The Tangled Logic of a Critic

I recently wrote an article arguing that the federal government was never meant to serve as a “liberty enforcement squad.” I was basically trying to illustrate the concept of delegation of powers through the use of an analogy.

Ross sent me an email taking me to task. He believes the federal government SHOULD enforce its understanding of “rights” through the federal courts, and he chastises me for overstating the danger of federal enforcement by kind of trying to argue that the federal government doesn’t really do enforcement.

Or something.

People like you, Mike, are under some sort of fevered and hallucinatory belief that in order to compel state and local governments to protect the US citizens rights on their own jurisdictional turf that there needs to be some sort of active, … pro-active, even … federal agency screening all state laws and local ordinances for excessive use of governmental prerogative.

No such thing is necessary; it’s what the courts are for.

So, I wonder what exactly Ross thinks the federal courts are in the current bastardized system we live under? Aren’t they pretty much “some sort of active, … pro-active, even … federal agency screening all state laws and local ordinances for excessive use of governmental prerogative.”

Umm…yeah.

And it hasn’t worked out well for us.

Here’s the whole email for your reading pleasure.

In order for an analogy to be useful it has to be constructed properly.
Yours isn’t, and as a result you cannot use it to argue the point you are
trying to make – not that you could anyhow, since the point that states can
violate our rights without anyone correcting them is spurious at best.

And your analogy fails LONG before we begin to consider the vacant terms
“wholesome”, “nutritious” and even “organic”.  Under the current definition
of “organic”, just about the only people who have the financial means to
grow organic food are Cargill, ADM, and the same batch of “usual suspects”
as grow the pesticide-laden, chemically-enhanced, hormone-infused food that
“organic” was meant as a means to counteract.  I would spend – annually –
about 10-times what my small flock of sheep generate in revenue each year to
certify myself, my farm, and my lambs as organic.

You can think of this as an object lesson in the vapidity of centralizing
power – and it is – but until otherwise notified, the only definition anyone
has of “organic” is meaningless in practice.

But let’s forget the semantics of your analogy and get to the academic
failure of it: a “restaurant” serves OTHERS, not itself, and therefore it is
a thoroughly inapt analog to a government of anything except monarchists.
Are you a monarchist, Mike?  You certainly analogize like one.  In monarchy,
hereditary or otherwise, the rules of the government are there for OTHERS to
follow, not themselves.

Our government was instead defined to serve everyone – itself included, with
very very few exceptions.  Your “restaurant”, if allowed to remain an actual
restaurant, would be serving diners not bound by its rules and simply
passing through … say, Canadians once we apply the analog to the world
you’re failing to describe.  I don’t know for certain, but I’m fairly
confident that both Canadians and their government would be rather miffed
about the imperiousness of that.

Your “restaurant”, instead, is more correctly considered an after-church pot
luck supper, where those who cook the food are also the diners.  If – UNDER
THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES – you were to have cooking rules imposed on the cooks,
but only when they cook in the church basement but not when they cook at
home and bring the food TO the church basement, then you are imposing rules
that are essentially meaningless.  You are declaring that you MAY have a
“wholesome”, “nutritious” and “organic” lunch at the church pot luck … but
then again … you might not.  It depends on whether or not the food was
cooked in the church itself, as well as whether those who cook food at home
to BRING to the church felt obliged to follow the rules for cooking at the
church.

What good does it do to have Constitutionally protected rights at the
federal level when any state or local government can abrogate those rights
at a whim?  And was that the intention of those who wrote the Constitution?

The answers, in order, are:
1] it does NO good, and
2] it was not their original intention, no, but they neglected to articulate
it well enough and the 14thAM was passed in order to reassert the inability
of a state or local government to interfere with a citizens federal rights
by virtue of being a rung down the governmental ladder.

The completely fatuous piece of the argument AGAINST this, of course, is
that people like you, Mike, are under some sort of fevered and hallucinatory
belief that in order to compel state and local governments to protect the US
citizens rights on their own jurisdictional turf that there needs to be some
sort of active, … pro-active, even … federal agency screening all state
laws and local ordinances for excessive use of governmental prerogative.

No such thing is necessary; it’s what the courts are for.  In fact, by
making the argument – as you do – that libertarians and constitutional
conservatives who understand this are actually arguing FOR federal
policy-making/-policing authorities, you are constructing a very dishonest
strawman.  For shame, Mike.

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