NO COMMON GROUND

This is a pretend story.  It never happened, but it could have.  The time is early 1939 when persecution of Jews was widespread in Nazi Germany–the concentration camps were opening–but before World War II broke out.  Klaus, from Germany, has come to visit his American cousin Emily.

Emily: Klaus, you keep telling me how wonderful Hitler is and how he has revitalized Germany, but I don’t understand how you can be Nazi.

Klaus: I am proud to be Nazi.  Being Nazi is the future.  Being Nazi we can eliminate anything that could interfere with achieving our great goals.  I have come to explain to you, Emily, we can find common ground; we can work together.  You can come to accept the goals of the Nazi Party.  The Party is doing so many worthwhile things in Germany.

Emily: But what about Jews?  I’ve heard what terrible things the Nazis are doing to Jews.  How can anyone do those things?

Klaus:  You must realize, Emily, that Jews are not really people.  The leaders of the Nazi Party have determined they have no rights as people.  They are actually a hindrance to what I, as Nazi, can accomplish.  You have to stop thinking of them as people.

Emily:  How can you say that?  They are obviously people.  They have their own DNA, their own blood type, their own bodies, their own feelings.  They are individuals with as much right to live as any Nazi or anyone else.  It is true Jews have faced great struggles in life, but many have achieved great things.  You cannot justify the horrible things you are doing to Jews simply by creating a contorted definition of what is a person.

Klaus:  If Jews were permitted to live normally and thrive, they would take resources and opportunities from us.  We cannot permit anyone to hinder our self-realization.

Emily:  Doesn’t your natural tenderness keep you from persecuting Jews so mercilessly.  Doesn’t your basic humanity teach you to want to preserve and accept Jews as one more addition to the human race?

Klaus:  Emily, you don’t understand.  The heart of being Nazi is to put aside those soft, tender feelings that make us weak.  I must be strong, single-minded, even heartless, to be Nazi.

Emily:  Klaus, you were once a Christian.  I know you are familiar with the Bible.  Don’t you fear that by so cruelly oppressing Jews, who are prophesied to do such great things,[i] you are offending God?  Are we not all children of God?

Klaus:  I have learned to disregard any scriptures that don’t support the teachings of the Nazi Party.  You must not let your belief in religious myths interfere with progress.  How can you believe scriptures that prophesy someday the Jews will return to Jerusalem?  Even God couldn’t make that happen!

Emily:  Don’t underestimate God.  If you can hate Jews, who can you not hate?  If you will sacrifice Jews for your personal comfort and selfish goals, who will you not sacrifice?

Klaus:  Don’t be such a fanatic defender of Jews.  Do not stand in the way of we who are Nazi.  Work with us to find common ground now so we can cooperate on more important issues.  Don’t make the welfare of Jews such a big deal.  Move with the times; come out of the Dark Ages.  Face it, Emily, someday all Americans will be Nazi.

Emily:  I hope not.  I am a defender of humanity, including Jews.  Better the day should come when all Americans were defenders of the Jews because they are humans entitled to be treated as humans.  There really is no common ground between someone who is Nazi and those who, like me, cherish life and all living beings, including Jews.

NOW, REREAD THIS STORY, BUT EVERY PLACE THE WORD “JEWS” IS USED, SUBSTITUTE THE WORD “UNBORN BABIES.”  EVERY PLACE THE WORD “NAZI” IS USED, SUBSTITUTE “PRO CHOICE” (an intentionally misleading euphemism for PRO-ABORTION).  The sad truth is that the story is really not about Hitler’s Germany, but about modern America.  Reject the euphemisms—whether “pro-choice” or “women’s reproductive rights”—they are simply camouflage for what abortion is, undeniably and unequivocally: THE DESTRUCTION OF HUMAN LIFE.  When it came to the Jews, Hitler was “pro choice.”



[i]  Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Isaiah 62

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HATE SPEECH vs. FREE SPEECH

What is “Hate Speech?” Here is one definition from Wikipedia:

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, nationality, religion, race, sexual orientation, or other characteristic. In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.[i]

Notice how vague the definition is.  It covers anything that “may incite violence” or “disparages or intimidates” someone.  Does that mean all of the “dumb blonde” jokes of years past were “hate speech” because they disparaged blondes?  Should all lawyer jokes be illegal because they may intimidate faint-hearted attorneys?

Who condemns hate speech?  We now hear people denouncing those who disagree with them as being perpetrators of “hate speech.”  Their intent is clear—to silence such opposition.  Do not misunderstand this—their intent is to silence free speech.  They do not want to have a debate over the propriety of their conduct or beliefs.  They want to live in a world free from condemnation, so that they can continue to pretend their actions are beyond condemnation.  They are particularly offended when opposition is based on religious beliefs.  They want not only to limit freedom of speech, but also freedom of religion.

The First Amendment declares:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . . .”  Admittedly there are some very narrowly and clearly defined areas of speech that are prohibited despite the Constitution.  One is speech that incites a riot because it creates a clear and present danger to the property or person of others.[ii]  Another is a prohibition against “fighting words.” [iii]  Hopefully above and beyond these legal limits on speech, we will all try to be civil in our communications and determined in defending the civil rights of everyone.  But there are some who want to go far beyond these narrow exceptions by condemning any communication they find offensive as “hate speech.”  They want to be the Commissars of Speech—deciding who can say what about whom by deciding what is acceptable free speech and what is “disparaging or intimidating” “hate speech.”  Because the definition of “hate speech” is so vague, it gives them broad power to silence what they don’t want to hear.

How essential is free speech even if some find it hateful?  One example from U.S. history is enough to prove how essential free speech is—especially the propagation of religiously based ideas in forming public opinion.  That example is the abolition of slavery.  “Historian James Stewart (1976) explains the abolitionists’ deep beliefs: ‘All people were equal in God’s sight; the souls of black folks were as valuable as those of whites; for one of God’s children to enslave another was a violation of the Higher Law, even if it was sanctioned by the Constitution’.”[iv]  Abolition and the freedom of Blacks began as a religious based belief.  What if anti-slavery speech had been prohibited as “hate speech” because it condemned slave holders and slave holding?  Certainly Uncle Tom’s Cabin was intended to show slave owners in the worst possible light.  Certainly the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and its call to “make men free” was offensive to slave owners. Would the country be better off if the book and hymn had been banned because they “disparaged” one group?  The religion-based ideals of the abolitionist did lead to violence—both the depredations of John Brown and ultimately the Civil War.  But even in this most extreme of cases, would anyone prefer we still have slavery—protected by slave owners’ opposition to the “hate speech” of abolitionsits—over the ultimate freedom of Blacks arising from free speech and free religion?

Should I seek legal protection from disparaging remarks about my beliefs or lifestyle by condemning my condemners as being perpetrators of “hate speech?”  If I am legally protected in my beliefs and lifestyle, why should I care what others think of them?  Certainly Maoists and Marxists would find my religious and political views appalling.  That doesn’t bother me in the least, just so long as they don’t seek to force me to obey their views.  It is likely that members of some religions expect that I will spend eternity in hell because I am not a devotee of their particular doctrines.  That might bother me if I believed their doctrines, but I don’t.  They can preach their religion as much as they want, just so I can also preach mine.  Why then do some seem so bothered when their actions, though legal, are condemned by others?  Why do they try so hard to silence what they denounce as “hate speech?”  Is it because, deep down, they really believe such condemnation is true and are stung by it?  Can they only live with themselves by silencing opposition, not by simply disregarding it?

“Hate Speech” is a euphemism for forbidding free speech.  Don’t be deceived by the label.  You have a right to free speech, particularly religiously based free speech, and a duty to protect it.  Hurrah for the First Amendment!

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INFANTILE VOTERS

New born babies cry when they are hungry, need their diapers changed, are tired or uncomfortable.  All parents understand this and eagerly do whatever they can to provide for the baby’s needs.  That is what love means: the needs of the baby are as much, or more, imperative than your own.  It is as though your nerves were connected to the baby’s.  An objective observer might see babies as being totally selfish.  If the mother is exhausted from an arduous day of work, or even sick in bed with pneumonia, that will not keep the baby from crying until his or her needs are met.  The baby is unmindful of the needs of others, only its own.  What is amazing about loving mothers and fathers is that they will get up out of bed and take care of the baby.

In fact, the central focus of the parents’ lives for years will be the welfare of that baby, child, teenager and even young adult.  Food, clothes, medical care, education, transportation, music lessons, sports uniforms, even exorbitant college tuitions will be provided and paid for.  Children often do not notice how focused the best efforts of their parents and teachers are upon them.  Until that one great day, that forever life changing day, when they become parents.  Then truly they leave childhood behind and become adults—the ones providing care, not the ones receiving it.  It is not, however, a completely one way street.  As old age overtakes the parents, now grandparents, responsibility for the parents’ well-being is slowly transferred to their children.  In some cases aged parents are reduced to near-childhood dependence on their children.

Infants, children and aged parents need help, sometimes constant and continuous.  It is not unusual to see family members making lifelong sacrifices for those with special needs.  The family does what no other organization possibly could.  The government is not going to get up in the middle of the night to warm a bottle for the baby.  The government is not going to stay up until midnight helping a teenager finalize that procrastinated term paper.  The government is not going to reminisce with grandmother about shared memories that are so precious.

There is one quality that every human being shares.  Everyone has a family.  Everyone has a father and a mother.  You cannot have come into existence without them.  It is true some fathers are hopelessly missing in their children’s lives—being little more than sperm donors.  It is true that some mothers abandon their children physically and/or emotionally.  It is true there is a dire need for someone to step in and do their best to provide what failed parents haven’t.  There is a role for government in that process and many government workers who provide genuine and sincere help for the needy are to be lauded.  But it is a fatal mistake for our society to believe the government can replace the family.  That is impossible.  Government can attempt to ameliorate the harm done by failed families, but it cannot replace a good family.  Strong families eliminate the need for federal handouts.

One current challenge in creating and encouraging successful families is that there are some who believe babyhood should be a life-long condition—that their food, clothes, medical care, education, transportation, cell phones, entertainment . . . should be provided by others.  They want to be permitted to continue forever as new-borns—eternal Takers.  These eternal infants demand it from the government.  It is true that if we live long enough we will all reach a state of dependence.  If we have not prepared for it by maintaining family ties and financial preparation, it can be a sad time indeed.  The greater problem facing our nation, however, is not those who are forced into dependence—it is those who choose dependence.

There are those actively working to undermine families.  Promiscuity and adultery undermines families.  In fact, those sins (Yes! that is the right name for it), destroy families.  High taxes undermine families by draining financial resources.  A culture where you could watch movies and television almost endlessly and never see a happy, well-functioning family modeled undermines families.  Instead we idolize those who, far too often, are abysmal examples of those qualities that strengthen families.  Those who choose to live off of government handouts—and even to be constantly demanding more—rather than providing for themselves and their families undermine those raising families.  As they demand the government provide them with never-ending childhood they drain resources from far more needy citizens.  Their demands are often expressed as rights: “I have a right to a smart phone;”  I have a right to free contraceptives;”  “I have a right to have Uncle Sam provide for me and my children.”  These are not rights, they are selfish demands.  If you want them, and are not helpless, be an adult and provide them for yourself.

The Takers in a dependent society share another major characteristic with babies.  They have no thought for the well-being of the ones providing the care—only that it be provided.  Takers in America focus solely on their needs and ignore or dismiss the fiscal disaster facing the nation that is providing that care.  You will see it in all of the political ads aimed at winning their votes—pictures of the needy— sometimes self-induced needy—demanding that the government provide still more care.  The fact that we are trillions of dollars in debt, and must borrow 40% of what we spend to provide care for them, barely enters their consciousness.  Their focus is on crying in the night, even having a tantrum, if their warm milk is not forthcoming.

One major difference between loving parental care and government care is that even at the DNA level parents know they must raise their children to be independent.  They know, again at the DNA level, that they will not be around to care for the next generation and the one after that, so the only workable strategy is to raise your children to be independent adults capable of caring for themselves and their own children.   That is the opposite goal and approach of those who seek to make people dependent upon the government—for food stamps, for medical care, for housing, for everything that normal parents provide for themselves and their children.  It is essential to Democrats seeking re-election that the number of those in child-like dependence upon the government be as large as possible, because—well aware of their dependence—they will vote for the Democrats who provide the teat of federal welfare from which they have been nursing for so long.

The real political and cultural battle now is over whether the government will encourage well-functioning families—that can provide the best help for infants and aged parents—or push the family aside with government programs that are poor substitutes, sometimes dysfunctional substitutes, for what families provide almost automatically.  Unfortunately as government programs regulate and drain resources from normal families to pay for government programs that attempt to replace them, they actually cripple what is best in our culture.  The current election is about preserving the most basic unit of society—the family.  Every candidate should be asked: “How will your platform aid families to prosper?” not “How will your platform help people remain in eternal dependence on the government?”  The gulf between these two ideologies is vast.  Voters will have to decide—are they ready to be adults or is never ending childhood too attractive to give up?

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TAX SERFDOM

It is almost unimaginable for Americans living today to see themselves in the place of the Pilgrims, Patriots, and the very ordinary people who turned this continent from a wilderness—where almost everyone had to work constantly and strenuously just to obtain food—to the America of today where we are so challenged by overeating.

It is just as unimaginable for Americans living today to see themselves in a society without income taxes.  The income tax rate in Colonial America, for both rich and poor, was zero.  People expected to keep one hundred percent of the profit they earned from their constant and strenuous work.  There was no debate in Congress about how much tax to impose on this group or that, no army of lobbyists seeking some loophole for their favored cause—because Congress had no power to tax income.  Early Americans lived in an income tax paradise.  In total contrast was the unfortunate lot of slaves and serfs in older cultures who were allowed to keep only a bare subsistence from what they produced.  The slave owner, landlord, or government in socialist societies claimed the rest.

This economic relationship between ruler and ruled could be viewed as a business arrangement—how much do citizens have to pay their government which, hopefully, provides life, liberty, and the right to pursue happiness?  That is the bargain that everyone makes with their rulers.  Similar bargains are made in business.  If you had a great idea for a business, one you were sure would prosper, you would need to get the capital from somewhere so you could rent a store, buy equipment, hire workers, etc. and begin prospering.  Your rich uncle might be willing to provide the necessary capital, but only for a share of the profits.  Ultimately you would set up a partnership or corporation of some sort giving your uncle a legal right to some agreed upon percentage of the profits.  As an owner of that percentage of the business he would be entitled to those profits, just as you would be entitled to the rest.  The negotiations would determine how much you got to keep.  Everyone faces the same question: what percentage of your earnings does the government take—just as if it owned that percentage of your business?

Corporations pay up to 38% income tax on what they earn.  When those profits are paid out as dividends to the owners of the corporation, the owners are taxed—in addition to what the corporation has already paid—up to 35% on the dividends.  Owners are taxed again when they sell their shares (ownership) in the company—either at normal or long term capital gains rates—and, if they don’t sell,  are taxed when they bequeath their ownership to their descendants.  The total tax on those who own and earn their income from businesses is staggering.  Add to this state income taxes and it is not unusual for government to take over 50% of the profits of any commercial activity, just as though we lived in a socialist country.  Is that a good deal?  Certainly medieval peasants would have been thrilled to be able to keep fifty percent of what they earned, but then they were little better than slaves.  Our Founding Fathers would have been appalled at the idea that they should pay half of their earnings to the government.  Compared to the Colonials, we are about 50% serfs—at least those of us who pay income taxes.  Hi, half-serf!  Are you really content with your deal with the government?  If not, where’s the outrage?

There are always those in favor of keeping things as they are: slave owners liked slavery, lords liked ruling over serfs, recipients of government largesse taken from others who pay taxes want it to continue.  Some societies were built on slavery and claimed it was the natural order, just as some claim today that taking from those who are Earners to give to the Takers is the proper order of things.  But the Takers in each case could only do so at the expense of the life, liberty and property of Earners.  It was wrong then and is wrong now.

Posted in Defending Freedom, Unfair Taxation | Tagged , ,

JUST COMPENSATION

The “iron law of taxation” is that the government will tax as much as voters will tolerate![i]  There is no other limit to the acquisitiveness of politicians.  So why do voters tolerate such high taxes?  Clever politicians know voters are very tolerant of higher taxes—just so long as the higher taxes are imposed on others.  The “rich” can be taxed without limit, just so long as I am not classified as “rich.”  Cigarette taxes can be astronomical, because I don’t smoke.  Estate taxes can be confiscatory as long as they are not applied to the estate of my parents.  That is why we have unequal taxes—voters are very willing that others should suffer just so long as they don’t.

What should taxes be spent for?  One obvious answer: national defense.  But freedom from foreign invaders is as valuable to a poor person as it is to a rich one.  Should one be taxed more than the other to maintain it?  Similarly, being protected from criminals, having air controllers prevent plane crashes, or providing inoculations to prevent epidemics—these government services benefit us all equally regardless of how much income we make.  The government would easily have enough income from moderate taxes to pay for such services—which benefit everyone equally.  Government programs become expensive and taxes increase tremendously, however, when the goal is not to provide basic government programs, but rather to redistribute wealth.

The blatantly announced purpose of higher tax rates for the rich coupled with a demand that the money be spent to provide tuition grants to the poor, subsidized housing, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. is the very foundation of President Obama’s re-election campaign.  His platform is that these high taxes should be spent on programs that citizens who are better off are disqualified from receiving—simply because they have higher incomes.  This is based on a belief that it is wrong for some people to have more than others, that wealth should be forcibly redistributed from those who have more to those who have less.  This presidential campaign, perhaps more than others, focuses on that one question: Is it the proper role of the federal government to redistribute income from the rich to the poor.  Each voter will have to answer that in determining who to vote for.

What is the right federal income tax policy?  There are three options: (1) have everyone pay the same specific amount in taxes—say $2,000/year, regardless of how wealthy they are; (2) have everyone pay the same tax rate—say ten percent of income, regardless of how wealthy they are; or (3) do what we do now—intentionally require no income taxes from almost half the voters and high tax rates for the wealthy.  Coupled to this last option are demands for more federal grants, subsidies, exemptions from regulations and fees, etc.—almost anything that transfers wealth to those who have less.

Charity for the needy, care for the unfortunate, is an essential characteristic for any person and any society.  The question is, should that care be provided by forcibly taking the property of some and giving it to others—as is done through unequal federal taxation?  Property rights and freedom from such confiscation are among the fundamental principles upon which this nation was established.  The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  So important was this principal that it was specifically extended to the states in the Fourteenth Amendment: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  This is a powerful Constitutional declaration of an overarching respect for property.  If the government takes your property for a federal purpose it must pay you “just compensation”—the fair market value of what it has taken.  If your house is condemned because the land is needed for a federal highway, the government must pay you the fair market value of your house.  There was no parenthetical clause in the Fifth Amendment that fair compensation should go only to those who weren’t rich or could not afford to have their property taken because of their lack of wealth.  It applied to all citizens equally because there was a bed rock belief that government should treat all citizens equally, regardless of their wealth.  The government didn’t have the right to take anyone’s property simply because a majority in Congress voted to do it.

Our Constitution forbids Congress from passing bills of attainder.  A bill of attainder is a legislative act whereby the property, even the life, of the unfortunate victim could be taken simply by legislative decree.  It was a normal weapon used by winning parties against losers in battles for the monarchy in England.  “The Americans themselves used bills of attainder to confiscate the property of British loyalists (called Tories) during the revolution.”[ii]  Having used it, and realizing how antithetical it was to freedom, those same Americans prohibited our Congress from passing such bills.  Yet now, with income taxes, Congress once again by legislative decree routinely takes the property of classes of citizens.  Instead of just compensation, we again have bills of attainder.

So where did the idea come from that property—through income taxes—should be taken from just the wealthy without compensation?  Certainly the poor value their lives and their liberty as much as the rich, so the government isn’t providing the rich with any special favors as compensation for their enormously higher taxes.  Is the fact that some have gained more wealth than others “just compensation” for demanding more from them?  Does their “excess” wealth mean there is no Constitutional limit on what we should be allowed to take from them?  If we really believed that, we could easily do away with our labyrinthine income tax system and simply allow the IRS to enter homes and confiscate all property exceeding, let’s say, $250,000.  Extra cars, large screen LCDs, jewelry, baseball card collections, etc. could be grabbed and redistributed to those who have less than the $250,000 maximum in total wealth.  Is that the real end-game of the redistributionist?  It was of Maoist China.

If all voters wanted fairness, if being fair were the real goal of our tax system, then all would demand that everyone pay the same tax.  Just as in sports, if one team gets three strikes before their batter is out, so the other team should get the same three strikes.  We don’t demand that the Yankees’ batters should only get two strikes because they win so many more games than the Astros.  The accusation is that the wealthy are selfish for not supporting tax policies that confiscate their wealth.  The truth is, it is selfishness that underlies the demand for redistribution.  If the Takers in schemes for redistribution were “Fair” they would insist that everyone get three strikes and that no one else be required to pay more for government services than anyone else.  They want the property of others to be taken—without just compensation or due process—but not their own.  Is that fair?


[i]  Truthtofreedom.com “Avoiding Taxes”, July 23, 2012

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