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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
12 Nov 2014
Educational Fraud

It would be unreasonable to expect a student with the reading, writing and computing abilities of an eighth-… Read More.

5 Nov 2014
Scholar-Athlete Charade

Last year's column "Dishonest Educators" (1/9/2013) reported on the largest school cheating scandal in U.S. history.… Read More.

29 Oct 2014
Africa: A Tragic Continent

Here's how my Aug. 11, 2003, column began: "Anyone who believes President Bush's Africa initiative, including … Read More.

Obama vs. Us


Suppose you saw a person driving his car on the wrong side of a highway, against the traffic. Would you call him a stupid and/or incompetent driver? You say, "Williams, what kind of question is that? Of course he's one or the other!" I'd say, "Hold your horses. What are his intentions?" If the driver's intentions are to cause highway calamity, one can hardly call his actions stupid or incompetent. Given his intentions, he is wisely acting in a manner to achieve his objectives.

This observation lies at the heart of my colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell's column last week, in which he says, "Pundits who depict Obama as a weak, lame duck president may be greatly misjudging him, as they have so often in the past." After suffering an elective trouncing at the polls, President Barack Obama issued Congress an ultimatum, saying that if it doesn't enact the kind of immigration law that he would like, he will unilaterally issue an executive order to change the nation's immigration laws. This threat, along with other abuses of his office, is not a sign of presidential stupidity or incompetence.

Obama is doing precisely what he promised during his 2008 presidential campaign, to cheering and mesmerized crowds: "We are going to fundamentally change America" and "We will change America. We will change the world." Obama is living up to those pledges by subverting our Constitution and adopting the political style of a banana republic dictator. He showed his willingness to ignore the Constitution when he eliminated the work requirement in welfare reform laws enacted during the Clinton administration. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was enacted by Congress and hence is the law of the land. Obama has used executive orders to change the law on several occasions. Ask yourself whether our Constitution permits the president to unilaterally change a law enacted by Congress. For a president to do so is for him to behave like a banana republic dictator.

As Sowell says, "people who are increasingly questioning Barack Obama's competence are continuing to ignore the alternative possibility that his fundamental values and imperatives are different from theirs."

The recent elections, which gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress, clearly indicate a repudiation of much of Obama's agenda. But the question is whether the Republican majority has the courage to act on that repudiation and stop the president from running roughshod over the Constitution. Because Article 1 of the Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse, there is not much a president can do without a budget appropriation. The question is whether Congress has the guts to exercise its power.

We can rightfully condemn the president for picking and choosing which laws of the land he will obey and which he won't, in violation of the Constitution's Article 2, but is his administration's executive branch that much of an exception to the other branches of the federal government — the legislative and judicial branches?

The legislative branch is bound by Article 1 of the Constitution. Section 8 of Article 1 delineates the scope of congressional power to tax and spend. Nowhere within Article 1, Section 8 is Congress granted the authority to tax for at least two-thirds of the federal budget.

The courts are bound by the Constitution's Article 3. Part of the courts' responsibility is to ensure that the executive and legislative branches of government uphold the Constitution. In that respect, the courts have been grossly derelict, particularly during and after the New Deal era.

Seeing as all branches of federal government ignore most of the provisions of the Constitution, I think we can safely say that we've reached the post-Constitution stage of our history. Washington politicians are not to blame. It's the American people who've lost their love and respect for our Constitution. Washington's politicians are simply the agents for that contempt.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



7 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... What I would think, and what I would say to anyone are usually quite different. I think you and many people on the right only say about half of your nonsense because there is no one to call you on it. I have never found it difficult to reason with the reasonable. I have a lot of books in my head and a good grasp of their meaning. In personal conversation I have often had people comment on my knowledge and intelligence in a positive fashion, but I am very careful about where I talk to people and when.
If I see some one doing something wrong, or stupid; I usually let them carry on. I did help to run down an armed robber once, but not to reason with him. You must understand that the combination of ignorance and frustration in people today makes them more dangerous than a live bomb. I am old now, over sixty, and while I work out and some times spar, I do not live to correct others, will walk away from conflict in the first stages of develpment, and think none the worse of my self for doing so. I understand my civic duty to defend others in dire threat of injury, and to defend my family and myself. I am saving myself for the fight of my life; the fight that may leave me dead or severely injured. I am not looking forward to it; but the breakdown of civility and of society makes people vicious; as dangerous as rabid dogs. I refuse to go about armed, and simply stay aware of what is going on, who I am dealing with, and where the exits are. I don't expect any gain from argument with idiots. I talk to you all the time. I do not think you are swayed. Your mind is made up, and my mind is still learning. Others may care.

Survival is the single and common intent of all people. This is one of the Goods for which societies are formed. If societies are taken over by those who put their own survival above the survival of others they have simply built a new society on the foundation of the old while they go about undermining their own foundation. An intelligent person would recognize in collective survival an achievable goal that usually results in the survival of the individual. People who put their own desires first destroy the ability of the whole society to advance and succeed.
I understand why it happens.
Before roughly a thousand years ago there were very few true individuals. Caesar, St. Paul, Plato, Aristippus, and Jesus are a few who come to mind. Very few were able to break free of their Pardigms. The primitive mind is more interested in community, and in service to community in which people gain honor. A primitive would have his identity from his society, and all he did would reflect back on his people and give them honor or curse them. You can see the similarity between the words Ethic and Ethnic, and this fits with the definition of ethics as custom, or character.

Today we have the individual as an inigma. We encourage individualism, and have a philosophy of individualism, but we all buy off the rack, and mill about like sheep. Individualism is a curse for people like myself who are individuals; but also for society. Look at our heroes of individualism. Most of them are outlaws. Criminals, and even serial killers have fan clubs. People and especially children realize that step into individualism is a step into immorality. You cannot make that step if you really care what people think of you. Morality is community, but with the philosophy of the individual, commmunity has lost most of its power. When law began as an attempt to reconcile communities, or even families in the wake of individuals acting selfishly, it has now become an advocate of the individual against the community.
You must understand that these honor societies of the past were built in defense of their individuals, but were also very controlling of them. Every child was raised to understand that he was free within his community by the power of his community, but outside was vulnerable, and needed to be constrained in his actions to bring honor rather than dishonor upon his group. For this reason, Native Americans suffered death by horrible torture without complaint. To show themselves less than brave and honorable invited attack upon their own family and friends. Part of the reason Jesus was such an instant hit with these people was that he was one of them already, and willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his people.

What ever were Mr. Obama's intentions, they were not ours. We voted for change. To accomodate a failing political process in a dying society Mr. Obama blew a great opportunity for change. He propped up the obviously failing economy. He did not stop the liquidation of people's assets, but stopped the liquidation of banks. Too many Americans are finding themselves starting over from scratch with less hope than ever of achieving their goals in time to retire. We got Obama care at the price of keeping the same old private parasite insurance companies. There was nothing new on global climate change, or in foreign policy, and we blunder every day closser to world war. Our domestic ability to deal with something like Ebola is gutted, and while the right runs in terror of it, they would love to have it clean out the ghettos.
If those who had elected Mr. Obama had in any sense been served by him, or had any good reason to support him, your control of the legislature would be in doubt. Mr. Obama did not have the sense to do what he was elected to do, and tried to lead from the center; and there is the drawbacks of our society is that the government is all inertia and no common sense. Perhaps he could not do as we needed him to do because what we needed done was impossible to do given the contradictions and corrections of the constitution. The people on both sides are howling in their pain, and while some want the old constitution, others want to move beyond the old constitution. Few have the courage to face the fact that we are at odds, and as much as we need a new constitution; that would mean civil war and death on a scale unknown to this people. It is still better that a few people should die rather than the whole of the society.
I still believe it is possible for us to reason and find common ground, but it will not happen within the framework of the old constitution, and extra constitutional changes will not be possible to get past the parties. The parties have their power extraconstituionally, but that change that most empowered the parties, and disempowered the people empowered the president most of all. All the parties have to do to disempower the president is to make the house of representatives represent at the same ratio as in the beginning. One rep to 30k would make the parties history, and make the government responsive to the people.
Will the parties agree? Never.
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:20 AM
Tough question. He probably is not a lunatic. He is undoubtedly incompetent. Not sure about his motivations. But enough about the letter above.

President Obama is empowered primarily by his own ego - no rational soul would respond to the electoral beating he suffered last week as did the president, unless he is totally absorbed in his own being. FDR eventually realized his domestic policies were perpetuating the depression, and switched gears to become a great international leader. President Clinton famously adopted the republican agenda as his own after the 1994 elections, and is remembered favorably today. One perceives that President Obama intends to go down as the president we see today.
Comment: #2
Posted by: jm
Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:51 AM
Disagree that politicians aren't to blame. We (for those that pay attention to politics) elected them not to do as they are doing and the rest of the voters really aren't in touch with what politically happens on a daily basis. They just go in on election day and pull the lever for the person with a D by their name.
Most times it appears that Congress is agreeing with Obama because they know the American people aren't on top of what is happening in Washington and they crave power and money like crack addicts.
Why would we want to change out Constitution is beyond me? It has worked for over 200 years and to pretend that it no longer works in today's environment is just baloney. People with Communist/Socialist beliefs usually push this agenda but it goes no further as they have no adequate replacement in mind when they spew this gibberish.
As for one Rep for 30K, that is already the case per Wiki:
"The only constitutional rule relating to the size of the House states: "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand."[7] Congress regularly increased the size of the House to account for population growth until it fixed the number of voting House members at 435 in 1911.[4] The number was temporarily increased to 437 in 1959 upon the admission of Alaska and Hawaii (seating one representative from each of those states without changing existing apportionment), and returned to 435 four years later, after the reapportionment consequent to the 1960 census."
Comment: #3
Posted by: Mandy
Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:30 AM
Re: jm.;... Sir,. before us you have the sight of all progress held up by party consideration. The republicans united against the president, and the democrats united to save their own seats. The democrats failed, and whether you want to admit it or not; this has really empowered the president. If the republicans want to act like they are doing something they have to send the president bills better than their usual hare brained productions. His power is intact. He has done nothing that can rise even remotely to the level of high crimes, and he is empowered by this election.
There is in the Art of War, a sort of terrain a general can put his men into where they cannot run, and must fight. If Mr. Obama will not be pulled down from office by both parties and run outa town, he must take advantage of this fatal terrain, and finally must stand and fight.

I know you folks on the right babble constantly about the old constitution. If you do not like the power of the presidency which is increasingly dictatorial, you need to reduce the power of the parties which are not official in the constitution. If you increase membership in the house you will trim by an equal amount the power of the president. We have very few members in that the house of representatives -which was supposed to grow with the population; and this change was made extra constitutionally in order to empower the parties. Isn't enough, enough?

How many times must you see party people vote party though they come from deliberately divided districts? This is an absolute denial of the rights of the minority. If half the people do not have representation, why should they participate in their own demise? The issue is far more complex than taxation without representation. If half the people approximately in any district are governed against their will and choice they are simply scrood. We need Democracy, not partocracy.
We would need revolution in this land to establish democracy, and it is as likely that tyranny would be the result. Rather than risk revolution; why not make the old government as democratic as it was designed to be. The reason government does not work is that too many of the people in government do not answer to anyone, House members can often safely ignore the needs of 45% of the voters, and there is no way consensus and unity can result from such behavior. If the old government worked better 50 years ago, or a hundred years ago it was much more democratic then, with many representatives representing fewer voters. When Membership in the house was fixed at its current number we did not have half of our population, and this was done to make the house manageble. To whom was it made manageble? And is managed government a goal of the constitution?

Sir;...I don't know where you are getting your information, but the bottom of the great depression had been hit before FDR even took office, and much that FDR did put us in great shape physically, morally, and socially to fight WWII. He was never given a free hand, and you know he used a bunch of funny money economics like we have grown dependent upon; but nothing so much as the Mefo bonds Floated by Hitler to untank his economy. Even there, Germany's economy had turned around, and the Brunning government was sitting on a pile of cash with which to spur economic activity, but this, Hitler took, and took the credit for.
I believe Marx was actually quoting another person when he said: Glut (depression) is synonymous with High profits. Once High profits have sucked all the free money out of your economy there is not place left but the tank.
Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:14 AM
Re: Mandy;...When I think of the thing that make me unique, one is a tie to American History that goes nearly back to the beginning of this country, and a Hession who came here to fight against libery and who decided he like the reality of it better than the idea of home in Europe.
One of his line was with a unit of Pennsylvania volunteers that saw action in every major battle with the Army of the Patomac. There is a statue of him on little Roundtop, for some reason dressed as a Zuave long after they had given up that dress. Just kidding. The statue stood for them, and was not of him. And that was one of the better places to be on that hill on that day.
My point is about what people will lay their lives on the line for in fact, as opposed to what people decide after the fact that they died for. I can believe my people loved liberty and all that word means. I can't imagine any of them would have paid taxes to, or supported a government powerless in the defense of their liberty and lives that has given so much in defense of privilage.

You say the constitution worked. It put the liberty of every black on hold for over eighty years; and I understand why. It bought unity when unity was life and sold the liberty of black people. It was a bad deal that ended up causing the civil war. Slavery so devalued free labor that it made those white people useless. In every standard of the day, from libraries to paved roads the south lagged behind. Even when they had their own government, and in a state of war, they evaded taxation. They might give a son to the war, but not a slave because there was no fooling them. The son was worthless, and the slave was valuable. And while the Civil War added to this fact, slaves were used in industrial production at an ever increasing rate. It was not going away, but it was driving free labor away. As Lincoln said: The South is no place for a free white farmer to remove to, but to remove from. And in the West, Slavers resented those who told them they could not gobble up all the land and force the departure of whites.
Slavery was a property right, and slaves were property for which the slavers demanded the same constitutional protections. What that meant was the government having no power through democracy over that privilage as property. Dred Scott said the slaver could take his slave anywhere, and this threatened free labor with the same dishonor and devaluing as had occured in the South.
Remember that I had a dog in that fight, and if he had been killed I would not be able to make this objection that those who put him in danger killed many decent and free men, and injured many, and millions of blacks through time because of their failures in writing the Constitution. Maybe America had to grow strong enough to hold off the world while we fought with each other; but it is also true that the moral flaws of the constitution of which the allowance of slavery was but one have grown stronger rather than weaker through time. Some of the changes to our government which the people have never voted on were changes outside of the constitution which radically effect the function of the government, and yet government cannot reform itself, and the people cannot reform it from outside.
I ask you to look at it in the light of the good, the virtues it says in the preamble that it was written to achieve, and tell me which of those goods it has in fact achieved. Ambros said as Cicerro before him that Moral Good, Honestum is utility, and what is useful is Honestum. Aristotle said Goverments are created for good. Where is the good to come out of our government? It is not useful. It is not honest. Government is simply the blunt object our future life is threatened with.
Again; slavery was but one of its flaws. The other is the ability of the Court to treat passing economic theory as if protected by the constitution. People, the people, the majority of the people in some states tried for years to establish labor laws; in one instance to limit the working hours of bakers in New York to 60 hours a week. The court found a right of contract that excluded the government from interference in that sacred relationship between the employer, and the beasts he hired. Later courts with a more humanistic view of the law looked in vain for such a right of contract, but consider the people run to their destruction while the wheels of government heaved and squealed.
It does not work, and our government works less well every day. Like all forms, the primary element of social forms is inertia. I would point to structures in earth quake zones. All the resistence to the forces of nature are still essential to their forms, but in addition they must build for acceleration. We may not think of our structures suddenly have to get up and go, but some times they do, or they fall down.
Life is moving pretty quick at sixty. Consider what good is all that dead weight in Washington if our government really does have to adapt to change. Like an old man, it would crumble and fall. They never fall when they are easy to fix, but when stressed, which is exacly when every one is stressed, at the worst possible moment. We are a house divided, as Lincoln said long ago, and our division has been deliberate, for as the Romans said: Divide et Empera.
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:40 AM
Mr. Sweeny does not disappoint. His rebuttals are too long, and in my opinion convoluted. He has a thing against Mr. Williams - a vendetta even? Mr Williams without using charts, graphs or formulas makes economics easy to understand. His wisdom is on par with Thomas Sowell. We would all do well to read and head.
Comment: #6
Posted by: John Stiegelmeyer
Thu Nov 20, 2014 7:47 AM
Re: John Stiegelmeyer;... I will make this short. For you. Economics is easy to understand for any mind given to abstraction; but morality is too often Mr. William's field of focus, and there, abstraction is absolutly worthless. Life, my life, your life, our life is the one true reality in all of existence, and there is no abstraction to provide an analogy for life.
LIfe is life. Life is what it is. And the needs of the living, and by that I mean the people of America and the world will always be roughly what they are, and no matter how much these economists want to justify the people having too little so a handful can have too much, it is always an exercise in immorality.
Comment: #7
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:25 AM
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