February 27, 2020

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Freedom, Profit and Prosperity

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

A reader sent me 5 photographs of people in Arizona in front of the capitol building. Many American flags had been placed on the ground. Graffiti of some sort was scribbled on some of the flags. Men, women and children were shown striding across the flags, stomping on them, spitting at on them and burning them. There are many things one could say about the mind-set of those who desecrate a nation’s flag.  Intelligence is not one of them.

Desecrating a nation’s flag is not argument to persuade others to your point of view. It is not a demonstration to show that your actions have merit.  It is not even a show of loyalty to an opposing principle, such as those who might rip apart a Nazi flag to show loathing of fascism. To try to debase the flag of the United States by throwing it whole upon the ground and stomping on it, is the attempt of the mindless, savages  who stick pins in dolls, or drink his enemy’s blood—as if such actions were power-enabling.

The flag of the United States is unique among nations.  And most people know it.  It symbolizes freedom. No other flag, save perhaps that of Great Britain, carries so powerful a message.  To desecrate the flag of the United States of America means one has no regard for freedom, and more: no regard for the human life freedom protects and advances. What does freedom mean in action?  Freedom is the absence of coercion; therefore, in action it is the opportunity to live one’s life, to achieve happiness. What provides us with material happiness?  Prosperity.  How is prosperity achieved?  Through profit.

When I was a free-lance artist working in Manhattan, in order to live, profit was essential. I had to have money to buy oils, canvas and stretchers, illustration board, brushes, and all the other materials and equipment necessary to running an artist studio. There were also models’ fees to pay and my own rent and groceries. When I was paid for my illustrations and/or paintings, the price I received had to be at least a bit more than my combined expenses. To be paid less than my expenses, or to break even meant I could continue to produce paintings only by going into debt.  If such a situation continues for any length of time, the business goes into bankruptcy.

Profit, even a little profit margin, kept me afloat. The same is true of any business whether you are a free-lance businessperson, or own a small company or a middle-size or large one.

Profit is not “surplus income.”  It is not “gravy.”  It is the muscle and bone, the essential  means of doing business. It is the means to keep on going.  Without profit, business is impossible. If one takes in a bit more than the cost of one’s own expenses, it means the business can stay afloat without undue strain.  If it earns a lot more than its expenses, it can expand, offering more values to a larger clientele, creating more jobs improving services and so forth. Many people, including businesspeople, do not understand the virtue, purpose and need of profit.  We have been led to believe profit is somehow “dirty” or “usurious” as if making more than one’s expenses was somehow “dishonest.”

The truth is, profit is essential to doing business. Profit, since it supports a businessperson’s life and that of his employees, is a virtue. By means of efficiently producing values and keeping a business’ product desirable, profit says: “You’re doing good. You’re benefiting life.” The attack on profit is ancient. Today, Leftist habitually attack profit as a sure-fire way to create conflict between those who earn their own way and those who do not.  Mr. Obama does the same, feverishly trying to make Americans hate “the rich.”  Such individuals try to convince us profit is some kind of evil that destroys society.  The opposite is true.  Profit is what makes prosperity, improving and increasing the number of values that businesses offer—whether in manufacturing or in service industries.  It is profit that raises the standard of living for everyone.

It is the lack of profit that is destructive. A lack of profit destroys a business, a neighborhood and a society.  But profit requires individual freedom.  One look at the difference between North and South Korea, or again, during the Berlin Wall the difference between East and West Berlin, attests to that. Those cities demonstrate the individual’s need of freedom and the prosperity possible when he has it.  Profit generates prosperity.

Our flag symbolizes freedom.  It is the portable display of what our Statue of Liberty represents.  When one sees the stars and stripes, one immediately thinks of freedom, of opportunity, of happiness. People the world over know that. Those who desecrate the flag of the United States of America are making an explicit statement. They are not stomping upon a mere piece of fabric.  They are stomping on a symbol of man’s need for freedom and the best that he can achieve.  What do you call a creature who seeks to destroy the best in man? A criminal? A heinous monster?  That which feeds and breeds upon a corpse?  Whatever description you choose, he is a killer.

Not even anger is any longer possible toward such creatures.  What remains is only a cold contempt re-enforcing a determined resolve to never give in to those who would kill freedom, the profit it can generate and the prosperity that follows.

Written and submitted by: Sylvia Bokor.  Sylvia is an artist, writer and advocate of capitalism. She is an active supporter of the Tea Party, and writes a newsletter focuses on current political events. If you would like to receive SylviaBokorComments directly, simply e-mail bokor1933@aol.com with SUBSCRIBE typed in the subject box.  Your e-mail address will be held confidential and to protect your privacy will only be sent as a “blind copy.”


The Establishment Clause

Posted on 16. May, 2011 by Administrator in Politics

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in response to a query from that body.  In the following Library of Congress transcript, Jefferson’s spelling and punctuation have been retained as well as the bracketed material which ultimately he deleted before sending.

“Mr. President
To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

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.  [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.]

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.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association assurances of my high respect & esteem.

(signed) Thomas Jefferson
Jan.1, 1802”.

An anonymous writer claims that Jefferson’s remarks echo those of Roger Williams, the founder of the first Baptist church in America, who wrote in 1644 of the need for  “[A] hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”  Whatever the case, Jefferson’s expression of, “a wall of separation between church and state” led to the shorthand phrase “Separation of church and state.”  Although the phrase does not appear in our Constitution, the idea it embodies is a governing principle of our culture.  The phrase represents the essentialized meaning of the opening passage of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”  This is known as the Establishment Clause.

From the beginning of our nation, Americans recognized the principle of separation of church and state as a safeguard against religious intolerance and protection of one’s right to choose to believe, or not.  Our courts followed suit.  In its 1879 Reynolds v. United States decision, the court allowed that Jefferson’s comments “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment.”

In the Everson v. Board of Education 330 U.S. 1, 8 decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote, “In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.”  Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote: “When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs.  A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.”  Another court stated that “A large proportion of the early settlers of this country came here from Europe to escape the bondage of laws, which compelled them to support and attend government-favored churches.”

Because of the many different religions and the many different convictions of atheists and agnostics that comprise our American culture, the separation of state and church assures that no one elected to office can lawfully impose his particular views as “the state religion.”   To further deflect such a danger, Article VI of the Constitution specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Today, however, some commentators question the validity of the separation of church and state, claiming “It’s not in the Constitution; so, we can disregard it.”  But a brief look at man’s history underscores the need for such a separation. The first forms of governments among men — Sumer and Ancient Egypt (c. 5000 BCE) — were both centralized authorities, in which the ruler held both powers of king and priest.  The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, for instance, claimed they were the embodiment of  “god-kings,” or “priest-kings.”   They held both titles absolutely, sometimes appointing a priest class to perform various tasks, but always retaining the prerogative of supreme authority over men’s beliefs and actions.

For millennium nothing changed — except in Ancient Athens.  Pericles (c. 495 – 425 BCE), for example, was an elected ruler whose leadership did not usurp that of Athenian priests.  But in all other nation-states around the world and throughout time, absolute authority over both secular and religious affairs remained exclusively in the hands of the ruler.

For instance, during the Roman Empire, (c. 31 BCE – c. 284/313 AD) emperors were treated as divinities and some declared themselves gods.  During the Medieval period (c. 313 AD to c.1265 AD) the church dominated both secular and religious affairs.  Even the great, enlightened Elizabeth I (1533-1603) — alone among monarchs finally to break with the Pope — while granting wider freedom to her subjects nonetheless retained absolute control of her powers which included being the spiritual head of the Church of England.  Cromwell (1599-1658) justified his religious intolerance, the use of force, massacres and cruelty as necessary to hold together the body politic.  Louis 14th (1638-1715) the “Sun King,” imposed religious uniformity, persecuted the Huguenots and revoked the Edict of Nantes, which led to the exodus of many Protestant merchants and skilled artisans, accelerating economic decline.  Napoleon crowned himself at his coronation (1804), thereby declaring that as emperor of France he was to be considered supreme ruler over both secular and religious affairs.

Similarly, the Emperors of Japan and China were considered direct descendents of the Gods, thus empowered as divine ruler on earth, supreme over all men’s actions and beliefs. The sheiks, caliphs, and ayatollahs of Arabia, India and Asia were no different. And so it went. With few exceptions, leaders claimed total authority over both religious and secular affairs — most clearly exemplified by “the divine right of kings” and “the infallibility of the Pope.”   The result was fines, imprisonment, torture and/or death levied on any that dared oppose the ruler’s edicts and beliefs.  The Inquisition was only one expression of such crimes against the mind of man. The slaughter and mayhem of the Crusades was another.   The arbitrary beheading, dismemberment, disfigurement and proscribed suicides of dissenters or the disrespectful, was characteristic of the rulers of Africa, India, Asia and the East. Then came the United States of America, an extraordinary achievement that broke with all precedent and stunned the world with its Declaration of Independence and its Constitution, which are the fountainhead of the wealth that cascaded from the minds and efforts of free men.

The Declaration of Independence identified man’s individual rights.  The Bill of Rights — the first ten Amendments of the Constitution — secured those rights in specific actions.  But it was the formulation of the Establishment Clause that addressed the difficult and complex issue of protecting man’s convictions and beliefs without intruding upon his right to believe as he chose, or not.  The governing principle of “a wall between church and state” was a stroke of genius that protected the American citizen from the deadly juggernaut of combined political and religious power.

The Founding Fathers gave us this nation, a child of the Enlightenment, Ancient Athens surely being our grandparent.  As beneficiaries of such a gift, let us not allow our nation to fall to barbarians — either foreign or domestic — by ignoring the lessons of undivided absolute power over our lives and nation.

Sylvia Bokor

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