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VIDEO: What is the U.S. Constitution? Why is it important?

The James Madison Institute recently visited a college campus in Florida, camera in hand, to ask students walking by if they’d like to answer those questions and more.

Yes. You heard that right. We randomly asked students if they would like to do an on-camera interview about the U.S. Constitution and many said, “Sure!”

We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. What we heard was, well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!

Watch the short video. Take a break from your day and hear what these students had to say!

Constitution Day is fast approaching. As part of JMI’s Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for American Ideals and our Campus Representatives program, we will host several events on college campuses across Florida the week of Sept. 14 to commemorate this important day. This video was created to help promote these events, which are also featured on our website jamesmadison.org.

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How Detroit rejected the Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy and self-Destructed

I attended an event hosted by the James Madison Institute (JMI) in Sarasota, FL. The keynote speaker was Lawrence W. Reed from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Dr. Bob McClure, the President and CEO of JMI, introduced Larry Reed as a friend, mentor and guiding light in the movement to renew American exceptionalism.

2011_7principles_CoverSMLReed’s remarks dealt with what he calls the Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy. Reed was clear to point out each was not his own idea but he compiled them over the years to show the path to prosperity and happiness for those leaders in business, politics and policy who would embrace them all. One is not enough, all are necessary for any public policy to be successful.

What struck me is that Reed first introduced his seven principles at the Detroit Economic Club in 2001. It is prophetic that thirteen years later we see a Detroit that is an empty shell of its former self. While listening to Reed I came to understand why – for you see Detroit’s leaders had abandoned each and everyone of the seven principles of sound public policy.

I will not go into the details of each of these compelling principles but rather will just list them below:

One: Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.

Two: What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.

Three: Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.

Four: If you encourage something, you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it.

Five: Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.

Six: Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’ve got.

Seven: Liberty makes all the difference in the world. NOTE: Larry changed this principle to – Character makes all the difference in the world. Character is value based and without a core set of individual values liberty cannot survive.

Detroit is the poster child for ignoring these seven principles and by doing so, set itself on a path to self-destruction.

First, Detroit made it public policy to make everyone equal by promoting unsustainable social programs that bankrupted the entire city. Then the city took control of more of their citizens property (by taxation and seizing) and the city fell into disrepair. Over time multiple city administrations and political/policy leaders did not consider the long-run effects of their policies. Ultimately their programs to help the few, impoverished the many. Then the leaders of Detroit in desperation encouraged failure by further subsidizing it, rather than promoting the bedrocks of any community – family, neighborhood and work. They continued to spend the people’s money until both the people and the money left Detroit. They took from the few to give to the many and thereby started on the long painful road to perdition for all.

Perhaps most importantly Detroit lost its character, its moral compass if you will. Only if Detroit embraces these seven principles can it revive itself, by itself.

It was fitting and proper that JMI would host this event, at this time in Florida. As James Madison wrote, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Was Madison predicting what would happen in Detroit, MI? Is it happening in America?

EDITORS NOTE: If you wish to see Larry Reed’s full commentary on each of the seven principles please go to this link.

ABOUT THE JAMES MADISON INSTITUTE

The James Madison Institute is a Florida-based research and educational organization (501c3) engaged in the battle of ideas. The Institute’s ideas are rooted in a belief in the U.S. Constitution and such timeless ideals as limited government, economic freedom, federalism, and individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility.

The Institute’s mission is to keep the citizens of Florida informed about their government and to shape our state’s future through the advancement of practical free-market ideas on public policy issues.

The Institute achieves its mission through research, conferences and seminars, and a variety of publications.

Since its inception in 1987, the Institute has remained independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan. It makes no attempt to aid or hinder the passage of legislation, nor does it accept government funds or respond to special pleadings from any sector.

ABOUT THE MACKINAC CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Michigan citizens by promoting sound solutions to state and local policy questions. The Mackinac Center assists policy makers, scholars, business people, the media and the public by providing objective analysis of Michigan issues. The goal of all Center reports, commentaries and educational programs is to equip Michigan citizens and other decision makers to better evaluate policy options.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is broadening the debate on issues that has for many years been dominated by the belief that government intervention should be the standard solution. Center publications and programs, in contrast, offer an integrated and comprehensive approach that considers:

All Institutions. The Center examines the important role of voluntary associations, business, community and family, as well as government.

All People. Mackinac Center research recognizes the diversity of Michigan citizens and treats them as individuals with unique backgrounds, circumstances and goals.

All Disciplines. Center research incorporates the best understanding of economics, science, law, psychology, history and morality, moving beyond mechanical cost/benefit analysis.

All Times. Center research evaluates long-term consequences, not simply short-term impact.

RELATED ARTICLE: Their Legacy: The Race Riots Doomed Detroit Forever (Debbie Schlussel: Death Of Motown Alert)

West Point Study: The Founding Fathers are the “Violent Far-Right”

Dr. Arie Perliger from the Combating Terrorism Center located at West Point, NY issued a report titled, Challengers From The Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right. The report states, “There are three major ideological movements within the American violent far right: a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.”

What are the roots of the American anti-Federalist movement?

Anti-Federalism refers to a movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the Constitution of 1787. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation, gave state governments more authority. Led by Patrick Henry of Virginia, Anti-Federalists worried, among other things, that the position of president, then a novelty, might evolve into a monarchy. A book titled The Anti-Federalist Papers is a detailed explanation of American Anti-Federalist thought.

Anti-Federalist No. 1 titled “General Introduction: A Dangerous Plan of Benefit Only to The ‘Aristocratick Combination’.” was printed in the The Boston Gazette and Country Journal on November 26, 1787 and warned, “Their [Federalist] menacing cry is for a RIGID government, it matters little to them of what kind, provided it answers THAT description.”

Noted anti-Federalists included: Patrick HenrySamuel AdamsGeorge MasonRichard Henry LeeRobert YatesJames MonroeMercy Otis WarrenGeorge ClintonMelancton SmithArthur FennerJames Winthrop and Luther Martin.

Thomas Jefferson expressed several anti-federalist thoughts throughout his life, but his involvement in the discussion was limited, since he was stationed as Ambassador to France while the debate over federalism was going on in America in the Federalist papers and Anti-Federalist Papers.

Perliger states:

‘”Anti-federalist and anti-government sentiments were present in American society before the 1990s in diverse movements and ideological associations promoting anti-taxation, gun rights, survivalist practices, and libertarian ideas.”

The Executive Summary notes, “It is important to note that this study concentrates on those individuals and groups who have actually perpetuated violence and is not a comprehensive analysis of the political causes with which some far-right extremists identify. While the ability to hold and appropriately articulate diverse political views is an American strength, extremists committing acts of violence in the name of those causes undermine the freedoms that they purport to espouse.”

How does Perliger portray the modern day anti-Federalists?

Perliger states, “Violence derived from the modern anti-federalist movement appeared in full force only in the early to mid-1990s and is interested in undermining the influence, legitimacy and effective sovereignty of the federal government and its proxy organizations. The anti-federalist rationale is multifaceted, and includes the beliefs that the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a “New World Order” (NWO) in which the United States will be absorbed into the United Nations or another version of global government. They also espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.”

What evidence  of violence perpetrated by the anti-Federalist movement does Perliger document?

Perliger reports (pages 136-137):

 “Our dataset documented 87 cases of violent attacks that were initiated by militias or other anti-federal associations between 1990 and 2011. As expected, almost half of the attacks were perpetrated during the movement’s popular period, the second half of the 1990s (48.2%). Since then we have witnessed limited violent activities by the militias, except for a sharp rise during 2010 of 13 attacks. Nonetheless, in 2011 the number returns to the level observed in previous years (between 1–4 attacks per year; 2 attacks in 2011). Thus, while there may be a rise in the number of active militia groups, except for 2010 we still do not see this systematically manifested in the level of violence. As for the geographical dispersion of the attacks, California again is highly prominent (18.4%) alongside Texas (10.3%). The rest of the attacks are distributed more or less equally among 28 other states. The areas that are excluded are parts of the northeast: no attacks were reported in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and there was only one attack each in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; the northern Midwest: there were no attacks in Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota; and some Southern states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. Thus, it is difficult to find a geographic rationale for the violence.”

How many casualties have been caused by the anti-Federalist movement?

Perliger reports, “[T]he average number of fatalities and injuries is 14.04 injured and 3.97 fatalities; when omitting the attack in Oklahoma [by Timothy McVeigh], the average goes down considerably [to] 0.77 [injured] and 0.55 [fatalities] respectively.” (page 138)

Do eighty-seven cases of violent attacks over a 21 year period constitute a violent movement or isolated criminal acts? Perliger does not address this question.

Perliger concludes, “[I]t should be noted that historically some of the anti-federalist groups have absorbed racist and Christian Identity sentiments; nonetheless, the glue binding their membership and driving their activism has been and remains hostility, fear and the need to challenge or restrict the sovereignty of the federal government.”

Do those who identify as Christians belong in the same category as skinheads and Neo-Nazis? Perliger believes so when he states, “Among these are militias, Christian Identity groups, Skinheads and neo-Nazis.”

This study is flawed when it only defines anti-Federalist groups as “violent far-right”. Are Federalist groups not violent?

Any group that seeks to impose its will on all of the people either by edict or violence is by definition “Federalism”. Federalism in the United States is the evolving relationship between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States. Since the founding of the country, and particularly with the end of the American Civil War, power shifted away from the states and towards the national government.

Is this what the people fear most – the expansion of federalism? Is this fear real and worthy of concern?

Watch this video of interviews done in New York City asking “Do you fear tyranny in America?” Note at the end the responses of young Americans. Are they recruits for the “violent far-right”?