The recent battle between the Obama administration (and Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ presumptive power under unconstitutional Obamacare) is consuming the news in recent weeks. And rightly so. It is a battle between good and evil. Right and wrong. Constitutional versus unconstitutional. And it’s a battle that will ultimately be a good thing for the Republic.
There are many battles in this war. There’s the abortion battle. There’s the Constitutional powers battle. There’s the religious freedom battle. But everyone seems to be missing that all of this is part of the greater war over “Jefferson’s Wall”.
The so-called “wall of separation between Church and State” exists nowhere in the founding documents. It is not in the Declaration, the Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment does not specify a “separation of Church and State”. It simply states in part that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And the dictionary definition of “establish” is:
1 set up (an organization, system, or set of rules) on a firm or permanent basis;2 achieve permanent acceptance or recognition for;
So where did this “wall” come from? A letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, written in 1802 in response to a letter of theirs concerning problems they were having with the Connecticut state legislature. The Danbury Baptist Association was a minority religion in Connecticut, and they were complaining to Jefferson that “what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights.”
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
Read carefully: Jefferson was speaking about the federal government (“the whole American people which declared that their legislature”), thus freeing the state governments to do, well, pretty much whatever they wanted. And the fact remains that Jefferson’s statement is not law. No matter how much the liberal intelligencia in this country want it to be law, and have massaged it into the brains of the American people that it is in the Constitution, in fact no such “wall” exists in the law.
And that, dear readers, is what this war needs to be about. Not birth control and morning after pills. Not even religious liberty. But the fact that this “wall” doesn’t exist. Now, the Obamacare regulation does infringe upon the “free exercise” clause of the 1st Amendment, but when the liberals say the government does have that power, then they are admitting that there is no wall of separation. And if the government can tell a Church what to do, then all of the “Freedom From Religion” lawsuits who want religion out of government have no basis either.
So let us take this war gladly. Let us once and for all demolish this fictional “wall of separation”. And when we’re done, when we’ve won, we’ll have also demolished Obamacare and all its unconstitutional tentacles around our freedoms, religious freedoms among them.
“I love you,” they say across the table. “These past few months have been great, and I feel we have something… something special. I’m ready to take our relationship to the next level.” I sit in silence and take a sip of my drink. “Well say something!” they plead. “Don’t you love me too?”
“Look,” I say. “Things started off okay. I told my friends that I liked you, and told them all about your qualities that I liked. But as time has gone on and I learned more about you, the more I’m not so sure about us.”
“What?! Just last night I heard you telling your neighbor how much you liked me!”
I sigh. “I was. But I was on the internet last night…”
“No. No! Lies! Distortion! You can’t trust what you read on the internet! Anyone can put anything up there.”
“Yeah, well, I was actually looking at other stuff. Things you said, things you did. But since you brought it up… there were some quite unflattering comments from other people who you were close with. One or two I could overlook, but there’s, like, a bunch. Honestly, I’m not sure things are working out.”
And so it goes with political candidates, courting your vote. Things start off swimmingly, and you get all excited about a candidate for a few reasons. But as time goes by, you learn more about them. More information comes out. And the more you realize this person isn’t really the person you thought they were. During this primary period, all the candidates are courting us for our votes. And it’s okay to change our support from one candidate to the other as we find more about them. We’re still dating, after all. As time goes by we find out more about them and maybe we realize that they have violated one of our personal non-negotiables.
I liked Herman Cain until he flubbed the Libya question. I liked Rick Santorum because of his pro-life stance, and agreed with his strong international policies; but then I looked into his voting record, read about how he treated Pennsylvania Republicans, and finally… some of his comments which I took to be out-and-out Communitarian. While Rick is an ardent Catholic, he follows a 50-year-old Communitarian-tinged strain of Catholicism — liberation theology — which has been denounced by the Pope (though its influence is still felt.)
If Ronald Reagan were alive and running for president today, would he be able to withstand the scrutiny we give candidates today? Thirty years ago, there wasn’t the internet, so digging into things about the candidates wasn’t as easy. We had to rely on what we read in newspapers and saw on the nightly news (on only three channels!) The fact is, right now we’re all looking for a knight in shining armor to come along on his white horse and save our nation from the throes of tyranny and socialism. In reality, none of the current crop of candidates comes close to that ideal, once you start digging. But some are less agreeable than others.
Barack Obama was able to win because he was a blank canvas of open expectations. I think we as a nation have learned from this mistake. And I think that in the absence of a true and genuine white knight in shining armor, we — as a nation — are inclined to choose the least dangerous, most vanilla candidate out there. That’s why Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee, and that’s why he will beat Barack Obama in the general election. Not because he’s good, not because we like him more, but because we realize Obama was a big mistake and that re-electing him would be a bigger mistake. (And if you doubt that Romney will win the primary, just look at New Hampshire where Santorum only captured 8% of the Catholic vote, while Romney captured 45% of the Catholic vote, despite being a Mormon.)
Is Mitt Romney the best thing for the nation? No. Not by a long shot. But he’s “acceptable“. And he’s not Barack Obama.
I read with interest this snippet about Jesse Jackson Jr. on what Steve Jobs would have thought of the Wall Street protests:
Jackson began an interview on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.” yesterday by offering condolences to the Jobs family, saying he “knew Steve over a period of time, not as a technical computer genius, but also he had an acute sense of social justice and a peace warrior. So he was a well-rounded guy, not just a computer genius we talk about today.”
When host Chris Jansing asked if Jobs would have supported the Wall Street protesters, Jackson said “no doubt about it” and then used his airtime to promote the movement.
This is from a man who wouldn’t know an iPod from a brown Zune, let alone know a thing about the mind of Steve Jobs.
As a longtime fan of Apple products and an accused member of “The Cult of Apple”, I can speak volumes about Jobs and his history within the computer industry. And one thing that always impressed me about the man is that he largely managed to keep his politics out of his business. Oh sure, you can infer that he leaned left due to who he associated with, but he never came out and gave speeches endorsing this candidate or that movement. Aside from his Stanford commencement address and his singular public statement encouraging organ donation after his liver transplant, to my knowledge the man never publicly spoke of anything but Apple and technology.
When it comes right down to it, Steve Jobs was an unrepentant capitalist. He offshored production of Apple’s products to (primarily) China. He kept Apple’s profit margins high — around 26% — when everyone else in the computer industry is scraping by at 6-8% margins. In a particularly exemplary incident shortly before Apple went public, co-founder Steve Wozniak wanted the two of them to give some of their own shares of the company to long-time Apple employees who had none, with Woz telling Jobs that he would match however many shares Jobs gave; Jobs said, “Great, I’ll give them zero.” (Good-hearted Woz wound up giving away shares anyway, calling it “the Woz plan”, which allowed many employees to buy a house and send their kids to college.) Upon returning to the company’s helm in 1997, Jobs cut Apple’s corporate match of charitable donations. Apple shareholders have never seen dividends, regardless how much Apple has made in profits. (And with a market cap close to — and sometimes exceeding — oil giant Exxon Mobil, they’ve made a lot.) Their iTunes Music Store borders on a monopoly of the digital music download business, and their line of iPods command the lion’s share of MP3 players. Their App Store for the iPhone and Mac take a whopping 30% of the sale of every product. In a private meeting shortly before his death, he told Obama that unions and manufacturing regulations in the US were the reason he offshored product production, and that teachers’ unions needed to be done away with and replaced with a system where teachers are hired, fired, and promoted based on merit rather than collective bargaining. He even had a private jet and was having a custom yacht built. The only thing missing from the “greedy, cigar-smoking capitalist” stereotype was the cigar.
Well, the cigar and the fat paycheck. Steve Jobs, upon returning to Apple when the stock was worth about $12 a share, took a salary of $1. Oh sure, he got stock options that made him filthy rich, but let’s face it: those options would only be worth anything if the company did well. And there is the thing that liberals and the Occupy Wall Street crowd doesn’t understand: to a capitalist, the money is less important than the success. Money isn’t the end, it’s a means to the end. Success, defined as realization of a dream, is the end. Money is a by-product of success, and is used by the consummate capitalist to fund more successes. How many successful capitalists can be defined as “serial entrepreneurs”, taking their money from one business and using it to fund another? How many successful capitalists started their business because they were working for some one else and said, “I can see a better way,” then they set out and built the better way, creating jobs in the process? How many successful capitalists started with a small handful of borrowed cash and a dream, taking operations from their home, dorm room, or parents’ garage and turned that dream into a global brand? I’ll help the Occupy Wall Street crowd and answer the rhetorical: Most if not all.
In building Apple into the company we know today, how many people prospered because of Jobs’ drive for the realization of his dreams? And we’re not just talking about the thousands of new jobs at Apple itself, people who have email addresses ending in “@apple.com” because of Jobs’ successes. From accessory manufacturers to heretofore unknown musicians, from online retailers to laborers in China, Jobs’ addiction to success made many other people around the world wildly successful beyond their dreams.
Yes, capitalists are addicts… Addicts to success. And for everyone to prosper, for everyone to have “a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway”, we need capitalists like Steve Jobs to continue to be successful rather than excoriate them for following their dream.