Friday, June 24, 2005

Life, Liberty and Property

The title of this blog was the original phrase for the "inalienable rights" of humankind that governments must honor and protect. For a variety of reasons, including concern for the poor, Jefferson chose the broader phrase, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Legally secure property ownership is the economic and social foundation of freedom. The freest nations in the world - Cannda, England, the USA and several in Europe - provide protection for their citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. Today over 60% of Americans enjoy home ownership; In Russia the figure has just climbed to 6%!

The June 23, 2005 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kelo, et. al. v. the City of New London, CT. is a monumental break with Constitutional tradition. Expanding the rights of local governments to claim "eminent domain" and allow the property to go to new private owners without significant public use guarantees is a reckless ruling that will open the door to the exploitation of the poor by the politically-connected.

Until this ruling, eminent domain was reserved for things such as roads, parks, environmental restoration or publc/private partnerships that directly benefitted a large number of citizens. The 5th Amendment calls for proper compensation for those who are displaced, but history tells us that planning commissions and powerful interests will find was to "distress" land they desire.

My fear is that this will open the door to the seizure of more homes and - and I am not being paranoid, just cautious - the condemnation of churches and other non-profits who do not generate the tax revenue of condos or a strip mall.

Hopefully this ruling will stay limited; however, we must be vigilant and prepared to fight city by city and county by county. Ownership is NOT something bestowed by the government. It is a right protected by the government!

If we are not careful, we will end up with a new form of fascism, with powerful private interests in collusion with a corrupt government. Such alliances are not new, but until now we enjoyed reasonable protection for legally-titled land. Now we must battle to protect the foundation of our freedom.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Israel and History

The unhistorical and unwise remarks of President Bush concerning Israel's boundaries with an emerging Palestinian State are devastating for Israel and empowering for Islamic fundamentalists.

The President recently affirmed that the 1949 Armistice lines should guide current negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is working intently to remove Jewisg settlers from Gaza and most of the West Bank.

Israel is willing to displace thousands of her own people for a promise of peace with a neighbor that will not unambiguously acknowledge Israel's right to exist!

President Bush and others who wish to appease the Arabs are ignoring the history of the last 50+ years.

The United Nation has already created two states. In the 1947 partition, Israel and TransJordan (now shortened to Jordan) were formed, with Jordan getting the West Bank and Jerusalem. Egypt controlled Gaza and the Sinai, Syria possessed the Golan Heights and Israel placed her capital in Tel Aviv. The survivors of the pogroms and the Holocaust were not completely happy with the boundaries, but an imperfect homeland was better than none.

By 1949, truce lines were established, but there were no formal peace accords or diplomatic relations with any Arab states (though back- channel negotiations with Jordan and others occured sporadically). These lines affirmed the original mandate and the resolution passed in 1948 recognizing the state of Israel.

In 1967 Israel was attacked and in a week defeated her Arab foes and "conquered" the Sinai, the West Bank, the Gaza and the Golan heights. There are the "occupied territories" in Arab rhetoric. For Israel they have been a buffer and an aid in negotiation.

In 1978 Israel and Egypt made peace and the Sinai was returned and a promise made to create another Palestinian State. The Oslo Accords of 1992 reiterated these commitments and Arafat and the Palestinians were offered 98% of the land they desired.

For the past several years, radical Arab groups have sabotaged all attempts at reasonable solutions. In 2005 we have another opportunity for peace, but if Israel is asked to yield all territory back to 1949 lines and the new Palestinian State is allowed a corridor to connect Gaza and the West Bank, it is Israel that is eviscerated.

The creation of the "barrier" surrounding Israel has reduced terrorist bombings by over 90%. What is lacking in current talks is a failure to consider Israeli security and the ensure a Palestinian regime that will crack down on terrorism and be a real partner with Israel.

The events of the past half-century needs to be paramount in forming US policy. A strong Israel and a moderate Palestine would be a victory for good. The danger is giving in unconditionally to Palestinian demands is that they become merely a stepping stone for destabilizing and eventually devouring Israel. The end of the "Zionist entity" is still the stated purpose of the PLO Charter and the majority of Arab groups.

President Bush needs to read a bit of history, qualify his geopolitical boundaries and insist upon an end to a policy of rioting and terror as a precondition for final negotiations.

Mr. President, will you have the courage to do this, in spite of your coziness with the House of Saud?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Paradox of National Sovereignty

Recent initiatives to offer amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in the USA strike at the very heart of rational policies to ensure a viable future for the American Experiment in representative government rooted in a virtuous citizenry and the rule of law.

The United States has a checkered history on immigration. The Irish were discriminated against in the mid-19th century as they fled the famines in their land. Half a century later, they were an integral part of the American cultural topography.The halycion days of Ellis Island gave way to the xenophobia and anti-Semitism of the the 1920s to 1940s. On the Pacific coast, anti-Chinese laws reflected racism contrary to the spirit of our Constitution. The internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942 was a tragic moment in national paranoia.

In spite of these awful moments, The USA has been and must continue to be a land of opportunity and safety for those willing to abide by her laws and principles.

The situation with Mexico has a convoluted history. The U.S. deliberately provoked a war in 1847 in order to capture the rest of the continent. This aggression has never been forgotten by our neighbors south of the border. There are radical groups in Mexico and the USA that have a long-term strategy to create a new nation in the Southwest. The more pragmatic leaders envision a borderless economic and political arrangement that favors free access for Mexicans to enjoy the economic and social benefits of the U.S. economy. The second largest source of revenue for the Mexican economy is the flow of dollars from north of the border!

Democratic politicians and Republican business leaders want to ignore the long-term sociopolitical problems with our current chaos and enjoy the cheap labor and potential voting blocs created by the current blindness in Washington, D.C.

Proponents of a rational policy are dubbed racists and xenophobes and genuine concerns for American culture and security are ignored.

National sovereignty has been questioned by elites since the end of WWI and the beginning of the League of Nations. "One-world" thinking is not confined to academics, Marxist protestors or U.N. employees. Powerful economic and politcal forces want to see a borderless world and a decline in U.S. hegemony.

I contend that the preservation of national sovereignty through rational immigration policies is the best guarantee of long-term freedom for Americans and the world. Citizenship and intelligent patriotism are important components for long-term stability. Every nation in the world that wants to enhance her distinct place in the global community needs a sane policy. Diversity is not disunity - global cooperation without co-opting freedom is always a goal.

The sane rule of law (and the ability to improve those laws) is a gift to world freedom. Once participation in a society is reduced to mere economics, local and regional fracturing of common ideals is not far behind.

Pragmatically, the murderous drug gangs and the infiltration of Islamofascist terrorists are reasons enough to enforce our borders, regardless of the strictness of immigration policies.

We need to have a real debate on the nature of neighborliness with all countries, especially with Mexico. There are multiple ways to enjoy mutual prosperity without undermining national sovereignty or reverting to past policies.

I challenge the leaders of both parties to show real courage. My liberal friends, are you ready to pay Social Security taxes to your gardeners and maids? Farmers, are you ready for a regulated labor pool, with protection for the workers? High-tech executives, are you discriminating against native-born American workers because you can import an engineer on the cheap? Republican business leaders, are you ready to pay a living wage? Oh, I almost forgot - U.S. citizens, are you willing to pay a bit more for your fruits and vegetables in order to pay for border regulation and better wages to legal guest workers?

We might learn from Australia. Labor is hard to import down-under; therefore, harvesting technology is much more advanced and products are brought to market efficiently without burdening the social structure.

We have important choices to make.