Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout Must Be Constitutional

In a time of crisis – when we most need to embrace our Constitution and founding principles –we are most tempted to ignore them. Today’s crisis involving the meltdown of Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, American International Group Inc (AIG), Lehman Brothers, and the financial markets presents such an opportunity in spades. However, the Constitution and our founding history provide enormous insight for today’s political and economic leadership – if they would pay attention. After all, the origin of the American Constitution is just as much the product a severe financial crisis as it is the American Revolution.
Most Americans today have seem to forgotten that during the period between the winning of the American Revolution in 1781 and the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, America faced a severe financial crisis. As the result of the Revolution and accompanying disruption of trade with Great Britain, many indebted farmers and merchants faced dire economic circumstances. They were unable to pay their mortgages and financial institutions were calling in their debts.
The response to the crisis in many state capitols was to issue nearly worthless paper money and enact debtor relief legislation that invalidated previously legitimate private contracts. Some legislatures delayed or reduced the payment of public and private debts, refused to pay their quotas of national expenses, and raised their own salaries. Many restless debtors took the law into their own hands and sacked courthouses to prevent them from rendering and enforcing judgments against debtors. The result was economic devastation.
Most Americans, however, strongly believed in the unalienable rights to property and to pursue happiness without undue government interference. Indeed, James Madison – the father of the Constitution – observed that “protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property” was the “first object” of government. When reviewing the response of the states in connection with the financial crisis, Madison remarked that such laws “are contrary to the first principles of the social compact and to every principle of sound legislation.”
At the same time, states were engaged in trade wars with each other. They established tariffs and other taxes upon each others’ goods. Economic chaos was supreme.
In the wake of this crisis, the Founding generation convened the Constitutional Convention to establish a strong federal government to protect the unalienable rights of the people. The new Constitution enabled the creation of national market by granting Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce. Trade barriers between the states were barred. The states were prohibited from issuing paper money and from impairing the obligations of contracts.
Other safeguards were placed in the Constitution to protect the unalienable rights of the people. To protect the taxpayers, for example, only the House of Representatives – the branch of government most representative and closest to the people – is permitted to originate any spending bills. Under the 5th Amendment, the taking of private property can only occur for public use, and only with just compensation.
Just a few days ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York agreed to lend AIG $85 billion and purchase 79.9% of the insurance giant – with no action from the House of Representatives or Senate. The obligations of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac have been taken over by the federal government. In an almost forgotten move, the Treasury – again with no action from Congress – announced it would use a $50 billion Treasury fund to guarantee money-market mutual fund accounts. Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson is calling for the assumption of $700 billion of bad debts from financial institutions through a taxpayer backed bailout, with extraordinary czar like powers over the economy to be assumed by him – an unelected cabinet official.
How any of this is consistent with the Constitution or our founding principles has not been explained. Nor has anyone really bothered to ask. Yet, the Constitution was carefully crafted to preserve our liberty through such provisions as the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and enumerated powers. Underlying the Constitution is a set of founding First Principles – the rule of law, equality, unalienable rights, the Social Compact, and limited government – all of which are important to maintaining our freedom.
Before we continue to lurch through this crisis, we should demand that our leaders only take actions that are consistent with the Constitution and the First Principles. After all, history is replete with examples of a people losing their liberties when a crisis arises. We are fools to think that we must be an exception. After all, if we are going to ignore the Constitution during a time of crisis, then is not worth the paper it is printed on.
[First published on-line at freep.com]

For more about the necessity of adhering to our First Principles and the Constitution, visit http://www.americassurvivalguide.com/index.php

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ignorance of Our Constitution Imperils Freedom

As we enter the final stretch of one of the most interesting presidential races in this generation, we should seriously reflect on the relevance of the Constitution, which was signed by the Founders 221 years ago during the past week. Such reflection reveals both the wonderful promise of America and the perils facing it.
The presence of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin ensure the smashing of prejudices and vindicate the promise of our Constitution.
Like the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence, the Constitution is based on certain first principles: the rule of law, equality, limited government and unalienable rights.
For far too long, America's commitment to equality was stained by terrible racial and gender bias. That the highest offices of the republic are within reach of a biracial man and a woman reveals the power of the idea of equality and the significant (albeit incomplete) progress America has made.
The election also highlights the fragility of our freedom.
We should be delighted that this election has engaged so many people. But in a society enraptured by the misbehavior of maladjusted celebrities, we need to leverage this election to increase the understanding of our Constitution.
We utterly depend on an informed electorate to maintain our freedoms and liberties. Yet there is overwhelming evidence of our ignorance and disdain of the Constitution and American history. Many studies reveal that our K-12 students, college students and the general public lack a basic understanding of our system of free government.
We are fools to think our free society will survive if we are ignorant of, or attack, what preserves our liberties. The people are the ultimate guardians of their own freedom -- and for far too long we have been abdicating that responsibility. And these are self-inflicted wounds -- the very definition of suicide.
As we complete this exciting election cycle, we must evaluate the candidates and determine whether their policies are consistent with or undermine equality, other rights, limited government and the rule of law.
We should demand that the candidates actually explain whether their proposals align with the Constitution and our foundational history.
Likewise, Americans should demand that our political leadership undertake several strong and critical reforms to preserve our freedoms.
These would include adopting an American freedom curriculum, in which American history and civics are taught every year in K-12. Teacher preparation and the bar exam should be changed so all teachers and lawyers are well versed in our history and principles.
By placing the Constitution and its principles at the forefront of the election and the reform agenda, we will have a hope of stopping ourselves from drinking our collective hemlock.

(Originally published in The Detroit News)
For more, visit www.AmericasSurvivalGuide.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Speaking Event

I am pleased to announce that Point of Relevance has invited me to speak at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial next Wednesday, September 24, at 7:00 pm. The topic is: "We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident: The Creator and Our Founding First Principles."

The event is free and open to the public.
The War Memorial is located at 32 Lakeshore Dr, Grosse Pointe Farms.


September 17 is the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers. Signed in 1787, and ratified in 1789, the Constitution is the oldest - and shortest - Constitution in effect in the world. And, if I may say so, the best.

Through the Constitution, we established a written rule of law. We embodied the revolutionary concepts of checks and balances, separation of powers, federalism, judicial review, elimination of nobility, civilian rule over the military, republican government, and many more advances.

Although the Founding Fathers were far from perfect, they certainly helped perfect the world.

Let us all spend a moment and give thanks to God that we have blessed with the Constitution.