Monday, June 17, 2013

Earning Liberty : The Political Test

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The freedom, protection, prosperity and peace that come with good government are not liberally available for the taking. Responsibilities are attached, and these responsibilities must be fulfilled in order to have the benefits. Every good thing comes with a price tag. The greater the benefit, the greater the duties connected to it.

The following questions assist each of us in measuring our personal efforts to preserve freedom. They provide a realistic evaluation of whether we are justified in our expectations of liberty through self-rule. The list is extensive and few could comply with all the enumerated responsibilities. Each of us, however, can fill some of the duties listed below.

●Are you resisting the erosion of freedoms taking place politically and economically in America?
●Do you promote and support wise men and women for public office?
●Do you study political issues, voting records, and proposed programs in order to vote wisely?
●Do you voice your opinion to your elected representatives on issues important to you?
●Are you wisely choosing a political party that matches your beliefs, supporting it at the local and state levels, and working within it to preserve freedom?
●Do you scrutinize local, state and federal bureaucracies to insure they are carrying out the will of the people?
●Do you attend your local city council meetings?
●Have you joined with responsible, like-minded citizens to promote inalienable rights of individuals and free competitive enterprise?
When the people elect their leaders, the people are also responsible for the decisions of their leaders. Citizens bear accountability for those in office, and are duty bound to remove their elected representatives if malpractice occurs in government.
Involved, educated citizens are the backbone of self rule. If we fail in our duties as members of a democratic republic, we bear the blame for its failure. It’s easy to blame everyone else—the legislature, the executive, the media. It’s harder to blame ourselves, yet we must be first to shoulder the blame for failures in government. If we do our job, the legislature will be comprised of honest individuals who abide by constitutional principles. If we do our job, we will vote out of office any executive who exceeds his constitutional authority. If we do our job, the media will succumb to the pressures of a people determined to be told the truth.
The buck stops here, with responsible citizens who do their duty to preserve a constitutional republic.
- Pam

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keeping Government Limited, Close, and Small Keeps Us Free

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The Founders organized a government that was limited—controlled so it remained orderly, close to the people so they could supervise it, and small, so it could not overwhelm those it served. The focal point of their system was strong state governments that directed affairs in their own areas. The federal government erected a very limited umbrella of federal policies and responsibilities that prevented foreign interference and facilitated state unity. States set their own standards of excellence in areas such as education.

Do Americans know this? Many errantly believe that federal programs, standards, and control are the ideal. It does seem logical—having the whole country doing the same thing should mean less confusion and duplication. We could set high national standards and bring in national leaders to create high caliber programs, right? Surely at the federal level they know what is best!

Oh, the innocence of such beliefs! Sadly, human nature prevails at every level of government. The power and wealth of national politics attract avarice, and avarice destroys freedom. Sometimes those in office begin as people of integrity and selfless dedication, but power and wealth “do their thing” over time. The scandals that regularly emerge from Washington D.C prove that honesty and integrity are absent at the federal level. We should not be surprised. History proves that, like a bad virus, authority “infects” those on whom it rests.

Thomas Jefferson spoke of the “chains of the Constitution”—its checks and balances—“binding men down from mischief”. That was the beauty of the Constitution. It divided power so none could abuse it. The responsibility of the common man was to supervise those in office to require integrity.

A case in point is our educational system. Under the Founding Fathers there was no free public education. (There is still no free education—high taxes support it.) Local schools were organized and operated by communities and churches and taught the curriculum they dictated, with states supervising the process. Some areas set low educational benchmarks, but many thrived on high academic standards. Competition encouraged excellence.

Was locally administered schooling “provincial”—outdated by today’s sophisticated standards? Hardly! Graduates of yesteryear far outpace the academic levels of today’s students. Keep a dictionary close when you read the extensive vocabulary and complex sentence structure of ordinary students two centuries ago! Scholars produced by locally run schools founded the greatest system of government in the modern world. Local control of education typically provided exceptional educational achievements.

Today’s federally mandated and funded school programs operate with a hidden trap: teaching to the lowest common denominator, lest they discriminate. Rather than national programs encouraging high standards, the opposite has happened—federal money is tied to low standards. Common Core is a good example of federal programs which lower student achievement requirements. Teachers, busy with record-keeping and hampered by administrators fearful of jeopardizing federal subsidies, teach what the current federal program requires. Academic standards have fallen dramatically in the last century of America’s history.

There is a reason for keeping government limited, small, and close to the people. Human nature dictates that most people, when given power, will misuse it. Not at first, perhaps, but ultimately temptation overwhelms almost everyone.  Keeping government limited, small, and close allows us to supervise, redirect, and police the system. Better efforts, in education and elsewhere, are the result.

- Pam

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wildfires Rage, Again, and the Constitution is Involved

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Unlikely, but true : the Constitution and raging wildfires are connected.

According to the original U.S. Constitution, federally owned lands in a state, to be used for "forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings", were limited to approximately 1-2% of any state's territory. While this policy was followed for states east of the Mississippi, the government changed tactics for the west, absconding with major portions of land in 10 western states. Imposed as conditions to qualify for statehood, these actions were, and still are, unconstitutional.

Today, for instance, the federal government owns 58% of Utah's land, 45% of California, and 85% of Nevada. According to the Interior Department, 28% of the American land mass, or 2.27 billion acres, is federally owned. Further land grabs, such as the 1996 Escalante Grand Staircase, 1.8 million acres of land in southern Utah, add to federal land inventories.

These confiscated lands are often designated as national parks. This may seem benevolent -- protection the land to preserve its beauty, supposedly making it available for recreation. Few realize the implications of these land seizures. Private property of citizens is confiscated, occupations such as ranching are paralyzed, and families' lives are shattered. The federal government becomes a bully: "I want what you have, and I'm taking it." Imagine the federal government evicting you because it wants your house.

These actions are troubling on several fronts. First, as mentioned, the actions taken are unconstitutional. Second, those from whom property is taken are denied their rights. Third, the states, who previously controlled the land and have proven they can manage it much better than the federal government, lose revenue that would have come from land use. Fourth, natural resources abundant in the land are unavailable and the jobs that would have resulted from their extraction are lost. Fifth, if lands are designated wilderness areas, access is denied to virtually everyone. And finally, we come back to the issue of wildfires.

The federal government manages its land badly. Forests are choked with old growth because those who would clear the land by using it are barred. Logging and timber operations benefit the land, rather than harming it, but they are prohibited. Diversity in tree species is lost. Insect infestation has destroyed natural habitat and threatened watershed areas. Wildlife survival is threatened.

The Forest Service has lamented its own inefficiency, stating that it has not effectively addressed "rapid declines in forest health". It further mentions the development of "explosive wood fuel buildups" that create fires in many western national forests. These lands, left untamed by human hands, have become fire traps. Each summer, western lands blaze as lives are jeopardized and property is destroyed. Trees that could be used by people become fodder for fires, instead. These fires pollute the air and destroy the quality of the water for decades to come.

This is unconscionable. Citizens own the land -- they are the basis of government. We have the inalienable right to the resources of the land, to graze livestock and grow crops on the land, and to use its bounty and beauty for recreation. Addtionally, the land within a state's boundaries belongs to that state, not the federal government.

The Constitution and wildfires are related. If the federal government will abide by its contractual agreement with America and return state lands to their rightful ownership, we would see better managed lands and we could save millions of dollars spent in firefighting. We would have healthier forests, more lumber available, and greater revenue in the states. Jobs would multiply and prosperity would increase ; Americans would profit greatly from the application of constitutional principles and spare her forests at the same time.

For addtional information, see

- Pam

Monday, June 3, 2013

When Business Runs Wild: Tampering With Our Food Supply

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Consider the catastrophic results of allowing a major seed company to gain control of our U.S. food supply. We could find ourselves in future with no food for our children. We are dangerously close to that with the recent actions of Monsanto Company.

Political chicanery and economic favoritism are ruining our nation’s commerce. No better example exists than the giant agribusiness, Monsanto Company. Unethical government and dishonesty by elected representatives converge on two major developments surrounding Monsanto Company.

The first concerns Monsanto’s control of the seed market. Farmers need seed and Monsanto largely controls the US seed market. Last week the Supreme Court ruled that farmer Vernon Bowman of Indiana violated the intellectual property rights of agricultural titan Monsanto when he planted second-generation seeds, rather than buying new seed. The justices ruled that patented seeds cannot be re-grown without the patent holder’s permission. Bowman must pay Monsanto $84,000 in damages and court costs for patent infringement.

While the patent rights may seem clear cut, the end result enables a corporate takeover of our food supply. Farmers are now compelled to buy new seed; they cannot be resourceful, reduce costs, and economize by gathering seeds from existing crops. Monsanto draws dangerously close to holding the entire agricultural industry hostage: “Buy my seed or there will be no food.” This is alarming. When another entity controls your access to property—in this case, food—freedom is in trouble.

The second issue deals with political favoritism shown to Monsanto. In March, 2013, Senator Roy Blunt, (R-MO) quietly inserted a rider onto President Obama’s overreaching bill to avert a government shutdown. Senator Blunt’s actions are the poster child for government favoritism. Monsanto is headquartered in Missouri, Senator Blunt’s state. This unethical senator rewarded his major campaign contributor with a special favor--his attached rider lifted Monsanto above the law, nullifying applicable court actions intended to protect farmers, the public, and our food supply. This is a stunning example of unscrupulous special interests detrimental to us all.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible to assure the safety of our national food supply. Genetically modified (GMO) foods raise serious concerns about safety, nutrient content, and cross pollenization with non-GMO foods. The USDA prohibits the planting of GMO seeds until safety has been assured, to its satisfaction. While there are concerns about the integrity and impartiality of the USDA, it is the law to comply with USDA regulations.

All except Monsanto, that is. Thanks to Senator Blunt, Monsanto gets favored treatment. It can ignore the law and plant GMO seeds before they are certified safe. It is immune from prosecution. If Monsanto seeds are blown by the wind into the field of an organic farmer trying to keep his plants GMO-free, that farmer can be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. No sympathy for the farmer who took no action to bring this about, whose crops have been compromised, and whose seed is permanently contaminated. He has no legal recourse, but Monsanto does; giant Monsanto can hold an innocent farmer hostage and destroy him financially for an act of God—the wind.

Monsanto has seduced the agricultural market for decades, with the help of elected officials such as Sen. Blunt. The mammoth corporation is now under investigation by the Department of Justice for its business practices. It appears Monsanto has violated antitrust laws by squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies, and using all available means to protect its multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops.

Free enterprise and the United States emerged together. In 1776, as the Declaration of Independence was drafted, Adam Smith published his Wealth of Nations, which introduced a free market economy to parallel our democratic republic. Its trademarks are profits for producers and quality goods for consumers, in a self-regulating marketplace where competition matches supply to demand.

The brilliant partnership of free government and a free economy produced prosperity in America: in 1905, 116 years after our Constitution’s implementation, America produced 50% of the world’s goods with only 5% of her land mass and 6% of her population. That was success!

Today, our governing system and our economy are disfigured. Free enterprise and a democratic republic only work when ethical principles are followed, and they have not been followed here. The Golden Rule, simply and clearly stated thousands of years ago, still applies to individuals, businesses, and governments. Monsanto Company has the responsibility to follow ethical business practices. Senator Blunt has been unethical in his favoritism to a campaign contributor.

Elected officials on both sides of the political aisle are disgusted. Our Founding Fathers urged the election of honest, reputable men. Senator Blunt should resign, or be removed from office by the Senate, which has the constitutional authority to do so. The special privileges awarded to Monsanto must be revoked. Citizens need to voice disgust over this economic and legislative malpractice to their elected officials.

- Pam