South Africa Moves Toward Taking Land Without Compensation

On Tuesday U.S. News posted an article about the move to take land from South Africans without paying them any compensation. The parliament recently approved a report endorsing a constitutional amendment that would allow expropriations without compensation.

The article reports:

Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

A parliamentary team last month recommended a constitutional amendment to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest.

The article continues:

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma in February, has prioritized land redistribution as he seeks to unite the fractured ruling African National Congress (ANC) and win public support ahead of an election next year.

But the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and some rights groups are critical of the government’s plans, saying it will jeopardize property rights and scare off investors.

“We support expropriation of land without compensation or zero Rand compensation in the public interest,” the ANC’s Vincent Smith said during the parliamentary debate.

Ahead of Tuesday’s debate, John Steenhuisen, the main opposition’s chief whip, said “the DA will not hesitate to approach the courts” should the report backing the expropriation of land be adopted.

Following Tuesday’s vote, a new bill proposing the change to Section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation would need to be drafted.

It would also require the public’s contribution before a debate and vote in the assembly. To become law, it would need passed by both houses of parliament and then signed by Ramaphosa. It is unclear how long this process would take.

Last week the High Court rejected a legal challenge brought by AfriForum, a group representing mainly white Afrikaners who wanted to overturn a parliamentary committee report supporting changes to the constitution.

There are some things the South African government might want to consider if they decide to move forward with the idea of seizing land without compensation. Although that might seem like a solution to the misdeeds of the past, it is simply a misdeed in the present. Taking anything from someone without compensation is not a path toward harmony. Because the land distribution seems to be so uneven, wouldn’t it be better to require people who hold large portions of land to sell portions of it under government supervision at a reasonable price. Otherwise, you are infringing on private property rights. In December 2010, I posted an article about the relationship between private property rights, the rule of law, and prosperity. You cannot have prosperity without private property rights or without the rule of law. To seize property without compensation violates this principle. It is the way to poverty for South Africa.

 

Abandoning What You Probably Never Read

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted a commentary with the headline, “Democrats Abandon the Constitution.” Actually they did that a long time ago, which is why they were so upset at the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh–he might work to bring it back.

The commentary goes on to list some of the basic tenets of the Constitution that the Democrats are currently railing against:

Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court has sparked a firestorm of outrage and recrimination on the left. Some attacks seem aimed at intimidating the justices into supporting progressive causes. “The Court must now prove—through its work—that it is worthy of the nation’s trust,” Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, tweeted Oct. 6.

Yet the attacks go beyond ideology. Detractors of Justice Kavanaugh and President Trump are denouncing the Constitution itself and the core elements of America’s governmental structure:

  • The Electoral College. Mr. Trump’s opponents claim he is an illegitimate president because Hillary Clinton “won the popular vote.” One commentator even asked “what kind of nation allows the loser of a national election to become president.” The complaint that the Electoral College is undemocratic is nothing new. The Framers designed it that way. They created a republican form of government, not a pure democracy, and adopted various antimajoritarian measures to keep the “demos” in check.

The Electoral College could be eliminated by amending the Constitution. But proposing an amendment requires two-thirds votes in both houses of Congress, and the legislatures of three-fourths, or 38, of the states would have to ratify it.

  • The Senate. The complaint here is that the 50 senators who voted in Justice Kavanaugh’s favor “represent” fewer people than the 48 who voted against him. But senators represent states, not people.

Equal Senate representation for the states was a key part of the Connecticut Compromise, along with House seats apportioned by population. The compromise persuaded large and small states alike to accept the new Constitution. It was so fundamental that Article V of the Constitution—which spells out the amendment procedure—provides that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” That means an amendment changing the structure of the Senate would require ratification by all 50 states.

  • Judicial independence. Commentators who disapprove of the Supreme Court’s composition have urged, as one law professor put it, “shrinking the power of the courts to overrun our citizens’ democratic decisions.” Some suggest limiting and staggering the justices’ terms so that a vacancy would come up every other year, ensuring that the court follows the election returns. That could be achieved via constitutional amendment, but it would go against the Framers’ wisdom. As Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, life tenure for judges is “the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright and impartial administration of the laws.”

What we have hear is a living example of what happens when you don’t teach American history and the principles of the Constitution in schools. The people calling for these changes have no concept of how our government was designed or the safeguards that were put in it. Their desire is to take those safeguards out and institute mob rule. That has not worked well in other places, and I seriously doubt it would work well here. It was what our Founding Fathers sought to avoid.

The commentary concludes:

The anger and disappointment of Justice Kavanaugh’s opponents is understandable, as would be that of his supporters if the vote had gone the other way. They are perfectly entitled to pursue political remedies, including using his appointment as a campaign issue. They also are entitled to pursue amendments to the Constitution that would make our system of government more responsive to the popular will. What they cannot do is overturn the Connecticut Compromise guaranteeing each state equal representation in the Senate, or launch unconstitutional investigations or impeachment of a sitting Supreme Court justice. The Constitution protects all of us, even Supreme Court justices.

True.

How Would This Be Handled In The Business World?

During my working years I was hardly at the executive level–although at various times I was involved in hiring decisions, I was rarely involved in firing decisions. However, I did see a number of those decisions going on around me. Insubordination or working against the basic aims of the company were often the reasons given for someone being fired. With that in mind, I wonder what the appropriate response is to the actions of Rod Rosenstein as reported by The New York Times today.

The Independent Journal Review posted an article today about a recent disclosure by The New York Times.

The article reports:

The U.S. official who oversees the federal investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election last year suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from the White House, the New York Times reported on Friday.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the suggestions in the spring of 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the newspaper said.

…Rosenstein told McCabe, who was also later fired by Trump, that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John Kelly, the former homeland security secretary and current White House chief of staff, to invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which deals with presidential succession and disability.

The Times said none of those proposals came to fruition.

Rosenstein assumed oversight of the investigation into Russian interference and possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Moscow because Sessions in March 2017 recused himself from the matter, citing his service on the campaign. In May 2017, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead the investigation.

How long would this person have a job in your corporation? I strongly suggest following the link to The Independent Journal Review to read the entire article. President Trump needs people in his administration who will work with him–not against him. It is truly time to clean house.

Avoiding Shenanigans During An Election

I apologize in advance for the long length of this article, but I want to illustrate how events can be twisted for political purposes. North Carolina is currently a state with a Republican legislature and a Democrat governor. Needless to say, Democrats want to bring us back to 2012 when we were a one-party Democrat state. Some of their tactics aimed at unsuspecting and sometimes uninformed voters are a bit questionable. Fortunately the Republicans in the state legislature identified those tactics in advance and took action to keep things honest.

The story begins with an email sent out to many Democrats in Craven County, North Carolina. The letter was sent to encourage people to come out to a Townhall meeting hosted by State Representative Michael Speciale. I have left out the names of the author and recipient. The letter reads:

With less than a day’s notice given to their constituents and fellow lawmakers, legislative leaders called a surprise special session today with the sole purpose of changing election laws — all less than 90 days before voters will begin casting their ballots.

The legislature opened by suspending traditional rules so they could rush through two specific pieces of legislation that will leave voters with less information on their ballots this fall.

The first, House Bill 3, allowed the legislature to take control of writing captions for the six constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot this fall. With its passage, House Bill 3 eliminates any chance voters will receive clear amendment explanations on the ballot. Instead, voters will only see the caption “Constitutional Amendment” and constitutional language approved by lawmakers this summer. Votes will be asked to vote “FOR” or “AGAINST.”
The second, Senate Bill 3, removes party labels from candidates who registered with that party less than 90 days prior to candidate filing. The bill would strip the party designation from at least one prominent Republican N.C. Supreme Court candidate, and, based on comments made during the session, appears designed to advantage another candidate.

Both are now headed to the governor for consideration. Rule changes today mean that the legislature could override gubernatorial vetos on the same day they’re issued.

Today’s costly convening is the latest in a long line of power plays at the expense of taxpayer dollars and our state’s democracy. It also underscores the need to stay informed about the proposals on the November ballot— and we hope you’ll join us in those efforts.

Sign the pledge to vote AGAINST anti-voter amendments on the ballot this fall and fight back!

We’ll be in touch soon with other ways to be involved, including events, actions, and volunteer opportunities in your area.

Together we can push back against attempts to hide the ball from the public when it comes to the proposed amendments — and ensure that North Carolina voters navigate all that’s on their ballot this fall.

Thank you,

So let’s look at what was actually done in that session. My source is the actual webpage for the state legislature because I wanted a neutral source.
The first bill (HB-3) deals with the naming of the Constitutional Amendments that will be on the ballot. Below is a screenshot of that law:
So what in the world is this about? Unfortunately the naming of these amendments has become politicized. One amendment that restores power to the legislature that had eroded in recent years was described on the ballot as a bill to limit the power of the governor. Nope. It has nothing to do with limiting the power of the governor; it has to do with restoring the checks and balances originally set in place. The bill passed in the session called on July 24 was not to confuse voters–it was an attempt to take politics out of the labeling of the amendments. There will be a short summary of each amendment on the ballot to allow voters to see exactly what they are voting for.
The second item, SB-3, deals with party identification in judicial races. The thing to consider when evaluating what you are about to read is whether this would be acceptable if the shoe were on the other foot.
HB-3 reads:
So what is this about? I am not naming names, although informed voters will know exactly what has happened. A Democrat candidate for judge changed his party affiliation to Republican at the last minute. He told colleagues that this was done to split the Republican vote in a particular race. The treasurer of his campaign is a Democrat, and all indications are that the ideas which previously determined his political affiliation have not changed. This was simply an effort to become a spoiler in the race. The law passed states that anyone who changes their party affiliation withing 90 days of an election will not have their party affiliation listed on the ballot. Sudden changes of heart are not necessarily viewed as valid.
This entire episode illustrates the need for informed voters. If someone simply read the misleading email sent out, they would have no idea of what is actually going on.

This Might Be A Good Move In Draining The Swamp

Donald Trump is not the first person to go to Washington to drain the swamp. However, I hope he will be more successful than those who have gone before him with that idea. Part of the problem is that there are many people in Washington (politicians and non-politicians) who are doing quite well because the swamp exists. One of the things to consider in getting rid of the class of political elites we have created is whether or not this is what the Founding Fathers intended. Obviously it is not. The intention of the Founding Fathers was to send a President and Congressmen to Washington who were ordinary people who would serve the country for a few years and then leave Washington and live under the laws they had passed. However, it hasn’t worked out that way. People come to Washington with various qualifications, set up fiefdoms, grow their personal wealth, and leave office when they die. That’s not the way it is supposed to work. Well, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ron De Santis (R-Florida) have an idea.

Breitbart.com reported yesterday that the two Congressmen are suggesting term limits for the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congressmen intend to introduce a Constitutional Amendment that would limit Representatives to three terms and Senators to two terms.

The article reports:

Both Cruz and DeSantis also point to the “broad support” for congressional term limits, citing a Ramussen survey conducted in October that showed 74% of likely voters supported the idea.

 Proposals to impose congressional term limits have been voted on before, with a 1998 proposal failing to receive the necessary two thirds support for passage. Similarly in 2012, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected a non-binding measure endorsing the amendment.

“The time is now for Congress, with the overwhelming support of the American people, to pass a constitutional amendment establishing congressional term limits and send it to the states for speedy ratification,” the pair said.

“With control of a decisive majority of the states, the executive branch, the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Republican Party has the responsibility to respond to the voters’ call to action. We must, and we can, deliver,” they concluded.

Passing a Constitutional Amendment is not a simple process. First the Amendment must be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress. Then the Amendment is sent to the states. The Amendment must be approved by three-quarters of the states. There is often a time limit (typically seven years) on that approval. The President does not have the power to either veto or ratify an amendment.

I believe that this is a really good idea, but I am not sure that two-thirds of either the House of Representatives or the Senate will vote for it. The upcoming session of Congress is going to be very interesting because there are some legislators that want to clean the swamp but have never had the White House support the idea before. There are other legislators that like things the way they are. It is quite possible that the first six months of Donald Trump’s Presidency may be one long get-out-the-popcorn moment. I suspect the idea of term limits will be very quietly undermined and misrepresented by some very powerful people.

 

North Carolina Voters, It’s Up To You To Uphold The Constitution

The following is taken from Michael Speciale’s website:

On the November ballot you will be asked to vote on a change to the North Carolina Constitution. The change is to allow individuals who appear in Superior Court, in cases where the State is NOT pursuing the death penalty, to waive their right to a trial by jury. With the approval of the Judge, they will go in front of a Judge only. The question on the ballot will be as follows:

[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST

Constitutional Amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in Superior Court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial Judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.

To some, the proposed amendment seems benign. It seems like no big deal, until you look at the ramifications, the precedence being set, and the liberty safeguards being forfeited.

Next to our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, whose inclusion into the Bill of Rights was intended to ensure that we the people had the ability to fight a tyrannical government, our 6th Amendment right to trial by jury is the next most important right that we have.

This right is another measure to ensure that we can overcome a tyrannical government because juries have the power to judge the law as well as the facts of a case.

What would be the purpose of this amendment? I can only reason that its purpose is intended to clear the backlog of cases. On whose backs will this come? The State would like to cut down on costs for providing legal defense to the indigent. Sadly, they will be the ones targeted because disposing of their cases by a Judge alone is generally quicker and cheaper than dragging out a Jury Trial.

Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios to determine what could happen:

   1. Promises and Coercion: The indigent defendant is sitting in their cell awaiting trial because they cannot afford bail. They are approached by an officer of the court and the conversation goes like this: “It will likely be months before we can get you in front of a jury, but if you sign this waiver, we can get you in front of Judge so-and-so in a week or two. He’s usually pretty lenient in cases like yours.” What do you think the defendant is likely to do? He wants out of the cell; he wants his freedom. He is likely to sign the waiver under the belief that he will be out of there quicker, and with a lighter sentence. It is not likely that all will go as promised.

   2. Juries have the right to judge the law as well as the facts of the case. That means that, even though you may be guilty of violating a law as written, the jury may choose not to convict you because they believe the law to be a bad one, or they believe that the law simply should not apply in your case due to mitigating, extenuating, or exigent circumstances. This is called Nullification, and a Judge is not likely to consider this.

   3. What about Justice? The powerful and the politically connected commit crimes like everyone else. Picture a Senator or other powerful individual manipulating the system by choosing to waive his/her right to a jury trial in order to get in front of a Judge that he/she knows, such as a friend, a supporter, or someone who owes a favor. Justice would not be served in this case.

   4. When the government gets their ‘foot in the door’ the next step is to kick it wide open. Think of the seat belt law. In order to calm public opinion when the seat belt law was being considered, we the people were told that this would be a secondary offence. In other words, we would not be pulled over just for a seat belt violation, but we could be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if we were pulled over for another offence. The reality is that shortly after the law was passed, it was changed to make it a primary offence. Just like that, once this amendment is passed, after a short time I can easily envision a change making it no longer a choice in certain cases, but a mandate. I can envision the law being changed to state that if you are charged with certain crimes, those particular crimes will no longer allow trial by jury, but will be tried in front of a Judge only. Can you see it?

We are losing our rights by the day, and we should not just give them away. I voted NO on the bill to put this on the ballot.

I recommend that you vote NO on the amendment.

Representative Larry Pittman has released the following statement:

[…] Last year, all of us except Rep. Michael Speciale messed up on a bill
that was brought to the floor for a vote when some of us had never
seen it. It was heard in committee that morning and brought to us in
the afternoon session.

I really didn’t get a chance to study it for more than a few minutes.
Sometimes there are just so many bills in the

queue, especially the last few days of the session, that if you are
trying to study as many as you can as closely as you can, there will
be some you don’t get to study that closely before they go through
committee. So you listen to the debate and try to read the bill as it
is being debated, and make the best decision you can, based on the
debate presented.

On this one, there really was not much of a debate.
We were told by its House sponsors how great it was and how it would
enhance the rights of the accused in court proceedings. It was SB 399.
The whole Senate, and everyone in the House except Rep. Speciale,
voted for it. You will see it as a constitutional amendment on your
ballot in the election this November. I am asking you to correct our
mistake and vote NO on this proposed amendment. Thank goodness for Rep. Speciale for seeing through it and pointing
out to me how bad it actually is. I just wish he could have had the
chance before it was too late for the vote. I guess he didn’t speak
against it on the floor because he thought it was so bad it didn’t
have a chance to pass. Our District Attorney here in Cabarrus County
has also spoken out publicly against this very bad amendment. Please
vote against it.[…]

We as the voters have a chance to vote against this amendment. Many of our legislators and state officials are now speaking out against the amendment, saying that it takes away a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Please vote no.

The Dangers Of A Law Which Will Alter The Right To A Trial By Jury

The following is taken from Michael Speciale’s website. He is a representative to the North Carolina House of Representatives who opposes a change to the North Carolina legal system that will be on the ballot in November.

On the November ballot you will be asked to vote on a change to the North Carolina Constitution. The change is to allow individuals who appear in Superior Court, in cases where the State is NOT pursuing the death penalty, to waive their right to a trial by jury. With the approval of the Judge, they will go in front of a Judge only. The question on the ballot will be as follows:

[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST

Constitutional Amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in Superior Court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial Judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.

To some, the proposed amendment seems benign. It seems like no big deal, until you look at the ramifications, the precedence being set, and the liberty safeguards being forfeited.

Next to our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, whose inclusion into the Bill of Rights was intended to ensure that we the people had the ability to fight a tyrannical government, our 6th Amendment right to trial by jury is the next most important right that we have.

This right is another measure to ensure that we can overcome a tyrannical government because juries have the power to judge the law as well as the facts of a case.

What would be the purpose of this amendment? I can only reason that its purpose is intended to clear the backlog of cases. On whose backs will this come? The State would like to cut down on costs for providing legal defense to the indigent. Sadly, they will be the ones targeted because disposing of their cases by a Judge alone is generally quicker and cheaper than dragging out a Jury Trial.

Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios to determine what could happen:

   1. Promises and Coercion: The indigent defendant is sitting in their cell awaiting trial because they cannot afford bail. They are approached by an officer of the court and the conversation goes like this: “It will likely be months before we can get you in front of a jury, but if you sign this waiver, we can get you in front of Judge so-and-so in a week or two. He’s usually pretty lenient in cases like yours.” What do you think the defendant is likely to do? He wants out of the cell; he wants his freedom. He is likely to sign the waiver under the belief that he will be out of there quicker, and with a lighter sentence. It is not likely that all will go as promised.

   2. Juries have the right to judge the law as well as the facts of the case. That means that, even though you may be guilty of violating a law as written, the jury may choose not to convict you because they believe the law to be a bad one, or they believe that the law simply should not apply in your case due to mitigating, extenuating, or exigent circumstances. This is called Nullification, and a Judge is not likely to consider this.

   3. What about Justice? The powerful and the politically connected commit crimes like everyone else. Picture a Senator or other powerful individual manipulating the system by choosing to waive his/her right to a jury trial in order to get in front of a Judge that he/she knows, such as a friend, a supporter, or someone who owes a favor. Justice would not be served in this case.

   4. When the government gets their ‘foot in the door’ the next step is to kick it wide open. Think of the seat belt law. In order to calm public opinion when the seat belt law was being considered, we the people were told that this would be a secondary offence. In other words, we would not be pulled over just for a seat belt violation, but we could be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if we were pulled over for another offence. The reality is that shortly after the law was passed, it was changed to make it a primary offence. Just like that, once this amendment is passed, after a short time I can easily envision a change making it no longer a choice in certain cases, but a mandate. I can envision the law being changed to state that if you are charged with certain crimes, those particular crimes will no longer allow trial by jury, but will be tried in front of a Judge only. Can you see it?

We are losing our rights by the day, and we should not just give them away. I voted NO on the bill to put this on the ballot.

I recommend that you vote NO on the amendment.

It would not be smart to change the law in this way. Under this change, an average citizen could very easily be deprived of his right to a trial by jury. Please vote against this change.

The Children Are Throwing Tantrums Again

The Des Moines Register posted an article today about the Iowa House Democrats who have left the Capitol to protest two gun bills the Republicans are bringing up. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has accused the Republicans of not giving enough notice so that Democrats could amend the bills.

I’m not even going to go into the details of this–I just want to show you the two bills as reported in the article:

House Joint Resolution 2009: Iowa Right to Keep and Bear Arms State Constitutional Amendment

This resolution would begin a process to amend Iowa’s constitution to include a “right to keep and bear arms.” The proposed amendment echoes the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, saying “The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

To pass, the resolution must be approved by both the House and the Senate in two consecutive general assemblies before voters would weigh in on the issue.  It means that the earliest a vote could occur would be 2013, should the legislature act this year and next.

House File 2215: Reasonable force/Stand your ground

The bill would rewrites the law on “reasonable force” so that a person may use force — including deadly force — against someone who they believe threatens to kill or cause serious injury, or who is committing a violent felony.  The bill specifically says that a person is presumed to be justified in using deadly force if the person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to avoid injury or risk to his or her life.

Iowa’s current law allows potential victims to use deadly force against a perceived threat only if an alternative course of action also entails “a risk to life or safety.”

The first bill does nothing except echo the Second Amendment. What is the problem? The second bill simply allows a person to defend himself. Again, what is the problem? What amendments are needed?

Somewhere along the line, we have lost the concept of having the right to defend ourselves and our property. I don’t think that violence is always the solution, but I do think we have lost the distinction between right and wrong in our victim mentality society. If someone murders someone, the murderer is often painted as a victim of some evil in society–poverty, bullying, disturbed childhood, etc. Parents are told not to spank their children and parental authority is undermined in our schools. If we are to survive as a society, we need to relearn the concept of good and evil and learn to deal with evil when it rears its ugly head!

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