Tag: James Madison

America Did Not Listen to the Founders

By Jack Parkos | United States

The founding fathers of our nation gave us plenty of advice on how to run the country they formed. They warned us on many threats to liberty, explaining how to prevent a tyrannical government from growing. Unfortunately, America did not listen to the advice. Our government has grown tyrannical and our liberties are waning daily. The founders knew how easily this could happen and did all they could to prepare us. Frankly, we failed them.

Warnings on Factions

It seems sometimes that many of the founders predicted the future of America. James Madison, in particular, seemed to have this power. The former president warned us of many things in his writings and philosophy, most notably mob rule. In the Federalist Papers, Madison strongly criticized democracy and urged for a constitutional republic. He clearly feared factions growing in America. The essays warned how mob rule would be a threat to the liberty, outlining the fears that factions would only lead to groups pursuing interests that ran opposed to freedom.

Washington, the only president in our history without a political party, expanded on this idea. In his farewell address, he warned about the dangers of political parties and how they could lead to despotism. No one listened to his warning: not even the other founding fathers. This led to many disputes throughout history and continues to be a major issue today.

Words Against War

Once again, Madison came in with some great advice that most people ignored. He clearly warned that wars were a threat to liberty, going so far as saying:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

Madison knew how when a nation is in constant warfare, liberty is in danger. War also has the ability to create more enemies for the people that only will cause more tension and conflict in the future. The founders would not have cared about wars in Yemen: they would have safeguarded American liberty first.

Limiting the Federal Government

The federal government was supposed to be limited in what powers it had. Its main goal was to unify the states and prevent European dominance from ruining the American experiment. The federal government, however, has grown to such great lengths that the founders may not have been able to even conceive. In fact, by modern standards, even old George was a very modest tyrant, whose demands of the people were far more reasonable than those of the American government today.

One justification for such growth of government was the “General Welfare” clause. Basically, politicians believed their unconstitutional practices were acceptable, as long as they were intended to help the general welfare of the public. Once more, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, rebukes this:

If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury, they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads. In short, every thing, from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.

James Madison explicitly states that “general welfare” does not mean the federal government can do whatever it wants. Roads, education, and law enforcement are of no business of the government. Madison warned how officials could use this clause, but the people ignored him.

Consequences of Ignoring the Founders

The above stated are not the only examples of wisdom we ignored, but they are ones that have a big impact on modern-day America.

Partisanship has only grown, to the point where our system exactly matches what Washington warned against. As a result, elected officials are putting party over country, Constitution, and liberty. Tribalism is also spiking. Mob mentality has taken over politics and law. Public opinion, rather than clear examination, is the new grounds for looking at the Constitution. If a large majority believes in a false interpretation of the Constitution, it will change and liberties will die. This is what the founders warned about: people using politics for their pursuits and sacrificing important liberties in the process.

The United States has never listened to Madison’s wisdom on war and its negative impact on liberty. In fact, it is hard to think of a time that America has not been at war. In recent years, we have been in continuous wars in the Middle East. These have led to numerous deaths, and for the survivors, more debt and fewer freedoms. We have not been able to preserve liberty throughout the wars, just like Madison stated.

Perhaps we need to stop waiting for a new revolutionary idea or leader to come about to fix our country. We can look to the past to our country’s founding to save our liberty and our prosperity.


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“Liberty is For Everyone” – An Interview With Libertarian Party Vice Chair Candidate Joe Paschal

By Spencer Kellogg | United States

Joe Paschal is a construction manager in the heavy industrial sector where he lives in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. Mr. Paschal is running for Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Party. His platform promotes local governance, free-market economics, and school choice.

 

71 Republic’s Spencer Kellogg spoke with Mr. Paschal by phone and he discussed a range of subjects from the tobacco industry and homeschooling to bitcoin and the environment:

On School Choice:

We homeschool all our kids. In the old days, a community would get together, and they would pay for school and decide who would come teach their children. It was funded by local people and it was a common agreement and they controlled it. If the teacher wasn’t doing their job, they’d get a new one. Now, the federal government mandates what we’re teaching and it’s more of an indoctrination than it is an education. If we want to make a difference in public schools, then we should stop sending our kids. The school gets money for every child enrolled. If you stop sending your kids to those schools, you’re essentially not supporting that system. If you don’t like the state in your life, then don’t give them a reason to be in your life.

On Corporate Governance:

I came up a millwright. I was a boilermaker and a welder. I worked in sawmills and paper mills in Virginia and worked my way up from there. I’ve worked hard, I’m a blue-collar man. I have no problem with free markets but when the free market controls the government it isn’t a free market. The corporations are writing the laws and they own the lawmakers. If you look at the EPA regulations big corporations want them. It keeps the startups and little guys out of business because they can’t afford to operate and compete. I’ve worked in the oil and gas sector. It’s not that I’m against big business but you won’t have a free market until the governments not involved in it.

On the Regulation & Centralization of The Virginia Tobacco Industry:

The 10-acre tobacco farms of Virginia folded because they were only allowed to grow so many pounds of tobacco per acre of property by mandate of the federal government. They could grow 50,000 pounds but if they only had poundage to grow 20,000 pounds, then they can only sell 1/2 of their potential output on the market. If you live in Virginia, you probably know of Bailey’s cigarettes. They’re made by Mac Bailey. Mac Bailey has 900 acres of tobacco in Mecklenburg & Charlotte counties. That pushed the small farmer further down and further down until it got to a point where they didn’t think it was worthwhile to raise tobacco. Those farmers end up selling their tobacco poundage to somebody like Mac Bailey and then that person buys up all the poundage for the whole county. That’s not a free market when the government is regulating it to the point where only a few people can afford to do business.

His Favorite Quote:

It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. – Sam Adams

On Liberty:

My mother was a Goldwater republican. My step dad never really liked the government. He was drafted into the army, which was something he never wanted to do but he served because he didn’t want to break the law and become a draft dodger. When he got out of the army, he refused to vote anymore. To use an old Mark Twain adage: “If voting mattered, they wouldn’t let you do it.” He never trusted the government. He always paid his taxes, but he hated it. I came from a family that believed “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.” We’re not judgmental type people.

I was homeschooled. History was always interesting to me. At 16, I read the Magna Carta. Then I read the Constitution and I would go to places like Monticello and learn about Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry. Virginia history and early American history are one in the same. All of that formed my political beliefs. It wasn’t until I got older and started having children that I got involved in politics. I realized I could either sit on the bench and complain all the time or go out and do something myself. My biggest mission is to teach people that liberty isn’t just a choice for a few people, it’s for everybody. From the person who digs ditches all day to someone that owns a major corporation. Liberty is Liberty.

On the American Dream:

I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, Columbia, Afghanistan, Dubai, Mexico. There’s good and bad in all those countries. In South America, for example, the energy bills are nothing because it’s a state-owned utility. It’s regulated to be cheap for the people but that sets prices and that creates two classes of people; the working class and the oligarchs. If you’re at the lower level, there is no chance for you to climb up. There is no free market there. Even though we have our issues, there’s always a chance that a poor person can climb up. If you look at someone making minimal wage, they can buy a little piece of Bitcoin every week. A little bit here, a little bit there. In 10 years they could become a millionaire if they work hard to get there. In those other countries, it’s almost impossible to do.

On Cryptocurrency:

I like the premise and I know there is some opportunity there. I don’t know if I trust an online based currency like that because I’m not sure how secure it would be if something were to happen. The way the NSA controls our internet and we don’t know when we’re being spied on or if they’re listening to this very conversation. Let’s say we have another great depression, the market dropped drastically and we had a run on the banks. This happened in Greece, when the economy went bust, they began freezing their assets from private citizens, so they couldn’t get their own assets. My fear is if something were to happen, economically in the world, how would we be able to benefit from owning an online currency? I still think hard currency has a lot of value. Gold and Silver has a lot of real world value. It makes people comfortable because they can hold it in their hand.

On Montana:

I worked in Montana 20 some years ago. I went out and did a project at a power plant. Then I just fell in love with it. Everybody was nice, everybody had guns, and everybody talked hunting, fishing and doing outdoor stuff. 4 Wheelers and ATV’s were riding up and down the street, and it was totally legal. I started researching and found out it’s the 4th largest state in America and it has only a million people in the whole state. The largest city is only 100,000 people. Property taxes are very low. There are zero sales tax on anything you buy. We have a simple tier income tax. The maximum that anyone pays in Montana on state income tax is 6.9%. The way the state looks at homeschooling, you have a right to educate your kids the way you see fit. To homeschool your kids in Montana, you just have to write a letter to the super intendant of the school district in which you live and tell them you’re homeschooling your children and it’s done. There’s no state inspection or testing. On your personal property taxes, you can write off the homeschool amount on your income tax. They don’t mess with you because that’s your right. It’s got some issues but it’s one of the freest states in the country. The biggest issue I have with Montana is they carry quite a bit of federal debt but that’s not even Montana’s fault. Something like 1/5 of Montana is federal land and to maintain that property we have to borrow money from the federal government.

On Automation:

Automation is coming and with a growing population we need to face the fact that there will be less jobs. It’s coming. The first thing most people want to suggest is a Universal Basic Income, but nothing is free and who’s paying for it? We’ve got millions and millions of acres in the United States that are owned by the federal government. If we could homestead that land, then people could stake themselves a few acres of land and have a self-sustaining property and they wouldn’t need to rely on anyone but themselves.

On Monsanto:

People are not sure about the GMO’s that they’re eating. They don’t trust what they’re eating. Don’t even get me started on Monsanto because that’s no free market there. The government protects them. The federal courts protected them when their seeds blew onto a small farmer’s property and then those famers were getting sued by Monsanto for selling seeds they didn’t even plant. The government backed Monsanto in that case. We have to protect our environment and our famers. End of story.

On Big Business:

I support big business and I support the free market. But I also know that we have to protect our environment. I don’t have a problem drilling oil if it’s done responsibly because I’ve worked on oil rigs. I understand that it’s a resource we have to tap but we shouldn’t be dumping it on the ground when we can process it. We have to be stewards as well as business people. Some of the ancaps in our party don’t quite see it that way. They believe the corporations will do good if they have the freedom to good and I’m not sure if I buy into that whole philosophy. I remember about John D. Rockefeller. They didn’t care too much about people or the environment. They cared more about making money and having power.

Revising the Foundations: The Founding Fathers Are Out of Date in a Few Ways

By Michael Kay | [USA]

It’s a question that’s been asked in almost every post-revolutionary state, sometime in their histories. Why should the founding fathers dictate the way in which we run our nation? In this article, I seek to examine this question in the context of the United States, and then discuss how this applies to our current administration.

The first major point to identify is the time difference. In 1776, upon the Declaration of Independence, the “American” colonies were highly wary of powerful governments and thought of their own state governments as mere means of protection against British imperial power. Keep in mind, for example, that Alexander Hamilton did not establish a national bank until years later, which suggests that the states were highly divided. Taxation merely existed in the form of light tariffs, and neither states nor the national government had the means to infringe upon the rights of its citizens. In fact, the governments had a vested interest in a laissez-faire approach to the market. But this time difference has other implications as well, including some very pressing pieces of the Bill of Rights. For example, the Second Amendment was written for two main purposes. First, in the circumstance that the National Guard (which was merely an idea at the time) was unable to properly hold off the British Army, the Congress wanted the populace to bolster the army with civilian reinforcements. The amendment was further written as a means of providing a defense for the citizens, provided that an elected US government did not abide by the Constitution or infringed upon the inalienable rights of its citizens. So I think, given that the US has one of the most powerful standing militias in the entire world, the first clause is somewhat redundant. However, as a libertarian, I am still fundamentally opposed to anything besides some heavy firearms registration laws.

The second point to consider is that the founding fathers were not in agreement. For example, Alexander Hamilton opposed the entire idea of the Bill of Rights (more on that later), while Madison and Jefferson were strongly opposed to the establishment of a Treasury and a national bank. And of course, Hamilton and Washington were opposed to slavery (so was Jefferson, privately), yet they did not write it into the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

First, why did these disagreements come about? Many of them were based on the traditional North-South divide. Jefferson and Madison didn’t like the idea of the National bank because the economies of Virginia and (in general) the South were mostly agrarian in nature. A stronger national government would have more difficulty implementing economic policies that did not either unfairly disadvantage the agrarian economy or the industrial economy of the Northern states. The slavery argument is obvious, as many of the founding fathers saw slavery as directly hypocritical to the words of the Declaration of Independence, as one would then have to assume that not ALL men were created equal. However, according to Jefferson (in his journal), he knew it was wrong, but be simply couldn’t imagine a life without slavery, as he believed that without it, the Southern economy would die (as it did, after the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment). Finally, the most interesting and complex disagreement came from Alexander Hamilton, when he opposed the existence of the Bill of Rights. Hamilton argued that if we bind the government with negative clauses, that restrict the government, we allow the government to do anything that isn’t explicitly written. This is how we ended up with gun control, as it isn’t explicitly written. Hamilton preferred a system in which common sense ideas and positively restrictive laws existed and instructed the government to carry out specific legislation. Something not explicitly written would not mean it is or is not legally permissible.

These disagreements on the fundamental ideas of our nation would suggest that the founding fathers were not necessarily correct in every respect. Instead, consider the idea of a rewritten Constitution, where we can still consider the ideas of our founding fathers by reading documents such as the Federalist Papers, which were written defending each clause of the Constitution, and written by both Northerners and Southerners. I think that if the founding documents are outdated and controversial, it makes sense to rewrite them based on the current atmosphere of our nation.