Thursday, October 1, 2015

What We Conserve

There’s a question I’d like to ask candidates—presidential candidates have our attention now, but it’s a question for anyone who asks to be allowed to lead us. I’d like to ask: Are you conservative—and, if so, what is it you want to conserve?

Any typical conservative is likely to say, “Yes, I’m conservative.” They may even believe they’re conservative. So what we need is how they define it.

The GOP Presidential Candidates, including
Perry and Walker, who have withdrawn from the race
Image found here

In the Spherical Model, what we want to conserve—or, in large part, to restore—is freedom, prosperity, and civilization. Let’s look at the specifics of what is conserved in each of these spheres.
Political Sphere

We want to conserve our freedom to live our lives, free from oppression. Government serves that purpose only if it is limited to the specific tasks the people ask of it. Otherwise government becomes the oppressor.

Our founding documents give us some specifics. The Declaration of Independence summarizes freedom this way:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
So our life is protected, our freedom from coercion or slavery is protected, and our choice to pursue a livelihood or live our lives as we see fit. This last includes our right to own property and protect it.
The Constitution outlines a government that would offer these protections. The Preamble lists this limited government’s purpose:

We the People of the United States,
·         in Order to form a more perfect Union,
·         establish Justice,
·         insure domestic Tranquility,
·         provide for the common defence,
·         promote the general Welfare,
·         and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The body of the Constitution spells out how a government can go about these limited duties. But the founders believed it was necessary to spell out some of the God-given rights in the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments, in case there came a time when they weren’t quite so self-evident. Here are a few of the rights government is particularly denied the ability to abridge, because in their experience other countries regularly denied these rights:

·         Right of freedom of religion
·         Right of free speech
·         Right to peaceably assemble
·         Right to petition government from redress (sue the government)
·         Right to bear arms
·         Right to freedom from coercion to quarter soldiers
·         Right to freedom from illegal searches and seizures
·         Right to refuse to incriminate oneself, and to be free from double jeopardy
·         Right to life, liberty, and property except following due process of law
·         Right to just compensation for private property taken for public use
·         Right to a speedy, public trial by impartial jury
·         Right to freedom from excessive bail or cruel and unusual punishment
·         Rights enumerated to government are still retained by the people
·         Rights not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the people

If we’re going to conserve our liberties, that means government does nothing to infringe on our God-given rights. So government has no business involving itself in what we believe or what we say, with the specific exceptions of when something we do infringes on the God-given rights of others. What we need is to conserve our Constitution, in its real form, not some penumbras invented by unelected judges.

When these government powers are translated into current issues, the government should be seeing to the strength of our sovereignty, the security of our borders, the limitation of immigration to those who will contribute to our society and adopt our beliefs in freedom. Our military should be strong, to protect us and our interests, in a world in which enemies would rejoice in our ruination, and would gladly use nuclear weaponry and terrorism for our destruction.

If you’re listening to candidates, see if they have a commitment to conserving/restoring our Constitution, and can enumerate some of these limited duties of the proper role of government.
Economic Sphere

There’s a simple way to prosperity: those who earn wealth get to decide how to spend it.

Government doesn’t have much business being involved in the economy, except to protect our property. Government duties do require some money. For the first century and a half, that didn’t require any income tax. At first, doing all government needed to do took $20 per person (modern dollars). And during war time, only a few hundred a year. If the federal government did only what it is granted enumerated powers to do, a flat rate of 10% would probably be far beyond adequate.

Every dollar government spends is a societal expense. Government can’t spend more money to help the economy. When we have downturns in the economy, and everyone says government has to do something—that something should be to get out of the way and let the recovery happen.

The budget should primarily consist of military budget and FBI and other federal law enforcement. Infrastructure is arguably a federal duty, so there could be some budget for roads, dams, bridges, etc. Government offices and staffing could be much much smaller than current levels. And, after my recent visit to Washington, DC, I’m not against maintaining our national monuments and museums.

Charity isn’t a duty of government; charity isn’t even possible by government. Government charity is better labeled coercive taking of income from some to give to others—or theft. Charity includes various helps for the poor: welfare food and housing, health care, student grants, social security, and more.

Conservatives don’t mean for these helps to be eliminated. But in a civilized society, those in need receive help mainly locally, by those in contact with them, such as churches and local nonprofits, from those who freely give. Charity means love; it is entirely unrelated to forced income redistribution. If there is one thing conservatives need to speak more clearly on, it is this better way to help those in need. Our way is better for giver and receiver, and leads to greater prosperity, rather than more poverty at the cost of lost freedom.

So, a conservative not only wants small, limited government, but limits spending to the proper role of government, leaving the largest portion of income to the people who earn it.

This conservative approach to the economy is the engine behind thriving prosperity and unlimited innovation. A conservative gets out of the way of a productive people, and does nothing more than protect the people’s wealth and their freedom to pursue their work.
Social Sphere—Civilization

Elected officials have power mainly over the political and economic spheres, but there is also important work they can do in the social sphere—if they understand what civilization requires, and they live those principles in their own life.

Civilization requires a people accountable to God. Such people value family, innocent human life, property rights, and truth. Such people respect one another and generally live together in peace despite differences in belief and culture.

It’s possible to live in a civilized society without believing in God, as long as a person values the same things as the typical religious person. But civilization (my definition) can’t grow and thrive without a critical mass that sees the source of our rights as God, and sees our obligation to live God’s laws. It’s great if non-believing individuals choose to live good, civilized lives. But depending on their gut feeling as to what is right is precarious at best. The authority has to be something bigger than the changeable individual. It has to be the arbiter of Ultimate Good. God is the only source for that.

So, it’s possible, at some levels, for civilized but unbelieving persons to be electable. But at the national level, electing such a person is a bad idea. Electing someone based on their particular religious affiliation or claim to religiosity is also unwise. What we need to see is a person who turns to God for direction, daily and regularly, and knows what inspiration looks like when finding answers to serious questions. And we need a person whose life shows us their consistency in valuing family, life, property, and truth. We need a person with integrity.

A religious person missing other ingredients is better than a nonreligious person missing the other things. But it’s better to have a religious person who understands how religious values lead to Constitutional principles and economic freedom.

A civilized religious person knows government should not be interfering with fit parents’ decisions about the care, education, and upbringing of their children. Such a person would value adoption for children born to unwed parents—exclusively placing those children in the homes of married mother and father, because every child is entitled to a married mother and father. Such a person sees no role for the federal government in education beyond providing a resource for new and proven ideas, and providing government documentation for history. Even state and local officials must recognize the parents’ supreme role in decisions about their child.

Family is formed when a man and woman are lawfully married, with a permanent covenant, so that children that come because of the union are raised by their parents. There is nothing better economically and socially, in the aggregate, for children. A good leader recognizes this basic truth, and doesn’t yield to media, propaganda, and pressure from the savage end of society.

A conservative leader recognizes that religion is not just a tolerated quirk of some minority of the population; religion is an essential institution helping us understand what our rights are, and what our obligations to one another are. The question about forcing Little Sisters of the Poor, or Hobby Lobby, or bakers, florists, and photographers to act against their conscience would disappear, if our leaders appreciated the religious view of family, life, property, and truth.

A conservative leader lives a life that shows commitment to family. Such a leader would have no sexual scandals coming up from the near or distant past. Such leaders would be so consistent that all those who know him/her would stand up to defend against such an accusation, because they would know such an accusation is inconceivable.

A conservative leader gives charitably, privately. He/she tithes (ten percent of income) plus more, regardless of income level.

A conservative leader is honest and consistent, so that his word is his bond, and everybody knows it. He doesn’t make behind-the-scenes deals in darkness. He doesn’t engage in crony capitalism, either receiving “bribes” or offering them. He’s not beholden to donors; anyone who would donate to him does it with the clear knowledge that as an elected official he will vote based on principle.

So, the answer to what we conserve ought to include clear evidence of understanding of the Constitution and its purpose, strong commitment to the free market and property rights, and strong personal religious practice that values family and marriage, innocent life, and truth. And the answer must come naturally, as part of the basic vocabulary, because the person is a natural conservator of freedom, prosperity, and civilization.

It’s a high bar. No presidential Democrat candidate meets it. Several Republican candidates fail. I’m looking at the others, and praying for the best we can possibly get. Because that is who we need more than ever.

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