Saturday, February 19, 2011

Art as Revolution

This is the music video that sparked the revolution in Tunisia, and it is presented here for your viewing and consideration. When you watch it and read the subtitles, consider our situation her in the United States, with 22% real unemployment, lawless foreclosures, and unpunished and rampant fraud in our financial sector. Maybe, just maybe, we need a little Tunisia here in the United States.

Our government doesn't work, and with the level of indebtedness and human suffering occurring as a result of our economic reality, it's time to recognize that and stop pretending that we can wait two years to address these problems. We've got gridlock at the federal level, and governors threatening to call out the National Guard on those who protest or resist legislative agendas designed to strip public employees of the right to collectively bargain. Even though we handed trillions of dollars to bankers who made their own mess, we never demanded that they sacrifice their basic ability to organize against legislation they didn't agree with. They used bailout dollars to oppose the financial reform legislation, and hired lobbyists with your tax dollars and debt financed government money that your children will have to pay back.

It's time for the American people to have their own Day of Rage, to get out in the streets and to state that we are no longer willing to tolerate further outrages against our Constitution, our rights, and our ability to make a living. I give you El General, and art as revolution.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Big Dumb Government

Further evidencing the fact that the GOP establishment is totally screwing itself came this week when Mississippi Governor and 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Hayley Barbour refused to denounce a proposed license plate honoring Ku Klux Klan founder General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Now, either Hayley Barbour is tone-deaf politically, or he really is the dumbest possible candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. One of the safest and most obvious moves you can make politically is to bash a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan. It's not going to be controversial, unless of course you have a standing Saturday golf date with the Grand Wizard.

In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker is trying to strip public employees of their collective bargaining power in order to cut government expenditures. That alone would be fine, but the Right Honorable Governor Walker had to go one step further by threatening to call out the National Guard on any and all intransigent public employees who might demonstrate the temerity to strike in response to his efforts. Governor Walker doesn't possess the political aptitude or brilliance of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who went and pressed his case before the New Jersey people. Sure enough, one of the public employees, an art teacher earning a six figure salary, stood up at a public meeting to complain about her below-market compensation. That's right...her below-market six figure compensation as an art teacher. An art teacher. Again, an art teacher. Governor Christie took that slow pitch down the middle and hit it out of the ballpark by telling the art teacher that she could go do something else.

Not so with Governor Walker. He wasn't going to be bothered with pressing his case before the public in Wisconsin. No, no, no...he was going to call out the National Guard and bludgeon his opposition into submission. Tonight, Democratic lawmakers have fled over state lines to Illinois and the Wisconsin legislature can't get into session. 25,000 people are out in force in Wisconsin, and protests are spreading to Ohio.

House Speaker John Boehner is showing his political acumen by upping the ante with the prospect of a government shutdown. In point of fact, Boehner has come out and said that Walker's efforts are something he'd like to export to Washington, D.C. Now, there are lots of things everyone of us would like to do, but there are practical obstacles to the unilateral achievement of our personal wishlists. In Boehner's case, it's the Democratic majority in the Senate. There is absolutely zero chance of emulating Walker successfully, and given how well things are working out for Walker, if Boehner had any sense, he'd shut up about his ambitions to achieve a goal that is practically impossible in the existing political reality that is D.C.

In other signs that the GOP is squandering whatever momentum it might have, Representative Paul Ryan has compared the demonstrators in Wisconsin to the protestors in Egypt, which has to be the worst use of hyperbolic analogy I've seen in a good long while. Last I checked, the protestors in Wisconsin weren't raping female reporters while screaming out "Jew!" repeatedly. I think there's a difference, Paul.

Now, my own irritation towards federal bureaucracy and wasteful spending is an oft-lamented and heavily documented reality. I don't like the idea of unions, but I suppose if we're going to allow businesses to collectively organize in Chambers of Commerce and sponsor various PACs and foundations, we might consider extending the same privilege to individuals. I think it's a bad idea on both counts, but then again, I also think it's a bad idea for government to be involved in the market. Given Fannie, Freddie, Medicare, Medicaid, and the absolutely feckless regulatory agencies that allowed a decade of mortgage fraud to grow out of control and ruin our economy, there might be something that idea.

However, in America, you don't go threatening to call out armed soldiers to intimidate public employees into rolling over for your reform legislation. Some things are just a bad idea. They sound good, and it may feel macho and visceral, but it's just a dumb idea and a bad precedent to set. However, let's say you allow such a precedent. What do you do the next time a governor feels that his legislation is important enough to call in the literal big guns in order to quell the dissent amongst his constituents?

Big Dumb Government is alive and well, but it's time for the public to send a very loud and resounding message that sending in armed troops to smooth the way for your legislative agenda won't stand. It's just...well, Un-American. Governor Waker basically ensured that his agenda is dead. Moreover, he absolutely destroyed any chance for a hard-line in other states where public sector unions are concerned, at a time when states desperately need to tighten their fiscal belts and will need cooperation from public unions to get their houses in order.

If Walker wants to set Wisconsin's finances in order, he might start by addressing the 15% in fees siphoned off of Wisconsin's pension contributions by Wall Street money managers. That's a ridiculously high fee for managing a pension plan. There are a lot of areas to cut before you come to stripping public employees of their right to bargain collectively, and each individual area you address before you take such an extreme measure would build your credibility if and when you did ask unions for concessions. If they were obstinate in their response, they'd look petulant. That's exactly why Chris Christie's program in New Jersey worked, because he asked for across the board cuts in spending and operating without acting like a bully. He built his credibility gradually by taking his case directly to his constituents, and he didn't overreach with his attempt to cut spending by threatening to call out the armed forces to ram his proposals over the objections of those affected.

Governor Walker just managed to give Democrats a bonanza of publicity, which they will use to paint Republicans as extremist bullies. Moreover, calling out the National Guard to push your legislation through over the objections of those affected is not a winning strategy. Big Dumb Government doesn't work, no matter what form it takes. Governors Walker and Barbour are about to have this epiphany the hard way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All Other Rights and States’ Reservations: An Examination of Individual Liberty, Consequence, and Government in Context

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

-Amendment IX

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

-Amendment X


Many of the issues of the past forty years hinge on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which are perhaps the two broadest amendments in the Bill of Rights. It is notable that the first eight amendments to the United States Constitution all touch on specific areas of concern, but the final two amendments of the ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights are written to construe broad rights and powers to the people and the states. Especial consideration must be given, then, to the fact that both amendments reserve or leave open rights or powers to the people.

While the Founders and Framers wanted to bind the federal government under specificity, they most certainly did not want to limit individual freedoms or the ability of the individual states to act democratically as their residents saw fit. In point of fact, the Framers clearly left open the right and the power of the people to expand or to constrict liberties at the state level which had not been specifically enumerated in the first eight amendments.

While Article I, Section IV, Clause I allowed the state legislators to set the time, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, and as a practical matter allowed the the states to set forth who could vote, the simple truth was that with some degree of consistency, the liberties set forth in the first eight amendments applied to men and women of European and even Asiatic derivation. People had the right to trial by jury, freedom of speech and association, and the right to bear arms.

It is reasonable to assume, then, that the final two amendments would have applied with the same degree of consistency, and that with passage and ratification of the 14th Amendment, all rights and privileges contained within the Bill of Rights would have been extended to all residents regardless of race or gender. The right to vote, however, was still determined by the state governments. The closing sentence clause of Article I, Section IV, Clause I did make clear that Congress could “at any time make or alter such regulations” through the making of law.

Congress did eventually extend suffrage rights to women, but in a telling testament to just how the 10th Amendment applied to the states and the people, certain states had already extended the right to vote to women. The 19th Amendment, which took effect in 1920, extended the right to vote to women in all 50 states. This is a critical distinction to keep in mind for later, as we will be revisiting it to make a vital point.

The critical distinction to understand when measuring the past forty years worth of precedent where matters like abortion, executive power, and federal power as a whole are concerned is this: both the 9th and the 10th Amendment acknowledge the existence of unknown or unspecified rights and powers beyond the purview of federal authority, and both speak to the people’s claim on those rights and powers. The Tenth Amendment does mention the states, but it also acknowledges powers may be reserved to the people as well.

It is the balancing test between the states and the people that becomes a matter of essential importance in understanding just when and where the important decisions of the past forty years come into play, particularly where the social issues like abortion and gay rights are concerned. Understanding what is permitted and why depends largely on understand the matter of balance between states and people, and the fact that the people are not barred from constricting liberties at the state level. In point of fact, their state governments exist to acknowledge their preference in certain instances, and even to codify that preference into statute. This is a matter of staggering importance, for it essentially enables people to have the power to carve out individual rights within their states that may not exist within all 50 states. It further enables individuals in other states to deny those rights through the use of the very same amendment within their own boundaries.

We must also give some consideration to the stipulation of Article IV, Section I, Clause I, which states the following:

“Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.”

In essence, we must balance the consideration of each variable within our formula, be it the 9th Amendment, the 10th Amendment, or the stipulations of Article IV, Section I, Clause I of the United States Constitution to arrive at a destination whereby states and the people retain their rights and powers in a workable manner which does not conflict with the Full Faith and Credit Clause. There are larger issues beyond this to consider as well, given the practical effect a state’s size can have on any number of issues that also affect other states.

In economic and regulatory matters, as a matter of course and reality, the state of California can essentially effect the types of televisions available for sale in Alabama simply by virtue of its regulatory requirements and the economic reality of California’s position as the world’s 12th largest economy. As a general rule, manufacturers will meet California’s regulatory requirements in order to maintain their access to California’s market and its consumers, and those requirements will then become the effective rule for all 50 states over and above what their individual citizens and democratically elected governments may want. This has profound economic implications for other states and their citizens. The question is whether or not California’s advantages in population and economics give it undue or unwarranted influence which violate in practice the rights of other states to set their own regulatory standards. Indeed, California’s regulatory standards are often far beyond even federal standards. What is more, is there a way to balance California’s own rights to set such standards against the rights of other states to set their own? Does the issue rise to a level of interstate commerce concerns, and as such, is it suitable for federal intervention?

There are a number of such questions, both social and economic, upon which the 9th and 10th have either direct or indirect bearing in some way or another. Another point to make is this: we are not talking about what should be, but rather about what is. We all have our own deep convictions and passions on these issues, but the law deals not in passion or even in conviction, it only deals with what is, in that it is concerned primarily with what is obvious and what may reasonably be inferred through historical context and the implications of what is directly stated.

For example, we may say that the President is the executive officer of our nation, tasked with administering and executing the laws of the land as authored by Congress. He cannot accomplish this task without the issuance of executive orders, which ultimately are reasonable creations growing out of what is directly stated about the Executive Branch’s responsibilities and powers. He has to have some means of discharging his office’s responsibilities, and the executive order is that method. We may quibble about the specific application of an executive order relative to a situation or issue, but it is entirely reasonable to assume that the President would have an executive order as a means of executing the laws.

As such, the positions taken in this article should not be taken as an example of personal conviction, but rather as an understanding of what the law is and what it may reasonably enable as an extension of its existence, either explicitly or implicitly.

The Formula: How a State May Proceed and the Implications Thereof

In examining these issues, and the 9th and 10th Amendments, I evolved the following formula from my examination of court precedent, historical contexts, and the letter and spirit of the laws themselves. What follows is my attempt to articulate those various concerns into a cogent formula, which is as follows:

A state may constitutionally prohibit any number of behaviors or actions on the part of its citizens if those behaviors or actions do not involve areas or issues which are explicitly or implicitly covered by the guarantees of the first eight amendments of the Constitution or subsequent amendments. For example, a state may outlaw abortions in the first trimester, or wait until the second trimester. Again, I do not deal in what should be, I deal in what is. A state may also, if it so chooses, due to the democratic pressures of its citizens or for any other motivation, permit abortions or any other form of behavior or action on the part of its citizens so long as the form of behavior or action does not violate the constitutionally stipulated rights other individuals hold under the U.S. Constitution and its amendments.
If a state’s laws do not statutorily classify a behavior as criminal, individuals living within that state have the right to engage in that behavior and in full liberties both as a practical matter and as a matter under the 9th and 10th Amendments, so long as the federal government’s constitutionally delegated powers are not infringed upon. For example, if sodomy is not outlawed by a statute, it is permitted for gays within a particular state to assert for themselves any right held by other residents of the state, up to and including full privileges like marriage if their state defines marriage as being inclusive of same sex unions.
The positive affirmation of an individual’s rights or powers by one state must be carried over to another state if that individual relocates under the stipulation of Article IV, Section I, Clause I. For example, if a state positively legalizes civil unions or gay marriage, under the stipulation of Article IV, Section I, Clause I, full faith and credit must be extended by other states to the sanctioned union or marriage of same sex couples if they relocate to a state where such unions are not positively affirmed or acknowledged. The Defense of Marriage Act, being a mere federal law, is insufficient to override or amend a constitutional article. The Constitution supersedes federal law, and federal law supersedes state law, but when federal law attempts to usurp or override constitutional reality, the federal law itself constitutes nothing more than a blatant attempt at evading the process of amending the Constitution to arrive at a politically expedient result. Process must be acknowledged and followed if a constitutional article, section, or clause is to be altered or changed. That process involves a constitutional amendment. This is not to say that there is a right to gay marriage within the United States Constitution; it is merely to acknowledge the reality of the law as it exists in regards to state law and Article IV, Section I, Clause I. History and the language of the Constitution are quite clear: no specific right to gay marriage exists within the Constitution, and even the most liberal reading of the Constitution will not suffice to erect a right to matrimony for same sex couples. The states have the power to outlaw sodomy if they so choose to do so, but if they do not, gays are entitled to the full rights and privileges enjoyed by other citizens within their state up to and including marriage if the state so stipulates that marriage is extended to include same sex unions. After all, their behavior is not criminal. Due to Article IV, Section I, Clause I, the free movement of citizens entitles them to the full expectation that their marriages in other states will be honored and recognized with all the privileges thereof, in the event that they relocate to another state, even with the Defense of Marriage Act. As noted before, a mere federal law cannot override a Constitutional clause.
The wide latitude given to the people by the Constitution in claiming rights and power ought to be noted by the concluding phrase of the 10th Amendment: “...or to the people.” Not only does the 9th Amendment stipulate that enumerated rights are not to be construed as the limit of individual rights and liberties, the 10th goes on to stipulate that powers not reserved to the United States are reserved to the states or the people, unless expressly prohibited by the Constitution for the states. No such negative stipulation exists for the people where such powers are concerned.
Where 10th Amendment conflicts occur with regards to Article IV, Section I, Clause I, the rule should necessarily be in favor of whichever outcome expands individual liberty and self-determination, owing to the obvious mention of powers reserved to the people as well as the state in the Tenth Amendment.

The Reason to Move Forward

I would add that this calculus is my own, and that case and statutory law are inherently contradictory on this issue. While Congress has on the one hand used the Commerce Clause as a justification for regulating criminal activity against women because it impedes their free movement, which resulted in U.S. v. Morrison, it has gone in the opposite direction where gay marriage is concerned. See the Defense of Marriage Act for an example of this inherently contradictory logic. Though an obvious impediment to free movement for gay couples married in Massachusetts exists when those couples move to Alabama, owing to the fact that Alabama does not recognize their marriage and will not sanction the view of Massachusetts on the jointly owned property and assets of gay couples, Congress has explicitly provided states a federal way to avoid compliance with the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution. Given that the Constitution trumps federal law where the two conflict, this seems absurd in and of itself, but this the nation in which we live.

To say that we may have the right to marriage in one state for gay and lesbian couples, only to have their marriage extinguished when they receive a job transfer to another state, would seem to be a clear-cut impediment to interstate commerce of the sort Congress has worked to avoid where women are concerned. Gays would likely avoid free movement and residency in certain states, because they would lose their access to economic benefits typically reserved to married couples. In certain states, those benefits are reserved to couples of the opposite sex; in other states, couples of the same sex also have access to these benefits upon marriage. When viewed in this light, one can see that we have a patchwork of rights and privileges from one state to the next, and we certainly are not a truly a group of individual yet united states when one state can avoid giving full faith and credit to the acts of another state as it pertains to a married couple of the same sex. This is but one example, but if the couple in question were a mixed-race couple and Connecticut were to refuse to recognize their union in New Hampshire as legally valid because the citizens of Connecticut opposed miscegenation, we wouldn’t having this conversation because the solution would be obvious: Connecticut loses.

The troubling reality of the law is that between the divergent outcomes within fifty states and the reaction of the federal government to that wide variety, we often come to very contradictory outcomes with far-reaching ramifications for individuals who cannot move freely without fear of losing their legal advantages from one state to the next. This is clearly not what the Founders had in mind; then again, one could easily argue that the Founders never had gay marriage in mind, either. The question is whether or not the personal moral code of long-dead men should be binding context on our contemporary view of the Constitution as it is applied in modern times. In certain states it is, in others it is not.

How do the records of a state which recognizes gay marriage achieve recognition in a state which does not without obviating the democratic right of citizens within the latter state to set the parameters of marriage within their state? There are no easy answers, and there is no uniform calculus to resolve these issues under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. There are only broad principles which can generally be applied, but which may run into specific obstacles that defy any attempt at uniform implementation. Such is the nature of our own-going experiment as a country made up of individual states, which are themselves comprised of a wide variety of individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and beliefs that must be checked by individual liberty to avoid tyrannies of the majority. Those individual liberties must be checked by the broad powers reserved to states under the Tenth Amendment to prevent a tyranny of the minority. Where does the balance lie in these issues? We decide through the democratic process, and the through the processes which give rise to case law.

However, one option I would put forth is this: there are a variety of items which ought to be unregulated by state power, and undefined by state power. Crimes which have physical victims external to the perpetrator of the act ought to be defined and punished by states. Rape, murder, theft, and the like are entirely within the purview of states and should remain that way. But for the most part, we ought to live in an unregulated society, or at the very least a society far more deregulated than the one we currently reside within.

Laws provide a definition of behavior as criminal, and a procedure or means with which to deal with any behavior that meets the definition therein. Laws are not preventative, as human experience more or less tells us. The telling quality criminals universally possess is a disregard for the proscriptions and deterrents of the law.

I would posit that a good many items, such as marriage, ought to be left to the discretion of consenting adults. If you would consent to enter into matrimony with another consenting adult or adults, you should be able to do so without much oversight or interference from the state. The only stipulation I’d require is one of a partition agreement before the marriage, one which outlines the division of existing property and the distribution of assets accrued during marriage amongst the participants. I would also eliminate any distinction between those who are single and those who are married in tax law. The state does not exist to pass judgment on marriage as being better than the single life. It only exists to facilitate a life of equal standing before and equal access to the law.

However, that’s me. I’m an extremely conservative man in my own home, and a laissez-faire type outside of it. The price of being left alone in my own life is to leave others alone. In order to deny their power to regulate my life, I must be willing to surrender any pretense of being able to regulate their life. The former view is very popular among Americans of all stripes, but the latter view is something most of us are reticent to surrender. Americans generally want to tell other people what to do and how to live in accordance with their personal values, and to the extent that they’ve been able to come to a consensus on certain values, they’ve been successful in doing so. The question that has always made me hesitant to force my values on others is this: if I can appropriate the government to accomplish such an end, what is to prevent them from appropriating the government towards the opposite end if and when the political pendulum swings?

I have concluded that it is best to deny the efficacy of government to define or regulate such matters as a result. Marriage for me is between a man and a woman; therefore, I as man have elected to marry a woman. I have cast my lot and made my declaration by my own action. Who am I to say that my lot should be the only option available to another man or woman who believes differently than I do?

There are those who would claim that anarchy would result if such laissez-faire attitudes prevailed. Anarchy gets a bad rap. What most people are afraid of are the natural consequences of human action. We all want the freedom to do as we choose without having to bear the full brunt of the consequence. Government represents a rather large safety net for most individuals and businesses. The problem is that a net incentivizes the act of leaping before looking over and over again, and my assets are plundered to pay for the net that breaks the fall of others who repeatedly pursue unwise behavior.

My father was never one to intervene in my life when he saw me doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. He’d watch me get stung by hornets and bees and he would ask me after the fact if I’d learned my lesson. I did. I learned it far better than I would have if he would have intervened to prevent the natural consequence. I learned not to stir a hornet’s nest or stomp on those who were smaller than I was because I paid a price for doing so. You may extrapolate those obvious metaphors out to their logical conclusion...I am a man who leaves others to their own devices these days.

I don’t worry about individuals having too much freedom under a broad reading of the Ninth Amendment. I worry about them having too little of a consequence for pursuing unchecked freedom, and that is generally the fault of their government. Let them learn. I believe in free markets for economics and morality, and I have faith that whatever the individual does will ultimately work itself out in the harvest he reaps as a result of his own actions. If he persists in destructive behavior, it is not my concern or responsibility to use government to check his advance towards self-destruction. Let others learn from the example or illustration he presents. Government exists to identify those consequences which are just when harm to others results from individual actions, and to enforce those consequences upon the wrongdoers. Governments cannot prevent every little harm that befalls their constituents. It is asinine to pretend that they can.

The individual who pursues a prudent course through life will avoid associations with those who are destructive, and he will be far more effective at preventing harm to his life, liberty, and property through his own vigilance and awareness than government could ever be. We all wring our hands and fret over the innocent victims and bystanders, but the reality of the matter is that the sins of the father are visited on the son. So what? To prevent this is to present the son with the precedent that his father’s conduct was not so bad after all, and to present a maladaptive view of human conduct as an ideal. The compassionate ne’er do wells of the world will step in and check the consequences before things get too severe. The problem individuals have with their government is that their own unrealistic view of what government can and cannot do. Individuals believe in fairness, despite the abundance of evidence that fairness is a myth.

From the womb we are shaped in unequal ways, and while we may justifiably demand equal standing before and treatment from the law as citizens, we cannot expect the law to produce an equality of outcomes from mutually exclusive inputs. One course of behavior will do better than the other. It’s natural, and what is more, it is necessary for order to emerge and prevail. Governments produce more in the way of chaos when they try to obviate the basic law which underlies human conduct than any anarchist society ever would. This is why we have had so many bailouts and rescues of business over the past thirty years.

Liberty is not the problem. The problem is an individual liberty which is separated from from individual consequence by a supposedly benevolent and altruistic government. People and institutions fail when they pursue unwise courses of behavior that deny common sense and reality itself. Let them fail. Their failure will be more efficacious as a future preventative than any government proscription or punishment.

People tend to police themselves when liberty brings consequence along as a partner. It’s cheaper, it’s more efficient, and it doesn’t involve the erection of every more costly and maladaptive forms of government bureaucracy. What I have always wondered is why conservatives tend to be such ninnies about moral matters in a manner that closely aligns them with liberal neuroses. Big government is big government, be it in the bedroom or the boardroom, and while it is intended to promote moral and ethical values to prevent immoral or unethical behavior in theory, it fails almost universally to accomplish either promotion or prevention in practice.

A broad reading of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments where individual liberty and power are concerned will give rise to no more disorder and chaos in the result than the narrow reading that has traditionally been proffered in order to promote expansive state power. All that will happen is that people will be left to choose their own course and reap the rewards or the consequences of their own behavior. To statists and moralizers, this prospect is absolutely terrifying, not because they have compassion for those who will ultimately pay a toll for their bad behavior, but because the result of allowing free choice unchecked by state power might conflict with their predictions. It might just be that drugs users can function productively in society. It might just be that homosexuals can live relatively decent, ordered lives and be good neighbors and parents. All of these realities could result in a loss of credibility for moralizers and statists and the loss of the one weapon they really have: fear of the unknown.

To date, moralizers and statists have always tried to instill in people a fear of what might happen if they weren’t there to check human behavior and interrupt the consequences thereof. To dispense with this nonsense, one has only to look at what has happened: the United States incarcerates 1.7 million people, more than any other country in the world. We are everywhere tied up in knots with regulation and prohibitions and strictures on individual conduct. And yet, human immorality and criminality continue unabated. What is more, the amount and types of human conduct being criminalized continue to expand exponentially as the ninnies have their way. The average American commits three federal felonies a day. This is an ordered result? A sensible outcome? We’re spending $28,000 a year per person to incarcerate 1.7 million people, the majority of whom are in jail for possessing and using a particular substance.

The ninnies have had their sway over matters long enough. It is time to repudiate their idiocy and move on in the intrepid spirit that marks Americans as Americans. At the heart of this movement, we might begin by reading individual liberty and individual consequence in the exercise of liberty as broadly as possible, and we might commit to minding our own doorsteps before we mind those of our neighbors through government regulations and prohibitions.