Editor’s note: We try another experiment today. Last Friday, while reading other local blogs, I came across the following post on Cahillonkingston. I responded, and, a few days later, Mr. Cahill responded to that. As I wrote back, the thought occurred to me that this conversation could be shared with the readers of KingstonBarn, as well. I called Mr. Cahill, and he cheerfully agreed. The following is meant to be an open conversation. While we hold our core beliefs dear, it is not an argument, a fight, or a rant. These are opinions, clearly labeled, and are the sole responsibility of their respective authors. As always, I encourage you to get involved. Feel free to comment on KingstonBarn, or add your opinions to cahillonkingston.blogspot.com. All content from from his blog is published here with the expressed permission of Richard T. Cahill, Jr.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2012
The constitutional republic known as the United States of America
Mr. Cahill,I am not sure what you mean. Are you saying that the constitution was trashed by having a Presidential Election, or are you just dissatisfied with the election’s outcome?
During the campaign, the President said he had “a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared”. Not earned. Shared. We take from those who earn it and give it to those he wants to have it. That is socialism by definition.
Now, I have watched as millions of people sat on their butts while a man with a clear socialist agenda has been reelected.
It was clear and obvious to anyone listening and watching that Obama was running on a pure socialist agenda. Yet, he still won. I fear that socialism is now the majority. I fear that the majority no longer asks not what the country can do for them, but instead asks, “What is the government going to give me next?”
The constitutional republic known as the United States may well have died on November 6, 2012.November 13,
2012 8:45 AM
I apologize. I meant no insult. I simply meant that it is a wonderful thing that a government agent, or any citizen, has the right to criticize the government. The First Amendment protections for you and I to do so are alive and well.
The Constitution itself provides for what you call “redistributing wealth”, and to pick “winners and losers”.
I’ll quote Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1. “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”
Because we disagree on what constitutes “general Welfare of the United States”, does not change the fact of its constitutionality.
I fail to see the difference between when President Obama does it, and when President Reagan or President Bush does it. This country has been levying taxes under the authority of the Constitution since 1789, and even had the right to do so under the Articles of Confederation in 1781. The 16th Amendment allowed for Federal Income Taxes when it was ratified in 1913. I have not heard even the most radical of national elected officials seriously call for the abolition of taxes altogether.
I can see your point about ordering that laws not be enforced, but that’s been happening for over two hundred years here in this constitutional republic.
Upon taking office in 1801, Thomas Jefferson pardoned a few of his friends lawfully jailed under the Alien and Sedition Acts, yet selectively prosecuted a few of his enemies under the same laws. Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus, and wrote and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation by executive order. George W. Bush, ignoring the 4th Amendment, secretly wiretapped Americans within the US, all the while proclaiming that it was illegal to do so. Even Mitt Romney continually promised to “repeal ObamaCare on day one.”, though he never had the legal authority to do so.
Class warfare seems to be a matter of point of view. A White man making $27 million a year in capital gains, speaking to a room full of rich White men and women, calling 47% of the people in the country dependents, victims, and irresponsible takers…well, those seem like pretty insulting fighting words. They are especially troubling when you can see some of those “47%” in the tape, working hard, trying to support themselves, while serving those same rich White people. It seems that Romney doesn’t even see them there, or he doesn’t care that they can hear him.
Donald Trump is another rich White man that got a big head start from his rich father. Election night tweets for “a revolution in this country!”, calling the electoral college a “disaster”, and false claims of Romney winning the popular vote also suggest that he’s another official Romney representative engaging in class warfare.
Here are two dictionary definitions:
1) constitutional democracy noun a system of government based on popular sovereignty in which the structures, powers,and limits of government are set forth in a constitution.
2) socialism noun a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
I know that many think that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are pure Socialism, that feeding our poor and housing our homeless are something that we should not be doing. Some would say that educating the poor beyond high school is not our problem, or that helping struggling people should be the sole responsibility of families and churches. I disagree. This is not Socialism. It is societal obligation.
We are a Constitutional Republic. The Preamble to the Constitution is one sentence. “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
When we ratified the Constitution, we committed to the laws, but we also became signatories to a social contract. I think the disagreement is more about the terms and limitations of that contract than whether we have breached it. The discussion needs to be engaged and continued, not abandoned in despair.
Allow me to correct your errors on the Constitution and constitutional law.
First, under Article IV, section 4, the United States guarantees a republican form of government. Thus, any attempt to take one clause of the Constitution out of context to justify a socialist form of government is in direct violation of said article.
The power of Congress to lay and collect taxes and provide for the “general welfare” does not give constitutional authority to fundamentally change our basic form of government.
By its very nature, the federal government is a limited government. In fact, this point was so strong in the minds of the founding fathers that they drafted the 10th Amendment making it crystal clear that any power not expressly given to the federal government is expressly reserved to the States or the people.
Second, where do you see the power to redistribute wealth in the Constitution? By definition, redistribution of wealth is taking from the wealthy so as to redistribute it to whomever you wish, usually the poor.
Under the very same section you site, it is stated that all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform.
Additionally, the power to levy an income tax is not in the original Constitution. That power comes from Amendment XVI which was ratified on 2/3/1913.
Third, there is no reference to a “social contract” in the Constitution. The Constitution was the joining of the States into a limited federal government. Not one single member of the men who debated and wrote this Constitution ever envisioned the federal government running private industry or becoming cradle to grave financial security.
Now, let’s discuss your non-constitutional points. First, class warfare. You argue against my point of class warfare with a blatant class warfare argument.
Nevertheless, looking at your discussion of a wealthy man (you say white man, though race and gender are not relevant because there are wealthy men and women of all races in this country), you fail to mention something important. The man in question EARNED his money. Income taxes were paid on his money at the top level long before he invested said money into various companies. Now, his money was taxed for the second time as capital gains.
That is not enough. Now, you want that money taxed a third time at the maximum income tax level even though it was already taxed.
I take further note that you seem to express contempt for someone who inherited money from their father or parent. What is wrong with that?
A man works his entire life, pays taxes, and succeeds. He then passes his legacy to his children. The children have to pay inheritance taxes on that money even though it was already subject to income taxes. Your comment regarding Mr. Trump suggests that somehow his inheritance is not justified. I see nothing wrong with a man or woman passing on their financial legacy to his or her sons or daughters.
The big part of class warfare is this irrational hatred of successful people and the idea that somehow that they do not deserve to be wealthy despite their personal or familial success. Success is to be encouraged not mocked.
Then, to justify this irrational hatred, the wealthy are attacked for resenting those who live off the public dole even when they have the ability to work.
The various public assistance programs exist to help those who cannot help themselves. Unfortunately, these well intended programs have been inundated with claims from people fully capable of working but who would rather live off the dole than go out and earn a living.
This is unfair to those who actually require the assistance and unfair to those who are working and have to continually pay higher taxes to support those truly undeserving of public support.
Finally, your comment that feeding the poor and educating people should not be our responsibility is pure straw man.
Of course we have a moral obligation to care for the poor and down trodden. However, if you read the Constitution carefully, it is not the federal government that bears that burden. It is the burden of each of the States or the people per the Tenth Amendment.
The bottom line is that you are taking clauses of the Constitution out of context to justify socialism as some form of contractual or moral obligation.
Is it not ironic that people such as myself who are pro-life are told we cannot force our morality upon people? Yet, you seem to be arguing that your sense of morality is actually written in the federal Constitution albeit in invisible ink.
I’d like to do a little housekeeping first, and clear up any misconceptions you or your readers may have.
To the point of class warfare, I express no contempt or animosity toward the making of money, or of inheriting money. I simply point out that wealthy people, attacking people who do not earn enough to pay federal taxes, is class warfare. The irony of the people with the class advantages of money, power, and access accusing the poor and powerless of class warfare is not lost on me, either.
You bring wealth, race, and sex into the discussion with your first reply when you claim of President Obama, “He engages in massive class warfare pitting rich versus poor, black versus white, and men versus women.”, and I respond using your words. I bring Trump into the discussion because he is the one calling for “revolution”. Those are his words. I hold no ill will for anyone making any amount of money by any legal and ethical means.
As you say, an investor earns his investment income. But, dividends are income that was never taxed in the first place. It is new income, and as such, should be taxed as ordinary income. Not on the whole amount, mind you, but on the earnings above principal. I do not, as you say, think it should be taxed three times. Just like the money I expect to earn from from my Social Security or my 403b, it should all be taxed as ordinary income as I draw on the funds. The real differences here are that I don’t get to write off losses from those investments over the years, I don’t get to declare earnings above principal as capital gains, and that I will pay taxes on all of it at my top overall income rate.
You say, “the wealthy are attacked for resenting those who live off the public dole even when they have the ability to work.” Most of Romney’s 47% not paying federal taxes are working, and not “living on the public dole”. American combat soldiers, including our own Congressman Chris Gibson, earned it. My retired parents, living on Social Security and a small pension, have earned it. Ayn Rand with personal wealth of over $500,000 when she died, earned her Medicare and Medicaid. When the Poughkeepsie Journal moved their press operations, my friend lost his job. He used Unemployment Compensation and Education benefits he had earned to bridge to a new job. It was a long and arduous struggle, but his young family is now back on its feet. When his father died, Paul Ryan admittedly did not need Social Security Dependent Benefits to live. Instead, he cashed in the benefits his father earned, saved it, and used some of it to pay for college. Sometimes, you do all you can do, and you still have a hard time. Who among these do you label dependents, victims, or irresponsible takers? If you doubt that is what he meant to say, I refer you to Romney’s comments last week about Obama winning the election because of gifts to African-American, Hispanic, and young voters; gifts like insurance, and college loans, and free birth control are what Romney claims won the election. I say it was gifts in the form of comments like Romney’s that helped Obama win.
The vast majority of people who have been, and continue to be, on public assistance, are not taking the money and living the high life. I do not see people on Section 8 benefits living in mansions, but I am acquainted with a few living in very difficult conditions. Make a visit inside of Washington Manor, Elizabeth Manor, or any one of a number of houses on Franklin, Furnace, Henry, or St. James Streets. I have.
I am sure there are some people defrauding the system, but if you have specific information regarding this crime, is it not your duty and responsibility to report them to the Department of Social Services? While a number of people were cashing in Food Stamps for disallowed purposes, the real beneficiaries of the scam on Broadway last year were the owners of the business making it possible. The real numbers are bound to be a small fraction of the 47% Romney claims. And usually, those people don’t vote. A more thoughtful person, not interested in fomenting class warfare, might have said, “47% of Americans will not vote for me under any circumstances, 47% will not vote for my opponent under any circumstances, but I need your help to reach the middle 6%, and get my 47% out to the polls. Regardless of how they vote, my job as President Romney will be to work for all 310 million Americans.”
In any case, people who pay no Federal Income Taxes still pay plenty of taxes, most of it at the same flat rate as the other 53%. Every time you buy gas or cigarettes, you pay federal and state taxes. Pay for electric, phone, or cable, and you are paying those taxes. Tour a national park, say the Roosevelt Estate, Vanderbilt Estate, or the Statue of Liberty, and you pay a federal tax. Buy most goods and services in Ulster County, and you pay taxes. Register your car or your dog, and you pay a tax. Bridge fares, Thruway tolls, and Lottery tickets are all taxes. No matter how much you make, nobody rides for free.
Allow me to correct one more assumption, and I will move on to your constitutional arguments. I do not, and would not try to force my morality on you, or anyone else. You have every right to remain against abortions, and to work against laws and decisions that allow them. I have rarely indicated to anyone how I feel about that subject, but I do not presume to force my views upon you. Likewise, my views on the responsibilities of decent societies are not to be taken as being forced on anyone. These are strictly my opinions, and points for discussion. I put them forth for the reader’s consideration, no more.
No, I do not think my sense of morality is written into the Constitution. However, the Taxing and Spending Clause allows Congress to levy taxes uniformly throughout the United States. The Constitution says congress can levy income taxes. The Constitution charges congress with making a budget, and allows for congress to spend the money as they agree to do so. They make the budget and spending into a bill. The Constitution requires the President then sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or take no action. Until suit is brought and the Supreme Court rules otherwise, the law is constitutional. This is not my morality. This is written in the constitution, clearly and plainly.
Let’s agree on this; to define a Republican form of government as: a type of government in which the citizens of a country have an active role in the affairs of the government, and the government is not headed by a hereditary ruler such as a king. Or, if you prefer, James Madison says in the Federalist Papers a republic “is a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.” By acting under the Constitution to levy taxes (Article I, Section 8.1 and Amendment XVI ) and pass budget bills (Article I, Section 7.1, .2, and .3), our elected representatives only affirm that form of government. If you reread, you will find I previously pointed out the 16th Amendment was not ratified until 1913. Are you implying the 16th Amendment is somehow less valid or not as constitutional because it was not in the original convention? Whatever they could or could not imagine, the framers of the Constitution provided for changes in Article V. Those amendments were intentionally difficult to achieve, but still possible. As long as those changes are made according to Article V, they are constitutional.
Let me be clear. None of what I have said is an argument for Socialism. You have no right to take my car and have the Central Committee define a driving schedule in it for me and my neighbors. I have no rights to yours. I never advocated for Socialism, and I never will. I defined Socialism in an a comment above. Socialism and redistribution of wealth are specifically defined, and should in no way be confused with lawful taxation and budgetary spending as approved by our duly elected representatives.
I am fully committed to our Constitution, as I assume you are. The whole of Article IV, Section 4 says the following: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.”
My original point stands as before. Our Constitution is alive and well, and is the foundation of our republic. We periodically face tests of the constitution, and still it survives. That has not changed with the reelection of one President. Your first post, repeated by many people every four years, is hyperbole. Our country may need work, but the founders knew that. They knew they weren’t perfect, and they allowed for change and improvement. As long as enough of us are willing to do the job, we will remain the place that all of us want to live.