Weary of the Spectacle

By Matt May

John Adams unwittingly described life in Barack Obama’s America when he said “The whole drama of the world is such tragedy that I am weary of the spectacle.”

Such weariness extends to Obama’s second inauguration. It will be a tragic spectacle.

Inauguration Day was once the greatest spectacle in ordered liberty. It may be thought of as a secular sacrament for our country. In the past, the occasion has been a celebration of the orderly transition of power, a non-partisan endorsement of the unique nature of the Constitution, and a rite of republican self-government. Inauguration Days have occasioned poetry from presidents, as in the case of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, John F. Kennedy’s address in 1961, and, forgotten to history, an appeal to what might have been in the case of the doomed James Garfield in 1881.

Yet the most important part of Inauguration Day is the president’s taking of the oath. The president repeats the immortal words prescribed by the authors of the republic to the citizens of the republic: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Obama’s presence on the inaugural dais mocks that oath and all of its meaning. His is the definition of an imperial presidency that has zero regard for the Constitution and the men who conceived it. Certainly, Obama will read a half-hearted passage or two attempting to pay homage to our creed. In his first, largely forgettable inaugural address, Obama said “Our founding fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man – a charter expanded by the blood of generations. These ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.”

Of course, that was nothing more than a political insult to George W. Bush, sitting but a few feet away – a preview of Obama’s particular brand of presidential argument. Four years later, we can see that Obama does not take his oath or even his own words seriously.

Just a few days ago he declared to Paul Ryan that he and his administration will be in violation of the law for not offering a budget proposal.

He is asserting authority he does not enjoy to brazenly state that he will erode the Second Amendment to the Constitution via a hash of executive orders from which he will choose.

He failed to request or receive congressional approval for military action in Libya.

He made recess appointments in violation of the Constitution when the Senate was not, in fact, in recess by declaring, as would a king, the Senate to be in recess.

He bailed out Chrysler in direct violation of the Constitution’s Takings and Due Process Clauses.

His attorney general is overseeing a gun-running operation for criminals in Mexico.

The complete, dishonorable list is long. It will grow exponentially.

Are these actions that of a man who celebrates the rule of law? No. They are the actions of a man with no use for the Constitution and certainly no use for the phrase “preserve, protect, and defend.” Obama rejects the concept of federalism as defined by Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy: “Federalism is more than an exercise in setting the boundary between different institutions of government for their own integrity. By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.” Should we give up these ideals for expedience sake? Or the sake of Barack Obama?

Obama’s actions and stated plans to encroach upon different institutions of government and the liberty of the individual in order to assert arbitrary power have thus reduced the solemnity, comity, and spirit of Inauguration Day to farce. In January 1969, Richard Nixon began his inaugural address invitingly, neatly capturing the spirit of the peaceful transition of power envisioned by the geniuses who framed this republic: “I ask you to share with me today the majesty of the moment.”

In January 2013 there will be no such majesty. There is no majesty in the tragic spectacle of the coronation of a tyrant.

Matthew May welcomes comments at may.matthew.t@gmail.com

This article was posted with the author’s permission. It was originally published in The American Thinker here: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/01/weary_of_the_spectacle.html#ixzz2JQNQWHIE

What are rights?

Great article on “our heritage of independence”

In light of President Obama’s re-election, I recommend this article as a warning for the next four years.

“Simply put, voting for the likes of Obama, Warren, Tierney, etc., is to turn one’s back     on one’s heritage. They are hostile to freedom and maniacally eager to impose the edicts of a distant government on what remains of a free republic. Their actions, inactions, and the policies that they advocate are antithetical to the constitutional principles of limited government so nobly won by our forefathers, antithetical to the heritage of Massachusetts. They are more in line with the thinking that led Adams, Lodge, and the balance of unknown patriots to rebel and establish and maintain this republic. Voting for a new breed of tyrants is to squander what remains of a rich bequest. Why would anyone wish to do that?” – Matt May

Read more here.

Politics matters – for everyone

Today (November 6th, 2012) millions of Americans will be heading to the polls to cast their vote for president – but many will not know why. Evaluations of the voting system and the likelihood of one’s preferred candidate winning the election aside, many people will be simply be going through the motions without  even the remotest idea of why voting – or politics at all for that matter – is relevant to their own lives. Many consciously believe that it doesn’t matter. Nothing is farther from the truth, and no attitude could be more dangerous to the future of our country and everyone in it.

Though I am neither interested in nor qualified to be discussing why voting in itself matters and what each individual person’s impact is, I would like to demonstrate to students and Americans in general to bear in mind that politics matters, and impacts all of us whether we care to consider it or not. Politics is one of the rare areas of thought that enjoys a status of such universal magnitude, but unfortunately it is also an object of apathy.

Politics is defined by Wikipedia as “a term generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments”. Such a vague definition reflects the apathy with which most people regard politics. To those who do not grasp that politics is a consequence of ideas and culture and will reflect those of a given population, and to those who fail to grasp the general principles of the politics that rules their own lives, it is merely trivia important only to political science majors and politicians. As such their conception of politics is even vaguer than the definition above, which becomes obvious every time they refer to politics and politicians with a tone of derision and passivity or dismiss discussion of it as dry and useless. Politics becomes a tedious act of memorizing how many senators and representatives there are, the process of a bill becoming a law, the order in which the original thirteen colonies ratified the Constitution, and what clichéd platforms the major parties endorse. These data are related to politics, but most people treat them as a disintegrated, jumbled mess of trivia disconnected from our lives. Politics becomes a sport, the elections games, the parties teams, and the people spectators. When a team wins, fans celebrate. When it loses, they get disillusioned and grow out of their favorite sport. With either outcome, politics is reduced to being “just a game” with no long term practical or moral implications, so people forego consideration of the consequences of a given candidate’s policies and evade moral judgment of the parties and their platforms.

This apathetic and sloppy attitude towards politics gives momentum to its worst elements, which the apathetic or disillusioned have conceptualized as the essential nature of politics. When people regard a candidate’s policies as morally or practically relative, they sanction the worst policies of the worst candidate and fail to differentiate the best policies and ideas of the best candidate from the sum being discussed. They implicitly support the system they claim to either hate or not care about.

To challenge this inadequate and dangerous approach to politics, I offer another segment of Wikipedia’s definition, which regards politics as consisting of “social relations involving authority or power”. While this evaluation is also somewhat vague, it addresses something more essential to politics than its varying structures: the effects it has on people. The politics of a country and the people that run it affect the social and economic relations of its citizens; the authority or power sanctioned by the country largely determines the extent to which such relations are reflected. While some elements of our “relations” with others would remain the same regardless of which party has the most power in a given year, the freedom with which we can form and enjoy them can vary greatly, and our ability to control them may change gradually as the reigning policies slowly march towards or away from social and economic freedom. Concrete examples of the effect of politics on our lives abound – the amount of money one sees deducted from paychecks, the price per gallon at the gas pump, the amount of paperwork one has to fill to start a business or cut down a tree, and the range of options one finds for healthcare providers are among the many concrete, every-day parts of our lives that are affected by politics, and thereby by all of us who choose whether to support or challenge the ideas and policies of our leaders. The fact that most people fail to identify the connection between the soaring rhetoric and the specific policy goals and methods that it endorses does not in any way detract from the fact that there is a connection. Granted, such a monumentally important subject deserves more thorough treatment than one can give with limited space, but the problem itself is easily identifiable: to those for whom politics is a list of facts, a sport, or a game disconnected from the rest of their lives, it is an inconvenience and a bore, not to be touched by anyone who has no time for trivialities.  One can hardly blame them for such an attitude given what politics has been reduced to, but even so, the effects of it are with us every day. It is for this reason that, on Election Day and every day of our lives, all of us would do well to bear in mind the words of Pericles: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

Fighting the good fight in Boston

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Atlas Shrugged Part II TWICE, together with the New England Objectivist Society, the Greater Boston Objectivist Club, and Boston-area Students for Liberty groups. After both showings I handed out copies of Ayn Rand Samplers from the Ayn Rand Institute and met many great people who are fighting the good fight with me.

I emptied a box of 100 samplers. Some people were thrilled to get them. Some asked for extras. Some told their kids to get one.In one case, I offered copies to a group of what I think were high school girls, one of whom said “I don’t read”. The one next to her said, “I do, what’s it about?”. I responded “It’s about productive people trying to survive and enjoy their lives in a society that has turned against them and wants to limit them” (I didn’t want to get into the ‘consequences of bad ideas’ schpiel). The one who ‘doesn’t read’ then said, “I can actually relate to that, that’s the story of my life”. “Well you should consider reading it! Atlas Shrugged shows individuals struggling and persevering against collectivism and making the most out of life, and the movie does a great job of illustrating that”. “You know what, I think I WILL take one of those”.

In another case, a woman said “oh yes, absolutely” when I offered her a copy. I then asked her daughter if she wanted one, and she didn’t have a chance to respond because her mom said “Yes, she does.”

I met Objectivists who hadn’t known that there were others in Massachusetts – or anywhere. I met a Tea Partier who went on his own to hand out “Who is John Galt” stickers and shirts from ProudProducers.com after the movie. I met a group of students from some of our premier universities eager to find more rational people – they want to network people in New England and distribute materials from ARI and The Undercurrent!

The point is, it was a productive weekend, and the spiritual fuel is helpful. Some of you can surely appreciate the value of that, and maybe knowing that Rand’s world-changing ideas were promoted in Boston is spiritual fuel for you. Sometimes it helps to be reminded that we’re winning.

Who is John Galt?
—– $ —–

Is income inequality a problem?

This is an LTE to the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham, MA, in response to Why is Romney’s Wealth an Issue? YOu can also find it on MetroWest’s website, at it has been published in Framingham and Norfolk. Comments are always welcome!

Image used with permission © Akari Hosokawa 2012

I am writing to identify a contradiction in “Why is Romney’s Wealth an Issue?” The author called attention to the absurdity of holding Mitt Romney’s wealth against him in the presidential election, and correctly suggested that the opportunity to become rich is “part of the American experience”. Yet at the end of the piece, he cited growing income inequality between lower and upper income brackets as symptomatic of a slipping American Dream, without explaining the relationship.

Mitt Romney’s earnings are certainly not equal to mine or to the author’s. Perhaps the amount that Romney has earned in a year has increased relative to the amount I have earned. I fail to see this inequality as a problem, and by the author’s original standard, it is not one.

In fact, income in equality is not a problem – at least not inherently. Provided that someone has earned wealth honestly – without violating another person’s right to do so by initiating force or fraud – there is absolutely no moral or practical issue with his having far more money than the average American. Income inequality is proof that America is a place where everyone has the right and the opportunity – but not anyone’s promise – to become and stay wealthy. As such, income inequality is at worst a non-issue, and at best an integral part of the American experience and a confirmation of the American dream.

Another look at the federal farm subsidy program: LTE to the New York Times

In The Silver Lining in the Drought, an NYT op-ed contributor considers the potential benefits of limiting subsidies to corn farmers. I consider the necessary consequences of giving subsidies to anyone.

                                    

In “The Silver Lining in the Drought”, the author identifies the federal farm subsidy program as “The No. 1 culprit behind our overreliance on corn”, but does not explain exactly what is wrong with it: it is both categorically immoral and grossly impractical.

To provide farm subsidies, the government collects money from taxpayers, thereby violating their right to act exclusively upon their own judgment with regards to what they put in their bodies.

Economically, the primary issue is that subsidies are given without regard for the long-term consequences for society in general. Government-induced overreliance on corn adversely affects our health and our wallets alike. People buying the cheapest food available fill up on high fructose corn syrup. Grocery stores shelve subsidized products to the exclusion of organic, non-subsidized products. Small-town farmers are effectively forced to compete with the government.

The existence of subsidies – not the logistics – should be reevaluated.

For more on individual rights, check out these posts from The Objective Standard.

For more on bad economics, read Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.

Freedom in the final frontier: response to editorial on NASA’s Curiosity

The author of this USA Today editorial claims that the Curiosity program is practical and inspiring and is therefore worth the hefty price tag. In my letter to the editor, I argue that individual rights trump whatever societal advantage may be gained by publicly funded space exploration:

Yesterday’s editorial on the Curiosity landing correctly identifies the value of this great human achievement and of space exploration in general, but irresponsibly dismisses the fact that a massive amount of taxpayer dollars was spent on it – essentially claiming that the $2.5 billion price tag imposed on the public was a means justified by its end – and that opposition to it on economic grounds is “short-sighted”. In fact, the end did not justify the means, and critics of the space program are right to complain.

Those $2.5 billion were taken from individuals – be they those who could not care less about space or those who are pioneering the private space industry. Some of those individuals might very well support the space program, but that is irrelevant to the fact that each and every one of them is the proper owner of his own life and therefore of his own money. Individuals have the right to act on their own judgment so long as they do not impair the ability of others to do so. Such a right includes the right to spend – or not to spend – one’s money as one sees fit. Those who want to see the conquest of space in their lifetime may properly donate their money to the private space industry or begin their own endeavors. Those who do not should not be forced to.

Fascination with space, an insatiable desire to find answers to the “big questions”, or the potential for scientific discovery and economic growth, does not entitle an individual or NASA or any other entity to other people’s money. The exploration of the final frontier must be left to private initiative and funds. The road must be cleared for companies like Virgin Galactic and Space X to embark on the worthy project without forcing other people to support them. For that to happen, the space program should not only be cut, but eliminated – not because it is hard, but because it is right.

Keep fighting for your rights, even if potus and scotus make it illegal

I will always fight for my rights and for yours. I will proudly claim the title of American, not because I was born here, but because I understand and live to the essential principles it was founded on, even as my misleaders betray them. I will proudly call myself an individual, because it is true and indisputable. I will proudly call myself selfish, because it is morally and factually correct and allows me to live my life without sacrificing myself to others or others to myself.

I will not go with the flow, replace my own voice with that of the majority’s, assume that those in power have only good intentions, or cede this battle to any political party.

I will not quietly let the dirty statists in the White House or the Capitol Building or the bureaucratic cubicles or the lecture halls or the ivory towers or the newspaper editorial rooms or the occupy tents or the corporate meeting offices or the facebook chat boxes steal my life, liberty, and property. Nor will I fraternize or sympathize with them. They are my enemies.

I’ll keep living. I’ll keep making and saving money, even if that becomes illegal, and even if buying broccoli becomes law.

If this be treason, make the most of it.

America is dying. Long live America!

Share this if you want to live freely, rationally, and selfishly.
To those who do, thank you for everything you do for yourselves. $

 

Free market healthcare solutions

“For the past century, the U.S. has not had a capitalist system, but rather, a mixed economy, combining increasing elements of government intervention with decreasing commitment to individual rights and private property. Obamacare is but one example of the drift toward socialism.”

For more from Dr. Andrew Bernstein, continue here.

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