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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oppression of the Minority by the Majority: The Progressive Income Tax and the Selective Estate Tax

This is the letter that I wrote to my senatorial representatives concerning the Progressive Income Tax, the selective Estate Tax, the failure of Congress to take control of spending during the 1st two years of President Obama's term, and their illogical dislike of extending tax cuts to all, including the rich, which is a minority, with the same right of equality before the law as everyone else, are currently being oppressed by the majority, the middling and poor of the country.  This is exactly what Paine, Madison, and others described as the tyranny of the majority over the minority.

Dear Senator X,
I very much appreciate your reply to my email concerning the tax-cut extension legislation recently signed by President Obama, as well as your affirmative vote on the extension.  I too believe it was the best thing for the economy right now, but even more so, I saw the importance of being consistent and extending tax cuts to everyone, and not just one portion of society.  However, some of your sentiments concerning the taxing of the rich, as presented and implied in your words in your return email, are, quite frankly, unsettling to me, and I feel that I must explain my own sentiments concerning this issue in return, so that we are on an equal footing as to understanding one another.  While this email may be somewhat lengthy, I hope and would be must appreciative if you will find the time to read it in its entirety, as I feel the issues presented are of extreme importance.

My position is one in which I see the existence of an estate tax levied solely on one portion of the American people, as well as unequal tax rates in the current progressive income tax system as a haunting specter of the very thing that destroys liberty; inequality before the law and subsequent injustice.  Because the current estate tax will tax the estates of only a small percentage of the American people, a minority, while imposing no such taxes on the rest of the nation, the majority, this piece of legislation (for a tax is a piece of legislation, as we both know) will instill inequality before the law, and will result in further inequality, economic hatred and warfare, and injustice in the American governmental system and society.  It is also establishes a form of aristocracy, a portion of society that are legally set above the rest of society, legally established as superior, be a majority or minority, rich or poor. 

In my view, federal taxation and the tax rates should be uniform through out the entire union, where if a tax is to be levied, it must be paid by all, and at a uniform, or flat rate.  This would be the only way to instill true equality before the law, in terms of taxation, and would naturally result in justice and fairness, a true egalitarian society, at least as egalitarian as is possible.  This is the type of taxation that is harmonious with the principles of a free society, a liberal political and social view, and with the practices and beliefs of a country of liberty.  For in a free government, there will always be inequality of some sort, mostly natural inequalities resulting from natural situations and conditions.  Indeed, James Madison, in one of his letters to Thomas Jefferson concerning the ratification of the federal Constitution and the need of a powerful executive veto, dated Oct. 24th, 1787, wrote,

“[i]n all civilized societies, distinctions are various and unavoidable.  A distinction of property results from that very protection which a free government gives to unequal faculties of acquiring it.  There will be rich and poor; creditors and debtors; a landed interest, a monied interest, a mercantile interest, a manufacturing interest.  In addition to these natural distinctions, artificial ones will be founded, on accidental differences in political, religious or other opinions, or an attachment to the persons of leading individuals.  However erroneous or ridiculous these grounds of dissention and faction, may appear to the enlightened statesman, or the benevolent philosopher, the bulk of mankind who are neither statesmen nor philosophers, will continue to view them in a different light.  It remains then to be enquired whether a majority having any common interest, or feeling any common passion, will find sufficient motives to restrain them from oppressing the minority.”

But under the current income tax system, and with the presence of this unequal estate tax, we have unnatural, “legalized” inequalities set up by the very federal government that is supposed to keep these unnatural, state sponsored inequalities at bay.  In other words, Congress has set up an inverse aristocracy, protected by law where the minority is not.  It has established by law the majority of society as above the minority, the rich, because the rich, due to their wealth, are not worthy of paying the same tax rate as those who are less monetarily affluent.  This is exactly the same thing as legally establishing the rich as above the rest of society due to their wealth, giving them certain privileges that the rest of society are not allowed to have.  I would presume that you maintain the belief that it is unjust when the rich oppress the poor.  But, do you also find it just as unjust when the poor oppress the rich?  Would you find it just, fair, and equal to have a certain privately owned and run restaurant/business charge more for their food/commodities for the rich than for the middling class or poor?  How about the reverse situation, with the poor being charged more than the rich?  It isn’t legal or just when private owners of restaurants turn certain customers away due to the color of their skin, and it wouldn’t be legal or just if these same restaurant or business owners were to charge certain individuals more because of the color of their skin.  That is discrimination, racism.  So why should it be legal, fair, and just for the federal government or state governments to discriminate based on wealth or income level?  That seems like economic discrimination. 

As shown in the above quote by James Madison, Madison felt it was important to design the federal government as one that would protect the rights of all, not just the democratic majority, but the minority as well.  The tyranny of the majority, and the consequent oppression of the minority is exactly what is happening with the current income tax system with unequal tax rates, as well as the existence of an estate tax that applies to only certain income level earners.  Those who are labeled rich, which one could reasonably argue is done rather arbitrarily by Congress, who set the tax rates, are the minority, while the majority fall within the middle-class and lower-class.  And under the current aforementioned tax system, it is the majority, both in Congress and the nation, who is currently oppressing the rights of the minority, the rich.  The majority is violating the minority’s rights to their property, be it money, their landed property, their material property, or all of the above in the form of an estate.  But specifically, the majority is also violating the right to equality before the law and the right to pay the same equal as everyone else, in the form of an unequal income tax rate and in the form of an estate tax that is only levied on the minority, while the majority gets a free ride and is not bound by that particular piece of legislation.  With the current estate tax, it is levied only on one small portion of the American population, once again, the rich, who make up the minority, who have just as much a right to their property as the next man, and who has just as much right to equality before the law as the majority does.  Therefore, when you write that the recently passed tax-cuts legislation contained too generous an estate tax rate on estates worth so much money or more, one which you dislike, it appears, it shows me that you care not for the greater right, both politically and morally, of equality before the law, where the laws apply equally and with an equal force to everyone living in America.  Rather, it shows me that you care more for inequality before the law, as long as it has achieved what appears to be a very popular sentiment of overzealousness and breaking other laws, both of nature, morality and liberty, in order to do one good thing. 

It appears that this popular sentiment, which your words seem to indicate that you subscribe to, would use unfair and unequal means to achieve a very fleeting and feeble version of “fairness” and “equality” in material and monetary possessions, as if flinging more money toward a problem would solve it.  The only means of true equality and true freedom is equality before the law, under a free government.  Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said "[t]he Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”  You cannot provide it for them.  True happiness is inherent in acquiring something for oneself, and this best and most effectively happens in a country where all its inhabitants are on an equal footing before the law, and thus have legally equal opportunity.

Indeed, concerning the tyranny of the majority over the minority, Thomas Paine’s most recent biographer, John Keane, who was praised for his work on Paine by renowned, Pulitzer Prize winning American Revolution era historian Gordon S. Wood, said the following of Paine, on his beliefs on the Pennsylvania Bank of North America controversy in the mid 1780’s:

"Two generations before Alexis de Tocqueville's famous discourse on the same subject, Paine pointed to the practical danger of a tyranny of the majority inherent in the principle of popular sovereignty.  In the name of the people, elected representatives could exercise what Paine called, 'the despotism of numbers.'  Lusting for power, the ultimate aphrodisiac, representatives of majorities acting in the name of the people could oppress minorities.  The poor could tyrannize the rich; the propertyless could assault the propertied; or one party of citizens could rule arbitrarily over all others, just as the Radicals were now attempting to do on the question of the bank [Bank of North America, in Philadelphia, PA]."

“The poor could tyrannize the rich; the propertyless could assault the propertied; or one party of citizens could rule arbitrarily over all others…”

Is this not exactly what is happening with our current income tax and estate tax system?  The poor tyrannizing the rich?  It certainly seems that way.  And it makes me queasy to think that this is being allowed to happen in a free country that is governed by a free government, elected by a free people.  This is exactly what Madison, Paine and others feared would continue to happen in the states if a new federal government, with enhanced powers was not installed in the United States, except that now it is happening on a federal level, something I don’t think Madison or Paine could have thought possible in free country.  How can the American people and their elected representatives have forgotten so much of our founding principles, so as to condone this tyrannizing of the minority, and passively sit idly by and let it continue?

As a constituent of yours, I cannot subscribe to, nor understand your dislike of lower tax rates, income and estate, for the rich that are present in the new tax-cut legislation, where it seems that you and other Senate and House Democrats feel that the problem isn’t spending, but revenue.  There is a reason debts increase, and it is not because there isn’t enough revenue.  If revenue intake stopped, along with spending, the debt would remain the same.  Rather, it is solely because the holder of the acquired revenue continues to spend and spend, that the debt continues to increase.  And as you mentioned, the current figure for the national debt is $13 trillion.  Attaining more revenue by taxing the minority of the rich will not reduce the national debt.  Rather, cutting spending and redirecting the tax revenue that would once have gone to those spending programs, but now put towards the relief of the national debt would indeed reduce the national debt.  This is the problem with the Democratic party in Congress right now.  They see the $13 trillion national debt as primarily a revenue problem, when it is truly a spending problem.  They dislike equality and justice in taxation because it would prevent such lavish spending that they would live to implement, be it for good or bad.  Undoubtedly, more revenue would help to decrease the debt, but only if spending were curbed and cut, and the new revenue went solely to the payment of the national debt, which doesn’t seem to be happening now nor in the near future, at least with the Democratic party.  Perhaps the newly elected Republican party will be just as bad, but we have yet to be able to judge of that.  It requires a large revenue, which would mean huge tax rates and multiple pieces of tax legislation heaped upon the backs of the people, that would allow huge spending to continue, and this is not at all the solution to the problem of our large debt.  Rather, it is a cut in spending, and paying off of the debt that would help settle our debt problem, not increased revenue for increased spending. 

The past two years have not seen a reduction in spending, but rather, an increase in spending, be it in the form of the two stimulus packages, the auto and banking bailouts, the new healthcare bill, the continued wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the continued presence of our troops in countries like Japan, South Korea, and Germany (which although brings a small income, the cost of keeping them there, supplied, and trained must be quite high), etc.  We have seen absolutely no effort put forth by the past two year’s Democratic controlled Congress and executive branch to alleviate the national debt by redirecting current tax revenue from spending to debt relief.  Rather, we have seen continued borrowing, taxing, and increased spending of that tax revenue for projects, be they good or bad, some misguided, and some of merit, but not concurrent with the times, economic situations, and the sentiments of the people of the country.  And while I appreciate your vote on the extension of the tax-cuts, and that you felt it would be better for the current economy if the middle-class had lower taxes, your, and other Democrats’ insistence on, and apparent hope for, the continued oppression of the minority, the rich, in the form of unequal taxation is disappointing.  I am not rich myself, therefore I have no economic or special interest in protecting the rights of the rich, and if I were an immoral individual, I too would probably jump on the “destroy-and-take-from-the-rich-bandwagon” as well, so that I may benefit from the income redistribution too.  But, I am a moral person, and I am also a historically aware individual, and as such, I will forever cry out in as loud a voice as I can muster, for the protection of the rights of all Americans and all mankind, both the majority and the minority, both rich or poor, both debtor and creditor, land owner and land renter.  And I will forever condemn and cry out against the injustice of oppressing any individual or group of Americans and humans, and of the violation of their rights.

These are my sentiments, as a resident of, and voter in CA.  I call for equality before the law, which is a right of every American, as was the battle cry of the former slaves, the manumitted slaves during the Jim Crow years, and during the Civil Rights movement.  It was and is the battle cry of all minorities in America who were/are oppressed and denied their rights strictly because they were/are a minority, and stood against the oppression of the tyrannical majority.  And this equality before the law should come in the form of all types of legislation, including taxation, which means that if we are to have a federal income tax, in order to comply with the dictates of a free government, a society of liberty, equality before the law, and fairness and justice, the income tax must needs be levied on every individual in America, and at a flat/uniform rate.  This flat rate would still bring in more revenue from the rich, alleviating the situations of the poor, and would place everyone on an equal footing before the law.  The same goes for an estate tax.  If we are to have a federal estate tax, the equal, fair, and just thing to do would be to bind all Americans by it, and levy it on all of them, at an equal rate, which would have the same benefits as described above concerning the flat rate income tax.  Either this, or have no estate tax and income tax at all. 

As evidence of the effectiveness of a welfare system with a flat-rate revenue intake system, we need look no further than the welfare system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose influence and population is worldwide, and in great numbers, and whose headquarters are located in Salt Lake City, UT.  The LDS church welfare system is based on a few various sorts of revenue intake systems, namely tithing (10% of one’s collected/earned income, before tax-reduction), fast offerings, missionary funds, member donations/charity, etc.  The LDS church welfare system is one of the, if not THE most effective and best in the entire world, because it is based on the best principles.  And the most remarkable fact about the LDS church welfare system is that it is ENTIRELY voluntary.  There is no coercion or force of payment like there is in government taxation upon penalty of criminal prosecution.  Information concerning the LDS church’s welfare program,a nd the principles it is based upon, can be found by consulting the following links:

I realize that having a completely voluntary welfare system here in America would be impracticable due to the lack of morality and charity in the American society, which although there is much, much more than in most other nations in the world, there is still probably not enough to support the poor entirely on a voluntary system.  Thus, coerced or forced methods of payment into the national treasury, AKA taxation, is of obvious necessity.  However, just because taxation is a requirement in a society made up of fallible human beings doesn’t mean we have to have a tax system that is unjust, unfair, unequal, and oppressive, viz a progressive income tax and an estate tax that applies to only a certain portion of the country, and not to the rest.  What gives the poor more right to their property than the rich?  What gives the poor a right to keep a larger portion of their property than the rich?  Are the rich inferior to the poor so as to merit taking more of the riches’ property than the poor’s property?  Are the poor better or more exalted by society and our Maker so as to merit them unworthy of the same rights of all mankind, and therefore of a lesser worth?  I was taught by the founders of this nation, as well as my religious preferences, that all humankind are created equal, and that ALL humankind are deserving of the rights endowed within them from their Creator, rights both civil and natural.  Not only was I taught these principles of truth, but our entire government is based on, and secures these principles as well.  Do you think otherwise?  Do you think that the rich, merely because they have more wealth, are not worthy of their rights, so as to enslave them, economically and legislatively to the poor and middling classes?  Because that is exactly what the current income tax and estate tax system does.  They are forever doomed to an inferior status before the law and in the eyes of society simply because of their wealth, which is no true measure of their hearts and worth.  That is not equality before the law, nor is it justice, nor is it fairness. 

Thus, while I am appreciative of your support in extending the tax-cuts to all Americans, I cannot agree with your and other Democrats’ and Americans’ beliefs concerning your view of what is an “appropriate,” “fair,” “just,” “effective,” and “equal” welfare system that is based on taking more from certain individuals in order to help other individuals, whether they are deserving or not.  All are deserving of their rights and of help, not just a certain portion of society.  All individuals are equal before the law and have equal claim on their rights, equality before the law being one of them.

What Can You Do For Your Country?

John F. Kennedy said these famous words:

"Ask not what your country can do for you...ask what you can do for your country."

So I have a query that I would like to address to all my Facebook friends, indeed, the entire country.

Does "asking what you can do for your country" include upholding all aspects and all parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights,even those you don't agree with, and not just upholding and protecting those selective parts we agree with, ignoring and subverting those parts we find irritating and inconvenient, or dare I say "incompatible" with or "impractical" in the times we live in?  Does that include defending the very principles of freedom, natural and civil rights, and liberty that "our" country was founded upon, no matter the situation and time period?

I most definitely and resoundingly declare YES, that is doing something for your country.  But what say you?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Right to Bear ALL Arms.

I submitted one of pieces of writing concerning the 2nd Amendment to the BYU Provo campus newspaper, called the Daily Universe, and they decided to run it on their opinion page for Thursday, 1/13/11's edition.  My argument, in response to an opinion piece written in response to the Tuscon, Arizona tragedy, concerning the need for legal limitations on what types of guns people may keep and bear, is that due to 2nd Amendment's wording, using the general word "arms",  Congress nor any other government entity or branch, be it federal or state, has the authority to limit the types of arms or firearms the people may keep and bear.  Because of the length constraints placed on the newspaper articles being published, my original version had to be thinned down considerably, and because my original version has more evidence that would help in persuading the reader, I will provide both versions, first the newspaper version, followed by my original version.  For readers of this blog, please read both.

Here is the article I wrote my piece in response to:

Newspaper Version:

BY Casey Beres
In response to Tuesday’s viewpoint “The right to bear some arms,” before we can consider whether or not the government should limit the types of firearms the people may keep and bear, we must first consider whether the government has the authority to do so.
While in what some would likely deem a “perfect world” the government would have no limitations, and have complete power to legislate however it pleased, we Americans, thankfully, do not live under such conditions. Rather, we live under a federalist, multi-tiered governmental system that was purposefully limited in its scope of powers, both in the specific enumeration of powers delegated to the different branches of the federal government, and in the Bill of Rights, which further limits those powers. 
I do not believe the federal government has such authority, as the Constitution now stands.  This is specifically because the Second Amendment uses broad language in the use of the word “arms,” stating “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Keeping this in mind, I think we are skipping a significant step in the argument over gun control. That step is delegating to the government the actual authority to limit arms. 
The wording of the Second Amendment is not specific as to what kinds of arms the people may keep and bear. We must remember that even back in the era when the Constitution was first written, there were different kinds of firearms. 
Had it been the intention of the framers of the Constitution, specifically James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, to limit the types of arms the people may keep and bear, I believe he would have purposefully used very particular language in writing what came to be the Second Amendment.
According to at least one American Revolution-era historian, Jack Rakove, in his book “Declaring Rights, a Brief History with Documents,” Madison did not approve of the wording of what came to be the First Amendment, which the Senate had revised behind closed doors.
Madison wanted very specific language in the First Amendment concerning religion and the right of conscience, but the Senate changed his wording. So, the House of Representatives then changed the wording again, with the help of Madison, before its final adoption. 
In addition, if we look at all the bills of rights for 13 of the state constitutions written in the 1770s and 1780s, we see the exact same wording as in the Second Amendment, namely the use of “arms” in general. Therefore, when the Second Amendment uses “arms” in general, as opposed to the more specific “firearms,” there is no attempt to limit or specify any particular kind of arms the people may keep and bear. 
Rather, individuals, according to the broad wording of “arms,” maintain the right to keep and bear “arms” in general, be it swords, spears, knives, bows and arrows, or firearms of any kind, indeed, anything that might be used to protect oneself, one’s property or one’s country. 
If Congress is to limit the arms the people may keep and bear, they must first be given the authority to do so, by means of a constitutional amendment stating Congress now has that authority.  It would also require very specific language, stating exactly what kinds of firearms or arms Congress would be able to limit or prohibit.
We must remember that American government is one of laws, and not of men or the will of men, be they the majority, the minority or individuals. As such, we must abide by the laws and make our laws in a lawfully established manner. 
In order to prevent the government from being able to interpret the Constitution as it pleases, which it cannot do (for Congress has not the power to legislate concerning the definition of words or meanings of clauses), and arbitrarily assume powers it truly doesn’t have, a constitutional amendment allowing Congress to limit the kinds of arms the people may keep and bear is in order.


In response to Tuesday's article, entitled “The Right to Bear Some Arms,” I would like to discuss the authority of the government to legislate on limitations of the types of firearms that the people may keep and bear.  In America today, there are the two extremes of banning firearms outright, and having no limits on firearms, or rather, “arms,” whatsoever.  But then there’s the middle ground argument, one like Jades’, which suggests that instead of these two extremes, there should be limitations on what kinds of arms the individual has the right to keep and bear. 

While in what some would likely deem a “perfect world,” where government had no limitations, and had complete power to do whatever, and legislate however it pleased, “in all cases whatsoever,” to quote the 1766 British Parliamentary “Declaratory Act,” we Americans do not live under such conditions.  Rather, we live under a federalist, multi-tiered governmental system that was purposefully limited in its scope of powers, both in the specific enumeration of what powers the different branches of that federal governmental system are allowed to exercise, and in the Bill of Rights (and subsequent amendments), which further limited the powers that might be inferred from the somewhat broad language of the Constitution.  Therefore, I do not believe that the federal government has the authority, as the Constitution now stands, to limit what kinds of arms individuals may keep and bear.  This is specifically because the 2nd Amendment uses broad language in the use of the word “arms,” stating “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “arms” in this sense as “[i]nstruments of offence used in war; weapons. fire-arms: those for which gunpowder is used, such as guns and pistols, as opposed toswordsspears, or bows.”  Therefore, when the 2nd Amendment uses “arms” in general, as opposed to the more specific “firearms”, there is no attempt to limit or specify any particular kind of arms the people may keep and bear.  In other words, under the current 2nd Amendment language, the government does not have the authority to legally limited what kinds of arms the people may keep and bear. 

Therefore, I think we are skipping a significant step in this argument on limitations on the kinds of arms people may keep and bear.  That step is delegating to the government the actual authority to do so.  Back in the era when the Constitution was first written, there were only so many kinds of arms, and if we consider only firearms, we could limit the category even further.  But, the fact still remains that there were different kinds of firearms in those days.  Firearms in that era consisted of muskets, rifles (a musket with a grooved barrel, providing increased accuracy and range, making it a more deadly, as opposed to a smooth barrel musket), pistols, and cannon/artillery.  Thus, there were really only three kinds of firearms: muskets (rifles included), pistols, and cannon.  And even then, there were such things as multi-barrel pistols and multi-volley artillery, which made it possible for the wielder of said weapon to wound or eliminate more of the enemy in a quicker amount of time, which has been the weapons expert’s main goal since the invention of weaponry. 

But in accordance with the aforementioned definition of “arms,” considering the 2nd Amendment wording, it is not specific as to what kinds of arms the people may keep and bear.  Rather, it is broad, meaning “arms” in general.  Had it been the intention of the framers of the Constitution, and specifically the framer of the Bill of Rights, James Madison, to limit the types of arms the people may keep and bear, I believe he would have purposefully used very particular language in writing what came to be the 2nd Amendment.  This is because we know from historical fact, according to at least one American Revolution era historian, Jack Rakove, in his book “Declaring Rights, a Brief History with Documents,” on page 187, that Madison did not approve of the language and wording of what would come to be the 1st Amendment, that the Senate had revised behind closed doors.  Madison wanted very specific language in the 1st Amendment concerning religion and the right of conscience, but his wording was changed by the Senate, and then re-changed, with the help of Madison in the House of Representatives before its final adoption. 

And if we look at all the bills of rights added to each of the 13 state constitutions during the 1770’s and 1780’s, we see the exact same wording as in the 2nd Amendment, namely the use of “arms” in general, except in the New York constitution, which provides no clause concerning arms in its bill of rights.  And only one state constitution, Georgia’s, says the legislature shall have the authority to prescribe the manner in which the people may bear arms. 

Therefore, I do not think that, under the 2nd Amendment, the Congress has the authority to limit what kinds of arms individuals may keep and bear.  Rather, individuals, according to the broad wording of “arms,” maintain the right to keep and bear “arms” in general, be it swords, pikes, knives, bows and arrows, firearms of any kind, indeed, anything that might be used to protect oneself, ones property, or ones state/country, given the very broad definition of the word “arms.” 

Thus, if Congress is to limit the arms the people may keep and bear, they must first be given the authority to do so, by means of the Constitution.  This means that there would first need be a constitutional amendment that stated that Congress now has the authority to limit what kinds of arms people may keep and bear, and in very specific language, such as: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, except in those cases where the ‘arms’ being kept and born are capable of mass destruction in a short amount of time; thus, the Congress shall have the authority to limit what kinds of arms the people may keep and bear, by the limitations and description of the previous clause concerning weapons of mass destruction, but shall not have the authority to infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms of a nature that are not capable of mass destruction in a short amount of time (perhaps adding those specific types of arms capable of doing so).” 

We must remember that in America, we have a government of laws, and not of men or the will of men, be they the majority, the minority, or individuals, even those individuals in the government.  And as such, we must abide by the laws and make our laws in a lawfully established manner.  I believe a constitutional amendment would be necessary because of this fact, and also because of the tyranny of the government in the form of assumption of powers it does not have.  In order to prevent the government from being able to interpret the Constitution as it pleases, which it cannot do (for Congress has not the power to legislate concerning the definition of words or meanings of clauses), and arbitrarily assume powers it truly doesn’t have, a constitutional amendment allowing Congress to limit the kinds of arms the people may keep and bear is in order.  Such a constitutional amendment would need to come first before discussing this matter as to whether legislation concerning the limitation of the kinds of arms the people may keep and bear should or should not take place.
In reply to James Prestwich’s letter “Commerce Clause,” I would like to discuss the relation of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution’s 7 articles. The Bill of Rights contains the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which by definition, altered the ratified Constitution, further limiting the powers enumerated in the 7 articles.

If the current Constitution contained no 2nd Amendment, I might be willing to concede your view that the Commerce Clause allows Congress to “restrict commerce in firearms as a product as long as the firearm or component of it crosses state lines during or after production.” But, the 2nd Amendment effectively amends Article 1 Section 8. Thus, Congress can’t prevent certain types of arms from being sold, bought, possessed, or transported by restricting the commerce of firearms or their components. The 2nd Amendment specifically prohibits Congress from exercising such authority via the Commerce Clause.

In Thursday’s article, I purposely refrained from commenting on whether or not Congress could regulate “who” in particular may keep and bear arms, as well as on whether Congress could regulate the sale/purchase/transport of arms in the form of specific requirements to be able to do so, or the specific manner in which this is to be done. Rather, my argument was that Congress cannot say that “weapon/firearm type A” may not be sold, bought, possessed, or transported by anyone, or prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms in general, no matter how legitimate the reason, because the 2nd Amendment trumps and amends the powers delegated to Congress via the Commerce Clause.

The Right to Bear ALL Arms.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Importance of Knowing and Frequently Studying the History of America: From the Mouth of Thomas Paine

"[Thomas] Paine's anomie worsened through the summer.  He dealt with it by retreating to the Library Company of Philadelphia to research and write an extended commentary on some aspects of the history of the American Revolution.  Paine had often talked of writing such a history.  Future generations of American, he used to say, would require an accurate account of their infant years, since their remembrance of things past would serve, whenever necessary, as a powerful weapon against those who sought by stealth or force to violate the country's founding principles."

"Tom Paine, a Political Life." - John Keane

How right Paine was too.  The Constitution was read in full in the House of Representatives for the very first time in history just a week ago, a historic precedent, one which should be happen every little while, say every year, I think.

You can read Paine's account of the American Revolution, "Letter to the the Abbe Raynal, on the Affairs of North America," his response to the Frenchman Abbe Raynal's essay entitled "Revolution d'Amerique", here:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Constitution for all humanity: The 10 Commandments/"Natural Law" and "natural law" (God's Law)

This note is inspired by the early American "revolutionary thinkers" of the 1760s and 1770s, in particular, James Otis and his 1764 writing called "The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved."

If you think about it, the 10 Commandments are man's Constitution, written by God, for humanity; and humanity is to govern themselves by the 10 Commandments, therefore they are humanity's supreme law, just as the US Constitution is the supreme law of the USA, and each state's supreme law is their State Constitution, in as much as it abides by and does not violate the Federal Law and the USA Constitution. For never once has God repealed or altered the "10 Commandments". He has added other "commandments" in his modern day revelations, commandments for this modern day dispensation and for his restored gospel to be spread through out the world, but they in no way go against, contradict, invalidate, or alter the "10 Commandments" given on Mt. Sinai. 

This brings James Otis's above mentioned writing into observation. James Otis, a lawyer from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, writes:

"But let the origin of government be where it may, the end of it is manifestly the good of the whole. Salus populi suprema lex esto [let the welfare of the people be the supreme law], is of the law of nature, and part of that grand charter given the human race (though too many of them are afraid to assert it) by the only monarch in the universe, who has a clear and indisputable right to absolute power; because he is the only ONE who is omniscient as well as omnipotent..."

"To say the [British] parliament is absolute and arbitrary, is a contradiction. The parliament cannot make 2 and 2, 5. Omnipotency cannot do it. The supreme power in a state, is jus dicere [to declare the law (judges/judiciary)] only:-jus dare [to give or make the law (legisalture/legislative)], strictly speaking, belongs alone to God. Parliaments [and Congresses] are in all cases to declare [DECLARE] what is for the good of the whole; but it is not the declaration of parliament that makes it so: There must be in every instance, a higher authority, viz. GOD. Should an act of parliament [or Congress] be against any of his natural laws, which are immutably true, their declaration would be contrary to eternal truth, equity and justice, and consequently void: and so it would be adjudged by the parliament itself, when convinced of their mistake."

Any words appearing in brackets [] are my personal additions.

James Otis is asserting that any law made by men by means of man's government, that is contrary to or goes against God's laws/"natural law", and indeed "Natural Law", which God himself is bound by, is automatically void, and cannot and should not be declared by any government of man. God is the supreme law maker for all His creations, including humanity. But I also personally believe God himself is bound by what I term "Natural Law" with a capital "N", meaning eternal laws of Nature that God himself must obey; for something cannot be created out of nothing-it something must be created out of something. Thus, any law or commandment He makes and gives to humanity must obey these "Natural Laws". These laws/commandment that God Himself gives to humanity are what I deem "natural law" with a lower case "n", or "God's Law". Thus, because God must obey "Natural Law", the 10 Commandments, which can be deemed "natural law/God's Law" are in and of themself automatically "Natural Law". And any law that man creates must not violate or contradict "God's Laws/natural law" or "Natural Law". And if they do, then they are automatically and immediately void, and should be repealed when man's government is made known of their error. Therefore, God is both jus dare and jus dicere, the supreme law giver and law declarer for all humanity. 

This is my personal belief, based off of scripture study, modern day revelation from God to His Prophet, and the study of historical writings of American Patriots, who I personally believe were very much inspired by the Lord in many many ways. 

I add more to this note, adding more quotes from the same essay by James Otis quoted above, my own commentary, as well the lyrics to the LDS church hymn "The Iron Rod", being that the word(s) of God and his laws/commandments will "safely guide us through".

- James Otis Quotes:

"With regard to the parliament [you can substitute Congress], as infallibility belongs not with mortals, it is possible they may have been misinformed and deceived. The power of parliament is uncontroulable, but by themselves, and we must obey. They only can repeal their acts. There would be an end of all government, if one or a number of subjects or subordinate provinces should take upon them so far to judge of the justice of an act of parliament, as to refuse obedience to it. If there was nothing else to restrain such a step, prudence ought to do it, for forcibly resisting the parliament and the King's laws, is high treason. Therefore let the parliament [or congress] lay what burthens [burdens] they please on us, we must, it is our duty to submit and patiently bear them, till they will be pleased to relieve us. And it is to be presumed, the wisdom and justice of that august assembly, always will afford us relief by repealing such acts, as through mistake, or other human infirmities, have been suffered to pass, if they can be convinced that their proceedings are not constitutional, or not for the common good.

Every subject [citizen] has a right to give his [or her] sentiments to the public, of the utility or inutility of any act whatsoever, even after it is passed, as well as while it is pending.-The equity and justice of a bill may be questioned, with perfect submission to the legislature. Reasons may be given, why an act ought to be repealed, and yet obedience must be yielded to it till that repeal takes place. If the reasons that can be given against an act, are such as plainly demonstrate that it is against natural equity, the executive courts will adjudge such acts as void. It may be questioned by some, though I make no doubt of it, whether they are not obliged by their oaths to adjudge such acts void."

"With regard to the public, it is the duty of every good citizen to point out what he thinks erroneous in the commonwealth..."

"The sum of my argument is, [t]hat civil government is of God [see D&C 134, and the 11th and 12th Articles of Faith]: that the administrators of it were originally the whole people: that they might have devolved it on whom they pleased [representatives]: that this devolution is fiduciary [involving trust], for the good of the whole..."

In other words, God's laws are natural laws, and cannot and should not be broken by man, including human legislatures. If any law passed by a human legislature be contrary to God's laws and commandments, it is automatically void. However, every citizen of that civil government where such a void law is passed has the right to petition to the both the public and the legislature for it's repeal, giving reasons as to why he/she should think it should be repealed. And the civil legislature that passed that void law, once made known of their mistake, has the duty and obligation to repeal such law. But, while that law is yet to be repealed, every citizen has the obligation and duty to obey that void law until it is formally repealed by the civil legislature.

This is where I disagree with Otis, however. For it seems that Otis might be asserting that obedience is required by the people even when the law is contrary to or creates the opposite situation of God's laws/commandment, going directly against His commandments. Perhaps I am wrong in this interpretation of Otis' words, but for me, I find myself of the opinion that Otis' sentiments of obedience to the laws of human legislatures applie to all laws excepting those that go contrary to God's laws, those that create the opposite of God's laws/commandments. For there are instances in the Holy Bible where the legislatures of man declared a law that went contrary to the 10 Commandments, most notably when King Nebuchadnezzar created a golden image, ordered all to bow down and worship it, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to do so, thus being cast into the furnace and rescued by Christ. Another instance is where the Persian King Darius was confused into signing into law that no man shall pray or make a petition to any God, save of King Darius, for 30 days. Upon hearing this, Daniel, one of the three presidents created by Darius, went out on his balcony and prayed to his God, and was thus thrown into the lion's den. We have plenty examples of instances where men of God have boldly disobeyed laws issued and decreed by the legislatures of men that defiantly and directly go against and even take a reverse course against, the commandments/laws of God. But, that does not mean this gives anyone the right to violently protest such laws. All protests/petitions must be done in a peaceful and legal manner. Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, and Daniel all accepted their legal punishments for breaking the law, wherein they were all protected and saved by God, thus adding a testimony to those rulers who created such laws disobedient to God's laws, wherein those laws were swiftly repealed once God himself had made it known to those rulers that they had created laws that went contrary to His. 

But with laws that do not violate God's laws and commandments, every citizen has the right to petition the public and legislature as to why he/she feels that law should be repealed, and give reasons why, but because that law does not violate God's laws and commandments, it doesn't have to be and should not be repealed.

Lyrics to "The Iron Rod":

"1. To Nephi, seer of olden time,
A vision came from God,
Wherein the holy word sublime
Was shown an iron rod.

Hold to the rod, the iron rod;
’Tis strong, and bright, and true.
The iron rod is the word of God;
’Twill safely guide us through.

2. While on our journey here below,
Beneath temptation’s pow’r,
Through mists of darkness we must go,
In peril ev’ry hour.


3. And when temptation’s pow’r is nigh,
Our pathway clouded o’er,
Upon the rod we can rely,
And heaven’s aid implore.


4. And, hand o’er hand, the rod along,
Through each succeeding day,
With earnest prayer and hopeful song,
We’ll still pursue our way.


5. Afar we see the golden rest
To which the rod will guide,
Where, with the angels bright and blest,
Forever we’ll abide.

Text: Joseph L. Townsend, 1849–1942

Music: William Clayson, 1840–1887

1 Nephi 15:23–25

1 Nephi 8; 1 Nephi 12:17."

Thoughts on Legal vs. Illegal Immigration into the United States of America.

This Arizona immigration law escapade is getting way out of hand, especially on the opposition side. In my opinion, their rhetoric is flawed and so is their understanding of this country and it's laws, and they are confusing the differences between Civil Rights, Natural Rights and Human Rights.

I will come out and say it right now, I am not for racial profiling in anyway whatsoever, but I am for obeying the law as long as it is in effect. We cannot disobey any law any time we feel like it, one or many that we feel is/are contrary to our individual interests and desires. That would result in anarchy, and the creators of this nation, Republicans, in the true historical sense of the word (those who favor a republic), not today's modern day political party knew exactly that. And a republic is ruled by law, not by men; men only execute, establish (by means of representation by ballot), and declare the law. And anyone who has entered this country, stays here, and works here without documentation or permission by our elected officials in the government is breaking both federal and state law. Many of these protesters, legal immigrants or not, repeatedly hold up signs stating they are humans too. Nobody doubts or questions that. And as human beings we are all granted certain inalienable, natural, and human rights. But, with that being said, the following also holds true: Just because you are a human being does not give you the right to enter any country with an established national government and take up residence there any time you feel like it without the legal permission of that nation's people and their representatives. This is fact and known the world 'round. I could not imagine myself entering Japan without the Japanese government's permission, and then trying to live and work there without their knowing it or without their permission. This also cannot be expected in Korea, China, Vietnam, England, France, Hungary, Ghana, Russia, Haiti, etc. This would not be acceptable for me to do even in Canada or Mexico, the two closest boarders with the U.S. Indeed, this would not be allowed in any nation in the world, let alone the United States of America.

Take for example the nation of Hungary. Just because I am of Hungarian descent, my great grandparents being born in Hungary and having immigrated to the U.S. sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century, does not mean I am granted citizenship (and therefore entitlement to all the civil rights guaranteed to citizens of Hungary) in Hungary. On the contrary, I am not. And if I tried to enter Hungary illegally, and take up residence and work, then I would be breaking Hungarian law as well.

I also descent from certain other European nations as well, and just because my relatives were born there several hundred years ago, does not entitle me citizenship and all the civil rights that go along with it, no does it give me the right to enter those countries without their government's permission.

Another example is Japan. I lived in Japan for a total of 4 months, (separate visits, one one month visit and another 3 month visit), and each time, I entered legally with a legal U.S. passport and was required to leave to Japan after a total of 90 days, that being the total amount of time foreigners visiting on a passport are allowed to stay in Japan.

The same requirements of legal entry on a visa given by permission of the Chinese government were required of my entry into China, and with a passport on my entry to South Korea.

The United States is not a nation that is anti-immigration. Our history has shown that, especially as seen by the historic landmark Ellis Island. Now yes, there have been times in our history when certain nationalities were prohibited from immigrating, sad times indeed, and wrongful actions in my opinion. And there have been times that certain nationalities, once legally entered, were persecuted by both other immigrated nationalities and long-standing Americans as well; and as sad and regretful as those dark marks in our history may be, those persecuted all entered LEGALLY with the U.S. government's permission and were given documentation. And even those that were prohibited from immigrating would have, to be sure, immigrated LEGALLY and with out government's permission, and by nature our system of representation, by the American people's permission as well. Thus, America is not anti-immigration. Rather, we are against ILLEGAL immigration, as is ever other nation is this world. We encourage and welcome anyone who wants to immigrate to the U.S. in a legal manner, with our government's permission. America is an asylum for the oppressed people of every nation in the world, or in the words of a British Whig who was highly optimistic of America winning the War for Independence (written in 1784), Richard Price's a "place of refuge for opprest [oppressed] men in every region of the world. But we cannot tolerate the breaking of the law by illegal immigration. Entry must be done in an orderly and legal manner, with permission given by the government to those who enter, take up residence, and take up work.

When you enter the U.S. without permission, you are doing so illegally, meaning the law is being broken. And when you break the law, legal consequences follow. That is the nature of the law and government. Human beings the world 'round, no matter what their race, color, gender, or age, are entitled to certain inalienable and natural rights, given to us by our Creator, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". These are what are known as natural rights, or human rights. And these must be done, especially the pursuit of happiness, within the legal bounds of democratic law, law enacted and condoned by the people (be it by the people themselves or their representatives). But these natural rights are very different from "Civil Rights", which include suffrage (the right to vote) and the like. These "civil rights" belong to legal citizens of the nation; note the root of the word "civil", "civ-/ci", based of the Latin word "civitas", meaning "city." "Civil", "Citizen", and "Civilian" all have the same root mentioned above. But these "civil rights" only apply to "legal citizens", not legal residents, nor illegal immigrants. This is the law of the United States. There are very real and distinct differences between natural rights/human rights and civil rights, civil rights belonging to the legal citizens of a specific nation where those legal citizens dwell and work. Legal citizens of Japan cannot expect to have the same civil rights as those legal citizens in America, and cannot expect to be able to exercise those civil rights held by legal American citizens upon their legal or even illegal entry into the U.S. And the same goes for Americans who want to visit other foreign nations. They can't expect to have and be able to exercise the civil rights of a certain nation upon their legal or illegal entry into that nation as a visitor or even a legal resident.

One female protester asserts the Arizona law is "racist":

"'It's racist,' said Donna Sanchez, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen living in Chicago whose parents illegally crossed the Mexican border. 'I have papers, but I want to help those who don't.'"

Laws that establish legal immigration are not racist. These laws apply to all who enter the U.S., including Mexicans from Mexico. It just so happens that the illegal immigration problem in Arizona and much of the Southwestern America is concentrated mainly among the Mexican race, due to the location of Arizona along the border with Mexico. It's natural, logical, and even inevitable that this law would apply to or be carried out mainly upon Mexicans who enter illegally into the U.S., due to the natural location of Arizona and Mexico. But rest assured this law would and should apply to any race or "human being" who entered the U.S. illegally. Therefore, this law is not "racist", and anybody that throws the word "racist" or "racism" around without any real and reputable evidence is guilty of furthering the spread of "racism" in the U.S. and in my opinion is just as guilty and despicable as those who do commit racist acts.

Another argument people make is that this law is unconstitutional. People have claimed that the states don't have the authority to legislate concerning immigration. However, with this new law in Arizona, is it not that Arizona is merely legislating that they will now enforce a law already legislated, passed, and signed into law by the federal government, or that it is now officially illegal to do something already deemed illegal by the federal government? Where are the states not given authority in the Federal Constitution to do such legislation? As far as I know, the states do indeed have the authority to enforce laws already passed by the Federal government, and if the Federal government is not doing it's own job, then who else is supposed to do it? The next level of authority in this country, or rather, the different states.

for all the many persons who have claimed this law is unconstitutional, I have yet to hear anyone of them say WHY it is so? They have never given any reason as to why they feel it is unconstitutional. It's as if they think that them just say it is magically makes it so. I looked at the Federal Constitution today, in Article I, sections 7-10, that deal with the federal legislature, and it doesn't violate anything there, nor does it violate anything under Article IV, sections 1-4, which deal with the States. It also doesn't violate anything under any of the amendments, more specifically the 14th or 15th amendments, which would be the most likely to be brought up in this case.

So, how is it unconstitutional? In fact, the Arizona law states,


They cannot do anything beyond what is permitted by both the Federal Constitution and Arizona State Constitution, and the Arizona Constitution, already ratified, cannot disobey the Federal Constitution.

And here's the link to the actual text of the bill passed and revised recently by Arizona's state legislature.

The key part of this bill is the following text, taken directly from the bill:


And under every section having to do with determining one's status as an immigrant, the following phrase has been added:

I think it's pretty clear that racial profiling is prohibited by law and technically illegal by the wording in this bill. Opposition to this bill claim, despite the clear assurance in this bill that it is illegal for it to happen, that racial profiling MIGHT happen or that it will allow it to happen from the police officers in Arizona. But the law clearly states it CANNOT happen. Anybody can claim something contrary to what a piece of legislation dictates MIGHT happen from that piece of legislation. The same could be said about the 1st Amendment to the U.S. constitution concerning the abridgment of free speech or the free practice of religion, that the Federal gov. MIGHT breach their lawful boundaries and abridge the right to free speech and press, as well as freedom of religion. But because the law specifically states that they CANNOT do so, the people of the country can rest assured that they have the law behind them in case of infringement of that law by the government or government officials, and that victims of this infringement have the right to press charges and petition their grievances, and that the violator of that law will face legal consequences. It's the same scenario here. If any law officer or agency is guilty of racial profiling, as the opposition to this bill FEAR MIGHT happen, then they can rest assured that if it does happen to happen, then they have the law on their side and that violators of the law will face legal consequences.

In sum, I am for lawful and legal immigration, and encourage it, and believe all immigrants should have an equal opportunity to immigrate legally into the U.S. I believe the U.S. needs to make legal immigration easier and cheaper, and price should not depend on one's abilities or education. All immigrants should have the equal chance and opportunity, and equal laws and price regarding legal immigration. But, it needs to be LEGAL!

This is a long post, but I felt it needed to be said and explained.