Category Archives: The United States Constitution

Is Health Care a Right?

If you’re a limited-government advocate, you’re almost guaranteed to be a detractor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) colloquially known as Obamacare. The AHCA from the GOP designed to replace the ACA, has recently been passed by the House, but is largely believed to not have a chance in the Senate.

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

If you’re old enough to recall the Clinton presidency, you may remember that Hillary Clinton was appointed by her husband Bill to the “Task Force on National Health Care Reform.” Her mission was to improve the state of health care in the United States, and her suggestion was a single-payer system similar to what many nations in Europe and Canada use.

This single-payer system was originally supported by President Obama as well, prior to becoming president. But the political climate in America is still one of limited government more often than not, so the ACA was a compromise Obama was willing to make to achieve his goal of every American having “basic access to health care.”

The bill being one of the larger in American history had a lot to it, and as such, had a lot of things people from many places on the political spectrum took issue with.

The extreme of the left, like self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders argued for a universal plan, not a privatized option like the Affordable Care act. So in their estimation, the plan didn’t nearly go far enough.

Those on the right, felt the mandate requiring people to buy insurance was counter to American values, and challenged that, as well as several other facets, in the Supreme Court, ultimately losing their fight after Chief Justice John Roberts arguably rewrote the law to allow it to survive instead of casting the deciding vote to strike it down.

Supreme Court of the United States Chief Justice John Roberts

Many libertarians like myself, are left wondering why government should be involved in health care in the first place. I think our position is pretty consistent and straight forward, although I always cringe at the idea of speaking for other people. But I will try to state the libertarian position as I’ve consistently observed it.

Health Care is not a Right

The argument from those pushing for government-funded health care is the idea that it’s a right—some going so far as to say it’s an extension of your right to life. But let’s break that down for a second, as it depends on how you define rights in general.

The Constitution doesn’t mention health care, so there’s no honest metric one could use to say it’s a Constitutional right. However, most argue that it’s a basic human right.

The United States Constitution

If we compare health care to other well-understood basic human rights, it becomes fairly easy to understand how healthcare is different. Religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom in general, life, air, etc., these things all have one thing in common. They do not require any action from another person.

Rights by definition, should not involve the action of another person, because otherwise, your right to have their labor or goods trumps their right to keep their labor or goods—therefore one person ends up having more rights than another.

Healthcare requires goods produced by the pharmaceutical industry and medical equipment from manufacturing companies, as well as the efforts of a medical practitioner like a doctor or nurse, it isn’t just something that exists in the ether for all to consume.

If we force those people to do such work through laws like EMTALA, which require emergency rooms to treat people, regardless of their ability to pay, this arguably violates the 13th amendment which states:13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Making a doctor save someone’s life versus giving them the option, even if they get paid to do so, is both immoral and potentially unconstitutional.

A quick internet search yielded no instance where SCOTUS has granted certiorari (agreed to hear) any petition challenging EMTALA, although the 11th Circuit upheld the law in BAKER COUNTY MEDICAL SERVICES INC v. ATTORNEY GENERAL, August 2014, The challenge there was not against the 13th amendment, it was against the 5th, which reads as follows. (The bold portion was what the challenge argued against.)

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The reason the law was upheld, is because the law only applies to hospitals which voluntarily work with Medicare. So the court ruled that their participation was voluntary, while the plaintiffs argued not taking Medicare is an undue financial burden, and therefore not really a choice. (Almost all hospitals accept medicare, because they’d have a hard time making a profit if they rejected all those who are on it). Government often gets so involved, that they create the problem by virtue of their intrusiveness in the marketplace.

The Supreme Court Of The United States

Moving past EMTALA, if we assume that the doctors help someone voluntarily, and expect to get paid by government, then the second issue arises that the taxpayer and/or fellow healthcare consumers, end up footing the bill.

What logical argument can one make to indicate that person A is responsible for person B? While it’s certainly altruistic in its intent, and I understand the idea that if we all band together to help those in need, society is potentially better off because of it; that’s still a moral judgement you’re making that others may not share with you.

There’s also a rather large hypocrisy in play for these beliefs. Speaking to a doctor who promotes a single-payer system, my argument was that at some point, that doctor expects to retire. While my taxes help pay for health care, my dollars don’t cure anyone. My dollars pay a doctor who then cures someone.

So if a doctor chooses to take a day off, or retire, they have opted to not help someone who could have used help. If I were to tell those doctors that now the government gets to dictate how many hours they work, and what time they may take off, they’d be apoplectic. Yet I do not get to choose how much of my paycheck funds the health care of another.

Much like mass and energy are interchangeable because one can be transformed into the other, so are labor and money for the same reason. Forcing someone to give up their money to pay for services they’re not receiving is no more moral than forcing them into servitude for the same purpose.

As much as it may seem heartless not to do it, you cannot divorce that fact from the equation.

This brings me to the “are you just going to let them die” argument, that is often bandied about as justification for forced medical care.

The number of visits to a doctor that are life threatening vs just quality of life issues are very small. Even Emergency Room visits, according to one government study puts the number of visits that could have been treated by a normal doctor or Urgent Care facility vs the emergency room at somewhere between 13.7 and 27.1%. That doesn’t include all the times people just went to their doctor, or an Urgent Care facility. So it is more than fair to assume that less that 10%, maybe even less than 1% of all medical care required is non-life-threatening.

If that’s true, then most of the time care may be refused, it is not about letting someone die at all.

But also, if we go back to labor and money are interchangeable, arguing that myself or anyone else is “just letting someone die” assumes that we owe them their life. Which again means that the government would get to decide when a doctor may retire or otherwise not work.

Waiting in Emergency department

While it’s easy for those of us who aren’t medical doctors to sit at home, and say “someone should help those people” (referring to those who can’t afford to pay for health care), the fact is that any government requirement for them to be helped requires violating the actual enumerated constitutional rights and largely accepted human rights of a number of people, in order to preserve a non-enumerated right of one person.

If you want to help people, you should volunteer to help. Go to school to learn medicine, and do the good deeds you want done. But the moment it becomes compulsory for you or anyone else, it is no longer moral.

With the number of charities that were doing great work to help the less fortunate before laws like this were passed, the idea that such people didn’t get help, is misguided. While there were some people who did not receive care, there were a good number who did. But more importantly to libertarians like me, liberty remained in tact, and not one right was violated.

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Justice Sotomayor: The Libertarian?

In December 2014, The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Heien v. North Carolina. You can click on the link to read the entirety of the case if interested, but I’ll give you fairly brief synopsis here.

In 2010, a man named Maynor Vasquez was pulled over by police for having one of his two brake lights inoperative. Police observed his friend, Nicholas Heien sleeping in the back seat of the car. Thinking this behavior seemed a little odd, police fairly asked if they could search the car, and were given permission to do so.

Official Portrait of United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Click for Biography
Official Portrait of United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Click for Biography

Upon the search, they discovered 54 grams of cocaine in the vehicle, then arrested and convicted Heien of two counts of trafficking, presumably due to the amount larger than one person’s normal usage.

Heien’s lawyer challenged the traffic stop as North Carolina law only requires you have a working brake light, not both of them. As such, council argued the police stopping Vasquez and Heien constituted an illegal stop, and the search was therefore the proverbial “fruit of the poisonous tree,” and should have been thrown out.

Eventually, certiorari was granted, and SCOTUS heard the case in 2014. The court ruled against Heien in an 8:1 decision—Sotomayor being the only dissenter.SCOTUS8-1

During oral arguments, Sotomayor asked the petitioner:

(You can click below for the entire oral arguments transcript)

“So how many citizens have been stopped for one brake light who are asked to have their car searched? And is that something that we as a society should be encouraging?”

It’s fairly common knowledge, that SCOTUS at that time was comprised of what most considered five right-leaning justices, and four left-leaning. Sotomayor being one of the left—as she was appointed by Obama.

The issue at hand was whether Heien’s Constitutional rights were violated by a search under the Fourth Amendment which reads:

“[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

While it is often believed that the left-leaning justices don’t often seem too concerned with the Constitution, if you listen to oral arguments long enough, you start to see both sides indeed heavily use the constitution for the basis of their arguments.

United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 1960-2016
Justice Antonin Scalia 1960-2016

What’s often the case however, is that some are absolutists, and use the constitution strictly as it’s written.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia was among the most supportive of this notion. In an interview he stated that, “The only good Constitution is a dead Constitution. The problem with a living Constitution in a word is that somebody has to decide how it grows and when it is that new rights are – you know — come forth. And that’s an enormous responsibility in a democracy to place upon nine lawyers, or even 30 lawyers.”

However, other justices try to interpret what was intended when the Constitution or its amendments were written, instead of interpreting it solely by its verbiage—referring to the Constitution as a living document. Most notably, former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote this piece explaining his ideals.

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist 1924-2005
United States Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist 1924-2005

This “Living Document” idea also means that they often try to modernize the Constitution in such a way as to essentially say, “If the framers knew what we know today, this is what they’d have written or done.”

Scalia (and I agree wholeheartedly) would argue that it is for congress to rewrite the Constitution through the amendment process, and that the “Living Constitution” concept is nothing less than legislating from the bench—blurring the lines of the separation of powers intended by creating the Judicial, Legislative, and Executive branches.

But nonetheless, Justice Sotomayor’s lone dissent, was clearly the only decision made with the Constitution in mind as written, almost stunningly not echoed by the late Justice Scalia and other conservative justices.

The United States Constitution
The United States Constitution

In today’s highly politicized society, we often wish to assume that partisan’s, including justices, are always on the side of their party, but every once in a while, you will find an ally in the most unlikely places, and on this particular issue, the only ally to liberty was Justice Sotomayor, recognizing that you cannot allow police to search someone’s car under a false pretense, and then allow prosecution to proceed accordingly.

I’m often pretty outspoken in my disdain for any politician who is consistently on the wrong side of liberty, but I’ve always said I worship ideals, not people. I just give people credit where it’s due, and attack when I believe it’s warranted. On this day, Justice Sotomayor was right, and she should be commended for it.

 

How To Improve Relations Between Police and Citizens

Unless you avoid the news at all costs, you’re fully aware of the shootings by police, killing two black citizens, Alton Sterling and Philano Castile, both under highly questionable circumstances.

Alton Sterling (Left), and Philando Castile (right)
Alton Sterling (Left), and Philando Castile (right)

Then Army reservist/Afghan war veteran Micah Xavier Johnson, so enraged by such shootings, murdered several police officers in Dallas in retaliation.

There can be no doubt, that tensions between the governed and the government are at levels that are bordering the animosity that triggered us to war for independence against Great Britain 240 years ago. But how did we get here, and how do we get out?

Facts versus Headlines

It’s fair to say that the media push narratives that get ratings. But while according to the FBI in 2014, most black and white people are killed by people of their own race—89% for the black community, and 82% for the white, they often push a narrative that a young black man is more likely to be killed by a white cop.

There were a total of 444 police shootings deemed justifiable homicide, by police in 2014. Pointing out those deemed justifiable homicide is important to the story, because the concern is that police aren’t prosecuted for such shootings. So for police not to be prosecuted, it means the shooting was deemed justifiable.

The FBI didn’t break them down by race, but even if they were all white cops shooting black victims, which they certainly aren’t, that’s still four times less than the 2,205 black-on-black murders in the same year, or the 2,488 white-on-white murders.fbi-logo-404553[1]

Let’s be clear about that statistic, though. It has little to do with living in violent communities, a narrative that is often asserted. The first clue is that white-on-white murders are very similar.

It actually has to do with people being four times as likely to be killed by someone they simply knew.

See this table from the FBI, also in 2014, which shows that 43% of the time people were killed by an acquaintance or family, compared to 11.5% by strangers. The rest are unknown, but since the dataset is somewhat large, we should reasonably assume that nearly 4:1 ratio would be true for the unknowns as well.

The Attitude Adjustment

We need to change the way we interact with each other.

The police were hired to protect our rights. If one pulls you over or otherwise interacts with you, remember that this person is potentially willing to die for you—treat them accordingly. A little compassion for police who do such a dangerous job would go a long way to improve the exchange you have with that officer.

Credit: inhauscreative Vetta Getty Images
Credit: inhauscreative Vetta Getty Images

But as always, it takes two to tango.

Police are trained to fear the worst and prepare for it in each interaction they have with the public. The most innocent traffic stop could be their last.

But preparing for the worst doesn’t excuse assuming the worst, nor treating them as if they’re the worst. If police want people to respect them, they must first show citizens the same respect they expect from them. If an officer didn’t specifically witness a citizen harming someone, they are innocent until proven guilty—it’s an officer’s duty to act accordingly.

Blame Legislators Versus The Police Where Appropriate

Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat (libertarians already generally know this), when you try to socially engineer society by passing victimless crimes, you cause police to have to enforce those crimes—requiring more police.

This puts both police and citizens in harm’s way; increasing the odds of violent interactions between the two parties.SundayAlcohol[1]

Drugs, prostitution, blue laws, and other such victimless legislation which protect no one—yet risk many, are a huge part of the problem.

If you support passing a law, then you must be comfortable with the notion of putting a gun to the offender’s head and killing them yourself if they violate it. If you’re uncomfortable with this thought, then it’s pure hypocrisy to put police in the situation where they may have to do so in your name.

For instance, if your neighbor were smoking marijuana, would you walk next door, put a gun to their head and tell them to stop or you’ll kill them? Of course not. But if that same neighbor were raping a child, I suspect you’d feel quite differently. This is bad legislation versus good in a nutshell.

If we want to reduce senseless violence, we must first elect someone looking to undo all the senseless laws we’ve passed which trigger senseless violence. Then be sure they don’t pass new ones going forward.

Respect the Constitutiongun-and-the-constitution[1]

I’m in a state where concealed carry requires a permit. So this means I open carry when walking my dog at night, because I haven’t taken the course and applied for that license. I carry in case I get accosted by a miscreant. In so doing, I often worry I might get accosted by the police.

The current scenario is that if a busy-body citizen calls police to report me walking down the street carrying a gun, the police must investigate. They do this because we’ve allowed a litigious culture where police can be held liable for not investigating.

What should happen however is that the police should respond to the caller with, “Carrying a gun is every American’s right. Does he/she appear to be committing a crime? If not, there’s nothing for us to investigate.”

This may seem wrong at first, but the police would do this if you reported someone just driving a car down the street. Driving a car and carrying a gun are both perfectly legal actions that have an intrinsic danger if done so irresponsibly or maliciously. So while at first it may seem like a horrid analogy, they are almost exactly the same.

The reason it feels wrong is simple conditioning by anti-gun people who deem gun carriers as a threat, despite the fact everyone is a threat in some way, and gun carriers aren’t any more likely to harm someone. Most are responsible citizens exercising their 2nd amendment rights just as all of us exercise our 1st.

We then need to pass serious tort reform to preventing civil action against police who don’t investigate someone carrying a gun, on the off chance that person actually harms someone.

Better Community Outreach via Police Training

This proposal is a bit novel and controversial, and I admit it may have unintended consequences. But I like blue skies thinking, so I’ll propose it anyway just to get some creative juices flowing.

Much like we have food stamps to help the needy eat, I think police could use confiscated weapons that are normally destroyed, and start a program with impoverished citizens in bad neighborhoods to protect themselves by donating these weapons and giving classes on how to use them properly.

Of course those citizens would be screened properly for criminal backgrounds like they would for a gun purchase. And yes, it is possible one of those guns may be used in a crime later. But it’s also highly possible that those guns may save many lives of people too poor to buy one themselves, yet absolutely may need one as a result of living in a high crime area.oc_zps62e1c21e[1]

If every good citizen were armed, and prepared to defend themselves against a would-be criminal, we’d have a lot less would-be criminals.

Criminal prey on the weak, but it’s hard to call anyone packing heat, weak. Guns are the greatest equalizer mankind has every invented, turning a feeble grandmother into a Chuck Norris level threat.

Police Need To Eschew The Brotherhood Mentality

Being a Corvette owner, we tend to recognize each other—so much so, that nearly all of us wave at another Corvette owner driving past. Motorcyclists do this too. If you were from Boston, visiting California, and overhear the person next to you say he just “Pahked the Cah,” you’ll almost certainly strike up a conversation with him.

This is because people are hard-wired to bond with those they share commonalities with—it strengthens societal bonds. The easiest way to do this, is to bond over a unique common interest or trait. I say “unique,” because if you were both in Boston, you’d pay the same person no attention whatsoever.

Police know that their work is dangerous, so they form strong bonds among one another so they can be confident they’d have the other’s back, even if they don’t personally know each other—it’s a very natural phenomenon.

But they should be taught that this is a natural emotion, and that they should avoid following it blindly. Much like the placebo effect, while it’s natural, it can do far more harm than good if all skepticism is eschewed.

Violent Crime Rate comparison between general population UCR data and law enforcement population NPMSRP data. Click image for the full article
Violent Crime Rate comparison between general population UCR data and law enforcement population NPMSRP data.
Click image for the full article

This data shows that police are just as likely to commit criminal acts as the general public.

At first, you might think this seems odd, but the police are regular people, not superheroes.

We often hear stories of good Samaritans doing wonderful things. So being a good person isn’t unique to police, nor is being a criminal unique to the general public either.

The reason I say they need to eschew the brotherhood mentality is that police often defend other police who have clearly done unconscionable things.

While at first, a police officer might think defending their “brothers” is the honorable thing to do, but it’s absolutely not in their best interests.

When an officer commits a crime, they violate their sworn oath to uphold the law of the land, dishonoring their noble profession. But it also creates animosity with the public who feel as though police can operate above the law without repercussion.

This hatred and distrust often leads enraged citizens to act violently towards the police, because they feel it the only way justice will be served—putting good cops needlessly at risk, as evidenced by the aforementioned Micah Johnson.

Instead, if an officer is arrested or put on probation for a potential felonious act, police should distance themselves from that person entirely, and make it clear that if the person is found guilty, that person is no “brother” of mine.

They should also be quick to report any criminal acts among their ranks, and clean their own house unmercifully. They will never get the trust and respect of disenfranchised citizens otherwise.

And let’s be honest, if you are a police officer, are you really OK with one of your own committing a murder or unprovoked assault?

Drew Peterson should serve as a shining example of the harm that can come from this blind loyalty. His fellow officers failed to properly address allegations of abuse against Drew when his then wife Stacy Peterson reported him a multitude of times for serious domestic abuse.

Stacy Peterson
Stacy Peterson

It is almost certain that had his fellow officers taken Stacy’s complaints seriously, and treated Drew like any other violently abusive husband—investigating Drew in earnest, Stacy could very well be alive today, with Drew safely in jail where he belonged.

By all means, police should have each other’s backs, but never at the expense of what is right. A criminal is a criminal, whether they wear a badge or a wife-beater, they should be treated with the same prosecutorial mindset.

I could write an entirely separate post on the tactics police unions use to protect police in ways that harm the general public, and destroy the public’s trust in them. They should merely assign the accused a lawyer, and refrain from professing the person’s innocence or any other public statements until that officer is cleared of any wrongdoing.

But once convicted, their sentences should be as harsh as what would be applied to the general public (in my opinion harsher, since they swore to uphold those laws). The slap on the wrist sentence for an offense that would land us regular citizens in jail is surely one of the largest factors in eroding the relationship between the governed and the government.

Religious Liberty? Sexual-Orientation Liberty? How about just “Liberty”

In January of 2013, an Oregonian bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple who were soon to wed. Aaron and Melissa Klein, the bakery’s owners, are Christian, and felt that baking such a cake would violate their religious beliefs. As such, they refused the lesbian couple’s business.sweet_cakes_by_Melissa

As reported here by Fox, the couple faced a $150,000 fine, based on a January 29th, 2015 ruling, for discrimination as a result of such action.

Being an atheist and a libertarian, I find Aaron and Missy’s actions egregious and disgusting. I suspect many people who champion gay rights are happy to see them in trouble. But, as much as libertarians are indeed for gay rights, we are supposed to champion rights for all people, qualifiers be damned.

While the courts are doing a good job protecting the rights of the lesbian couple, they are taking away rights from the Kleins in doing so, and this is no better.

If the Constitution’s 1st amendment guarantees free speech under the law so people can say hateful things, shouldn’t the 1st amendment’s freedom of religion clause protect those who practice religion-based hate just the same?

U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment
U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment

If I were the gay couple looking to get the aforementioned cake, I’d be rather insulted by the Klein’s actions, but if I believe in liberty, I’d fight vehemently for them to engage in such hate, so long as their hate isn’t harming me in some way. Let the free market deal with the Kleins in the court of public opinion.

I could do so by taking my story to local media, which happened as a result of this case, but I could also go on social media like Facebook and Twitter and spread the fact that the Kleins are not gay-friendly, hoping reasonable people opt not to frequent their store, harming their business accordingly.

The free market appears to have done exactly that since the aforementioned article by Fox indicates they have since moved to doing business out of their home, because the loss of business cost them the ability to continue leasing their store. They opted to start a GoFundMe campaign to help them with their cause, but that later was shut down, again due to the free market flexing its muscle as gay rights groups got GoFundMe to pull the Klein’s campaign.

Religious groups on the right are calling for religious liberty, but in my opinion, they are equally bad in all of this, since I doubt many of them support the lesbian couple’s right to marry. If they do, good on them for not being hypocrites.gay-marriage1[1]

If America is indeed a free-market capitalist system, government has no right to impose its will on private enterprise in this way. Yet we Americans tolerate it because we ignore the fundamental basis of the Constitution—that we all have equal rights under the law, including business owners like the Kleins.

Equal rights under the law has to mean that any business should have the right to engage in, or refuse, business with anyone else for any reason imaginable, no matter how hateful and disgusting those reasons may be.

Why? Because it’s their business. Despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, they built it, and they own it. They should have the right to build it up or burn it down however they see fit.

But we so often call for such laws, because there seems to be this knee-jerk reaction that every time someone is wronged, instead of trusting in the free market to sort it out, we feel we must ask government to pass a law to prevent this from happening in the future instead. But that is not, nor ever should be, the purpose of government.

Government’s duty is only to protect your rights, not your feelings. In a free country, you are going to be exposed to people who offend you, but that also means you are free to walk away and not listen to them or deal with them.

The lesbian couple certainly could have found another bakery, or simply baked their own cake. Why would they want to do business with people they know don’t like them in the first place?lesbian_wedding_cake[1]

It’s certainly their right to ask the Kleins to bake them a cake, but how could anyone say they have a right to demand the Kleins bake them one? Don’t the Kleins have rights?

So as much as gay rights groups were up in arms until the January 29th decision was handed down, and now religious groups are up in arms instead, I’d call for both of them to stop being hypocrites. If you say you’re for freedom and rights, then you have to champion the rights for those who hate you too.

 

 

The Power Resides With We The People, Not We The Police

You may have read about a recent incident in Texas where a man, witnessing another man beating up a woman, stopped and drew his legal firearm on the woman’s attacker. A bystander contacted 911 who dispatched police moments later, and the attacker was eventually arrested by police with no shots fired, neither by the hero nor the police (the attacker appears to have been unarmed).

The police went on to say that they commended the heroic man’s actions for coming to the rescue of this woman. But as police so often do, stated that they didn’t want citizens exposing themselves to danger in this way.

This statement has a couple of interpretations.

Giving police the benefit of the doubt, this was to indemnify themselves from the impression that they would promote vigilantism. Meaning, that if they congratulated him entirely, gave him a key to the city, and/or named a street after him, it would encourage others to perform similar acts, one of which, if taken too far, could be felonious. There’s a line between justifiable homicide and murder, but sadly, it’s not like they teach this in school, so many may not know their rights as well as they should.

So taking this a step further, the next would-be hero-cum-felon might then say, “Well, I saw how police praised the other guy, so I wanted to do the same thing.” This then opens police up to a civil suit, arguing that the police encouraged such behavior.

The 1st Amendment
The Bill of Rights

It is upsetting we have allowed our country to become so overly litigious to the point where we’re afraid to speak honestly in such a way, but alas, tort reform is a subject for another post.

However, the other motive for these officer’s comments I most lean toward is the complete lack of hubris they often possess which leads them to believe that because they have went to a police academy and/or have former military experience, only they are qualified to use force to save a life.

I have regrettably never served in our military, nor have I went to any police academy. But I’ve been to the shooting range often, and I know my weapon’s operation well enough for defense purposes in the event use of deadly force were justifiable in a given situation.

More importantly though, I was raised with a set of morals that prohibits me from standing by and letting someone die when I’m capable of saving their life.

One good punch could mean the difference between life and death in a situation like this. I’m not about to roll the dice on an innocent life by calling 911 and hoping the police arrive in time when my partners Smith & Wesson can assist me in putting this business to rest now.911[1][1]

Government often wants us to subjugate ourselves to the men in blue. If I’m committing a crime and get caught in the act, I would agree—you’re busted, take your lumps. But to all the police officers out there who feel I should always comply with them, even when I’m in the right, I want to make a couple quick points.

  • You serve me, not the other way around. I also pay your salary. We citizens entrust you to enforce laws we voted to enact. It has never been our duty to comply with you, it is your duty to serve and protect us, and your responsibility to know the law and operate within it. If you don’t understand and appreciate all of that—you are essentially violating the oath you took when you signed up to be police officer; so resign now.
  • If it were your wife who had been getting beaten half to death, would you still have wanted this man to wait? Or would you have preferred him to intervene as soon as possible? I think we know the answer to this, so don’t be a hypocrite.
  • We have a guaranteed right to bear arms in this country. One of the reasons is because our forefathers wanted us to be free to defend ourselves. If you don’t like an armed citizenry, you can either attempt to get the votes to amend the Constitution, or you can expatriate. Otherwise, accept that you serve in a support role. So long as we have our Constitution, the power lies with “We The People,” not “You the police.” It is not our duty to comply with you. If you are in the wrong, we should not comply. If you attempt to get us to comply with force, you can rightfully be killed in self-defense.

At this time, the hero in question is unnamed, but his actions are highly commendable in my opinion—I’d gladly buy him the drink of his choice. Since this is an opinion website, unlike many police officers I suspect might actually agree with me, I don’t mind saying that I think we should be doing more of this, not less.

Every American citizen, at least the non-criminal ones anyway, should exercise their right to arm themselves. And more importantly, every state in the union should have the same laws on how and what you can defend.blog3

So while I am thankful for the 2nd amendment, I would welcome an addendum to it that reads something like:

The right for the people to defend themselves, innocent others, their property, and their position in space, shall not be infringed.

I feel this language is consistent with the Constitution’s paradigm of being a restriction on government, but I think it would further solidify one of the inherent intents of our Constitution’s second amendment, by taking away the ability of colorful language often used to subvert the 2nd amendment currently.

While there’s no doubt, self-defense wasn’t the only reason we have that enumerated right, and thus why it wasn’t specifically written in to the second amendment, the need for it was certainly understood and part of the equation. So I see no harm in specifically broadening that right. No matter where you are in America, when your life, property, space, or the life of an innocent other is threatened, you should not be wishing your lawyer was present to advise you before acting to save someone, your firearm and general understanding of the law should be all that is needed.

 

 

 

Cops Getting Fired Over Racial Tweets: This is NOT A Free Speech Issue

You may have read in the news recently about two Ohio police officers getting potentially fired over very racists texts to one another. One of which said, “I hate n******. That is all.” (I edited out the pejorative, as I prefer not to repeat it.)

Some people are crying out that this is a clear violation of those officer’s First Amendment free speech rights. But nothing could be further from the truth.

While I am the first to complain about our rights being violated every day, this particular claim is one born from a basic lack of understanding regarding our Constitution.

The 1st Amendment
The 1st Amendment

The first amendment (and all of the amendments in the Bill of rights, for that matter) exists to protect you from prosecution because of something you might say. It does not protect you from having any repercussions from it.

For instance, if the state of Ohio tried to pass a law that said police officers may not engage in any racists discussions under penalty of law; that would be a clear violation of the first amendment. But, that is not what happened here; they were not charged with a crime in any way. They were simply put on leave pending investigation, and may be fired as a result.

Since it’s a separate issue altogether, I will avoid pointing out that the police officer’s union may work to save their jobs. My hatred of labor unions is well documented, so I will just state that I think the unions care little about rights or justice, just benefits to their own. In my opinion however, rights nor justice will be best served if these officers are not fired.

Oddly, the ones complaining about the rights of the officers being violated are actually championing rights violations of their employers instead, essentially making them hypocrites.

For instance, let’s imagine I started a business called Gary’s Gun Shop. Then imagine I had two employees whom I saw at some restaurant on their break. They don’t see me though, and I overhear them saying, “You know, I f***ing hate Marines. I wish every one of them died in combat.”

Owning a gun shop, I know that many of my customers will be current or former military, the last thing I want are employees who hate them. I have a legitimate concern that they will treat them poorly, so I should have the right to fire them, and you damn well bet I would.

Sadly, people often fail to look outside of themselves when it comes to employers. Most people have never owned their own business, and therefore have a hard time empathizing with business owners who do in fact have the same rights they do.

Imagine the police came to your home and told you how to arrange your furniture. Would you be pretty mad? Well business owners own a business, just as you own your home, so it’s essentially the same thing.

SWAT team: AKA People I'd eventually see if I used my 12 year old death trap to give people rides via Lyft
SWAT team

Obviously these officers work for government, which is owned by the people, not a person. But whether the owner of a company is taking disciplinary action against an employee, or it’s just their boss who is making that decision doesn’t matter. A supervisor of any sort has the right to fire you if they have legitimate concerns about how you may do your job in a way that’s inconsistent with that organization’s mission statement.

People often fail to realize that you do not have the right to a job, you only have the right to pursue employment. Whether an employer wants to hire you or keep you as an employee is their right alone. Your right is with whom you choose to accept an employment offer from, and that’s it.

The other issue at play here is a serious issue many people are losing sight of—liability. Once news broke these officers were clearly racists, and specifically stated they hated black people, that information is in the public domain.

If that officer then goes on to carry out their duties against a black person, any policy they might violate would immediately be grounds for a civil suit against the police department he serves. The officer’s racist texts would be exhibit #1 for the prosecution, and it would be an immensely powerful bit of evidence.

The litigants would easily argue that the officer did not act in good faith, use his racist diatribe against him, and blame the police force for not dismissing the officer accordingly, arguing they knowingly kept someone on staff who had the propensity to violate the rights of black people. And furthermore, they’d be right!

Such suits can cost communities, and therefore taxpayers millions. So kudos to this police department for taking swift action. Let’s hope the police union breaks with tradition and sides with justice, instead of opting to protect the bad actors among their ranks—I’m not holding my breath though, they have a history…

How The Constitution Could Have Been Better At Limiting Government

In America, our legislation process is laid out in the Constitution and for the most part, is fairly simple on the face of it.

I’m not going to go into the procedural issues. I know that legislation has passed the House of Representatives, only to sit on the Senate majority leader’s desk without a vote, and vice versa. I don’t think anyone outside of congress understands all that underlying and overcomplicated nonsense. There’s a good chance most of them prefer that lack of transparency—a problem in its own right.

But once a law does get to a vote, a simple majority of congress people and senators vote, and the majority wins. The exceptions of course being articles of impeachment, amending the Constitution, overriding a veto, suspending congressional rules, or ending a filibuster, which require a supermajority.

The 1st Amendment
The 1st Amendment

On occasion, after a law is passed, it gets constitutionally challenged and ends up in the Supreme Court. Again, a simple majority of the justices determine if the Constitution was violated, then either uphold or strike it accordingly.

While this process seems to make sense at first; being a person who loves thought exercises as I do, I think our Constitution could be better.

We all should understand that the Constitution was intended as a guarantor of our rights, so with the intention of keeping government limited, I feel the founding fathers could have done it better.

My blue sky thinking premise is pretty simple.

Instead of allowing a simple majority to draft laws which grow government, I would require that a two-thirds majority be needed for passage of all laws where a restriction on the people is proposed. Tax increases, regulations on commerce, but a few examples. Only laws which are restrictions on government, such as in the Bill Of Rights, or efforts to strike laws already on the register could be passed with a simple majority.

My reason for this is to make expansion of government incredibly difficult for legislators, by ensuring that the laws they do pass will likely transcend political agendas and are legislation most rational people on the left and the right would agree on. Yet at the same time, it would make it easy for any legislator wearing a their libertarian hat that day to reduce the size and scope of government by simple majority.

But we can take this a step further by foisting this principle on the Supreme Court as well. If SCOTUS agrees to hear a case, before arguments even start, they would have to establish whether the law is a restriction on government or the people. Any law deemed a restriction on the people would be struck down unless a 2/3 majority choose to uphold it. I don’t know that a restriction-on-government law has ever been challenged, but only a simple majority would be needed for such a law to stand.

The Supreme Court Of The United States
The Supreme Court Of The United States

While I know I write about the Constitution often and hold it in incredibly high regard, I think it’s quite important to understand it was a document written by imperfect men, and more importantly, had little historical evidence to go off of for guidance. As such, our founders had to write it to the best of their abilities, and hope the amendments process would fix any misgivings they may have omitted.

The fact that the 18th amendment was allowed to pass (Alcohol prohibition) is clear proof that a little trial and error was always in play. So while I understand some might think me politically sacrilegious for suggesting a modification to our beloved Constitution, I am not painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa here.

There is a great divide between libertarians like me who propose constitutional amendments from others who would either dismiss the Constitution altogether, or who want to add more restrictions like the reprehensible Defense of Marriage Act, which has no place in a document designed to protect rights. I’m looking to add more teeth to the document, whereas, many Democrats and some Republicans are looking to defang it so that it’s bite no longer restricts their social engineering agenda. cropped-cropped-conssign1.jpg

It’s been untouched since 1992, but thanks to a Congress, Senate, and sadly a Supreme Court, who don’t seem too concerned about liberty this days, our Constitution could use a little dose of adrenaline. Our rights are supremely important, and while we would never stand for an elimination of them altogether, the constant erosion of them has been in place for centuries. “We the people” have the power, not government. Let’s help those in Washington who were elected to serve us help them remember that.