Friday, December 30, 2011

Hookers, and Homos, and Drugs... Oh my!!!

This is my LOOONG overdue post about Ron Paul's stance on prostitution, drug use, and gay marriage.  Oh its going to be so much fun, and stir so much controversy!!!  I can't wait....

Seriously though, his stance on all three of these subjects is seriously misunderstood, especially among the LDS (Mormon) community.  It is to this group that I address my thoughts.

To start, lets do an activity.  Get a piece of paper and write down one issue that you both a) feel strongly about; and b) worry that the Federal Government is abusing its power to control.  Now this can be anything, whether it is government bans and control on Home-birth, or banning the sale and consumption of raw milk, or banning religious emblems on public property, or anything that tends to get you worked up about government intrusions into the populace's every day life.  Take a few minutes and think about it, then write it down.  Got it?

Okay, if you have this subject written down put it aside for just a few moments, we'll get back to it in just a moment.

First and foremost this should be stated very, very clearly:  Dr. Ron Paul in no way endorses or encourages people of any kind to engage in drug use, to hire prostitutes, or to marry people of the same gender.  He is a devout Christian, and believes that those behaviors are unhealthy, immoral, and wrong.  HOWEVER- he also believes that it is immoral and wrong to force those decisions on other people.  He strongly believes that you cannot force people to do good things, and you cannot force salvation on them.  Ironically, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also has that same view.  Salvation and redemption cannot be forced upon those who do not want to receive them.  It is to members of the LDS church that I will be making my comments today.

I was going to address each of these issues individually, but as I was writing I realized that all of my arguments in defense of Ron Paul's stance on these things boiled down to the same basic ingredients no matter what the topic was.  (1)  We all have a God-given right to agency.  (2)  Our federal government was not designed to interfere in these types of matters.  (3)  If we allow our individual States to dictate their own policy on these issues then WE as people actually have more control.

(1)  Agency is a right given to us by our Supreme Creator.  It is not something that any governmental force on earth has even the remotest authority to take away.  There are (and always have been) some things that we can do to take away our own agency- such as taking the life of another person.  This crime has (historically speaking) always been worthy of death.  Justice in all her wisdom demands blood for blood.  Rape was met with similar consequences.  One of the reasons for the seemingly harsh reaction is that those two acts take away a person's agency in very real and literal ways.  Death isn't something easily recovered from.  The long term affects of being raped are legion, and very often they are things from which the victim will suffer for the rest of their lives.  When a person chooses to murder or rape they in essence abdicate their own rights to agency- to choose how they will spend the rest of their lives.  Justice must always be satisfied, and in those cases the government has a responsibility to step in.  Those types of situations are the reason that we have a government at all.  There are of course other things that a government has jurisdiction over, but all in all a government's main responsibility is to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens.  Anything else is outside of it's authority.  Including prostitution.  And drug use.  And homosexuality.

2)  Our Founding Fathers created a very limited government for a reason.  They had already experienced what an over grown bureaucracy was like, and they didn't want the new government to be set up the same way.  For that reason they set up a government that had three separate branches: The Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial branches of the government, with each branch's responsibilities very clearly defined.  The purpose was for each branch to be a check to the other two branches, and to create an even balance of power (hence the phrase "checks and balances").  Each branch had its responsibilities defined and limited to not only prevent the gathering of all power into one (or a few) powerful hands, but to also ensure that the rights of the States to govern themselves would not be infringed.

3)  Think of this for a moment:  How much better would the State of Utah be if they were able to pass laws about the sale and consumption of alcohol within state lines?  The laws that any state can make regarding alcohol are very few because of the massive backlash against prohibition.  We need to remember: If we can make an amendment to the constitution that completely criminalizes a specific behavior or action to protect people from their vices, then the amendment can also be over turned to completely legalize that issue regardless of what individual states want.  The government is not here to protect us from vice, we have religion for that.  The government is here to protect the individual rights of all its citizens, no matter what they believe or what they choose to do.  When we keep matters out of Federal hands, and keep it localized to our States WE actually have more control over the outcomes.  Don't believe me?  Try writing to, or calling your Representative to Congress.  What sort of reply does the "Average American" get for their efforts?  Usually a form letter, and some sort of automated response.  Why is that?  Well, they have a LOT of constituents, and even though they are supposed to represent YOU they don't actually want you to bug them about anything, they want you to just follow.  If you were to try to write to your State Representative, the story is slightly different.  His (or her) constituency is much smaller, he spends more time actually among the voting population, and he sees the needs of the individual communities.  If you were to threaten to not vote for your State Rep he would take it quite seriously because he knows that you have family and friends that you could easily sway from his potential voters.  If you were to threaten your Congressman with the same thing he would probably laugh at you unless you were the head of some sort of large influential organization.  If that were the case he would be spending extra time pandering to your wishes and making sure you and he were on the "same page" when it came to issues, because then you would actually have influence.  Is this what we want?  Is this how we want our nation and our states to be run?  It is preposterous!  Granting the Federal Government MORE power only means that WE have less of a voice.  The only people who genuinely want that are people in positions of power and corruption who want laws passed that will increase their wealth and power, not equalize wealth and power across the board.

Okay, now we are back to the beginning.  Remember the activity, writing down an important issue to you?  Take that piece of paper and throw it and and imagine what would happen if the Federal government made ___(insert issue here)___ completely illegal.  Would you be outraged?  Upset?  Scared?  You should be.  The government just took something that was important to you and made YOU a criminal if you did it.  Something that wasn't hurting anyone else, or infringing on their rights.  Let's say it was public display of religious emblems.  Anyone who wears a cross on public property could be subject to criminal action.  Pastors and preachers could be harassed, persecuted, and fined.  Any religion that engages in proselyting could be subject to government sanctions.  When we allow the government to gather enough power to take away the rights of a group of people we open the door the government doing it to EVERYONE, not just the segment of society with whom we happen to disagree.

When you protect other's rights, even when you disagree with their choices, you are protecting your own.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

States Rights

At long last I am back to the world of my little blog.  I have a couple of posts that I am working on, but I would like to do this one first.  A while back I approached a friend to write a small piece about the importance of States Rights to our nation, and how increasing the rights of the individual states to manage their own affairs can only be a beneficial thing for our nation.  He has done a great job, and I think you will like his piece a lot.  He begins his piece quoting a comment from my last post, where a different friend was questioning my thoughts, and implying I showed some intense naivete for supporting State Rights.  I will include some of my own thoughts at the end.  

From my friend Greg Safsten, The Rocky Mountain Prepper:

                                                 State's Rights at ALL Costs.

"'I am really glad you are involved in politics!! Glenn and I are also, I think more people are age should be. I am interested in your explanations of specifically the prostitution and the drugs(not pot, the harder ones) I understand that his policy is based upon giving the States rights and taking them from the federal government(by the way, that is Mitt Romney's policy as well, I know you don't like him or agree with him as a candidate but I just wanted you to know Ron Paul is not the only one with this platform and most people think he is.) and I agree with that wholeheartedly in most situations. So he is saying make prostitution and various drugs legal, and then the particular states can make their own law to ban those things from their states. The problem with that logic is thinking that individual state laws don't affect other states. Which is a very naive mindset. When you address this, I would love to hear how you think making prostitution and drug use legal will benefit our society. It only takes one state of people to say, yeah it wouldn't be bad to leave these laws out, and then the sudden decline that our country is going in, will not only be financial and political as in our situation now but morally. Sexual sin has always destroyed nations and if you think our country cannot get worse, just legalize all three that you mentioned above and see how fast life will change. If you see how the Church has fought against the legalizing of gay marriage in this nation, do you really think that they don't mind if prostitution has that opportunity. Yes, they mind. Do you think our leaders are wrong?'”

Point 1: “I am interested in your explanations of specifically the prostitution and the drugs(not pot, the harder ones) So he is saying make prostitution and various drugs legal, and then the particular states can make their own law to ban those things from their states. The problem with that logic is thinking that individual state laws don't affect other states. Which is a very naive mindset. When you address this, I would love to hear how you think making prostitution and drug use legal will benefit our society”

This is a much more complex issue and has many facets to it than is being supposed here. While you get to one point in saying it is naïve to suppose that individual state laws will not affect other states, there are many other aspects that determine whether or not these changes in law will effect other states, and even more importantly, how they will effect those states.

Despite the ignoring the complexity of the argument at hand, it seems to also be lost on you that there are certain basic governing principles embodied in the Constitution that are not up for debate. The very nature of a Constitution is to sternly and authoritatively set forth basic governing principles by which those who choose to live in the country must abide by. In examining the Constitution, and surely through the examining of the historical record, it is blatantly obvious that the objections to the very existence of a federal government were manifold. We were “lucky” to even get a central government.

A good example of how anemic many of the Founders wanted the central government to be is the Articles of Confederation and the confederate government that was set up. Despite this first government’s impotence, people still had to eventually be dragged back kicking and screaming to the Constitutional Convention to hack out the issue of states’ rights and centralized governmental power. We can get into the many documents, journal entries, meeting records, etc if necessary to make this point clear, but hopefully that is not necessary so as to avoid the production of a fully cited scholarly article here.

Ultimately, as those who study history know, the central government was given more power than most wanted, but as a compromise certain authority came about. In the end though as it is made clear in the documentation, the historical record as a whole, and even the very personal sentiments of “Americans” all the way through the Civil War ***remember the ONLY known reason that General Robert E. Lee (who was extended the commission of Commander of the Union Forces upon the commencement of intervention by Federal troops) turned down the commission offered by the Federal government and became the Commanding General of the Confederate Forces was because he was a Virginian! State loyalty, and the personal responsibility to make your State a place where you would want to live, and to make it a place you were PROUD to hail from (as all traditionally did as stated all the way into the 20th century) was of the utmost importance.

Note an interesting concept here. I am a firm believer that the shift toward centralized governmental power, and the loss of local sovereignty is a primary cause for the great decline our nation has experienced (although the effects of were somewhat slowed by a century of war (20th century). Because of this century of diversion, we are only more recently realizing the effects of this shift. As centralization occurred, the mythology of great leaders seemed to really disappear from American history. Centralization of government leads to exclusivity, dark rooms, and dirty deals. There is no accountability, and why should there be? At this point, even in the best scenario, they serve the nation as a whole. What’s the point of locally elected representatives if really the job they are doing (again in the best case scenario) is making decisions for the whole nation? This is not how the government was set up to be by that all important Constitution. The purpose of locally elected representative that were to be sent to the centralized government, was to ensure that state sovereignty was preserved and that the happenings of the Federal Government would not infringe upon the basic rights of statehood. If it were meant to be any other way (which it is clearly not) why would it not be established that we elect a panel of people to run the country regardless of their origin(s)? But again, this is the best case scenario for this perspective.

What has really happened is that that lack of accountability, which stems from 1st. the removal of the expectation for states’ citizens to take responsibility for and have the authority to make changes prompted by their conscience of responsibility to make their state a nation unto itself that is a place they can thrive in an live the way they want to so long as it is within the basic framework of the U.S. Constitution. 2nd, the consequential apathy and lack of involvement of the citizens (because of such policies that restrict their rights to control their own local destiny results in those representatives who get into office) further emboldens a government “official” to do what lies in his or her own best interest. Not only are they no longer accountable to the citizens of their district (because nobody holds them accountable) but the fact that these “officials” are likely of the same mindset as the idiot populous makes them much more likely to be deceived when it comes to what exactly their job is. Not only that, but with no founding principles based on local pride, sovereignty, and the resulting accountability  these people in government are easily swayed by big talk, sly catch phrases, and of course, large sums of money…..

Now, there also seems to be the implication that legalizing prostitution and drugs will result in a drastic and sustained increase in use of these two vices. The only problem is this “is a very naïve mindset”. A student of history, knows full well that alcohol use increased 3 times the original figure when Prohibition went into effect. Even before this, the use of hard drugs was seen as a sickness and if they were used, they were used often almost with shame. As soon as they could get off of whatever drug they used (believing it to be a remedy) they would often not partake of the substance again. This goes back to a very basic analogy regarding what happens when you tell a child/teen that they absolutely cannot have something or do something. What usually results? Not only do they want to do it more, but they often do whatever the forbidden practice was and sustain the practice for longer than they likely would have had they never been explicitly told to do so in the first place. This is a basic law of human nature.

Aside from the obvious futility of outlawing such practices (drug use/prostitution etc) it is also “a very naïve mindset” to believe that by making something illegal, you make it a less common practice. Based on the basic principles stated above, and statistics on crime and drug use, this is not the case. In fact, the commission of these crimes is more common when it is outlawed. The only thing outlawing something does, is make it more expensive. That’s it. This has been the case throughout history, and one can openly review the histories of various nations who use these vices to further their own aims of total governance. A good place to start would be the British Empire.

I won’t delve into all of it here, but it would be “a very naïve mindset” to believe that the government does not want to keep these things illegal. It would be even more of a “naïve mindset” to believe that they do not directly profit from this policy. A place to start would be the 6 gigantic banks who have been caught over and over participating in even more grotesque crimes (child kidnapping and human/sex trafficking for example). Guess who the biggest contributors are to many of the big players in government??? <span class="emote_text">;)</span><
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To make the criminalization of drugs a states’ rights issue is the first step to taking our states, and our country back. There is a mirage sustained by the majority of the population (the majority of the population is uneducated in these matters) that there is a Federal government that is superior to the states, and that by approving motions to increase/sustain the power grabs the authority of the central government, “we” are making our country stronger. Nothing can be further from the truth. A good analogy is a sports team. It’s impossible to treat the team as one person. No, but rather each person in the team requires its own individual attention. By strengthening each INDIVIDUAL on the team (building pride, responsibility, accountability) and recognizing that their value to the team lies in their individual strength, one can quickly coach a team to victory. So how will allowing states to choose be a positive thing? Well, it is naïve to think that the majority of states are going to endorse hard drug use. However, in the end it really does not matter. The positives that will result from relinquishing the stolen power that the central government thrives on, back to the states will outweigh any negative of that decision.

It is not the government’s job to tell us what to do. It is not their job to teach us morality. It is not their job to control what we decide to do with our own destinies. The Constitution and Bill of Rights do not “grant” but proclaim that our rights to our own destinies are God given and are not granted or to be controlled by man. There is a hidden poison in zealousness to establish a righteous society by the rule of law alone. This poison is the apathy that results from the constant meddling of “do-gooders and teetotalers” (C.S. Lewis talks much of these types). When you insist on the involvement of yourself or other governing bodies to get involved in something as fundamentally basic as what someone does with their body, you castrate the human spirit, and they soon become dependent and through this dependence they lose their self worth and their personal responsibility. I often find today that so many people blame others for their poor plight in life. And you know what? I think they are often very right. Those who insist on making decisions for people, must be insisted upon to bear the burden of consequence(s) and guilt at least as much, or more so, than the supposed “offender”. This really is the spirit of the argument. Personal accountability vs well, none. The issue of states' rights verses the constant and surely unlimited encroachments made by a central government (which is much more easily manipulated and controlled by outside forces, especially in our modern world) is as basic as an argument for and against the importance of personal responsibility. The beauty and value of insisting upon personal responsibility is not so that we can conveniently rid ourselves and our conscience of any guilt or part in the failures and sins of others. Rather, it's value lies in the fact that it is by strong individuals that societies are built. Make no mistake, that the creation of a personally strong, independent, and responsible person is by no means always a pretty business. It includes gross failures, hideous moments of pain and anguish, and great triumphs. If asked to choose between any effort to try and ensure that something does not happen no matter what the cost...I will opt for personal freedom and welcome the coming dangers of being a human being in this mortal existence.

I could go on and on. The insistence upon states rights is the insistence upon the rediscovering of human dignity, accountability, and accomplishment."

States rights were one of the most crucial aspects of the Founding of our Nation.  If you were to read both the Federalist, and the Anti-Federalist papers closely you would see that the major concern for most people was whether the proposed Federal government would have been granted too much power through the Constitution.  (Keep in mind that in today's society one of the larger complaints about the Constitution is that it doesn't do ENOUGH by way of management.)  That is one of the large reasons for why the Bill of Rights was passed, because the people AND the States wanted to be assured that their rights would not be oppressed by the Federal Government.  This is why Jefferson talked about binding the hands of people in government positions with the "Chains of the Constitution". When we assume that a problem for a State will be solved by increased Federal involvement then we are assuming that people are not capable of knowing what is best for themselves and that the great god of Government is needed to step in and save us from ourselves.  We all know that this is impossible.  If a person does not want or desire help or "saving" then it cannot be forced upon them, no matter how desperately we may try.

As always we welcome any comments on these thoughts, and please feel free to share with your friends!

~The Fair Raven~