War and Conservatism

Stanford Professor Ian Morris got a lot of attention this week for an op-ed he published in the Washington Post provocatively titled, “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer.” The article is connected to the release of his book on the subject, arguing that war has social benefits overlooked in the face of its more obvious and painful consequences.

Morris is making the traditional conservative argument in defense of military conflict, as an option in the right circumstances. War is necessary because violence is an evitable accompaniment to the human condition. It’s not that war is good, so to speak, but that war is in some cases preferable to the alternative.

In that conservative understanding of the world, war and peace are not opposites in tension, but companions. War is organized violence, conducted by a state actor toward a purpose. Its opposite is disorganized violence.

Throughout human history, the greatest fear was disorganized violence. Even with the horrible toll of 20th century war, it is disorganized violence that has claimed the most life and material damage across our history. It is disorganized violence that still looms around the edges of civilization, whether in Iraq, Mexico, or Chicago. Peace is what happens when a civilization acquires the power to wage war decisively enough to deter rivals and contain disorganized violence.

The old Hobbesian conservative argument is that war only becomes impossible when governments are too fragile to wage it. When that happens, private violence fills the void with consequences that destroy commerce, thwart knowledge development, and destroy quality of life. War is not good, just like surgery is not good. We choose it because at times is it better than the alternative.

Morris’ argument is interesting in part because of the way it defiantly cuts against general public opinion. More interesting though is the way it highlights the growing gap between conservatism in its older intellectual tradition and “conservatism” as it is understood on the ground in current American political discourse. This passage from Morris’ op-ed stands out as a stark reminder of what conservatism once meant:

People almost never give up their freedoms — including, at times, the right to kill and impoverish one another — unless forced to do so; and virtually the only force strong enough to bring this about has been defeat in war or fear that such a defeat is imminent.

Conservatism was a view of the world that assumed that absolute freedom meant absolute anarchy, accompanied by violence and perpetual destruction. A good civilization was a measured effort to replace some freedoms with duties, and make that process accountable to the people who were yielding a portion of their rights. A good civilization was in a perpetual, organic cycle of change as rights and duties naturally evolved. Good civilizations avoided the disruptions of war or revolution by permanent but incremental transformation, emerging mostly from private contracts.

Conservatives had no trouble recognizing that government was not the only force capable of destroying a man’s freedom. Those threats descended from every angle and could only be warded off with a carefully measured collaboration. War, in that worldview, is sometimes necessary to preserve civilization. Compromise, contract, law and duty are always necessary to preserve civilization. As Morris points out:

“The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,” Reagan said on another occasion, “are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” As Hobbes could have told him, in reality the 10 scariest words are, “There is no government and I’m here to kill you.”

Old world conservatives had a fine appreciation of balance. Among those who call themselves conservatives today the sense of prudence and measure that has always defined the movement is not only absent, but completely forgotten. As a gang of well-armed idiots gathers to “defend” Bundy Ranch in Nevada, or supposedly “conservative” politicians make increasingly incendiary remarks about our own elected government, Morris may be doing us a favor. We would do well to remember what conservatism actually is and why we need it.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Libertarian, Political Theory
118 comments on “War and Conservatism
  1. Nations exist in what Hobbes and Locke and other social philosophers of their time referred to as “the state of nature,” meaning that states are fundamentally independent actors. It’s up to states themselves to determine whether that state of nature is the Hobbesian version (a “war of all against all”) or the Lockean version (ruled by the law of “reason”). When “reason” fails, any state (or individual) has the natural right to the just exercise of self defense. Applied at the state level, that self defense is what we refer to as “just war.”

    In truth, Hobbes and Locke were both right; human nature slides along a spectrum between Hobbesian and Lockean, with the balance determined by a wide variety of social factors. I prefer the Lockean version, and order my thinking and behavior along those lines, but it’s foolish to pretend the Hobbesian version does not exist, or to fail to remain prepared to counter it. This applies to states as well as individuals. (And yeah, it seems like the current administration has failed in glaring fashion to recognize the Hobbesian tendencies of certain other state actors on the world scene.)

    The Founders and Framers hewed to the Lockean view as well, but very carefully crafted the framework of our government to embody a separation of powers (per the recipe of Montesquieu) precisely to forestall any Hobbesian eruptions down the line. So far that recipe has worked fairly well, but it’s always under assault from within and without. (And this is why I take such a jaundiced view towards Obama’s depredations on the Constitutional rule of law.)

    Those with a more Hobbesian viewpoint (like Chris, apparently) are willing to tolerate infractions of liberty by the state, recognizing that the alternative could devolve into something even more ugly. Those with a Lockean viewpoint (like myself) tend to be less sanguine about the intrusions of government into our lives.

    • And BTW, a failure to recognize the Hobbesian aspect of our human nature is the chief flaw of both Libertarianism and Objectivism. Matt Kibbe advances the idea that the core of Libertarianism is very simple: “Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.” That’s all well and good, but Kibbe never addresses basic question of, “Why not?”

      If I’m the biggest, baddest cat on the block, why shouldn’t I just take your stuff? Why shouldn’t I hurt you, if that furthers my own ends? Libertarians and objectivists have no answers to these questions. Locke did. His answer was simple: We belong to our Creator; we are His creatures; we are His property. We are sent into existence at His will, to do His work. Therefore we are not liberty to abuse each other, for in doing so we abuse the trust and thwart the will of our Creator. Q.E.D.

      For a person of faith like myself, the Lockean formulation for the moral basis of human interaction and the moral justification for appropriate government works quite well. For those atheists in the peanut gallery, sorry, I got nothing for ya. (And this is precisely why Marxists are such adamant opponents of faith. Marxists can’t tolerate having people putting God before the state in any way, shape or form.)

  2. John Galt says:

    The SCOTUS has consistently backed a broad implementation of the commerce clause, giving the feds the right to regulate a variety of economic activities within states and has done so since the ’30s (the 1830s, that is). I’m sorry that you disapprove of their decisions but in a room of you and the nine justices, guess whose opinion counts least? The framers designed a system that was unburdened by details so that the Constitution would be flexible enough to maintain relevance in changing times. The fundamentalist interpretation of it makes no more sense than a fundamentalist reading of the Old Testament.

    • John Galt says:

      Intended as a reply to Sterrn at the very bottom.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Sure, congress does have the power to regulate interstate and international commerce. That was not the point. If an act of interstate commerce is prohibited, and a person is accused of participating in a prohibited act of interstate or international commerce, then it must be proven to have been an act of insterstate commerce in a court of law, if you believe in due process and the rule of law and the support 5th, 6th and 14th amendments. Or, you could support the current system where guilt of a crime is assumed and automatic, to hell with due process and the rule of law and the constitution and all it stands for.

      And thanks for moving this up. It was getting tedious scrolling all the way down.

      • John Galt says:

        But that is not what the SCOTUS has ruled. Cases in 1905 and 1922 upheld the right of Congress to regulate local meatpacking industries based on the same current of commerce idea as used in the New Deal cases. The possession with intent to distribute laws that basically assume possession beyond a certain limit cannot be intended for personal use operate on the same principles. These assumptions are not depriving someone of due process. If a person is accused of trafficking because they possessed 1.1 ounces of marijuana and the limit was 1 ounce, there is a reasonable doubt that was their intent. If they possessed 20 kilos, then the prosecutors do not have to document the acquisition, transport and eventual sale to pass the reasonable doubt barrier.

        As I’ve said, there are a lot of problems with drug laws, but the basic principle of federal anti-drug legislation is not un-Constitutional based on numerous SCOTUS precedents.

      • CaptSternn says:

        In other words, guilt of the crime is assumed and automatic.

      • John Galt says:

        Gee, Sternn, no. Reasonable doubt – the standard of common law for close to a millennium.

      • Tutta, you ask how thoughts can be regulated. The answer is quite readily, although such regulation is a recent addition to the American experience. For centuries, English Common Law, and our own system of law which is derived from it, based punishment for criminal acts upon the act itself. The consideration of “why” a person committed a particular crime was of no account, and irrelevant in punishment.

        This situation no longer obtains. As of 1968, your punishment is not only tied to what you did, but *why* you did it. It used to be that if you assaulted somebody, you were convicted of assault and punished accordingly. It didn’t matter who you assaulted, or why, the punishment was the same. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the punishment for your assault could be *increased* if it could be proven that your assault was motivated by *racial prejudice*. In other words, if your crime is motivated by *politically incorrect thought*, you are subject to greater punishment. This, ipso facto, is thought regulation. Q.E.D.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Tthor, but aren’t “thoughts” such as intent and remorse traditionally taken into consideration as well when deciding punishment?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I would think “thoughts” and “why” have played an important role for a long time in the justice system, way before the Civil Rights Act. Otherwise you wouldn’t have had leniency for cases of self-defense and crimes of passion.

    • CaptSternn says:

      But then that only scratches the surface. During the 1930s the supreme court was consistently striking down the democratic policies pushed through by democarts and FDR, so FDR threatened to stack the court to get his way and the court surrendered. In 1942 the court ruled in favor of allowing congress to regulate or prohibit anything that might or might not affect commerce at any level, because that might or might not affect interstate or international commerce. Under that system, even our thoughts can be regulated or prohibited. It basically gives congress the power to outlaw entire political parties. Democrats could have used in to out;law the GOP when they had the super majority, but they decided on the PPACA instead.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I have to ask – How can thoughts be regulated?

      • CaptSternn says:

        People can be brainwashed or indoctrinated. No telling what future technology might bring.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        And the sky might fall, too.

      • John Galt says:

        This is again a sky-is-falling slippery slope. Recent rulings have limited the commerce clause to actual economic activity, in one case striking down a federal law dealing with guns in school zones because it was not covering an economic activity. Your thoughts are even further away from economic activity, so stop hyperventilating.

      • CaptSternn says:

        A man growing food on his own property for his own use was shut down and fined, John. That was not commerce either.

      • Turtles Run says:

        No Cappy that has never occurred. Now a farmer that grows crops and sells that crop on the open market has the follow the rules of that market. The farmer cannot segregate a part of his crop and claim it does not affect commerce.

        His segregated crop means he will no longer buy in the open market this affects the supply of the crop and so it also affects the price of that crop. The farmer could have simply planted crops that were not regulated or solely for his use. He instead agreed to the market rules and was punished for doing so.

      • CaptSternn says:

        He only sold what was allowed to be sold. But that’s pretty much the point, you don;t even have the right to grow your own veggies in your back yard, it might affect commerce at some level. Then of interstate or international commerce guilt is assumed and automatic, even when not engaging in commerce at all.

      • John Galt says:

        The farmer in question had agreed to produce no more wheat than his quota amount. The agreement wasn’t about how much he could sell, it was how much he could produce. But according to Cappy, it’s OK to renege on these agreements if they are inconvenient.

      • CaptSternn says:

        He didn’t agree to any such thing.

      • John Galt says:

        He did so.

        The Filburn v. Wickard case stemmed from the 1938 Agriculture Adjustment Act, which had several measures intended to prop up prices for staple crops by restricting production. One of these was the establishment of a price floor (a government subsidy, basically) for farmers of several crops, wheat included, in exchange for production quotas. This had to be (and was) approved in a plebiscite by the farmers. The quotas were production, not sales. Filburn never claimed he was not bound by these quotas, he simply said he planted more (over twice) the allotted land in wheat because the remainder was for personal use for animal feed or his own household and should not be counted. The court reasoned that had he not planted the extra, he would have had to buy it (or, more likely, not sold his crop), and therefore his additional production affected the national supply of wheat. If every farmer had produced twice his quota “for personal use” then the problems of over-supply would have continued.

        The wisdom of this kind of program is more than debatable, but Filburn produced more than he was allotted. No court, in fact, ruled that he should have been able to do so on the basis of personal use. The ruling in his favor from a lower court was a technical matter on the conduct of the plebiscite, which the SCOTUS tossed entirely. He agreed to quotas and the court did not buy his personal use argument.

      • CaptSternn says:

        If he had agreed to quotas there would be no case because he wouldn’t have planted more for his personal use. I know what the case was about, it is one of the first I came across when I started my studies on the constitution. The wisdom of the program, well, there is no wisdom behind the program. People are going hungry, food is cheap and plentiful, restrict the food and make it more expensive.

        And what the court ruling has caused is an assumption of guilt, automatic guilt with no burden of proof required. Many more laws are based on that assumed guilt,the Controlled Substances Act, the Endangered Species Act, even the recent laws prohibiting firearms manufacturers from being sued for the misuse of their product, prohibiting fast food chains from being sued over obesity issues, the infringement of property rights in the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s.

        To use a quote of your up above, “If they possessed 20 kilos, then the prosecutors do not have to document the acquisition, transport and eventual sale to pass the reasonable doubt barrier.” They do not have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, what they are accusing the person of. Guilt is assumed and automatic.

        Same goes for the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s, there is no burden of proof required for infringing on the property rights of a business owner. They can do everything completely local and not engage in interstate or international commerce, but guilt of doing so is assumed and automatic, even if they can prove otherwise.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “If he had agreed to quotas there would be no case because he wouldn’t have planted more for his personal use. I know what the case was about, it is one of the first I came across when I started my studies on the constitution.”

        But he did agree to it by growing the crop for the market place. He violated the law and was punished accordingly. That is why your argument always fails.

        Overproduction is just as bad as underproduction. It devalues the commodity and farmers are forced to go out of business. The farmer affected the market negatively.

      • CaptSternn says:

        And that’s where we get back to assumed and automatic guilt with no burden of proof, Turtles. The federal government is only granted the pwoer to regulate commerce beteen nations, among the several state and with the Indian Tribes. It is not granted power over intrastate commerce or things that are not commerce at all, like growing veggies in your back yard. But guilt of interstate commerce is assumed and automatic. If you decide to grow beans in your back yard, you have broken the agreement and deserve 20 years in prison. What?

        Why are y’all afraid of admitting this fact? Y’all twist and squirm and bloviate and backpeddle. Just admit that it is the current system and you support it because the ends justify the means. Y’all can deal with the abscence of due process and trash the constitution when it fits the agenda y’all desire. Y’all have no problem with legislating morality as long as it is you idea of morality, screw the constitution and the whole “individual liberty and rights” thing.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So wouldn’t one’s personal purchasing habits also be subject to regulation? I mean, if I choose to be thrifty, wouldn’t that have a negative effect on the market, be the opposite of boosting the economy? How about a purchasing quota?

  3. goplifer says:

    Interesting statistic I found in the WordPress stats – List of the most frequent commenters on this blog. They must be my biggest fans:

    CaptStern
    DanMan
    Tuttabella
    Crogged
    Kabuzz61

    • CaptSternn says:

      Or the nost disareeable. Without us your blog would be as dead as TThor’s. Guess you like being proven wrong so much of the time. You call that “fandom”.

      • DanMan says:

        Thor has a blog? Link it man!

      • objv says:

        The trouble with Tthor’s blog is that I agree with 99% of what he writes. I wish he would add more entries, because I love his writing style, but usually there’s no reason for me to comment.

        DanMan, Just click on Tracy’s name next to his avatar. It will direct you to his blog.

      • CaptSternn says:

        That’s a big reason his blog didn’t catch, OV. No real discussion because the few people taht showed up were just saying, “Yep, I agree.”

      • Hey! I’m only *mostly* dead.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        tthor is merely moribund.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      If you ban any or all of us, your blog would feel the loss.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      And I’m always complaining about people who spend all their time posting comments.

      So much for my vow of silence.

  4. tuttabellamia says:

    SASSY, if you’re reading this: We love you. And if you’re not, we love you anyway!

    Good night.

  5. Bobo Amerigo says:

    War is dumb.

  6. lomamonster says:

    Next book – “A Pandemic Can Make You Even Safer And Richer!”

  7. DanMan says:

    Juarez beat me to it. Let’s count the invectives shall we? So far (11:23 am this blog time) Ms Owl has lapped the field.

    No worries Ms Owl, we are used to it but there was a lot of electrons expended yesterday from the rucas posse declaring how uncivil the posters not in the rucas posse are. And yet, here you are adorning us with your finest efforts at whatever it is you think you are accomplishing.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Juarez “beat” you to it? What is it with all the accusations of beating?

      • DanMan says:

        really? you too?

        sometimes when you respond to the last post it appears at the top. I was responding to Juarez calling out Ms Owl this morning.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Your post about Juarez “beating” you to it reminded me of the accusations on last night’s thread about Cap beating me.

  8. DanMan says:

    This reads like a long horoscope. There is something to identify with and a lot of loose ends that don’t mean anything to me. I identify as a conservative in todays lexicon, which means I basically am a fringe participant of the GOP. My issues are first and foremost fiscal responsibility and sovereignty. Neither party seems particularly concerned with either issue but I believe the GOP at least has a more recent history of being able to return to them.

    I have never considered my political leanings as approaching anarchy, supporting violence and encouraging destruction. The paragraph about the ‘good civilizations’ describes the ever expanding role of government we see today and promotes the status quo.

    Oddly enough though, the Obama method of governance seems to be very well described by your definition of classic conservatism though. He picks which law to enforce, which to exploit and which to ignore. He has armed several federal agencies that look like they are spoiling for a fight. He has destroyed vast amounts of wealth with nothing to show for it.

    Another word salad by our humble host.

  9. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Conservatives used to be wise, prudent, and informed enough to understand and practice the precept, “μηδὲν ἄγαν”.

    Nowadays, most would probably just snarl about socialist Europeans and complain about those who don’t speak ‘Merican.

  10. Crogged says:

    The Very Silly Party thanks you and reminds all its party members, Why eat a million tiny beans when you can eat one big fat bean?

  11. CaptSternn says:

    Anarchy is not total freedom, it is total oppression. Government is necessary to protect the liberty and rights of the individual tyranny. A government can be the tyrant if it is not tightly controlled, or the majority can be the tyrant in a democracy.

    Our system was established in such a way as to protect the liberty and rights of the individual and tightly restrict the central government, allowing for more local control of the people. The federal government was not established to governmen the people because one size does not fit all. It is good that the liberty and rights of the individual are protected at all levels, but it is bad when the central government moves beyond that scope and starts working to micromanage and control the individual by infringing on or even taking away the liberty and rights of the individual.

    War is necessary at times for to protect the security of the nation and also the security of the individual in our nation, to protect the individual’s liberty and rights, against those that wage wars of conquest and/or aggression.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Well said Captain. Chris shows his lack of knowledge of conservatism, TEA Party and libertarianism.

      He also manages to pass over the many, many far left demonstrations most frequently the OWS movement to over throw the corrupt government. Instead he focuses of maybe 30 armed militia. Tsk! What a skewed view.

      Don’t get me started on the 60’s and what the dems did including rioting. Counting in Democrat Mayor Daily using the police to beat them down. Such a short and selective memory you possess Chris.

      We discussed this subject before. War brings peace. Some people and the economy make money but they are not the reasons to go to war. Our elected rep’s decide for us.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        kabuzz, please offer a credible statement from the Occupy Wall Street movement advocating the overthrow of the federal government, rather than advocating *changes* to be made in it by the normal democratic process (which they were trying to incite; U.S. voter turnout lags behind many other democracies’).

        Of course, your past behavior demonstrates you are probably too stupid or too cowardly to offer up any such justification for your lies. But perhaps you will, someday, prove a pleasant surprise.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Sternn opens with, “Anarchy is not total freedom, it is total oppression”, which is coming perilously close to quoting *1984*’s “Freedom is slavery.”

      Kowardly Kabuzz then ironically chimes in “War brings peace”, to set up the third leg of the famous triad from the Ministry of Truth.

      But the Tea Party dolts don’t have to say that they believe “Ignorance is strength”. They demonstrate that mistaken mantra nearly every day, through their actions and statements.

      Sternn and kabuzz are civic catastrophes of Orwellian proportions.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Anarchy is warlords, feudalism, serfdom and slavery. That is nothing like freedom. Freedom can only come about by rule of law, such as our constitution.

      • Juarez says:

        Is it me, or is there no substance in Owl’s reply here? Just ad hominem attacks on Sternn, Kabuzz, and the Tea Party.

        Almost everyone on here, left and right, are civil, and sometimes respectful, towards each other even when they’re vehemently debating an issue. But, Owl, you’re just a pretentious prick to anyone who disagrees with you.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        War-ez….you are probably a bit generous in saying “almost everyone” is civil, but yeah, my feathered neighbor generally is a prick to folks, and it has been a while since much conversation from our feathered friend has moved in a positive or meaningful direction.

        Of course, few conversations recently have moved in positive or meaningful direction, even when discussed with civility.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        War-ez…I would also suggest that comments like, “The left hates freedom, supports slavery, and endorses communism” is no more productive and just as uncivil as “You folks are freakin’ idiots”.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Ok, HT, I’m assuming your use of “War-EZ” is a battle cry to me.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt….sorry for stealing some from your conversation with Juarez from several days ago.

        I really did not understand the context or history behind that conversation, but I did find some of the terminology funny and I remember chuckling even though I did not know the context, so I just tossed in a bit of the things that made me chuckle.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, I’ve got the giggles myself now, especially since the blog topic is WAR. I don’t know if THAT part was intentional, but well done anyway.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Undoubtedly, the topic of war was brought back memory of “war-ez”, and then the subsequent chuckles.

      • objv says:

        Hey Homer and Tutt …. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that making fun of someone’s accent is racist?

        Actually, Tutt, you were being generous. Before I came to Houston, I would have pronounced Juarez’s name Jew-ar-az. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And I thought the memory of War-EZ had come back to you at the sight of Juarez on the blog. I just KNEW there was value in simply showing up

      • DanMan says:

        Anybody remember the ‘Columbia School of Broadcasting” ads to train you to be a disc jockey? A friend that grew up in LA tried that and his first gig was the morning drive time in Uvalde, Texas. He had farmers in combines and tractors listening to him. He screwed up every Tex-Mex name like Refugio, Bexar County, Mexia and so on to the torment of those folks.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Dan, those names have already been screwed up, by the locals — “Refurio” – “Bear” – “Meheya”

      • DanMan says:

        well get a guy with a smooth baritone casually pronounce becksarr, meksia or refuge-eo and the locals go wild

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Hey, OV, glad to see your old avatar again!

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Hey Stern…I’ll give it a shot.

      We’ve operated in the US with a federal gov’t that has not been “tightly restricted” since about 20 minutes after the Federal gov’t was formed.

      The federal gov’t grew in unprecedented ways through most of the last century, and I think most would agree the US did relatively well compared to most of its relevant comparison group.

      We took away the freedom and liberty of restaurant owners from refusing to serve Black folks. We took away the freedom of banks to refuse to loan money to women (and Black and brown folks). We took away the rights of states to put hurdles in front of people trying to vote. Heck, we took away the freedom of flushing 10 gallons of water while warmed by the soft glow of an incandescent light.

      Those things generally made us a better country.

      Do those things jibe with your views of what the country should be? Heck no.

      Do most people believe those things made the country better? Heck yes.

      The country you long for does not exist (at least here in the US), and it probably never did exist. Undoubtedly, too much movement away is a catastrophic thing, but it certainly would be a whole lot easier if folks didn’t characterize every single movement as “You communist are bent on the destruction of the American system so that you can control people”.

      • John Galt says:

        It did exist, HT, in the frontier mythology that underpins the rugged individualist strain of Western conservatism. Yet these times were closer to the feudalism he decries as anarchy than they were to what he seems to consider ideal. The “wild west” was Darwinist where the strong survived and the weak did not. Empires were built on combinations of guts and luck and justice was uneven and prone to cronyism. It wasn’t until the population grew sufficiently large that a critical mass necessary for a strong government to exist that wealth generation could become stable and self-sustaining.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Several of the things you mentioned were done to protect the rights of the individual. Notice that in amendments 15, 19 and 26, they all state that the right to vote shall not be denied because of this or that. The right already existed, but it was being violated.

        Some of the other things are violations of the rights of the individual, and no, we are not better off because of them. We are worse off.

      • John Galt says:

        And one wonders why minorities are not jumping at conservative ideas.

      • DanMan says:

        While some of those changes are worthwhile they once again expose the problems with the “one size fits all” approach we have with federal laws. The low flush commodes cause a lot of problems in some areas and many people flush more than once to get around that. If you have a long or steep sanitary line the chances are good you have more clean-outs to attend to than in the past.

        The incandescent bulb vs LED have created havoc in the north where the traffic lights are concerned. I use them where appropriate but me, and I bet a whole of people like me, stocked up on incandescents for those applications that are better served by them.

        While refusing service based on race is out of step with our values, refusing to document gay weddings should not be IMO (and I’m not alone). Banks are so regulated now harking back to the days women couldn’t make loans is a reach that probably reflects more women are now breadwinners whereas back in those days they were not. We went upside loaning money to people with no incomes even.

        Your term ‘generally’ should shield you from scrutiny but that depends on who gets to pick the outliers.

        I am a huge conservationist of resources. I choose to be that way. The primary reason is I save money. Now I notice when shopping for power that the pricing regimes are based on consumption. The more you consume, the less you pay. That incentivizes me to track our power usage dynamically. Each month with five days left in the billing cycle I check to see if I’m on target to get the lower rate by using just enough kW-hours to qualify for the lower number. I can light up my yard like Vegas, over filter my pool, lower the thermostat or whatever. In a 2,000sf house with 5 tons of air I have yet to pay over $150/month since I began doing this about 4 years ago.

        In a capitalist system, incentives beat mandates.

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, John or anybody else that wants to chime in, a simple question: Why do you believe in assumed and automatic guilt of a crime, no due process, no trial, no lawyer, no jury, is a positive thing and good for this nation?

      • John Galt says:

        I don’t think that. I cannot fathom how you imagine anti-discrimination laws to be equivalent to “assumption of guilt.”

      • CaptSternn says:

        What are the laws based on, John? They, like the laws regarding federal prohibition, are based on the commerce clause. They assume guilt of interstate commerce, no charges, no trial, no judge, no jury, no lawyer, no appeals, no burden of proof, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt, just automatic guilt. If you defend those laws, you are defending assumed and automatic guilt.

      • John Galt says:

        More hysteria, Sternn? These laws are based on the simple concept that human beings should be treated as such and that, left to the states, they often weren’t.

        The fantasy that you are an island in a state with no connection to the outside world and so can do anything you want is just that, fantasy. If you use electricity, gas, or gasoline, then you have engaged in interstate commerce. If you use phone lines or the internet or an interstate highway, then you have engaged in interstate commerce. If you contract with someone who has used any of these things, then you have engaged in interstate commerce. If you do not do any of these things, you exist in such a dark and isolated corner of the world that I frankly do not care what you do and neither would anyone else.

      • CaptSternn says:

        John, you are accusing people of comitting crimes, but you don’t want to have to prove it in a court of law. You are assuming guilt, automatic guilt just because you say so. Our prisons are filled with people that have been accused of comitting the crimes and there is never one bit of proof offered.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        The only way I can wrap my head around the idea of anti-discrimination laws being the result of an assumption of guilt is that they assume the discriminator has evil intent, as opposed to simply being choosy — being discriminatory versus discriminating.

        Or perhaps assumption of guilt is seen in the government’s need to get in people’s private business, micromanage them, lest they commit a crime.

        Is that how you see it, Cap?

      • John Galt says:

        Sternn, you’re starting to sound like you might need a tinfoil hat. Our prisons are not filled with people convicted of crimes without evidence (well, they are, but they are generally poor minorities convicted of violent and/or drug crimes on scant or invented evidence, but I don’t think that is what you’re talking about). The commerce clause has been interpreted very broadly by two centuries worth of SCOTUS justices. Your interpretation has never existed as public law or policy and it never will.

      • DanMan says:

        Notice Cuffy lists all the commerce that entangles us justifies the federal regulations.

        Now recall one of the repub solutions to lower premiums was to relax the laws that would not allow buying health insurance across state lines. Yet here we are with Obamacare that does exactly that.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually, JohnGalt, Cap IS referring to minorities in prison for drug offenses.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…a business owner or restaurant can be incredibly choosy about with whom they choose to do business. If a restaurant owner decides, “I’m not going to serve food to folks wearing brown shoes”, they are free and legal to do such a thing.

        If the restaurant decides, “I’m not going to serve food to folks wearing brown skin”, then there is a bit of a problem.

        Stern…you, Buzz, and Rand Paul are on a pretty deserted island when it comes to thinking that the country is worse off because restaurants are not allowed to refuse service based on race, gender, etc.

        I am not sure you can point to any evidence or metric (other than, “because freedom”) that would suggest such prohibitions have been a bad thing. We’ve been around this mulberry bush a few times, and I don’t think we’ve heard a compelling argument for allowing discrimination with regard to race, gender, etc., when it comes to hotels, restaurants, apartments, etc.

        Besides, the folks who really, really only want to do business with one particular group or another are perfectly free (freedom!) to open a private club rather than operate in the public marketplace.

        There are probably several hundred “male only” golf clubs in the country, and while it is stupid, they are free to do so. No one is forcing anyone to open a business in the public arena, folks are free to do so if they wish, but then they get to play by public rules.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…you’ve brought this up a few times before, and I’m just not seeing this rhetorical trap you are seeing with regard to a presumption of guilt when it comes to a business not being allowed to refuse service to folks based on race, gender, etc.

        I promise I will read carefully, but walk me through how “hey, you have to serve Black folks if you have a restaurant” involves a presumption of guilt.

        Sincerely, I’m not following the rhetorical path here.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, would you approve of a Black restaurateur discriminating against White clientele?

        Before anyone starts screaming racism . . . this is just an analysis of the current rhetorical path.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…that is just as illegal as the other way around.

        The laws are not written with “you must serve Black folks”, the laws are more, “you cannot discriminate based on race, gender, religion, etc.”.

      • DanMan says:

        in theory yes, but in practice no

        we have a black congressman call Clarence Thomas an Uncle Tom. The reporter asks him why he doesn’t see that as a racists comment. “Because I’m black” was his answer.

        Has a black ever charged with a hate crime? I’ve never heard of it but we have plenty of examples of blacks targeting whites.

        Being black seems to have become a lifestyle now. That the NAACP can give a guy two lifetime achievement awards, and admit they did it because he paid them money, and then demand he lose his team for being saying something racist in his house is beyond insane but it is happening. That The New Black Panthers can block a polling station with clubs, be found guilty of doing so and then have their case thrown out just because shows there is truly a double standard justified by racial discrimination..

      • Intrigued says:

        “you are accusing people of comitting crimes, but you don’t want to have to prove it in a court of law. You are assuming guilt, automatic guilt just because you say so. Our prisons are filled with people that have been accused of comitting the crimes and there is never one bit of proof offered.”

        Stern, the burden of proof always lies on the accuser, even in discrimination cases. Who is assuming guilt?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Cap’s view is that all restaurateurs, Black, White, whatever, should have the right, the freedom, to be discriminatory and/or discriminating, for whatever reason. In that sense, Cap is not racist, since even Blacks would have the right to discriminate.

        Cap is busy taking his cat to the vet, so I feel free to speak for him.

      • Intrigued says:

        Thank you for clearing that up Tutt. I have to say I strongly disagree with his opinion but I hope his cat is ok.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        This “right to discriminate” and be discriminated against sounds great, in theory, because it assumes it would be done across the board, in more or less equal numbers, but in practice, that’s not usually the case, because the dominant group in society would tend to be the principal discriminator.

        I think Cap views things from the vantage point of today, in which private businesses open to the public generally do not discriminate against minorities, and so if a law allowing the “freedom to discriminate” were suddenly passed, only a few businesses would actually go back to that old practice.

      • Intrigued says:

        “Has a black ever charged with a hate crime?” Yes, see below

        “Of the 3,135 single-bias incidents that were motivated by race, 70 percent were incidents of an anti-black bias; an anti-white bias motivated crimes against 18 percent; an anti-Asian/Pacific Islander bias motivated crimes against 5 percent; and 1 percent were incidents of an anti-American Indian/Alaska Native bias.[12]”

        http://www.victimsofcrime.org/library/crime-information-and-statistics/hate-and-bias-crime

      • John Galt says:

        Dan thinks Obamacare relaxes barriers to cross-state health insurance, and it does, kind of. It permits states to enter into multi-state compacts in which insurers can sell policies in any state that signs on. The federal government cannot force states to do this.

        Tutt – I seriously doubt that Sternn’s original complaints were motivated by his concern for minorities in prison for drug crimes. While federal drug sentencing is a horrid mess and is one of the biggest reasons drugs should be legalized, it has not usually been the federal authorities that frame poor minorities for drug crimes.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Tutt, I see several replies showed up since I left work and took the kitten to the vet.

        The assumed guilt is much worse than that. It boils down to this, in order for the federal government to prohibit certain substances it has to have a constitutional power to base it on. When the constitution grants no such power, congress usually turns to the commerce clause.

        No congress knew and still knows that under the constitution, it would have to prove that the substance was knowingly transported across state or international borders in each and every case charges are filed (same with property rights), and congress knew and still knows that is difficult if not impossible to prove in every single case, and it would be a major burden on prosecuters.

        Well, since that is too hard, guilt of interstate or international commerce is simply assumed and automatic. No due process, no burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc..

        Every person here and everywhere else in this nation that supports infringing on private property rights or prohibition or many other things are in fact supporting assumed and automatic guilt without due process. That is the elephant in the room, standing on their toes, that they don;t want anybody to look at.

      • Intrigued says:

        Tutt, my opinion is the only people who would advocate against discrimination laws are people who want the right to discriminate. Why would anyone care about a law they do not intend break?

        I will add that it is not easy to prove discrimination. As HT brought up, a restaurant owner can refuse service to anyone for any reason other than the protected classes. A person would have to prove the restaurant owner refused service to them based on race. If the restaurant owner refused service because the customer wore brown shoes and they could prove they refused service to everyone who wore brown shoes they would be found innocent.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…I hope that cat is well. I don’t know where you live, but if anywhere near Pearland, the Pearland Pet Health Clinic has just about the best vet in the world. If he treated humans, I’d take my boys there.

        I read your assumption of guilt comment three times, and I’m not following it.

        Congress passes a law that says, “you cannot discriminate based on race, gender, etc”…and you think that assumes guilt? Guilt of what?

        Is it your position that the only time the gov’t has the “right” to take something away (e.g., the right to refuse to serve Black folks), is when someone has been found guilty of something? Thus, if the gov’t takes away your right to refuse to serve Black folks, the gov’t assumes you are guilty of something? What is that something?

        Is that it? Sincerely, I’m tying to work my way through this.

        If that is it, I’m still not sure I’m following it. If no law existing (prohibiting the refusal to serve Black folks), of what would be people be guilty?

        I’m sorry I’m lost in this. I’m really trying to walk my way to your point.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “The federal government cannot force states to do this.”

        It cannot force states to sign on with each other, but it can force them to accept policies sold from out of state. That would be a legitimate use of the commerce clause. There current interpretation is not 200 years old, it was only established by FDR’s socialist democrats in 1937, then upheld in the Wickard vs Filburn case in the early 1940s.

        HT, I hope I explained the assumed and automatic guilt in my above comment. Under due process, the prosecuters would have to establish interstate commerce in every case of drugs and in every case of discrimination, and not just because somebody bought gasoline or some other product through interstate or international commerce. It would have to apply specifically to that case, that product and that service.

        And John, Tutt is correct in that I am talking about minorities in the prison system for non-violent drug charges. Modern prohibition is based on racism and the assumption of guilt in interstate commerce.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Intrigue – People can support laws legalizing marijuana use and prostituion and not engage in either.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “and you think that assumes guilt? Guilt of what?”

        Interstate or international commerce in that specific case. If you buy a product from Amazon and it ships from California, you have engaged in interstate commerce. But that doesn’t mean that if you buy a rose grown locally or your neighbor gives you a tomato from his garden that you are guilty of interstate commerce in that transaction just because you had bought something else that was shipped from California.

        Why is this so hard to understand? The federal government is accusing a person of participating in forbidden interstate commerce in a specific case, but it doesn’t have to prove guilt of said interstate or international commerce in that specific case.

        Or is it that you, John and others do understand it, but you think the laws are right so you excuse assumed and automatic guilt because you support the results? Is it that the ends justify the means?

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Why would anyone care about a law they do not intend break?”

        To support and protect individual liberty and rights for all.

      • Intrigued says:

        True Tutt but they usually don’t passionately advocate for legalizing either. When discussing an existing law it is even harder to see why someone would be so passionate in eliminating a law they never plan on breaking.

      • Intrigued says:

        “To support and protect individual liberty and rights for all.” And that Stern is exactly what anti discrimination laws enforce.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I get it Captain. If a private citizen owns a business he or she has the right to sell to whomever they want. Not so hard to understand.

        Intrigued, when abortion was illegal, does that mean you have no say in the matter? Or because you couldn’t participate, you have no say?

      • CaptSternn says:

        “And that Stern is exactly what anti discrimination laws enforce.”

        Through assumed and automatic guilt of a crime of interstate or international commerce in each specific and individual case. It also violates property rights.

        Thanks to those who expressed concerns for the cat. He is a new addition to the family, just showed up on Sunday. I normally will not have anything to do with strays, will not welcome them, will avoid feeding them or anything else. But this little guy is a kitten, vet estimated about 10 months old. He just showed up and was already very people friendly. More so than the cat I adopted several years ago. I think he was dumped. He developed an eye problem right away, and it wasn’t getting any better. I am now a two cat person, which I have never been before. They are not getting along. Meh.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Intrigue, think about it. Cap is not the one focused on racial discrimination. As I’ve pointed out, the topic of race and racism within the GOP comes up constantly on this blog, and so Cap addresses it and defends it in his own roundabout way constantly. Same with me. I’m not particularly interested in second amendment rights or same sex marriage, but they are hot topics these days, and so I address them.

      • Intrigued says:

        I’m going to have to just agree to disagree here. All I see is justification for discrimination.

      • Intrigued says:

        I get that part Tutt but you also don’t say things like gay marriage somehow takes away your right to get married.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Intrigued, you could just say that the ends justify the means. Assumed and automatic guilt without due process fits with your ideas.

        And there are no laws against same sex marriage. Natural born citizens will not be stripped of their citizenship and people will not be fined or imprisoned for entering into a same sex marriage.

        But people will be fined and even imprisoned for engaging in interstate or international commerce without due process of law, with no proof of doing so even required. All you can do is look the other way and change the subject. Same as John and HT. Don’t dare shine the light into those dark corners because you don’t want to look and you don’t want to have them exposed.

        Kabuzz brought up a good point, does HT support the “right” to kill innocent people for convenience because he wants to kill innocent people for convenience? Is that why you support the “right” to do so?

      • CaptSternn says:

        “All I see is justification for discrimination.”

        All I see here is justification for you to say things I disagree with. All I see here is Texan’s right to avoid religion and deny God.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Intrigue, that’s cool. You see what you see, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I know the real Cap, and that’s all that matters.

        Good night.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…something like 18 times I’ve said I’m sincerely trying to figure this out. By now, I think you can understand when I say something like, “sincerely” or “no snark”, I’m actually being sincere.

        I’ve been trying to walk through your thinking for a couple of hours, legitimately trying to follow along, and your constant, “HT. Don’t dare shine the light into those dark corners because you don’t want to look and you don’t want to have them exposed” and “does HT support the “right” to kill innocent people for convenience because he wants to kill innocent people for convenience?” trash is so off-the-wall useless that it drives a person simply to give up and not even try to understand from where you are coming.

        I’m trying really hard to work through your interpretation of the commerce clause and how that is getting to assumed guilt, and you throw that trash around.

        At some point, as we do this thing on this blog, we have to calm the heck down and realize that maybe, just maybe some folks just don’t exactly see from where we are coming, maybe some don’t understand the exact way we are phrasing things, or maybe we aren’t the clearest and best writers who have figured out exactly the way to communicate our ideas rather than always assuming the worst.

        It simply is no way to have any kind of a discussion.

        I hope the cat does well and they start getting along.

        Have a pleasant evening all.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Ht, simply prove that every case of discrimnation or drug possession is guilty of interstae or international commerce. Every individual case. No assumption of guilt.

        Now, like the rest of y’all, good night.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Allow me (sorry to reopen the can of worms). I think I understand now what Cap is saying about the commerce clause and the assumption of guilt. First of all, it must be proven that a person knowingly transported something across state lines, in order to prosecute them. It’s easier to assume blanket guilt than to have to try every single case. In other words, the assumption of guilt is based on simple laziness.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Individual cases of racial discrimination are difficult to prove, as Intrigue herself indicated; therefore it’s easier to just assume everyone is guilty.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, I was thinking along the same lines just before you posted your comment, that instead of automatically assuming the worst about each other, we should all give each other the benefit of the doubt.

        Also, I notice you’re obsessively avoiding ending sentences with prepositions. What’s up with that?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Therefore, we need to guard against the assumption of guilt on this very blog.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Cap, nice of you to rescue the stray, even if that’s not your cup of tea. Particularly if that’s not your cup of tea. As for not getting along, it will take some time to get the ground rules mutually agreed upon with each other. Sunday to now is still quite a short time for full adjustment. The existing cat probably still resents the “intruder”. And at 10 months, if he/she is not already spayed/ neutered, I would make that appointment fairly quickly. 10 months is technically still a kitten yes, but would already be exhibiting tomcat characteristics regarding territorial fighting and spraying if a male. And neither of those are the least bit pleasant. And if a female and in heat, it will drive males nuts, neutered or not. Best of luck to you Cap and don’t throw in the towel early. Two cats are way more than twice as enjoyable as one.

      • Intrigued says:

        Oh Tutt, bless you for taking on this role as interpreter. Stern’s argument on this issue is based on finding technicalities that somehow give business owners the constitutional right to discriminate. I’m sure I could research the commerce clause to find out whether or not his claims have any validity but it’s pointless when I don’t agree with his overall argument.

        I will add that the only reason I engaged in this discussion is because I didn’t want to believe Stern’s argument was that businesses have a constitutional right to discriminate. I really was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Intrigued, Tutt has it exactly right. The federal government does have the power to prohibit discrimnation or smoking marijuana, but ony in the case where that action was during a transaction of interstate or international commerce. Imagine if in every federal drug case the prosecuter had to prove that it was a deliberate act of interstate or international commerce. Imagine if the the prosecuters had to prove that every act of discrimination was during an interstate or internatiol act of commerce, especially since commerce was refused and didn’t take place, there was no commerce at all.

        How do you get around that? Guilt is automatic and assumed, no due process, no burden of proof required. You can say the ends justify the means when it comes to discrimination, but you also wind up with prisons full of people due to discrimination.

        So I would ask you this, does the fact that a black business owner has to serve whites justify millions of people in prison? Also consider that forcing a black business owner against his will is involuntary servitude, which is prohibited under the 13th amendment.

      • John Galt says:

        Sternn, you do enjoy turning the discrimination angle around – so forcing a black business owner to serve whites is involuntary servitude? I really, really, think you need a better understanding of what “involuntary servitude” meant historically and why the 13th amendment was instituted. Your apparently reflexive tendency to invoke modern comparisons to slavery really do your arguments no favors.

        I know you are trying to make a point with the black-against-white discrimination, questions about blacks committing hate crimes, etc., but in the spectrum of discrimination in this country, these are grains of sand on a mountain of blacks as victims of these insults. Anti-discrimination laws were instituted precisely because of the failure of states to protect the rights of minorities.

        Your view of “interstate commerce” does not agree with two centuries of SCOTUS rulings and would have the effect of legalizing drugs by making enforcement impossible (or amazingly expensive). This is terrible policy.

      • CaptSternn says:

        So, John, you are in the boat with the idea that the ends justify the means, even if that means assumed and automatic guilt. And again, the 1940s were not 200 years ago.

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