The Seeds of the Constitution

From the Lake Jackson 9/12’ers Constitutional Studies forum

By Lew Bean

I can easily compare our Constitution to a great oak tree common to our area on the Texas gulf coast. These immense and beautiful trees can live more than a millinea when sprouted in the proper soil and right conditions. The seeds to this tree, our Constitution – the Tree of Freedom, were not necessarily original in concept, but untried in its entirety, and never planted in the proper climate or soil. The seeds, or ideas, had been attempted for brief periods in history. Most notable were the Golden Age of Athens, the original Republic of Rome, and the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Europe. They were short-lived prosperous eras, but also incomplete as there were things missing for the ideas to achieve their fullness. Interferences from conquering neighbor nations, ambitious rulers, or religious zeal prevented these seeds from taking root. The Laws of Moses, Athenian Democracy, Roman Common Law, and Magna Carta are evidence that these ideas were present, but just awaiting the proper time and place.
The failing formulas of Jamestown and Plymouth were replaced with a successful formula, bringing a new concept to the tree that had previously been missing. This was the free market. For one of the first times in history a man was allowed to own land and property and then trade or sell the fruits of his labor and might achieve prosperity. True the colonies of 1610-1700 were still British subjects and subservient to a king; however, they were far removed and were able to advance outside of more restrictive auspices. In truth, they were of a rebellious sort in the first place as many of the original colonists were religious or social outcasts. In fact, one of the earliest great migrations to the New World did not come voluntarily, but were Scottish and Irish prisoners of war from the English Civil War (1641-1651). These were not happy and loyal subjects. It was also in this period that one of the biggest advances to individual freedom came to them – the English Bill of Rights (1689).
One of the interesting differences between the English citizens in America and those in the British Isles was that the colonists often referred to themselves as “freemen.” For about 150 years the home country kept a laisse faire attitude towards the actual activities in the North American colonies, as long as the home country was enjoying the wealth of the New World.
The seeds of liberty had found the proper climate and soil, but were lacking in just a couple of things – the motivation and willingness to plant them. With the coming of the French-Indian War and, subsequently, King George III these would come.

Tax Day Rally set for Lake Jackson

 

The following was a press release for 4/15/2010 Tea Party

By Katlynn Lanham
The Facts
 

Published April 12, 2010

LAKE JACKSON — Though still called a Tax Day Rally, this week’s grass-roots gathering is about the U.S. Constitution, organizers said.

“It will let everyone concerned about the Constitution realize we have a voice,” said Ed Douglas, a member of the Lake Jackson “We Surround Them” group.

The Tax Day Rally will be at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lake Jackson Civic Center Plaza, 333 Highway 332 E. Organizers expect it to last two hours, said Lew Bean, an organizer for the event.

The theme of the rally is “being informed and involved in government decisions,” he said. The rally will concentrate on knowing the Constitution and encouraging citizens to stay active, he said.

“The economic stability and alarming expansion of our government size and power is of great concern,” Bean said.

“Any power we give a ruling government takes from our own individual rights, freedoms and choices. Basic knowledge of our country’s history, Constitution and principles of government teach us that issues of budget and government authority start in Congress, not the president’s office.”

The focus of the event is not anti-President Barack Obama, he said.

Instead, it’s important for all people to come together regardless of the political party or group they belong to, Douglas said.

The public is welcome and signs are permitted, Bean said. Vulgar, racist, sexist or signs of general bad taste will not be allowed, he said.

The Lake Jackson We Surround Them group is also know as the Lake Jackson 9/12ers and is affiliated with the Tea Party movement, Bean said. The 9/12 project was inspired by the nine principles and 12 values Glenn Beck presented on his television program and radio show.

Last year’s Tax Day Rally included hundreds of people protesting increased taxes as did their Independence Day Rally.

For information, e-mail Bean at lew912project(at)yahoo.com. More information is available at http://www.meetup.com/the-lake-jackson-we-surround-them-group.

Tea Parties: Maligned and Manipulated

   

by Lew Bean. Published April 11, 2010 in The Facts, Brazosport Area, Texas

Outside of those who can truly be objectionable, the Tea Party movement is a much-misrepresented issue of the day. Conservative activists experience pressure and criticism from both the left and right political spectrums.

Of greatest concern is a direct verbal attack on citizens exercising their First Amendment rights by prominent elected officials. Most notable are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., using terms like un-American, Nazi-like, racist, violent, disturbing, etc. to describe those involved in Tea Party or 9-12 groups.

President Barack Obama often and publicly has scoffed at the Tea Party movement, calling it ridiculous and misinformed.

I recall in my youth negative comments made by public officials against those protesting segregation and the Vietnam War. History proved many of them as “misinformed.”

Many Tea Parties and 9-12 groups are experiencing manipulations from right-wing elements as well. The Republican Party, using high-profile figures like Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich and Michael Steele, are wooing them to support the GOP. Some Ron Paul supporters, through the Campaign for Liberty, attempt to maneuver the movement to support certain candidates.

Gun rights activists, Christian coalitions and militia groups want new laws or amendments supporting their own agendas and want to bring Tea Partiers into their ranks.

But, Tea Party demographics and philosophy encompass Democrats, Republicans, libertarians and independents. Most are not looking to be a new political party. Not all are Christian, but do have faith in their Creator. Some are pro-life, some are pro-choice. They do not focus solely on specific issues. They understand citizens will have differing opinions on certain issues. Many Tea Partiers are members of other groups and rightfully advocate as they wish. It is common for Tea Party activists to support different candidates.

What binds them together despite their differences? Constitutional conservatism. This is not right-wing politics, but ideology referred to as the “balanced center” — the balance between anarchy and tyranny. In the balanced center, one gives very limited power to government, retaining most power in the community, family and individual. The American conservative believes in individual responsibility and freedom. Responsible for their own lives — both successes and failures — and the freedom to pursue happiness without government restraints.

The commonalities of the Tea Party and 9-12 groups are what our founding fathers called common sense. A small government with limited powers, moral and ethical representatives who believe in public service — not political careers, a free market, fiscal responsibility, low and uniform taxation among all citizens and protection of the inalienable and natural rights as written in the Constitution of the United States.

Concerning Virtue

Concerning Virtue

 20 September 2009

            When we look at the principles of our founding fathers, shown in their own actions and words, we see individuals expressing ideas and ideals of virtue and morality. Payne, Washington, and Adams constantly spoke of these traits. Benjamin Franklin went as far to say,

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom…”

Apparently virtue was quite important to our forefathers and framers of the republic. But it was not just in the leaders of the revolutionary era, it was reciprocated by a citizenry that was becoming active in their communities and their future. Living in a time of prosperity and struggle, an age of promise and doubt, and a generation of mixed loyalties and self-preservation, folks who would have been mere subjects, hardly more than poor laborers if they still resided in the motherland, were faced with the choice of subservience or self-reliance.

Self-reliance requires virtue, but, more so, self-reliance is a virtue.

Imagine crossing over that threshold from adolescence to adulthood, when we chose to leave that dependent nest of security to face the world on our own. To do such required knowledge, the ability to act in the face of fear, and much self-reliance.  We might fail, but we were going to try.

To prosper we needed virtue. Without such we could not govern ourselves. Franklin’s quote above continues with, “…As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

In these days and times virtue should be one of the important areas we look at in ourselves. Some paramount virtues are honesty, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance. Most of us have these traits in us, but feel we are living in an era lacking virtue. We are not saints, but we are not corrupt and vicious. Well, if we have virtue and our neighbor has virtue and we teach our children these things, then most of us are a virtuous people.

We have the foundation necessary for us to maintain our republic, a nation of laws and self-governance. So, where is the corruption and viciousness? Where is the lack of virtue hindering our prosperity and intruding upon our freedoms?

It is true that there is a minority of citizens who do not strive to be self-reliant and better themselves in virtuous ways, but we should look most keenly at those who we rely upon to represent our values and principles and maintain our freedoms.

The Third Principle in Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leap states, “The most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally stable People is to elect virtuous leaders.” If the majority of us are virtuous, then we should consider what we can change to secure our republic. Some people we cannot change. Leaders we can.

Today’s political atmosphere is reeking of charges of corruption and greed – in people that would do fraud against their neighbors, in charges of corporate greed, and in the actions of our elected and appointed officials. Most citizens are law-abiding honest folk; it is a minority that would act dishonestly. In the corporate world the dishonest businessman is again a small minority among the tens of thousands of employers and workers that do their labors and dealings with integrity.

Yet, it is in our government that we seem to find corruption and greed almost commonplace. Just among Governors and elected officials at the federal level can one readily recall in the last five years how many persons have been involved in valid corruption or infidelity scandals? How many allegations of insider real estate deals, special interest donations, suspicious gifts, trading legislation for favors?

Recently I sat down with a state legislator and had a nice discussion. This official is generally considered conservative and favorable and a very nice person; however, when I inquired about his campaign donations and why so much came from PACs and corporate business (many outside the constituency) his response was, “Don’t worry about that. That’s the way the game is played.”

I must tell these officials, IT IS NOT A GAME.

Forget the current catch term of ‘accountability.’ We must begin to demand VIRTUE in our elected officials. Honesty. Integrity. Responsibility. Politics may be a game, but the constitutional governing of our nation is not. We need virtuous public servants – not political players.

I want to ask, where are the Eliott Ness’es? Where are the Untouchables? Where are those that believe in service above salary? The constitution above all else?

Ron Paul recently said politics is all about appropriations.

Ladies and gentlemen, please take a look at our budget, our deficit, our debt and think about that statement. If it’s all about money then we have a legislative body that’s all about money.

We may need an entire new legislative body with different values – the first being virtue.

God bless Texas – God bless America!

Lew Bean

Lake Jackson, Texas

lew912project@yahoo.com

Concerning Charity

  Concerning Charity

 04 September 2009

             One of my latest discussions of current events was with a sibling concerning the need for health-care reform. She truly believes that government run health care is a necessity as there are so many people who cannot afford health care and used as an example an impoverished time in her own life when the free medical care offered in Canada helped her so much. When I expressed my opposition she asked me, “Aren’t you a Christian?” I was intrigued that she felt this was a point of argument. I have heard or read similar points, usually in some description of how Jesus went out and healed the sick without compensation, so apparently helping the sick is the “Christian” thing to do and, therefore, we should willingly support the government in providing health care to all.

            I could not hear name all the fallacies or contradictions in this argument, but the most glaring is Appeal to Emotion. Its formula is ‘I approve of X; therefore X is true’ or, “I believe in helping the sick and needy; therefore, the government providing health care to all is the right thing to do.” Appeal to emotion is one of the most common and effective fallacies used among us. Politicians and advertisers use it freely. But, we should recognize it for what it is. Appeal to emotion is a great way to make a motivational speech, but it is a fallacy in an argument needing facts and figures.

            Can or should Charity be legislated? That is one of the areas where the argument of health care should be placed, as well as many other entitlement or financial assistance programs that have more and more over the last century become not charitable assistance, but granted welfare-style government programs. This is apart from the financial, the special interests, or other arguments of this issue. And it can be argued effectively on both sides. This side will point to the writings and the intent of those who wrote the Constitution.

            It is common for us to hear that the Constitution states the government will provide for the general welfare of the people. I always thought that was correct, until a study of the nation’s founding contract with the people revealed in the preamble the actual wording was, “…Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,”. There is a distinct difference in the words provide and promote. The government must provide a military to defend the safety and property of its citizens. That is its responsibility. It must promote the general welfare, meaning encourage its citizens to seek health and prosperity and assist others in time of need, but does not allow for action in providing any type of charity or welfare through legislation.

            Citing Cleon Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leapthe intent of the founders was “Strictly enforce the scale of ‘fixed responsibility.’ The first and foremost level of responsibility is with the individual himself; the second level is the family; then the church, next the community; finally the county, and, in a disaster or emergency, the state. Under no circumstances is the federal government to become involved in public welfare. The Founders felt it would corrupt the government and also the poor. No Constitutional authority exists for the federal government to participate in charity or welfare.”

            Is this heartless and “un-Christian?” Only if one feels that the concept of ‘Justice is Blind’ is heartless and un-Christian as well. Americans as both individuals and a nation has proven itself the most charitable and helpful nation to the world over the last two centuries. As long as America considers itself as a virtuous and moral nation such will continue, but when the ‘responsibility’ is delegated by law to the federal government, bypassing the levels and charitable generosity of individual, family, community and others it is no longer charity. It is law, and unconstitutional law at that.

            Many opponents of this argument use a certain article (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18) in the Constitution to justify any action or law that congress passes. This reads, “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.” It is known as the Elastic Clause, rationalizing any expansion of government power with the blessing of the Supreme Court. For almost our entire history this clause has been argued, even by Hamilton and Madison in The Federalist Papers. Both these patriots argued that the clause referred only to those “particular” delegated powers as designated in Article 1. As stated in Article 10, individuals and States retained all other powers.

            Perhaps the best argument I have found for government legislated charity and welfare came from the heroic figure of Davy Crockett while a congressman, concerning whether an appropriations bill should be passed providing for welfare relief of the widow of a naval officer:

“. . . We must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”

            Yes, this argument does question the constitutionality of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal welfare and entitlement programs. Government regulated and provided health care would be just another one. However, for constitutionalists, one might understand that no matter how charitable, or noble, or Christian a cause there are areas that should have been off-limits for legislation. In hindsight we can see that Social Security, a noble gesture for the elderly, has now become a costly legacy. The cost of health insurance and health care is largely based upon the outlays of Medicare and Medicaid payments and not to the open free market. The cost of welfare and housing subsidies is mostly perpetual and not temporary relief.

            Remembering that my sister thought I was un-Christian for opposing government run health care, I think of the likes of Franklin and Washington, among others, who considered debt a “sin” and the passing on to posterity debts of the previous generation ‘immoral.’ Am I in a dilemma? No. I do recall that Jesus gave of himself and upon his own responsibility did he help the needy and encouraged those who believed in him to follow his example. He did not go to the local Roman governor and pass on the responsibility to the Romans to tend to the sick and feed the needy.

God bless Texas – God bless America!

Lew Bean

Lake Jackson, Texas

lew912project@yahoo.com

Concerning Awareness and Walter Cronkite

Concerning Awareness and Walter Cronkite:  

July 2009

I begin writing this soon after the breaking news that Walter Cronkite      had just passed away at age 92. Why is that significant? When I think about my becoming aware – when I started listening to things going on outside of my secure home and family – I think about listening to the man on the evening news who said we were at war.  It was he that reported to me the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. He told me about Vietnam, the 1968 Chicago Convention, and the lunar landings.  His voice made me aware that it was not a Leave it to Beaver America, which, ironically, I think was re-ran just before CBS News came on. There were conflicting opinions and controversies in the Home of the Brave. He made me aware of these.

I am considered the last of the Baby Boomers. Though too young for Vietnam I recall the days of protests, draft card burnings, and seeing the campus of Kent State. A few years later I remember watching the Watergate hearings in the classroom and I know where I was when Cronkite announced that President Nixon had resigned.

I volunteered for the Army and became more aware of the differences of opinions and beliefs in our nation, helped by Cronkite. President Carter was my commander in the beginning and President Reagan when I left. I was young and went on to college still considering myself a free-thinking radical.

Except my years overseas when I had only one choice, the Armed Forces Korea Network, I still watched Walter Cronkite until he was replaced by Dan Rather. It wasn’t that Cronkite was so much better than the others. He just seemed genuine. For some nostalgic reason I considered those 30 minutes in the evening as almost a civic responsibility. It mattered not if I was conservative or liberal, long hair or short, or who I was voting for. It was a good habit to stay informed regardless of my own leanings. I don’t recall ever having to change the channel on Cronkite because I didn’t like how he was reporting the news. I also don’t recall having to check Mr. Cronkite’s sources. And I would never question the color of his tie or whether he wore a sweater. How times so quickly changed once the news decided to compete, rather than report.

I actually liked Dan Rather. He seemed a comfortable choice to replace the Most Trusted Man in America and Rather had spent nearly two decades as his protégé. In many ways I consider Rather as the last of the true TV journalists, reporting the news without trying to be the news. But, with the coming of cable and premium channels in the 80’s such as CNN and HBO, our daily news program was forever changed. Dan Rather was the man in the chair during those changes and, just like a national leader, the changes occurred on his watch.

So much has occurred since Cronkite stepped down. Of global import have been the Berlin Wall, Middle-east wars, NAFTA, Bosnia and Somalia, and 9-11 attacks. Perhaps one of the most important national issues has been the polarization of America into red and blue states in the last decade. The news sources of today have had much to do with that. Domestically I have had to learn to look at the world through the eyes of a husband, father, co-worker, and citizen of my community, not as the long-haired radical of my youth.

In this, the Information Age, there is no room for Walter Cronkite. Today the news it not the news.  Cronkite would have been replaced. The news has become debating self-righteous opinions from Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, or more choice of voices now than filled the entire CBS news bureau throughout the Vietnam War. They are no longer newsmen – they are commentators and entertainers and consultants and experts and the most recently published authors. The news is a competition for ratings; ergo, money. The tactics used are akin to the same ratings battles that the major networks use to advertise their prime-time sitcoms. Clippings, sound-bites, music, and provocative dialogue. Facts are overshadowed by opinions. Facts do not sell as well as op-eds and dirty laundry. Taking a cue from Jerry Springer it was discovered that a feisty on-air argument really sells.

Here it is 3 weeks after the event and I still see Michael Jackson as the dominate topic on some of the major news networks. By year’s end we will see if Michael Jackson beats the ratings of the Anna Nicole or OJ Simpson events. I’ll be surprised if the death of the original news anchor will be of note within 48 hours. We’ll mention Cronkite in a few memoriam for a short while and then move on to the latest buzz on American Idol.

The difference? While some celebrities provoked our curiosity, Cronkite actually affected our lives. He helped me be aware.

We no longer watch the news as fact. We now choose it like our entertainment. While growing up some of us had rock n’ roll on their radio, others had country, classic, big band, or disco. If we don’t like what’s on then we changed the channel.

News channels are now divided into left-wing and right-wing slants. Anchors must entertain more than report. All channels must have reporters that look like the guy modeling Van Huesen shirts and the girl on the Price is Right. And, regardless of the import of today’s trillion-dollar-bill on the floor of the Senate, we must break-away for the live high-speed chase going on in Dallas, Texas.

Luckily, in this Information Age, we do have the tools to investigate the “investigators”, if we are willing to. For those of us who wish to remain aware it is necessary. We have to be our own Walter Cronkite, for it was he that was instrumental in teaching us to hear the facts, and then be willing to question our world.

No, there is no room for Cronkite in today’s news and, hopefully, I envision that he would not wish to be party to it. God bless you and thank you, Walter, for making me aware. I am much the better for your service.

“And that’s the way it is.”

God Bless Texas – God Bless America!

Lew Bean

Lake Jackson, TX

lew912project@yahoo.com

Concerning Hard Work

Concerning Hard Work

03 September 2009

             The original colonies of Jamestown and Plymouth were initially failures, both for similar reasons and both were resolved in similar fashion. The writings of William Bradford in Massachusetts, the Mayflower Compact, and other history reveal that the colony started as a secular commune, property was owned by the community and all should work for the community and share equally. It failed. Production was low, disputes arose over who was carrying their load and who deserved more of the share, and after two years the group was starving and contemplating a return to England.

            Governor Bradford, taking a new – and radical for its time – approach took the land the colonists had claimed since their landing and divided it among the citizens. Property was given according to the size of the family and each family unit was, in so many words, left to fend for themselves. They could keep what they produced and sell or trade what they wished, setting aside a small tithe for church and government. For one of the first times in history a citizen, they called themselves freeman, was able to own their own property and retain the fruits of their labor.

            Could this new idea work? In the words of Governor Bradford:

 “And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of the number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

Jamestown was a failure for its first several years. It was not until land was parceled out to the colonists and trade was freely allowed that the community began to prosper. Investors saw the potential wealth available in Virginia, but realized it could only be obtained if the settlers were able to make profit from the fruits of their labors.

Two concepts were emerging in the New World: the owning of property and free trade. Where applied the results were kindling a spirit which would eventually lead to a New Nation, free from tyranny, from masters who considered them subjects and not as the freemen they had been living as. A nation based upon the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This later is oftimes defined as the right to own property.

So, what has this to do with the Value of Hard Work?

I recently was in discussion with an individual about organized labor. My only real experience with unions was not a good one – I was a supervisor with an agency in the State of Texas and had several subordinates who were members of AFSME. The acquaintance I was in discussion with had in his past been a union representative for mechanics. In a healthy debate he took the stance of the good that unions do in today’s age and I took the opposing view. In the role of me as a business manager he outlined how he would negotiate a new union contract with me.

We were in agreement in that unions can be effective and helpful in the areas of a fair wage, balanced work week, safe working conditions, reasonable benefits, and fair treatment. This was a role that unions played and brought about in the first half of the last century. However, most issues of the unions of that period are now part of federal labor laws. The main issues of the unions of today tend to be in increasingly higher wages, more benefits, detailed job descriptions, and excessive bureaucratic demands for the documentation of reprimands and/or dismissal. We disagreed greatly, but out of this discussion there was one point that lingered in my mind within all our points and counterpoints.

It was in the area of job descriptions and setting standards, such as quotas of production, for a union employee to maintain their position that stuck with me. I was wondering how and who set those minimum standards. Apparently it was negotiated between management and union until a compromise was set.

One cannot use the bell curve formula for setting acceptable standards as 50% would be substandard and therefore half the employees would fall in the sub-standard performance area and, therefore, disposable. No, the standard must be set closer to the lowest possible acceptable production level. If the average worker makes 50 widgets a day, the best workers make 80 widgets and the worse workers make 20, where would the standard be set? Probably around 25 widgets. This in an environment where the average person was capable of 50, but management concedes to 25. Would production remain at the average or go down after this concession in an environment where, outside of tenure, everyone must be paid, treated, and rewarded equally and only accountable to those specific and documented areas of responsibility? It is an environment practically begging for mediocrity.

I have visions of Orwell, Vonnegut, and Rand. The socialistic desire that everyone be treated equal regardless of productivity. And this reminded me of the origins of Jamestown and Plymouth.

Referencing the book, “The 5,000 Year Leap” the founders had, in the framing of the Constitution, used the principle, “The highest level of prosperity occurs when there is a free-market economy and a minimum of government regulations.” Four freedoms are stressed with this principle:

1)      The Freedom to Try.

2)      The Freedom to Buy.

3)      The Freedom to Sell.

4)      The Freedom to Fail.

         Regulations by government and union demands that do nothing to encourage the rewards of hard work and integrity, but allow for mediocrity in the workplace hinder a prosperous economy. Hard work is an ethic and a value. Ethics and morality are something that history shows cannot be legislated by congress, nor documented in union contracts. To allow man a chance in the Pursuit of Happiness is an unalienable right.

God Bless Texas – God bless America!

Lew Bean

Lake Jackson, Texas

lew912project@yahoo.com