Why Principles Matter

The last article questioned if principles matter any longer within our country? Well, the election is over. We have some results that indicate whether we even understand what principles are any longer. No, I am not talking about the Presidential election, those of the Senate or House, the governorships, or even the state legislatures.  Virginia had two constitutional ballot initiatives this election. The first proposed an amendment supporting Virginia’s right to work law.  Its purpose was to make it more difficult for a governor or other elected official to undermine present law. The second provided localities the option of creating property tax exemptions for the surviving spouse of certain emergency services providers who die in the line of duty.

Equality under the law was one of the principles mentioned as being at stake in this election. In both cases principles lost on the ballot. Let me explain. It is not a matter of whether a right exists to make such changes, but rather should such changes be made. The right to work initiative failed 46 to 54%. No doubt this amendment was very poorly worded. One must ask why, but that is a separate question.

I am not anti-union. There are times where other parties do try and oppress the rights of citizens in the workplace, and unions serve a noble purpose in defending the rights of their members in those circumstances. As such people should be allowed to form and be a member of a union where they think that is in their best interest.

However, requiring individuals to join or support unions as a condition of employment if they do not wish is morally wrong, and against the very foundation our country was created upon. It sets the rights of the unions, and its members, to be ‘more equal’ (above) the rights of those who do not belong. This is a form of elitism and tyranny very much like our Founders revolted against.

Those not supporting the right to work position generally raise the issue that all benefit from the union presence, therefore all should contribute to the union’s support. This is a false argument, as again it sets us on the path of unequal representation. In any marketplace, people are willing to pay for things that have value. If a workplace is bad, then people would be willing to pay for union representation. If not, the union is not offering something of value to those it wants to represent. It is a matter of individual choice.

The NEA’s General Counsel gave us the real reason for defeating these types of laws in 2009. In his address, he stated that the union is an effective advocate not because of its ideas, the merits of its positions, whether it cares about children, or has a vision for education. It is effective because it has power, the power that arises from the dues its 3.2 million members pay. In the end it is about money, and the power it buys. A monopoly power granted by government. A form of corruption that exists in all forms of collectivism.

The second initiative was supported by a margin of 80 to 20%. This too is a loss for principles. The left often first works its way into an area by finding some small point of consensus that most people agree with because it sounds good. From that first entry point other exemptions are carved out over time. Principles are set aside. To see this, we have to look no further than corruption of the commerce clause within our Constitution. A clause initially intended only to settle commerce disputes that might arise between individuals in different states or the states themselves. A clause that has been used in recent years as a tool to require us to buy health insurance.

The general problem with this approach is that the government takes over decisions and actions that are our individual responsibility. Often in the name of making it ‘easier’ for us. This implies we are not capable of making good decisions, that someone else knows better - a form of elitism. The exemption is positioned as an act of charity, but charity is not in the government’s domain. The responsibility for such actions lies solely with us. They are the way we fulfill our purpose. By turning them over to the government, we lose both some freedom (the ability to make a decision) and the opportunity to fulfill our purpose by showing our neighbors the love we are to have for them.

If property taxes are to be paid, they should be paid by all without exception. If someone is placed in a difficult position due to circumstances, such as losing a spouse, it is the community’s responsibility—as individuals—to step up in their support. It is our calling and purpose as individuals. All charity begins in acts of faith, are rooted in virtue, performed voluntarily (require freedom) out of love for another - simply because we share the same God-given nature.

There is little that I agree with John Locke about, but he did state one truth. ‘The civil power can either change every thing in religion, or it can change nothing.’ While he was talking about the relationship between civil and religious power, it applies to all areas. Either a civil power can change everything within an area or it can change nothing. There is no such thing as partial power. It is why principles matter.

Before closing this article there is one further principle to discuss, and that relates to the cry to abandon the electoral college for a simple majority. Newsflash to the useful idiots advancing this position. We are not a democracy, we are a republic. The electoral college embraces the principle of state representation. In their wisdom our Founders intended all parts of the country to be represented in an election, instead of having a tyranny of the majority that would be decided by only a few locations. That is why we also have limited powers, separation of powers, and checks & balances.

What do I mean? Maryland, are you tired of having your election decided for you by Baltimore? Pennsylvania, are you tired of Philadelphia deciding your election? Illinois, the same with Chicago? California, by LA and San Francisco? Michigan, by Detroit? The state of New York, by New York City? Get the picture? In some states we already have a tyranny of the majority.

Just a few facts about this election.

·         Of the more than 3,100 counties and cities in the U.S., the Democratic party in the presidential election won less than 500 of them (< 15%).

·         Of the fifty states, in the presidential election the Democratic party won the majority of the counties and cities in only 8 of them (16%).

Yet, despite the above facts, the election was still close, less than a 1% difference in the popular vote and the Democratic party won 20 of the fifty states. How much worse would it be with a simple majority? A couple dozen cities would likely end up deciding national elections. Is that really what we want? Where is the representation in that approach? I think the system that we presently have works pretty well, all things considered. Again, principles matter.


Posted in: Governance


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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.