Thursday, December 26, 2013

We Hope you All Are Enjoying a Very Merry Christmas and New Year!

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, may we remember the gifts He gave us through His birth and death. 

Among those gifts is freedom through our Constitution, which its Framers declared was divinely inspired.

It is not, and never will be, the intent of God for His people to be enslaved.

Slavery has many forms. It can come openly, with chains and prison bars, or subtlly, through excessive taxation, bureaucratic control, and unconstitutional law. Slavery can also come from an unlawful executive who makes himself a king over us, a Congress that abdicates its responsibilities to us, or a court system that destroys, rather than upholds, our Constitution.

One of the greatest gifts of God is freedom--the right to choose our goals, lifestyle, beliefs, and form of religious worship. It follows, then, that the adversary of freedom would make it a priority to take our freedom.

Please stand with me and make the decision to give a gift back to Jesus Christ: the gift to support and sustain the Constitution He gave us. Study its brilliant, balanced design, and cherish it for what it is: the most original, inspired system of government in the world; the pattern for and path to freedom. Learn the Constitution, love it, preserve it!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Time Spent in the Jury Box

Time Spent in the Jury Box

Utah recently witnessed the Martin MacNeill murder trial, which concluded with a jury verdict of guilty, and MacNeill now awaits sentencing. Last summer's Zimmerman/Martin trial in Florida created a firestorm over the jury's not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. In both cases, jurists, who were peers of the accused, gave the verdicts as their unanimous best judgment.
It is to our benefit to have those who are like us hear evidence in an open courtroom if we should be accused of a crime. They judge our actions and declare a conclusion; a critical protection available in few nations. The duty to judge the accused is at the core of our rights, and it puts justice in our citizen-hands, where it belongs. As jurists, we protect our fellows from false accusations, or hold them responsible if they err. If any entity -- individual, group, or government -- can falsely accuse us and make that accusation stick, we are at the mercy of injustice.
Why do we want a jury system? It boosts our national character. When judges, attorneys, and witnesses know they will face a citizen jury, the system stays honest. In culture-speak, our jury trials say we respect the individual, intend to do right by him, and insist on truth. Unless our national personality commits to do right, the freedoms in the Constitution would be destructive.
Because of juries, we are fair to others. We give the other guy an honest shake because we know that life does funny things, and someday it may be us or ours in the courtroom.
The jury system demands responsibility for our freedoms. We must help make it happen--shed our selfishness and work for the justice we relish. The author of Democracy In America, Alexis de Toqueville, said that the American jury system "rubs off that private selfishness which is the rust of society". He believed the greatest benefit to the jury system is to "increase the natural intelligence of [the] people"; that it is a "public school, ever open, in which every juror learns his rights ... [and] becomes acquainted with the laws". He thought "the practical intelligence and political good sense of the Americans" was due in large part to our jury system.
One of our original constitutional freedoms related to juries has been lost. Initially, jurors could also decide if a law was correct in a particular situation. Because trials were local, jurors knew the customs, practices and standards of their area. If they believed a law was too harsh or inappropriate in the current circumstance, they could temporarily set it aside. The value of this right is obvious in Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Miserables, when Jean Valjean spent nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. The punishment was far too harsh for the crime committed, making the law unfair in that situation. American juries originally had the freedom to make a needed adjustment, but that right has been lost through court rulings. Judges now give iron-clad instructions to jurors and they must follow those directions. The loss of this adjustment power weakened our right to justice.
Locally, 95% of those called for jury duty respond, according to Judge Lynn Davis of the Fourth District Court. Other areas are not so responsible; in many US cities, only 50% appear as requested. Judge Davis's letter of thanks to those who complete jury service recaps the strengths of the jury system: "You diligently sought the truth, carefully weighed the evidence, and you served as the collective conscience of the community."
When there's a just system for handling accusations, residents are safe before the law. As Justice William O. Douglas said in "Anatomy of Liberty, "It (a jury) is the one government agency that has no ambition. It is as human as the people who make it up. It ... takes the sharp edges off the law ..." Our time spent in the jury box invites citizen protection.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Get it Right: Life, Liberty, Property

What is property, and who can and cannot control it? Central Utah is grappling with the issues and the misconceptions. When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence he memorialized "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The last was a commonly used alternate term for "property" among colonials. He understood property; that without the right to own it and choose its use, we have no freedom.

If we have no property, we cannot use our rights. We need meetinghouses for worship. For freedoms of speech, press and assembly we need printing presses, transportation, food and apparel. We have no safety without weapons and no privacy without homes. As the ultimate, our lives are our fundamental property. Founder John Adams spelled it out: "All men are born free and independent, and have ... unalienable rights ... of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property."
It is popular for government to take or control property through taxation, redistribution or regulation of property rights. It may be popular, but it isn't right and it isn't constitutional. James Madison, Father of the Constitution, explained it: "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort." The Fifth Amendment locks property ownership in place for good reason; when you control a person's property, you control him. Take a man's food and he'll obey to eat; take his home, and he'll comply to give his family shelter. Founder Alexander Hamilton minced no words: "... power over a man's subsistence amounts to power over his will."
Governments are formed to protect property. When they take or unnecessarily control property, they violate their own creed. This is one of the calamities of so-called "anti-discrimination" laws: government controls property by dictating its use.
Inevitably, community needs and property rights collide. When people live together they must set rules, and a tradeoff has to take place. The people agree to give up some independence and accept some laws so the community can cooperate. The long poles in the tent are fairness, necessity and protection. The rules must be fair for all, as minimal as possible to take the least amount of freedom, and private property must be secure in the owners' hands.
Property ownership has taken a bad rap in the public eye as we have embraced socialist ideas. We too often think that everybody has to have equal "stuff." Not so, that isn't what property ownership is about. There are no rules that say stuff has to be equal, in fact, it cannot be equal. We have different talents, skills, work ethics, goals, wants, needs, energy levels and priorities. They determine the property we acquire and there is no way to make that equal. Our hallmark American equality means equality in justice, before the laws and in the courts and before God. Beyond that, we are each in charge of ourselves and the property we acquire as we apply personal effort.
As government falls into the trap of trying to create equality it becomes the agent of inequality, as it takes from one to give to another. That never works. One group becomes resentful, the other becomes dependent. Sooner or later the whole property issue turns into a mess. That cycle has produced unanimous failure throughout earth's history; every nation that starts the give-everybody-equal-stuff thing fails.
One beauty of our Constitution is that it supports community law. We set our laws to keep government as close to the people as possible to stay as free as possible. This is why we must keep and protect our caucus system, where ordinary citizens remain in control. We must protect private property from laws such as the proposed anti-discrimination legislation usurps owner control of property. Life, liberty, property -- three pillars of freedom enshrined 237 years ago in the Declaration of Independence; three values for Utah Valley. Insist on property rights here at home. Insist that local laws retain your control over your property. It's the important thing to do.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Crisis of the Day - States' Sovreignty upheld by the Supreme Court

 The Crisis of the Day

This Item was posted on the Sheriff website prior to December 2, 2013. (I’ve made spacing adjustments and added italics.)
Sheriff Mack quotes Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court as he teaches about states rights and limited federal power. Sheriff Mack also opens a window to the use of disasters and crises to strip our freedoms.
Consider this a warning, and remember: to be warned is to be forearmed!

 When I sued the Clinton administration in 1994, I never imagined that Justice Scalia - the author of the ruling for the majority - would be so profound and powerful with his defense of the Tenth Amendment. Not only did Scalia say that the "States are not subject to federal direction" and that the US Congress only had "discreet and enumerated powers" and that federal impotency was "rendered express" by the Tenth Amendment, he also proclaimed that the States "retained an inviolable sovereignty."

You would think that these statements alone would be monumental enough and would provide sufficient ammunition for all state and local officials to stand against any governmental tyranny without any hesitation. Nevertheless, Scalia went even further in this landmark decision, one in which two small-town sheriffs headed the Feds "off at the pass" and sent them on their way. Scalia, in his infinite obligation to the Constitution, took this entire ruling to the tenth power when he said, "The Constitution protects us from our own best that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day."
The "crisis of the day?" Was Scalia clairvoyant? He rendered this opinion in June of 1997. Now we are dealing with the Obama administration and others (Rham Emanuel) whose mantra is "Never let a good crisis go to waste."

Horrible examples of "crisis intervention" were seen during the aftermath of a bombing in Boston, a hurricane in New Orleans and a shooting in Connecticut. We see them whenever any other "emergency" arises. The police and Federal agents grant themselves power to suspend the Constitution, suspend American ideals and principles, and suspend their oaths of office to "make us all safer." The police in Boston went door to door drawing down on numerous citizens inside their own homes! During the chaos after Katrina ravaged New Orleans the police went door to door confiscating guns from law abiding citizens. After the Sandy Hook shootings legislators in Washington, Colorado, New York and Connecticut all tripped over themselves to create schemes of gun control laws aimed again at law abiding citizens!

It's during crises that the Constitution is really put to the test. It's then that those who have sworn to protect and defend it are given a chance to show their true character and dedication to principles of American liberty. If all that is needed is a "crisis" or "emergency" to justify the destruction of our Constitution and the individual liberties of our citizens, then our enemies need only to create "crises" and "emergencies." The result is a tremendous blow to freedom and the destruction of our Constitution, and thus the foundation of America.

I pray that our nation's sheriffs and police will stand and be counted regardless of the pressures and temptations to violate our oaths as an "expedient solution to the crisis of the day." Crises will happen and emergencies will come and go, but precious liberty, once lost, will be next to impossible to regain.

Sheriff Richard Mack (Ret)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reverse discrimination

Provo is reveling in political correctness with last week's announcement that Hal Miller and Sterling Beck, Provo city councilmen, plan an "anti-discrimination" bill for Provo. They say it's good for business. Is it, however, good for the rights of those who own property in Provo?
Nationwide, the ball is rolling furiously in favor of required acceptance of alternate sexuality, spawning legislation in its path. While often driven by compassion, this legislation is unconstitutional, and outside the responsibility of government at any level. Anti-discrimination legislation favors the few over the many -- also a constitutional violation. Twelve cities in Utah, including Salt Lake City and Ogden have already embraced this social-engineering-become-law.
Consider Provo resident John, whose years of hard work, thrift, and sacrifice have provided for him a house with an attached rental unit. For decades he's protected, repaired and tended the house and yard. His investment has been considerable, consistent and beneficial to the community. When he rents, he checks the references of applicants to make sure they pay their rent, don't play loud music, and likely won't damage the premises. These people will share his roof and affect his investment, the physical center of his heart and security. He has earned his property through his efforts.

Enter anti-discrimination legislation. John may no longer be able to freely select his renters. If those asking to rent his property make same gender choices in private relationships, their choices trump any checks he normally makes on payment practices, music choices or property protection; he would be required to accept them as tenants. Their private activities could override his decades of effort.
Why should Provo be justified in requiring partner preference as a criterion for renters? Every individual has the right to choose his private life, but government errs if it places a property owner's rights at the mercy of another's personal choices. This concept is the foundation of free governments, as voiced by William Blackstone, whose brilliant legal mind helped lay the foundation for modern constitutional freedoms. He said, "So great ... is the regard of the law for private property that it (government) will not authorize the least violation of it ..." Just as every person has the right to his relationships, every property owner has the right to choose those who use his property; it is his, and no law is constitutional or ethical that removes his choices. Giving rights to one group, based on their private preferences, while taking them from another -- property owners -- is discrimination. The intent is not to take rights from anyone based on their personal choices; it is to insist that the rights of all must be honored.
Mr. Miller and Mr. Beck, as outlined in the November 22 Daily Herald article titled "Anti-discrimination law considered," want to bring anti-discrimination "out of the shadows" and attract outside businesses. If you want to avoid discrimination, gentlemen, don't discriminate against thousands of property owners by taking away their agency -- by requiring universal, unquestioned access to housing for one small group through government force. No one -- repeat, no one of any persuasion on any topic, pro or con -- is entitled to universal, unquestioned housing access. It's unnecessary in a free market, where a variety of landlords and a variety of applicants make housing available to all. The political correctness of anti-discrimination is poorly reasoned; it may be "the thing to do" but it doesn't eliminate discrimination, it re-directs and enlarges it.
Every property owner in Provo -- indeed, in the state -- should protest this, as misguided policies often snowball. If you believe your property rights predominate over the personal partner preferences of a few, please tell Misters Beck and Miller. While their intention is compassion, as stated in an email to me from Hal, their perceptions are one-sided and misdirected. Contact Hal Miller at (801) 691-5737, Reach Sterling Beck at (801) 472-3160, Please speak up. If you don't, or they don't listen, you can wave your property rights goodbye.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Part II: Population Decline and the U.S. Economy

Part II: Population Decline and the Economy

In last week’s post I wrote that the world is in danger of running out of people. The population explosion we’ve been badgered with for decades is a convincing piece of progressive hype. What we really have is a disconcerting population decline among all Americans and throughout the western world. These issues impact the integrity and well-being of the family and our culture at large.

Population decline is at the root of our economic woes.  While many reasons are offered for our stagnant economy, few address one critical factor: we aren’t producing people as fast as we used to. People consume goods and use services, even very tiny people; thus fewer people means fewer products and services are needed. The result: the economy declines.

Quoted below is an adapted excerpt from a piece I submitted to the Daily Herald for my weekly column, Get It Right, which appears every Tuesday and is posted as a blog piece weekly on this site. The Herald declined to print the column, but I’ve included part of it here.

“In addition to the problem of a vanishing populace, falling birthrates always create a falling economy. Writing about Europe, Joel Kotkin states in Forbes magazine, May 30, 2012: “Europe’s economic disaster is …largely caused by…a demographic decline”. USA Today, Feb. 13, 2013, says, “There are no cases of peace and prosperity in the face of declining populations.” The Wall Street Journal, in its article titled America’s Baby Bust, Feb. 12, 2012, agrees: human well-being—innovation, investments, conservation—all drop when the population drops. So does a nation’s political power. The article concludes: “..the only thing that will preserve America’s place in the world is if… Americans …decide to have more babies…we simply must figure out a way to have more babies…” The proposed column continues, “Our economy and our biological survival depend on the birth of children… Anything less risks a demographic desert—a population wilderness of declining numbers and declining prosperity.”

An inevitable effect of population decline, as mentioned in the above excerpt, is the loss of creativity and inventiveness, both of which energize a bustling economy. When a nation thrives, it creates new products and creative ways to solve the nation’s inevitable concerns and conflicts. With declining populations, the diminishing demand for products and services in general discourages anything new.

Some incorrectly reason that there are too many people in the world. They offer as proof the starving populations in third world countries, but fail to see their political corruption. The pockets of greedy leaders are lined with money intended for public works that would improve the peoples’ lives. One evidence of this is the foreign aid Americans send to underprivileged countries. The aid never seems to reach the common people to change their condition. Their lands grow barren from poor farming practices, undernourished soil, and little rain—circumstances that could be remedied with education, irrigation, innovation, and public works funded by sound internal politics. American generosity would be only a backup, if necessary.

It bears repeating that there are no known instances in earth’s history of a bustling, vital economy coupled with a declining birthrate. Both grow together; both stagnate together. We have as examples Italy, Greece and Spain, the European triumvirate of failed socialist policies. All three have declining populations; all three have dying economies and resultant political chaos. Prior to its fall, the Roman Empire, which had succumbed to our current breed of political corruption and cultural deception, was desperate to build its faltering birthrate. Citizenship was offered to any who would come and increase the population: slaves, foreigners, even former enemies. Attempts to boost the birthrate failed, and so did Rome.

The population issue will be huge in coming years. Our current discussion will prove wise. In the meantime, welcome every new life into our nation to enrich it and help us remain economically and culturally stable.

Next week: Part III: What is causing the population decline?