ONLY UNDER THE OPTIMUM CONDITIONS OF PERSONAL FREEDOM CAN
THE INDIVIDUAL ATTAIN HIS OR HER HIGHEST INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL POTENTIAL
AND ONLY UNDER MAXIMUM CONDITIONS OF UNIVERSAL EQUALITY CAN THE HIGHEST NUMBER
OF HUMANS REACH THAT POTENTIAL.
THIS SEEMS A WORTHWHILE GOAL FOR SOCIETY. FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, AS EVIDENCED BY SPEECH AND ACTION, IS THE TEST.
THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE GUARANTOR OF INDIVIDUAL EQUALITY AND THE
OPTIMAL PERSONAL FREEDOMS, ACHIEVEMENT, AND VITALITY IT PROVIDES.
THAT "GUARANTOR" COMES IN THE FORM OF "BALANCE
It is historically and naturally true that "Power
corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Human nature being what it is at this
stage of evolution, power will always be exercised in favor of the
powerful. Even the theoretical 'benevolent
dictator' is not omnipotent and cannot see all the misuses of power down
through the levels of a large complex society; and, further, the dictator is
mortal and change will occur eventually.
All of the U.S. Constitution and the body of laws derived
therefrom are aimed at balancing the powers between not only the segments of
government but also all the segments of society living thereunder. This is reflected very obviously in the
Bill of Rights, the division of government into three branches, the
subordination of the Military to civilian control, the separation of Church and
State, the anti-discrimination laws, the anti-trust laws, the consumer
protection laws, the environmental protection laws (to the extent they exist),
the 'delegation', so to speak, of Powers to the States, and the rights of
privacy and habeas corpus, and elected representation in the judicial,
legislative, and administrative processes.
THE RELATIVE POWERS OF EACH DISTINGUISHABLE SEGMENT OF
SOCIETY MUST BE PHYSICALLY BALANCED FOR EQUALITY AND FREEDOM TO
EXIST. THIS MEANS THEY MUST
BE BALANCED IN FACT AND DEED, NOT JUST IN WORDS AND PROFESSED INTENTIONS. NOR SHOULD THE BALANCE BE POSTPONED FOR
SOME "URGENT" REASON.
The U.S. Constitution does not enshrine private property or
free enterprise because of some holy writ, as some would have us believe. Private property ownership is a base
of power and its wide distribution is a
stable means of distributing (balancing) power (at least economic power). The incentives to produce and conserve
are incidental benefits that could theoretically be provided via incentive
mechanisms in a socialist society with many complex rules to implement it. The free market is a more independent
arbiter of the value of production, but to do so the market must, indeed, be
'free', which, in turn, requires a complex set of rules competently enforced to
produce the desired result.
Again, a private "ownership" right is not inherent
in nature. Private property rights
were created by law. Where
it exists it is based on the continuing consent of the 'governor' (in a
democracy that is the registered voters). The consensus expressed in law
is that private ownership be respected.
"Ownership" really means control of its use; e.g., who eats it, who lives on it, who wears it,
who burns it, etc.
have been many societies down through the ages in which personal private
property did not exist. Everything
belonged to the tribe and is only temporarily used. Similarly, the tribe only temporarily used that which truly
belonged to the 'earth'. They
worked together as teams and shared the product equally or as needed. We don't know what they did about
slackers, and, of course, there are examples where the incompetents (sick,
aged, unproductive) were left behind.
Private property ownership takes second place to the
"public good", thus, we have our condemnation laws and public
property such as roads, water ways, military facilities, meeting halls,
national forests, and national parks.
But, property rights are complex, not a simple yes or
no. For example, in Hawaii the
ground water is in what is called a "lens", a lens shaped pool of
fresh water under every island that is floating on the salt water beneath. The fresh water arrives there and is
replaced there via a myriad of fissures in the rock above on which the rain
falls. The rain falls due to no
productive effort of any property owners and percolates to the lens
uncontrollably. Thus the State
says the water pool belongs to the public as a whole and its use should be
subject to public control. What
landowners mix into the water as it passes through the surface affects the
quality of the public water. Thus
the property rights of the surface landowner are limited (not total). Similarly, what one landowner has the
right to do on his land that impacts the use of his neighbor's land is limited
(not total). These are very simple
examples illustrating the fact that mere property ownership is not holy or
unlimited as will often by made out to be in arguments of special interests.
(Almost) unrestricted freedom to communicate is also
provided in the Constitution and referred to as freedom of speech, freedom of
the press, and freedom of assembly.
This is absolutely critical to facilitating the individual (as well as
the voter and the administrator) being as enlightened and as understanding of
the truth or reality as is possible so that decisions or choices made by the
individual, whether in voting or in choosing life's purpose, can be as sound or
effective as is humanly possible.
This is an essential condition of the individual reaching his or her
highest potential. Education is
essentially the exercise or utilization of those rights to communicate. The qualifying word "almost"
was used at first above because even our communication rights are limited. We cannot slander (falsely damage)
another individual. We cannot
'bear false witness' in cases where judgment of the truth can affect the
welfare of another individual due to action in a court of law. In our democracy, that is about
the only limits on free expression.
Any other expressions, whether intentionally false or not, are generally
considered "opinion" and are protected intellectual property. We have, so far, chosen to err on the
side of maximum free expression of beliefs. In many other so-called democracies, if those in authority
judge the "opinion" to be erroneous (annoying), it can be and often
is branded a crime. Furthermore,
in those societies such a "crime" often carries punishments more
severe than mere theft, assault, or even murder. A "blasphemous opinion" in some non-sectarian
societies is punishable by death.
This then is a very sensitive area in which beliefs can carry great risk
and the line between right and wrong can get very murky. The Patriot Act is treading this
A significant, but overlooked, benefit of the Balance of Power
is Superior Performance of the benefited society. Recent studies conducted by two Stanford Graduate School of
Business professors point to the fact that decisions made by groups (boards,
work groups, panels, judiciary) tend to be more complexly and more
comprehensively thought through and explained. The competition of
ideas and values in the group produces a better answer. When one point of view has absolute
power to decide, not much useful exploration takes place. We can see that in congress when one
party has more than a slim majority.
We can see that in the operation of the White House when questions are
squelched and alternative perspectives or broader range of facts are not
sought. The preparation for the
Iraq conquest is a recent glaring example. The creation of the "welfare state" is a less
recent example. The collapse of
the Soviet Union is a classic case of Imbalance of Power (suppression of
alternative ideas) leading to misuse or under use of human and natural
resources. Balance of Economic
Power in the form of free market (non-oligopolistic) competition is a
contrasting example, as illustrated by the historical success of the western
countries. Within our own system,
the monopolistic position of Microsoft has resulted in the dominance of an
inferior operating system at some undeterminable cost to society (eg. the cost of the MS DOS system has
not declined while every other computer innovation has over time). But here again the general system of free
markets is beginning to belatedly rectify that situation.
But economics is only a subset: balanced power in
setting broad social goals and policies and methodologies is fundamental.
By and large, the so-called Third World is absent of 'Balance of Powers'. Poverty, ignorance, religious
irrelevance, concentration of wealth, undeveloped infrastructure, military
intervention, and sparse leadership prevent any effective balance of power.
SO WHAT ARE THE
THREATS THAT AFFECT THE ABOVE?
Globalization, international corporations, CEO vs investor
driven, control of mass media, campaign funding, weakened federal government so
huge corporations can overpower states, tragedy of the commons, wealth vs.
poverty, primary avenues of
communication is only mass media; International corporations have no
patriotism, population over whelms
the environment, stress pushes people to extreme religious beliefs in search of
relief or explanation.
One of the several strategies being very actively
facilitated by the Bush Team, either premeditatedly and sinisterly or
unwittingly (and now endorsed by McCain), as a consequence of ignorant dogma,
is to weaken the structure erected to balance power. This takes many forms.
One example is to weaken or
incapacitate the Federal government's powers and role in issues like
environment, consumer and public safety protection, and constraints and
openness in financial institutions and markets (the effect of this latter
condition is now getting publicity).
The parties whose balance of power is being tilted in one's favor vs.
the others are large-scale multinational corporations on one hand (a
non-person) and the people in general, principally those people whose resources
are limited to barely feeding, clothing, and sheltering themselves and their
families. The way it works is
this. President Bush, by decree,
abolishes federal regulations regarding ergonomic workplace injury exposure. This leaves providing such protection
to the states. Then Big
Corporation(s) [some more wealthy than many states and certainly not subject to
any social constraint] threaten to move "jobs" to other states (or
countries) that don't have such protections for its citizens. States cave in or face losing
jobs. The balance of power is
shifted to the CEO of the Corporation.
A burden is shifted and personal freedom to achieve is threatened.
Another example is to encourage the
FCC to permit huge media conglomerates to dominate the news sources available
in a community. Thus diversity and
independence of news reporting and editorializing is eliminated and the
conglomerate panders to the wishes of the incumbent (Bush) administration to be
able to get such favors which translate into more money into fewer hands. That is the beginning of a plain and
simple propaganda machine.
Ownership by the government is not necessary, just common interest:
money and power. What happened to
the Dixie Chicks and The Reagan Story are two visible recent results. Can you imagine the conglomerates
pulling the distorted and slanderous Rush Limbaugh from the programming. Examples of this strategy could
fill a book. Through this process
the balance of power to communicate is shifted from the general public (or any
opposition) in favor the Administration.
Freedom is threatened.
Every person, except those in
positions of power, in the former Soviet Union wanted freedom of speech. Every
person, except those in positions of power, in Iraq wanted freedom of speech.
Every person, except those in positions of power, in Iran want freedom of
speech. Every person, except those in positions of power, in China want freedom
of speech. Every person, except those in positions of power, in every
totalitarian society in the world wants freedom of speech. Their wanting
it did not mean getting it or keeping it.
Freedom of speech is not a gift of those in power.
The people did not get, or do not
have, freedom of speech in those countries because there did not, or does not,
exist a "balance of power" in those countries. Freedom of speech exists where those in
power are unable to take it away or reduce it to the level of ineffectiveness.
During the Bush Administration
"the balance of power" in this country is under insidious
attack. The attack has been
comprehensive and takes many forms:
Campaign finance, Media mergers, Court appointees, "faith based
initiatives", weakening of federal regulatory powers, quietly under
funding of selected programs, punishment of dissenters, unprecedented levels of
Pork (bribery) in legislation, withholding information, promoting Commander-in-Chief hero
worship, unprecedented intimidation in appointees, diverting legitimate
inquiries and investigations, and fostering the concentration of wealth via tax
and regulatory policies. The
tactics are sectarian in purpose and effect.
Labor unions are the Enemies of the
State because they organize people into groups large enough to have some
unified power to negotiate with other centers of power.
Trial Lawyers are the Enemies of
the State because they organize large classes of people before the courts and
due to the scale of the action they can challenge other centers of power.
The Liberal Media are Enemies of
the State because they can reach and influence large blocks of voters in
opposition to other centers of power.
Environmental groups are Enemies of
the State because they inform and motivate large groups of people to question
the greed (not covering their own costs) of other centers of power.
The Secular inclined are not
“Patriots” because they are sectarianly equated to atheists and because they
call public attention to the abusive use of belief differences to control
opinion (and votes) by those in power.
Pacifists are enemies of the State
because they “are ready to surrender” to the “enemies” identified and certified
by those in power (who need enemies to hold on to power).