• December 12, 2023

    Freedom First

    December 12, 2023
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    Public Domain. Safety a priority?

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    Mike Rowe is an underappreciated American treasure. In addition to his contributions to opera and educational, entertaining programs like “Dirty Jobs,” Mike has identified very important fixes to the American culture in an understated way. He was among the first to point out the folly of our decades-long obsession with college educations in lieu of skilled trades that actually produce something. He puts his money where his mouth is with his MikeRoweWorks Foundation to promote and teach such skills. But perhaps his most important observation is the least appreciated.

    As a byproduct of “Dirty Jobs,” Mike created the mantra of “safety third.” It is not encouragement to be reckless, but it is a call to not be so timid that all things that make life worth living are sacrificed on the altar of safety and security.

    There is no way that anyone can 100% safe and secure at any time, let alone at all times. The world is filled with motion, and that motion creates the risk of collision (and death.) Taking a calculated risk stimulates the body and the mind. The accomplishment of prevailing over a risk gives a sense of achievement that is the essence of “the pursuit of happiness.” The importance of this observation can only be appreciated in the context of freedom and liberty.

    The very notion of governmental “emergency powers” guarantees the eventual destruction of personal liberty and freedoms. It is no accident that the Constitution has little accommodation for such powers. All emergency powers as we know them today are unconstitutional.[1] On 17 Aug 1787, in Article 1, Section 8, the framers decided to change a Congressional power from “make war” to “declare war.” The reason for the change was to allow the Commander in Chief (the President) to react to an immediate threat rather than wait for Congress to okay war-making. The only other accommodations for an emergency in the Constitution are

    • to remove the restriction of states engaging in war if they are in imminent danger (Article I, Section 10.)
    • the exception in the Fifth Amendment, not requiring a Grand Jury indictment to hold a service member for capital crime. (This is one difference between military justice and civil justice.)

    This is not to say that the government shouldn’t assist in crises, nor that its advice should not be considered. It just can’t be binding, or the nation will wind up in a perpetual state of “emergency.” Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav has made clear that one of the important steps in the Nazi takeover of Germany was the alignment of the medical establishment with the government.[2]

    Once the Nazis identified segments of the population for dividing and dehumanizing – Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, etc. – the medical establishment was used for their demise. The extent to which our institutions have gone to vilify “the unvaccinated” is no different.

    Remember the “two weeks to flatten the curve?” Joe Biden just used “emergency powers” two-and-a-half years later to “forgive” student loans. Madison talked about this question in Federalist #45:

    The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. As the former periods will probably bear a small proportion to the latter, the State governments will here enjoy another advantage over the federal government. The more adequate, indeed, the federal powers may be rendered to the national defense, the less frequent will be those scenes of danger which might favor their ascendancy over the governments of the particular States.

    In a government for a free people, crises cannot be used as a means to exert control and seize power from the people. In the end, the people lose all freedoms. The only answer that ultimately works is for the government to have no emergency powers beyond military defense against invasion—exactly as the framers reasoned in Article I of the Constitution.

    [1] 7843. “Martial Law in the United States: Its Meaning, Its History, and Why the President Can’t Declare It.” Brennan Center for Justice, August 4, 2021. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/martial-law-united-states-its-meaning-its-history-and-why-president-cant.

    [2] Hana, Sage. “Vera Sharav, Full Speech at Nuremberg 75th Anniversary, Aug. 20, 2022.” Vera Sharav, Full Speech at Nuremberg 75th Anniversary, Aug. 20, 2022. Sage’s Newsletter, August 22, 2022. https://sagehana.substack.com/p/vera-sharav-full-speech-at-nuremberg.

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