Global warming, long considered more an idea than a physical entity has been proven in spades today. The fluffy white material believed to be the eroded remains of melted glaciers superheated to the point of freezing by rising global temperatures began falling from the sky in mid-morning. By early afternoon, this superheated water based substance was accumulating on the ground, cars, rooftops and even people caught outside in the blazing 35 degree mid-October heat wave. The Nobel Prize Committee issued a short statement saying simply, “We told you so.” That was in reference to their 2007 awarding of the Peace Prize to Global Warming expert Al Gore, a move criticized at the time by many on the right – but shown today to be dead on target.
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In the simplification of history in order to spoon feed it to children in public schools, we often lose sight of many important lessons. In public schools children are taught that Lincoln fought the Civil War to free the slaves and that the Confederacy was nothing more than about slavery. So ingrained in this view in generations of Americans that knowledge about the Confederate government is almost entirely absent.
By design or simply by consequence, we fail to learn any lessons for our own government. The convention in 1861 to revise the U.S. Constitution for adoption as the Constitution for the Confederacy is the only time in our history when a concerted effort was made to review the entire Constitution. The ambiguous sections that serve as the gray area in which the federal courts set and then later break precedent were clarified. Problems that were unforeseen in 1787 were addressed. Problems that hadn’t even happened yet, but were realized to be possible were proactively addressed.
Nearly 150 years later, most of these lessons have been forgotten. In that same span of time we have seen issues addressed by that convention become modern political battle grounds. It makes sense to look beyond placemat history and consider the modifications made at that historic convention; the only time aside from 1787 when representatives of the States met to thoroughly review and debate all parts of the Constitution.
In a move that predates the 14th Amendment, the Confederates changed the voting rights to be uniform across the entire Confederacy and not subject to individual State requirements. This is an unexpected change from a government supposedly focused solely on State’s Rights and demonstrates that while State’s Rights was a key view of the Confederates, they also understood that in any federal governmental structure, the people should have equal rights regardless of the State in which they live. This matter already having been addressed in the U.S. Constitution after the war, I do not cite it as a proposed point to consider for revision but as demonstrative of the kind of forward thinking of the Confederate Constitutional Convention.
Two major additions to the Confederate Constitution should be especially noted. First was the prohibition of Congress to appropriate any money unless requested to do so by the President in a budget request, to pay for their own expenses (staff, travel, etc.), or to pay verified claims against the government. The Congress therefore could not create a new program or earmark funds. It could only approve or deny budget requests from the executive departments relayed by the President. Second, the Congress was prohibited from authorizing any money beyond the budgeted amount. If a project cost more than budgeted, additional money could not be allocated to it without having to receive another new budget request to be passed as a new bill. Such changes in our Constitution would radically restrain our Congress and bring our spending under control.
Another change of interest made in the Confederate Constitution was that federal judges and other officers whose authority was exercised entirely within a single State were subject to impeachment by a 2/3 majority of the legislature of that State. This measure allowed the States to redress corruption of federal officers acting within their borders in cases where the federal government failed to act. As most federal offices are filled by political patronage, this provision sought to curb abuses of that system.
Also ahead of their time, they provided that any Cabinet Secretary or similar officer could be granted a seat in either house of Congress for the purpose of discussing issues relative to that executive department. The Congress today uses hearings and subpoenas to compel the executive branch to answer questions of the legislative branch. In a far more civil manner, the Confederate Constitution provides for this.
The line item veto was provided to the President of the Confederacy. This issue has been raised by Democrat and Republican Presidents alike, but a jealous Congress that runs off trading votes for pork always fails to pass a Constitutional amendment to provide it. The line item veto would allow a President to keep what is good in a bill and veto all the pork. It certainly still deserves to be considered.
An interesting provision in the Confederate Constitution that presaged the shift towards free trade is the provision that prohibits the government from laying any protective tariffs. As trade issues are still hot political topics, this view adds a new dimension. Rather than be purely for free trade, the Confederate government sought only to prevent protectionism. Trade restrictions or tariffs for other reasons were kept as both an economic and a diplomatic recourse.
A major change in the power of the government was a prohibition on using federal government funds to develop infrastructure. The Confederates believed both in private railroads and turnpikes as well as State funded projects, but opposed federally funded ones as they used money from all people to benefit only the section served by the improvement. Our government used the commerce clause to justify the building of interstate highways. Hawaii and Alaska, being unable to be connected to other States complained that they were taxed for a highway system they could not use and so the government expanded its authority of interstate commerce and built highways that are entirely intrastate. The legal separation between intrastate and interstate commerce is now gone and the federal government exercises powers far beyond its Constitutional limits.
In an interesting clarification of the commerce clause, the Confederates allowed for the Congress to place tariffs (taxes) on goods imported or exported from one State to another (interstate commerce) if 2/3 of both houses of Congress concurred.
Lastly and as important as the first two changes I mentioned in this section is the Confederate Constitutional requirement that every bill have only one subject which had to be expressed in the title. This eliminated the “and for other purposes” practice that allowed bad bills to be amended into good ones so that they would pass. Such a change has been sought in our Constitution for years, but career politicians always thwart efforts to implement it so as not to lose their power.
The Confederate President was limited to a single term of six years. This allowed the President to have sufficient time to implement a multi-year plan, removed politics from the office of the Presidency by eliminating the need to pander in order to gain re-election and prevented any person from building a ‘lifetime Presidency’ as FDR had done. Our Constitution was amended after FDR to limit the time a person could serve as President, but there is some merit to the Confederate model of a single six year term.
The President was also Constitutionally empowered to fire any civil servant. This exact issue was the source of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and a source of political scandal as recently as George W. Bush when several members of the Justice Department were fired. The only requirement placed on the Confederate President in this area is that such firings be reported to the Senate and the reasons for the removal be presented.
Finally, the President is prohibited from appointing a person rejected by the Senate to a fill a position during a subsequent Senate recess. This issue arose most recently when John Bolton was put forward for U.N. Ambassador and rejected by the Senate, but was then appointed to the position by President George W. Bush during a Senate recess when confirmation is not required.
The Confederate Constitution’s amendment process was changed. It completely removed the Congress from the process and left the matter entirely to a convention called by at least three States. Proposed amendments would then be effective if ratified by 2/3 of the States (rather than the original 3/4). This change serves two purposes. First, it prevents entrenched politicians in Congress from blocking amendments that would limit their power. Second, it makes the amendment process a bit easier so that the argument to ‘re-interpret’ the Constitution would be lessened in favor of actually amending the document to address potentially needed changes.
There are many other changes in the Confederate Constitution. Most are insignificant and the others deal with issues that are no longer applicable to today, such as slavery. However the changes that have been cited deserve to be reviewed and debated in the present. Many of the challenges we face with our own government could be addressed by the application of some or all of these revisions as modern day Constitutional amendments.
Many of the greatest minds of the 19th century, those who directly inherited the government created and tested by the Framers and who knew them, were present at the 1861 Confederate Constitutional Convention. Their wisdom and the decisions they made should not be carelessly discarded. They should be reviewed as potential starting places for fixing problems in our Constitution that have plagued us for over 200 years such as deficit spending, piggy-backing bad bills onto necessary ones, pork-barrel projects, corporate welfare, federal corruption and general partisanship.
Every cloud has a silver lining or so the saying goes. Out of the ashes of the Confederacy with its doomed adherence to slavery, there is some value. Many of the revisions they made when given the opportunity to hold a second Constitutional Convention are as relevant to us today as they were to them 150 years ago. The time has come to polish the tarnish off that silver lining and use it to improve our own government so that it fulfills the promise of being a government of the people, by the people and for the people that millions have died to secure.
In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Its purpose is to force the re-engineering of the economy in the United States and to redistribute the wealth in that nation. Its ultimate outcome has yet to be written, but the beginnings of its implementation may be a strong indicator. It is the banks and large corporations that are the beneficiaries of the redistribution of wealth. To them is going the tax revenue of generations. We see also that it is filled with pork barrel spending on projects that are politically connected to major campaign contributors and businesses with financial ties to politicians.
It is yet to be known whether this new era of Reconstruction will also require the use of troops to force its implementation when the people start to complain that it is doing more harm than good. It is yet to be known whether this new era of Reconstruction will result in the same backlash as the first when opposition forces eventually regain control of government. It is yet to be known just how bankrupt the national treasury will be and how grossly enriched the banks and corporations will be when this new era of Reconstruction ends.
The deciding factors on those issues will be what else this radical Congress pushes through. The radical Congress of 1867-68 passed numerous acts that combined to result in all the immediate destruction and later retribution. If this radical Congress also continues down its current path and adds more fuel to the fire, the damage and the reaction will be all that much stronger. If this radical Congress pushes its agenda to the breaking point of the average citizen as the radical 1867-68 Congress did, this nation could see a massive shift in political power equal to or even greater than the 100 years of single party control that resulted from the first major attempt at re-engineering and redistribution.
While we will all pay the price for the reckless and truly criminal transfer of wealth from the people to the banking and corporate interests, conservatives may come out the big winners. If history repeats itself (and it is doing a pretty good job so far), strong conservatives will capture the government and hold it for a long period. Even moderates on the right may be unpopular as the public will shifts radically away from the policies and ideology that raped their treasury, increased their tax burden, destroyed their economy and curtailed their liberty.
As the economy worsens and the true face of the current actions of Congress becomes apparent to the people, we should all pray that the kinds of insurrectionary vigilantism that cropped up in 1868-1870s are not repeated in the modern era. However, desperate people can often resort to desperate actions. Should the unemployment rate continue to climb and the banks continue to profit off the government treasury, the probability of renegade violence will escalate. Even the current supporters of the radicals now in power are likely to turn violent when the promises fail to materialize, as happened in the first Reconstruction era when the former slaves were left to literally starve to death without jobs, homes or food while banks and corporations raided the various State treasuries under U.S. control. Riots may not be far off when all the impossible promises that fail to materialize combine with worsening economic conditions. We should all pray that violence is avoided, but that may not be enough.
A large segment of the population believed that the “bottom rail was on top” with this past election. Yet, if anything, the bottom rail is being stomped down further by bad economic conditions while the top rail is being elevated with government bail-outs and pork spending. Right now the blinders are still on most citizens, but they are coming off in increasing numbers. When the inevitable inflation comes from the insane creation of money that was done and given to the banks, the true result of the current radical Congress’s actions will be apparent to everyone. The first Reconstruction was bad for everyone except the banks and corporations. This one will be no different except that the whole country will suffer under it instead of just one region.
by Michael Duminiak
Our government was created to be unique in the world. Power came from the people, not from the government or from nobility. Sovereignty was split between a central government and State governments. Powers of government were split between executive, legislative and judicial branches.
The national government was entrusted with the exclusive management of our foreign affairs. Beyond that it was given a few general enumerated powers. All others were reserved to the States or the people. The national government has no rightful authority to force reform on the States. It leaves the people, under its protecting influence, entirely free to improve their lives by the legitimate exercise of all their mental and physical powers. Such a system secures the general happiness, prosperity, and advancement of our country: which come from liberty, not from power. Every effort was made to keep a concentration of power from accumulating. Our founders knew that concentrations of power are a threat to liberty.
In the course of our existence under the Constitution, we have only seen fit to amend it twenty-seven times. Ten of those were the Bill of Rights at the very beginning, leaving only seventeen amendments in over 200 years. In that time, we grew from a weak and relatively poor nation into a world power. Then, we began turning our backs on the principles that made us what we were.
While the judicial branch had been interpreting the Constitution since Marbury v. Madison in 1803, it did so within the confines of whether a specific law violated the express powers delineated in the Constitution. In more recent times, the judiciary has begun creating new powers for the central government that were not expressly granted to it. It has, through those actions violated the 9th and 10th amendments by stealing from the States and the people powers and rights they reserved for themselves.
In so doing, our government has become an obese, inefficient, expensive overlord that bullies its citizens and extorts its member States. Granted, it was with the best of intentions that the scope of the national government was expanded without Constitutional amendment, but as the adage goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” What was done for the best of ends was done by the worst of means and has, over time, become the exact opposite of that which it was intended.
Rather than the government of limited powers in which the people retained strong liberty that we experienced for around 150 years, we have evolved into a government of strong powers in which the people retain limited liberty. The programs designed to lift people up have become the weight that holds them down through taxation and debt. The safeguards of national security have become the chains of the enslavement of liberty.
It should be our primary objective to administer the government in the true spirit of the Constitution and not to assume any powers not expressly granted or clearly implied in its terms. Our government is one of delegated and limited powers, and it is by a strict adherence to the clearly granted powers and by abstaining from the exercise of doubtful or unauthorized implied powers that we can safely maintain liberty and prosperity in our country. To that end, need a President who will use all the powers of the office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. One that will veto any and all bills sent to him that contain anything that is unconstitutional and who will send those bills back to the Congress specifically detailing the Constitutional objection. In that manner, the Congress can be encouraged to keep within due bounds and only pass necessary and proper legislation.
It is exactly the passage of unnecessary and improper legislation that has virtually enslaved the citizens of this country. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part.” Yet today, the average tax paid is 1/3rd of income up from 1/20th a century ago. Some might say that as the cost of necessary government functions increased with inflation, the tax rate needed to go up. That is not true. As the cost of necessary government functions increased with inflation, so did the income of the tax payer and therefore no increase in the tax rate should have been necessary. All those increases in the tax rate from an average of 5% in 1910 to the average of 32% today come from the expansion of government beyond its proper bounds.
In fact, nearly 60% of the increase in the rate of taxation came AFTER the end of the Great Depression. The great expanding of government to combat that national calamity less than doubled the tax rate from pre-Depression levels, while the monstrous growth of government since then has tripled it. Worst of all, the relatively massive level of taxation doesn’t even cover the bill rung up by this government.
I propose a massive restructuring of the tax system to break us free from the waste and manipulation of the tax code, while also reducing the tax burden on the American people. I propose the adoption of a flat tax rate on individuals and businesses as a transitional step towards adopting the Fair Tax plan. It would exempt individual gross earnings up to 2 times the established poverty level and tax all income above that level. Likewise, business gross earnings up to the value resulting from multiplying the number of legal US resident employees in the business against 2 times the established poverty level would be exempt from taxation with all gross income above that level taxed at the specified rate. This system would allow all people to cover their living expenses tax free while also saving some money.
I propose an exemption on Individual Retirement Accounts up to but not to exceed the greater of 10% of gross annual income or 25% of the annual median income, allowing all to save but keeping the wealthy from unduly sheltering their income. Further, I propose a sliding scale system in which corporations or businesses that voluntarily use eco-friendly means of production which exceed EPA standards are weighted to match credits or rebates up to a 10% reduction of the total tax due from annual gross revenue.
We must also make sure that Social Security benefits are exempt from taxation as well as inheritances and that there be a complete exemption from income tax for spouses of military personnel deployed in a theater of battle to be effective from the time of deployment to the end of the calendar year after deployment ends. These citizens should not be taxed into poverty.
Finally, we must end the manipulation of the tax code to benefit one special interest or another by requiring a 2/3 majority for passage and adoption of any change in the flat tax rate, extending or eliminating tax credits, increasing or decreasing the rate of a penalty tax, creating any new penalty taxes, borrowing money to pay for general expenses.
Spending is out of control and even taking the current 1/3 of the people’s income can’t keep pace with it. Instead, this government has borrowed vast amounts of money. The U.S. public debt is over $10.8 trillion. If you count the amount of money owed to cover promised benefits from social programs, the debt is really over $65 trillion. Our debt is nearly 3/4 of our GDP! So, we tax 1/3 and we borrowed 3/4. In short, our government spending is completely out of control.
This outrageous condition is not entirely due to the expansion of the size of government. It is partly the fault of false budgeting and government corruption. Our budgets and estimates never reflect reality. Programs always cost more than the budget predicts. Whole major categories of foreseen expenses are left out of the general budget and then tacked on as supplemental appropriations and emergency expenditures. The result is that a budget already out of balance is thrown completely into a tailspin of overspending, but in a way that keeps it out of sight of the people.
Further kept in the shadows is the corruption within our government. Many members of Congress wear ‘for sale’ signs around their necks. They sell their votes for pork barrel projects and funding earmarks, raising both the expense of government and increasing its size. These special projects would never pass in the light of day on their own merits. They are bad legislation, tucked into bills with which they have nothing in common in order to buy a vote. It is disgraceful and every member of Congress who has engaged in this practice should be charged with corruption and locked in a federal penitentiary. But, that won’t happen because it is those same members of Congress who police themselves. The system of checks and balances devised by our Founders has been gutted, allowing a so-called legal form of corruption to bankrupt our nation. For that we should be ashamed.
All across our country, there are people who barely scrape by; people who live in poverty, people who suffer and people who live in despair. To help them, the government created a mass of social programs. Yet, for all the mountains of money poured into these programs, the poor, the suffering and the despairing remain locked in their misery. The burden of the expense of these programs has weakened our economy, forced the reduction of employer sponsored benefits, increased the tax burden on the people, reduced their ability to save and thus made them increasingly dependent upon government. They have, for all intents and purposes, been enslaved by the government that was supposed to keep them free.
Such is the result of the vast expanse of government into social programs that are neither expressly permitted nor even strongly implied by the Constitution. We have robbed the people of their wealth and their liberty in order that they might be compelled to support programs that are unnecessary, ineffective and unconstitutional. These programs, if done at all, should be done at the State level where they could be tailored to the needs of the people instead of shoe-horned on as a one-size-fits-none national approach.
It is time that these programs be reformed and transitioned either to the States or to the people through private enterprise. Only through that necessary action can the Constitution be faithfully restored, the expense and debt of the government brought back into line and the security of the people to their property and their liberty be maintained.
In this effort to reform and transition those programs, we must also look at other national government programs, agencies and departments that are either unnecessary, unconstitutional or just plain redundant. Our Constitution calls for a census of the people every decade, yet we pay for and maintain a massive census bureau at all times. There is no need for that. The province of education is a State power, yet we have a massive Department of Education that uses its power and tax-payer money to coerce not only States, but even individual schools to dance to its tune. That is unconstitutional and wrong. The U.S. Geological Survey and the EPA overlap in many areas of what they do, resulting in increased cost to the taxpayer without any increased benefit. That should be corrected. These are just a few examples of the vast number of programs, agencies, and departments that need to be reformed or eliminated.
This waste extends into the management of the public lands. Ownership of vast tracts of land is against the very nature of our government. Lands not used for the public at large should be turned over to the States in which they reside to be used or sold for the advantage of the people. The government is not supposed to be a landlord nor is it supposed to be a resource hog.
The protection of our national parks and forests should be made a priority, rather than the leasing of lands to some which truly belong to the people. The bloated nature of our government has pushed to the edges some very critical objects, leaving them under-funded and generally neglected. Our national parks and forests are two of those critical objects that must be given more consideration and attention by this government. They are great resources for the people and the nation and should not be neglected.
It is also important not to neglect the security and economic viability of our ports. Just recently, the government almost got away with seeing our strategic ports sold off to a foreign power. What manner of insanity infects this government that so important a resource would be handed over to a foreign power? Thankfully that dangerous idea was stopped, but our ports remain unsafe. Much needs to be done to ensure security at our ports so that they do not become the gateways of our destruction. Likewise, we must review our laws and regulations of the ports so that the government is not destroying our economic viability. Burdensome laws and restrictions that make the cost of doing business too high to encourage strong economic growth should be repealed or revised so that the aims of security, both domestic and financial, are realized.
Just as our national parks and forests and our ports are major resources for the wealth and prosperity of the nation, so too are our mineral and fuel resources. The balancing of the benefits of extracting and using those resources with the protection of our shared environment must be a top priority of government. While it is not the right of the national government to interfere in the operation of businesses directly, the regulation of interstate commerce and our routes of commerce gives the national government the authority to protect the people from the abuses of businesses. Such authority, however, should be used with a vision towards progress and building a better world, rather than simply as a punitive measure. We should be encouraging businesses to both prosper and see the value of protecting the environment. Ultimately, we all (businesses included) pay the cost of pollution, if not in our health – at least in our pockets from which the money is taken to pay the costs of clean-up.
We all have an obligation to protect and defend this nation. That extends to our resources and our environment. Just as we should not pass a burdensome debt onto future generations, we should not leave them an environmental mess to deal with. We can all take personal responsibility for making this a better world for our children and grandchildren. Through conservation, reducing waste and increasing efficiency as individuals, we can have a massive collective impact.
Yet, managing our own personal usage is not enough. The time has long since come for us, as a people and as a nation, to deal with the energy crisis that pollutes our environment, causes instability in our foreign relations and weakens our economy. We must implement a national energy strategy that promotes environmentally responsible domestic energy production, fosters a climate of conservation, stimulates economic competitiveness and encourages innovation.
We can increase our environmentally responsible domestic energy production through several means. We can reduce the of use of foreign oil by expanding the use of Wind, Solar and Hydro power; increasing our domestic refining capability and efficiency; deploying smaller and source centered nuclear plants and managing emissions of by-products such as gases and waste. Coupled with conservation by increasing energy efficiency, reducing individual commuting and doing a better job of energy production and consumption balancing, we can become both energy independent and environmentally sound.
This can be done without hurting our economy, but actually enhancing our economic competitiveness. We can grow our economy by becoming leaders in alternative energy production technology, transitioning the job market towards these new skilled areas rather than continue domestic layoffs in favor of foreign supplies and by reducing production and operation costs by lowering the cost of energy and increasing efficiency. This can be accomplished and maintained through innovation: from pushing forward research and development to expanding consumer involvement by following a strategy of market focused product design. Lastly we can use government purchasing to drive development. There is no excuse for government to tell the people to be more energy efficient while it wallows in massive inefficiency itself. The government sets the specifications of the things it purchases and should specify those so that the demand for energy efficient and alternative energy products drives the supply.
As we consider our economy, it is not enough that the nation is wealthy. If the people are comparatively poor, national wealth is meaningless. Already we have looked at how excessive taxation, out of control spending and the massive size and weight of government have served to enslave the people. These have acted not only on the people, but also on the economy. Higher paying jobs have been lost and replaced by low-paying positions. Even these have been driven to artificial lows by the scourge of illegal immigration.
The argument that there are jobs that American citizens won’t do does not hold water. If American citizens could be paid under the table, paying no taxes and yet getting all manner of benefits, they would accept a lower wage. In the end, the take home pay is actually better for many illegal workers than low-income legal workers. By allowing and actually encouraging this deflation of wages by excusing and ignoring the problem of illegal immigration and illegal employment, this government is directly responsible for the economic hardships of its citizens.
The government must act to end this national threat. To that end, I propose comprehensive immigration and border security reform. We must secure our borders. I propose that we stop delaying legislation already in place and construct a double tiered security fence along the entire border with Mexico, including monitored entry points tied with immigration processing facilities and enhanced with electronic monitoring and alarm equipment to detect breaches and crossings.
We must also create an Executive Review Panel that updates and revamps immigration laws, their enforcement and the process to gain citizenship. This should be coupled with diplomatic efforts to encourage reform in Mexico as well as to cooperate with State and local government police agencies to catch and identify illegal aliens. Any illegal aliens or legal immigrants not yet citizens convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense must be immediately deported either as or following the sentence ordered by the courts, without exception; any appeals to be filed from outside the US after deportment. We cannot allow the continued lawlessness and gang violence brought by many of these illegal aliens.
Further, we must hold businesses accountable for their part in this illegal immigration crisis. I propose that any business or private employer who fails to properly follow IRS requirements for establishing citizenship status and legal status to work within the United States for their employees shall be subject to a fine of not less than 10% of their total gross income per offense.
Lastly, we should pass legislation stating that English is the official language of the government of the United States of America and no agency, department or officer thereof is required to issue public documents, signs or statements in any other language. This type of legislation would allow us to continue the current system of voluntarily providing multi-lingual materials to the people, but would prevent the disastrous costs of the government ever being forced to provide everything, everywhere in every language that might be spoken. Such a protection is necessary to the financial and social security of the nation.
Our security does not stop at the border. In truth, our security is best maintained by the actions we take in the world. It is through those actions that the likelihood of physical, economic and social security is founded. Likewise, the greatest threats to our way of life beyond the damage we do to ourselves, come from the failure to act appropriately in international affairs.
We have seen the consequences of that failure many times. We have seen when failure to act at all endangered us. We have seen where taking too gross an action created problems for us. We have seen where failing to see an action through to completion weakened our security and prosperity. The management of foreign affairs was specifically delegated to the national government because there must be consistency in its application and it must be driven not for the advantage of individual interests, but for the whole people.
It is from that perspective that the drive away from protective tariffs towards free trade was instituted. On a level playing field, free trade is the optimal method to benefit all people. However, the playing field is far from level. Many foreign nations have almost no labor or environmental laws or those laws are able to be circumvented with enough money. In some nations, the government artificially lowers the cost of production through subsidies. Even we engage in that form of rigging the market. The effect of these actions is that the playing field is anything but level.
That is why I propose a shift in our trade policies away from strict free trade towards a reciprocal system otherwise known as fair trade. This system balances out the actions of other nations with equal actions on our part so that the playing field becomes level and a free market drives production and consumption rather than the policies of foreign nations. As foreign nations reduce their interference in the production of goods and impose upon their manufacturers the same labor and environmental expenses we pass on to ours, our trade with them will shift ever closer to absolute free trade.
This is important because the current free trade agreements are not really free market policies. They do not benefit the populace as a whole as much as they benefit certain interests and foreign powers who manipulate the price of goods to their benefit. Our trade laws should be designed to benefit the populace at large and a fair trade system best accomplishes that goal.
The same holds true for foreign aid. Such aid must be given not simply to meet a media highlighted crisis, but for the purpose of building both a strong positive relationship with other peoples and to secure the safety and prosperity of the United States. Aid that accomplishes little more than maintaining a problem or that falls into the hands of those who created the problem does us more harm than it does good. Oppressive regimes cannot be toppled when the people are helped into submission by negating the evils of their government through providing aid. Such actions only reward and help entrench evil making its ultimately inevitable removal that much more difficult. Economic and social aid to nations that are not on the right track just prolongs suffering and creates aggressive threats not only from the existing governments but also from revolutionary governments who view the actions of the United States as having been collusion with the former oppressive regime.
It must be our policy only to provide aid to those who are making positive progress. Only by that means are we really helping and building a more secure world. In the cases of nations where oppression calls for action, then let us act rather than simply throw fuel on the fire in the form of aid that props up failure.
In taking action in the world, we have the right to act for our own best interests. Let no one disparage us for taking action ourselves when action is necessary and concert with other nations would cause dangerous delay. Yet, let us strive to work with allies, both time-honored and newly made in solving problems we have in common. The more of the world that is involved in correcting a problem, the more of the world that will stay involved in making sure the success gained is not lost over time. Most importantly, when we have committed to action, we must see it through to completion. If we are failing in our approach, then we should change the approach, not abandon the goal. Overall failure is not an option.
It is also time for the actions we take around the world to stop being used as political footballs. Our military and our foreign policy are not fair game for partisan manipulation. Such actions hurt all Americans and weaken us economically, socially and militarily. We must return to treating our foreign policy and our military with the gravity and long-term vision with which it used to be handled.
I propose a repeal of the War Powers Act. While the intent of that act was to restrain the President’s ability to wage indefinite and undeclared wars, the result of that act has been the institutionalization of indefinite and undeclared wars. They have become legitimized as well as politicized through this redefinition of the war making power. Congress must concur in order to fund the action, but Congress is not held liable for the action and therefore it has a tendency to politicize the effort. Further, this type of conflict results in a hazy interpretation of the rules of war and escapes the necessity for a formal treaty ending hostilities. Without such, there is no guarantee of maintaining any gains made and the legislative branch gets no input in the outcome of a war paid for and consented to by them.
Wars should be declared by Congress as prescribed by the Constitution. Congress would then be vested in the effort and held accountable to support its needs until a formal conclusion. That formal conclusion would be in the form of a treaty to be ratified by the Senate as prescribed in the Constitution. By that appropriate means, the legislature both initiates and concludes war, with the President conducting the war. Such a policy brought us stability and security in most of the world. It was abandoning this policy in modern times that has resulted in the ceaseless conflict we find ourselves in today. Even when we gain victory, we lack the long-term stabilizing force of treaty to maintain it. Instead we find ourselves re-fighting supposedly beaten foes. In this manner, we weaken ourselves in the face of the world and do a disservice to our military.
Our military is not designed to be nor should it be serving as the police force for the world. It is designed to be used to fight and win, not police. We waste it by spreading it out around the world in places it is not needed and then call up our strategic reserves and even our National Guard to fight its wars. Those best prepared, trained and equipped to fight and win are sitting at installations in Europe and Japan while the support reserves are dragged from their jobs and dumped onto the front line. That is no way to administer the military.
I propose the immediate redeployment of all active duty military personnel from Europe and Japan either to active combat zones or domestic military installations. The war in Europe and Japan has been over for more than sixty years and the Cold War has been over for more than a decade. The time has come to bring those troops home. Doing so will not only prevent the diplomatic incidents that have arisen from time to time that build resentment against us, but also strengthen our economy by putting all that spending here rather than in foreign economies.
I further propose that legislation be passed making the National Guard a solely domestic force used to defend our borders, respond to attacks within the country and to be used domestically in times of emergency. Additionally, military reserves should not be sent into active combat zones until all regular duty units have already been sent. The reserves should be held in reserve should we need them, not expended like regular military. Such misuse discourages enlistment and hurts our economy by taking employees away from jobs for extended periods to do the work we are already paying our regular military to do.
Finally, I call on the Congress to fully fund our military and provide their complete benefits. A nation that treats its men and women in uniform like second class citizens is a nation that does not value its security. I also call on the leaders of the military to focus on the future and work towards developing technology to meet those needs and for the Congress to follow those recommendations rather than simply order weapons that are or are becoming obsolete simply to prop up various industries. We must not make the same mistakes that preceded each of the world wars that left us weak in the face of superior weaponry because we refused to develop new technology and spent our military budget on building obsolete equipment.
Our standing in the world is based on the strength and quality of our military, its just and successful use, the manner in which we treat other nations and governments, the vigor of our economy, our standard of living and most importantly the degree to which we maintain liberty and freedom for ourselves. I therefore call on the Congress, all the members of government and the people to return to respecting the Constitution, the limits it sets and the manner in which it directs us to act.
If we take those steps and focus on maintaining liberty and security as well as maintaining strength, we will have no reason to fear for the future. No matter what changes in the world may come, a nation that is truly built upon the consent and power of the people will not only survive, but thrive. It is only when we curtail liberty so that government does for the people the things they ought to do for themselves that we create a house of cards. Any emergency or disaster would have the ability to completely paralyze our nation if it continues to rely on government for its daily existence. A people dependent on their government for the necessities of life are not a free people. That is not the American way. We have done better and we can do better. That is what I am committed seeing done and I ask you all to please join with me. Together we can make a difference.