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Banks, Lawn Darts, And Human Folly

By       Message Jon Faulkner     Permalink
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Banks, Lawn Darts, And Human Folly

Was there ever, even a remote possibility, that the U.S. Constitution could be preserved as the defining document that guaranteed men's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Not in 1787, and not in 2009. Like religious orthodoxy, the U.S. Constitution, by its natural existence, could not survive men's differing perceptions of its meanings, or its Founders intentions.

The wrathful and jealous God of the Old Testament was softened to permit men a broader choice to pursue the truth - or the fires of damnation. Those of little faith were reserved a special place in Hell, for God's most terrible wrath was saved for those who were neither hot nor cold, for faith is not a thing that can be discounted by good or evil. Without faith there is no point to human existence, for it is the carrot that is dangled before the nose of the horse, that pulls the cart forward.

But how is faith in an omnipotent spirit sustained when that spirit takes, as easily and as casually as a storm opens it clouds to rain, the things that men hold in limitless love? Human beings struggle to understand, and often simply dismiss from belief, a conscious presence that is capable of such enormous cruelty. The answers which compel such questions are as many and varied as the human beings who travel life's weary road. Historically, it is the state that has sought to provide secular security apart from religion's hit or miss, spiritual calculations. But states crumble and religions must always struggle against the hard current of human folly and temptation.

There have always been those who are eager, or feel it is their duty, to explain such mysteries. They are as often good, well meaning men, as they are charlatans who seek some advantage from the weakness of spirit or flesh. The document that Americans revere as the guiding principle of law is open to a vast potential of interpretation - and abuse. The U.S. Constitution, since its birth, has been interpreted, amended and perverted. The serious alterations it has undergone have been largely compelled by men whose convenience or advantage would be served by its weakening. That dilution, or weakening, began with the first session of the U.S. Congress over two centuries ago.

The Founders did not write the Constitution as a rigid, uncompromising dictate, but as a living document that could best be preserved by changing with the times. There were many disagreements as the Founders worked to come up with a living, breathing origin, for the laws that would guide a new nation through its infancy and beyond. Imagine today's Congress negotiating a document that all Americans could accept with pride and respect. The sanctity of the U.S. Constitution was already being threatened when the first session, of the first Congress, was called to order.

Alexander Hamilton was the Secretary of the Treasury, and implored Congress to grant a charter for the Nation's First Bank. His modern counterpart, Timothy Geithner, whom Obama appointed for reasons known only to himself, would have bonded instantly with Hamilton. Jefferson and Madison disagreed with Hamilton, and argued against a centralized banking institution, believing it would open the government to corruption in high places. Hamilton won that argument by the simple expedient of obtaining Washington's signature, and thus allowing the issuance of the charter that brought into existence the First Bank of the United States.

President Washington was very hesitant about signing the bank's charter, particularly after Jefferson argued persuasively that the bank was not needed. Hamilton countered Jefferson's argument. He said the government, operating under the laws of the Constitution, could not refuse to do for an artificial person, a business, what it could do for a real person. Washington, perhaps a better general than a politician, was still not convinced. Reluctantly, he signed the charter, and the nation's first bank was born.

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It was as if Jefferson and Madison looked into the future and saw the monstrosity that was to become the nation's financial industry. They unknowingly predicted that Obama would reach back over two centuries to find Hamilton's counterpart in Timothy Geithner. An extraordinary accomplishment by any standard. But ruining the economy is one thing. Calling forth the ghost of a bygone era in the personification of Timothy Geithner is another.

20 years later, Jefferson and Madison let First Bank's charter expire, when it again came before Congress. But another charter, this one granted for the Second Bank of the United States, was issued. Jefferson was against the existence of banks that handled private monies, and could control inflation and deflation. He said, "The system of banking is a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction." Jefferson also believed "that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity is but swindling futurity on a large scale." Jefferson, the intellectual and moral superior of Hamilton would, if alive today, gaze upon the ruined economy with unsurprised bemusement.

The banks, the insurance companies, and multi-national corporations have, for practical purposes, replaced representative government. The health insurance industry is today in full blown damage control mode. It is paying for a media blitz that depends on, fear? Who could have guessed? Seniors are being told any number of lies about Obama's socialist, euthanasia health care plan. If seniors are understandably skeptical, insurers have another whopper to sell them. For years insurers and the current health care industry have been compromising American's health in their insatiable need for more, there's never enough, more, more, more.

The American Association for Justice says medical malpractice insurers have, for years, exaggerated their losses, and minimized their profit reports. Insurers have created the malpractice insurance crisis because it's the most effective way to limit patient's legal rights. Years after screaming the sky is falling, insurers will file new cost benefit figures, showing the so called malpractice insurance crisis was contrived.

Insurers and corporations have manipulated Congress, and in many cases bribed particular members, to convince them that health care legislation must contain tort reform as one of its provisions. If medical malpractice insurers can get caps on lawsuit awards they will have succeeded in severely reducing the number of lawsuits filed per year against medical malpractice insurers. A survey of Oklahoma's trial court judges found that 90% of them did not see any reason that required legislative changes to Oklahoma's tort laws.

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According to a Harvard School of Public Health report 100,000 Americans die every year from medical negligence. That figure exceeds the combined total of all deaths from traffic accidents, AIDS and fire fatalities. At least that many more Americans go without treatment for preventable illnesses and injuries. The Center for Disease Control says yet another 100,000 Americans are killed every year by hospitals alone. These deaths are attributed to poor sanitary standards, like hand washing. Clearly it is not tort law that Congress should be reforming.

Tort reform, by placing damage award caps on civil lawsuits, is only another attack against Constitutional protections. Under the Constitution's Seventh Amendment: "In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law." While any

American can file a civil action very few have the large sums of money necessary for a prolonged court battle. By placing caps on lawsuits any corporation or wealthy interest can simply out litigate plaintiff's attorney and prevail. Even if a jury awards plaintiff the maximum of the caps limit the lawyer will not be able to compensate his client and recover his out of pocket costs. Limiting damage awards on civil lawsuits will effectively end consignment contracts between attorney and client.

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Jon Faulkner is a licensed Master Mariner. He has long considered the conservative republican mindset a form of mental illness. He lives in northern Maine.

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