The First Amendment and Social Media

Lately there has been much criticism levied at social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., and companies who have censored certain postings or statements made by individuals (or employees in the case of employers).  I have heard many conservatives claim that these sites and employers are violating the first amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and think that the government should step in and do something about it because those being censored are political conservatives.  Such criticisms and allegations regarding violations of the first amendment are completely off base.

Do I like that conservatives are censored in this manner?  Absolutely not.  Do I think such censorship is a violation of the first amendment?  Again, absolutely not.  The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”   This guarantee is unambiguous – it is a prohibition against Congress from censoring speech and the press, not private companies such as social media sites and employers.

Conservatives who make this charge need to pause and reflect upon what they are asserting.  They are in effect appealing to the government to force a private company and/or employer to allow individuals who use the companies’ services or who are employed by them to permit their preferred form of expression.  Constitutionalists should understand that the government has no authority under the Constitution to do any such thing.

It is hypocritical for conservatives to make this complaint and appeal to the government while at the same time arguing that the government has no authority to tell bakeries they must provide a cake for a gay wedding or that the government has the authority to tell a company or individual what they can or cannot do with their private property, and so forth.  You cannot argue on the one hand for the government to interfere with a private entity’s business operations when it goes against your preferences while at the same time telling it that it has no authority when it interferes in matters that go against your principles.  That old adage of “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” comes to mind, does it not?

Again, please do not think I applaud the censorship of these firms; I do not.  I find them to be hypocritical as well and cowardly as they cannot handle honest dialogue and debate.  However, as one who believes in trying to consistently adhere to our constitutional principles of limited government and individual right to self-determination, appealing to the government in this case is a slippery slope we as conservatives and constitutionalists do not want to go down.  The solution is to turn to other venues of service, if possible, and if not, to not use them.  Difficult to do and most likely not a successful alternative, but if you cherish the thought of limited government as well as non-governmental interference in your private affairs, this is the position you must regrettably take.

-September 15, 2017


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US Representative’s Job Description

Being a manager in Human Resources over the years, I’ve had many occasions to create job descriptions. I was prompted to think about this the other day when I heard Representative Maxine Waters proclaim that her only reason in running for re-election in 2018 was to continue to pursue the impeachment of President Trump.  So, with my professional background, allow me, Representative Waters, to tell you what you and your colleagues’ job description is per the Constitution.

Most would probably say that the job of our representatives in Congress is to pass laws.  After all, the Constitution plainly states that they comprise half of the national legislature, and legislating involves writing laws.   True, that is the meaning of the term “legislate”, and that is the part of the government to which the Constitution assigns them; but I’d rather they spend time unwriting laws, abolishing regulations and de-authorizing the myriad of departments and agencies they’ve created over the years that have no foundation within the Constitution!  The preacher in the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes concluded by stating a truth “amened” by every student, namely that “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.”  If he were to write that today in view of our Congress he could well have said “Of making laws there is no end, and much regulation wearies the citizenry.”

Though some laws are necessary to the preservation of a civil society and the liberties of its citizens, I would submit that such is not the primary duty in a congressional representative’s job description.  Instead I would point to the last phrase in the first amendment to the Constitution:  “…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Why would the founders have felt the need to add this to the Constitution?  We need look no further than to our Declaration of Independence, for that is exactly the purpose for which it was written and submitted to the British Crown, but to no avail.  The founders had languished under the tyranny of a ruler who brushed aside their petitions for redress, so they wanted to make certain that in the new government they were crafting there would be a mechanism to preserve that ability and right of the people.  So just what is that conduit that is available to us whenever we feel the government has overstepped its authority and is threatening our liberties to seek redress if it is not through our representatives?  Is that not the very meaning of the term “represent”?  Just who are they representing?  Us, their constituents.  To whom are they representing us?  Is it not the national government?

No, no Maxine, your purpose in running for the office of Representative is not to “Impeach 45” (unless he has committed offenses that threaten our liberties, which he has not), but to be the mouthpiece for your fellow citizens when they feel they have been harmed by the government.  Lord knows you have a mouth – you just need to use it for the purpose for which your office intends.

-August 11, 2017

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Why I’m Cheering Actions by Liberal Democrats

I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever be pleased by anything that Jerry Brown, aka Governor “Moonbeam” of California, did, but I am now.  I never thought the leftists in Seattle and Chicago would give me reason to cheer them on, but they have.

No, I’ve not lost my constitutional moorings.  Democrats have been for more and more expansive government intrusion into our rights and constricting our freedom and liberties, and by and large they still are.  However, recent (and some not so recent) actions taken in these local areas has given me reason to cheer.

Two weeks ago, Governor “Moonbeam” announced that the state of California would embrace and abide by the so-called Paris Climate Accords even though President Trump pulled the US out of them.  California is going to sell carbon tax-credits to industries that cannot meet the environmental standards the state will be imposing in order to abide by these accords.  All-in-all, this move is going to make it even harder and more expensive to do business in California.

Moving up the coast to the Peoples’ Republic of Seattle, they have done several “great” things of late.  First, they raised the minimum wage to a ridiculous level, forcing many businesses to either shut down, move out of the city, lay off employees, and/or raise prices for their services and products.  Then they cracked down on the right of Seattle citizens to own firearms and to purchase weapons and ammunition, again with the same result as with restaurants and other service-type businesses.  Now they are imposing a 2.5% tax on individuals earning over $250,000 or $500,000 for couples.

Like Seattle, Chicago has some, if not the most restrictive measures on gun ownership by its citizens.  Yet, despite that, it has the highest murder rate among major US cities.  However, Seattle seems to think Chicago presents an outstanding role model for them to follow in this regard.

So, what makes me applaud these moves?  Simply the fact that liberals have finally embraced the concept of federalism as espoused by our founders and how they envisioned the states would operate under our federal constitution.  We are a country composed of what is supposed to be fifty independent, somewhat sovereign entities who are free to exercise all those powers not delegated to the federal government (which powers are few and defined as Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers).  We have fifty free incubators to test measures to see what works and doesn’t work in the realm of governance.

So you want to limit your citizen’s access to guns for protection?  Look how well that’s doing in Chicago.  You want to impose draconian measures and taxes on businesses?  Watch and see how many of them look to relocate to more business-friendly states.  You want to force businesses to pay more than market rates in the labor force?  See how many of your formally employed citizens come knocking on your city hall doors asking for welfare assistance.  Watch your tax base dwindle as more wealthy individuals along with businesses more out of your city/state limits.

Yes, federalism is a fantastic concept!  It teaches us what works best in preserving freedom and liberty, or in the cases I’ve cited in this essay, the absolutely worst and stupidest policies to pursue.

-July 28, 2017

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Revisiting the Third Amendment

“No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

 Today, most individuals would consider this a “dead’ amendment, worthless, and in need of expunging from its place within the Bill of Rights.  Many probably (out of ignorance of the time in which it was written) find it rather amusing that such a “trifling” matter was inserted into the Constitution.  Let us then re-examine this amendment and see just how relevant it still is today.

Granted, we have no fear of soldiers being quartered in our houses, especially against our will, but that was not the case in colonial America.  British rulers could and did order Americans (British subjects at the time) to house the King’s soldiers and provide them with meals, even if it meant they were turned out of their beds and went without food!  Note that this was not an occupying foreign power forcing this upon the populace (such as the Germans forcing similar lodgings upon say French citizens in WWII), but rather a people’s own government perpetrating this action.  So colossal was this imposition that the framers were determined to make certain that their new government would have severe limitations placed upon it in this regard.

Fine, you may say, but what does this have to do with us today?  To begin with, the actual prohibition, whether we feel it so remote as to be impossible, is still in place.  Yet if you “pull back the curtain” and look at the underlying principle, you can see just how important it is.  In a number of essays, I have referred back to the principle of individual liberty, as enunciated by the 16th century political philosopher John Locke, that it is founded upon the security of individual property rights.  Locke states that whatever we gain by the work of our hands belongs to no one else but us, and no one – including government – has the right to remove it from our hands without our consent.  By forcing Americans to house these soldiers the British government was in effect plundering the private property of its own subjects – something Locke stated it had no moral authority to do.

Fast forward to today and consider my comments in the closing paragraph of my essay from last week (Income Taxes and Bridal Dresses).  The EPA tells us what we can/cannot do with our property.  Fail to pay your property taxes and see just how long you remain in your house before the government seizes it and evicts you.  Fail to pay your income taxes – or at least what the IRS claims you owe – and you may be raided and your assets seized and sold out from under you at pennies on the dollar.  Try to open up a business without first gaining a business permit from the government, or practice a profession you spent years acquiring the necessary knowledge needed, such as in medicine.  All of these things our founders would be aghast at were they to come back to view their creation today.

Many know about the fourth amendment’s protection of our personal matters, but it is the third amendment which sets up this more expansive amendment following it, which constraints are also routinely shredded by our government.

Today, those less knowledgeable about the differences between rights and privileges go about chanting they have a “right” to this that or the other and yet miss the boat on the principle of what should be the shield for preserving our natural, inalienable rights.  It is past time we revisit and elevate the third amendment to its rightful place of respect among the other nine amendments in our Bill of Rights and insist that Washington respect the limits it and the others place upon their power.

-July 21, 2017

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Income Taxes and Bridal Dresses

It has just now come to light that a few months ago, in Garland, Texas, 20 armed IRS agents swooped down upon a mom-and-pop bridal store owned by two elderly immigrants from Thailand and seized their entire inventory and equipment for alleged unpaid back income taxes.  The designer dresses, valued at around $615,000 were sold for pennies on the dollar along with other assets such as sewing machines, a flat screen television, game console as well as the hat of Vietnam Veteran customer who had left it there to have some patches sewn on.  The total net take for the IRS:  around $17,000!  As a result, this elderly couple is left destitute and out of business after 34 years of operation.

The authority upon which the IRS relied in this robbery is 26 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 301.6335-1, “Sale of Seized Property.”  Note that this is not a law passed by the national legislature (Congress), but rather is part of the 80,000+ pages of “laws” promulgated by an unelected bureaucracy (IRS) which has both written “laws” (i.e., regulations) – a legislative act, interpreted how to apply these “laws” – a judicial act, and enforced these “laws” – an executive act.  Clearly no separation of powers as designed by our founders in the Constitution.

Citizens of the United States are guaranteed the right to protection against such acts by our government:   “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (4th Amendment, US Constitution).

According to news reports, the IRS did obtain court authorization upon their presentation of an affidavit, but the broader question is “Was this ‘reasonable’?”  If you read the complete set of guidelines of the CFR I referenced above, it appears the IRS violated its own protocols.  Not only this, but in seizing some of the non-clothing items they seized items outside the court’s authorization, especially the hat that belonged to someone not involved in the tax dispute.  If you or I do that, it’s called “theft of personal property” and we go to jail!

What is more outrageous is the speed with which this was carried out.  According to the CFR there is supposed to be at least a ten-day period between serving notice of the pending sale and the commencement of the sale; but if the IRS believes that the items to be seized are “in jeopardy” of losing their value, the items can be sold immediately without any further due process.  Designer bridal dresses “in jeopardy” of losing their value??  Seriously – weddings are going to cease and the dresses be of no worth unless disposed of immediately?

Clearly this action by the IRS costs us taxpayers much more than what they recovered by the sale of these assets.  Furthermore, the tax returns for the years in question indicate that the couple had a carryover of a net operating loss, and thus no taxes would have been owed.  Also, a memo written by an IRS supervisor obtained via the Freedom of Information Act issued a directive to agents to “shut down this failing business.”  If freedom is to be preserved, this insidious income tax and the agency it gave birth to must go.

We are no longer free my fellow Americans.  Unelected bureaucrats in these unconstitutional agencies (admittedly the IRS was created to enforce the 13th amendment) tell us what we can do with our property (EPA), what products we can produce (Dept. of Commerce), how much people must be paid by employers (DOL), how we are to obtain health care and related insurances (HHS), and how much disposable money from our earnings we’re allowed to keep (IRS).  The government, via these bureaucracies, control our property, our businesses, our health and our incomes, and our representatives in Congress do nothing to stop them.  You tell me – if the government controls these critical aspects of our lives (and there’s more), then how is it we can consider ourselves to be “free”?

-July 14, 2017

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President Trump and Maximus Decimus Meridius

When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had completed their work on crafting what is now our Constitution, as the aged and feeble Benjamin Franklin was being helped away from Independence Hall where the delegates had been meeting, a woman called out to him “Doctor Franklin, what have you got for us?”  His reply was classic – “A republic, madam – if you can keep it!”

There have been a number of republics down through the ages; one of the greatest was the ancient Republic of Rome.  We all know how it was with the advent of Julius Caesar and the subsequent rise of Octavian (aka Augustus Caesar) that the Roman Republic was dealt its death blow and replaced with a monarchial form of government headed by an emperor.

In the movie Gladiator staring Russell Crowe, there is an interesting exchange between Crowe’s character Maximus, the honored general of the Roman army, and the aged and dying Caesar, Marcus.  The conversation takes place in Caesar’s tent following a bloody but victorious battle.  In the conversation, Marcus tries to convince Maximus to be his successor because his own son, Commodus, was evil and not fit to rule.  Allow me to share some clips of their conversation:

MAXIMUS: You sent for me Caesar? [No response. Maximus turns to look at the weak and old Marcus.] Caesar?

MARCUS: Tell me again Maximus, why are we here?

MAXIMUS: For the glory of the empire, Sire.

MARCUS: Ah yes, ah yes. I remember. You see that map, Maximus? That is the world which I created. For 25 years, I have conquered, spilt blood, expanded the empire. Since I became Caesar I have known four years without war – four years of peace in 20. And for what? I brought the sword, nothing more.

MAXIMUS: Caesar, your life…

MARCUS: Please, please don’t call me that. Come here and sit. Let us talk now, together now. Very simply, as men. Well, Maximus, talk.

MAXIMUS: 5,000 of my men are out there in the freezing mud. 3,000 are cleaved and bloodied. 2,000 will never leave this place. I will not believe they fought and died for nothing.

MARCUS: And what would you believe?

MAXIMUS: They fought for YOU and for Rome.

MARCUS: And what is Rome, Maximus?

MAXIMUS: I have seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark. Rome is the light.

MARCUS: Yet you have never been there. You have not seen what it has become. I am dying, Maximus. When a man sees his end he wants to know that there has been some purpose to his life. How will the world speak my name in years to come? Will I be known as the philosopher, the warrior, the tyrant. Or will I be remembered as the Emperor who gave Rome back her true self? There was once a dream that was Rome, you could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish. It was so fragile and I fear that it will not survive the winter.

Maximus, let us whisper now. Together, you and I. You have a son? [Maximus nods.] Tell me about your home.

[Maximus looks a bit surprised at the invitation to hear of his home, but eagerly and proudly describes it — a peaceful happiness overcome him as he speaks.]

MARCUS: I envy you, Maximus. It is a good home. Worth fighting for? [Maximus nods yes and Marcus rises.] There is one more duty that I ask of you before you go home.

MAXIMUS: What will you have me do Caesar?

MARCUS: I want you to become the protector of Rome after I die. I will empower you, to one end alone, to give power back to the people of Rome and end the corruption that has crippled it. [Shock and bewilderment overcome Maximus. He tries to keep from displaying these feelings. Hearing no response, Marcus continues.] Will you accept this great honour that I have offered?

MAXIMUS: With all my heart, no.

MARCUS: [Tenderly holding Maximus’ head with both hands]: Maximus, that is why it must be you.

MAXIMUS: But surely a prefect, a senator, somebody who knows the city, who understands her politics….

MARCUS: But you have not been corrupted by her politics.

If you have seen the movie, you know that Commodus murders his father and assumes the title of Caesar.  He attempts to have Maximus executed but Maximus escapes and ends up as a gladiator.  As a gladiator he ends up fighting in the Coliseum in Rome, and in a one-on-one battle with Commodus, kills him and returns power back to the people.

In 2016 the citizens of this republic elected a non-politician to be our president because we were tired of the corruption of those who have worked their way up the political ladder that is our federal government.  The appeal of Donald Trump to many was he had not been corrupted by the politics of “Rome” (Washington, DC) and pursued the office because of his perceived genuine love for his country and desire to make it great again.

Now, as President, he finds himself in what I would style as the role of a gladiator as well as president.  He is constantly beset by and having to combat those who are corrupt in both political parties, the media and the elite intelligentsia of so-called “higher learning.”

Do I agree with everything President Trump has done?  Absolutely not.  Do I think he is firmly grounded on constitutional principles?  Unfortunately no.  But one thing I do know – he has the tenacity and courage of a gladiator, and with our republic on the brink of vanishing, we need someone who is not afraid to wield a sword in the arena of political combat.

In the 2016 election we had the choice between one in the mold of the corrupt and power-hungry Commodus and one who was not of the political class and was asked by the people to return the power of government to them so that like ancient Rome, America can once again be that shining light on the hill.  Like him or not, President Trump could well turn out to be our Maximus.

-July 7, 2017

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Just What Did We Declare?

This July 4 we will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Parades and concerts will be held, gatherings of family and friends for backyard cookouts will take place, and most citizens will enjoy a day off from work.  However, if you have ever watched any of these “man on the street” interviews where individuals are asked what we celebrate on this day, far, far too many haven’t a clue.  So as we enjoy this day, let’s reflect upon just what our forefathers put their lives, fortunes and sacred honor on the line to declare.

Some, but not enough, of these queried citizens about this day may be able to quote a phrase or two from the Declaration but there is a greater underlying principle to the Declaration than “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

You may wonder what greater principle can there be than the right to equality, life, liberty and happiness?  The answer can be found in the opening sentence of the Declaration and repeated a little further down in the second paragraph.

In that first sentence Jefferson lays out the principle that Nature’s Laws and Nature’s God entitle people to be self-determining when it comes to how they will be governed.  Listen to how he begins:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,…”

Jefferson here claims that people have the right “to assume the powers of the earth” which entitles them to choose with whom they wish to band together into society.  He then proceeds in the second paragraph to expand upon this right by stating that the assuming of this power means they also have the right to determine how the society they formed when banded together is to be governed:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

If a people are not free to choose how they wish to be governed then they live in a state of tyranny and oppression.  As the song recorded by the Rascals in 1968 put it,

All the world over, so easy to see

People everywhere just wanna be free

Listen, please listen, that’s the way it should be

There’s peace in the valley, people got to be free

That same sentiment is inscribed on the base of our Statute of Liberty:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Without self-determination when it comes to governance, there can be no life to speak of for it is life without liberty nor happiness.  Yet as far too many in our country today go about the frivolity of fireworks, concerts, et al, and are oblivious to the fact that we stand at the precipice of losing all that our forefathers declared are our inalienable rights that day 241 years ago.

It is time that we all re-learn the true meaning of this day and commit ourselves to the principles contained within that Declaration.  Five years ago I woke up in the middle of the night and penned the following – a modern update to Jefferson’s Declaration.  I hope you find it worthwhile and will share it with others that we might, like our forefathers, dedicate ourselves to the future freedom of our posterity:

Declaration of Reclamation

-June 30, 2017

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Three “Fixes” to Restoring Freedom and Federalism – Part 3

We’re all familiar with the adage that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  This adage is one that applies to the third “fix” I wish to address, namely the 14th amendment.  The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments compose the trio of “reconstruction amendments” that were necessary to ensure that the newly freed slaves in the South were acknowledged to be citizens and entitled to the full rights of white citizens (although there had been a huge number of non-black slaves in the South as well, and these amendments would also have applied to them).

The need for the amendments arose when President Andrew Johnson vetoed as being an unconstitutional overreach of federal power, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that acknowledged these rights as being afforded to the slaves.  The former slaves were not being accorded their due rights as citizens and it was determined that it was best to amend the Constitution as that would nullify the president’s veto argument and could not be overturned by a future Congress as easily as a piece of legislation could be.  This logic is sound.

However, as well intentioned as this action was, because it was not more clearly defined, the courts over the years have been able to expand upon it and make applications that have led to a major issue with our illegal immigration problem.  It was never intended by the authors to grant citizenship to anyone simply because they were born on US soil – that language was inserted to make it clear that the former slaves who had been born on US soil were now to be considered as citizens; futuristic application to those who had not been slaves was never intended.  Such is an application of constitutional originalism.

 Congress attempted to exercise its power vested in Section 5 of the amendment when Harry Reid of Nevada introduced the Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993 in an effort to correct the misinterpretation of Section 1 of this amendment:

“TITLE X—CITIZENSHIP 4 SEC. 1001. BASIS OF CITIZENSHIP CLARIFIED: “The Congress has determined and hereby declares that any person born after the date of enactment of this title to a mother who is neither a citizen of the United States nor admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, and which person is a national or citizen of another country of which either of his or her natural parents is a national or citizen, or is entitled upon application to become a national or citizen of such country, shall be considered as born subject to the jurisdiction of that foreign country and not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States within the meaning of section 1 of such Article and shall therefore not be a citizen of the United States or of any State solely by reason of physical presence within the United States at the moment of birth.”

A second issue with this amendment is the abuse that has been made over the decades of the so-called “Due Process” clause.  It was unfortunate that this was inserted as the Constitution in the 5th amendment already guaranteed this right.  Because it was joined in this 14th amendment with the use of the word “person” in conjunction with this clause, it has been interpreted by the courts to mean that all those on US soil are entitled to the rights of citizens in this regard.   Again, that is taking this amendment out of its historical context, and as we see has contributed to several of our ills today related to immigration and the attending failure to assimilate into our culture.

So was this amendment necessary?  Yes, unfortunately it was.  Yet the amendment clearly illustrates the law of unintended consequences and needs to be rectified, not by statute or court rulings as these can be overturned by future legislation and court rulings, but amended to clarify the meanings that it was originally intended to set in place.

-April 7, 2017

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Three “Fixes” to Restoring Freedom and Federalism – Part 1

In my last two essays (Badges?  We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges!” and The Real Problem with President Trump’s Tax Return) I touched on the subject of how the general government in Washington, DC is encroaching upon our freedom and chipping away at our liberties.  The underlying problem that is precipitating this encroachment is a government that has expanded outside it’s intended, constitutionally-limited role.  Because of this there has arisen a movement to amend our Constitution via a co-called “Convention of States.”

Such a convention has been grossly misrepresented by those who are promoting it, but to address those misrepresentations would take numerous, lengthy essays and it is not the point of this series of essays.  What I wish to point out in this essay and the two to follow are three amendment changes that should be made a priority that would help to restore our freedom that is being destroyed and returning us to a true federal, republican form of government.

The first of these would be a repeal of the 16th amendment.  This amendment was pushed through by the progressives in both political parties (Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats along with Teddy Roosevelt and the northeastern Republicans) in the turn of the last century.  As I’ve pointed out previously, this amendment granted the power to the government to tax every form of our earnings at any level they deem appropriate (during the 1950s’ the marginal tax rate exceeded 90%!).  Such is a direct assault upon the concept of individual liberty as personal property rights, which includes our incomes, is the foundation of that liberty.  If those wishing to amend our Constitution were serious about it, this would be their number one concern.

Not only does this amendment give the government plenary power over our earnings, our tax forms that are required for reporting our income to the taxing authorities capture even more information about us that the government has no business having any knowledge of.   We are required to tell them how many dependents we have, what type, if any, retirement plans we have and if we received any benefits from them, how much we spent on health costs (which gives a window into our health status), what type of business we own (if we are self-employed), how much we donate to charities, what our occupation is, and on and on and on.  I challenge anyone to give me the article, section and clause in our Constitution that grants the government the right to have any of this information, for such authority is non-existent.

Yes, our Constitution is not perfect – Ben Franklin said as much on the last day of the 1787 convention in Philadelphia when the newly minted Constitution was signed by the delegates.  However, the Constitution has since been “toyed” with by individuals who did not rise to the level of foresight and wisdom of those who first framed it, and the 16th amendment is a prime example that needs to be repealed.

Next week – the 17th amendment.

-March 24, 2017

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The Real Problem with President Trump’s Tax Return

So now the whole world knows.  In 2005 the Trumps paid $38 million in income taxes to the general government, or 25% of their taxable income.  As we follow this “bombshell” dud in the news, pundits are assailing it on multiple fronts, but none are touching on the real problem with this incident.

Most of what I’ve heard is how whoever leaked this return committed a felony in that tax returns are, by law, to be kept private unless the individual chooses to voluntarily make them known.  This incident is used as yet another example of how there are those on the left are trying to undermine the new president and his administration.  All of that is true, but that is not the real problem.

Others have drawn comparisons of how much the Trumps paid in taxes compared to the percentages paid by others, especially those on the left to have attacked the president over how much he paid in taxes or whether or not he even paid any taxes.  It has been rightly pointed out that the president paid an outrageous portion of his income in taxes – twenty-five cents out of every taxable dollar he earned.  This illustrates how counter-productive any income tax system is, namely it punishes success and productivity.  From an economic standpoint and the principle of individual freedom as enunciated by the British political philosopher John Locke in the 17th century, this is a problem, but again, it is not the real problem.

Some commentators have rightly stated that this leak and it’s intended purpose of discrediting the president is illustrative of how dangerous it is for the government to have such information on us and how someone who has something against us can then use that information in an attempt to destroy our lives. This is getting close to the real problem with the president’s tax return, but it is not the real problem.

The real problem with the president’s tax return is that the government has possession of that information to begin with.  Think about it.  Last week I wrote about how the government is violating our fourth amendment rights (Badges?  We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges!) by collecting all of our communication data, but on our income tax returns they capture how much money we earn, perhaps what we spend it on, the status of our health (depending upon our medical deductions), our business dealings and investments, and much more, and they have been doing so since 1913 when the 16th amendment was added to our Constitution.

This real problem with President Trump’s tax return is the same as with yours and mine – the government’s access to all sorts of our private information.  Underlying this real problem is that which gives the government this access, namely the 16th amendment.  If those pushing to amend our Constitution were really serious about restoring individual freedom and our liberties, repealing the 16th amendment would be one of their top three priorities (but more on that next week).

-March 17, 2017

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