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THE FOUNDATION

FOR SELF GOVERNMENT. INC

THE PURPOSE OF THE FOUNDATION FOR SELF GOVERNMENT, INC.
Like so many aspects of modern life, government is complicated. But unnecessarily so! The Constitution designs a somewhat complicated government in that, unlike most governments, it divides and separates power into so many pieces. At the same time, however, the Constitution architects the different powers into what is a user-friendly, information system – or at least it was until legal theorists, inaptly labelled “legal realists,” in the 1930s created a new constitutional culture which has been removing government further from the people by centralizing power and empowering legal specialists and other experts. The Constitution is a short document, written to be accessible and understood by ordinary citizens.

As written, the Constitution organizes the powers of government to maximize “self government.” Due in part to crime shows and movies, however, Americans idealize the Bill of Rights while remaining largely ignorant of the Constitution’s structure. Without the structure of separation of powers, however, the Bill of Rights would not be effective. The Constitution’s structure reflects a clear-eyed realism about human nature and power. Human beings holding political power will always grasp for more. So everywhere the Constitution divides and limits the powers of constitutional actors. The Constitution does not just “check and balance powers.” The kind of “checking and balancing” created by “legal realists” has led to distant and dysfunctional government.

The Constitution actually separates powers and equilibrates them so as to produce compromise, balance and moderation. Compromise, balance, and moderation – not to mention competence–no longer characterize the domestic operations of the federal government. All can see the discord (as opposed to legitimate political disagreements) in Congress and between the Congress and the President. The discord, however, extends everywhere. Bitter legal battles between federal and state agencies are burgeoning. All of which constitutes the poisonous fruit of the “legal realist” revolution. This constitutional revolution has been undermining a constitutionally designed infrastructure which, like a greenhouse, formerly allowed citizens to flourish by largely governing themselves. The United States has been exceptional because it has generally avoided the two extremes towards which most governments have tended. On the one hand, weak governments can and have allowed their people to govern themselves for a time, but they may not be able to provide the protection necessary for people to maintain their liberty long term. On the other hand, governments strong enough to fend off, or even overpower, other nations have too often turned that same power on their own people and prevented them from governing themselves.

On the one hand, weak governments can and have allowed their people to govern themselves for a time, but they may not be able to provide the protection necessary for people to maintain their liberty long term. On the other hand, governments strong enough to fend off, or even overpower, other nations have too often turned that same power on their own people and prevented them from governing themselves.

As written, the Constitution organizes the powers of government to maximize “self government.” Due in part to crime shows and movies, however, Americans idealize the Bill of Rights while remaining largely ignorant of the Constitution’s structure. Without the structure of separation of powers, however, the Bill of Rights would not be effective. The Constitution’s structure reflects a clear-eyed realism about human nature and power. Human beings holding political power will always grasp for more. So everywhere the Constitution divides and limits the powers of constitutional actors. The Constitution does not just “check and balance powers.” The kind of “checking and balancing” created by “legal realists” has led to distant and dysfunctional government. The

The Constitution does not just “check and balance powers.” The kind of “checking and balancing” created by “legal realists” has led to distant and dysfunctional government. The Constitution actually separates powers and equilibrates them so as to produce compromise, balance and moderation. Compromise, balance, and moderation – not to mention competence–no longer characterize the domestic operations of the federal government. All can see the discord (as opposed to legitimate political disagreements) in Congress and between the Congress and the President. The discord, however, extends everywhere. Bitter legal battles between federal and state agencies are burgeoning. All of which constitutes the poisonous fruit of the “legal realist” revolution. This constitutional revolution has been undermining a constitutionally designed infrastructure which, like a greenhouse, formerly allowed citizens to flourish by largely governing themselves.

The United States has been exceptional because it has generally avoided the two extremes towards which most governments have tended. On the one hand, weak governments can and have allowed their people to govern themselves for a time, but they may not be able to provide the protection necessary for people to maintain their liberty long term. On the other hand, governments strong enough to fend off, or even overpower, other nations have too often turned that same power on their own people and prevented them from governing themselves.

Self government requires a moral people. The American Constitution is written for a moral people. The morality underpinning American institutions is the assumption that the vast majority of people will, on their own, without governmental force, do the right thing most of the time. That is to say, Americans have traditionally governed themselves, meaning for the most part at the local level. We have assumed without question that good citizens obey the laws, act honestly with others, work diligently, assist others, etc. While some individuals may live this kind of moral life without religious belief and practice, it is vain – as George Washington wrote in his Farewell Address—“to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” This organization exists to engage in and to promote reasoned, moral argument about the constitutional, legal and political issues of the day. That is extremely challenging because “the medium is the message.” The various media are continually contracting the length of the message.

Now the 30-second-sound-bite and the 140-character-tweet are the norm. Simplifying and communicating about complicated issues truthfully, without demagoguery, is the challenge. We focus on simplifying issues of government about which Americans should have concern, but do not because the issues have been ignored or distorted by the major media. A good example of this and a major focus for this organization is the federal government’s expansion and centralization of police powers. Unfortunately, that such centralization of police power endangers individual liberty and violates the Constitution’s structure of federalism and separation of powers, as well as provisions of the Bill of Rights, does not interest most members of the Media. So we start the attention-getting reality that under federal law every adult American has literally violated one or more, and likely many, of the over 5,000, federal crimes. Not only the number, but the unbelievable breadth and ambiguity of so many crimes means that our liberty is always at the mercy of federal agents. Noting that “Every American is a federal criminal – but doesn’t know it” is a nice sound-bite for the media. It can lead to explaining (depending on the audience) how the centralization of police powers suppresses economic productivity, supports “crony capitalism,” retards medical and other high-risk, technological innovation, and – most importantly— intimidates, coerces, and sometimes convicts innocent people. Our arguments, not surprisingly, are opposed by those holding federal law enforcement powers. Generally, with the best of intentions, those urging further expansion of federal criminal law are, in effect, arguing that it is in the self-interest of Americans to give up more self government.

We concern ourselves with the centralization of police powers because it is a major component in the gradual, overall collapsing of our constitutional system into a single, undivided Power. We hope more Americans will come to understand that sliding towards a single, unitary form of government means moving away from self government.

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  • Federal Government

    Should the federal government enact more laws, fewer laws and/or repeal some laws? In which areas of law, for example, national defense, foreign trade, the economy, health care, the environment, business regulation, abortion and social issues?

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  • State Government

    Do you think States should be doing some things now done by the Federal Government?

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  • Individual

    Apparently, numerous Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives are losing trust in government. How much trust do you have in your local government? your state government? the federal government?

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  • Community

    Is it necessary for a “community” to exist that its members have some common beliefs? At the local level? State level ? National level?

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    Family

    The number of two-parent families in the U.S. is declining. Does this matter?

Mission Statement

Engage in and promote reasoned, moral argument about the constitutional, legal and political issues of the day.

 

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