“Their Fair Share”

I took a class in college in African American Literature. An interesting “chicken or the egg” issue came up early on: America didn’t participate in slavery because it was a fundamentally racist society, America developed racism because it embraced slavery. It was in the 18th century, for example, that American seminaries started teaching future ministers that black people didn’t have souls.

Why did such odious ideas arise? Because of cognitive dissonance–people couldn’t stand enslaving others if they were equally human, so they had to start thinking of them as something less than normal to assuage their consciences.

Most of the things I’ve seen about the rich paying “their fair share” are so heavily loaded with harsh language against the rich, like the irrational racial prejudices of the past, that it can only be that we’ve decided to stigmatize their wealth the way we used to stigmatize skin color: so we can assuage our consciences about this virtual slavery.

Just yesterday alone, I read a few columns and political cartoons about the budget that were all soaked in tones of violent anger towards the rich. This isn’t about helping the poor, it’s about hating the rich.

Remember those Washington Mutual ads a few years ago which mockingly showed a couple of dozen older white men in suits acting spoiled, superior, and out of touch? Imagine an ad campaign that made fun of a negative stereotype about anybody other than rich white men. Outrageous.

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Myth: The Constitution Is Racist

My letter in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal corrects a popular old myth: that the U.S. Constitution is racist.  I even remember this faulty interpretation of the passage in question being used in an episode of The West Wing

To the editor:

In his otherwise excellent Wednesday letter, Robert Gardner does make one mistake. He repeats the old fallacy about the Constitution being racist, suggesting that Article I, Section 2 says, “blacks are … considered three-fifths of a person.”

Not true.

That section is about counting population to determine how many representatives we get in government, which is why we have the census. That count was to enumerate “free persons” and “three-fifths of all other persons,” meaning slaves. Free blacks were counted as a whole.

The language isn’t meant to determine someone’s worth as a human being, but merely to reduce the total count. The strength of a state’s presence in government was determined by this count. Northern states didn’t want slaves counted at all; Southern states wanted them counted as a whole. The point of the three-fifths compromise was to reduce the South’s power.

Ironically, for those who see this part of the Constitution as racist, this rule did what it was supposed to do: It contributed to the eventual end of slavery. With Black History Month right around the corner, it’s important to set the record straight.

Universal Health Care Unconstitutional

A Virginia judge decided just over a week ago that ObamaCare’s mandate that people must purchase insurance exceeds the government’s constitutional authority.  My local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, then printed a letter (which must have been written before the decision) defending universal health care. 

Today, the paper printed another letter responding to that one and, while it is excellent, it sadly isn’t mine, which I thought was pretty good itself.  Since the paper doesn’t seem interested in it, here it is:

Frederick Spoerl wrongly denied the success of the profit motive and made many mistakes about the Constitution in his Friday letter defending ObamaCare.

He says that the Founders never envisioned America’s “tremendous growth,” yet in Federalist #10, Madison said one of the chief benefits of a republic is that it may be “extended” over a “greater sphere of country.” Indeed, as presidents, the Founders added several states and territories to the nation, including Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.

He criticizes those who would limit government size and scope, but ignores the tenth amendment, which says that the federal government may only be involved in things delineated in the Constitution itself.

Spoerl also writes that the Constitution denies voting to women and endorses segregation (neither of which it mentions at all), and promotes slavery. The Constitution opposes slavery. Article I, Section 2 thwarted the South’s desire for more representative power by limiting slave counting in the census, and Article I, Section 9 includes a ban on future importation of slaves.

Spoerl uses the “general welfare” clause of the Preamble to justify ObamaCare. Others had already thought that phrase could allow the government to do anything they saw as good, rather than the few specific things the Constitution defines as “general welfare,” and in Federalist #41, Madison responded to the misunderstanding: “a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms, immediately follows….For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power?”

ObamaCare is unconstitutional, Mr. Spoerl, and your letter shows how ignorant of our founding charters someone must be to support it.