2002 letters to the editor

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NO VICTIMS IN TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS (3/13/2002)

To the question of pleases tell me why traffic laws should be ignored and yet the laws of theft, murder, fraud, etc., be enforced – there is a simple answer: By definition there is always a victim in a theft, murder, fraud, etc.; whereas, most traffic violations do not involve a victim. Theft, murder, fraud, etc, are morally wrong in themselves; however, there is nothing inherently evil in going five mph over the speed limit.


MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM (8/14/2002)

Any high school science teacher (or anybody else) who believes that the current version of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars missile shield “can not work,” needs to do more homework. The fact is that in the past two years there have been 11 tests of various types of missile defense systems in which an intercept was a possibility. Of those, 10 were successful and one was partly successful. You have to go back to July 8,2000, for a missed intercept. Going back even farther, from 1984 through the middle of last year, the US military’s “hit-to-kill” tests of missile defense technology destroyed the target missile successfully 15 times in 17 attempts. Regarding expense, the missile defense program has consumed less than 2 percent of the national security budget annually in recent years. This seems to me like a bargain, especially in view of the fact that ballistic missile technology, which exists now in at lest twenty-eight nations (including many “rogue” states) continues to proliferate throughout the world. One of the federal government’s most important constitutional responsibilities is to provide for the common defense and in my thinking, protection against ballistic missiles is right up there at the top of the list.

 

MISSILE DEFENSE DEFENSE (8/28/2002)

In my Letter to the Editor which appeared in the 8/14/2002 issue of the North Georgia News, I stated that a missile defense system is feasible, affordable, and necessary; and I suggested more homework for the nonbelievers. As usual, there are some students who would like the teacher to do their homework for them; and as usual, that is not going to happen. On the other hand, I may have been remiss in failing to provide at least a propaedeutic list of nongovernment references for the student wishing to be disabused. To that end I offer the following: The American Defense Institute, The American Enterprise Institute, The CATO Institute, The Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Claremont Institute, The Discovery Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and The Independence Institute.


THANKSGIVING (11/20/2002)

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the triumph of private property and individual initiative? William Bradford was governor of the original Pilgrim colony, founded at Plymouth in 1621. The colony was first organized on a communal basis, as their financiers required. Land was owned in common. The Pilgrims farmed communally, too, following the “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” precept. The results were disastrous. Communism didn’t work any better 400 years ago than it does today. By 1623, the colony had suffered serious losses. Starvation was imminent. Bradford realized that the communal system encouraged and rewarded waste and laziness and inefficiency, and destroyed individual initiative. Desperate he abolished it. He distributed private plots of land among the surviving Pilgrims, encouraging them to plant early and farm as individuals, not collectively. The results: a bountiful early harvest that saved the colonies. After the harvest, the Pilgrims celebrated with a day of Thanksgiving – on August 9th. Unfortunately, William Bradford’s diaries – in which he recorded the failure of the collectivist system and the triumph of private enterprise, were lost for many years. When Thanksgiving was later made a national holiday, the present November date was chosen. And the lesson the Pilgrims so painfully learned was, alas, not made a part of the holiday. Happily, Bradford’s diaries were later rediscovered. They are available today in paperback. They tell the real story of Thanksgiving – how private property and individual initiative saved the Pilgrims. This Thanksgiving season, one of the many things I’m thankful for is our free market system (imperfectly realized as it is). And I’m also grateful that there are a number of Americans who are learning the importance of free markets, and who are working to replace government coercion with marketplace cooperation here in the USA and around the world. A special thanks is due to Libertarian Cris Everett, who reported this neglected bit of history several years ago, and who celebrates Thanksgiving on – you guessed it – August 9th. Finally, Abraham Lincoln by his proclamation of 1863, is generally regarded as having established the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November; however, he may have known the William Bradford story because the previous year (1862) Lincoln’s proclamation for Thanksgiving specified the date as “Thursday, the 6th day of August.“

 

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE ( 12/12/2002)

The continuing harangue on the “separation of church and state” usually picks up tempo this time of year as various groups and individuals try to take the “Christ” out of “Christmas.” They go about bashing Christians, they try to turn freedom “OF” religion into freedom “FROM” religion, and they deny the Christian roots of the American Founding. For the record, there were few notable patriots who rejected Christianity (Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine come to mind), but to keep that in perspective, we should remember that 52 of the 55 men who were to work on the US Constitution were Christians. There is much evidence which confutes the notion that this Republic was not built on a Christian tradition. John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States said: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” Evidence existed the State level as well as at the Federal level. At least seven of the State constitutions established some sort of religious test as a qualification for office. Maryland and Massachusetts required “belief in the Christian religion”; South Carolina and Georgia in “the Protestant religion”; North Carolina, “in the divine authority of the Old and of the New Testaments”; Pennsylvania, acknowledged “the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration”; and Delaware required a profession of “faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ his only son, and the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore.” Certainly the place of Christianity in our State and Federal governments has changed over the years, but let us not be deceived into thinking that a complete disassociation between Christianity and the government was the plan of the Founding Fathers. It was not. But don’t take it from me, take it from someone who was there at the time – Patrick Henry – who said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Amen.


BILL OF RIGHTS DAY IGNORED (12/19/2002)

December 15, 2002, marked the 211th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Sadly, most Americans probably went through the day without a thought of George Mason, Patrick Henry, or any of the other Anti- Federalist Founding Fathers whose determination resulted in the securing of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution.

Even more sadly, most Americans probably went through the day without a thought of how several acts and orders recently enacted at the federal level, including sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and several Executive Orders, now threaten fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, such as Freedom of Speech, religion, assembly and privacy; The rights to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and Protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. This is what we get for ignoring the warnings of men like Alexander Hamilton (“Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect Liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.”); Teddy Roosevelt (“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”) and Thomas Jefferson (“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”). I wonder how much more Liberty will we surrender between now and next December 15th.


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