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  An American Manifesto
Saturday May 23, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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CHAPTERS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

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 BLOG

By The People: Part I: Where We Stand

CHARLES Murray is the great political scientist of our generation. First he told us in Losing Ground that liberals knew by the early 1970s that the Great Society programs weren't working. But they kept them anyway. Then in The Bell Curve he told us that IQ is really important and it applies to race, and got his head handed to him. Most recently in Coming Apart he showed that the upper 20 percent in America was doing fine, but in the bottom 30 percent the women don't marry and the men don't work.

Now he's really mad, and in By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission he is calling for revolution. If you are with him, then you are not a libertarian or a conservative. He wants to call the supporters of a limited government: "Madisonians."

OK, he's not calling for blood in the streets, but he is proposing a cunning way to neuter the administrative state. But first, let's look at Part I of his book, where Murray analyzes the federal government and determines that it can't be reformed from within.

The problem is that the Constitution has been set aside and there's no way to get it back. Congress isn't going to do it, even with a Republican president, because the current system favors the status quo and the Supreme Court won't do it because, e.g., limiting the meaning of "general welfare" to its original meaning would cause chaos.

It's Hamilton vs. Madison, according to Murray. Hamilton and the Federalists favored a strong state and Madison and the Anti-federalists wanted a weak state. But back then nobody was thinking of anything like today's state. A strong state meant something like Hamilton's report of manufactures. A century later, under the influence of the Germans like Hegel and Nietzsche, the Progressives decided that the Constitution was outmoded.

To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong  unifying leader... They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.
This progressivism got implemented by the judicial system, and "ultimately transformed the nation." The progressives saw the old Constitution as Newtonian and mechanical, "with its three separate branches and checks and balances." They wanted something evolutionary and Darwinist. So the game was on to change the meaning of law.

It started with the erosion of the Contracts Clause in the Constitution, and continued with the validation of the Social Security Act (which really put the federal government into the general welfare business). Then there was the gutting of the Ninth Amendment and the extension of the Commerce Clause to let the federal government regulate whatever it wanted under the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes."

But we can't go back. If the Supreme Court invalidated current understanding of the "general welfare" it would mean the end of spending on "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, all welfare programs, all spending on K-12 education" and so on. The fact is that by 1942, "we stopped obliging the American government to control itself."

But that's not all. We now have "a lawless legal system." Why? Because legal process is so costly. Because the ancient concept of mens rea is gone. In the old days,
You not only had to do something wrong, you had to be aware that you were doing something wrong. But the law also held that ignorance is no defense.
How did that work? It worked because "there weren't many laws" and most of the laws covered things that were instinctively wrong, like "murder, rape, and theft." But now we have a huge body of law and "the government has chosen to convert mistakes, or sometimes simply choices with which the government disagrees, into crimes."

So we have laws that are arbitrary, complex, subjective, discretionary. That is lawless. But that is just the beginning.

It used to be that lawsuits were rare; but now changes in legal rules make lawyering very profitable. First there was the introduction of Strict Liability which lowered the bar for claiming damages. Then there was the broadening of discovery, where a plaintiff could now go on fishing expeditions into the records of the defendant. Used to be that you had to sue someone in the defendants court district; now you can forum shop. And now the ethical limitation on lawyers for "stirring up litigation" is gone. Then there is the "private enforcement regime" where Congress lets private parties sue against business or individuals in violation of a law.

OK, so it's too easy to sue. But that is just the beginning. Now there's the regulatory state.

Today Congress passes a general law and sets up an agency to come up with the details. Typically the targets of the regulation will have to deal with the bureaucracy and the administrative courts of the regulatory agency. And the Supreme Court through the "Chevron Deference" has held that the regulatory agency is almost always right. It goes back the the Progressive Era faith in government by disinterested experts. The problem is that if the regulators get their eye on you they can destroy you in the expense of the system before you ever get to a real court of law (as opposed to an administrative court that belongs to the regulator).

OK, so the regulators and the administrative judges are too powerful. But that is just the beginning. There is also the corrupted political system.

Murray is not saying that today's politicians "are more venal or dishonest than political of the past." It is just that that
todays' political process has produced politicians who, while keeping within the law, do things that are operationally indistinguishable from the way Third World kleptocrats operate.
Back in the old days, before the 1960s, the government didn't have that many favors to distribute, campaigns weren't that expensive, special interests didn't give much money, and only a few leading politicians got to write the laws.

But with the expansion of the regulatory state, particularly industry-wide regulation by EPA, OSHA, and EEOC, every corporation had to get into the game in Washington DC. Now it takes a ton of money to run for office, there are hordes of lobbyists, and the number of staffers is way up.

In 2012 the Democrats set up a "Model Daily Schedule" for members when in DC. It tells members how to allocate their time.
It includes four hours [per day] of "call time" -- the term for phoning contributors -- and one hour of "strategic outreach" which includes such things as breakfasts and meet-and-greets with supporters.
On top of that, the parties regularly hold fundraising dinners. They go to lobbyists and tell each of them to cough up a million bucks. Because only "friendly" interests get friendly results from office holders.

A kleptocracy? Well, politicians usually seem to manage to get rich in government service. And you have to pay for access to the authorities. And when a congressman calls for a contribution you cough up. And officeholders reward their friends. And "bribes produce results independently of political principle."

Can it be reformed? After George W. Bush pushed through the budget-busting Medicare drug plan, don't expect much reform from Republicans. And Murray goes to Mancur Olson and The Logic of Collective Action for the explanation.
First, advanced democracies inherently permit small interest groups to obtain government benefits for themselves that are extremely difficult for the rest of the polity to get rid of. Second, these successful special interests inevitably pile up over the years until the political system becomes rigid and unresponsive, unable to adapt[.]
In other words,
People who receive government benefits tend to vote for people who support those benefits.
We may call for reform as much as we like, but the fact of all of today's programs and benefits "will push the Republican Party to the center in all presidential elections."  We are not going to get truly "Madisonian majorities in both houses and a Madisonian president."

Something else will have to give. But that's the topic for Part II: Opening a New Front.


perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/22/15 11:28 am ET


President Obama's Racist Legacy

I was to the University of Washington's Meany Center for the Performing Arts last night to hear Rhiannon Giddens. Giddens is a 2000 graduate of Oberlin and she's parlayed her opera degree into a nice little gig doing bluegrass. What with the opera training, Giddens has a fine singing voice, and she also plays violin and banjo. Did you know that the banjo was invented by African Americans? But...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/21/15 7:02 am ET


Liberal Intolerance Will End Up Hammering Liberals

A couple days ago an 80-year-old Duke professor got in trouble for racism. He made a four-paragraph comment in The New York Times about the Baltimore riots. Hey, he said, back in 1965 racial discrimination wasn't just against blacks; it hit Asians too. The racism against what even Eleanor Roosevelt called the yellow races was at least as bad. So where are the editorials that say racism ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/20/15 12:42 pm ET


Embarrassing Clinton Revelations: Is It Something in the Water?

EVER since the Clinton era, say about the time that Bill Clinton was running around during the mild 1990-91 recession talking about "the worst economy in the last 50 years" there has seemed to be a jinx on reality. Whatever mind-numbing fantasy the liberals came up with would get accepted as reality. And good conservative common-sense got anathematized as racism, sexism or homophobia. Or "on ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/19/15 10:05 am ET


|  May blogs  |  April blogs  |

 FEATURED:

“I Want a President”

Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”

 OPED


Dems Reach Out to the White Working Class

ACCORDING TO liberal foot-soldier Doyle McManus in the LA Times, the Democrats are going to do a special reach-out to white working-class men in 2016. It’s easy to see why:

Democrats were once the party of the white working man — but that was a long time ago. In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama won only one-third of the votes of white working-class men, a modern-day low. Mitt Romney, who ...

more | 04/27/15


Is Hillary Clinton Ready for the Real Story of the Patriarchy?

Back when Barack Obama was first elected President of the United States a liberal woman friend told me how excited she was to have elected the First Black President. ...

more | 04/20/15


Is "Social Justice Warrior" a Pejorative?

Liberals and their SJW Thugs Celebrate Holy Week

Let Talk About the Clueless Financial Regulators

Opeds


 RMC CHAPTER-A-DAY


RMC Contents
Chapter 1: After the Welfare State
Chapter 2: Down in South Carolina and Out in Brooklyn
Chapter 3: Awakenings of Monotheism
Chapter 4: The Nineteenth Century From the Top Down

THE GREAT EVENT of the second millennium was the rise of the world-historical middle class.... more


Chapter 5: The Nineteenth Century From the Bottom Up
Chapter 6: Popular Religion in the Nineteenth Century

 RMC BOOKS


RMC Book of the Day

Dobb, C. B., Sociology: An Introduction,


RMC Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in


RMC Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present


RMC Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland


RMC Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


 READINGS:

Charles Murray's By the People an Anti-Democratic Manifesto
New Republic doesn't like Murray's new book proposing non-violent resistance to big government.

The GOP Is the Strongest It's Been in Decades
Sean Trende shows GOP strongest in decades.

Don’t Be So Sure the Economy Will Return to Normal
Tyler Cowen warns the NYT set that things may be worse than we think.

Mother’s Day a perfect time to rethink our social construct of motherhood
quality child care does not disrupt the mother-child bond. Because science.

The Progressive Agenda
the progressive "contract with America'

> archive

 CCWUD PROJECT

cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded


 


Take the Test!

 THE PROJECT

Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Here’s how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>

 THE ARGUMENT

The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.


 TAGS


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


 

©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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