Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Obama's Anti-Americanism

Rate this topic


Publius
 Share

Recommended Posts

Why is it that there are only two people on this forum who cannot rationally understand the same meaning of the article as the rest of us?

Regardless the fact remains that Obama is in favor of wealth distribution. Wealth redistribution is anti-American.

America is the nation where people made their ways on their own ability, not hand outs. Our country is based on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Redistribution of wealth destroys liberty because it makes some slaves to others. There is no pursuit of happiness because happiness is state-distributed. Life to us becomes unlivable when our wealth is seized to help the inept.

Mammon all you do is find Obama topics, and attempt to tear apart every argument with cynicism and negativity claiming they are making faulty arguments when you allow no more backing of your point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 101
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

It would appear to me that Obama topics are all that Mammon truly cares about. I don't think I've ever seen him post in a way that would display an understanding of, or interest in learning about, Objectivism.

Mammon, why are you here? To shill for Obama? Did he or one of his minions put you up to this? (If so he or she must be disappointed in the results.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had this testimony on my mind all day today when thinking about the ideas of the first Americans. Here are the experts from Benjamin Franklin's testimony in the British Parliament in 1776.

Q. Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp

duty, if it was moderated?

A. No, never, unless compelled by force of arms. . . .

Q. What is your opinion of a future tax, imposed on the same principle

with that of the Stamp Act? How would the Americans receive it?

A. Just as they do this. They would not pay it.

Q. If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would it induce the assemblies

of America to acknowledge the right of Parliament to tax them, and

would they erase their resolutions [against the Stamp Act ]?

A. No, never.

Q. Is there no means of obliging them to erase those resolutions?

A. None that I know of; they will never do it, unless compelled by force of

arms.

Q. Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?

A. No power, how greatsoever, can force men to change their

opinions. . . .

Q. What used to be the pride of the Americans?

A. To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.

Q. What is now their pride?

A. To wear their old clothes over again, till they can make new ones.

edit:

Forgot this part:

Q. Don't you know that the money arising from the stamps was all to be

laid out in America?

A. I know it is appropriated by the act to the American service; but it will

be spent in the conquered colonies, where the soldiers are, not in the

colonies that pay it. . . .

Edited by ~Sophia~
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is Obama later in the interview: You know, the court's just not very good at it, and politically, it's just -- it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think that, although, you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally -- you know, I think you can, any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts -- I think that, as a practical matter, our institutions just are poorly equipped to do it.

So how can this be interpreted as "he wishes it did"?

For what it's worth, I share Sophia's interpretation of the quote and I'm surprised you're having difficulty reaching our conclusion. Obama does favor redistribution through the courts; he just doesn't think it is likely to actually happen that way. That's why he is leveraging the legislature.

That has been the American tradition for over 100 years (and even longer if you look at the attitudes of those such as Hamilton -see quote I provided- towards a society that looks out for the least wealthy. And it is based on the empirical evidence of hundreds of years of observation that capitalism pools wealth disproportionately. That's why I say Objectivists should not too closely associate themselves with American ideals, because American ideals, while overlapping at times with Objectivist principles, are fundamentally different.
I'm curious to know what you think of "disproportionate wealth pooling". Specifically, why should I care if some are wealthier than others so long as there is general prosperity? Also, why are income-equality studies significant in light of the fact that such studies track aggregates, not actual people?

This last question might be unclear, so I'll elaborate. The studies that track wealth distribution can tell you how many people per capita earn how much, and how one bracket relates to another; what they don't tell you is who is in each bracket year to year - consequently they have absolutely nothing to say about income mobility throughout each bracket. For a larger explanation of this, see this piece by Thomas Sowell.

Edited by FeatherFall
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see how FDR and Obama are distinguishable in their goals. Obama has not said he wants to wreck the progress of America. He hasn't said anything like that. His political philosophy is pretty closely tied in with the FDR administration, so if you want to say Obama is out to destroy America, you must believe the same of FDR.

Obama isn't some boogey man out to wreck America. Hey may well do it, but I don't think he wants to. He is as contradictory to our founding principles as George Bush was, as Carter and LBJ and FDR and Wilson were.

Of course Obama holds the idea in his head that he doesn't want to destroy America and wants America to be great. I've even heard him say that he wants America to regain its place as the world leader in science and technology. But his policies and values stand in direct opposition to those goals.

When someone's wants are disconnected from the rational means of achieving them, what they want no longer matters. What they do is all that counts. A mind that functions without regard for the nature of reality or man, without regard for the necessary steps between wish and accomplishment, functions on the level of an infant, on a primacy of consciousness.

Obama wants good things to magically happen, because he doesn't care to identify the way that the good truly does happen, and he can count on Americans not caring either. Oblivious to the nature of reality, he fills in the steps between with any pet whims that he wants. If they benefit someone, somehow, that must make America stronger. Billions have to be wasted on failed auto manufacturers, in order to save auto workers' jobs. The government has to cripple the oil industry to support alternative energy businesses. Guantanamo has to be shut down to get the world to like us again. Global warming must be combatted, or polar bears will drown. We must double our national debt to save future generations. How? Blank out.

Because Obama (and this goes for anyone in Washington) acts on the primacy of consciousness, he holds no principles, good or bad. Instead he starts with values cobbled together from a life of passive collectivism. Today, he promotes those values, and makes them real by pointing a gun, with pragmatic compromises and feel-good slogans. His admirers, and those who don't know any better, laud his "intelligence". This man isn't intelligent. His speech is a mesmerizing fog of contradictions, non-sequiturs, and second-hand pap, accented by a few out-of-context facts, and strung together just well enough for those who can't think to mistake it for intelligence.

The reason to fear Obama is not because he wants to destroy America. The reason to fear him is because he can't tell the difference between good and evil, and neither can Americans.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course Obama holds the idea in his head that he doesn't want to destroy America and wants America to be great. I've even heard him say that he wants America to regain its place as the world leader in science and technology. But his policies and values stand in direct opposition to those goals.

When someone's wants are disconnected from the rational means of achieving them, what they want no longer matters. What they do is all that counts. A mind that functions without regard for the nature of reality or man, without regard for the necessary steps between wish and accomplishment, functions on the level of an infant, on a primacy of consciousness.

Obama wants good things to magically happen, because he doesn't care to identify the way that the good truly does happen, and he can count on Americans not caring either. Oblivious to the nature of reality, he fills in the steps between with any pet whims that he wants. If they benefit someone, somehow, that must make America stronger. Billions have to be wasted on failed auto manufacturers, in order to save auto workers' jobs. The government has to cripple the oil industry to support alternative energy businesses. Guantanamo has to be shut down to get the world to like us again. Global warming must be combatted, or polar bears will drown. We must double our national debt to save future generations. How? Blank out.

Because Obama (and this goes for anyone in Washington) acts on the primacy of consciousness, he holds no principles, good or bad. Instead he starts with values cobbled together from a life of passive collectivism. Today, he promotes those values, and makes them real by pointing a gun, with pragmatic compromises and feel-good slogans. His admirers, and those who don't know any better, laud his "intelligence". This man isn't intelligent. His speech is a mesmerizing fog of contradictions, non-sequiturs, and second-hand pap, accented by a few out-of-context facts, and strung together just well enough for those who can't think to mistake it for intelligence.

The reason to fear Obama is not because he wants to destroy America. The reason to fear him is because he can't tell the difference between good and evil, and neither can Americans.

But then he just subsides to the lower rung of bad presidents like Wilson, FDR, Bush and others. All these men were led by IDEAS. They all wanted America to be powerful and successful, and their plans were almost wholly flawed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But then he just subsides to the lower rung of bad presidents like Wilson, FDR, Bush and others. All these men were led by IDEAS. They all wanted America to be powerful and successful, and their plans were almost wholly flawed.

Your assessment ignores two essential facts. First, none of these men consistently put their ideas into action. They allowed their actions to be determined by a contradicting soup of ideas and whims. Second, Obama stands to be a more dangerous pragmatist than the others because of the degree to which he embraces socialism and rejects freedom. Yes, they all wanted America to be powerful and their plans were flawed. That does not mean they were/are all equally destructive. They all drift pragmatically between the narrow extremes of liberalism and conservatism, but they drift over considerably different ranges. Hence the source over which people argue politics.

[Added]: Not to be ignored in this discussion is the power of persuasion. Two politicians may have the same ideology, but the one who is more articulate and charismatic will get more of his goals realized. This is an advantage that Obama has over Bush.

Edited by KurtColville
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[Added]: Not to be ignored in this discussion is the power of persuasion. Two politicians may have the same ideology, but the one who is more articulate and charismatic will get more of his goals realized. This is an advantage that Obama has over Bush.

My nominee for understatement of the year. (Though Obama needs help from a teleprompter, at least he does well with one.)

By all indications Bush was no idiot. (You don't learn to fly a jet if you are one--much less do so while managing weapons.) He may have been utterly uninterested in ideas (yikes!), stubborn, and unable to speak in complete sentences if the fate of the free world depended on it, and utterly wrong on so many things, but he was no moron.

Neither is Obama, and Obama can speak and probably is interested in ideas. Very bad ones. And he too is utterly wrong on a great many things; possibly more things than was GWB.

We are in for interesting times, that's for sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's the whole point of the disagreement. You can't slither around it now and say, "Well, he favors redistribution in general." Of COURSE he favors redistribution of wealth, just not through the courts. That has been the American tradition for over 100 years (and even longer if you look at the attitudes of those such as Hamilton -see quote I provided- towards a society that looks out for the least wealthy. And it is based on the empirical evidence of hundreds of years of observation that capitalism pools wealth disproportionately. That's why I say Objectivists should not too closely associate themselves with American ideals, because American ideals, while overlapping at times with Objectivist principles, are fundamentally different.

I take exception to the troll remark. I am not making inflammatory statements, and they are supported with argument and evidence. Don't reduce this to attacks on personal integrity.

Really? Cause I answered exactly your assertion that American ideals over the country's history conform to what Obama is preaching, here. (In answer to you repeatedly asking "How is Obama anti-American?". If you wanted an answer so strongly to that question, that you posted it five times or more, how 'bout at least acknowledge the answer, accepting or refuting its content. )

And then, very clearly I must add, I challenged your assertion, which you are by the way repeating, that Objectivists consider America to be a fundamentally Objectivist country. (here)

Then (just above the last link) I also answered your accusation that Sophia's quote is a sign of hypocrisy. You'd think someone who cares about the meaning of his words would then explain why I'm wrong or take back the fucking insult.

Instead, you do precisely what trolls do: continue on your way, insisting that what "America" means to the World and to human history can be reduced to a few out-of-context quotes from Madison which prove that Obama is doing exactly what everyone else before him was doing. (forget the fact that no president in American history looked at a 3 trillion $ budget, a 1 trillion $ deficit and said: "Right, we need to increase these, that's what we need to do! Why? Because its in the public interest. Have some faith people.".)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You don't even acknowledge the likelihood that he has good intentions. I don't know how you can have read anything about the man and come to that conclusion.

As for Obama having good intentions, or being just like those before him: the reason why that isn't true is not just the fact that he favors redistribution: it is the fact that at this point in history, when redistribution is greater than ever, and the economy is in trouble, he favors even more redistribution, and even more aggressive government expansion into the economy.

There is a difference between someone wanting redistribution, but less of it, and Obama. That difference is what makes Obama anti-American, in the sphere of economics. (and the guy settling for a little less redistribution just the wrong type of American)

If your definition of good means socialism, then he has good intentions.

If your definition of good means Islamic Law, the bin Laden has good intentions.

If you definition of good is that which made America prosperous, then Obama's intentions cannot be good, Objectivism or no Objectivism. His intention's "goodness" depend on the nature of those intentions, not on what he thinks that nature is.

Marx for instance had bad intentions because he wanted to destroy the upper class, not because he wanted to starve millions to death in China and Russia. If you want to say he had good intentions because he wanted those millions to prosper, you'd be wrong: his intention wasn't to give them food, but to destroy the rich. Whatever he thought the consequences of his intentions might be, well that's just irrelevant: what matters is what the consequences were. Same with Obama: he wants to take first, and give second. His first intention is to take. The true consequences of that action are what defines him morally, not what his twisted ideology makes him think they might be, or what his inflated ego tells him he can do with that loot.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That you cannot conclude that from that particular interview. There isn't much of his personal views you really can conclude from it to begin with. He was on the show as a commentator on the event. I don't think the Warren Court was very radical, so does that make me anti-American?
I didn't ask whether one could conclude that he was "anti-American" or whether one could conclude what he thought about the Warren court. I was asking if one could conclude anything about Obama's views on wealth redistribution.

Earlier, I provided a link to a short article. Admittedly, it was a blog, but it was ABC-hosted, not some GOP site. This is the link. I don't intend to listen to the interview itself; I'm done with my personal analysis of Obama, and I voted for him to boot! However, if there's something factually incorrect reported in that article, I'd like to know.

To me, from the snippets there is seems abundantly clear that Obama supports redistribution of wealth. That is why I asked about that narrow question. Now, of course, one can come back with a rejoinder that most GOP folk support redistribution too, etc. But, that wasn't my point. I was curious if you could hear that interview and think that you had insufficient evidence to conclude that Obama is in favor of the government redistributing wealth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your opening essay, while long on rhetoric, is short on specific criticism.

Whoa, did I just get you to actually read it? Life is full of surprises! :) Although I'm still not sure if it's really the right essay you read, because what I wrote is not just short on specific criticism, it contains NO specific criticism! If you don't already know what I disagree with Obama on, you're not my intended audience.

Now, as to the rest of your post: I would agree that the Bush administration made many mistakes, and probably even that it made America worse off than it was eight years ago (and, while I wouldn't go as far as to say that we are less safe than we were 8 years ago, I'd agree that we are not as safe as we ought to be), I have to strongly disagree with your specific criticism of Bush's policies. The things you say you disagree with were precisely the things that, if he had done them, would have made him a good President.

What? You never mentioned Bush? Sorry, I was following the "great American tradition" of responding without reading your post!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Positive public programs are neither constitutionally required nor flatly unconstitutional, they are a matter of legislation.

What exactly is a "Positive public program"? Would those be the kinds of programs where 51% of the cannibals feel positive about eating the other 49%?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your assessment ignores two essential facts. First, none of these men consistently put their ideas into action. They allowed their actions to be determined by a contradicting soup of ideas and whims. Second, Obama stands to be a more dangerous pragmatist than the others because of the degree to which he embraces socialism and rejects freedom. Yes, they all wanted America to be powerful and their plans were flawed. That does not mean they were/are all equally destructive. They all drift pragmatically between the narrow extremes of liberalism and conservatism, but they drift over considerably different ranges. Hence the source over which people argue politics.

[Added]: Not to be ignored in this discussion is the power of persuasion. Two politicians may have the same ideology, but the one who is more articulate and charismatic will get more of his goals realized. This is an advantage that Obama has over Bush.

Let's leave all that for history, then. Obama has only been president for a week now.

FDR definitely had deep rootings in socialism. Bush had his ideals in a kind of mix between Christianity, Conservatisim and Welfare Statism.

This is a silly conversation. In the end, it will be America who is apparently anti-American. As George Carlin said, these people don't fall out of the sky; they come from American homes, American schools and American churches. THis is the best we can do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a silly conversation. In the end, it will be America who is apparently anti-American.

Isn't that exactly the essence of altruism? Being against yourself?

I addressed this in the essay, too: "the true American sense of life has continued to persist under the rule of the nihilist intelligentsia. [...] It would be an injustice to many freedom-loving, independent-souled individuals to accuse them of having chosen their own destruction, or willfully surrendered their own greatness. What has in truth happened to them is that they have become a minority in a what is now a democracy."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Individualists have become an insignificant minority at that. This country is quickly becoming a split between the Leftists and the Religious, and those too are becoming less and less distinguishable.

The minority are fringe groups of the libertarian and socialist movements.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't ask whether one could conclude that he was "anti-American" or whether one could conclude what he thought about the Warren court. I was asking if one could conclude anything about Obama's views on wealth redistribution.

That last sentence was an independent thought I just tagged on there. To clear it up for you, no... based on the snippets of that interview I don't think it's possible to conclude that he "wishes" the courts would bring about the "redistributive change" like Sophia said it meant. Or that, as she later puts it, it's trajedy that it didn't. He says it's a trajedy that the civil rights movement became more court focused.

I was making a post to say just that to Sophia last night, but I saw her latest post, and that comment about me not understanding English and decided I don't have the time for that.

Earlier, I provided a link to a short article. Admittedly, it was a blog, but it was ABC-hosted, not some GOP site. This is the link. I don't intend to listen to the interview itself; I'm done with my personal analysis of Obama, and I voted for him to boot! However, if there's something factually incorrect reported in that article, I'd like to know.

Nothing factually incorrect was reported. Tapper presented both sides of the issue very clearly.

To me, from the snippets there is seems abundantly clear that Obama supports redistribution of wealth.

To me, I think the talks of redistribution of wealth are about people having a knee-jerk, emotional reaction to a buzz word and proceeding to find as many ways to take it out of context, or twist it into something else, as they possibly can.

That is why I asked about that narrow question. Now, of course, one can come back with a rejoinder that most GOP folk support redistribution too, etc. But, that wasn't my point.

Yes, and my point isn't about support of or for "redistribution".

I was curious if you could hear that interview and think that you had insufficient evidence to conclude that Obama is in favor of the government redistributing wealth.

I could and I do.

Edited by Mammon
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could and I do.
I can understand if you interpreted Obama as not supporting bringing about wealth redistribution via the courts; but, I cannot understand how you can read it and say he did not support wealth redistribution as such.

After saying there was too much focus on the courts, he puts forward this alternative: "... political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change"

What are "coalitions of power"? Surely he does not mean cooperatives that black people form, in order to further their skills, their education, their earning potential and therefore their wealth. That would not be a coalition of "power". Also, notice that he is clear that these are "political", not merely community-organizing. So, what is a "political ... coalition of power"?

Then, in response to a caller asking for clarification, he says this: "Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor... I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way."When he says he is not optimistic about using the courts for this, he is saying that using the courts will be ineffective. Clearly, he thinks it would be good if that route would work -- otherwise why would he say that he is "not optimistic"? If he did not support the basic cause, he would not merely criticize the implementation, nor would he offer an alternative to achieve the same goal. He is an articulate person. If he did not support the basic cause, he would not speak of "optimism", nor would he "show his bias as a legislator", by pointing out that other political routes were preferable.

Obama makes his meaning quite clear: he would like to see redistributive change come about, but thinks that one has to use political power groups that can go the legislative route. Merely using the courts is not going to get it.

Consider a different subject; say, abortion. The court reached some equilibrium in Roe v. Wade and they won't budge. Now, if someone says: "I am not optimistic about overturning Roe v. Wade through the courts; we should organize a political power group and use the legislative route", it would be clear that he is supporting of overturning Roe v. Wade. [The only other possibility is that he does not understand what "optimistic" means.]

BTW, I think he is right about this. Usually, the courts will only go so far, without legislative guidance and an overall change of political mood. For instance, if an employee had gone to court in the late 1800's and insisted on being paid overtime, the courts would probably have laughed him out. Then, the Populist party got a million votes in the 1892 election, putting the powers-that-be on notice. The Democrats co-opted major agenda-items from the Populist party and nearly won the 1896 election. then, about 15 years later, the 8 hour week became law. So, Obama is right: one has to go the legislative route; the courts will only go so far.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... he wants redistributive change. If that is what he wants, then in no way could he be happy that it failed in the courts.

Obama is saying that the court is an inadequate mechanism to enact such change. So therefore he would not want such change to be initiated there. He said he and almost any law scholar could concoct a plausible rationalization to do so, but he would not do so, even if given the chance. If you go through the courts, you won't get a comprehensive approach (as anyone who has studied constitutional law can say), so its actually can be counterproductive to do so. Just because he wants a certain outcome doesn't mean he isn't prudent enough to know the best way there.

The fact that the constitution specified what government could do, and that all else was prohibited, is easily understood. That said, positive public programs are not mentioned anywhere in the constitution so I fail to understand how they are not constitutional.

As Obama said, the Constitution outlines what the government can't do, now what it can do. If the founding fathers tried to enumerate every single thing the the government could do to best protect individual rights, national security, and the general welfare, it would have been a completely unworkable and shortly outlived document.

Even Hamilton's quote does not justify the last 100 years. He wrote, "tends to guard the least wealthy part of the community from oppression!" People are not oppressed by the wealth of others, are they? If not than "redistributive change," has no place in the US.

Now you're getting to the interesting part. One of the main concerns of the founding fathers was the presence of factions in society and their detrimental impact. Here is John Adams in a letter to Jefferson in 1787: "You are afraid of the one-I of the few. We agree perfectly that the many should have a full fair and perfect representation. You are apprehensive about monarchy, I of aristocracy. "

Even at that early time, Adams and others considered the wealthy to be a faction that could wield undue influence contrary to the common people. In A Defence of the constitutions of government of the United States, he writes: "If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest or that of their families, counties and party to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution in favor of justice to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations."

Is John Adams anti-American? Hamilton?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the founding fathers tried to enumerate every single thing the the government could do to best protect individual rights, national security, and the general welfare, it would have been a completely unworkable and shortly outlived document.

American Constitution was written with a specific purpose (which happens to be incompatible with what you state above) of limiting the power of the government. It's role was and is to secure the freedom of action for American citizens so they could freely improve their own condition. Freedom of action is what is necessary to exercise your individual rights. The best thing a government can do is to do NOTHING aside from providing for defense and internal order. Thus the concept of negative liberties which means freedom from interference. "a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do." - Thomas Hobbes. The Founders understood that. They were distrustful of democracy, a distrust reflected in the Constitution’s system of checks and balances for the purpose of creating a safeguard of liberty.

To imply that more state power somehow increases liberty is pure nonsense.

You are either uninformed (in which case you should stop making false claims as if you speak from the position of the know) or trolling.

P.S I personally do not like the term negative liberties because liberty can not be anything other than negative (and this term implies that there can be other types). Liberty is the absence of external control.

Edited by ~Sophia~
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obama is saying that the court is an inadequate mechanism to enact such change. So therefore he would not want such change to be initiated there. He said he and almost any law scholar could concoct a plausible rationalization to do so, but he would not do so, even if given the chance. If you go through the courts, you won't get a comprehensive approach (as anyone who has studied constitutional law can say), so its actually can be counterproductive to do so. Just because he wants a certain outcome doesn't mean he isn't prudent enough to know the best way there.

I don't disagree with that. My only point in this regard is that he does wish to redistribute more wealth. How he does it is morally irrelevant to him as well as myself.

As Obama said, the Constitution outlines what the government can't do, now what it can do. If the founding fathers tried to enumerate every single thing the the government could do to best protect individual rights, national security, and the general welfare, it would have been a completely unworkable and shortly outlived document.

I think that I see now. You think of the founding of the country in a completely opposite way from my understanding. The constitution was intended to limit government to it's just role by enumerating specifically what it could do.

This quote by madison regarding the 9th amendment may make more clear their intentions.

"The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution."

I think they were more than clear in a great many areas that the powers were to be limited. This rewriting of history, where the constitution is a "living document," meant to serve the people in whatever way they collectively desire is really indefensible, if that is where you are going with your argument. To begin with, you would have to justify their intense loathing for democracy and it's inherent "right" of people to vote away their rights. Second you would have to overcome the difficulties of explicit limitation by the 9th and 10th amendments. In over 200years of supreme court cases this hasn't been accomplished. The best they can do is to ignore them completely and hope we're to dumb to notice.(which collectively, we are.)

Now you're getting to the interesting part. One of the main concerns of the founding fathers was the presence of factions in society and their detrimental impact. Here is John Adams in a letter to Jefferson in 1787: "You are afraid of the one-I of the few. We agree perfectly that the many should have a full fair and perfect representation. You are apprehensive about monarchy, I of aristocracy. "

Even at that early time, Adams and others considered the wealthy to be a faction that could wield undue influence contrary to the common people. In A Defence of the constitutions of government of the United States, he writes: "If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest or that of their families, counties and party to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution in favor of justice to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations."

Is John Adams anti-American? Hamilton?

That quote, not unlike "general welfare," was meant to refer to respect for rights. Not the creation of a welfare state. To "provide for the general welfare," meant, in other words, to provide for all of those thing which affect everyone generally, with respect to the protection of rights. ie the rule of law, military protection.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I seem to have become lost somewhere in this thread. The question, as far as I can tell: does Obama explicitly advocate redistribution of wealth? One particular interview has been nit-picked to the point of scabbing. Why are we only using this particular interview?

Does nobody remember the "Joe the Plumber" controversy? Am I imagining the whole scene in which Obama hands down, undeniably advocated redistribution of the wealth?

Why are we relying on one very ambiguous interview to ascertain the man's motives? Why not hear it straight from the horse's mouth, according to a more concrete interview, caught on camera, with Barack Obama fully in view saying clearly something to the effect of "what's wrong with redistribution of the wealth?"

Perhaps I'm off-topic; if I am, I apologize.

-WC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No you're on-topic. Someone quoted that recent interview and then a couple people felt like tearing it apart for irrelevant points on the court issue. we all know he wants to redistribute wealth, it's part of how he got elected. and that is the whole argument finished. But now Publius on an objectivist board is trying to demonstrate that the founding fathers did not believe in individual rights and liberty but instead on welfare ideals which had not yet even been practiced experimentally. This topic has gotten several kinds of ridiculous but i guess irrationality is expected where Obama is concerned

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had this testimony on my mind all day today when thinking about the ideas of the first Americans. Here are the experts from Benjamin Franklin's testimony in the British Parliament in 1776.

font]

I'm not sure of the point you were trying to make, but in this country we learned in grade school that the colonists were opposed to taxation without representation, not to taxation itself.

Interesting you brought up Franklin, because it was his idea to propose the general welfare clause to the constitution.

More from Hamilton from the Report on Manufacturer's in 1791 (the definitive exposition on this view of the general welfare clause); Hamilton declared unequivocally that the Federal government had the right to promote manufactures under the General Welfare Clause of Article I, Section 8. The objects for which Congress can raise money, Hamilton explained, "are no less comprehensive then the payment of the Public debts, and providing for the common defense and the general Welfare.''

He continued:

"The terms `general Welfare' were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise, numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a nation would have been left without a provision. The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union to appropriate its revenues should have been restricted within narrower limit than the `General Welfare' and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification or of definition.''

Hamilton then says that it is left to the discretion of the legislature to determine what matters concern the general welfare, adding: "And there seems to be no room for a doubt that whatever concerns the general interests of {Learning,} of {Agriculture,} of {Manufactures,} and of {Commerce,} are within the sphere of the national Councils, {as far as regards an application of money.}"

In his Final Address to the Congress in 1796, George Washington endorsed Hamilton's view.

Washington noted that "Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of Manufactures,'' and he argued that much more needed to be done, especially invoking the idea of the dangers of the country remaining dependent on foreign supply.

Washington also argued that, "with reference to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance,'' and he proposed the creation of institutions for promoting agriculture through "premiums, and small pecuniary aids, to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and improvement.''

An illuminating anecdote from the Constitutional Convention provides a window into the discussion: Charles McHenry of Maryland suggested the inclusion of a power to enable the legislature to erect piers for the protection of shipping and as an aid to navigation. Gouverneur Morris advised McHenry that this could be done under the General Welfare clause.

And finally, I will post this item from a good web page on this subject. It pertains to the first Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, and his interpretation of this matter:

As Hamilton emphasized over and over again, the national government cannot promote the general welfare unless it has the power to do so. This was not a settled issue in the early years of the Republic--indeed, to some, it is still yet not a settled issue today.

It fell to John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States from 1801 to 1835, to ensure that the Hamiltonian view was established as our fundamental law. Marshall's 1819 opinion in the case involving the National Bank, {McCulloch v. Maryland,} is a milestone for the confirmation of the national government's exercise of its power to promote the general welfare--and, it is also clear, to carry out its Manifest Destiny as a Continental Republic, ``from sea to shining sea.''

The background of the case was as follows. The second Bank of the United States was created in 1816, after the refusal of Congress to recharter the Bank on the eve of the War of 1812. But the bank was horribly mismanaged, and the Monroe administration pursued free trade and a veto of internal improvements. By the beginning of 1819, the Bank of the United States had collapsed, insolvencies and bankruptcy fraud were rampant, and the credit system and the economy as a whole were in utter chaos.

The case before the Supreme Court grew out of the attempts by the state of Maryland (among others) to tax the operations of the Bank. In his ruling reaffirming the power of Congress to establish a national bank--and repudiating the attempt of Maryland to destroy it--Marshall drew directly on Hamilton's arguments in the ``Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bank.''

Marshall began in the logical place--the Preamble to the Constitution. Remarking on the conditions under the Confederation, Marshall wrote, the states themselves were competent to form the Confederation. ``But when, `In order to form a more perfect union,' it was deemed necessary to change this alliance in to an effective government, possessing great and sovereign powers, and acting directly upon the people; the necessity of referring it to the people, and of deriving its power directly from them, was felt and acknowledged by all.

``The government of the Union, then ... is emphatically and truly a government of the people. In form and in substance it emanates from then, its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit.''

(If this has a familiar echo, it should. By some accounts, Abraham Lincoln's ``of the people, by the people, for the people'' is derived directly from Marshall's opinion in the bank case.)

Against the so-called ``strict constructionists,'' (or nominalists, we could call them), Marshall argued that the nature of a Constitution is such ``that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated,'' and that everything else flows from that. Otherwise, a constitution would contain such an immense amount of detail, that it would be nothing but a legal code, ``and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind.''

Thus, although we don't find the word ``bank'' or ``incorporation'' among the enumerated powers of government, he writes, we do ``find the great powers to lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce; to declare and conduct war; and to raise and support armies and navies.''

The happiness and prosperity of the nation require not only that the general government has ample powers, but that it has ample means for their execution. ``Throughout this vast republic, from the St. Croix, to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, revenue is to be collected and expended, armies are to be marched, and supported.'' Are we to adopt a construction of the Constitution, he asks, that would make it impossible to transfer revenues from one part of the county to another?

(Interestingly, this expansive statement is delivered just at the time of the Onis Treaty, by John Quincy Adams with Spain, was part of Adams' ``Manifest Destiny'' plan for a U.S. Continental Republic.)

From there, Marshall develops the critical point: that the Constitution confers upon Congress all the powers ``necessary and proper'' to carry out its purposes.

The subject at issue, Marshall writes, ``is the execution of those great powers upon which the welfare of a nation essentially depends.'' Those who granted those powers, certainly intended to ensure their beneficial execution. ``This provision is made in a constitution intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs.''

Finally, Marshall comes to his conclusion--which is so crucial for the exercise of the General Welfare clause:

``Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional....'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...