Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Tyranny of Licensing

If the Chinese Virus--and the ensuing overreaction to it by many of our elected "leaders"--has taught us anything, it has demonstrated for us how truly dangerous and destructive that governments can be when they endeavor to curtail our rights in the name of some sort of "public good".  For decades, many of us on the political Right have cautioned our fellow citizens of the dystopian existence that would result if a large and active government were ever to take root.  But over the last couple of months, this discussion has ceased to be a theoretical one...instead, we have all been forced to live this nightmare of economic collapse, interference with our ability to make a living or even make basic decisions about how to live our lives, and restrictions on if our how we can even leave our homes.  The nightmare of government micro-management is being lived out, at long last...and it has turned out to be every bit as awful as we predicted it would be.

For those of us who have advocated for the "Limited Government" cause over the years, most of our focus has been on the Federal level of government.  We were focused on restricting--or even taking away--power from the Federal level because we knew that an assertive, out-of-control Federal Government would destroy our nation and would do it quickly.  However, in having this focus on the Federal level, many of us who are in the "Conservative" or "Limited Government" camps may have made a miscalculation.  You see, nearly all of the government overreach and micro-management that has occurred during the pandemic hasn't come from the Federal level.  Indeed, President Trump deserves praise for the restraint he has shown during this pandemic--refusing to use such a time of panic as an excuse to expand the powers of the Federal Government, and instead deferring to the individual states as much as possible (you know...just the way our Founding Fathers intended!)  No...as it turned out...it was the State, Local, and Municipal levels of government that took it upon themselves to ruin our lives in the name of some mythical "greater good".

Among the many offenses by these "lower" levels of government, some of the most unthinkable and egregious have been the efforts to prevent businesses from being open, and to prevent individuals from engaging in the trade which puts food on their table.  When individuals and businesses have tried to push back against this oppression, they have often been threatened with having their business licenses or professional licenses revoked.  This has happened in Illinois....  And it has also happened in Michigan, as well. And these are only two examples of many around the nation.

It's one thing to say that local and state governments are being overly aggressive and negatively impacting the lives of the people they purport to represent (and that would be true, of course).  But in doing so, the next step is to understand the mechanisms by which these governments are enforcing these unconstitutional and dangerous edicts.  If you can understand the mechanisms these governments are working with, then one can begin working to eliminate and destroy those mechanisms, so that governments will not have the power to take such actions in the future.

In the cases of these businesses, the governments are using the power of licensing as a large stick with which to keep businesses "in line".  And this puts those of us on the side of Liberty and Individual Rights in a conundrum...because no matter how absurd, unconstitutional, or illegal any of these demands at the state or local level might be, a business license (or liquor license, if you operate a bar or restaurant) is a necessity in order to operate your business.  You're business simply cannot exist without such licensing.  So you either have to go along with these unconscionable demands, or be put out of business.

But what if there were another way?

We, as Americans, take the idea of licensing for granted.  We don't often give a second thought to the concept of businesses being licensed, or even to we as individuals being licensed or granted permits in order to do basic things like operate a motor vehicle, engage in a particular profession, or make improvements to our property.  But are such efforts by government actually beneficial to us?  Do we really gain more than we lose by allowing various levels of government to license and permit many of our activities?

The common retort to such an idea is that government is needed in order to regulate businesses, industries, and individual behaviors.  "If the government didn't license doctors, then anyone could operate on people!  You don't want that, do you?" is typical of the response I get when raising this idea among mixed company.  But does the licensing of Doctors really protect us from harm?  No--there are many doctors who have been properly licensed, and yet who have engaged in malpractice.  After all, there is nothing "special" about government that gives it's officials any sort of added intelligence, skills of judgement, or wisdom beyond what the general public has available to them.  A government is in no better position to judge whether someone is fit to be a doctor (or a plumber...or a barber...or a driver...or really, anything else) than the general public is.  A government employee has no special skill, knowledge, or background that would make them better suited to make these judgements than any of us have.

Individuals are fully capable of sharing information among each other with regards to which businesses and tradesmen are good at their jobs, and which ones are not.  And human beings will naturally seek out and share this information.  When you consider that we live in an era where "crowdsourcing" information on the internet is practically second nature to us all...we are able to more quickly, effectively, and precisely glean information about who we should (or shouldn't) do business with than a government ever could.  What do you do when you need a plumber, or an auto mechanic, or a handyman?  You likely go onto the internet and find reviews of the various businesses and people in your area who engage in these industries.  And it doesn't take you long to find plenty of reviews from those who do their jobs poorly, and good reviews for those who do their jobs effectively and affordably.  You never engage with government at any point in this process...nor do you need to.  You are fully capable of making these judgements on your own, and your fellow citizens are fully capable (and willing) to share this information among each other.

So if governments really aren't needed in order to prevent us from engaging with unskilled or unscrupulous businesses, then what's the point of licensing and permits?  From where I sit, it seems to boil down to two things--money and control.  With every license that is granted, government collects money (for nothing) from the business or person being licensed.  And down the road, when that government decides they want to micro-manage that business or person--they must either comply, or have that license revoked.

It's a shakedown scam the likes of which the old-school Mafia would have been proud.

We, as citizens, gain very little from government licensing...but we lose much in the way of autonomy and revenue.  If we take away the power of state and local governments to license, then we also take away the primary mechanism they have with which to enforce unconstitutional actions.  At the end of the day, why should we be giving up our autonomy, and getting little of value in return?

I realize that licensing isn't a "move the needle" topic of discussion in the manner that Illegal Immigration, creeping Socialism, or other hot button issues are...but if we want to truly take power away from all levels of government (and what we've seen during the Chinese Virus panic demonstrates that we must focus on this, at all levels of government), then focusing on taking away these mechanisms--mundane though it might seem--is critical.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

It's Time For a 28th Amendment

The scare over the Chinese Virus has certainly upended our lives and our economy, to say the least.  And what has been most stunning about these developments is the speed at which governments have been able to restrict our movements, prevent our being able to earn a living as we once did, and compel businesses to shut down or radically change how--and to what extent--they will do business.  For those of us in the "Limited Government" (or even, the "Anti-Government") camp, this is the sort of government micro-management that we have long feared--and the results have been every bit as devastating as we imagined.  An economy ground to a halt, people struggling to find a way to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads, and the very autonomy we treasure being tossed aside for some mythical "greater good of society".

However, for most of us who have spent a lifetime fighting this sort of government overreach and micro-management, the source of this despotism has been a bit surprising.  For decades, we have cautioned against a Federal Government being allowed too much power--as this would undoubtedly lead to the destruction of our individual freedoms.  However, the assaults on our freedom we are seeing at this time are not coming from the Federal level, as many of us assumed they eventually would.  President Trump--in the face of incalculable pressure--has resisted every urge to use this crisis as an excuse to expand government overreach and to give the Federal Government more of a role in our individual lives.  For this, President Trump deserves a tremendous amount of praise...after all, my gut tells me that any other President--of either party--would have taken advantage of this situation to expand government and gain even more control of our lives (Remember the "Patriot Act" of George W. Bush?  Yes, the Democrats are horrible about these sorts of things, but they aren't always alone...)

No, it was "leaders" at the state, local, and, and municipal levels who engaged in these power grabs.  Mainly Democrats, yes, but often joined by RINO Republicans who--in the words of Rahm Emmanuel, couldn't let a crisis go to waste.  The fact that you are--as of this writing--currently cooped up in your home, wondering where your next paycheck is going to come from, or when you will be able to visit a grocery store that resembles something other than a Soviet breadline, is something entirely brought about by the power-hungry, micro-managing politicians in your state, city, and/or municipality.

So while our focus for so many years has been on restricting the power that the Federal Government has over our individual lives, is it possible that we have taken our eye off the ball--at least somewhat--in terms of the power that state, local, and municipal governments have?  Did this perhaps open up the possibility that local governments could radically impact the lives of it's citizens--determining winners and losers, telling you where and when you can move and where and when you can't?  No doubt that our form of government was set up so that the local governments would be the most responsive to us--that was the intention of our Founders.  But in acknowledging that reality, have we--even so--allowed too much power to be given to our local governments?

If there is one lesson to be learned from the Chinese Virus, it is that "Stay at Home" orders, "Lockdowns", "Quarantines", and orders determining what businesses are "essential" and "non-essential" can easily be abused by governments at any level, and can be used to quickly and egregiously take away our freedoms and exert control over our individual lives.  While our Founders intended for local governments to be most responsive to us--to be our "go to" when it came to those very few governmental needs we might encounter--I am convinced they did not intend this.  So the question is, how can we strip these sort of powers away from state, local, and municipal governments?

The best way to effect such change (and also the most seldom used method) would be to add an amendment to the Constitution.  While it is not an easy task to accomplish, such an amendment would be something that could not be changed by a Congress, an Executive Order, or a Court of any kind.  It would have the "teeth" needed to keep something like what we have seen from ever happening again.  I am proposing the idea of a 28th Amendment to the Constitution--the focus of which would be prohibiting any level of government from having the power to enact "Stay at Home" orders, "Qurantines", "Lockdowns", or forcing businesses to alter how they operate or to shut down, even in "Emergency" circumstances.  This period in history has proven to us all that government--at any level--cannot be trusted with this sort of power or ability, that they will always abuse it, and that when they do abuse those powers, the impact--in terms of economics and quality of life--is devastating.

I'm certainly not a Constitutional Lawyer, nor am I someone who has any experience drafting legislation or legal documents of any sort.  Therefore, the text of this proposed amendment that you are about to read is simply a rough, first draft.  No doubt my verbiage and word selection will fall somewhat short and will need to be tightened up--from a legal and Constitutional perspective.  If you have suggestions for how I might adjust the verbiage in order to make the amendment more clear or "air tight"--please feel free to post that feedback, and I'll update the proposed amendment accordingly.

This is what I have worked up--thus far--for the text of this 28th Amendment to the Constitution:

"No Federal, State, Local, or Municipal government shall prevent or attempt to prevent a business from operating in it's normal procedures and capacity.  Exceptions may not be made for times of emergency, natural disaster, insurrection, or Act of God.

No Federal, State, Local, or Municipal government shall prevent or restrict a citizen from his normal mode of free movement or from engaging in his legally obtained vocation, job, or business, under any circumstances
Exceptions may not be made for times of emergency, natural disaster, insurrection, or Act of God."

Simply put--we must take away the power from government (all forms of government) to take over our lives, restrict our movements and our ability to glean a paycheck, and micro-manage our lives.  This virus (and more importantly, the overreaction to it) has served as a stress test for our society.  it has exposed the weaknesses and areas of improvement with our approach to government that we may not have seen before.  And what has been exposed is how quickly that local and state governments can so quickly embrace a model that strips away or civil liberties and reduces it's citizens to nothing more than pieces on a chessboard...to be moved around as those in power see fit, with no consideration being given to the quality of life that those citizens have.  Simply put, this must never, ever be allowed to happen again...no matter the situation, no matter what challenge our nation faces in the future.  The power we have seen abused over these last few weeks must be permanently stripped away from ALL levels of government.  Individual Rights and Autonomy must never again be sacrificed for "the greater good".


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Reflections and Reconsiderations for a New Year

Now that the calendar has changed, and we are one week into the new year of 2020, we find ourselves at a point of reflection. A common action, of course, for most of us when the year changes...a new year is a natural point for each of us to take a "temperature check" of our lives--what's working?  What isn't working?  What would we like to improve?  What would we like to keep?  From our health, to our relationships, to our professional situation, to any number of other aspects of our life...it seems that the turning of a new year provides us a natural point at which to take stock of it all and reflect on where we are, where we're wanting to go, and how best to get there.

As a part of this natural process, I have reflected, over the last couple of weeks or so, on this website.  When I initially put this site together nearly three years ago, I did so by considering and examining one question:  "What should a people or a nation do in the event that one of it's political parties has crossed the line from disagreeable political opponent...and has become, instead, a national security threat?"  The thesis put forth in my initial article on this site--and subsequently reinforced in nearly all of the other pieces I have written here--is that the Democratic Party is a National Security Threat--one which endangers the lives of Americans living in our nation today, and one which intends to destroy the future of our nation, as we currently know it.  As such, this site was put together as a mechanism of re-thinking how to interact with a rogue political party who is endangering our very nation--and even our lives.  But as the new year has come, I am asking myself, "Is that still the case--are the Democrats still a National Security Threat, and do we still need to take extreme measures in order to prevent them from accessing our political process--or have things moved in a different direction?  Is it possible that I over-estimated the danger and threat of the Democratic Party three years ago when I began this endeavor?"

As I began reflecting on these questions, I started by looking at what we are hearing out of the Democratic Presidential candidates during the Presidential debates we have seen over the last year.  In doing so, I noticed some things that went far beyond simple and understandable political disagreement, and moved into that territory of the Democrats being a clear and present danger to America and American Citizens.  We heard many of the candidates speak glowingly of Illegal Aliens--espousing different mechanisms and potential policies that would not only make it easier for these criminals to come into the country, but would also use our hard-earned tax dollars to make their lives more comfortable once they get here...all as these candidates ignored the crime, economic problems, and literal dead bodies that have resulted from the presence of Illegal Aliens.  We also heard Democratic candidates--without fail--praise the continued murder of unborn babies...and even suggest policies that would extend this ghastly "right" to even later in the pregnancy process, insuring even more infants would be murdered before they even had a chance to live.  And we even saw Beto O'Rouke casually and flippantly tell the nation "Hell Yes, We are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47"...removing the means that many fine Americans have to defend themselves from criminals, home invaders, Illegal Aliens, and even ultimately, their Federal Government.

So my process of reflection was already headed down the road of, "I guess I was right, the Democrats really are a dangerous National Security Threat" on the basis of what we heard in the debates alone.  But if those examples had started to confirm the direction I began going in three years ago...the week that just passed, December 28 to January 4--cemented it.

It was during that week that two very important things occurred...and that the reaction to these two news stories from the Democrats was such that any residual shred of respect, compassion, or deference that I had for any of them just went right down the toilet.  First, there was a tragic church shooting in White Settlement, Texas.  And as tragic as the shooting was, the number of deaths was minimized by a churchgoer, carrying his own weapon, shooting and killing the assailant.  As a result, only two people lost their lives--tragic in it's own right, yes...but far less that what would have surely been the case if this armed worshiper hadn't sprung into action.  But instead of being thankful for this loss of life, many Leftists, online and elsewhere, bemoaned the fact that this hero and others in the church were armed in the first place!  Beto O'Rorke tweeted that what they are doing in Texas clearly isn't working, in spite of Texas law providing for this hero to protect his fellow churchgoers.  USA Today--which you might me surprised to learn still exists in this era of dwindling newspaper subscribers--claimed it was "terrifying" that so many people in the church were armed, despite the fact that there would have been massive loss of life if they weren't armed.

But that was just the opening act from the Left.

Later in the week, President Trump launched an operation in which a drone attack killed the top military leader in Iran, a guy who had been personally responsible for the death and injury of countless Americans over the years.  His macabre resume of destruction was one that could hardly be imagined by a civilized person, yet it was all too real.  And yet, on a day in which one would expect Americans to come together and praise the death of one of the most bloodthirsty and dangerous enemies that our nation has ever had the misfortune to come across...there were the Democrats and the Leftists, criticizing the actions of our President in bringing this terrorist to justice.  A Democratic Presidential candidate even said the unthinkable, that "taking out a bad guy isn't necessarily a good idea".

This reflection process that I have been undertaking--and this last week in particular--have only reinforced what I stated three years ago.  When I see the Democrats advocating for Illegal Aliens, trying to take our weapons (and God help the people of Virginia, who are quite literally in the crosshairs of the Democrats on this issue as we speak), and poo pooing the armed defense of innocent people--whether in a church by a private citizen, or on the world stage by a courageous President--it is clear to me that they want this nation, as we currently know it and recognize it, to be brought to an end...and perhaps a grisly end at that.  They are as dangerous as any terrorist organization or any rogue nation we might face down elsewhere on the globe.  The Democrats are literal danger to you, I, and our children.  They must be disassociated from American politics by whatever means possible.

After three years, yes, I am more confident than ever that we must Outlaw the Democrats.  My journey of reflection has become one of reinforcement.