “isms” supported by various special interests.

Unfortunately, politicians — and human beings in general —  tend to over complicate things. What is civic virtue? Well, as Christians should we not consider how God defines civic virtue? And doesn’t He tell us? Didn’t God provide the Mosaic Code, laws for the nation of Israel?

Consider this passage.

Leviticus 19:17-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

What does civic virtue boil down to? Loving your neighbor as yourself. As citizens of a community, a city, a county, a state, or a nation — even the world — we have an obligation to love and help each other.  Government cannot teach us how to love each other. Love is something we learn from our Creator and each other, not our government.

Can our leaders set an example of the kind of self-sacrifice that people make because they love their neighbor? Yes, but politicians cannot use the government as an instrument of self-sacrifice. When politicians tax and spend, they tax and spend other people’s money, not their own. Politicians gain power from taxing and spending, by making other people sacrifice their property and even their God-given rights.

Hence civic virtue has these characteristics.

  • Humbly recognizing the sovereignty of God. We try to see ourselves and our neighbors from God’s point of view. What is right, and what is wrong? That is for God to decide. What are our neighbor’s rights? What rights do we have? That too is for God to decide.
  • Use the power of government only to protect ourselves and our neighbors. As good citizens, we do not abuse the power of government by using the government to impose our values and personal preferences upon our neighbors.
  • Voluntarily giving whatever help we can to our community from our own resources. We do not rob from Peter to give “charity” to Paul. That is, we volunteer ourselves, not somebody else.

To Be Continued

Future installments will include the following:

  • An Example Of Civics In Action
  • What Kind Of Volunteer Is A Political Activist?

 

44 thoughts on “WHAT IS CIVICS? — PART 1

  1. You say repeatedly, “That is for God to decide.” One of the problems non believers continue to point out is that this ‘decision’ always seems to come out of the mouths of men. And an obvious problem is that different men speaking on behalf of this ‘God’ seem to get the ‘decision’ if not outright wrong then in conflict with other spokesmen using the identical justification.

    Hmmm… funny, that. It’s almost as if these men are importing to this ‘God’ what they themselves think… but then scurry behind the label of ‘God’ in order to hide from bearing responsibility for their own ‘decisions’. Almost…. One might even be tempted to think all of the ‘God’ business is a charade for those pious critters who would impose on all the superstitious beliefs that suits them the best.

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    1. Mike is right to tell that what you are asking for is dangerous. When they break into a closed mind, ideas can be very disruptive.

      Please note that I say civic virtue has three characteristics. I noticed you completely ignore the implications of the second and the third.

      If I believe our rights are God-given, and I am perfectly willing to defend your rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, why does that bother you? Is the problem you don’t believe we have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

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      1. I didn’t go into the other points because your first point is diametrically opposed to the legitimacy of the Constitution. The basis of this document is to explain that the authority represented by government comes from the governed and not, as you continue to argue, from some invisible Dear Leader bestowed by His grace upon us. What you advocate for is theocracy, namely, “Humbly recognizing the sovereignty of God.” That is deeply anti-American and acting on this belief – trying to bring this about through law – can be rightfully construed as treasonous to that document. That’s why the first amendment makes it very clear that it “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion.” That’s why there is absolutely no reference to any god or gods or any religious affiliation in the Constitution, which is why to be an American who defends the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic means being a secularist.

        Now go wrap your head around how you have not just failed to be a good citizen but are an active anti-American dupe in the name of your religious beliefs.

        You want to help your neighbour? You can start by growing up and leaving childish wishes for some uber parent behind an d becoming a responsible autonomous citizen who respects and expects the same from your neighbours.

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        1. You spout that diatribe, but I don’t threaten you ability to spout it. I don’t even call you names. I just insist upon living in accordance with my beliefs, not yours.

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        2. It’s not a diatribe. Simply ask yourself honestly if you do or do not respect the founding principle of your country… you know, the little thingie called the Constitution.

          Perhaps you missed studying the Gettysburg Address thingie, too… you know the bit about this great experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people. All I’m doing is pointing out that this principle is opposed by you and that that is not a compliment or recommendation to the depth and scope of your understanding of US civics but a condemnation of those people like you who try to subvert it in the name of piety.

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        3. Honestly. People do use that word rather strangely sometimes. Because the Declaration of Independence is the founding document of this nation, we celebrate on July 4th. Why don’t you read that document? It will help you to better understand our Constitution.

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  2. Merriam- Webster: the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works.

    The ‘key’ part that I think you’re missing is ‘how’ ‘our’ government works. You may think that a large dose of Christianity would induce people to be charitable of their own volition; however, that way of thinking may be ideal, I simply do not find it pragmatic.

    Consider this question: Do you recognize the Constitution of the United States?

    If yes, You would recognize the sovereignty, and yes, must also accept the social contract of the constitutional republic.

    The Constitution, a social contract, gives the government power to tax. It’s one of the main reasons why we even had a constitutional convention in the first place.

    “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

    In our Constitutional Republic, the government has the power to collect taxes, and furthermore enforce that law, if need be. Our elected representatives in congress legislate what laws our society will then function under as representatives of our citizenry. Those laws are carried out and are legal, unless challenged in court, and still executed until the court rules against. This is of course would be ‘Due Process’ of the law.

    The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:

    [N]or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .

    Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:

    [N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . .

    It it is true your property may be ‘seized’; however, you do have the ability to sue in the judicial branch, if you feel that your rights have been breeched.

    The elected legislature having the powers to create laws, even ‘social programs’. If those laws are considered not to be in accordance to the social contract, then citizens can sue and have those laws vetted by the Judiciary.

    You say, “Politicians gain power from taxing and spending, by making other people sacrifice their property and even their God-given rights.”

    Taxing and Spending are functions of government, and government is merely a tool. It’s not inherently good or evil, but can be used by who may attempt to reach either ends. If you truly believe, that the government has been usurped by those who wish to gain power and may be agents of ‘evil’, what is game plan going further?

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    1. Because the Bible tells us about the character of man, the Bible does a good job of telling us how government works. The Bible also shows us. Haven’t you ever considered that in addition to the Mosaic Code, the Bible contain a great deal of history. We learned what works and how hard it is for us to keep what works working.

      Why do I focus on Christian virtue? Form follows function.

      Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.

      It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law. — Louis Sullivan (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Form_follows_function)

      What do we consider the function of government? At one time most Americans would have pointed to the Declaration of Independence and the protection of God-given rights. Now we have an entire political party devoted to the notion that government gives our rights, and their leader is our president. And so the form of our government is changing.

      When the People believe that government gives them their rights — when they empower their leaders to give them their rights — they elect tyrants to rule them. To such leaders the Constitution means nothing. That’s because it means nothing to the people who elected them.

      In Article 1, Section 8, we have the enumerated powers of Congress. Nothing is mentioned about education. The Tenth Amendment explicitly states that the Federal Government has no business doing what the Constitution does not authorize it to do.

      According to what was once the law of the land, you and I — any citizen — could do whatever he wanted so long as he or she did not violate the law or someone else’s right. Government, on the other hand, is limited to doing what its charter authorizes it to do. That charter is what we call a Constitution, and both state governments and the Federal Government have constitutions. Unfortunately, judges have turned the law upside down. Instead of saying governments can do, too many judges would have us believe that Constitutions only prohibit government from doing a few things and citizens can only do what the law allows.

      For the most part, Federal judges now pay very little attention to the 9th and the 10th Amendments.

      Any tool can be misused and made dangerous. That’s why the men who wrote the Constitution agonized over their work. They understood that what they wrote would be tested by men seeking power. They knew they were trying to solve a riddle. How could they make a government powerful enough to protect the People’s rights without making that very same government a danger to those rights? In they end, they had to depend upon the character of the American people. Would we ask too much from our government? Instead of just asking our government to help us protect our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, would we ask our government to give us our rights? Would we give our leaders the power to raid the public treasury on our behalf?

      It took awhile, but our nation’s civic virtue has failed. Now we have “rights” to an education, healthcare, food, clothing, shelter, a job, retirement, minimum pay and so forth. And every one those rights require robbing one citizen to give another his rights. Hence, we depend upon the very same leaders both to protect and to give us our rights. That’s tyranny.

      What is the game plan for going further? This is a three-part post.

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    2. If yes, You would recognize the sovereignty, and yes, must also accept the social contract of the constitutional republic.

      What is sovereignty? Sovereignty belongs to whom? Social contract? Where is this social contract? A contract is an agreement between two or more parties to do or not to do a particular thing (or things) and requiring signature of the contracting parties. Did you sign this supposed social contract? I neither agreed to nor signed any social contract. What is a “constitutional republic?” What is a constitution? What is a republic?

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      1. Let me slide past what seems to be your anarcho libertarian rhetoric, as I’m not going to define commonly used phrases, and I am certainly positive you know what these terms mean, and how the social contract does apply to you. Unless of course, you’re ignorant of the term ‘tacit consent’ of said social contract, and your questions are not rhetorical and legitimately asking about the ‘requirement of signatures’; however, I’ll operate under the notion you’re simply that you simply being a contrarian.

        So let’s to simply by pass all of those explanations and ask…since its appears to be obvious that you reject this idea of social contract.

        Are you in opposition to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Republic?

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        1. You think that “anarcho libertarian rhetoric”? Yet you say there is a social contract? What is it? The Constitution? That document that has been so twisted to mean whatever the elites want it to mean? Are we talking about the Constitution as written and explained in the Federalist Papers; the Constitution that supposedly contains the right to an education, food, clothing, shelter, transportation, a job, retirement, healthcare, and so forth; the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court; the Constitution that allows Congress to tax and spend but otherwise run from its responsibilities; or the Constitution as supported and defended by President Barack Obama, the Lying King?

          Yes, I support the Constitution. I support the Constitution that thirteen states once ratified. Even though I think some of them ought to be reversed, I even support the amendments. And yes, I understand the Constitution is a sort of social contract, but Matthew has a point. Our natural rights are inalienable. Because God gives them to us, we cannot rightly consent to give them away, particularly when in reality we are giving away someone else’s rights.

          It is a rare generation that has any opportunity to design and approve a new social contract. Most men live and die in accordance with laws and traditions largely established by earlier generations. Therefore, when we use the expression “social contract” to presume upon the rights of others, we presume far too much. While some men and women may think the redistribution of wealth, for example, a wonderful thing (particularly those on the receiving end), many will not. However, the government leaves us no real choice except to pay taxes, and it matters not how those taxes will be spent.

          Unless we are willing to sacrifice our property and our freedom, we cannot refuse our consent to taxation. In fact, our government does not ask individuals whether they are willing to pay taxes. Therefore, unless taxes are collected for purposes clearly in accord with the Constitution and for the protection of our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; our government collects those taxes immorally.

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        2. The comment/question was really for Matthew, due to his condescending comment about those who haven’t ‘signed’ a contract, Which is common rhetoric from anarcho-libertarians.

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        3. phadde2

          I understand your question was for Matthew, and perhaps I should have left it for Matthew, but I suspect his answer will differ from mine. Anyway, the question interested me.

          Whether Matthew intended to be condescending or not I don’t know. I do not think he did, but I have not conversed enough with anarcho-libertarians to know how they talk.

          What concerns me is the more general abuse of the language, and the phrase “social contract” is, I think, an old abuse.

          When we put a modifier in front of a word, we can make some outrageous assertions. With “same-sex” in front of marriage, we can say that a relationship that by the definition of marriage cannot be a marriage is in fact a marriage. Similarly, when we put the word “social” in front of contract, we can say that people not yet born are participants in a contract.

          You have heard of this thing we call the National Debt? How can we rightly commit those still unborn to pay off such a thing? We can only do so with the knowledge that unless we incur that debt, even those still unborn will suffer greatly. We can only do so in the knowledge that we will pay off as much of that debt as we can. Yet if we incur debt so that our government can give us rights — because we have this social contract — we will never pay of the National Debt. That debt will just grow until like a bomb until it explodes.

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        4. I surmised they were rhetorical, as I would hope we could bypass the need to scorch the earth over commonly expressed ideas. Personally, I’m not going to take the time to defibe terms, when there’s a resource called the internet. Simple ‘google’ searches will allow to know what I mean. If you’re asking, I surmise that you differ from these defintions. Which leads me to my question, Do you support the constitution, and the republic, or not? I’m not asking you to define, it’s really a ‘yes or no’ question.

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        5. I am merely inquiring your understanding. (My questions are based off the Socratic method.) I careless what Google searches provided. I want to know what you have to say on the matter, so we may engage in conversation. It appears you and I have a different understanding of civics.

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        6. I know the tactic, I have a friend quite fond of using it, which is why I attempted clarify whether you had preconceived definitions, as the socratic method is mostly likely to be used to create a dialectic which would probably construe ‘my’ definitions into generalizations and straw men.

          The Socratic method, or as I call it scorch the earth fallacy, is often used to attempt to corner someone into a straw man without actually engaging in dialogue. It’s a bit pompous (as it constantly questions without giving any sort of assertions until the user can initiate a straw man) and can be an unscrupulous tool, in my opinion. My college studies happened to be in Classics, forgive me, If I refrain from such debate tactics.

          You asked, something of the nature, “What is this constitution do you speak of?” Do you people often bite on this type of ‘engaging’ conversation? I’m not going to ‘engage’ in that type of questioning to fall into a dialectic over comments that will most likely be taken out of context. Again, forgive me, if I don’t find that an example of an ‘engaging’ conversation. I actually find it lacking in integrity.

          Furthermore, for me to properly ‘engage’ any sort of questioning, I would need to know whether you believe in the United States Constitution, and the republic? So I would be able to properly frame my answers into a context needed for an ‘engaging’ conversation. I would also probably need to know whether you believed the United States Constitution gave congress the power to charter a National Bank, and whether you feel that the United States Constitution did or did not give the Southern States the power to leave the Union. The power to create a bank, of course, is not in the document explicitly. Also the power to secede from the Union isn’t explicitly or implicitly. These question would of course frame my thoughts on your questions.

          At that point we may be able to discuss the finer points of common law, compact theory, social contract theory, and tacit theory in relation to contracts and common law. All of which are the common definitions of terms.

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        7. The Socratic method is probably more appropriate for instruction than it is debate, but it is difficult to get people to answer appropriately in either case.

          I find it curious that you have not replied to my comments. I did not ask questions.

          First, I challenged the assertion that government can give us our rights. What that amounted to is pointing out that we cannot count upon the same people to both protect our rights and give us our rights. That creates a huge conflict of interest.

          Next, I pointed out that the notion we give our tacit consent to social contract can only go so far. When we start depending upon politicians to give us our “rights,” tacit consent to a social contract begins to look abominably absurd. For example, did the Jews give their tacit consent to the Holocaust? After all, until they started fighting back in Warsaw Ghetto on January 18, 1943, they went along with their deportations to the concentration camps.

          Anyway, I am curious. Do you agree or disagree? And, of course, why?

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        8. I reread my comment, and nowhere do I see where I implied that government gives us rights. However, in accordance to social contract theory, agreement with the consent of the people, with tacit consent, does give the government authority to enforce the laws of the republic. The social contract the Constitution, Declaration, and Bill of Rights all recognize Natural Law, therefore your holocaust example is a red herring, by its nature it has nothing to do with my previous statement and American Civics.

          James Madison in Federalist 51:

          “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

          Prior to this Madison says, “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.”

          Which, in my opinion, is the heart of the argument against the idea Anarcho-Libertarianism. Madison acknowledges that government must be restrained, restrained by the citizenry being the agents that operate within government (civics) However, the necessity of government springs forth because it must “control the governed” from bashing their neighbors over the heard and taking their stuff and life.

          I do not advocate for violent uprising, If forced to defend myself, I would have no other choice, but in accordance to the existing social contract, I still can operate within the frameworks of my government.

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        9. phadde2

          When you speak of right to an education, then you are speaking of a government that gives us a “right.” And if we have a right to an education, then what else do we have a right to have? Why not food, clothing, shelter, transportation, a job, retirement, healthcare, and so forth? Are these the God-given rights spoken of in the Declaration of Independence? No.

          Did the Founders speak of a social contract? Thomas Paine may have. He had Liberal visions of government giving us rights, but that quote from James Madison makes the case for limited government, limited to protecting us from each other and allowing us the liberty to provide for ourselves.

          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

          “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” We have a government out necessity. We have a government because we won’t leave each other in peace. We don’t have a government because we need other people’s money to give us our “rights.”

          Yet all tyrannies, Hitler’s included, use the promise of greater rights than the simple right to be left in peace. Thus, with the “tacit consent” of the people, all tyrannies deprive the people of their God-given rights.

          This is probably the first time and this is the first country in which people are being taught to realize that, of all the tasks which we have to face, the noblest and most sacred for mankind is that each racial species must preserve the purity of the blood which God has given it… The greatest revolution which National Socialism has brought about is that it has rent asunder the veil which hid from us the knowledge that all human failures and mistakes are due to the conditions of the time and therefore can be remedied, but that there is one error which cannot be remedied once men have made it, namely the failure to recognize the importance of conserving the blood and the race free from intermixture and thereby the racial aspect and character which are God’s gift and God’s handiwork. It is not for men to discuss the question of why Providence created different races, but rather to recognize the fact that it punishes those who disregard its work of creation… As I look back on the great work that has been done during the past four years you will understand quite well that my first feeling is simply one of thankfulness to our Almighty God for having allowed me to bring this work to success. He has blessed our labors and has enabled our people to come through all the obstacles which encompassed them on their way… Today I must humbly thank Providence, whose grace has enabled me, who was once an unknown soldier in the War, to bring to a successful issue the struggle for the restoration of our honor and rights as a nation.
          speech before the Reichstag, 30 January 1937.

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        10. Honestly, I believe we have different understanding of tacit consent, and because of our difference with the definition it appears we’re farther in agreement than what we probably really are… The Constitution is connected to Natural Law, and inalienable rights. If the government violates Natural Law, and Rights, the consent no longer stands because the original contract is void.

          I’m not advocating for a national curriculum (even though George Washington did, take that up with him); however, there should be standards. I don’t accept the idea that I’m advocating that government gives us a “right” However, the government has the power to tax, and if the representatives of the people legislate through the proper channels of government to provide the pecuniary means to be educated, one could argue the people give the means. Since we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people, I’m not going to stand in the way of the people.

          When government legislates public policy, Madison also discusses this in Federalist 51, the policy must do what is best for the majority, and at the same time protect the rights of the minority, not an easy task. If congress uses the power to tax, to provide pecuniary means to educate the majority whom would could not afford it, and allowing at the same time other methods of education. I see government in no violation of any rights.

          Do you reject State government policy? or is you opposition just to federal government?

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        11. phadde2

          Let’s consider your arguments as questions.
          1. Appeal to the majority. Does the mere fact the majority wants a “right” to an education make it a right?
          2. Appeal to authority. Does the mere fact George Washington supposedly supported the “right” to an education make it a right?
          3. Appeal to Natural Law. Is there a natural right to an education?

          Appeal to the majority. I think the answer to question is obvious. Although a government cannot be legitimate without the consent of the majority, no one in their right mind (the sanity of politicians is questionable) trusts the wisdom of the American people.

          Appeal to authority. George Washington was a wise man. So was Thomas Jefferson. Nevertheless, I suspect we can find plenty of wise people who think government-run education is a dumb idea. The mere notion that we should use a socialist education system to teach people to function in a Capitalist society is preposterous. Nonetheless, even the best leaders can be tempted to spend government money unwisely.

          Appeal to Natural Law. This expression “Natural Law” is somewhat ambiguous. Hence when you wrote post on this subject, http://theamericanpoststandard.com/2015/01/13/is-education-a-natural-right-is-the-constitution-the-culprit/, you had to stretch heroically to “prove” that we have a natural right to an education. The term “natural right,” however, has a more definitive definition.

          Natural and legal rights are two types of rights. Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system. Natural rights are those not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws).(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights)

          Given the distinction between natural and legal rights, I don’t think anyone has a natural right to have the government pay for his or her education.

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        12. Well, I citied the information to you on a previous post about George Washington, in that matter there’s nothing supposedly about it.

          The government again has the power to tax, given by the people through the Social contract. The Representatives of the people, elected by the people, have the ability to legislate within the frameworks of government stated in the social contract. Those legislatures can legislate laws, those laws may be challenged in court, called due process. The Court will either find in favor or not. This can, of course, include education. This is how government works, this is the Civics 101.

          This is again why its futile to explain, as I said legislate policy for the majority, and still protect the rights of the minority. The power to tax and legislate are powers granted to the government, if the the representatives legislate in a manner that the people do not agree with then the people can elect better men next time, again Civics 101.

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        13. phadde2

          We have Jefferson’s university here in Virginia. It is still a relatively good school.

          Given what you cited, I am not certain Washington supported education as a natural right. Washington may have seen a national university as benefiting the nation, but that does not mean he wanted to send everyone to that university.

          Anyway, that is something of a side topic. Look carefully at your response. It may be Civics 101, but it fails to address the issue of morality. Instead, it states the obvious. The Courts will decide the Constitutional issues, and we can vote the bums out. Meanwhile, have you noticed the deficit? Have you noticed we have replaced our republic with a majoritarian tyranny.

          I don’t question the fact you have the courts on your side. I don’t question the fact you have the majority on you side. What I question is whether education is a right. What I question is the wisdom of treating education as a right, and that is not Civics 101.

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        14. Many in the legal and legislative profession have argued that justice and due process are natural rights. An American Citizen not having an education which if vital to operate within the economy, when the government can regulate commerce is the lack of justice. Therefore, the government may do what is necessary and proper to legislate justice for those citizens. If the people find this not in accordance to their wishes, and then yes, they can vote the bums out. If the courts, under Article III and explained in Federalist 78 and 79 find the law not in accordance to the social contract they can rule it unconstitutional. So, again, yes, this is Civics 101.

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        15. Not attempting to right injustices, I believe that is immoral, which is why I believe my stance to be a moral one.

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        16. I am up to my ears in work. Sorry for the delayed reply.

          You say many in the legal and legislative profession have argued that justice and due process are natural rights. I don’t think so. I think that the goal of government is to prevent the unjust treatment of its citizens. We cooperate to discourage those who refuse to recognize the natural rights of others (This equates to not abiding by what C. S. Lewis called the Moral Law.), and the method we use involves due process.

          Government cannot provide justice; it can only help us resolve our disputes and confine the deprivations of outlaws. Since our natural rights exist prior to government, government does not give us our natural rights. It can only recognize and protect them.

          The problem with government is that those in charge of it can become a threat to our rights. That generally happens when we expect government to do things we must do ourselves.

          You think your stance a moral one? I think you just have good intentions. You have yet to explain what makes a right to an education different from a right to food, clothing, shelter, transportation, a job, retirement, healthcare, and so forth. With respect to this issue, I think you know there is not any difference. Without food, clothing, and shelter, we have bigger problems than if we lack an education.

          The problem is that we cannot trust our leaders to provide for us. When we put politicians in charge of anything, they immediately start concocting ways to control and limit our choices. Letting politicians do that to our educational choices is just absurd, but given the opportunity it is also what they do to our food choices, clothing choices, shelter choices, transportation choices, job choices, retirement choices, healthcare choices, and so forth. Inevitably, when we give leaders the power to give us our “rights” — to provide for us — we become dependents and then slaves.

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        17. Well, many in the legal profession do argue the point, you can google it, and find several articles from Yale, Cornell, and Harvard law, unless you were just stating that you didn’t believe their conclusions.

          It’s interesting when you talk about slavery, and how Frederick Douglass’s master scolded his wife for teaching Frederick how to read. Education is of the mind is the very essence of liberty as it frees one from the chains of ignorance. Abraham Lincoln wanted to separate himself from the agrarian culture of his father’s backwoods ignorance. Both of those men were lucky in their time. However, Lincoln in his Speech about reconstruction attempted to speak about the need to educate the freemen and suffrage, which would ultimately lead to the motivation of his assassination. Upholding this idea is a very moral one, in my mind, many oppose it because education is essential freedom, and dangerous.

          I did not explain, because I do not find them equivalent, you assume that they are and therefore I need to explain how it’s different. However, Education, as I have explained, allows citizens to function within the frameworks of the economy. It allows citizens to rise to obtain food, clothing, and shelter; without it citizens are reduced to remain in the ‘caste’ system of their birth.

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        18. Why do you oppose the funding of education for American Citizens? Is it taxes? The government has the power to tax upon agreement, do you oppose them on that agreement? Is it Curriculum? I’m not for a National Curriculum; students should be allowed to choose, employers will base off of those choices.

          I think you’ve applied, that you feel that Americans, should have to ‘pay’ for other citizens to be educated. What about other things? Should Citizens have to pay for libraries? Should we only have the free market book stores? Do you think citizens should contribute to fire departments, why should you have to pay for someone else’s burning house? Perhaps, Insurance companies should own their own fire departments. The idea isn’t one of a functioning society, it’s the anathema of civilization.

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        19. @Phadde2, who wrote:

          Why do you oppose the funding of education for American Citizens?

          This has sort of a “why do you hate America?” feel to it. But in fact, it is answerable nonetheless.

          First off, I don’t think that Citizen Tom has ever suggested that education should be free. And thus, it needs to be funded somehow — so the suggestion that he opposes that is a bit of a straw man. But I will speak for myself:

          I oppose the federal government funding and controlling a national education for two reasons that have a Common Core, so to speak: First, it is not within the scope of the Constitution as conceived nor as amended for our limited government to undertake. Second, the federal government has done, and is doing, a notoriously lousy job at it, as the framers of the Constitution knew it would if such a thing were attempted.

          Education is important … but can take many forms, from street smarts to agrarian learning to technical vocation training to the traditional trivium and quadrivium to elevated, refined, and arcane forms of higher education. No one is a good candidate for all of these, but there are few indeed that would not be benefited by at least one type of education.

          But the federal government tends to standardize, to bureaucratize, then to unionize — and then to use the result to support and expand the bureaucracy’s existence. Education had long been a local phenomenon, and was available privately. Now it is an expensive tax burden for which few choices remain to the taxpayer. In order to select a different public school, you must relocate your residence — and an army of enforcers checks homes, inspecting bedrooms, to make sure people do not cheat to get their children into a better public school. If parents want to send children to private school, or home-school them, they have already paid the full boat for a public education, so must pay twice.

          As an aside, your reference to “education for American Citizens” is something of a misnomer, as the education currently paid for by the taxpayer is being provided, as a result of Supreme Court decisions and leftist mandates, to illegal aliens and other non-citizens as well. No such “Citizens” distinction is made.

          The voucher system discussed on this blog over previous posts is a partial fix for the issue. By providing a way to bypass the “pay twice” requirement, or at least part of it, schools can then compete with each other for the business — and the result would be a tremendous improvement in the quality of education, as has been repeatedly demonstrated

          A voucher system is a stepping stone to local education, as used to be the norm here. But such a program is fiercely resisted by progressives because it undercuts the State, promotes individual independence, and takes power from the public sector unions.

          In short, it is not the business of the federal government to do every thing that might be argued to be useful or needful. As Citizen Tom noted, this would of course include food and other items that are even called “necessities.” It is a bad pathway to head down, and is creating an ever-more-dependent nation of once-free people with little inspiration and little influence in the world. Howard Zinn and his admirers, including President Obama, know, expect, and hope for this result.

          I oppose it.

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

          Liked by 1 person

        20. I think initially you misunderstand me, I was asking if the reason he opposed government funding for education was for funding reasons.

          However, to keep aligning my call for education would lead to wanting the government to provide for ‘everything’ is a slipper slope fallacy. The desire for education is actually to allow citizens to operate within the frameworks of the economy to be able to provide for those needs., as I have explained. Therefore, they’re not equivalent, but separate issues.

          You do make good points on the need to reform, and better spend money for a more modern society. I wouldn’t be opposed to a system where there are funds to choose schools; however, there are potential cons to that system as well, and not every system runs as fluidly as the proposed plan.

          The necessity of education is driven by employment and market demands in many ways, and employers application process. If one were to submit an application to a potential employer without earning a college degree, many employers will toss that application. The citizen, could have spent countless hours self-teaching, yet lacks a shiny piece of stationary. The Higher Education system, has in many ways become a ponzi scheme, that has become a forced necessity, filling the coffers of University administrations. I don’t see employers and Universities changing.

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        21. Employers are changing now, in response to the huge loss in practical value of Ivy League education. A push is underway to replace this concept with vocation-specific certifications, such as there are for CPAs where the potential employer can review your score/skill level before hiring.

          Some attempts indeed fail. That’s why this needs to be free-market, not government. If a bureaucracy fails, it just gets a larger budget. A failed private enterprise is simply eliminated.

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

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        22. Keith, you have very practical concerns, thanks for sharing. Let me ask, how quickly do you feel employers can change, based on the demand of workers needing work? Also, do you know anything how this is reflection on possible trade agreements, and the education of workers in other nations?

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        23. I’m back on a project, but here’s a quick response (Edit: Not so quick after all.):

          Employers are driven to reduce costs and thus maximize profits based upon what is legal and will work in the marketplace. Disney is getting a taste of a backlash for decisions that might not “work in the marketplace,” specifically their recent decision to lay off a substantial number of American citizen IT workers and replace them with H1B workers brought in from overseas.

          The H1B program was not intended for this; one could hardly ascribe filling a opening that an American was unavailable for if you had to lay off the American to make the opening. But they have the tacit (and probably explicit) approval of the White House, and IT is another area (like CPAs) where certification of skills has been widely adopted.

          There are also various federal and state (Disney’s California operations are involved here) aspects that specifically rig the game against American citizens, by regulatory preferences for foreign workers. Health care coverage penalties are eliminated for foreign workers, you can be sued for hiring an American over an illegal or H1B holder, and various other tricks pervert the system. “At will” hiring and firing policies are suspended for non-American workers by recent regulation changes.

          The US’s failed education system provides a grim backdrop for all of this. The quality of practical education in US public K-12 schools is so very bad that this area, where we once excelled, is now a world-wide embarrassment. The Obama administration, sensitive to the decline of education under their watch, changed the metrics of the National Report Card System so that one can no longer make direct comparisons to previous years.

          The NRCS change is annoying but typical of the Obama administration’s approach. They did the same thing with GDP to boost the percentage slightly and avoid the technical classification of a double recession. The reality has happened anyway, despite the fact that we now technically count an increase in pension obligation as if it were an actual product, and it has added to the GDP for the past few years.

          Employers look at the product of American public education and, frankly, shudder. And they are pushed by the Obama administration and by economics to seek alternatives that are more effective and lower cost (part of being more effective, but certainly not all of it). Small employers are, according to reports, paying more attention to interviews and placing less emphasis on the previously reliable screening of applicants by degree. There is also a drift toward older applicants (beneficiaries of somewhat better education system and culture), which is a good effect except for the underlying dynamic driving it.

          Large companies maneuver slowly, though they never would have gotten large had they been so ponderous when small. But there are ripples even at this level. The issue is two-fold: the poor quality of American education and the federal rule-rigging to make hiring Americans even less attractive.

          I ran a technology company for a third of a century; the most employees I had at one time was in the hundreds, and I reviewed hundreds of applicants before delegating that duty. I was fortunate; we hired consistently excellent people and things worked well. This past week I hired a high-schooler to help me with carrying things (which I can no longer do), as well as filing and other home-office tasks. I was amazed and more than a little horrified at the level of education that this high school freshman and friend of the family possessed. He cannot do “five times twenty-four” in his head, or even on paper, without a calculator. And he is uncertain whether “N” precedes or follows “M” in the alphabet. He’s fifteen, and spells “took me home” as “TOKE ME HOM” on notes, in handwriting I’d have associated with half his age. He’s a nice fellow, and some judicious conversation with friends suggests that he’s not unusual at all. I must take a Clint Eastwood School of Management approach to him: “A man’s got to know his help’s limitations.” His educational deficits create real obstacles that will affect his life.

          I completely agree with you that education is vital for a free people. The federal government’s unions-plus-bureacracy-plus-voter-indoctrination approach to education has been an utter failure. In my opinion, getting the federal government out of the education business and opening it up to free market competition is vital to the preservation of the United States. The greatest thing that our Constitutionally limited republic can do for education is to withdraw from it. But there is tremendous power in the entrenched bureaucracy; it will be a tough fight.

          And it seems to me that the notion that “natural rights” include things of a cost (like education, food, housing and healthcare) that must be supplied to citizens by their government is rather more Rousseau than Locke, and was rejected by our founders.

          You mentioned commerce regulation. In crafting the Constitution, the framers explicitly limited the regulation of commerce to be only that of an umpire when the game was between states (or with the Indian tribes or foreign entities), addressing state-boundary tariff disputes that were a major weakness of the original Confederation of States. The new federal government framed by the Constitution was specifically not to set all rules for all activities everywhere.

          But look at how progressive statists reinterpreted the commerce clause later! Especially from the 1930s onward when they regulated and limited how much wheat a man could grow on his own property, even to feed his own family under the pretense that it affected interstate commerce indirectly by reducing demand, and got this idea approved by FDR’s freshly cowed Supreme Court. The result was a greatly prolonged Depression.

          The now-popular statist concept of the government as the source of needful things stands directly opposed to getting that government out of the way of liberty and prosperity. Or so it seems to me.

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

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        24. However, even with the German Civic example, Hitler issued Reichstag Fire Decree and Enabling Act of 1933. These procedures eliminated rights, like due process of the law, which would have circumvented the tacit consent of the existing Constitution.

          Perhaps this is where there is confusion lies when I say tacit consent of the existing social contract.

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        25. The Socratic method merely inquires one’s understanding, presuppositions, and biases. I used it for instruction and argument in the academia for years. In fact, if you think about it, everyone uses the Socratic method. We want to understand each other and to become enlightened in the process. I find your dodging amusing, but that is what you wish.

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        26. People inquirer, that is true; however, most folks do not dialogue in the manner of The Phaedrus. The only thing I dodged was your set up for generalizations of my assertions, and straw men points. Tom and I continued to have a conversation on the matter, if you care to explore those answers. At any rate the amusement is mine that you continue to double down on your lack of integrity, again, as I asked questions to be able to frame my answers properly, you have also dodged those questions, a bit hypocritical wouldn’t you say? I must only assume why and what the answers are, perhaps a thorough examination on Article III should be next on your agenda.

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  3. In my ancient days, we (students) studied civics and I recall my teacher saying, “Civics is the science of civil government.” The teacher began with the preamble of the U.S. Constitution and ceased with the last signature by Morris. Additionally, we learned about the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. It was a thorough lesson and one I do not forget. Still to this day, I say “these United States.” People today look at me with lost faces when I say “these United States,” not “the United States.” Sadly, our educational system does not teach civics; instead, it teaches “American Government.” I remember this transition from civics to “American Government” during my academia years. Pull aside average voters and ask, “What form of government are these United States?” “You mean ‘the United States.’ We are a democracy,” they answer. “No. We are a federated republic.” “Huh? What is a federated republic? Democracy is a republic. They are one and the same,” they say. U-g-h. . .ignorance. Shame.

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