Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Nanny-State Madness: Woman Faces Jail Over Veggie Garden | Breaking news and opinion on The Blaze

“We only want to help you.” Public servants or totalitarian masters? You decide. First up, we have a family harassed by the government over their small vegetable garden.

Nanny-State Madness: Woman Faces Jail Over Veggie Garden | Breaking news and opinion on The Blaze.

Next, we have Cedar Falls government demanding universal keys and unlimited access to an entire community’s private property at their discretion. It is “necessary” they are told, for the “public good.”

City Government demands all keys to properties belonging to Cedar Falls residents.

Traditionally, property ownership was said to include a “bundle of rights. That was then. This is now. Once the constitution is off the table, so are your rights.

Update:

Additional coverage on VeggieGate from The New American.

Eminent Domain bills

These Eminent Domain bills were sponsored by my State Senator (Rand McNally) and State Representative (Bill Dunn) in 2009:

SB0521 / HB1771

Eminent Domain – As introduced, requires county and municipal legislative bodies to approve the exercise of eminent domain by two-thirds vote prior to any property being condemned and taken by such bodies.

SB0522 / HB1772

Eminent Domain – As introduced, grants property owner whose land is taken by eminent domain the right to repurchase such property if the condemning entity does not use the property for the purpose for which it was condemned or if the entity sells the property within 10 years of condemnation.

Government set to subsidize foreclosures

Yet another government program to ‘solve’ the mortgage crisis pays homeowners to foreclose. This is unbelievable. Via the New York Times:

The problem is highlighted by a routine case in Phoenix. Chris Paul, a real estate agent, has a house he is trying to sell on behalf of its owner, who owes $150,000. Mr. Paul has an offer for $48,000, but the bank holding the mortgage says it wants at least $90,000. The frustrated owner is now contemplating foreclosure.

To bring the various parties to the table — the homeowner, the lender that services the loan, the investor that owns the loan, the bank that owns the second mortgage on the property — the government intends to spread its cash around.

Under the new program, the servicing bank, as with all modifications, will get $1,000. Another $1,000 can go toward a second loan, if there is one. And for the first time the government would give money to the distressed homeowners themselves. They will get $1,500 in “relocation assistance.”

Lenders will be compelled to accept that arrangement, forgiving the difference between the market price of the property and what they are owed.” [My emphasis]

To correct one glaring misnomer, the government has no cash to “spread around.” That is your money and my money they are “spreading around.”

As property values fall, Taxes keep rising

“Property taxes” in a nutshell mean that you don’t really own your real estate — you just rent it from the government.

Property owners are taking action across the country as tax bills continue rising, even as home values have tumbled. Nationally, median prices of existing homes fell 22.3% from 2006 to 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. But local tax formulas and assessment cycles usually don’t reflect rapid price declines. Indeed, a recent survey by the National League of Cities found 25% of cities raised property tax rates in fiscal year 2009 to offset falling tax revenues.

In Michigan, so many owners protested their assessments last year that the state’s highest tax court has 24,000 cases awaiting hearings. Wall Street Journal

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, surveyor

Ron Ramsey at Shoney's

Ron Ramsey at Shoney's

I attended a breakfast at the Harriman Shoney’s this morning where the honored guest was Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The breakfast was sponsored by the Roane County Tea Party. Lt. Gov. Ramsey described his background as a surveyor, who ran his own business from 1981-1986, before he decided to get into the auction business. He currently runs his auction business while serving as Lieutenant Governor, and is one of the few politicians who understands what it means to run a small business and make a payroll.

I have decided to endorse Lt. Gov. Ramsey for Governor. He believes in many of the same things I do, such as strong second and tenth amendments and the importance of limited government. He is strongly pro-life.

Mayor Haslam is a good man, but I believe that Lt. Governor Ramsey is better suited for the job. Mr. Haslam’s membership in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition (an anti-second amendment group) was a bad move. It causes me to question his judgment. Mr. Haslam recently distanced himself from the group in preparation for his run for the governorship. There are also serious questions regarding Mayor Haslam’s automatic conflicts of interest should he become governor.

You’re either for the constitution’s protections or you’re not. Lt. Gov. Ramsey believes in the constitution as it was written, not the ‘living, breathing’ variety.

Thomas Sowell gets it

The Left has never understood why property rights are a big deal, except to fat cats who own a lot of property. Through legislation and judicial rulings, property rights have been eroded with rent control laws, expansive concepts of eminent domain, and all sorts of environmental restrictions.

Some of the biggest losers have been people of very modest incomes and some of the biggest winners have been fat cats who are able to use political muscle and activist judges to violate other people’s property rights.

Politicians in cities around the country violate property rights regularly by seizing homes in working-class neighborhoods and demolishing whole sectors of the city, in order to turn the land over to people who will build shopping malls, gambling casinos, and other things that will pay more taxes than the homeowners are paying.

That’s why property rights were put in the Constitution in the first place, to keep politicians from doing things like that. But the adolescent intellectuals of our time have promoted the notion that property rights are just arbitrary rules to protect the rich.

- Thomas Sowell, NRO – Don’t Liberate Me

U.N. once flirted with property rights, demurred

That was a long time ago. I suppose dictators and property rights, like oil and water, just don’t mix.

In 1948, property rights got their own article in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (”No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”). But when they finally got around to turning the declaration into a legally binding commitment in 1966, property was thought to be passe, like Dean Martin and the patriarchy: neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights nor the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights mention property rights.

That would have been in the aftermath of WWII, when the abuses of the war were still fresh in everyone’s mind. How quickly memories fade.

Other global human rights organizations present the appearance of supporting right to property, but the rhetoric lacks teeth.

The European Convention of Human Rights says ”no one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest”. The phrase ”public interest” is meaningless. What government has ever thought it wasn’t acting in the public interest? The 2006 Victorian Charter of Rights says no one’s property can be taken ”except in accordance with law” – not much of a defence from eager legislators.

Thank God for John Locke, who recognized the natural, God-given right to property; An inherent right, not a privilege that is granted only at the whim of the state. Locke provides the foundation for the American recognition of the natural right.

Eccl 3:13

.”..that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” (NKJV)

This Biblical precept is worth pondering. “Every man” — all, without qualification — should enjoy the good of ALL his labor. One is entitled to the fruit of one’s labor, which infers the wickedness of depriving a person of his or her labor. This is theme echoed in Locke’s famous Two Treatises of Government and embedded, in turn, in our Constitution. Labor confers ownership.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (NIV)

Remember charity, but also remember that charity is yours to give, not for others to take. Charity necessitates free will, does it not? Keep up the good fight.

Will City-Slicker Chickens find Home in Knoxville?

We’ll soon find out. A meeting to discuss a proposed city ordinance allowing the raising of a limited number of hens on Knoxville properties is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 10 at Lawson-McGhee Public Library from 2-4 pm. The initiative is spearheaded by the Knoxville Urban Hen Coalition.

Knoxville Urban Hen Coalition mission:

A growing number of cities are amending codes to allow people to keep backyard chickens. There are two main reasons – food security and health issues. With the economic downturn (and food price rises in 2008) there is a surge in interest in backyard food production in general. Also, with health issues such as ecoli and salmonella, people want healthier, safer food.

Many cities have recently passed ordinances allowing a small number of chickens including Seattle, Portland Oregon, San Francisco, Denver, Fort Collins, Madison, Cedar Falls, Cincinatti, and Portland Maine.

I’m all for any good reason to expand property rights and increase self-sufficiency. Only hens are allowed. Unlike roosters, hens are reasonably quite. Far more quite, in fact, than many dogs. Few things are more annoying than constantly barking dogs. By comparison, potential chicken noise seems tame.

It’s the old ‘Redefining Blight’ trick

Neighborhood blight, as properly understood, looks like this:

It is not difficult to comprehend. ‘Blight’ as redefined by self-serving authoritarian bureaucrats (these particular politicians hailing from Nashville), however, looks more like this:

I am happy to report that the lawsuit was settled out-of-court after the Institute for Justice took up the case of Country International Records, a long-standing business on Nashville’s famed Music Row.

“I am not interested in selling my property at any price; this isn’t about money for me,” said Joy Ford, who founded Country International along with her late husband in 1974. “This is about principle. I just want to hold on to a business that has meant so much to my family and a lot of other folks in country music. I should have the right to do that in the United States of America.”

Nashville City had sought to condemn the business under a contrived definition of ‘blight’ in spite of the fact that the Tennessee legislature strengthened the law in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Kelo v. New London decision to prevent such abuses.

If they tried it before, they will try again. Remain diligent.

Blight abuse is rampant across the country as cities attempt to perform end-runs around protections many state legislatures enacted due to public outrage over Kelo.

Thomas Hobbes, scourge of the property owner

This Yale professor [see video lecture below, 45 min.] extols the virtue of Thomas Hobbes, whose treatise enabled many of the most evil men and governments in the history of the world. Hobbes is a close second to Machiavelli. In fact the adoring speaker names Hobbes “Dr. Watson” to Machiavelli’s “Sherlock Holmes,” which he manages with the straightest of faces. His tenor is reverential to the point of descending (or ascending, depending on your view) to worship. If the reader thinks that I am exaggerating, I invite you to preview the first two minutes of the video, after which you will need no convincing.

If the reader is frustrated, as I am, at the growing power of the state and the near religious faith statists place in government to provide for every need, right every wrong, and generally achieve heaven on earth, one need look no further than Hobbes to find the philosophical underpinning for these beliefs. Quoting the professor:

Hobbes is the “most articulate defender of political absolutism.”

“The Hobbesian sovereign is to have a complete monopoly of power within his given territory.”

“Hobbes, along with Machiavelli, was one of the great architects of the modern state.”

“Machiavelli speaks of the “Prince,” while Hobbes speaks of the “Sovereign.”

“Hobbes tried to render acceptable, tried to render palatable, what Machiavelli had done.” [By restating Machiavelli's ideas in a more pedestrian way.]

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) In a nutshell


Human nature: people are stupid, irrational, and incapable of governing themselves. People are moved by passions – ambition, fear, envy, desire for novelty and security, and the love of wealth.

Christianity makes some people feeble and easy prey because of its exaltation of meekness, humility, contempt for worldly objects, and religious passions.

Government: a strong Prince is needed to control the resulting conflicts among people. The good ruler maintains power and pursues his own interests without getting caught and starting a rebellion, ruthlessly uses force and propaganda as necessary.
Leviathan

Leviathan

The frontispiece of the Hobbes work “Leviathan” illustrates this absolute power by depicting the state-figure with a sword in one hand and a scepter in the other, towering over and dominating the secular and religious factions of society. The Hobbesian state demands total power. The state exercises absolute authority over the “churches, university curricula, and what books and opinions may be read and taught.”

Leftists find this view not only tolerable, but desirable, so long as they are the ones in charge. Hobbes’ influence is such that the average street leftist is articulating his views without even realizing it. Like Madge’s unwitting victim, they are soaking in it.

The founders expressly rejected this Hobbesian model of government, where we have no rights except as granted by the largess of the state, in favor of the Lockean view, where our natural rights derive “from the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Locke asserts that the power of a legitimate government must be limited — the phrase “limited government” being very familiar to most Americans. Locke held that, when a government becomes oppressive, the people have righteous redress in revolution. Proponents of the Hobbesian view (leftists) are in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, as the current state of our culture and continuing governmental crises readily attest. For Hobbesian success, the Constitution and it’s protections must be dismantled, the sad phenomenon we now see.

Spark Notes lexicon

Leviathan -  A metaphor for the state, the Leviathan is described as an artificial person whose body is made up of all the bodies of its citizens, who are the literal members of the Leviathan’s body. The head of the Leviathan is the sovereign. The Leviathan is constructed through contract by people in the state of nature in order to escape the horrors of this natural condition. The power of the Leviathan protects them from the abuses of one another.

The arrogant belief persists that, once formed, the Leviathan monster can be controlled by the people who created it. History informs us time and again that this conception is naive and stupid. Perhaps disciples of Hobbes may be enlightened by a close reading of Mary Shelley.

According to Hobbes, the head of the state would have the authority to determine the religion of the state. We see this application in America with the current war on Christianity and it’s attempted replacement by government force with a secular religion, led in part, by the prophet Al Gore (may he live forever.)

Pertaining to property rights, Hobbes’ view is that mankind is entitled to no right of ownership:

“(T)here be no propriety, no Dominion, no Mine and Thine distinct; but (only) that to be every man’s that he can get; and for so long as he can keep it.”

“(E)very man has a Right to every thing; even to one another’s body.”

The principal writings of Thomas Hobbes appeared between 1640 and 1651—during and immediately following the war between forces loyal to King Charles I and those loyal to Parliament. In his own words, Hobbes’ reflection began with the idea of “giving to every man his own,” a phrase he drew from the writings of Cicero. But he wondered: How can anybody call anything his own? He concluded: My own can only truly be mine if there is one unambiguously strongest power in the realm, and that power treats it as mine, protecting its status as such. Wikipdeia-Property [Emphasis mine.]

HAMILTON’S REJECTION OF HOBBES

A dozen years before the debate on the Bill of Rights, the nineteen- year-old Alexander Hamilton explained the import of this point to the reading public. Hamilton was framing, at the time, the most compelling case that would ever be made in vindicating the rights of America in relation to Britain. In the course of his argument, Hamilton appealed to natural rights. But it was the measure of his calibrated mind that he saw the need to distinguish natural rights, properly understood, from that corruption of natural rights which could be fashioned from the teachings of Hobbes. According to Hamilton, Hobbes held that men in the state of nature were “perfectly free from all restraints of law and government.” “Moral obligation,” according to [Hobbes], “is derived from the introduction of civil society; and there is no virtue, but what is purely artificial, the mere contrivance of politicians, for the maintenance of social intercourse.” These doctrines would impress the tutored mind as “absurd and impious”: They could be explained, in such a formidable writer, only by the most inspired aversion to the commands of both reason and piety. For Hamilton, there was nothing inscrutable about the sources of this mistake:

“[Hobbes] disbelieved in the existence of an intelligent superintending principle, who is the governor, and will be the final judge of the universe….Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed, that the deity, from the relation we stand in, to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is, indispensably, obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.”

Some writers have argued in recent years that the founders accepted the “modern” notion of natural rights that was built upon the premises of Hobbes. In that understanding, natural rights were rooted in the commands of “self-preservation”; human beings in the state of nature were bound by no moral laws; and political society began with a wholesale transfer to the government of our natural rights.

Hadley Arkes, “The Founders and the ‘Superintending Principle’ – the Founders’ Notion of Rights Is Tied to the Philosophy of Monotheism,” World and I Feb. 2003,

Rousseau and Hobbes together supply the ideological jiu-jitsu required to enslave a “free” people. Which is exactly why our Founders rejected “democracy” and the entire revolutionary tradition that culminated in Robespierre and the 24-hour-a-day pounding tyrannical rhythm of the guillotine.

America’s Founding Fathers recognized the entire democratic charade as the nightmare of power-hungry madmen. They embraced instead the notion of a national government with strictly limited powers, where the voice of the states and of the people commanded the government, and not vice-versa. With regard to war, the Founders sided with Augustine and the Just War theory that had reigned in Christendom for a millennium and more. Peace, said Augustine, is the natural state of man. Even wars are fought to achieve peace. And society is not the artificial construct of Hobbes, a construct wrought from the feverish reveries of ideologues, but a peaceful reflection of “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. lewrockwell.com

Understanding the tension between the Hobbesian and Lockean models of government is essential to comprehending the issue of private property rights, the aggressive undermining of Christianity, and the threat of the totalitarian state.


Recommended reading:

‘Hobbes vs. Locke’: The battle continues

Two Treatises of Government (1680-1690), John Locke (proceed to Book II)