Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

How to Write a Constitution

29 May 2017

The title is a bit ostentatious, but it’s the best I could think of. Though I don’t really have the resources to give this topic justice, I was thinking about it, so decided to write a post on my Memorial Day time off.

I take for my reference the US Constitution of 1787. I hope the copy I have is accurate.

Talking about ostentatious: It starts, “We the People of the United States…” That’s nice, but probably a little broad. It should certainly mention who agreed to it, if not who actually wrote it. It is basically a piece of literature, so it could have an author.

Purpose

The preamble lists the things this government is to carry out:
Form a more perfect union;
Establish justice;
Insure domestic tranquility;
Provide for the common defense;
Promote the general welfare;
Secure the blessings of liberty…to our posterity.

This is important. These are the long-term and continuing goals and purposes of this government; they are its job. A group needs goals and purposes, and must sometimes be reminded of them. “General welfare” is a bit vague, but we’ll leave it that way for now.

Legislative Powers

I find it a little odd to bring this up first, rather than giving a more general overview of how the system was supposed to work. Too many incorrect assumptions could be made here; we need to spell this out better.

Article 0.

We propose that this nation take the form of a constitutional Republic. This gives us a layered approach to both policy-making and action. There are individuals at each level who represent, or preside over, a group of individuals at the next lower level. Every member of the system is not normally expected to interact with anyone above their level or below the level they supervise or represent in matters of official business, except under special circumstances. Every group at every level has the right to operate as it sees fit, and this right can only be overridden as described below. The assumption is that most people already know what to do or can figure it out.

Legislation:

The purpose of legislation is to set guidelines (policy, laws) that bind those at that level to act within certain limitations or restrictions. This document specifically covers the national, or federal, level, but is also meant to serve as a guide, or pattern, for lower levels.

I will not cover the details of Article 1 here, however, we cannot move on before inspecting Section 8.

Areas of legislative authority / responsibility:

  • Taxes, duties, imposts and excises (to be uniform across all states).
  • Specify outlay to pay debts.
  • Specify outlay to provide for the common defense.
  • Specify outlay to provide for the general welfare.
  • Borrow money.
  • Regulate commerce beyond state boundaries or responsibilities.
  • Regulate immigration.
  • Regulate bankruptcies.
  • Coin money, regulate its value, and establish standard weight and measures.
  • Establish Post Offices and post roads (ensure free flow of communications between citizens).
  • Offer limited patent and copyright protection to authors and inventors.
  • Establish lower-level judicial bodies (tribunals) as needed.
  • Protect the nation from piracy at sea.
  • Declare war, and similar war powers.
  • Raise temporary armies while maintaining a permanent navy.
  • Organizing and activating the Militia for certain purposes.
  • Rule over the seat of government.
  • There are more points, but these are the main ones…

Executive Power

Traditionally, the executives of history (kings, emperors, etc.) got to make their own rules. This was not just a matter of egotism. They had things to get done and they needed to be able to act. One of their favorite pastimes seems to have been making war. This had to change. The chief executive of a nation does have the “power” to make war, as the military is under his/her command. However, it was considered that war should be a matter of policy and not executive action, and this still seems the wiser route.

To further discourage executive policy-making, the Founders proposed putting the matter of who gets to run the Executive Branch up for a vote every four years. This seems rather arbitrary to me; why not whenever a majority or some higher ratio of legislators found it needful, but not more often than every four (or three?) years. But we shall leave this be for the time being. The point is: You can’t get policy continuity in the Executive Branch if the senior person is changing all the time, and that’s the way we want it.

Judicial Power

“Judges” have traditionally served a wide variety of functions. At their best, they act themselves, or by guiding a jury (or similar group of peers) to determine who the real criminal is when something goes wrong. As far as I can tell, they do not have a particularly high reputation in this regard. Like anyone else faced with a real criminal, the judge can be threatened when faced with a “hard decision” and forced to back down.

If judges cannot be depended upon to uphold the ethics standards of the group, then who can be? If a group is that far gone, there is little hope for it. But for now, let’s move on to Article 4.

States

This section (Article 4) goes over certain matters of equal treatment across state lines. After all, these states are all part of a Republic, and are supposed to cooperate with each other. You can’t have the police forces of two states in battle because their laws are different.

But I feel this whole subject of states is not taken far enough in this document.

Article 4.

The full and globally-recognized territory of this nation has been – and shall continue to be – divided into geographical regions known as “states” or “territories” based on a combination of historical and geographical factors. States have the right of sovereign rule within their boundaries, assuming the restrictions imposed by this document are respected. Territories have not yet attained the full rights of states, but may petition Congress to be granted these.

All policy (legislative), executive and judicial actions originating at the federal level of this republic shall not extend any further than the states, except under most extraordinary circumstances. Certainly, no federal law, federal action through any of its agents, or federal judicial decision shall apply to or be binding on any individual citizen (that being understood to include only real persons, not “private” entities created through legal means) unless that citizen has specifically requested such a bypass.

It is further expected that state governments will, in turn, deal only with county governments, and those only with municipal governments and those only with neighborhood governments (where that may apply), as this has proven to be more acceptable to citizens and more conducive to individual initiative and thus, the general welfare.

Private Enterprise. This does not mean that a private enterprise, operating across state boundaries and employing numbers comparable to numbers of citizens in a state, or producing things of value on a similar order to that of the combined production of all smaller enterprises within a state, should expect to be favored by the rights and protections afforded smaller enterprises by a state, simply by virtue of the location of their headquarters. Indeed, if any enterprise should grow to the extent outlined above, it can expect to be required to deal directly with the federal government in all matters where it must be treated as a whole, as in the matter of taxation.

The above summarizes the points that I think are important in the game of operating a nation. Though using the context of the US Constitution has limited my comments in some ways, the points I have mentioned are some of the most important. We have erred by overlooking them.

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How divided is America?

11 July 2016

The on-screen news ticker in our mess hall (known to others as the “break room” or the “auditorium”) proclaimed today (among many other things) that Obama had said something about the US not being that divided.

The actual quote, from a video of a 9 July press conference in Poland was, “I firmly believe that America is NOT as divided as some have suggested.”
(The US President, by long tradition, refers to US citizens as “Americans” and the US as “America.”)

So, I thought, how divided is America?

I went about looking up some opinion poll results that might tell me something about this. Most of the polls I found are not that current. Apparently it still takes a good bit of time to create, organize, carry out and report on a large poll across a country or a planet. The sample has to be adequately randomized and all that…

Before I give you any figures, let’s go over some theory.

I suppose that most sociologists think that a person’s opinion about something is determined mostly by 1) his training and education and 2) a set of shared qualities often spoken of as “human nature.”

Point 1 is important without question. But what is point 2, really? You’ll have to figure out the Psychology explanations for yourself. My own study of church materials, though, bears mentioning. An individual, as you may be already aware, is a spiritual being. We can suppose that this being started out totally free to be, do and have anything it wanted. What we have today in “human nature” is the result of trillions of years of experience living with other beings, never totally aware of what they were or what we are. Humans find themselves today on a scale they are more or less free to move up or down on. This scale was derived from observation, not dogma. It is workable when used to predict behavior and attitudes.

Take for example political attitudes. High on the scale a being dislikes controlling others. Just below that we get a “Liberal.” And only a bit further down we have a “Conservative.” By the time a person starts to get really bored, his sense of politics begins to fall out, too. And a contentious person just likes to fight. At this point the being is rejecting anything most of us would call “politics” or a “political philosophy.”

But a being must move further down the scale to become a Fascist, or desire to operate as an insurgent, as the “Communist” has done.

When I speak of “suppression” I am referring in particular to one person or group trying to push another person or group DOWN this scale.

Most of us were raised with a “liberal” education. The majority of us fell lower subsequently, seeing Liberal values as ideals to be worked for. Democracy is seen as a safe, sensible approach to achieving those ideals. However, you have to fight for democracy! Or, do you really have to enforce it? Or, perhaps, trick people into accepting it?

All these attitudes and influences went into the creation and subsequent marketing of our “global government” the United Nations. Included in the marketing plan for this body was a document entitled the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was unveiled 10 December of 1948 in Paris. It is embraced by my church, as the right to worship freely is included in it.

The concept of human rights is not, strictly, “Liberal.” As the history of the subject reflects, human rights can be seen as much as a sensible approach than as pie-in-the-sky idealism. Cyrus the Great – 539 BC – is noted as an early proponent of this approach. However, Cyrus was, first and foremost, an emperor. And, strictly speaking, his empire only lasted 200 years. You can earn the respect of vast populations by respecting them. At least the Emperor should be able to afford to do this!

Be all that as it may, the attitude surveys I found deal mostly with the most basic human rights. These include the old Liberal rights of thought, speech and worship and the newer “social welfare” rights to food, clothing, shelter, health care, education. It should be noted here that Public Education, and many of these other “humanitarian” programs, are not ancient traditions in most lands of Earth. But on Earth, strong central governments are also a rather recent development, made possible in part by technological progress in fields like communication, transport, agriculture, medicine – oh – and, war.

The bell curve of the scale

Does the distribution of levels on earth actually fit a “bell” shaped distribution? I have no firm data on this. But imagine for a moment that you were totally free to move around on this scale as you wished and to confront or experience life at a level that seemed the most appropriate at the time. Where on the scale would you spend most of your time? At the middle, always fighting? Perhaps down below that a bit, in pain? Or above the middle a bit, bored?

Think of all the people you know that spend most of their time somewhere between pain and boredom. Could be quite a few. This even includes the angry Fascist.

It has been stated in the materials I have studied that about 2.5% of the population manage to secretly hang out around below fascism as, basically, insurgents or various types of criminals. It would be charitable to put the bulk of the population as high as the Conservative, but in the reasonably calm situation of answering opinion poll questions, we can imagine many would try their best to assume that viewpoint, or higher, up into Liberalism, if their education demanded it.

But you can see the problem with these polls, and with Presidential statements regarding “divisions.” Sufficient suppression can plunge a nation down into hatred and war. Sufficient relief can allow it to surge up into a peaceful Liberalism. But real education about real life could in theory stabilize a nation at a high level that it could not be pushed down from. In these polls concerning attitudes, people are not much divided, though their ideas display a range from Liberal on down. In polls concerning things that are theoretically provable certainties, we often see more even splits. Thus, the suppression of the truth has left in question facts that should be totally knowable. This is troubling, as people need certainty, and if the certainty of something is not plain to the face, beliefs and propaganda will be used to fill in the blank spots.

The Polls

Pew (Pew Research Center) has a project called the Religious Landscape Study. Data points for this study exist for 2007 and 2014. The results for 2014 were published late in 2015.

The Council on Foreign Relations must employ a lot of researchers, because it has published reports on various global studies concerning attitudes on human rights, among other issues. The latest reports I found date from December of 2011.

I fill in some odd bits from other sources.

Attitudes

What we see from these studies is a consistent percentage spread across related issues.

Support for the traditional human rights hovers around 3/4 of those polled, both US and global.

It goes way down for freedom of the press. The press is notorious for its misbehavior. When the question is reworded to ask about the freedom of the press “to report the news truthfully,” support for this concept goes up to 70% in the US, with a low of 41% in India, where “truth” and “the press” are probably seen by most as opposites.

Support for the “socialistic” or “nanny state” human rights of more modern times shows a bit more variation in societies. We can see education and propaganda at work here.

In China 98% support the right to a basic education, with similar numbers for health care and food.

In the US, 83% supported government responsibility for basic education, 77% health care, 74% food and 70% supported government responsibility for taking care of the poor.

These are still large majorities – you could almost say, consensus for all the basic human rights.

Similar support for “Liberal/Democratic” values are seen for questions asking about “equal treatment.”

From the Pew Religions Landscape Study, for example, we find 70% of religious people agreeing that all religions should be tolerated.

Beliefs about “fact”

Now let’s swing over into the subject of belief, and in particular, belief about how things “really are.” We know for a fact (not surveyed, though) that it’s often hard to discern basic, underlying cause. If the cause of an event or situation is a criminal that wants to keep itself a secret, it may very well be successful in doing so.

Spiritual and mental technologies are beginning to get around those old barriers of perception limitations and uncertainty. But most people still rely on belief, or “someone who knows” for the last word on many “facts.” The Bible, for example, remains a very widely-read book! And it’s not even easy to read (at least I don’t think so).

90% of US adults say they believe in God. That is an amazing consensus from such a diverse country! But of course, by most counts this one doesn’t matter, because this is entirely a question of faith. The implication, though, is that if science or my favorite expert doesn’t have an answer, I’ll take God’s answer.

Here’s an interesting question they asked: Do you feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe? 46% said Yes in the most recent study. What about the others?

Evolutionism versus Creationism was covered in this study, but not well. This is a subject that should be, at some point, 100% knowable. At some point. About 60% are convinced that “humans” have evolved over time, but only a third of US adults totally believe that Darwinian Natural Selection explains those changes. (A testimony to how bad a theory it is!)

A more recent poll conducted by Ipsos (a European marketing research company) and released on Monday, June 29, 2015 states: 56% of Americans believe UFOs are real. Good; that only leaves 44% to go. 79% believe life on other planets is plausible. But that’s a terribly-worded question. Same figures as above for Evolution.

The accuracy of the survey is estimated to be +/- 3.5%.

Public Policy Polling did a “Conspiracy Theory Poll,” results released April 2, 2013. This is only covers US voters. Poorly-worded questions, but:

37% think global warming is a hoax.
21% believe there was a cover-up of the UFO crash at Roswell (an absolute certain fact). This one shows how well certain groups have been able to keep the lid on this data.
44% think Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq (another total fact).
And 25% of US voters still think Oswald acted alone in killing JFK. For all intents and purposes it has been demonstrated that Oswald didn’t even point a gun at the President that day. But the US population is almost evenly divided on this question of fact, per this poll.

So you see that we are divided about facts that should be provable, but have not yet, in many’s eyes, been proven, while we are united in our desire for peace, tolerance, and taking responsibility for those less fortunate.

Where we are really being divided is in our perception of the truth. Suppression has failed almost totally to educate us out of our basic humanity. Though we are told every day that we are just animals, most people around the world believe we were created by the Divine, and probably always will believe so.

Where suppression on earth is working is in disconnecting us from factual data that should make certain truths quite obvious. Amazingly, many have connected with that data anyway.

Obama said nothing profound two days ago. But oh, has he failed to tell us so much that we really do deserve to know! Thus, he will be perceived by many as a liar. Better alive than truthful? I guess each must make that decision for themselves. I hope it is clear what side of that question I favor.

A State Senator Visits my Church

20 September 2012

Tomorrow is International Peace Day.

Peace One Day website.

My church wanted to acknowledge this day. And so a politician who works with our Youth For Human Rights group was invited to come to our church and speak to us. This politician is a woman.

Her audience was small, but we are good listeners. She decided to tell us about efforts being made to include women in the peace-making process. She told us that in the year 2000 the United Nations had officially committed itself to include more women in policy-making roles, and in peace-making. She told us that, more recently, the Obama administration had made a similar commitment. She was proud of these announcements. She felt they were something that we could build on. Women often feel the brunt of war, she said. They should have a say in making peace.

Like many people, I had never heard of the International Day of Peace. It was first declared in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly. It was originally intended to fall on the opening day of the annual meetings of the United Nations General Assembly. Later, a Briton – founder of Peace One Day – got the idea to give the day a specific date, and the UN agreed to this on 11 September 2001.

The irony of this timing is so striking that it is hard to believe that it was a coincidence.

The site linked to above tells the story of Peace Day, starting with the campaign to give it a specific date, and coming up to the present. This year, the intention is to have a Global Truce on this date.

In the real world, peace work depends on a set of technologies loosely known as “conflict resolution.” Scientology has a technology to contribute to this subject. It is called “Third Party Investigation” and is described briefly in this post. You can find out more about this technology at the Volunteer Ministers website here.

When I don’t cry on hearing of more women and children killed, more cities destroyed, more threats of violence by national leaders, it is only because I get tired of crying all the time.

We can solve this. We just have to discover more effective things to do about it.

Here is something Ron wrote in 1950, and one reason why I consider him my friend:

There is a higher goal, a better goal, a more glorious victory than gutted towns and radiation-burned dead. There is freedom and happiness and plenty and a whole Universe to be won.

He who would not see it is far from worthy to rule. He would indulge his hates is too insane to advise.

How much can Man conquer? He loses if he conquers Man. He wins if he conquers his own fears and conquers then the stars.

(Dianetics p488)