Category Archives: Constitution

Drowning in a Sea of Red Ink

The declaration in the Biblical book of Proverbs, chapter 22, “the borrower is the slave of the lender,” is quite instructive to the current situation of the federal government and the deficit spending binge it has been on for over a decade now. It was bad enough during the George W. Bush presidency. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were being paid for through increasing the debt load on the American people, and the Republican Congress instituted a Medicare prescription drug plan that had no funding mechanism to pay for it. But toward the end of the Bush administration and continuing on through the Obama administration, this profligacy has increased to new record levels.

The 2009 stimulus program added even more debt for the American people to bear. Foreign investors helped this along by purchasing a large chunk of this debt, and the Federal Reserve has been more than willing to help by monetizing the debt as needed. The first yearly deficit that surpassed $1 trillion (the actual increase in the total national debt) occurred during the last full fiscal year of the Bush administration, coming in at a robust $1.2 trillion. The deficit grew even larger, hitting $1.9 trillion in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. After dropping to “only” $671 billion last year (as the sequester’s automatic spending reductions had at least some bite and revenues increased a bit), the national debt has already increased by approximately $800 billion in the first six months of this new fiscal year.

And if all of this awful fiscal news was not enough to digest, the American people are facing unfunded federal government liabilities of many tens of trillions of dollars in the upcoming decades. These are unfunded because, at the moment, there is not enough projected revenue to pay for much of the expected spending, which will be mainly in the area of entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid).

I propose that two steps are necessary to stem this tide of red ink that is swallowing the American Dream. First, we need a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will require bringing the budget in balance within five years of its adoption. Doing so would help to stabilize the spending of the federal government at around 18% of GDP. That is still too high for a truly limited, constitutional federal government, but it would be a starting point. Spending levels could be ratcheted down from there, and at least the flow of red ink would be stopped at that level of government. There is no lack of ideas for prudently cutting down federal spending, and we need to start implementing at least some of them sooner rather than later.

Second, we need to ditch the Federal Reserve and its fiat paper monetary regime and institute a modern day gold standard. As former Congressman Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman wrote in 1982, in The Case for Gold, page 159:

It is necessary to balance the budget and institute a gold standard together. The discipline required for one mandates the other. If government is to be limited in size, the budget balanced and the market free, gold will be a necessary adjunct.

As the Bible instructs in Deuteronomy 25:15, “A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have.” The Federal Reserve has manipulated the U.S. dollar since its creation in 1913 and has so far destroyed 96% of its value. At this point, I guess we should be grateful that they have left us with even four pennies on the dollar. This manipulation must come to an end, by instituting a sound gold-backed dollar and Balanced Budget Amendment, as a line of defense against deficit spending.

—Ken Hamilton, LPAR Executive Committee member

The Militarization of the Police

For those who follow the news or participate in social media networks, it has been hard to miss the numerous stories about the killing or assault of innocent citizens (or at least, non-dangerous citizens) by police. What were once written off by some as “isolated incidents” have clearly become common occurrences in America.

Concerns about potential abuse of using military tactics for domestic policing date back to the time of the Constitution, when the Founders worried about standing armies and intimidation of the people.

Most reasonable discussions about the use of SWAT teams focus on already-violent situations, but, increasingly, SWAT teams are being used to turn non-violent situations into violent ones. While the fear of terrorism drives much of the support for the militarization of police, SWAT teams are much more likely to target non-violent “criminals,” primarily as part of the failed War on Drugs. But even most people who support drug laws would oppose turning their enforcement into potentially violent situations that put innocent citizens and police officers in harm’s way. The likelihood of armored vehicles and military gear being used for good is far outweighed by its potential for harm to citizens and police officers.

The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown from a few hundred a year in the 1970s to approximately 50,000 raids in 2005, according to surveys conducted by Peter Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University.

For those interested in reading more about this scary path, as well as a detailed history of how we got here, I highly recommend Radley Balko’s recent book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. Balko had this to say about the situation:

Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.

There is reason for concern that police officers are tempted to turn non-threatening situations into dangerous ones, in order to get the chance to use their “cool, new equipment.” SWAT teams have been deployed in many American cities, leading to the deaths of innocent citizens as well as police officers, to break up illegal poker games, to capture someone suspected of defrauding the federal student loan program, to raid the homes of low-level drug users, to raid bars suspected of allowing underage drinking, and other non-threatening situations.

Assault-style raids have also been used to enforce regulatory law in recent years, including IRS raids at respected Arkansas businesses, including Mountain Pure Water in Little Rock and Duncan Outdoors in Conway. (Check out this 17-minute video about the raids on those Arkansas businesses.)

In a review of Balko’s book at Amazon.com, John J. Baeza, a retired New York Police Department detective, had this to say:

A profession that I was once proud to serve in has become a militarized police state. Officers are quicker to draw their guns and use their tanks than to communicate with people to diffuse a situation. They love to use their toys and when they do, people die.

The days of the peace officer are long gone, replaced by the militarized police warrior wearing uniforms making them indistinguishable from military personnel. Once something is defined as a “war” everyone becomes a “warrior.” Balko offers solutions ranging from ending the war on drugs, to halting mission creep so agencies such as the Department of Education and the FDA don’t have their own SWAT teams, to enacting transparency requirements so that all raids are reported and statistics kept, to community policing, and finally to one of the toughest solutions: changing police culture.

The effect of militarization on police culture has been startling. Dogs are now routinely shot. Women have been sexually assaulted during routine traffic stops. Elderly citizens have been killed for resisting unwanted medical treatment in nursing homes. Unarmed innocents have been killed for what is classified “resisting arrest.” The police are clearly out of control.

There’s only one way to stop this escalating militarization of police, and that is for the people to stand up and say “no.” It’s time to get America off the road to becoming a police state.

But perhaps it’s time to consider a more radical solution. Let’s compare the aggressive military mindset of today’s police forces to how a private police service might operate. In fact, such a service already exists, in the city of Detroit, where the government police department has thrown up its hands in failure, informing people that they enter Detroit “at their own risk.” According to a recent article at freethoughtproject.com, the Threat Management Center is filling the void:

The Threat Management Center’s sole priorities are the protection of the people under their charge. They have specific incentives to focus exclusively on safety, and find non-violent ways of defusing tense situations before resorting to force. Since they’re privately funded, they have a direct incentive to make their customers happy. Any form of misconduct can instantly result in a loss of funding. The best part? The Threat Management Center doesn’t exclusively protect paying customers. Yes, they protect people for free.

The training that they give their officers is designed to fill their “mental toolboxes” with non-violent ways to diffuse potentially-violent situations. Dale Brown, founder of the Threat Management Center, said, “We make sure that in that toolbox, there are so many options to create a non-violent outcome that it’s almost impossible to have violence.” Brown summed up his company’s goals and policies like this:

We are not looking for people, and we do not accept people, who are human predator oriented, people who like to fight or people who like to shoot people… We’re not looking for the kind of mindset that says “you know what, it’s OK to use violence as long as you can legally explain it.” We’re looking for people who don’t want to use violence under any conditions. What we emphasize is 100 ways in a situation which would normally be fatal-force oriented, 100 ways, to not have a violent or fatal incident take place. We protect communities here in Detroit, upscale communities… we have approx 1000 homes that depend on us for safety. And we have approx 500 businesses that are our clients as well. And then the people that cannot afford our services, we help them for free. The reason that we can do that is because there is a healthy profit margin leftover from excellence from providing for our major corporations. We offer free training to families. We call it Free Family Friday. Typically, the prosecutor’s offices, the shelters in the area for domestic violence victims, stalking victims are sent to us for assistance. We protect them for free. We escort them to court. If they have a violent ex-husband or boyfriend or neighbor or some stranger that’s coming after them, we will literally stay with them, transport their kids to school. We stay with them at their homes with our rifles and keep them alive. And in 20 years, none of us have had a court date and, more importantly, none of us have been killed. And the most important, no one who has ever come to us for help in 20 years has ever been injured or killed after coming to this organization.

This is an impressive record, and it indicates the possibilities for effective law enforcement without violating people’s right. If the police cannot start focusing on protecting the people rather than threatening them, private security companies may be our best option.

—Kathleen Wikstrom, LPAR Vice-Chair

End the Fed Arkansas Rally – Little Rock!

End the Fed Arkansas Rally – Little Rock! RSVP HERE! http://www.facebook.com/events/163591980431439/

We invite everyone in Arkansas from every political and ideological persuasion to join with us to take back control of our monetary and banking systems. This is an issue that affects EVERYONE. A mini-audit was done from 2007 – 2010 that exposed Trillions of (taxpayer backed) Dollars being used to not only prop up the “Too Big to Fail” institutions in the US, but also Trillions in extremely low-interest loans being given to foreign institutions like Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and Arab Banking Corp. We’ve also learned that sitting members of the Regional Boards of the Fed have given their own companies low interest loans, which can only be described as a supreme conflict of interest, and we’ve also seen well-connected individuals taking loans from the Fed personally. It seems like everyone is getting bailed out by the Federal Reserve while we are still dealing with economic hardships on Main St. THIS MUST END NOW!

We will gather in Little Rock for a walk to the Federal Reserve (where we will be making stops to spread our message to the general shopping public and disperse literature and mail-in petitions to US Senators). We will end with a rally at the Fed, to continue promoting the message to the public.

This event is being sponsored by End The Fed Arkansas and the Arkansas Libertarian Party.

Libertarians Making a Difference in Arkansas – Casey Copeland, Attorney

Photo courtesy of Andy Shupe with NWAOnline.com (Copeland on the left)

Casey Copeland, Treasurer for the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, attorney and Alderman in Prairie Grove, AR, brought a case to the Arkansas Supreme Court that led to the overturn of the law banning sexual contact between teachers and adult students. The Arkansas Supreme Court found that people over the age of 18 have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship.

The case was about Elkins High School history and psychology teacher David Paschal, who admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with and 18 year old student.

“Regardless of how we feel about Paschal’s conduct, which could correctly be referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts,” wrote Chief Justice Jim Hannah.

Paschal, who is serving a 30-year sentence, will have his convictions reversed and dismissed. His attorney, Casey Copeland, said his client was “vindicated by the Supreme Court.”

“I think that this case does not necessarily say a teacher can do that and keep their job,” said Copeland. “I think the loss of job and loss of teacher’s license might be Continue reading

Opposing war doesn’t make you a pacifist

This is a continuation of the LPAR bringing you blog posts by our upcoming speakers at our State Convention on April 9th. This was originally posted at Liberty for All.

by R. Lee Wrights

“The only defensible war is a war of defense.”

- C.K. Chesterton

One of the most misunderstood principles of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle. The belief that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatsoever; nor advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else including government is the very essence of the non-aggression principle. The misconception starts when we use the phrase “initiation of force.” People tend to focus on the last word and ignore or forget the first.

Most libertarians are not pacifists so our adherence to the non-aggression principle doesn’t mean we won’t defend ourselves. On the contrary, the right to self-defense is inherent in the concept of Continue reading

LPAR Chair Participates as a Panelist on Liberty Cap Talk Live

Rodger Paxton, Chairman of the LPAR, was a guest panelist on Liberty Cap Talk Live tonight. To listen to the podcast, go to Liberty Cap Talk Live and download the .mp3 file. You can also listen to it on your iPod device by going to iTunes. Other panelists were James Oaksun, Treasurer of the Libertarian National Committee and Jackie Fiest, contributor the the Liberty Conspiracy website and podcast. Thanks to Todd Andrew Barnett for hosting the show and having us all on.

Note: There is some explicit language in this podcast.

Happy Constitution Day!

Constitution223 years ago today in 1787, the Philadelphia Convention adopted the U.S. Constitution. Today, that Constitution is being attacked from all over, which makes it more important today than at any time in our history.

In honor of the date of adoption, I challenge everyone to commit themselves to understanding this venerable document more. You can read it online or order a very nice Pocket Constitution from the Cato Institute.

What are those sneaky Mooslums up to now?

What do they mean by building a mosque in New York, and right down there at Ground Zero no less! Why we can’t have that! So what if we have the unalienable right to worship as we see fit, that don’t mean *they* can build a mosque right down there on Ground Zero. They are just spitting in our face by doing that. [/sarcasm]

This whole issue has been completely blown out of proportion by the news media and then, for some strange reason beyond my comprehension, the President made a statement about it on national TV so it has now become a political “hot potato”. Republicans are jumping all over it and Democrats are distancing themselves from it to the point that I saw a cartoon today showing a democrat getting money from an “Obama ATM” with a 10 foot pole.

From a political standpoint this is, at best, a local zoning issue. From a property rights standpoint the original owner has the right to transfer ownership to whomever he/she pleases and the new property owners have the right to use that property as they see fit. As “alleged” free men we have the unalienable right to worship, or not worship, how, when and where we wish. The Bill of Rights enshrined that right, it did not grant it but rather made clear that the government can’t (or at least shouldn’t be able to) do anything about it. Just like all the other rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. One of the very things that this country was founded on was the fact that would be no state sponsored religion, or state sponsored censorship of religion. Yet we have “patriotic” Americans that want to do that very thing, use the State to censor what types of religion are acceptable in any given area. Now, having said that, I think the folks that are wanting open the mosque/community center where they are opening it probably should have put a little more thought into where it was located. Kind of like the old saying of “Just because you can say something, don’t mean you should say something”. The real hypocrisy in all this is there are strip clubs and “adult” shops closer to Ground Zero than the proposed mosque. For some reason they don’t have a problem with lap dances, but have a problem with folks that pray on a mat.

MCDONALD ET AL. v. CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, ET AL.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled Chicago’s gun ban unconstitutional due to the 2nd Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process clause.

The 214 page majority opinion can be found here.

According the the Chicago Tribune, “The Chicago City Council could consider new gun control measures as soon as Wednesday if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the city’s long-standing handgun ban Monday, Mayor Richard Daley said.”

“Daley has discussed several options if the 1982 handgun ban is no longer in effect. Chicago could require firearm owners to purchase insurance and receive training or maintain a registry of how many guns are in particular homes so that police responding to an address will know what they’re up against.”

Much ado about something

There has been much press this past week, and it probably will be continuing for some time, about Rand Paul and his statements concerning the Civil Rights Act and “institutionalized racism”, as one media pundit put it. I’ve watched the sound bites of what Rand said and fully understand why the media and “blogosphere” are all a buzz. I’ve seen the editorial comments, both for and against (mostly against). Nearly all of those in the nay column have pulled the race card, just like they did with his father, and proclaim that since he is against the Civil Rights Act, at least part of it anyway from some of his “clarifications” recently, he must be racist, for “institutionalized racism” or (and I love this one) a radical. I can understand where someone may take those positions, not understanding Libertarian philosophy, and contend that Rand Paul (again like his father) is a big business corporate lackey that doesn’t understand the rights of “the little guy”.

The problem, however, is not in Rand Paul’s understanding of rights, but the misconception of rights by the public at large. More importantly, a great portion of American citizens do not understand the difference between Natural and Civil rights. I would venture to guess, at least from conversations that I’ve had with “the public at large” they equivocate natural rights and civil rights. We, as Libertarians, understand the difference and we also understand that natural rights ALWAYS Continue reading