Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Wish for Our Nation

O. Palmer Robertson, in the fourteenth chapter of his book Christ of the Prophets, makes the point that the core theme of the Prophets of the Old Testament is the working of exile and restoration. Exile and restoration are never completely inseparable.

As we read the Old Testament Prophets, it is often hard to make specific applications to our lives. These prophets wrote to a community long ago, to a culture as foreign to ours as any can possibly be, separated by time and history. What we learn from the Old Testament Prophets is an understanding of how Yahweh thinks and acts, particularly how He acts through His covenant. If we read the prophets in the context of the entire Old Covenant, the concepts of exile and restoration are one particular aspect of the blessings and curses of His covenantal dealings with His people.

If we review the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy, we find that the blessings of the covenant are always given in conjunction with the curses of the covenant. Blessing and cursing virtually always work together. Genesis 1-3 provides a key understanding of how this works out in our labor. Labor or work is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. Ecclesiastes portrays this reality in poetic form.

In the Prophets, Yahweh, the covenant God, executes the blessings and curses in exile and restoration. In some cases, curses are the precursor to blessings. In some cases, the curses to one people are blessings to others. In all cases, curses bring about a radical reorientation in people, nations or the world that allow Yahweh to create something completely new.

The pinnacle of His working of His covenantal blessings and curses is the incarnation of His eternal Son in the person of the Lord Jesus. Jesus submitted to the covenantal curse of the cross and in doing so permitted His Father to create something new. The Father, through His Son, created a new reality, a God-man who was suitable to rule all of creation at the right hand of His Father. He is now seated there with all authority in heaven and earth.

This nation and the entire world have been going through a time of cursing. I am not going to speculate on the extent or length of this cursing. However, as we go through this Christmas season, let us remember that cursing is not without result. Cursing brings blessing in some shape or form, all under His care and supervision. The important thing to do is to remember that Yahweh is sovereign. While we work to change our nation for the better, remember not to give into despair. Be willing to submit to the workings of Yahweh. He is creating something new.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Uniter vs. The Divider

Peggy Noonan last week in her op ‘Ed “The Divider vs. the Thinker” in the Wall Street Journal, asked the question, what is the glue that has held America together for the past 200 years that now appears to be cracking, threatening to allow the many divisions in our nation to drive us to destruction? Ms. Noonan’s answer:

A love of country based on a shared knowledge of how and why it began; a broad feeling among our citizens that there was something providential in our beginnings; a gratitude that left us with a sense that we should comport ourselves in a way unlike the other nations of the world, that more was expected of us, and not unjustly— "To whom much is given much is expected"; a general understanding that we were something new in history, a nation founded on ideals and aspirations—liberty, equality—and not mere grunting tribal wants. We were from Europe but would not be European: No formal class structure here, no limits, from the time you touched ground all roads would lead forward. You would be treated not as your father was but as you deserved. That's from "The Killer Angels," a historical novel about the Civil War fought to right a wrong the Founders didn't right. We did in time, and at great cost. What a country.
Ms. Noonan is on to something, but what she is on to remains remotely hidden in the background, hidden behind the word “providential.” There is much good in Ms. Noonan’s piece, much worthy in the way of good advice. However, unless what remains in the background is brought forth, her proposition ironically will simply add to the decline. Ms. Noonan has adequately expressed in her piece the modern day, American secular gospel, something that has come to be known as American exceptionalism. But this secular gospel is a cheap, superficial imitation of the true source of social unity.

At the founding of our nation, there was a common consensus that the God of the Bible was the king of the universe. The world and the nation were ruled by a king that had given himself to die for the sins of all those who sought to subject themselves to him. This God of mercy and grace not only made a way for a sinner to obtain a right relationship with God and with his fellow man. He taught his subjects how to conduct themselves in society. Our founding fathers established this nation on the proposition that its people would act as Christians, in the same character of mercy and grace as their heavenly father. John Adams claimed that, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that, “The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.” Patrick Henry proclaimed, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians not on religionists, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here.”

Scripture is replete with declarations that a man or woman will take on the characteristics of his god. If we are being divided, it is only because we have taken on the characteristic of our god. The secular gospel, American exceptionalism, and the Federal Government have become our god. Who do we turn to for security in our employment? The Federal Government. Who do we turn to for security in our old age? The Federal Government. Who do we turn to for the security in our healthcare? The Federal Government. The Federal Government has become our god. Is it any wonder that we are being divided?

Government as god inculcates the character of litigation. In government, there is no room for mercy or compassion. There is only law. Law begets demands of right and obligation. When confiscation through tax policy becomes law, confiscation becomes justice, greed becomes institutionalized.

The core character of government today is divisiveness. White House advisors recommend that the victor in the White House should reap the spoils of his victory for his followers. The media echoes this refrain. Democrats seek to structure tax policy to take away blessings from the rich. Republicans seek to give tax benefits to select mercantile interests. If an interest can obtain 51% of the vote of the elected legislative body, government can legislate a solution and declare more rights and obligations. With each declaration of rights and obligations, we become more and more slaves to our governments.

Occupy Wall Street is a perfect example of how we have taken on the characteristic of our god the Federal Government. Those who occupy Wall Street have some apparent claim that they are entitled to some interest in Wall Street. However, they refuse to share what they have with the less privileged. They occupy but they do not bless. They claim and commit acts of violence. This attitude is far from the attitude embraced by our founders: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Eph 4:28 ESV)”

America is exceptional. It is exceptional because it was founded upon two millennia of a growing and developing Christian heritage. To look to America without looking through America to that heritage will reinforce the American idolatry that is making us a divisive nation. It is better to look through America to the God that gave it liberty in the first place. Benjamin Franklin, no evangelical apologist, observed, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” Better than depending on American exceptionalism is the praying the third verse of the old hymn of Henry Harbaugh:

Let our rulers ever be
Men that love and honor Thee;
Let the powers by Thee ordained
Be in righteousness maintained;
In the people's hearts increase
Love of piety and peace;
Thus united we shall stand
One wide, free, and happy land.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Using the Right Tool in America

A confluence of events has come together that make it apparent that our governing officials do not know how to use the proper tools in the cultural tool belt. Is it useful to use a hammer on a bolt? Is it effective to drive in a nail with a screw driver? Our carpenters know what tools are useful to build a house but our legislators are not so astute.

Consider that the U.S. government is now in debt in excess of $14 trillion. Social Security is in a shambles. Hurricane relief in New Orleans was a fiasco. More recently, Senators Blunt and McCaskill have complained about relief funds being diverted from Joplin to the east coast. Finally, our state officials have debated whether millions of dollars of tax credits should be given to private enterprises to induce them to make a hub in St. Louis, commonly known as the China Hub or Aerotropolis. Our elected officials have determined that they can do all of these things and they are not doing any of them well.

Western Civilization has, at least until the last century, held a common consensus that there are three cultural tools in the world’s tool box: the family, the church and the magistrate. Each of these institutions has been identified with a recognizable symbol. The family is represented by the rod as described in Proverbs. The rod is a symbol for discipline, discipleship and education. The church has been given the symbol of the keys of the kingdom as Christ gave the keys of the kingdom to the disciples in Matthew 16:19. The keys of the kingdom symbolize spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. The magistrate or the state has been given the symbol of the sword as described in Romans 13. More particularly, in America, we have taken on the symbol of lady justice, blindfolded, holding the scales of justice. These two symbols communicate protection of the nation and an impartial judgment of right and wrong.

However, in the past century we have seen the federal government and now the states more and more taking the rod and the keys of the kingdom. Simultaneously, we have seen it and the states relinquish the sword and the scales of justice. What have these efforts obtained? In their taking up of the keys of the kingdom, our federal and state governments have created a social security system that is bankrupt. They have obtained our children’s children being saddled with $14 trillion of debt. They have produced low income housing at a cost in excess of $200,000 per unit. In their usurpation of the rod, our state officials have produced an educational system that is dysfunctional, bordering on a culture of crime. By proselytizing our young minds to be good workers for the state, they have enculturated good little wards of the state. All the while, our borders are breached, our defenses are compromised and our citizens must pay the price by invasions of privacy from laws such as the Patriot Act.

It is interesting to compare two recent events. First, both of Missouri’s U.S. Senators decry the recent diversion of relief funds from Joplin to the east coast to remedy disasters. Second, the Missouri Senate has debated the propriety of giving tax credits to private enterprise to induce the Chinese to create jobs in Missouri. The Senate debate is complex. On the one side, liberals decry the possible reduction in benefits to the needy for the benefit of the industrial class of our culture. In many ways, this is parallel to diversion of funds from Joplin to the east coast. Who is to say who is more deserving? On the other side of the Aerotropolis debate, you have some conservatives claiming that we need to make better investments with taxpayers’ money. But how can a government make investments with a sword and its eyes blindfolded? The common wisdom holds true. If you do that, someone will lose an eye.

In America today, governments love to throw money around to accomplish their social designs. Governments only obtain their money from taxation. Frederic Bastiat referred to taxation for such purposes as “legal plunder.” We, as a nation, have embraced such legal plunder. It is our life blood. Without it, even conservatives believe our culture will collapse. However, the flaw in legal plunder can be seen in the recent events of the east coast hurricane and Aerotropolis. Once you give in to “legal plunder” you must accept the directives that control the legal plunder. You may not like where the planners send your money, but having accepted it to begin with you must abide their decisions. If you accept legal plunder for Joplin, you must accept it when Joplin is plundered for the east coast. If you accept legal plunder for the poor, you must accept it when the poor are plundered for Chinese businessmen. Wouldn’t it be better to let the church and the local community attend to the truly needy and let business tend to itself?

A screw driven by a hammer is ineffective and usually destructive of quality workmanship. Compassion driven by law is messy and destructive of human dignity. It is time for our federal and state governments to reassess their roles and their function. It is time for our elected officials to seriously contemplate what they can do well with a sword and a blindfold on and quit pocking people in the eyes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Friendly Rebuke to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce

I am a fan of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. I am a proud member. However, on the issue of investing state money in an International Air Cargo Hub, they are simply wrong. In the most recent issue of the Chamber’s newsletter to its members, Daniel Mehan, Chamber President and CEO, urges “lawmakers to show true leadership and finally put the unproductive tax credit debate behind them, and allow opportunities like these to create jobs in Missouri.”

Mr. Mehan casts the issue for discussion as follows: “We are spending time debating the wrong issue. The question is not whether Missouri should invest funds in economic development initiatives. The real question that we should be asking: How can Missouri best invest these funds?” It is very simple to waive the hand and dismiss a question; it is more difficult to engage an issue and resolve it. The remainder of Mr. Mehan’s piece is devoted to a speculative agenda of how investing “these funds” will bring jobs to Missouri. I hope by asking a few simple questions I will bring Mr. Mehan back to the point of asking the first question of whether Missouri should invest the funds and answer it in the negative.

First, if it is so important to invest “these funds,” would the Chamber be willing to provide these funds in its budget to be funded by Chamber members? (Be clear: if so, I will allow my membership to laps. I do not want to be an investor in Aerotropolis, whether it is by Chamber agreement or governmental fiat.) Remember, government produces nothing. Government produces laws. Through law, government must take funds from its citizens in order to pay for its services. To invest “these funds” it must take “these funds” from others. Is this investment important enough that the Chamber would be willing to invest them directly? Or should the legislature confiscate the property of Mr. Mehan to make the investment? If not, why should I be expected to by paying higher taxes?

Second, if it is not appropriate to debate whether “these funds” should be invested, then in every case the ends justify the means. Suppose that I can put four men to work if I possess a backhoe but I cannot afford a backhoe. If my neighbor has a backhoe that he is not using, but refuses to allow me to take it from him, am I justified in stealing it? After all, I can put it to better use than he can. According to Mr. Mehan’s analysis, I should be able to confiscate the useless backhoe, for it is not appropriate to discuss “whether.”

If we are going to have true economic development, it must be an economic development which is based on justice, not coercion. Economic development that is based on governmental incentives is fleeting and counterproductive. If I have a thousand dollars in disposable income, I have the option to spend it as I see fit. I may buy a new television, a new camera, or new equipment for my business. Each of these economic transactions is an investment in economic development. It is an investment in a product or service which has value to not only me but the individuals that previously invested in and developed the product or service. If the government confiscates five hundred dollars, it has not only deprived me of the ability to invest my full thousand dollars, it has invested in an inherently less valuable investment. If the tax credits are required to induce the investment, it is clear that the investment would not have been made but for the economic bribe needed to increase the investment’s return. And once the incentive ceases, there is no expectation that the investment will continue without the incentive.

The fact that the confiscation is guised in the power of the government for most changes the debate. We live in a culture in which government routinely takes from some to give to others. So it is appropriate to do it in this case as well, correct? NO. This is a mindset that must change. This last year, the Missouri Chamber took positions on labor legislation that was designed to reduce government power exercised by unions over employers. I applaud the Chamber’s positions on such matters. Economic liberty means minimizing or eliminating governmental coercion in economic transactions. However, in urging government to use its legal authority to manipulate economic transactions, the Missouri Chamber is undercutting its own position. Socialism is the abuse of governmental power against some citizens for the benefit of other citizens. The Missouri Chamber’s position as framed Mr. Mehan’s article, while being a different type of socialism from the Obama type socialism, i.e. corporate welfare, it is still socialism. Mr. Mehan should not be using the Missouri Chamber as a mouthpiece for economic injustice. If he expects the legislature to provide economic liberty to Chamber members, he should expect them to provide economic liberty for all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Substantive Due Process: Calder v. Bull 3 U.S. 386 (1798)

This is a concept in Constitutional Law which must be reclaimed:

I cannot subscribe to the omnipotence of a state legislature, or that it is absolute and without control, although its authority should not be expressly restrained by the constitution or fundamental law of the state. The people of the United States erected their constitutions, or forms of government, to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, to secure the blessings of liberty, and to protect their persons and property from violence. The purposes for which men enter into society will determine the nature and terms of the social compact, and as they are the foundation of the legislative power, they will decide what are the proper objects of it. The nature and ends of legislative power will limit the exercise of it. This fundamental principle flows from the very nature of our free republican governments that no man should be compelled to do what the laws do not require nor to refrain from acts which the laws permit. There are acts which the federal or state legislature cannot do without exceeding their authority. There are certain vital principles in our free republican governments which will determine and overrule an apparent and flagrant abuse of legislative power, as to authorize manifest injustice by positive law or to take away that security for personal liberty or private property for the protection whereof of the government was established. An act of the legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority. The obligation of a law in governments established on express compact and on republican principles must be determined by the nature of the power on which it is founded.

A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean. A law that punished a citizen for an innocent action, or in other words for an act which when done was in violation of no existing law; a law that destroys or impairs the lawful private contracts of citizens; a law that makes a man a judge in his own cause, or a law that takes property from A. and gives it to B. It is against all reason and justice for a people to entrust a legislature with such powers, and therefore it cannot be presumed that it has done it. The genius, the nature, and the spirit of our state governments amount to a prohibition of such acts of legislation, and the general principles of law and reason forbid them. The legislature may enjoin, permit, forbid, and punish; It may declare new crimes and establish rules of conduct for all its citizens in future cases; it may command what is right and prohibit what is wrong, but it cannot change innocence into guilt or punish innocence as a crime or violate the right of an antecedent lawful private contract or the right of private property. To maintain that our federal or state legislature possesses such powers if it had not been expressly restrained would, in my opinion, be a political heresy altogether inadmissible in our free republican governments.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Clueless on Education

In a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Jeb Bush and Joel Kline penned their opinion to return the American educational system to excellence.  In their initial paragraph they set forth the problem:

The success of today's students will determine our nation's destiny. America's economic strength and standing in the world economy are directly linked to our ability to equip students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy. Students are no longer competing with their peers in other cities—they are competing with students across the globe. Business leaders have become champions of education reform, recognizing the role that rigorous academic standards have on their success.
Their opinion proceeded to attribute the responsibility for education to the states and to champion the need for common core standards. They concluded with a hopeful eschatology:

It is the states' responsibility to foster an education system that leads to rising student achievement. State leaders, educators, teachers and parents are empowered to ensure every student has access to the best curriculum and learning environment. Governors and lawmakers across the country are acting to adopt bold education reform policies. This is the beauty of our federal system. It provides 50 testing sites for reform and innovation. The Common Core State Standards are an example of states recognizing a problem, then working together, sharing what works and what doesn't.
Unfortunately, Messrs. Bush and Kline’s analysis suffers from no less than three flaws. First, they misunderstand the goal of education, the need to make an economic engine out of our children. Second, they misidentify the institution responsible for education. Third, they misidentify the substance of education.

Common Core State Standards will not correct the woeful education in our government school system. Education is vastly more than a list of things to know. To their credit, they do pay lip service to the need for more when they write, “The literacy standards require students to make arguments with evidence rather than just restate their own opinions or experiences.” However, to truly understand the full import of educational reform, this simple statement is insufficient.

Education consists in teaching a person how to think and inculcating a love for learning. The ancient Greeks had the concept of making the ideal man, the paideia. The early Christian Church expanded upon this concept for the paideia of God. At the core of the paideia of God was inculcating in each person the love for learning. This classical approach to education recognized that children develop in their educational process through three phases: a grammar phase, a logical phase and a rhetorical phase, more commonly known as the trivium. Any parent can see these phases in his or her children. There is a phase during which a child enjoys and is good at simple memorization. As the child matures, he or she begins to think more abstractly and asks the question “why?” He or she begins to interrelate concepts in order to draw conclusions. An understanding of logic becomes critical at this phase. Finally, there is a stage at which a child revels in argument. The goal of education is to teach a child how to marshal all of the knowledge and logic of situation for the purpose of persuasion, to come to a conclusion for one’s self and for others. The ancient Hebrew would have referred to these characteristics as knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

This brings us to the second flaw in Bush’s and Kline’s analysis: the one responsible for education. The family is the God ordained institution for raising and educating children. This is inherent in the created order. When my wife and I brought our three daughters into the world, they were not immediately swept away to become wards of the state. They were given to my wife and me to love and care for, and to educate. My wife and I know our daughters better than anyone else in the world--at least until their marriage. They remain my responsibility to educate.

Although there has been over the course of the last century a progressive movement to make the state the caretaker of our children, it is this movement that has been the downfall of our culture. What is government? Government is an institution created to enforce rights and administer justice. Government acts through the execution of law. Law is a set of standards by which people must live. When government speaks of common core standards that is all it can speak of: “standards.” By its very nature, government is limited in its ability to provide education in that it can only speak to the grammar phase, the mere content of knowledge. It must truncate its education prior to the logic and rhetoric phase. It cannot teach the beauty of a good syllogism or a beautiful poem, because the student must meet certain “standards” of knowledge.

Some will respond that the government can and typically does go beyond teaching grammar. And I will readily admit that it does, but the question remains, can it appropriately do so. Our founding fathers, who were classically trained, understood that one primary goal of education is the inculcation of virtue in accordance with a standard of truth. An understanding of virtue and truth is critical to a right logic and a right rhetoric. However, today we live in a society of enforced relativism. Who defines virtue and truth? Can the state define virtue? Remember that there is a so called “separation of church and state” in this nation. Whose virtue and truth will the government teach? Either the government must truncate its education at the grammar phase or it must violate the separation of church and state it has so carefully built.

This brings us to the third and most significant flaw of Bush’s and Kline’s analysis. The flaw is that the purpose of education is to make our children servants of our economic machine. This concept is foreign to western civilization up until the last hundred years or so. Western civilization grew on the concept of the paideia. The Renaissance was the recovery in medieval western culture founded on classical thinking, founded on paideia. Classical learning, the Renaissance, produced the greatest works of art, literature, theology, and industry in the medieval age. Our founding fathers were great men who were classically educated in ancient philosophy as well as Christian ideas. Many of them were trained in multiple classical languages and read the original thinkers throughout history. We have rejected these characteristics in return for a smug attitude of technological, economic and utilitarian superiority.

The Missouri Constitution provides that, “A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools for the gratuitous instruction of all persons in this state within ages not in excess of twenty-one years as prescribed by law.” The first part of the above proposition provides the motivation for the provision of gratuitous instruction. The motivation of the state is to maintain the rights and liberties of the people. Unfortunately, our culture has lost the greater importance of an educated people, the paideia. What should be considered as a safety net for education for the state, has been made the pinnacle of education. What should be considered a last resort has become the paradigm of education.

The paradox of education is that when you design education to achieve a goal, you lose true education. The paradox is similar to the dog and his bone. Upon seeing a reflection of himself in the lake and thinking it was another dog with another bone, he drops his bone in order to obtain the bone of the other dog. In his efforts he loses his bone. As we turn our eyes to a goal of obtaining education for some purpose other than the love for learning, we lose the love for learning and seek only self advancement. By keeping our focus on inculcating a love for learning, we disciple people to love to think. People who love to think can teach themselves to engage in any economic endeavor.

Senator Kurt Schaefer has already expressed his priority for the legislature’s budget next year on the matter of education. Education will become an increasingly significant issue in the years to come. While money is not bad, it should be used in accordance with truly worthy goals and in accordance with appropriate methods. If we are to recover an education system that works, it must inculcate a love for learning, be controlled by parents and produce thinkers, not just those who know things.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kill All the Lawyers

The phrase "kill all the lawyers," often attributed to Shakespeare as expressing distaste for lawyers, is in reality a complement if the comment is taken in its context.  The following is the text of a portion of Part 2 of King Henry the VI:

Drum. Enter CADE, DICK the Butcher, SMITH the Weaver, and a Sawyer, with infinite numbers


We John Cade, so termed of our supposed father,--


[Aside] Or rather, of stealing a cade of herrings.


For our enemies shall fall before us, inspired with
the spirit of putting down kings and princes,
--Command silence.




My father was a Mortimer,--


[Aside] He was an honest man, and a good


My mother a Plantagenet,--


[Aside] I knew her well; she was a midwife.


My wife descended of the Lacies,--


[Aside] She was, indeed, a pedler's daughter, and
sold many laces.


[Aside] But now of late, notable to travel with her
furred pack, she washes bucks here at home.


Therefore am I of an honourable house.


[Aside] Ay, by my faith, the field is honourable;
and there was he borne, under a hedge, for his
father had never a house but the cage.


Valiant I am.


[Aside] A' must needs; for beggary is valiant.


I am able to endure much.


[Aside] No question of that; for I have seen him
whipped three market-days together.


I fear neither sword nor fire.


[Aside] He need not fear the sword; for his coat is of proof.


[Aside] But methinks he should stand in fear of
fire, being burnt i' the hand for stealing of sheep.


Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows
reformation. There shall be in England seven
halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped
pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony
to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in
common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to
grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,--


God save your majesty!


I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;
all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will
apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree
like brothers and worship me their lord.


The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.


Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man
since. How now! who's there?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Freedom and not the Patriot Act

For the past few weeks I have been dialoguing with many in the tea party movement about the Patriot Act. Many in the tea party object to a vote for the Patriot Act. They claim the Patriot Act violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a serious charge. My perspective has been “who cares?” Don’t get me wrong, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is critically important, but what is more important is the liberty of all citizens. Indeed, all of the U.S. Constitution is important. And that is the point. It is all of the U.S. Constitution that is important.

The improper expansion of rights granted by the U.S. Constitution can take away freedoms just as easily as the improper retraction of those rights. We know this from the so called right of privacy found within some specious penumbra of rights in the Bill of Rights. The creation of the right of privacy has given us the right of a mother to murder her unborn child. We must think critically about the Fourth Amendment. An inappropriate expansion of criminal rights can harm the rights of law abiding citizens as well as crime victims. The Fourth Amendment states as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The citizens of this great nation are to be secure in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Are our citizens being subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures? I will grant that they are. All you have to do is recall the many recent stories of the groping that goes on at our national airports.

However, the point I continually try to make to those who object to the Patriot Act is that you must distinguish between the law and the administration of the law. The law may be fine, but it may be abused. In that case, it is the abuse of the law and not the law itself that is at fault. It is the execution of the law and not the law that must be changed.

One fine patriot pointed me to a recent editorial by Bruce Fein:  This is an excellent article regarding the guarantees of liberty found in our Constitution. Unfortunately, it has very little substantive to say about the Patriot Act. The most substantive charges against the Patriot Act are contained in one brief paragraph toward the end of the piece:

Section 206 of the Patriot Act authorizing roving wiretaps to collect foreign intelligence; section 215 authorizing orders to seize any "tangible thing" like books or computer hard drives to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities; section 505 authorizing National Security Letters to seize customer records of financial institutions, credit bureaus, and telecommunications providers by the government's assertion of relevance to preventing international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities; and, section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 authorizing surveillance against hypothetical "lone wolf" international terrorists are all abusive of citizen liberty because they encroach on the right to be left alone without probable cause to believe the target is implicated in crime.
This is helpful in that it provides specific allegations on particular provisions. I could quibble over the fact that these provisions are primarily focused on foreign terrorism and not citizens. I could quibble over the fact that these provisions related to things that are outside of “persons, houses, papers, and effects” and relate primarily to open communications that people have no right to expect to be private. But I will not. I will grant they permit the conduct which violates the Fourth Amendment, thereby removing the distinction between the administration of the law and the law itself. I will assume that the evil conduct we observed is authorized by the law.

Having made these concessions about the law, I would make a different point. As I read the piece by Mr. Fein, I am reminded of a point that I have been making for some time. Our liberties have been under continuous and increasing harassment for almost a century from the federal tyrant. We are subjected to the straight jacket of regulated compassion in the form of the confiscation of our property for food stamps, employment security, social security, health care security. Our industry has been violated by environmental regulation. Our companies are told where they may locate. Our employees are told with whom they may associate. We are in bondage to our federal slave master. Why should they not also think they can wire tap and search our property?

Those within the tea party movement that quibble over one vote on the Patriot Act are making a point to small. They have lost or never seen the grand vision of the original tea party, liberty for the entire culture. This quibbling over one vote on the Patriot Act is beneath the vision of our founding. It is not the Patriot Act that is denying our people liberty; it is the many different failures and malfeasances of our federal government.  It is the arrogance of the federal tyrant.

Government has a proper authority and it has areas beyond its authority. We lose liberty when government fails to fulfill its proper authority and attempts to usurp authority not granted to it. Some argue that certain breaches of the Fourth Amendment must be accommodated in light of 9/11. I do not make that argument. My argument is that when 9/11 occurred, we had already lost our liberty. Our liberty was lost when the federal government failed to fulfill its proper duty: defend our borders. Our liberty was lost when the federal tyrant, inebriated with its own power and agenda, failed to serve the people by protecting the borders.  The Patriot Act is simply an attempt to cut our losses on liberty already lost. It is like a hockey goalie backing up into the net and kicking the puck out of the net after it is in the net. We can all agree that the puck needs to come out. We can quibble over how the puck should come out of the net, but at that point, the game is already lost. Those good patriots who want to quibble over a vote on the Patriot Act need to expand their vision.

Paul Lake wrote a wonderful little story, Cry Wolf. Cry Wolf, after the genre of Charlotte’s Web, describes a community of farm animals. Upon the death of the farmer, the farm animals enter into covenant to protect the community. However, one day, an injured deer happens to come upon the farm. A debate ensues as to whether the farm animals should give aid and comfort and ultimate membership to the injured deer. The owl advises that it is beneath the dignity of the community to deny the deer admittance. What follows are a number of circumstances which test the covenant and expand the list of animals permitted in the community, until, at last wolves are admitted. The story continues without one farm animal ever recognizing that their advice is coming from an owl, one who was never a member of the original covenant. The community is ultimately destroyed because it has lost sight of its original covenant.

We have a national covenant. It is found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. We have lost our vision of our national covenant. Our national legislature is infested with those who flaunt our national covenant as of no consequence. There are advisors in our midst that deny that we are, “One nation under God.” We must oust those who are not committed to the covenant. The tea party should regain and champion the vision of the founding of the nation and quit quibbling over small matters such as votes over the Patriot Act. Our founders were radical thinkers. They sought liberty and they gave their blood for it. There is a memorable line in Mel Gibson’s movie Braveheart. After some disputation with the nobles regarding strategy in responding to the king Longshanks, William Wallace makes the following statement to the nobles: “You're so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank's table that you've missed your God given right to something better. There is a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.” I call on the tea party to remember this admonition. Look beyond the one single vote and develop a strategy for freedom.

Friday, May 27, 2011

From Carol Bloomberg

The only thing I will contest is that the whole thing started in 2010:

Thanksgiving 2020

"Winston, come into the dining room, it's time to eat", Julia yelled to her husband. "In a minute, honey, it's a tie score," he answered. Actually Winston wasn't very interested in the traditional holiday football game between Detroit and Washington. Ever since the government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle football for its "unseemly violence" and the "bad example it sets for the rest of the world", Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to be. Two-hand touch wasn't nearly as exciting.

Yet it wasn't the game that Winston was uninterested in. It was more the thought of eating another Tofu Turkey.

Even though it was the best type of Veggie Meat available after the government revised the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of federally-forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes, cranberry sauce and mince-meat pie), it wasn't anything like real turkey. And ever since the government officially changed the name of "Thanksgiving Day" to "A National Day of Atonement" in 2020 to officially acknowledge the Pilgrims historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had lost a lot of its luster.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting. The unearthly gleam of government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the Tofu Turkey look even weirder than it actually was, and the room was always cold. Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016, mandating all thermostats "which were monitored and controlled by the electric company" be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the north side of the house was barely tolerable throughout the entire winter.

Still, it was good getting together with family. Or at least most of the family. Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up her legal allotment of life-saving medical treatment. He had had many heated conversations with the Regional Health Consortium, spawned when the private insurance market finally went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the government health care program. And though he demanded she be kept on her treatment, it was a futile effort. The RHC's resources are limited, explained the government bureaucrat Winston spoke with on the phone. "Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled. I'm sorry for your loss".

Ed couldn't make it either. He had forgotten to plug in his electric car last night, the only kind available after the Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2019 outlawed the use of the combustion engines for everyone but government officials. The fifty mile round trip was about ten miles too far, and Ed didn't want to spend a frosty night on the road somewhere between here and there.

Thankfully, Winston's brother, John, and his wife were flying in. Winston made sure that the dining room chairs had extra cushions for the occasion. No one complained more than John about the pain of sitting down so soon after the government-mandated cavity searches at airports, which severely aggravated his hemorrhoids. Ever since a terrorist successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a jetliner, the TSA told Americans the added "inconvenience" was an "absolute necessity" in order to stay "one step ahead of the terrorists". Winston's own body had grown accustomed to such probing ever since the government expanded their scope to just about anywhere a crowd gathered, via Anti-Profiling Act of 2017. That law made it a crime to single out any group or individual for "unequal scrutiny", even when probable cause was involved. Thus, cavity searches at malls, train stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had become almost routine. Almost.

The Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most Americans expect a Court composed of six progressives and three conservatives to leave the law intact. "A living Constitution is extremely flexible", said the Court's eldest member, Elena Kagan. "Europe has had laws like this one for years. We should learn from their example", she added.

Winston's thoughts turned to his own children. He got along fairly well with his 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she ignored him. Winston had long ago surrendered to the idea that she could text anyone at any time, even during Atonement Dinner. Their only real confrontation had occurred when he limited her to 50,000 texts a month, explaining that was all he could afford. She whined for a week, but got over it.

His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter altogether. Perhaps it was the constant bombarding he got in public school that global warming, the bird flu, terrorism or any of a number of other calamities were "just around the corner", but Jason had developed a kind of nihilistic attitude that ranged between simmering surliness and outright hostility. It didn't help that Jason had reported his father to the police for smoking a cigarette in the house, an act made criminal by the Smoking Control Statute of 2018, which outlawed smoking anywhere within 500 feet of another human being. Winston paid the $5000 fine, which might have been considered excessive before the American dollar became virtually worthless as a result of QE13. The latest round of quantitative easing the federal government initiated was, once again, to "spur economic growth". This time they promised to push unemployment below its years-long rate of 18%, but Winston was not particularly hopeful.

Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought, before remembering it was a Day of Atonement. At least he had his memories. He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children would never know what life was like in the Good Old Days, long before government promises to make life "fair for everyone" realized their full potential. Winston, like so many of his fellow Americans, never realized how much things could change when they didn't happen all at once, but little by little, so people could get used to them.

He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there was still time, maybe back around 2010, when all the real nonsense began. Maybe we wouldn't be where we are today if we'd just said "enough is enough" when we had the chance, he thought.

Maybe so, Winston. Maybe so

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why I Support Todd Akin for U.S. Senate

This is a piece that I have wanted to write for some time. However, it is hard to write. In some senses it is too simple. In others, it is too difficult. Simply put, Todd Akin is the right man for the United States Senate. His commitments to the U.S. Constitution are firm. His track record is faithful to his commitments. And he is a man of continuing faithfulness to his commitments. More complexly, well, where do I start . . . ?

There are certain men who seem to cut across popular culture who refuse to let popular culture affect them. Ronald Reagan was such a man. In a time when many spoke of an expansion of the federal government and appeasement of the Soviet Union, Reagan spoke against both. As to the latter, his policies brought the Soviet Union to an end. And as to the former, his philosophy still holds sway in a significant portion of our culture. The tea party’s philosophy of limited government finds its heritage in Reagan.

Todd Akin is such a man, quiet and unassuming, infinitely approachable, generous in his time and conversation. Todd has been a champion of principled government for as long as I have known him, which approaches thirty years now. His principled conservatism permeates his discourse, whether it is his humorous sparing with my father on who received the lowest ranking on the River Front Times legislative ranking to his challenging the U.S. military on its obligation to respect the institution of marriage.

Todd speaks the principles of the Founding Fathers in the language of the founding of the nation. His annual celebration of the nation’s birthday at his home is a celebration in our heritage in liberty. At such celebrations, he typically dresses in the uniform of a continental soldier and rehearses the history of our national founding, one based on the themes of “One nation under God” and “No king but King Jesus.” Congressman Akin spoke in the language of the tea party movement before there was a tea party movement.

Congressman Akin remains true to these founding principles against progressive forces within both the Republican and Democratic parties. When personally prompted by President Bush to vote in favor of the expansion of medicare, he voted against it because constitutionally it was the right thing to do. He has voted against federal bailouts under both Republican and Democratic administrations. He is a tireless advocate against the tyrannical usurpation of authority over our health care. Todd has drunk the water in Washington, D.C. and is unaffected.

Will there be times when principled constitutionalists will disagree with Senator Akin’s votes? Of course, even principled constitutionalists disagree on the priority of principles and method. This is to be expected. Will Senator Akin error? Of course, but we know from experience that it will not be due to a compromise in principle.

Do votes matter? Yes, they do. But are they the most important thing? No, they are not. We live in a world that is constrained by covenant. We live in a world built on relationship and community. We have lost this idea in our individualistic country. We live in a selfish culture where my so called “rights” are elevated even at the expense of future generations, my comforts enhanced at the burdening of my grandchildren. This is a trend that must be reversed. We must regain a community and discard the straight jacket of regulated compassion. The most important thing is to change our culture for the better and through liberty enable our people to be truly compassionate. It is critical that we change the national dialogue from a focus of selfishness to one of liberty and community. It is the message that matters. Senator Akin is equipped to communicate the message of liberty and is willing to do it, and he has the moral fiber to follow through.

Our founding fathers consistently warned against elevating a man who appears too eager to elevate himself. This is a warning well heeded. Such men, too eager for self promotion, often succumb to self interest. Todd, in typical fashion, has been measured in his response to requests to seek the U.S. Senate seat, seeking God’s will in the matter. This response too recommends him highly.

There are others out there who are qualified for the post for U.S. Senator. However, based on my view, few have the principles, the commitment to those principles, the proven track record proving those principles and the moral fiber to fulfill the duty of U.S. Senator as does Todd Akin. I pray for him in his decisions and in the campaign before him.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reading Scripture

It is hard to read the Prophets in the Old Testament with the question how do I apply this to my life. It is hard because the circumstances are so different from today. The messages are to a different people, not to me. As I read more about the Prophets, it strikes me that they should be read a bit differently. The Prophets foreshadowed Christ. They also reveal a dialogue between the prophet and Yahweh. Therefore, when we read the Prophets, we should be reflecting on the character of Yahweh and of His Christ. The next question is not how each passage apply to my life but how does the character of Yahweh that I find in the Prophets affect my life. This impacts directly what man is to believe concerning God but only indirectly what duty God requires of man. And then again, maybe this is not any different from the way I should read the rest of Scripture.

Friday, April 29, 2011

LOL at Dr. Berwick and Obamacare

LOL is the only way that I can respond to Dr. Berwick’s recent editorial in the WSJ “The Right Way to Reform Medicare.” After observing that Medicare costs are growing, he summarily dismisses the Republican plan to have customers pay for their own insurance, eliminate guaranteed Medicare benefits and limit choices. He says the right way to bring down costs is to make care better and improve our healthcare system. This observation begs the very basic question he asks. He observes that we should use the automobile, computer, television and telephone industries as examples to follow in making health care better. What follows is a long list of unsupported promises, vacuous claims and socialist utopian platitudes as reasons why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is the solution to our health care problems. This vacant reasoning is the same reasoning supporting Obamacare in the first place, “we must pass the bill to find out what is in it.”

I will agree with one statement in Dr. Berwick’s analysis. We should look to private industry to find our solution to our health care problems. If Dr. Berwick had initiated a reasoned analysis on this proposition, he would have come to a completely different conclusion. What is it about these industries that has made them successful in making their products better and more efficient? It is the very thing that Obamacare is removing from the healthcare industry: freedom, competition and market forces.

When someone goes to buy a car, a television or a computer, he has a multitude of choices. Technology is changing dramatically in each of these industries. The technology is changing dramatically because the many competitors are motivated to make a better and cheaper product that is attractive to customers. This is particularly true in the telephone industry. It was only after the deregulation of AT&T decades ago, when companies were able to compete for customers, that the technology advanced to give us the technologies we have today.

Market forces impacting costs and prices drive producers and consumers to make commercial choices which they deem to be the most beneficial and efficient. Removing market forces and price signals removes the incentive to be efficient. One example should suffice. Anyone who has been the beneficiary of a good health insurance plan at work should recognize that when there is no cost to visiting an emergency room, there is no incentive to minimize the use of that valuable service. When emergency room treatment of a cold or flu or a splinter has no cost, there is no incentive to seek an appropriate alternative yet less costly form of treatment, such as chicken soup or a tweezers. Price causes customers to make efficient and cost effective decisions.

Obamacare, by removing market forces and price signals from the market place, will cause the healthcare system to operate in an increasingly inefficient manner. Dr. Berwick is correct to observe that Medicare costs continue to grow. However, a reasoned analysis would cause him to conclude that that very fact contradicts his conclusion that Obamacare will improve the health care system. Medicare is a federal program that has removed market forces from the health care industry. What Medicare does in a small way, Obamacare does in a big way. If Medicare costs are increasing, Obamacare costs will increase much more. Obamacare is a big problem designed to solve a small problem. The actual solution should be to eliminate the small problem. Government is the problem. Therefore, government should be removed from the system.

Dr. Berwick’s reasoning is also internally inconsistent. Consider the following paragraph:

Under President Obama's framework, we will hold down Medicare cost growth, improve the quality of care for seniors, and save an additional $340 billion for taxpayers in the next decade. These policies don't shift costs to seniors or deny care to people in nursing homes or people with disabilities. Instead, they focus on improving the quality of care and lowering costs by putting patients first.
Who is “we?” One can only conclude it is Dr. Berwick and the Obama framework. They will “hold down” Medicare cost growth compared to what? One can only conclude that these central planners will hold down Medicare costs compared to actual costs. However, artificially holding down costs compared to actual costs does shift cost. It also makes a service more attractive than it actually is, causing an increased demand on the service. If the demand exceeds the supply in a centrally planned system, care will be denied because there will be no market forces—due to the actual cost being artificially held down—to incent the expansion of the service. If you artificially hold down the price of a television that costs $1,000 to make to $500, there will be cost shifts, there will be a reduction in service, or there will be no service, i.e. bankruptcy.

Obamacare scared me in its inception and its final passage. I am even more frightened by this kind of reasoning behind its implementation. With this kind of reasoning, we have a government that will bankrupt us all if they don't kill us first.

Taken From Bubbles and Money, One of the Blogs I Follow

How awesome is that day to me-
O day of hallowed history!
Set time in God’s determined plan
To sacrifice the Son of Man.
What famous work that day was done
By Jesus Christ, His Perfect Son!
The Second Adam, sent to save,
Humbly obeying to the grave!

How savage is that day to me-
O day of pure brutality!
When Christ, the Son of God Most High,
Was fiercely whipped and hung to die.
And O the horror of my sin,
Seen there in His appalling skin!
For God struck down- as meant for me-
The sinless One, at Calvary.

How precious is that day to me-
O day of purchased liberty!
In Him, a freeman now I live;
My sins, through death, did God forgive.
No wrath at length looms o’er my head,
But lovingkindness there instead.
His righteousness, my guilt replaced,
And Love, this ransomed soul embraced!

O awesome, savage, precious day-
‘Tis God the Savior on display!
What peerless, holy, gracious Mind
Would fashion such a Grand Design?

Kevin Hartnett works for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, overseeing the science operations activities of the mission. He was selected in 2003 from a thousand candidates as the “Poet of the Year” by the Fellowship of Christian Poets.

Doctors the New Cops on the Beat

So what is the conservative reaction to HB 658, the so called Meth Lab Elimination Act? What the bill would do is require a doctor’s prescription for ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, or pseudoephedrine. The rationale is that this would make it harder for meth labs to get the raw material for their product. It would make doctors the gate keepers (or cops) for the flow of the raw material for the illegal substance.

While I understand the motive for this act, it is going about finding a solution the wrong way. I find it ironic that when government is taking over so many areas of life for which it has no authority, it is forcing doctors to take on its responsibility and private citizens to give up liberty because it is failing in one of its primary responsibilities, to punish the evil doer. Government wants to take responsibility for my health, for my employment security, for how I view the arts, and how I raise my children. But it does not want to engage its primary responsibility to get the bad guy who makes the meth. Rather it wants to regulate the manufacture and commerce of a good product. Get the government out of all of those things it has no responsibility for and it will have the where-with-all to accomplish those things for which it has responsibility.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Time to Change Our Attitude

There were two stories that emerged last week that portray the stark contrast in views of governmental power. One story told of state Senators Lembke, Nieves, Schaaf and Kraus filibustering the Missouri Senate so as to prevent Missouri from receiving federal funds to extend unemployment benefits from 79 to 99 weeks. The story continued that Senator Lembke wants to accomplish the same goal for federal funds earmarked for education. The other story told was of Governor Jay Nixon seeking one billion dollars of federal money to build a light rail line from St. Louis to Kansas City. Not only would the system improve transportation in the state, it would bring higher paying jobs to the state.

There are arguments pro and con for each issue. It is always “good” to help those in need. It is “good” to bring new jobs to the state. However, at what point should a culture stop facilitating unemployment and create a real felt incentive to get a job? And is a centrally planned transportation system better than one designed by the free market? I do not wish to get into any of these issues. My goal is to look beyond these to bigger arguments, arguments of attitude. My goal is to highlight how the trajectory of time has shown that our welfare state mentality will actually destroy us.

In his work The Law, Frederic Bastiat observes that,

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.
In another place, he observes,

The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law becomes the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.
Are Bastiat’s observations borne out in our government today? Consider, as Congressman Akin is often known to do, that the income of the federal government is roughly equivalent to the cost of the growing entitlement system and the interest on the debt. That leaves all other functions of our national government unfunded except through borrowing. The federal behemoth has now grown to such a state that the interest on the debt, which is not paid, continually adds to the national debt. Many have rightly commented that this is unsustainable. What this situation indicates is that the continued spending by the federal government, whether directly, or by bribes to the states, is putting the nation in deeper and deeper debt. This debt will be paid back in one form or another. If it does not bring the nation to a financial collapse, it will burden our children’s children for their repayment. We are enslaving our children with this debt. Indeed, Bastiat’s observations are borne out in our government. We are not satisfied with taking from some in this generation to satisfy our greed. We are willing to saddle the next generation with slavery for our greed.

The happy argument for those who want to take the money is that the federal government will spend it anyway. We might as well benefit from it rather than letting others use it to their advantage. This argument has some validity, but only in a culture in which greed has been institutionalized. Only by assuming that everyone else is as greedy as you are can such an argument work. Unfortunately, that assumption is valid in the United States of America at this time, at least among many in the ruling class.

What Senators Lembke, Nieves, Schaaf and Kraus are trying to do is change attitudes. Attitudes are hard to change, but changing attitudes has to start somewhere. Changing attitudes is also painful, particularly when you are invested in your attitude as we are today in the United States of America. Again, we are so invested in our attitude that we burden our children’s children for our convenience. Let us remember that the preamble of the U. S. Constitution declares that the purpose of the Union is to secures the “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” not just to ourselves. If for no other reason, we must listen to the good Senators because it is the purpose of government to protect our children.

Bastiat once more has a helpful insight: “When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.” Yes, stopping the plunder will be painful. But not to stop the plunder will be even more painful for the next generation. Thank you, Senators Lembke, Nieves, Schaaf and Kraus for your courage.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Theologians Need a Good Education in the Law

It seems to me that our modern day PCA theologians could use a good healthy dose of legal education in the law of contracts.  They should understand that for a contract to be binding, both sides to the contract must give what the law calls "consideration" in order for a contract to be binding, and for a contract to be fulfilled.  "Consideration" is something of legal value, whether an act taken or a promise given in response to the consideration given by the other party.  Consideration can include the forgoing of a legal right.  Consideration has nothing to do with merit, but it is a condition necessary for the fulfillment of a contract, and nothing more.

I am not saying that the covenant God made with Adam was a contract.  However, I do believe that many of our concepts of contract are acquired from God's character in extending covenants.  If theologians were to understand the distinction between consideration, also recognized in the Westminster Standards as conditions, they might not get so agitated over the Federal Vision discussion.

OK, I will take off my rose colored glasses now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Drill Already!

A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country.
Well, there's a very simple answer.
Nobody bothered to check the oil.
We just didn't know we were getting low.
The reason for that is purely geographical.
Our OIL is located in:
Coastal Florida
Coastal Louisiana
North Dakota

Our dipsticks are located in DC

Time to return the regulation of land back to the states as intended by the framers of the U.S. Constitution.
Adopted from an email received this morning.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Initiative Petition

Much has been written in the Missouri Record in the recent past regarding the initiative petition process, and rightly so. This is an important issue. With the initiative petition process, Missourians have enacted into law certain requirements regarding utility rates, renewable energy, cloning, and puppy mills.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Missouri House Elections Committee heard testimony on HJR No. 16, a resolution that would propose to amend provisions of the Missouri Constitution relating to initiative petitions. Currently, in order for an initiative petition to be successful in proposing a change to the constitution of the state of Missouri, the proponents of the initiative must obtain signatures from eight percent of the legal voters in each of two-thirds of the congressional districts in the state. To propose a law, proponents must obtain the signatures of five percent of the legal voters in each of two-thirds of the congressional districts in the state. HJR No. 16 would require the same percentages of voter signatures, but from all congressional districts in the state.

The main objection to the proposal was that the change would increase the total number of signatures necessary to secure the initiative on the ballot and, therefore, make it more difficult to achieve a ballot proposal. This would give moneyed interests greater influence in the political process and diminish efforts by the typical citizen to affect change. While it may be a worthy goal to require proponents to obtain signatures from all congressional districts, the percentage of signatures should be reduced. The resolution was voted out of committee on March 1, and it is reported that the committee adopted an amendment reducing the percentage of signatures required in each Congressional district.

Clearly, this change would make it harder to secure an initiative petition on the ballot. Is this a bad thing? The answer to that question is not quite so clear. Audrey Spaulding has written in the Missouri Record that, “One of the greatest strengths of American government is that there are a number of checks and balances at the federal, state, and local levels that limit the ability of any one branch of government to abuse its power. The initiative petition process is one of those checks on power, and restricting it further will serve only to erode Missourians’ ability to limit legislators by initiating good — but politically difficult — policy change.” I agree with this statement in principle, but not in detail. I agree one the greatest strengths of the American government is the checks and balances designed into the U.S. Constitution. However, the initiative petition is nowhere addressed in the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution may be amended only by the actions of the states, sometimes at the prompting of the Congress. The initiative petition is a right of the people under the Missouri Constitution. Spaulding is right that the initiative process is a check on the abuse of power by the Missouri Legislature.

There is much confusion when it comes to issues surrounding the initiative petition process. The reason this issue is so confusing is that there is confusion regarding the source of governmental authority in our culture and even in our heritage. One theory propounds that the source of political power is the people. The very first section of the Constitution of Missouri supports this view when it declares that all political power is vested in and derived from the people and that all government of right originates in the people. This is clearly the popular “democratic” view of our nation, that we are a democracy. While the declarations of the Constitution of Missouri are of great weight in this discussion, the political philosophy expressed therein is not entirely supported in history or fact.

Generally, the original thirteen colonies received their governmental authority through royal charters issued by the sovereigns of Europe, whether kings or legislatures. No doubt this approach to granting governmental authority was consistent with the idea of the “divine right of kings” which held sway at the time. While the divine right of kings was greatly abused by the kings of Europe, its core principle was founded upon Scripture, particularly Romans 13, which held sway for most of the two thousand years of Western Civilization. Sir William Blackstone, the great English jurist of the early 1700s, recorded that English common law was subject to the law of God, specifically Scripture. Finally, the writings of the founding fathers almost universally express a fear of democracy. The will of a majority could impose tyranny on a minority just as devastatingly as any king. For that reason, they wrote into the U.S. Constitution a guarantee to every state in the Union for a Republican form of government.

The checks and balances Spaulding points out are inherent in a republican form of government and not in democracies. We see this in the legislative process. In the legislature in Missouri, a bill is submitted to a committee, and the committee holds a hearing. It hears the concerns expressed by opponents. Committee members are given an opportunity to amend the bill. If the bill makes it through the committee, the bill is debated on the floor of the House or Senate. Members have opportunities to amend the bill again. If the bill is passed in one chamber, it has to go to the other chamber and the entire process starts again. This process engenders compromise for the liberty of all. It also permits a consideration of issues unanticipated by those who initiate the law.

The democratic initiative petition process is not geared for the give and take of compromise. It is controlled by the initiative proponents. What is placed on the ballot can be as one sided as the proponents think they can get past the voters. The democratic process of the initiative does not lend itself to guarding the liberties of the minority. Neither is it geared toward a complete analysis of all issues. We have seen certain problems that have arisen from confusing language arising in the renewable energy standard and the puppy mill law, both passed by initiative.

So where does that leave the initiative petition? I agree that there is a place for the initiative petition in a free republic. Even though it is not entirely clear that all political power does actually come from the people, the Constitution of Missouri does vest the power there. The people should be allowed to express their radical displeassure with the state of the law. But isn’t that what elections are all about?

At this point, it is appropriate to make a radical distinction between amending the Constitution and passing a law. By way of analogy, I have argued in other places that amending the U.S. Constitution by use of a Constitutional Convention is a nuclear option when compared to simply utilizing the adequate tools already in the U.S. Constitution to reassert the rights of the states. Similarly, it should be difficult to amend the Constitution of the state of Missouri. The Constitution is the covenant agreement expressing the foundation upon which law is made. Covenants of this nature are the foundation upon which individuals enter into society. Covenants of this nature should not be lightly changed. It should be exceedingly hard to amend the Constitution of the state of Missouri.

With a law, on the other hand, the argument that the state legislature may not have the political incentive to change an unjust law has force. This is the unfortunate reality of living in a world ruled by sinful men and women. The goal, consistent with the principles of republican government, should be to permit the people to initiate the process and so direct a law to achieve the goal of liberty on a certain matter and still subject that process to the refining process of the legislature. Can such a mechanism be devised? Suitable suggestions might include an analogy to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The Missouri Legislature has created a joint committee of both Representatives and Senators to which all administrative rules are submitted. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules may propose to the Missouri Legislature that certain proposed rules not be permitted to go into effect. The Legislature may by resolution, signed by the Governor, so declare. Could a similar mechanism be designed to submit an initiative to a Joint Committee on Initiative Petitions, the purpose of which is to actually enact a law proposed by initiative petition but refined by the Legislature? I admit I do not have the answer.

With these principles in mind, I would prefer to rest on the side of a more consistent republican point of view and maintain that initiative petitions should be difficult to obtain. Many claim that making it more difficult to obtain a ballot measure through the initiative process will provide an advantage to moneyed interests. There is a bit of irony to this argument in that it is actually the initiative petition process by its very nature permits money to have a greater impact on a democratized government. Making it easier to obtain law through the democracy of the initiative petition will permit money to have an even greater influence on a democratized government. This is the advantage of money. It is an unfortunate circumstance of life. The appropriate response is to look to the Missouri Legislature to fulfill its God ordained responsibility of securing the liberty of the people. It is reviewing renewable energy standard and the new puppy mill law this year, which is a good sign.

Friday, February 18, 2011

All Earthly Rule is Overshadowed by Heaven

"Christian capitulation to secular politics--more the rule than the exception in the modern church--is nothing less than apostasy, a denial of the gospel that announces Jesus as Lord. Solomon's residence in the temple complex [described in I Kings 6 and 7] stands as a scriptural figure indicating that all earthly rule, not only Israel's, is overshadowed by heaven and a reminder that the gospel we preach is good news about a king of all kings." Peter Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, p. 64


CWIP and Economic Justice

On Tuesday, February 15, the Utilities committee of the Missouri House of Representatives conducted a hearing on Representative Jeanie Riddle’s HB 124, a bill to allow an electrical corporation to recover from ratepayers the costs associated with early site development for certain electrical generation facilities. This is a good bill but it does not go far enough. It is a pared down version of what has been introduced in the Missouri Legislature during the past two years, a bill that would permit an electrical corporation to recover the cost of “construction work in progress,” or “CWIP,” in rates prior to the commercial operation of the an electric plant. It is a good idea to permit electric companies to recover CWIP in their rates. HB 124 should be amended to permit the recovery of CWIP and passed into law.

Perhaps a little history is in order. In 1976, the voters of Missouri passed an initiative petition that prohibited the Missouri Public Service Commission from permitting electrical companies to recover CWIP in rates. Ameren Missouri, previously Union Electric Company, proceeded to construct its Callaway I plant by borrowing the funds necessary to construct the plant. The construction of the plant took approximately a decade.

Whatever the motivations in 1976 to passing the so called anti-CWIP law, circumstances have clearly changed. During the hearing on Tuesday, all parties recognized the need for the development of nuclear power. They recognized the need for new generation facilities to provide the necessary expansion to an aging fleet of generating facilities. Concern for the devastation that cap and trade regulations will bring on the state clearly also encourages Ameren Missouri to investigate a return to nuclear power.

The primary arguments for passage of the bill were the need for new generation and the economic development the construction of a new nuclear plant will bring to the state of Missouri. HB 124 would eliminate a disincentive for an electrical corporation to build a nuclear plant. The primary argument against passage of the bill was a consumer protection concern. Permitting an electrical corporation to put costs in rates would permit the utility to obtain recovery before it had proven the project was prudent in concept and execution and prior to a point in time when completion was assured.

None of these arguments has a bearing on whether the Missouri Legislature should pass HB 124. All agree that there is a need for new electric generation. All agree that there is a need to explore nuclear generation as an option. However, electrical corporations have an obligation to construct adequate generation facilities to provide for the requirements of their customers. HB 124 would not significantly add to this incentive. Economic development claims are also of little impact on the debate. What drives the economy is the exchange of money for goods and services desired by customers. If I spend a hundred dollars on a new television or on a new camera, the transaction drives the economy to a greater or lesser extent, but both drive the economy. Ameren may spend billions on a nuclear plant or some other form of generation. Either of these expenditures will impact the economy of Missouri. An incentive toward one particular form of spending does not necessarily increase economic development. It simply dictates the winners and losers in any such economic development. About the only expenditure that does not expand the economy is a tax payment to a government, for a government does not produce goods and services. The consumer protection concern is likewise of very little consequence to this discussion. The state of Missouri already has a structure in place in the form of the Public Service Commission which is designed to guard against the consequences of a utility’s imprudence and abuse of its customers. The Public Service Commission is fully capable of disallowing imprudent costs as it did in setting rates after Ameren put its Callaway I unit in service. Finally, all of these arguments fail in that they are mercantile in their most basic philosophy. The focus on the government and what the government’s interest is misses the point entirely. Rather, the question should be how the state should execute justice in the marketplace in Missouri.

Electric companies were and are what have been referred to as natural monopolies. No one wants a dozen sets of wires running down the street to permit a dozen different companies to compete to provide electric service. Since the electric utility infrastructure is so capital intensive, common wisdom suggests that competition be limited. This common wisdom has lead over the last century to what has become known as the “regulatory compact.” Utilities submit to regulation of their service by the state in exchange for a defined exclusive service territory and the right to a regulated return on their investments. With the regulatory compact comes a subsidiary theory that regulation should be designed to take the place of competition. It is the regulation’s substitution for competition that should drive the conclusion on HB 124 and CWIP.

In a free market, the forces of supply and demand prompt the setting of prices. As supply decreases or demand increases, the value of a commodity and its uses increases. As the price increases, the price sends a signal to potential suppliers inducing them to risk additional investment in producing the commodity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recognized this principle in recent orders directing operators of wholesale electric markets to increase the caps on what suppliers can charge in the wholesale market to permit the price signals of electricity to incent additional construction.

The Missouri Public Service Commission should be permitted to take these same issues into consideration when determining the rates for an electrical utility that sells at retail. It should not be foreclosed from considering how competitive forces would impact rates. All interested parties recognize that there is a growing need for electric generation. As a result, prices should go up. In a free market place, the forces of supply and demand would permit a seller to increase its prices in order to expand its business so as to increase its production. How rates should be set to reflect the change in the market place should be left to the Public Service Commission. The Commission may do this in one of several ways, including allowing the recovery of CWIP or increasing the rate of return granted to the electrical corporation to reflect the increasing supply demand risk in the market place.

To arbitrarily deny the recovery of CWIP produces a distortion in the attempt to mirror a free marketplace. Denying an electrical corporation the option of recovering CWIP in rates forces the company to borrow the money necessary to construct the facility, causing a “pay me later” consequence. The electrical corporation is forced to incur a significant amount of debt to accomplish the construction. Not only is there a significant amount of debt, the debt is expensive due to the fact that it is extended over a significant period of time. This makes the investment more costly. The Missouri Public Service Commission, the agency designed to function as a surrogate for competition, should not be arbitrarily denied the ability to function in its proper role in setting prices as the free marketplace would do.

The comments contained in this editorial are the views of David Linton and do not necessarily reflect the views of his clients.

Monday, February 14, 2011

SJR No. 15: Removing the Shadows

State Senator Brian Nieves introduced SJR No. 15 on February 8, 2011. Representative Curtman has filed a similar bill in the Missouri House. SJR No. 15, simply stated, relates to state sovereignty. If passed by the legislature, it would set before the voters of the state of Missouri a constitutional amendment to the state constitution that would declare that Missouri would enforce its constitutional authority.

One particular provision of the resolution declares that the State of Missouri shall:

(3) Interpret the Constitution of the United States of America based on its language and the intent of the signers of the Constitution at the time of its passage. The several amendments shall be interpreted by their language and the intent of the congressional sponsor and co-sponsors of the amendment. Any interpretation of the Constitution based on an emerging awareness, penumbras or shadows of the Constitution, a theory of the Constitution being a "living, breathing document", or any interpretation that expands federal authority beyond the limited powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government, without an amendment to the Constitution, shall be deemed to exceed the limited powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government.
This provision highlights the problem with the condition of our present Constitutional jurisprudence in almost comical terms. Why should the Constitution of the state of Missouri refer to “penumbras” and “shadows?” Why should it refer to “living, breathing documents?” These terms are necessary because these are the terms used by the highest court in our land to characterize their authority.

The “penumbras” terminology comes from Justice William O. Douglas in his majority opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the court found the right of “privacy” within a penumbra of rights contained in the Bill of Rights. It was upon this right of “privacy” that the Supreme Court eventually precluded states from prohibiting abortions in the case of Roe v. Wade. The “penumbra” language in Griswold is ironic for at least two reasons. First, the finding of new rights within a penumbra of other rights is in complete contradiction to the very character of the Constitution. The authors of the Constitution repeatedly referred to the federal government as a government of limited powers. They memorialized this understanding in the Tenth Amendment by providing therein that powers not delegated were reserved to the states. Second, the Bill of Rights itself was intended as an expression of the inherent liberties of the states and of the people. With adoption of the penumbra language, the Supreme Court took the language of liberty and used it as a weapon against a state’s legitimate liberty in protecting the life of the unborn child.

A second irony is the use of the phrase “living, breathing document.” Written documents are intended to have a fixed meaning. Written documents are forms of communication and therefore instruments of relationship. For that reason, written documents are unlike human beings, in that when they become “living” and “breathing,” i.e. subject to every whim of interpretation, they simultaneously mean everything and nothing. They cease to fulfill their primary function and die. And if the written document is destroyed, the relationship is destroyed. Hence, if the U.S. Constitution becomes a living, breathing document, the nation is destroyed. To treat the Constitution as a dead letter is the only way to make the Constitution truly live and fulfill its purpose.

This concept of a living, breathing Constitution has resulted in a vessel of justice which is so overgrown with barnacles and crust that it is incapable of being maneuvered. Over the course of two hundred years, the Supreme Court has subjected the U.S. Constitution to numerous tests and qualifications. Congressional preemption of law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution can be implied in two types, each with its own test. The Supreme Court has identified three broad categories of activity that Congress may regulate under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. One such category, those activities which “substantially affect” interstate commerce, has a four part consideration. The tediousness of these tests has gotten so bad that the recent opinion of Judge Roger Vinson in State of Florida v. United States Department of Health required several pages of discussion devoted to whether a person’s refusal to purchase health insurance was “activity.” The Commerce Clause of the Constitution simply allows Congress the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Does such a simple provision require a system of elaborate tests and conditions? No. The tests and conditions work to obfuscate the purpose of the Constitution. What typically happens is the various tests and conditions create the parameters under which the Congress must construct an elaborate maze of laws simply to satisfy the tests and conditions. It is time to scrape off the crust of all of these tests and conditions and start again. It is time for the Court to inquire again into the purpose of the Constitution.

Judge Vinson has highlighted and challenged our Supreme Court to reconsider one aspect of its Constitutional Jurisprudence.
I appreciate the difficult situation in which the states find themselves. It is a matter of historical fact that at the time the Constitution was drafted and ratified, the Founders did not expect that the federal government would be able to provide sizeable funding to the states and, consequently, be able to exert power over the states to the extent that it currently does. To the contrary, it was expected that the federal government would have limited sources of tax and tariff revenue, and might have to be supported by the states. This reversal of roles makes any state-federal partnership somewhat precarious given the federal government’s enormous economic advantage. Some have suggested that, in the interest of federalism, the Supreme Court should revisit and reconsider its Spending Clause cases. [Citation omitted] However, unless and until that happens, the states have little recourse to remaining the very junior partner in this partnership.
In this passage, Judge Vinson has challenged the Supreme Court to scrape off the crust from the Spending Clause and return to the clause’s original intent. I applaud the Judge.

I also applaud Senator Nieves and Representative Curtman for their initiative in introducing these bills. We saw last year that the citizens of Missouri are inclined to question and challenge the federal government’s usurpation of power in passing the Missouri Healthcare Freedom Act. Senator Nieves has heard the voice of the people and is taking the next step. If we want a strong and healthy Constitution and a strong and healthy nation, we must eliminate all of the shadows and penumbras, and we must return to the original meaning of the Constitution as the founders intended.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Education Plunder: Send the Money Back

A proposed email to our state Representatives and Senators:

Dear Senator or Representative:

I respectfully request that you support Senators Lembke, Nieves and Crowell in their efforts to return the 189 million dollars in federal education money to the federal government.

Our federal government, created to execute justice among the states and provide liberty to the people, has become the very antithesis of what it was created to be. It takes from some to give to others. This is the very definition of injustice and tyranny. What is injustice has been redefined as justice. This corruption knows no bounds. My children’s children are in debt for the lust of the federal tyrant for power and control. Their seeking after control likewise knows no bounds. There is not one scintilla of authority in the U.S. Constitution for the federal government to become involved in education. Education is the role of the family and the church. If it must fall to the state, so be it, but it is never the role of the fed. Send the tax revenue usurped for unauthorized purposes back to where it belongs and instruct the federal tyrant to reduce the crushing burden of debt on this nation. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Public Education and the Public

Frederic Bastiat, in his treatise The Law, brilliantly outlined how socialism corrupts all things, including the judgments of the culture that embraces it. According to Bastiat, socialism, the imposition of law to take from some to give to others is “legal plunder.” Bastiat advises that you discover legal plunder by seeing “if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” Bastiat warns:

The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. . . . The present day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.
This system becomes a delusion and a perversion of justice, causing a culture to confuse injustice with justice.

Bastiat brings this judgment to bear on public education:

You say: “There are persons who lack education” and you turn to the law. But the law is not, in itself, a torch of learning which shines its light abroad. The law extends over a society where some persons have knowledge and others do not; where some citizens need to learn, and others can teach. In this matter of education, the law has only two alternatives: It can permit this transaction of teaching-and-learning to operate freely and without the use of force, or it can force human wills in this matter by taking from some of them enough to pay the teachers who are appointed by government to instruct others, without charge. But in this second case, the law commits legal plunder by violating liberty and property.
It is not my purpose in this editorial to champion the elimination of the legal plunder of public education. The system is so engrained in our public consciousness that to do so would truly be quixotic. Indeed, it is engrained in the very Constitution of the state of Missouri. While it would be a worthy goal to change this system, it is a goal beyond my simple effort here. Rather, my purpose is to show how the system of legal plunder that is public education has caused a situation in which injustice is declared justice.

The Article IX, Section 1(a) of the Constitution of Missouri declares,

A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools for the gratuitous instruction of all persons in this state within ages not in excess of twenty-one years as prescribed by law.
Every taxpaying citizen pays for these “free public schools” through their taxes. I, as a land owner and producer of income, pay for the “gratuitous institution.” However, since I have home schooled and privately educated all three of my daughters, my children never directly benefitted from these “gratuitous institutions.” I have simply benefitted from the “general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence” within the culture. But do I not have a right to directly benefit from these “free public schools?” Should my decision to home school my children prevent my children from directly benefiting from such a “gratuitous institution?” The answer should be obvious on its face. The answer is no.

However, the actual practice is otherwise in Missouri. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, are a significant part of the free public school education, and we see home schooled and privately schooled children in Missouri systematically denied access to these programs. Why is that? Why is it you must be a student registered at the school to take part in the sports programs? Is it because, in order to access part of the “gratuitous institution,” you must take the whole of the “gratuitous institution?” Is this justice or is this discrimination? Is there something in home schooling or the private schooling that disqualifies a child from the “free” education of the state that I pay for but do not completely engage? If the system is truly “gratuitous” should it not be gratuitous to those who seek to take a part but not the whole? It appears that what was originally designed as a “gratuitous institution” has become an exclusive club to which others may not apply.

We have seen in the last decade that the state of Florida has provided some justice within this system of legal plunder. Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida and NFL quarterback of the Denver Broncos, was home schooled during high school. Tebow had the opportunity to play football, at least in part, because Florida permitted him to participate in the public school football program at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Tebow has become a spokesman and an excellent example of the value of home schooling and the justice provided in the state of Florida.

Other states have undertaken to rectify injustice within their states. Wikipedia reports that both Alabama and Kentucky have bills, referred to as the “Tim Tebow Bill” which would grant access now denied to home school athletes to play for their local high school teams just as Tebow did in Florida. Missouri has a similar bill that has been introduced by state Senator Jim Lembke. SB 37 is known as the “Students First Interscholastic Athletics Act.” SB 37 would provide equal access to public school sports programs to all children of high school age that meet certain health and academic qualifications, whether in public, private or home school.

This is now the third year that Senator Lembke has introduced his bill. There is no reason not to pass this bill into law. Justice requires that these “free” “gratuitous” institutions grant access to their programs to all citizens of the state without regard to the source of their other academic education.