Liberty and Tyranny book review
Mark Levin has written the perfect book for anyone to read and understand what Conservatism is about. He does begin by stating that there is simply no scientific or mathematical formula that defines conservatism. From there on he proceeds to write the perfect book. It is 195 pages divided into ten chapters and a must-read epilogue. I encourage everyone to either buy this book or borrow it from the library to read and enlighten yourself. I’m not going to divulge anything here that should be read directly. I just want to give some examples of quotes and responses by Mark Levin to give you a flavor of what you can expect. His response to Jack Kemp about immigration policy and his response to George Will about war policy surprised me with being so prudent and subdued. Those responses reflect his original point that there is simply no scientific or mathematical formula or template that can be drawn up that defines conservatism.
The history he provides in this book shows how we have steadily transitioned America toward statism over the last 80 years. There have only been slight interruptions to this transition with conservatives like Goldwater and Reagan. We Conservatives need to get busy.
Excerpt from FDR’s 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
Mark Levin’s response…
This is tyranny’s disguise. These are not rights. They are the Statist’s false promises of utopianism, which the Statist uses to justify all trespasses on the individual’s private property. Liberty and private property go hand in hand. By dominating one the Statist dominates both, for if the individual cannot keep or dispose of the value he creates by his own intellectual and/or physical labor, he exists to serve the state. The “Second Bill of Rights” and its legal progeny require the individual to surrender control of his fate to the government.
Excerpt from Barry Goldwater’s 1964 speech at the 28th Republican National Convention, accepting the nomination for president.
Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.
While the Conservative, like Adam Smith, does not object to wealthier individuals paying more to finance the legitimate functions of government, the government has grown well beyond the limits placed on it by the Constitution, particularly since the New Deal. Redistributing wealth is a central objective of the progressive income tax, which Marx would endorse and Smith would reject.
Jack Kemp on immigration
We are going to make sure that America is open to legal immigration because that is the wealth and the talent and the entrepreneurial skills for the 21st Century.
Mark Levin’s response…
Of course, if legal immigration emphasized wealth, talent, and entrepreneurial skills, American society would be the better for it. Instead, it emphasizes birthright citizenship, chain migration, and encourages illegal immigration. which have led us to the current state of immigration anarchy.
An exchange between George Will and William F, Buckley in 2005 about the war in Iraq…
Will: But something odd is happening in conservatism. And we have a president and an administration that clearly is conservative, accepted as that, yet it is nation-building in the Middle East. And conservatism seems to be saying government can’t run Amtrak but it can run the Middle East…
Buckley: The ambition of conservatism…properly extends to saying where there are no human rights, it’s not a society I can truly respect. It’s impossible to draw up a template that gives us an orderly sense of “send democracy there,” but let this go for a while. One recognizes that you can’t export democracy everywhere simultaneously.
Mark Levin’s response…
Certainly America cannot export democracy everywhere simultaneously, nor should it attempt to. For one thing it is impractical. There are cultures and regimes that are not receptive to such overtures.
However, there are occasions when democracy building is prudent. The European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan of 1948, had among its purposes the promotion and preservation of democracy through the provision of billions of dollars in economic and military aid to several European nations defeated in World War II. Among other things, it would and did help repel the spread of Soviet communism through what remained of free Europe, which was clearly in America’s interest. The key is that these decisions must never be motivated by utopianism or imperialism but by actual circumstances requiring the defense of America against real threats.
If the war in Iraq is understood as an effort to defeat a hostile regime that threatened both America’s allies and interests in the region, the war and the subsequent attempt at democratic governance in that country can be justified as consistent with founding and conservative principles. The United States and its allies no longer face the prospect of a nuclear Iraq under the control of a megalomaniac.
The Statist speaks not of American sovereignty but “global citizenship.” In this way, America’s interests are subsumed and contained by the supposed interests of the whole. And the rest of the world will look approvingly upon the United States for empowering other countries to participate in decisions about America’s survival.
America’s adversaries and enemies do not consider themselves global citizens. Nor are they constrained by international sensibilities and arrangements. They all reject the Statist’s Utopia as a weakness to be exploited. They are not motivated by world opinion but by their own desires.
So different is America today from its founding principles that it is difficult to precisely describe the nature of American government. It is not strictly a constitutional republic, because the Constitution has been and continues to be easily altered by a judicial oligarchy that mostly enforces, if not expands, the Statist’s agenda. It is not strictly a representative republic, because so many edicts are produced by a maze of administrative departments that are unknown to the public and detached from its sentiment. It is not strictly a federal republic, because the states that gave the central government life now live at its behest. It is a society steadily transitioning toward statism.
Ronald Reagan on freedom
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
US Constitution 21 enumerated powers
Article I, Section. 8.
1. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
2. To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
3. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
4. To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
5. To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
6. To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
7. To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
8. To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
9. To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
10. To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
11. To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
12. To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
13. To provide and maintain a Navy;
14. To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
15. To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
16. To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
17. To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And
18. To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Article IV, Section 3
19. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
20. The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
(Ratified February 3, 1913.)
21. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Constitution’s proponents publicly told the American people what subjects would be within the states’ exclusive jurisdiction – and outside the federal government’s control. They did this in a variety of speeches, newspaper articles, letters, and pamphlets.
Who were these “enumerators?” Most were citizens of very high standing.
They included, among others: Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson (a convention delegate and chief proponent in Pennsylvania), Edmund Pendleton (chancellor of Virginia and chairman of his state’s ratifying convention), James Iredell (North Carolina judge, pro-Constitution floor leader at his state’s ratifying convention and later U.S. Supreme Court Justice), John Marshall (a ratifier and later U.S. Chief Justice); Maryland Congressman Alexander Contee Hanson, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant (a Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court), Alexander White (Virginia lawyer, ratifier, and later U.S. Senator), prominent businessman Tench Coxe, and – of course – James Madison.
Here are some of the powers they solemnly promised would be outside the federal sphere:
1. governance of religion
2. training the militia and appointing militia officers
3. control over local government
4. most crimes
5. state justice systems
6. family affairs
7. real property titles and conveyances
8. wills and inheritance
9. the promotion of useful arts in ways other than granting patents and copyrights
10. control of personal property outside of commerce
11. governance of the law of torts and contracts, except in suits between citizens of different states
13. services for the poor and unfortunate
14. licensing of taverns
15. roads other than post roads
16. ferries and bridges
17. regulation of fisheries, farms, and other business enterprises.