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A Bill of Claims

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An alarming thing has happened and the most alarming bit is that no one is alarmed. Things seem to be proceeding apace in Egypt and the intellectuals are salivating at the prospect of a new Egyptian constitution, to be drafted by around June. That doesn’t leave much time so they are soliciting advice from foreign corners and from one corner was dislodged sitting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg who used the occasion to suggest that under no circumstances should the Egyptian reformers consider the US Constitution as any sort of guide. It is, after all, laughably aged and enfeebled. Much better ore is to be had in the post-War world. Look right at 10:00 to see where she swallows the Constitution she has sworn to defend in one gulp. Most emphatically does she advise the Egyptians NOT to look at this document for guidance even as she describes the ordinary Rights of public participation and arrest that have been made real in the world, in large part, because of the attention given them in our Constitution and the spread of these, through means fair and foul, to every aspiring society.  How the Egyptian fellow did not show shock or even surprise is a bit mysterious but a larger puzzler is how this could have been on youtube for a week and only now drawing attention. Hopefully this was a clever bit of disinformation. The dimmest Cairo cabbie could not fail  to realize, Ginsburg is a Jew. Perhaps the State Department and the Justice came up with a plot of reverse-psychology. “Ruthie,” Hillary might have told her. “You go in and you tell ’em, don’t you look at our Constitution. There is NOTHING in there for you, and they will tear into it like Bill through a Ladies’ Auxiliary!” But no, with the specifics and enthusiasm it is plain, this is Ginsburg Unplugged.

Her condemnation of our Constitution is sotto voce. She seems to only complain of its age. Glass houses, Madame Justice. Glass houses. I’m sure her objections are fleshed out in her writings from her lengthy career as head of the ACLU. What we have from this interview, however, what she has boiled down to an essential essence that might aid the new leaders of a turbulent desert nation, is a chirpy, if vapid, endorsement of the South African constitution. Certainly it exceeds our Constitution on grounds of freshness; if it were an American citizen it would just now be able to drive. But it is a prodigy, leaping past the old tatters of  parchment. The SA constitution, in contrast to our own, “was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights… ” As a Supreme Court Justice, she must indeed know her stuff.

We know what Ginsburg is on about. She mentions a couple other documents but all attempt to secure the rights in our Bill of Rights (except, always, the Second Amendment) and mostly do so in language aping the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. So that cannot be Ginsburg’s indictment. Plainly what she desires although even she knows enough to speak only vaguely, is to have Constitutional mandates in the US promising healthcare, housing, education, food, water and “social security”, a term obviously ripped from the American fabric though not our Constitution. Who can doubt that this is also what Obama has in mind when he complains that the US Constitution is flawed and encumbering? So what lucky city is going to reap the hotel taxes and bar tabs generated by a New Constitutional Convention? Sadly there will be no such boon. Obama and his Progressives do not seek to add the South African provisions under public scrutiny. Rather they will redefine federal food aid as an Establishment of Justice, federal housing subsidies as Ensuring Domestic Tranquility. Pay-offs will Provide for the Common Defense. Tuition grants Promote the General Welfare. Government doctoring is a  Blessing of Liberty secured to Ourselves and our Posterity. These are the building blocks of A More Perfect Union. So says Obama. So says Ginsburg and Kagan; Sotomayor, Breyer and Kennedy but also Alito, Roberts, Scalia and to the least extent, Thomas. Also Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and yes, even the adamant Ron Paul. Rush Limbaugh is on board as well, as is Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, George Will, Charles Krauthammer or anyone else on the so-called Right. And quite probably YOU and everyone you know. How do we know this? Actions speak louder than words but we have BOTH and perhaps the most revealing of all are not actions but in-actions; not the words spoken or written but those unspoken. The most revealing of all are those words forbidden to speak. What is the Cow Most Sacred that to even mention her name in any but adulatory terms is to be torn out of the American ledger? You know and I know, it is that term adopted so fully and respectfully from America to South Africa. Social Security.

The professional talkers who reap bags of cash and decibels of applause for their embittered pronouncements and have no elections to lose will defend Social Security in terms both strident and dogmatic. Even the secular-saint Reagan is found to be a New Dealer at heart. All the Constitutional gyrations that are rightly denounced as subterfuge as regards Obamacare or other new iterations of wealth redistribution are swallowed whole cloth as regards Social Security. Limbaugh is as willing to explain as Hillary that, Social Security is not “socialism” in any sense and by the way, the OTHER guys are out to destroy it! The protege of Ed Meese, Levin, will calmly explain that the Commerce Clause is the foundation for Social Security and Medicare as well. This while he draws the line acerbically at the diktats of Obamacare and Romneycare that say, you will not pay us for your medicine but rather we will tell you whom to pay, how much and what you will get for it. Paul Ryan stands no further than Howard Dean from the justifying principles of these programs; he just aspires to make them actuarially sound. Ron Paul? Yes, he does denounce them in Constitutional terms but what is his solution? To continue them except with an opt-out for the young.

Both the Paul and the Ryan plans have one thing in common with ALL the other solutions out in the public realm, that is they DO NOT TOUCH current beneficiaries or those with about ten years until eligibility. This is mathematically impossible. You can’t just sever those paying in from those receiving the payments even if they stay flat (which they will not). Where do the truly mammoth amounts to make up the difference come from? Only from taxes, borrowing and printing. So just as the youthful opt-out is working in his first office job, he is neither paying into nor drawing from Social Security but somewhere, if he is not taxed into poverty, there is either an auctioneer or a high-speed press operating at high speed in his name. And in the meantime when he DOES save for his own infirmity, he has no guarantee of returns. He has no guarantee of his principle. These are the inevitable burdens you lay on a prostate America when you press your claims.

Who? Me? I’m not “pressing” any claims. I’m filing for my entitlements. And hey, didn’t I pay for ’em?

This is the fatal rub; the deadly misconstruction and it is what separates the ten Articles in the American Bill of Rights and rights delineated under Chapter 2 of the SA constitution. The Rights in the Bill of Rights don’t require anyone to do anything for you to enjoy them. Rather the Bill of Rights is a menu of restrictions laid on the federal government and its subsidiaries. Citizens “shall not be denied due process of law…” not provided with anything except the restraint of the authorities. “…shall not be infringed.” That is plain and definitive language and as adamant as law can be. The equivalent South African codice has thirty-two sections, each with sub-sections and indexed paragraphs. Our Bill of Rights can be plainly seen in the first half though it is watered down like a cheap cocktail. It bargains away the clarity of our First Amendment for a slew of claims now dressed up as Rights. It seems the citizen is wildly empowered; he has a claim against the state for his subsistence. In South Africa this was expressly meant to atone for Apartheid. You will find the same arguments in America claiming reparations for slavery (but improperly). So there is a powerful pseudo-moral case for the claims as just compensation. Its morality is false however since government has nothing to give unless it is taken first from The People; so the claimant, if he considers himself a free, equal, sovereign citizen; one among many, holds nothing but a chit from himself which he honors with taxes (whether those levies are called “taxes” or not). This only applies while we recognize One class or sort of citizen. Once you assert that say, white people owe me. Or rich people owe me, and you write that class out of protections you reserve to yourself, we say good-bye to Equal Protection. No one has Rights but everyone will have claims, to some extent, of being ill-used. So their claims then become sacred rights while all an unconsensual debt can ever be is a license to enslave which was the problem in the first place.

Even if one still asserts a theoretical superiority for a system of common holdings based on “just” claims, it must be admitted that it does not work. Even for the Soviets there was a practical limit to printing roubles; phony money to pay any claim. If all claims, legitimate or not are honored then in short order no claims, legitimate or not, can be paid. It can’t work. It is a math based on the infinite of human wants converted to claims against human industry but painted as Civil Rights. There are only two ways out once embarked down this road; one is for large numbers of citizens to forgo their claims, just or not. Unlikely.The other is for everyone to press their claims to the maximum until the pot is drained and smashed to bits. The State based on claims will die and the claims with it. Rough freedoms will return because no one will be paid to stop them. Trade and thievery, enterprise and loot will thrive. Then by necessity genuine charity will replace the system of claims, now defunct. This happy time will persist so long as the new State is restrained, which is the function of the Constitution. One would think a Supreme Court Justice, or at least SOMEONE would know it.

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2 Responses to “A Bill of Claims”

  1. What she fails to acknowledge, whether intentionally or not, is that it matters not how well a constitution is written if it is continually ignored.

  2. Yes, the Egyptians will have Islamic law and Islamist government because that is what they are and what they want to be. I see no cause to say otherwise. It makes one wonder what the whole point of this was. At least she wasn’t stoned in the streets.

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