Constitutional Rights

Today’s Civics reminders

Since they don’t appear to include civics in today’s educational curriculum I feel the need to pass on these, let’s call them “Helpful Hints”, so that people don’t say, or do, things that make them seem at best, ill-informed, and at worst just plain dumb, about how the country in which they claim citizenship is supposed to actually operate.

First, the Constitution of these United States (yes, you should read it, it’s yours!).

Second, the Bill of Rights (again, yes, read it!).

And, for a quick reminder of how it all got started, the Declaration of Independence.

Seriously, if you feel you are informed enough to cast a ballot you should have read, and when needed re-read, these documents before making up your mind about any issue or candidate, imo of course.

Key items you may want to note during your reading or at least know where these probably important phrases come from.:

“We the People…..”

“….hold these truths to be self-evident…”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” Huh, not Federal (National) Government?  Don’t you wonder why the Founding Fathers, in the face of a massive British Monarchy (National) army, were so particular about maintaining the security of the states?

The Original Thirteen States and their initial Congressional House Representatives:

New Hampshire three, Massachusetts eight, Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Republic or Democracy?  This article by Walter E. Williams states it pretty well (emphasis mine):

How often do we hear the claim that our nation is a democracy? Was a democratic form of government the vision of the Founders? As it turns out, the word democracy appears nowhere in the two most fundamental founding documents of our nation—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, declares “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Our pledge of allegiance to the flag says not to “the democracy for which it stands,” but to “the republic for which it stands.” Is the song that emerged during the War of 1861 “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

So what is the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is envisioned as a protector of rights.

In recognition that it is government that poses the gravest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases in reference to Congress throughout the first ten amendments to the Constitution, such as shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud, but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. According to Webster’s dictionary, a democracy is defined as “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority.” In a democracy the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike the rights envisioned under a republican form of government, rights in a democracy are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

I won’t copy the entire article but it makes more points with which I agree and would encourage you to read it while keeping in mind your previous reading of the above documents.

If you do that work, instead of relying on some 15 minute TV news loop for how you should think and feel, and still believe you should vote for candidates and issues that want to take away your rights or, maybe more importantly, those of your neighbors, that is your right and I will fight to protect it in spite of my respectful disagreement that any Government or Legislative Body at any level can do a better job of running my life than I can. Just sayin…..

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File under: Things we should all know

What they learned after only seven years is worth remembering (or learning, as the case may be).

The Articles of Confederation versus the US Constitution:

The United States has operated under two constitutions. The first, The Articles of Confederation, was in effect from March 1, 1781, when Maryland ratified it. The second, The Constitution, replaced the Articles when it was ratified by New Hampshire on June 21, 1788.

The two documents have much in common – they were established by the same people (sometimes literally the same exact people, though mostly just in terms of contemporaries). But they differ more than they do resemble each other, when one looks at the details. Comparing them can give us insight into what the Framers found important in 1781, and what they changed their minds on by 1788.

They might have been onto something here:

Term limit for legislative office
Articles: No more than three out of every six years
Constitution: None

Interesting but guessing they haven’t much regretted not using the special exemption:

New States
Articles: Admitted upon agreement of nine states (special exemption provided for Canada)
Constitution: Admitted upon agreement of Congress

For those seeking advanced knowledge only: The Preamble was several full clauses in the Articles of Confederation.  Perhaps using the abbreviated version in the Preamble was saving too much paper. Just sayin….

The Preamble

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

From the Articles of Confederacy:

Article II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

Provide for common defence was:

Article III. The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.

On raising armies:

Article VII. When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.

Good documents to reread often. Just sayin….

 

Maybe he’s onto something here…

Republican self-destruction is fun to watch, but bad for us all

January 29 at 1:44 PM Washington Post

…An intellectually vibrant conservatism is essential to a healthy democracy.  The United States needs conservatives willing to criticize the grand plans we liberals sometimes offer, to remind us that traditional institutions should not be overturned lightly and to challenge those who believe that politics can remold human nature.

Wait, is he suggesting we are slow to change? No, say it’s not so!

At its best, as Philip Wallach and Justus Myers argued in National Affairs , conservatism is a “disposition” that “has the most to offer societies that have much worth conserving.” Even those of us who are critical of our nation’s injustices and inequalities can agree that the United States is such a society. The task of conservatives, Wallach and Myers write, is to offer “incremental adaptation” as an alternative to radical change.

So, in plain speak, progress at a thoughtful pace.  How reasonable.

Conservatives in power could never materially reduce the size of government, because so much of what it does and spends money on — from supporting the elderly to protecting consumers to providing for the common defense — is so popular. Conservatives haven’t been able to roll back cultural changes, because most Americans don’t want to return where we were before the rights revolutions on behalf of African Americans, women and gays. And politicians can’t reverse the fact that white Americans gradually are losing their majority status in an increasingly diverse nation.

It’s a good read.  Just sayin….

 

 

Yes, you should know this and you should care. Unless you don’t care about your Constitutional rights, of course.

IRS Doesn’t Care That You Haven’t Committed a Crime—It Will Still Steal Your Money.

Writes Shaila Dewan:

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

The trigger for the seizures is regular deposits of under $10,000, the threshold above which banks are supposed to report financial activity. But depositing money below that amount is considered suspicious “structuring” and is also reportable.

According to the IRS’s rules about reporting cash transactions over $10,000:

The penalties for failure to file may also apply to any person (including a payer) who attempts to interfere with or prevent the seller (or business) from filing a correct Form 8300. This includes any attempt to structure the transaction in a way that would make it seem unnecessary to file Form 8300. “Structuring” means breaking up a large cash transaction into small cash transactions.

The IRS has regularly interpreted this rule to apply to restaurants, corner stores, and other cash-heavy small businesses that undergo the oh-so-suspicious process of bagging up the week’s receipts and taking them to the bank. Keeping lots of cash on hand is, in many cases, an invitation to a stick-up. And, as the Times story points out, some small businesses are insured only up to $10,000 for cash in their possession—so when the mount gets close, they’re naturally inclined to make a deposit. After a few such efforts at safekeeping the proceeds, the IRS feels justified in taking it all.

With nearly 35 years of experience and observations of the IRS, the past 4 to 6 years have been the most aggressive, taxpayer unfriendly and downright scary times to actually know what’s going on in the area.

I guess it’s time for me to stop fighting it, retire and bury my head in the sand with everyone else. Apparently, the electorate are happy with the suspension of due process (that was in the Constitution for those who remember we had one of those) through regulation and interpretation by Administrative Law Judges (these are employees of the Government Agency they are supposed to be keeping and eye on, no conflict of interest there.)

Just sayin…

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