A belief in moral absolutes should always make us more, not less, critical of both sides in any conflict. This doesn't mean that both sides are equally wrong; it means that since we all fall short of moral perfection, even the side whose cause is truly righteous may commit terrible acts of violence in defense of that cause -- and, worse, may feel quite justified in committing them. That is the difference between being righteous and being self-righteous. Moral standards are absolute; but human fidelity to them is always relative.
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Some people don't mind a little constitutional sophistry in a good cause; and for liberals, centralizing all power in the federal government is always a good cause. Since most Americans don't know or care what the Constitution says, let alone what their ancestors thought it meant, the great liberal snow job has been very successful.
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It would be a healthy exercise for every politician to look in the mirror every morning and remind himself that he holds office only because, in a two-man race against another mediocrity, a modest majority of those half-informed people who imagined that their votes mattered reckoned that he was the lesser evil. And they weren't too sure about that.
How odd that Americans, and not just their presidents, have come to think of their Constitution as something separable from the government it's supposed to constitute. In theory, it should be as binding on rulers as the laws of physics are on engineers who design bridges; in practice, its axioms have become mere options. Of course engineers don't have to take oaths to respect the law of gravity; reality gives them no choice. Politics, as we see, makes all human laws optional for politicians.
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When your child is a little older, you can teach him about our tax system in a way that is easy to grasp. Offer him, say, $10 to mow the lawn. When he has mowed it and asks to be paid, withhold $5 and explain that this is income tax. Give $1 to his younger brother, and tell him that this is "fair". Also, explain that you need the other $4 yourself to cover the administrative costs of dividing the money. When he cries, tell him he is being "selfish" and "greedy". Later in life he will thank you.
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By today's standards King George III was a very mild tyrant indeed. He taxed his American colonists at a rate of only pennies per annum. His actual impact on their personal lives was trivial. He had arbitrary power over them in law and in principle but in fact it was seldom exercised. If you compare his rule with that of today's U.S. Government you have to wonder why we celebrate our independence..
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It's a real enigma why people are so averse to real free market capitalism even now. Here we are, in the century that has seen Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro, Pol Pot-and we're still being warned against the 'robber barons' of the 19th century. I don't know that Jay Gould or John D. Rockefeller ever killed anyone. The State has killed countless people, and yet we're always supposed to remain on guard against these 'greedy villains' of yesteryear.
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...[T]he Constitution conferred only a few specific powers on the federal government, all others being denied to it (as the Tenth Amendment would make plain). Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of the U.S. population today - subtle logicians like you - can grasp such nuances. Too bad. The Constitution wasn't meant to be a brain-twister.
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The Second Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was meant to inhibit only the federal government, not the states. The framers, as The Federalist Papers attest (see No. 28), saw the state militias as forces that might be summoned into action against the federal government itself, if it became tyrannical.
De-Christianizing America has been high on the progressive agenda, and, thanks to the government (especially the federal courts), it has been a great success. Nor can we overlook the contribution of the entertainment industry, which now determines what passes for 'culture.' The main practical vehicle of de-Christianization has been the Sexual Revolution. A few radicals have called for the abolition of the family, but most liberals have been more discreet, avoiding hostile rhetoric while quietly but constantly pursuing policies that result in lower birthrates and fatherless children.
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We have been living amidst one of the great revolutions of human history, and we hardly know it: the penetration of the State into every aspect of human life and society. Some people regard this as good and "progressive," others regard it as tyrannical; but either way, it's a fact, a transformation as great as, say, the Industrial Revolution. Absolutely nothing is now beyond the scope of State power.
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The most successful revolutions aren't those that are celebrated with parades and banners, drums and trumpets, cannons and fireworks. The really successful revolutions are those that occur quietly, unnoticed, uncommemorated. We don't celebrate the day the United States Constitution was destroyed; it didn't happen on a specific date, and most Americans still don't realize it happened at all. We don't say the Constitution has ceased to exist; we merely say that it's a 'living document.' But it amounts to the same thing.
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Liberalism is really piecemeal socialism, and socialism always attacks three basic social institutions: religion, the family, and private property. Religion, because it offers a rival authority to the state; the family, because it means a rival loyalty to the state; and property, because it means material independence of the state.
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There has never been a humane communist regime. Marxism is inherently totalitarian. It recognizes no moral limits on the state. It's the most convenient ideology for aspiring tyrants; it also retains its appeal for intellectuals, who have proved equally skillful at rationalizing abuses of power and at exculpating themselves.
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The welfare state is institutionalized crime - 'organized plunder,' as the French economist Frederic Bastiat called it. It systematizes what is intrinsically wrong: forcing some people to support others. The Democrats favor the indefinite expansion of the welfare state, perpetually increasing the ratio of force to freedom in society.
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When your child has matured sufficiently to understand how the judicial system works, set a bedtime for him and then send him to bed an hour early. When he tearfully accuses you of breaking the rules, explain that you made the rules and you can interpret them in any way that seems appropriate to you, according to changing conditions. This will prepare him for the Supreme Court's concept of the US Constitution as a 'living document'.
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In a few more days we will celebrate Xmas, the day we commemorate the birth of you-know-who. ...It seems the modern consensus of enlightened people that his name should be used in polite society only when cursing.... [P]oliticians are often eager to associate themselves personally with you-know-who, even -- and especially -- when they rather flagrantly ignore his injunctions.... He was out of step then, and he is out of step now. He is eternally out of step, and eternally more powerful than those who keep in step. You know who I mean.
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Liberals have a new wish every time their latest wish is granted. Conservatives should make them spell out their principles and ideals. Instead of doing this, conservatives allow liberals to pursue incremental goals without revealing their ultimate destination. So, thanks to the negligence of their opponents, liberals control the terms of every debate by always demanding 'more' while never defining 'enough.' The predictable result is that they always get more, and it's never enough.
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The prevailing notion is that the state should be neutral as to religion, and furthermore, that the best way to be neutral about it is to avoid all mention of it. By this sort of logic, nudism is the best compromise among different styles of dress. The secularist version of 'pluralism' amounts to theological nudism.
People who create things nowadays can expect to be prosecuted by highly moralistic people who are incapable of creating anything. There is no way to measure the chilling effect on innovation that results from the threats of taxation, regulation and prosecution against anything that succeeds. We'll never know how many ideas our government has aborted in the name protecting us.
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The words of Jesus, including those Jefferson and the Jesus Seminar have blue-pencilled, have a unique permanence. They don't merely survive as aphoristic wisdom; they have an authority in our hearts, even when we try to deny them. They command. We can obey or rebel. That is why Jesus is still not only loved but hated - and why those who hate him feel they have to profess to love him.
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What a blessing 'terrorism' is for the state! It's the ideal distraction from the day-to-day reality of the state's chief activity: wringing from its subjects the wealth they produce. Last September (2001) a handful of fanatics, armed only with box-cutters, provided a new rationale for the trillion -dollar swindle. A bonanza! I don't know what these 'terrorists' thought they were achieving: Making the infidel respect Allah? If so, they were wrong. You might as well try to make the U.S. government respect the U.S. Constitution.
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Can the real Constitution be restored? Probably not. Too many Americans depend on government money under programs the Constitution doesn't authorize, and money talks with an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy. Ignorant people don't understand The Federalist Papers, but they understand government checks with their names on them.
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Tax time approaches, and Americans are as always paying H & R Block billions to help them save some of their wealth from their ravenous government. Pitiful, in a way: it underlines the grim but unacknowledged fact that the government is their enemy and they have to hire protection from it. But don't we enjoy 'self-government'? Well, if we have it, I'd hardly say we enjoy it. True, we aren't being taxed by the monarch of Great Britain, but our American-born rulers claim far more of our wealth than the British monarchs ever did.
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Not surprisingly, the federal judiciary nearly always rules in favor of the federal government. Judicial review, contrary to the assurances of its advocates, has hardly restrained Congress at all. Instead it has progressively stripped the states of their traditional powers, while allowing federal power to grow unchecked.
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