The Magna Carta and King Phillip IV of France

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The great Magna Carta of England, 1215

The Magna Carta is probably the most fundamental document in history; when barons and knights stood up to a tyrant and demanded freedom for all under the law.  This document, written in 1215, was a major influence in not only Britain, but the fledgling United States of America, as they declared their independence. The reason? Because their rights as “Englishmen”, acknowledged by the Magna Carta, had been infringed by King George III.

One of the main infractions of King John of England was the fact that, in order to support his hire of mercenaries and tyrannical domination of the people and the landholding barons, he instituted ever increasing taxes… without representation, which was the theme on July 4th, 1776, and also at Boston Harbor as taxed British tea was dumped by the crate into the Atlantic by unrepresented American tax payers.

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Philip IV of France

In sharp contrast, King Philip IV of France, also known as Philip the Fair, was busy years later gaining control of France, and establishing the power of the monarchy. He was inspired by the ancient Roman Laws, especially those concocted and compiled by the Emperor Justinian, and filled his courts with lawyers knowledgeable of those laws, which, in essence, gave nearly all power to the monarch, who was to be given the benefit of the doubt. He spent his spare time either starting wars, paying for those wars by any means available to him, including the slaughter of the Knights Templar and the expulsion of the Jews and Lombard bankers, or seating his relatives on European thrones, attacking the Roman Church, and consolidating his power over his vassals.

So, the Magna Carta and similar documents stand for true freedom; liberty under law. In the meantime, King Philip IV and hundreds of other monarchs, bankers, and the modern politician stand for what the Magna Carta stood against; the rights of individuals to be free, under God, to give consent to and be represented by their respective governments.

 

John Thompson and the Southern Slave System

John Thompson in his autobiography (see more here) talks about his 25 years of slavery in the south. Besides the main theme of the book, the relation between deeds and the sanctions they cause for those who do them, he goes into the evils of the Southern Slave System. He talks about the poor food and the whippings on some plantations; the separations of certain slaves from their families. These things were obviously evil, and I believe Thompson did a good job describing the slave system in general.

louisiana-plantationsIn the South, there were many masters who were professed Christians. Many of these masters would argue for the existence of slavery based on Scripture, even though, ironically, their treatment of the slaves was very, very, very un-biblical. In the Old Testament, there were provisions for slavery. However, the slaves sold themselves, and it was a way to pay off their debts, and it only lasted seven years, and at the seventh year, the slave would be released and given farewell presents by the owner. A person couldn’t be kidnapped into slavery, such as what occurred in the Southern slave system for many years, slaves being kidnapped from their homes in Africa and sent across the ocean to slave markets to be auctioned off. Also, the treatment of the slaves in the South directly violated the instructions of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 4:1, which reads:

Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

So, though he gave little information of the Southern law system concerning slaves, but you can get the idea that many things were left up to the masters. You get quite vividly the contrast between a good master and a cruel one. You can also tell some things about the slave system in general; it was unfair and cruel to the slaves, who had no protection unless the master gave them that much needed protection.

The Crusades

The Crusades were military campaigns started and promoted by the Roman Church from the High Middle Ages to the Latin Middle Ages. Many of the Crusades, such as the People’s Crusade and the First Crusade, were aimed at retaking the Holy Land from the Muslim conquerors.

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The progress of the Reconquista.

 

What began the European drive against the Muslims was the successful taking back of Spain, called the Reconquista, which ended in about 1300 A.D.. The Muslims advance into Europe having been stopped successfully by the Templar Knights in Sicily as well, and being held at bay with some success by the Byzantine Empire, the Christian World began to view the retaking of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as being a possibility, and not doomed to total failure. The reputation of the Muslim invaders, as being unstoppable, had been diminished.

Byzantium_after_the_First_crusadeIn 1095, Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade. Not only did the knights and nobility respond to the call, the peasantry did also. The First Crusade was in two waves; the first, the Peasants Crusade. Marching along south to the Mediterranean coastline, their numbers swelled greatly. As the sea did not open before them, the began the long march around to march through the Byzantine Empire into Turkey and begin the march into the Holy Land. However, the peasantry, without any military strategy or technology, ended up being defeated and nearly annihilated in Turkey by the skilled Muslim soldiery. So, it was up to the second wave, the professional knights and nobility, who began the march into the Holy Land in their own two waves. Thus, when the Muslims drove back the first, a fresh wave came up to the rescue, crushing the Muslim defense. They made it all the way to the gates of Jerusalem to find the wells poisoned for miles around, as well as to realize that they had no building supplies or materials with which to lay siege to the well fortified city. However, just in time, a fleet sailing from Genoa arrived with building materials. The Crusaders built ladders and scaled the walls, and the city fell. In the hands of the triumphant Crusaders, the population was subject to an all out massacre. Everyone was killed except those that were able to identify themselves as Christians, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem was established, along with a few other Crusader States, such as Edessa.

This victory wouldn’t last long, as the Muslims counterattack took back Jerusalem and then, one by one, the Crusader States. Numerous other major and minor Crusades took place, but with limited or no success, until 1291, as the city of Acre fell, the last Christian held stronghold in the Holy Land. However, other Crusades had taken place that were not destined for the Holy Land. One such was against the Albigensian Christians. The  Albigensian Crusade (1208–1241) began with the excommunication of the Albigensian Christians by Pope Innocent III, followed by their massacre by the Crusaders who came from northern France into the independent southern France to not only carry out Pope Honorius III’s command for a Crusade to take place but to place southern France under the French crown.

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Such were the Crusades. Though the First Crusade was a success, as much of the Holy Land had been retaken, following Crusades were not, and the Holy Land continues to be under Islamic control to this day.

 

John Thompson and the Relationship between Sanctions and Slavery

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The Life of John Thompson, a Fugitive Slave: Containing His History of 25 Years in Bondage, and His Providential Escape

John Thompson, in the above named autobiography, spoke about the horrors of the slave system in the South before the War of Northern Aggression, or the Civil War. He speaks about the beatings for no apparent cause and all the abuses of the slaves, the slaves having no protection under the law from such troubles.

Then, he began to make relations between slavery and the following sanctions. He describes a plantation owner who tried to choke a slave and ended up dying from a heart attack while doing so, thus showing the relationship between the slaves and the sanctions given to those who held them as slaves and treated them cruelly. Another cruel plantation owner tried to go into a burning barn and save part of his tobacco crop, and ended up having part of the building collapse on him while trying to get out. He also gave the example of a good owner who treated the slaves well, and he had very good crops, along with all of his neighboring plantation owners who did the same.

So, John Thompson believed in the intervention of God in Man’s affairs; not only did God notice, God took and takes action against those who are cruel. He also made clear to the readers of the connection between what is done and the recompense for it. Cruelty was rewarded with appropriate sanctions, and good was rewarded with the appropriate positive sanctions.

 

Should the Government Provide Public Goods?

There is a common idea of there being two types of goods; private goods, such as a house or car, and public goods, such as fireworks displays, lighthouses, and national defense. I believe we all know the definition of a private good, but here is the definition of a public good; a good that cannot someone cannot be excluded from, meaning that there would be little profit made from such a good, and is thus provided by the government so that there wouldn’t be a lack of that particular good. Now that we have our definition, I would like to argue that public goods do not have to be provided by the government in order for them to exist.

Louisbourg_Lighthouse

As our first example, a lighthouse. Imagine a rocky coastline, with powerful breakers crashing upon it, capable of dashing any ship that came too close to pieces. Now imagine that there is a fishing town near that dangerous coastline, and the fishermen going out into the ocean to, well, fish, were in danger of being sunk. It would obviously be in the fishermen’s interest to be able to safely bring man and cargo back to the harbor as much as possible, since every time a ship went down, they lost not only the ship, but the cargo and potentially many if not all of their skilled workers that had manned the vessel. So, the fishermen would build a lighthouse to warn them of the fatal wall of rock so that they could avoid it in future. Thus, the losses of the fishermen are reduced, as well as the danger to their lives. They benefited from the lighthouse, and so they built it. A lighthouse, even though its a non-excludable, “public” good, as fishermen from another village can benefit from it as well, it did not have to be provided by the state, or the civil government.

Team_Singapore_fireworks_display_from_Singapore_Fireworks_Festival_2006Now how about a fireworks display. Can someone stop me from viewing it from my back porch? No. Thus, it doesn’t make too much sense for someone to charge money to let me sit on the green field with the perfect view of the display, since I can watch it pretty well from anywhere. So, it doesn’t look like the person hosting the display can make a profit from this colorfully explosive event. So, of course, this means fireworks displays will be non-existent? Not in the least! Most people enjoy fireworks, and, so, they would take time to sit out at night in some field and watch them go off. Now, just imagine that, in any free economy, there would be lots of businesses just dying to serve you. They would be thrilled to give towards a local fireworks display so long as their name was put up on some sign somewhere on that big grassy field and in a list of sponsors! There is a chance that you’ll need a service and then remember their name from when you watched that display. So, fireworks displays would be provided quite well by private businesses looking to make a profit later on. So, fireworks simply do not need to be provided by the government. In fact, companies and corporations actually do sponsor such events, as well as more publicly seen events such as NASCAR races or baseball games.

So, we’ve given two examples of public goods that have been used to support government supply of such goods, and they have been, I hope, proven to be just as easily provided by the private sector. If its in the best interest of those people around, some one will figure out how best to implement it.

Why I would buy a Recent Car Model

112_0702_02z+toyota_fths_concept_car+left_side_viewMany people have decided to not buy brand new cars, and their reasons are mostly due to the heavy depreciation and possibly high insurance premiums associated with brand new car models. In fact, the car loses about half of its value in the first five years of its life, making a car a very fast and sure loss to the owner of the vehicle. Here, I would like to give my reasons for buying a car that was made in the past 1 – 7 years.

  1. Safety Reasons: Cars made in the past few years have much better safety measures than a car from 10 to 30 years ago. Some recent safety measures in newer cars include auto-brakes, up-graded seat belts, advanced air bags, rear view cameras, alarms, etc.
  2. Comfort: The most recent car models have a whole lot more conveniences than older cars. These conveniences would include more comfortable seating, lighting, built in GPS units, etc;
  3. Style: Most of us appreciate cars as the useful appliances that they are; however, who wants to have an ugly appliance?
  4. Better Construction: As time has progressed, cars have gotten lighter, more fuel efficient, easier to drive, and give the vehicles occupants a more enjoyable ride. The materials now used in car construction are much stronger and safer than they used to be. And, the manner in which the materials are put together has gotten far more precise than ever before.

Though are there are plenty of advantages to buying a more recent car model, there are also disadvantages…

  1. Cost: As cars get better, they also are getting much more pricey. This can be avoided by buying a car at least five years old, allowing you to reduce your loses as much as possible and get a better deal. Another more subtle way to save money is to learn how to drive a stick-shift vehicle. There are lots of advantages to learning stick, besides the fact that, since most drivers don’t drive stick-shift, stick-shift cars automatically, in most cases, are selling for less on the market.
  2. Freedom: As cars have gotten more complex, computers have started to make this easier for the driver. Unfortunately, this can also provide additional security risks to the owner, as any computer can be hacked. Car companies have also started to place black boxes in the vehicles to track vehicle speed, and enable law enforcement to give you a ticket remotely. Though this sounds nice, imagine how this can be abused?