Wednesday, November 02, 2016
With Election Day Approaching
Gerard N. Magliocca
I thought this passage from Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty" speech might be appropriate.
It might be appropriate, per "Shag from Brookline," to wish Happy Birthday! to Michael Dukakis, also from Brookline.
Does the phrase "the spirit of liberty" have any meaning? Would anything be lost if, every time that the phrase appears in the second paragraph, we substituted "It is good." It is good not to be too sure that you're right; it is good to seek to understand the minds of other men and women; and so forth. I'm glad that Hand's sort of flowery language has gone out of vogue.
The word "liberty" is present in a range of places including the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Pledge of Allegiance, Gettysburg Address etc.
Should we replace it with "good" each place? The phrase means "the quality" of "liberty," the latter a basic concept in this country. Does the phrase have any meaning? I think so. OTOH, perhaps Lincoln should have just said 87.
Apparently, for Learned Hand, the spirit of liberty is viewing the world as a judge views a case in equity.
For average people, liberty simply means living our lives as we please so long as we do not harm others.
The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others... The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Johns Stuart Mill, On Liberty
No candidate for president in this election, including unfortunately those running on the Libertarian ticket, are campaigning on a platform to perform the primary purpose of government - to protect our liberty. Instead, all of them want to abuse the power of government to direct our lives.
Liberty has long ago died in the hearts of much of our political class.
Mike Dukakis was/is an honest man. I recognize that there are many persons who are honest. But Mike was special as a politician here in MA. A lifelong Democrat, he reformed the Party and much else in MA.
A personal anecdote: When our four kids were at the Lawrence School at the same time, on occasion I would drive them there. And we would spot Mike walking towards the T-stop (he heavily promoted mass transit) to get to his office in the State House. I would point him out saying "Park your carcass, Mr. Dukakis." This was a play on a musician character on a radio variety show in the '30s, '40s.
Happy birthday, Mike.
Henry, recall the phrasing "letter and spirit" when it is applied to a law. What is the "letter" of "liberty" in the Constitution? Can the usual suspects at this Blog agree upon the meaning of liberty by its "letter"? By its "spirit"? Recall "it depends upon the meaning of what "is" is. " Don't dismiss Learned out of hand.
Alas, SPAM I AM! continues his pseudo libertarian approach, suggesting that so-called average people understand liberty in a particular way. And he closes with his usual doom and gloom. I expect he will soon go full Chicken Little on us.
By the Bybee [expletives deleted], many libertarians can be described as "feint-hearted" libertarians." (I use "feint" intentionally.]
If you poll the question "Does liberty mean the ability for you to live your life as you please so long as you do not harm another," I suspect over 80% of the polled population would agree.
This classical liberal concept is part of the basic American belief system. The vast majority of progressives would agree with this concept. Where your average progressive gets in trouble is they are not willing to extend this liberty to others with which they disagree.
ALL PROGRESSIVES ARE ABOVE AVERAGE.
Query: Is Bundy and his ilk part of that 80%?
A valid poll on the subject would have follow up questions to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Liberal lunch today (some progressives).
Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
On the topic of Hand's flowery language, my recollection is that this is from a speech given to a lay audience in Central park in the middle of World War II, so maybe tht accounts for the rhetorical style.
Mill himself walked away from the idea that government should only exercise 'negative' power, and most people have joined him. If government can take from me to protect me and you from harm from foreign and domestic why not let it take from us to protect us from the harm of workplace accident? If it can take to build roads and canals, why not libraries or universities? The classical liberal idea of liberty was nonsensical.
Mr. W responds to our "feint-hearted" libertarian, pointing out that even Mill evolved: progress.
By the Bybee [expletives deleted], SPAM I AM! may not be aware that Garrison Keillor is a progressive.
Government performs two basic functions - exercise of the police power and provision of public goods.
The harm principle applies to the former.
A workplace safety statute is your only example of the former and is generally permissible under the harm principle so long as the government can show a genuine harm.
Of note, the very definition of the police power is to prevent people from harming one another. As with commerce, progressives have expanded the definition of police power beyond all rational bounds to justify their unlimited government.
Reading between the lines of SPAM I AM!'s rejoinder to Mr. W, SPAM I AM! appears to remain stuck in the past, e.g., The Gilded Age of the late 19th century, his version of America's best days.
By the Bybee [expletives deleted], Mr. W's reference to libraries is a reminder that some Robber Baron types, perhaps with a sense of guilt, permitted their fortunes to be used for such purposes. Progress. Enlightenment.
One of the common characteristics of totalitarian government is the 1984-style misuse of the language for propaganda purposes.
Totalitarianism is not the future, but rather is the reversal of freedom and the return to past arbitrary exercise of absolute power.
Totalitarians call themselves progressive, but the effect of their policies on the citizenry is regressive, the loss of freedom won only recently in human history and the return to the economic stagnation which characterized most of human history.
SPAM IA AM! as an obviously apoplectic troll at this Blog takes two strikes before hitting a foul ball with his eventual comment. SPAM I AM!'s history continues on the histrionic side. He still believes America's best days were The Gilded Age of the 19th century. Yes, SPAM I AM! is back in his Chicken Little mode. But recall how thrilled he was with most of the 8 years of Bush/Cheney when he did not speak of totalitarians with their WMDs and wars and tax cuts that led to the 2007-8 Great recession.
"past arbitrary exercise of absolute power."
But this is of course nonsense. The Congress could stop any executive exercise of power tomorrow. They don't because none are overwhelmingly unpopular. Also, if you don't like any exercise of executive power, simply elect an executive in our regular elections who will reverse them. The fact that no winning candidate had done what Bart wants isn't an usurpation of freedom.
Congress cannot effectively reverse a decree of the absolute bureaucracy because of the Constitution's checks and balances, the fact that the party establishments lie to their constituents claiming they oppose excessive regulation and then do nothing to reverse it, and because the people generally have no idea what the bureaucracy is doing and thus cannot pressure their representatives.
While progressive presidents often work through the progressive bureaucracy to rule by decree, a libertarian/conservative president cannot simply reverse the bureaucracy with his or her pen and telephone. If the libertarian/conservative president does not go through the entire rule making process all over again, a progressive court will strike down the reversal. The bureaucracy will drag out any such process until the president is either out of office or moved onto other things.
Even we assumed your claim that the elected branches of government could effectively reverse a decree of the absolute bureaucracy, this does not change the fact that the bureaucracy and the president working through the bureaucracy are arbitrarily ruling by decree in the first instance.
SPAM I AM! is Orwellian with his:
"Totalitarians call themselves progressive, ..."
a lie ("1984-style misuse of the language for propaganda purposes.") for which SPAM (if I may get personal as well as save keyboard strokes) deserves a chorus of JUMBO LIAR (equal to a dozen Pinocchios).
By the Bybee [expletives deleted], was Orwell prescient in his book "1984" (published in 1949) of the Reagan Administration? Is that when SPAM claims totalitarianism began?
"because of the Constitution's checks and balances,"
Of course. Like most wannabe dictators it's the Constitution that gets in your way.
" If the libertarian/conservative president does not go through the entire rule making process all over again, a progressive court will strike down the reversal."
Again, the very rule of law you lament as dead is active enough to thwart you.
Can SPAM I AM! identify a President of the US who was "a libertarian/conservative"? Frankly, I don't think libertarians are capable of governing as such.
BD: "because of the Constitution's checks and balances,"
Mr. W: "Of course. Like most wannabe dictators it's the Constitution that gets in your way.
As usual, you willfully have the situation ass backwards.
The Constitution's checks and balances were meant to require a supermajority consensus before the government was allowed to exercise its powers over the People.
Progressivism has perverted the checks and balances to protect the dictators of the unconstitutional absolute bureaucracy from being reversed by the People through their elected representatives.
BD: "If the libertarian/conservative president does not go through the entire rule making process all over again, a progressive court will strike down the reversal."
Mr. W: Again, the very rule of law you lament as dead is active enough to thwart you.
You offered the argument that the power of one elected dictator and the bureaucracy to reverse the decrees of the last elected dictator and the bureaucracy was somehow a confirmation of continuing viability of our representative democracy.
"The Constitution's checks and balances were meant to require a supermajority consensus before the government was allowed to exercise its powers over the People."
You're just making up stuff. Nowhere in the Constitution does it prescribe a different process for making laws as it does for repealing them. The Constitution was meant to prescribe a process for any governmental action, including changing past actions. As usual, your problem is with the American system our Founders set up.
"the power of one elected dictator and the bureaucracy to reverse the decrees of the last elected dictator and the bureaucracy was somehow a confirmation of continuing viability of our representative democracy."
That is literally what a representative democracy is: you elect people who do things and you have periodic elections to replace them if so desired. Your opposition just confirms even more that it's our representative democracy that you dislike.
John Dingell, long time member of Congress, recently tweeted this:
There's a old story that's been swimming around in my head in recent days and I thought I would share it with you if that is alright.
In 1945, Franklin Roosevelt ordered a blessing carved into the stone fireplace of the White House State Dining Room, where it remains. The blessing was actually written by John Adams, an excerpt of a letter he wrote to his wife Abigail in 1900.
In it, he updated her on his travels and some personal affairs, but he closed with a blessing that always struck me--and FDR--as meaningful. He wrote: "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House & all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."
FDR ordered this inscribed into the fireplace where our President gathers with world leaders and foreign dignitaries. He wrote of Men because most did not yet recognize that women would one day make their voices heard and prove they could do or be anything.
[It's an ideal.]
Mr. W's rejoinder to SPAM I AM!:
"Your opposition just confirms even more that it's our representative democracy that you dislike."
is demonstrated by the fact that SPAM's libertarianism has never took hold politically.
BD: "The Constitution's checks and balances were meant to require a supermajority consensus before the government was allowed to exercise its powers over the People."Post a Comment
Nowhere in the Constitution does it prescribe a different process for making laws as it does for repealing them. The Constitution was meant to prescribe a process for any governmental action, including changing past actions. As usual, your problem is with the American system our Founders set up.
Straw man. The problem is not Congress's ability to reverse its own laws, but rather the decrees of a unconstitutional absolute bureaucracy which the Founders never set up.
BD: "the power of one elected dictator and the bureaucracy to reverse the decrees of the last elected dictator and the bureaucracy was somehow a confirmation of continuing viability of our representative democracy."
Mr. W: That is literally what a representative democracy is: you elect people who do things and you have periodic elections to replace them if so desired. Your opposition just confirms even more that it's our representative democracy that you dislike.
We do not elect presidents to rule by decree or to change the decrees of a past elected dictator.