Category Archives: Constitution

Self Respect > Self Esteem!

Readers who have become familiar with my writings over the past few months may have noticed a very prevalent theme – that of the individual and their own personal response to the world around them. Examples can be found in Do You HAVE Character, or ARE You a Character, Freedom OF Thought or Freedom FROM Thought, and Libertarianism = Personal Responsibility. This post also goes rather hand in hand I think with Quincy’s post on Humble equality vs. haughty equality.

The reasons that I am so enamoured of subjects pertaining to the character is that I clearly see that ONLY by cultivation of positive traits in the individual can we hope to ever engender a change in society.

I’ve titled this piece Self Respect (is greater than) Self Esteem, because I feel that a distinction needs to be made in how we have been and are being educated in our public schools and how that focus should make a shift to promote positive self-image through self-respect (not self-esteem) .

For many years, our schools, psychologists, psychiatrists, parents, etc. have pushed the notions that self-esteem is the absolute pinnacle upon which success or failure in life rests – that without self-esteem, we are unable to survive this world.

In fact, the evidence over the years has shown just the opposite – overinflated egos and grandiose impressions of self-worth abound. Parents allowing children to “do their own thing” for fear of stunting their growth as persons coupled with the ideas of “you’re as good as (with the implication being that you’re really better than) anyone else” being promoted in the public school system are ruining our youth, and have already had disasterous effects on our country.

Some young people are introspective enough to realize that something is amiss. The teen rates of suicide, anorexia, self-mutiliation, etc. have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. I believe there is a direct correlation of the self-abuse rate and the changes in what our children are being taught both at school and at home. Those Teens and even young children who have not been jaded by an over inflated self-esteem realize that there are others who are prettier, more handsome, taller, shorter, thinner, more muscular, etc. They know their own hearts and can see that all is not beautiful and lovely inside. It leads to poor self-image and hatred – depending on other factors – of either self or everyone else. Such hatred is what leads to anorexia, self-mutilation – and situations like Columbine.

Self-respect is what should be stressed to our children rather than self-esteem. It is self-respect that teaches children that the company of those who look down on them is not acceptable or desired. Within self-respect teaching is room for humility, and that’s a good thing. Gifts bestowed on some may be more readily apparent (physical attractiveness or sterling intellect) but if encouraged to seek out those less apparent gifts, young people can learn to not base their self worth on self-image or an inflated self-esteem.

My sister and I were chatting over the cooking of our family Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday, and this was one of the things we were talking about. We both have and have had friends, who allowed themselves to be treated like doormats by boyfriends or spouses. Thanks to the strong upbringing we had from parents who cherished us and were diligent to correct the misconceptions taught in public school, we both learned self-respect at an early age. As such, it’s hard for us to imagine giving up our self-respect to be treated as we see them allowing themselves to be treated. It’s important to teach children from a young age that if they’re mistreated by someone within their peer-group that they need not feel pressure to fit in or appease them – it’s best to just move on. No one should ever desire to be where they’re not wanted – because that leads only to heartache, frustration, and compromised values. And self-respect teaches children to move out and move on.

As an example – we were out a few months ago at a small public event where a group of folks we knew (and many we didn’t) were sitting around in lawn chairs. Our daughters (then 8 & 10) were playing and invited another little girl (unknown to them) and her sister to sit and play with them. The younger quickly accepted the invitation but her sister (probably about 13) responded “I don’t play with children”. One of my daughters spoke up and said to her “My sister and I play with anyone we want to play with, regardless of age.” I didn’t get to hear about the comment first hand – but heard about it later through a third party. It really tickled me, and I wondered if the 13 year old had the sense to comprehend the stinging rebuke issued her by a child she considered beneath her. It pleased me as a mother to hear that perhaps my teachings are not falling on deaf ears.

One of the maxims that my family hears me repeat fairly often is “there should always be some thing that you’re NOT willing to do for money”. We’ve never watched reality TV shows because, first off, they bear no resemblance to reality, and second, we have better things to do with our time. But it was when I first saw some of the teaser commercials for “Fear Factor” that I first issued that proclamation to my family – and I still feel strongly about it. Eating some kind of hideous or horrendous concoction is not something I would ever do for money. To keep from starving, perhaps – but not for money. And even if starving, there are some things I wouldn’t do – and cannibalism would be one of the boundaries I don’t think I could ever cross. There are things worse than death. You see, self respect would not allow it, as I don’t think I could live with myself if I crossed that boundary.

Self-respect is also important in the working world. It allows one to take responsibility for ones mistakes – and sometimes to concede if there is a question. It does not, however, lead to accepting responsibility carte-blanche. I’ve been in situations where I found I had to stand up for myself on principal and have done so. Sometimes to be promoted for it, other times to be chastised – but always to know within heart and mind that I’d done right. It’s a much better way to live – and easier to live with yourself when you’ve got self-respect. I’ll take it any day over an inflated self esteem.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

The Sovereign Individual

When you combine this post with my earlier post on TANSTAAFL, you find the core principles that make up my political philosophy. Getting to know and understand me means understanding these things about me. Some of you will have seen this before on Eric’s Grumbles. I’m moving a few posts of this type over here, slowly, so that those who read here, but not there, can see these as well.

Around the Life, Liberty & Property Community, and some related blogs that aren’t part of the community, there’s been a burst of writing this week on individual rights. And it’s really good stuff. Brad Warbiany writes about a Right to Privacy and Abortion, one of the best posts on the topic I have ever seen. Stephen Littau tackled the War on Drugs in his entry More Mandatory Minimums Madness. Or, there is Coyote’s Immigration, Individual Rights and the New Deal, where Coyote lays out the foundation for individual rights as clearly and succinctly as anything I’ve seen in modern writing. There’s a lot more out there, and I’m fairly sure we are going to see much of it in the Carnival of Liberty this week. In fact, since Left Brain Female is hosting it, I would guess we’ll see her entry, Libertarianism=Personal Responsibility again. Since it was this entry that prompted me to write of the Sovereign Individual, I think I ought to show you why.

We talk much of individual rights, states rights, freedom of speech, second amendment rights, etc. but in all this talk of rights, we also must begin to stress that along with rights comes a great commission – and that is that of personal responsibility.

As usual, I appear to find myself in the smallest minority, the one that understands that rights and responsibility are inherent. They aren’t things that one can, or cannot, “take”. They are part of the state of being. And they are not affected by what sort of community one lives within, or government that one is subject to. Indeed, the core understanding of my principles is that the individual is sovereign. Ayn Rand once said “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” This is one of the foundational ideas of Objectivism, which is a philosophy for individuals, societies and governments espoused by Rand. The key thing that Objectivism misses, though, is the idea of moral responsibility. It is not enough to hold individual rights or to make the best decisions based just on self. Because, always, TANSTAAFL is an immutable rule of the universe. And that is where Rational Anarchy comes in. Robert Heinlein, who first described Rational Anarchy, said “A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.” To that end, we need to realize where sovereignty, itself, is housed. Which brings us, finally, to the title of this post, and the reason for it. Sovereign, as an adjective, means self-governing, or independent. We understand that a sovereign nation is completely responsible for its actions as a nation, the conduct of its leaders, the laws and police powers it applies to its citizens. And, just as importantly, we understand that there is no law that is superior to that of a sovereign nation, unless that nation chooses to agree to such law. Using this understanding of sovereign, and observing the behavior of individuals, both in and out of a social group, we can understand that ultimately sovereignty is housed within the individual. Which is what a Rational Anarchist believes.

This sovereignty does not exist because of the inherent rights of the individual, but rather because of the inherent responsibility and power of the individual. Every action is, ultimately, the result of the decision of an individual. This applies even to the ultimate expression of national sovereignty, making war. When the left wing anti-war pacifist declares that war will happen until individual citizens reject such behavior, they are implicitly acknowledging what I’m writing here, even though I’m certain that the vast majority of such folks are collectivists who will reject the entire basis of the sovereign individual. The fact is, though, that whether the combat of war involves pulling the trigger of a rifle or pushing the button to launch a nuclear missile, it is always a sovereign individual, completely and totally responsible for their actions, that must make the decision to commit the act. With our current understanding of government and societies, we recognize that they are established to protect certain inherent rights, including life, liberty and property. What is important, though, is to understand that those inherent rights are the result of behavior by the individual, behavior that establishes sovereignty. The individual creates rights by taking, holding and improving property, by defending their life, by the acts of free association and free movement. And in the very act of making the decision to take such actions, the individual establishes that they are sovereign.

Ultimately, there is no law supreme to the individual, except such laws as they acknowledge and agree to. The prohibition on murdering a fellow human would be of no value if the vast majority of us did not agree to abide by the prohibition. A government could pass a law prohibiting murder and empower police to take action against those who do, but if the mass of individuals subjected to such a law refused to obey it, there would be nothing that the government could do. In fact, we see such a truth in the War on Drugs, and other vices (such as prostitution), or the speed limits on the freeways. What would happen if all of us, within our own sovereign responsibility decided that we not only would not obey the speed limits but we would not stop and allow ourselves to receive a ticket from police officers? Suddenly the speed limits would be without value and it would be completely impossible for a limited number of law enforcement officials to actually enforce this law. Or, from a practical, historical perspective, we only need to look to the revolutions that brought about the downfall of authoritarian, communist governments in Eastern Europe and Russia. So long as the mass of citizens in those countries acknowledged the authority of their government, their government was valid and had power. When those citizens decided that the government no longer would be granted power by those citizens, the government ceased to be. The individuals constituting the government could have chosen, of course, to try and exert power to re-establish their authority, but this would not have undone the sovereignty of those individuals at all.

What’s the point of this discussion? Simply this. It is, of course, true that libertarianism equals personal responsibility. For responsibility for your actions and your moral decisions is inherent to you, the individual. Whether you want to accept it, or not. Your individual responsibility comes before your individual rights. It is what establishes your individual rights. And it cannot be taken from you, nor abdicated by you. No matter what anyone who believes in collectivism, of any political variety, may try to say, this fact, that you are sovereign and responsible for each and every action and decision is an unalterable, immutable fact of intelligence and consciousness. This fact, by itself, makes collectivism of any stripe morally wrong, but that isn’t really the point of this essay. The point is much simpler. Whether you choose to acknowledge it, or not, you are responsible for everything that you do, or don’t do. Trying to shift that blame is self-delusion. This is the difference between a child and an adult. An adult is capable, emotionally and mentally, of accepting responsibility for self, a child is not. You, ultimately, are sovereign, subject only to your own morals and ethics, responsible for yourself.

Originally posted at Eric’s Grumbles.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Why <span style="font-style:italic;">progressives</span> really aren’t

The so-called progressives of whom I speak are actually collectivists, in that they abhor individualism and individual rights, insofar as such are symbolic of self-reliance. Generally, they think in terms of all-for-one and one-for-all. What’s more, they’re not satisfied with a mutual and voluntary communal arraignment. No, self-styled progressives seek to use the police power of the state to coerce others—those who cherish personal responsibility and freedom from tyranny—to fund their utopian welfare state. There are many such neo-liberal voices; e.g. the usual suspects.

The problem with collectivist ideology—beyond being morally indefensible—is that it does not work in practice. Ultimately, it turns individuals into wards of the state, rather than creating a truly egalitarian society. As pboettke of The Austrian Economists puts it: “When the State oversteps its bounds and constrains or chooses for us, we loose the capacity to live a self-governing life.”

I’m actually an advocate of egalitarianism. That is, I favor full equality for everyone, with respect to individual rights and treatment under law. However, I adamantly oppose the forced equality of stuff, which utilizes wealth redistribution and other such tools that deplete liberty. Roderick T. Long explains it this way:

But to ignore or mask the violence upon which

socioeconomic legislation necessarily rests is to acquiesce in the unconscionable subordination and subjection that such violence embodies. It is to treat those subordinated and subjected as mere means to the ends of those doing the subordinating, and thus to assume a legitimate inequality in power and jurisdiction between the two groups. The libertarian revulsion against such arrogant presumption is ipso facto an egalitarian impulse. Those who feel no such revulsion should not expect their egalitarian credentials to pass unquestioned; they may revere equality in theory, but they fail to recognize it in practice.

Coercion is the means, but what are the ends of nbso progressives? Their purported goal is to achieve a classless society, where poverty is eradicated and—perhaps more importantly—the accumulation of wealth by individuals will cease. A strong centralized government—according to statists—is necessary to bring this to pass. Theoretically, state officials would be democratically elected and utterly selfless. But in practice, such a society inevitably devolves, resulting in two distinct and very unequal classes: the ruling elite and the impoverished masses. To be sure, there are exceptions. Some have slightly more resources (relatively speaking), but like the rest, they are subjects of the state; they are by no means free citizens.

A notable current example is the ironically named Peoples Republic of China, whose Marxian revolution has certainly not lived up to its billing. Such is the subject of a balanced analysis of China’s social experiment at Monthly Review.

The political apparatus that was used to destroy old inequalities had itself given rise to a new set of inequalities. The power of the state was supposed to be wielded in the interests of the working people, to be sure. But in fact, the subordinate working classes were at best to be the dependent beneficiaries of a paternalistic bureaucracy—not to mention that such hard-won benefits can be easily taken away as political circumstances may change, as recent developments in China have so clearly demonstrated.

In a similar vein, Eric points out that free people participating in free markets is a large part of the solution to the problems attendant to disparate socioeconomic classes.

In fact, this continuous characterization of upper, middle and lower class is part of the problem. Our economic system is one of the most classless in the world, although the imposition of socialist and quasi-socialist government programs is having the effect of stratifying the classes more and more firmly.

It would seem, then, that the goals of modern liberals (e.g. state run healthcare, individual transfer payments, increased government pensions, etc.) are actually regressive. For the motivation of America’s founders was to move away from tyranny and towards greater individual liberty and personal responsibility. Therefore, in light of numerous historical examples, true progress is exemplified by increased freedom for individuals, rather than its antithesis, which flows from collectivism.

[cross-posted at Eric’s Grumbles]


The United States: An Authoritarian Oligarchy?

After a variety of conversations with people on how our country can move forward I have come to the conclusion that most of them need to read the Constitution before having that conversation. There is a very limited understanding of what that document says, and yet it is written in plain English and is not difficult to understand. This country was set up so that most power was retained by the states and the people, not the Federal government. But, to avoid situations that many are concerned with, for example a same sex couple who is legally married in California being considered not legally married in Nevada, the framers put this in.

Article 4, Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”

The men who wrote the Constitution thought it was obvious that the Federal government had only been granted the powers and privileges enumerated in the document. But Jefferson convinced them that this was dangerous and so they included Amendments IX and X in the Bill of Rights to ensure that the government would not take upon itself more powers than had been granted.

Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

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.

That seems pretty straightforward and obvious to me. I have a really hard time understanding how we have managed to get ourselves into our current situation where the Federal government is involved in every aspect of our lives and consider this to be legal, but I’m not a lawyer. The intent was that if the federal government needed additional powers because of a new or changed situation then an amendment would be proposed and passed. In order to protect us from ourselves, passing amendments was deliberately made difficult. Of course, they didn’t foresee that we would simply put judges on the Supreme Court who would find obscure ways to interpret the words in this document to mean things that were never intended.

What most of us who are for having a federal style of government (which we de facto do not, even if we de jure do) want is a return to the Constitution, not 50 separate countries. The argument against a return to a true federal system is that it would result in a patchwork of laws and standards across the country. That is just what the founders intended because they were well aware that each state had different cultures and needs.

An argument against decentralization of power is that you could find yourself moving from a state with substantial welfare programs and to a state without such programs, which could cause you significant problems. My answer to that is that you should take responsibility for yourself and either not move or make plans to adjust to the situation in the state you are moving to. It’s called personal responsibility.

The men who founded this country certainly had no intention that the government should provide welfare and there is plenty of evidence to support that view. If you disagree with them politically, that’s fine. But realize that they tried to create a situation where the government would not be involved with the welfare of the individual citizen, and such things happened then too. Welfare is not a modern invention. In fact, one of the reasons that they set things up as they did is the lessons they drew from the fate of the various Greek and Roman governments.

On to my issues. It’s not selfishness, although many “liberals” will characterize me as selfish. In fact, I believe that the welfare state is worse for the individual citizens of the state than individualism. The socialist or statist approach is inherently inefficient and deprives individuals of their rights. It’s paternalistic nature leads to a weakening of self-reliance and responsibility. This can be seen by the change, in just a few generations, from most Americans believing they and their family are responsible for their welfare and safety net to most Americans believing that the government is. The welfare state, by its nature, limits economic growth. The best solution to poverty is economic growth, not welfare. LBJ’s Great Society did not end poverty, nor did it even ensure that a lower percentage of people would be below the poverty line.

On the other hand, the rise of the welfare state in this country has, directly and indirectly, given the government more control over the citizens and eroded their liberties and privileges. Long before the Patriot Act the government had a tremendous amount of information collected on all of us and it could be (and sometimes was) used in unscrupulous fashion. Taxation is one of the main ways for the government to take and maintain power from the people, which we recognized when we revolted because we were being taxed without representation.

As mentioned many times before, the men who wrote the Constitution understood that they could not foresee all of the needs of the future. And that is why they built the amendment process into the Constitution. It has been argued that their intent cannot be the only factor when implementing the political system in this country because of those changes they couldn’t foresee. Why can’t their intent be the only factor considered when determining what powers the federal government does or does not have? How would you feel if you signed a contract 10 years ago with your employer and then your employer came to you today and wanted to change something they had guarunteed you in the contract because the situation was different, but they had no intention of renegotiating the contract with you? Remember, one of the premises of our political system is that the government only has those powers that we, the people, grant to the government. The instrument for granting that power is the constitution. Do you feel it is reasonable that government bureaucrats should renegotiate the meaning of that political contract without the input of the citizens? We have a word for that. The word is tyranny.

The purpose of the document was to guard against the problems that democracies, republics and confederations had faced in the past. Of course, we have managed to do just about all of the things they were trying to guard against, with altogether predictable consequences. Many of the things that both the left and right yell about today are consequences of those actions and inactions. I’m always surprised by people who say “all that history is nice, but it doesn’t tell me what to do now”. Of course it does. Either by showing you the way to move forward or showing you the ways that are not good ideas. But our country in the past century or so has had a significant segment of the population decide that history and science are of little value. Indeed many, especially in the so-called intellectual classes, actively dislike and hate the lessons of history and the value of science and technology. The rebirth of the Luddites. We also seem to be of the opinion these days that we can get something for nothing, the proverbial free lunch. The lesson of history is that entropy always increases, free lunch schemes always fail eventually. In the immortal words of Robert Heinlein, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”, aka TANSTAAFL.

Things I hear on a daily basis convince me that we probably can never move forward and out of the oligarchy we have gotten ourselves into. I hear things such as “the low income earners are the majority in this country” and that leaves me more and more pessimistic by the day about the hope that we will peacefully undo the damage we have done. If you look at the real income distribution of this country you find a solid majority in the middle class, income wise. Most of the wealthy in this country are one generation away from being middle class or poor and they got to where they are through hard work, not exploiting the lower classes. In fact, this continuous characterization of upper, middle and lower class is part of the problem. Our economic system is one of the most classless in the world, although the imposition of socialist and quasi-socialist government programs is having the effect of stratifying the classes more and more firmly.

How do we move forward? By realizing that we, individually, are responsible for ourselves, whether we are poor or rich. By recognizing that the government cannot fix things, that government programs do not solve problems but merely create more problems. By believing that we, the people, grant power to the government and the government has no right to take unto itself any power we have not explicitly granted to the government. We reject the oh so genteel and paternalistic desire of some to “take care of us” and stand on our two legs and take care of ourselves. We stop allowing bureaucrats and the oligarchs that we now have in our Congress to twist and interpret the Constitution to allow themselves more and more power and abrogate more and more of ours. We stop trying to use the Constitution to benefit our narrow special interest. Realizing that the power to tax is the most important power of the government and the one most likely to lead to tyranny we vote against any politician who too freely chooses to take our money as taxes and spend it on government programs. We realize that the government can provide for our security against foreign threats, can track down and jail those who cause us physical injury, but cannot make us prosperous or happy, those are things that only we, the people, can do.

How can we move forward? Well, I think it would help tremendously if each and every citizen of this country read and understood the Constitution. The average high school graduate should be able to, it is neither complex nor written in difficult legal language. That would make a tremendous difference when the boys in DC wanted to do something that the Constitution says they can’t do.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

“… Against All Enemies, Foreign…”

“… And Domestic.”

If the facts of the case are as reported here, sounds like some Federal employees and officers have forgotten a few things. Like, oh, their allegiance to the Constitution?

(See: the Bill Of Rights, you wretches.)

zombyboy may be right; for all I know, Ms. Davis may well not be “a person I would like”. It hardly matters in such a case; there is no reason that bus riders, merely passing through a piece of federal property, should be subject to random ID checks — much less charged with crimes, much less told she will be arrested if she ever goes to such-and-such a place again.

What good will it do us to win victory over Islamicists and other foreign threats to our liberty, if petty government functionaries take it away from us at home?

I hope the bullies who acted in this matter find new careers.

Food services, I’m thinking — “…fries with that?”

I will watch this case with some interest.

(Cross-posted at the Institute.)

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