Liberty and Capitalism

What is Liberty and where does it come from?

John Locke wrote in part -“…we must consider what sate all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of all their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man.”

Liberty is the freedom for individuals to act in their own self interests as they determine them.  It is the ability to possess property and dispose of it without interference from others provided they act within the law of nature.

This idea found its way into our Declaration of Independence.  In the preamble of the Declaration it states: “[when one people] assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Liberty is an unalienable right according to this founding document.  We are free to pursue what we will and this is a right that cannot be taken from us.

How is Capitalism compatible with Liberty?

Capitalism is an economic system that is based on the private ownership of the means of production.  This system, even as imperfectly as it has been implemented here in the U.S., has proven itself capable of providing high living standards and great wealth.  Our country’s history demonstrates the benefits provided to all individuals by this Capitalist system is unparalleled in human history. Why?

It is due to our system of government being based on the principle of individual liberty. This has allowed people the freedom to pursue what they wanted to. Entrepreneurs worked to improve the quality of their own lives by utilizing the private ownership of the means of production and in doing so, they improved everyone’s lives.

Railroads, telephones, electricity, cars, food, clothing, shoes and every other imaginable good and service was developed by someone that thought they had a better idea and had the freedom, the Liberty, to create it.

Attacks on Capitalism are Attacks on Liberty

Capitalism and Liberty have become inexorably intertwined.  Private ownership of the means of production is tied to the unalienable right to Liberty and the natural right to possess property unfettered.

When Capitalism is attacked, as it relentlessly is, what are the remedies sought? Regulations and government oversight.  Restrictions on an individual’s ability to possess property is an attack on Liberty.

And as we continually see, government intervention becomes plunder.

In Defense of Capitalism

What are the Benefits of Capitalism?

Capitalism is the economic system that has raised the quality of life for people far above anything imaginable before it.  It is the system that has provided for all of the industrial, technological and social advancements that has made the world what is today.

Compare even the poorest in our society today to the poorest in the feudal times. Comparisons of  infant mortality rates and average life spans demonstrate that people are better off today.  In fact, people are much better off today than they were even 300 years ago.

Another more recent comparison.   A study by “The Economist” from OECD data in 2013 shows a “Better-Life” index.  This is a compilation of 10 indicators  observed in various countries, to arrive at a quality of life index and it is split between the bottom 10% and the top 10% of a country’s socioeconomic status.  What does it show?

People in the in the bottom 10% have a better life in the U.S, than all but 3 of the 17 countries in the group.  Countries that are more socialist, like Germany, France and Britain have a lower standard.  In fairness, Sweden has it slightly better.

But wait there is more.  Our bottom 10% are better off than the top 10% of Russia, Portugal and Brazil.  By a lot.

Indeed, another study from World Bank data shows Americans in the bottom 5% of the U.S.’s income distribution are wealthier than 68% of the rest of the world.  Our poorest people are about as rich as the richest in India.  Why?

Capitalism, while not practiced perfectly here, is the engine that drives economic growth.  It is carried on by self interested individuals in the pursuit of profits and it benefits everyone.  The basic tenant of liberty in our country gives individuals the freedom to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and  when they succeed, it benefits everyone.

Can a government controlled and centrally planned  system do better?  It does not appear so.

Angus gets it wrong again – this time on Iran

A few weeks ago Senator Angus King held a discussion at USM, with former Senator George Mitchell and Ambassador to NATO, Nicolas Burns.

Senator King stated that he has read everything about the agreement and that it is a good agreement.  He was on a radio sound bite over the weekend saying in effect that the only thing worse than Iran is Iran with a nuclear weapon.  He is making the case, both in the sound bite and in the meeting, that this agreement will stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Once again, he is wrong, this agreement opens the pathway to one.

First of all, this agreement has side deals at the UN that the Senator, and indeed, Secretary of State Kerry have not seen and do not know what they say.

17 unclassified documents were added to 1 classified document to make it difficult for Congressional members and staff to read them. Same tactic that was used by the President on the Pacific Rim trade deal this summer.

Iran, as reported by the associated press, will be inspecting their own facilities.  Military sites are off limits.  If inspectors are allowed to look, Iran first gets a 60 day notice.

If these sanctions are lifted, Iran, the largest state sponsor of terror in the world,  will get over $1 billion released to them.  Can anyone doubt tat they will use these funds to further their support for terrorism and against the US?

This is a matter of national security.  Iran is driving to get a ICBM program  in place, so they can deliver a warhead to Israel and the United States.

In addition the Ayotollah continues to chant “Death to America!” “Death to Isreal”  Last week he said that Israel will know no peace until they are destroyed in no longer than 25 years from now.

Why does King think this is a good deal?

How can support for the Democratic party be more important than the security of our country?

He can’t.  He is defending the Democratic party over our national security.

Wrong again.

 

Testimony to State of Maine Legislators on Convention of the States

Testimony in support of H.P. 804

submitted by Mark A. Kilburn

Good afternoon Chairman Whittemore and Chairman Martin and distinguished members of the Committee on State and Local Government. My name is Mark Kilburn and I am a resident of Portland.

I have come today to speak to you in support of an Article V Convention of the States. I have two children, one 24 year-old graduate student and one 17 year-old high school junior and I am concerned about the current level of Federal government overreach and its impact on their lives.  I believe that common sense changes need to be made to the United States Constitution via well thought out amendments.

Change, as I am sure we all agree is hard and a little daunting.  It is stated in the Declaration of Independence “…all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  I say this not because I believe anything needs to be abolished, but to demonstrate how reluctant people are to make any changes.  This reluctance often gives way to fear and misinformation.

Many critics of the Article V process have been using fear and misinformation by raising the specter of a “runaway” convention that will disregard its original charge and turn the Convention of the States into an unlimited convention, thereby exposing the constitution to complete revision.

This criticism is unfounded.  There is a process in Article V.  It confers the power to the states to force Congress to call for a convention on the application of two-thirds or 33 state legislatures to propose amendments.  That will require a tremendous amount of effort and debate throughout the country by informed citizens.  In addition, the state legislatures will be involved in selecting delegates to attend such a convention.  None of this will be done lightly, but is there another safeguard to prevent a runaway convention?

Yes. Article V also provides one.  The proposed amendments “…shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several states or by Convention in three-fourths thereof…”  This again will require vigorous debate which, when done at local levels, will allow the electorate the opportunity to join-in and contribute.

In addition to these constitutional limits, there is the state legislatures influence over the entire process.  The states’ applications will define the scope of the convention.  The states will instruct the delegates.  The states will have the power to recall a delegate.   There will be a need to garner a majority of state committees at the convention.  A super-majority of state committees and legislative bodies will be needed to pass the proposed amendments if legislatures are chosen by Congress to ratify which is the likely method.

This does not even contemplate legal challenges that would backstop any inappropriate or unconstitutional amendment in the unlikely event that the above safeguards miss.

I believe government by the people and for the people works and is one of the great strengths of our system.  A Convention of the States under Article V is a constitutional method for us to restore our governmental system.

In my view, our constitution is being “amended” almost daily by actions being taken in Washington without these safeguards.  Why shouldn’t the state Legislatures be allowed, at least to attempt, to use a constitutional method to correct the current disregard for our constitution?

I respectfully ask you to support H.P. 804 and vote to pass it.

Convention of the States

We need a Convention of the States to restore our government to its constitutional foundation, to turn back the Progressive agenda of a strong centralized government and the related tyranny that it engenders.

For example, we need to repel the seventeenth amendment.  The constitution’s method for selecting senators is appointment by the state’s legislatures.  This was adopted after strenuous debate to insure that state’s rights would not be subsumed by a centralized national government.  Its purpose: the people of the states would have, through their locally elected state legislatures, a check against both the popularly elected President and the rapidly changing House of Representatives.

Let’s take for example Senator Susan Collins.  She has taken this oath of office four times:” I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  Right now we have a domestic enemy; it is the President and his administration.

Yet, Senator Collins thought it was a good idea to travel to Selma on Air Force One with the President and recently voted for the appointment of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General.  Even though traveling with the President gives the appearance of agreement with his ideologies and Loretta Lynch gave sworn testimony that clearly indicated she has no intention of defending our constitution or our country regarding illegal immigration, Collins continually does this under the cloak of “Bipartisanship.”

When she does these things, she is not representing Maine. Collins is representing her political interests and the interests of the Democratic Party, along with the dismal leadership of the Republican Party.

This is why we now urgently need a Convention of the States: to propose amendments to the constitution, without involving Washington, and to right this sinking ship which is our country.

What has our Government been up to?

It is very to hard to keep in mind events that have happened.  There is wave after wave of new events crashing over us each day.  Something else to be astonished about, but do you remember any of these?

The attack on our embassy in Benghazi.  (Supposedly caused by a video but not really.)

The IRS targeting Conservative political groups trying to form non-profits to get their message out.  (Left leaning groups were unmolested, probably an oversight.)

The government wire tapping certain Associated Press reporters phones. (Trying to get a jump on the news for the daily White house briefings maybe?)

The NSA storing all of our phone conversations and internet traffic. (If we can just identify one terrorist it’s all worth it.)

The Defense department announcing global warming (excuse me, climate change) is an “immediate risk” to national security. (But ISIS apparently is not.)

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. (Whoops, Gruber let it slipped that it was meant to be unaffordable.)

The President declaring that he has a phone and a pen and if Congress won’t act, he will.  So he announces in Las Vegas that he will implement immigration reform in a 32 minute speech. (Whew! Thankfully he still had the time to play 27 holes of golf immediately after for 9 hours.)

How do these events and the government actions and talking points that follow from them impact our unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Is the government taking its just powers from the governed and using that power to protect our rights?  Can the government really protect our rights when they lie to us about what they are really doing?

The President and the Senators and the Congressmen took an oath to uphold our Constitution and to defend our rights.  Repeatedly.  Yet, we have the short list above.

Don’t we have to ask ourselves, how are these seemingly inconsistent things, the list and the oaths, related?

Fundamentals of Liberty – Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Do you believe that? Are we created with “unalienable Rights”?  Do each of us have a right to Liberty?

Or how about this one:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,-”

Do you believe that? Are Governments instituted among us to secure these rights? Does government get their power from the governed, i.e. us?

We need to be clear on these points because they are building blocks for everything else that follows in our world view.  When you look at the actions that are being taken by our government, actions directed at us, the governed, you really need to understand your relationship to those sections of the Declaration.

What are our rights?  What is the government for?  How does it get its power?

Angus King – Amendment XVII Poster Child

Angus King, Senator from Maine, demonstrates why he could be the poster child for a repeal of the seventeenth amendment to the Constitution.  He acts in his own interests and not for the people he is supposed to represent.

Amendment XVII was ratified on April 8, 1913 and this amendment changed the way Senators are selected.  Instead of being chosen by the state legislatures as described in Article I Section 3 of the Constitution, they are now directly elected by voters of each state.

This change switches accountability from locally elected State legislatures and places it directly with voters.  Without accountability to the State for an agenda, the senator is free to pursue their own, not the least of which is getting re-elected every six years.

Mr. King touts his independent status, his bipartisan approach and his ability to get things done for Maine.  But a recap of this behavior in the latest Gubernatorial race begs the question of his party affiliation.

Mr. King, apparently not happy with Maine’s sitting Republican governor, endorsed Eliot Cutler, the Independent candidate on August 18th.  According to the Bangor Daily News, Mr. King said the people of Maine should ask:‘Who will make the best governor, who has the ideas, who has the best thinking?’ — Eliot wins. That’s why I believe he’s going to. That’s the calculation.”

But by October, it was looking like Mr. Cutler could not garner enough support to win so King made another calculation. On the 29th, six days before the election, he pulled his support from Cutler and switched to the Democratic candidate.   He assured us in the Portland Press Herald that: “But, like Eliot, I too am a realist. After many months considering the issues and getting to know the candidates, it is clear that the voters of Maine are not prepared to elect Eliot in 2014,” and  “The good news is that we still have a chance to elect a governor who will represent the majority of Maine people: my friend and colleague, Mike Michaud.”

Despite King’s efforts to support anyone but the Republican, Governor LePage was re-elected.  In addition, the Republicans also won the state Senate.  This however did not seem to influence King and he was not done.

The day after the election he made an announcement that despite the Republicans winning the Senate (in Washington)  he will continue to caucus with Democrats. But don’t misunderstand him, when it comes to the Senate “Nothing can or will happen without bipartisan support.”

Mr King is not really interested in bipartisan support.  We now have a Republican controlled Senate along with our state legislature.  If this Senator was accountable to his state lawmakers he would have to represent us and not be so quick to make another calculation.

Instead, he is a Democrat masquerading as an Independent whose calculations are designed to further his own interests and career.  He is why we should consider repealing the seventeenth amendment.

What’s wrong with the Constitution?

The short answer is nothing.  The document is the framework of our government. Powers among the three branches are clearly enumerated.  Article II – Section 1 prescribes the oath of the office for the President of the United States as follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

So how then can President Obama, who took that oath twice, completely ignore it?  As late as October 2013 he acknowledged that as President he has no power to act on his own to create law, that he can only enforce the law.

Yet last Thursday that is exactly what he did when he announced his executive order on illegal immigration (or was that “Undocumented” immigration).

Article II gives the President no right to create laws, he must enforce the law as enacted by Congress as described in Article I.  His action last week was a creation of law and as such was a direct violation of the Constitution.

What is wrong with the Constitution? Nothing.

The real question is: What is wrong with this President?