Civics 101 Lesson 1-The Spirit of America
Each summer my children and I choose a new subject to study together. So in addition to spending time at the pool we might read about birds, composers, baseball players or whatever strikes our fancy.
This summer we are taking a civics class using the textbook The Land of Fair Play.
Today we learned that even though our country is not perfect, our America seeks to give every American, man or woman, boy or girl, rich or poor, an equal chance. There is more ambition in America than any other country in the world because we all have the opportunity to make something of ourselves. There is no place for a king, for nobility, or favored group in this country as every person is a good as his brains and character makes him.
America is affluent today because of the system we have used for the past five generations. How is it that six percent of the world’s population can produce almost one-half of the world’s wealth? We Americans have turned a wilderness continent into a rich and powerful nation in such a short time. Why and how did we manage this?
Our founding fathers wrote the Constitution which is the greatest document to govern people that the world has ever seen. Using the Constitution and the Bill of Rights enabled us to create the most successful major society in all human history.
Our great Country was build on these five principles:
1. We had a belief in God-our religious background made us reliable
and dependable with one another.
2. We had limited government-and this limited our national expenses
and gave us surplus capital for tools and a good living standard.
3. We had individual freedom-every man could work at what he wanted
4. We had incentive-which was simply the right to keep the fruits of
5. We had competition-the thing that makes businessman and employee
alike serve his fellow man well.
Some of our values were formed by the ideas and examples of our founding fathers.
Patrick Henry said, “If my family has freedom, and I have not given them one shilling, they would be rich. If they would not have freedom, and I have given them the whole world, they would be poor.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “As government advances, freedom gives way.”
Woodrow Wilson said basically the same thing, “Liberty has never come from government. The history of liberty is the history of limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.”
The freedom that our founding fathers gained for us could never have been given through Marxism, collectivism, Socialism, or fascism. Our freedom and prosperity will always rest on individual responsibility, courage, and faith.
I hope we will always treasure and guard our hard-won freedoms. I hope we will reject the welfare state and not allow the government to do what we as individuals should do. May we not allow the light of America die…..for if it does it will go out all over the world. God have mercy upon us if we get smug and complacent and allow the government to be our keeper.
Civics Lesson 2-The Captain, The Umpire and the Rules
What a blessing it is to homeschool. I have the opportunity to revisit a subject that I did not fully grasp, and I have the joy to discover it again beside my dear children. In the evenings my husband can join in and discuss our class as well. For me this is a great way to live and learn. Homeschooling truly is a lifestyle not simply a lesson plan.
Do you remember taking a civics class? I must have been out with the chicken pox during the week we covered civics because my memories are murky at best. I’m really enjoying The Land of Fair Play by Christian Liberty Press though and discovering how our republic works has much more meaning for me now especially in light of all the many changes taken place in our America.
This week while reading The Land of Fair Play we were taught about the government through a baseball analogy. We learned that the President is like the captain of a team. Our president is the captain of our country. If we are good Americas we will choose a Godly and wise President.
Our judges are sort of like the umpires at our game. They should be fair-minded. The umpire should know all the rules just as our judges know the law. Our laws in America were based upon the Bible and the 10 Commandments.
The Laws that we have bring us Freedom. Just as a rule book on a baseball team allows a successful season, our laws bring peace and order to our country. We have freedom to work hard and succeed and we have liberty given by God and protected by our constitution.
Just as the men in the big leagues make the rules and laws for baseball and fair play, it is our lawmakers or legislators, the Congress who make our rules and laws.
We also learned that just as you cannot have a successful baseball team without a leader, an umpire, and a rule book you need to have all three parts of our government in order to succeed. The executive, judicial and legislative branches all work together.
We cannot overlook the fact that to be a good citizen we must require the government to operate within it’s limited sphere of authority. Land of fair play states “When government agencies seek to rule without the consent of the governed, it is the right and duty of every American to reestablish the limits of the government authority through protest, court action, or the ballot box.” My children and I thought this reminded them of the “tea party” protests going on now throughout our land.
Well, that’s about it for Lesson 2. May God Bless America….Land of the Free!!
In chapter three of The Land of Fair Play we are still using a baseball analogy to understand how our government works. We learned that just as a captain runs the team not to please himself or one or two players, the American way is for the players (the people) to make the important decisions.
When there is a bully running the team his way, and he forces the others to do only what he wants; this is despotism. A despot rules with absolute power. The Czars of Russia and King Henry VIII governed this way. Saddam Hussein of Iraq was a modern despot or dictator.
If you tried to run a team without any leader or any rules you have “anarchy.” If every boy did as he pleased and each bossed the other around there would be confusion and quarreling. No authority, rules or government would be considered an anarchy. Even if the captain is not the best captain, anarchy would not make anything better.
If three or four boys tried to control the whole team and thought they were better players or bigger than the others this would be like an oligarchy. An oligarchy is not the American way either. In America each player on the team should be in charge. It is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
One form of oligarchy, known as an aristocracy, means government by the best. An aristocracy is the privileged minority; sort of a nobility. In America the rulers are the people. We have a President to lead us, we have the legislature to make our rules and we have our judges who are like the umpires who use our Constitution which is the highest law of the land.
America is a Democratic Republic ruled by the people, through the representatives. America is not a ‘pure democracy” but rather a constitutional republic.
May God Bless our Republic!!
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.
Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.
The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.
Study the constitution! Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in the legislatures, and enforced by the courts of justice. ~Abraham Lincoln~
This week our congress plans to vote on a new government health care Bill that will result in a total government take-over of the health care system in America. Even though the majority of Americans are against this government monopoly, our representatives will evidently be voting on this very soon. Hopefully, they will vote remembering the majority rule.
In The Land of Fair Play our lesson was about this majority rule. Using the baseball analogy, we read that if there was a dispute on your team, you could vote and a decision would be made based on who got the most votes.
Even though we practice the principle of majority rule in America, there may one day come a time when we must resist a government if it is practicing despotism or not following the constitution.
America was founded on this very principle called: “the right of revolution.” If our team members try to cheat or steal it would be our duty to resist rather than submit. The second amendment guarantees the people the freedom to keep and bear arms which secures the peoples right to revolt against tyrants. We understand that only tyrants fear an armed citizenry.
Because of the danger involved in revolution, in the land of fair play, fighting must be a last resort. The Declaration of Independence and the Bible warn us not to engage in armed revolution over petty things.
Our prayer is that we will never have to engage in revolution but instead that America will humble itself, seek forgiveness, and choose wise and godly leadership.
Lesson 5~The Laws of Freedom and Fair Play
Whenever I visit with my Cuban neighbor our conversation almost always ends up on politics. My neighbor is a proud American and is zealous about her love for America; the land of freedom and liberty. Growing up under the leadership of a dictator, my neighbor was sent to work in a labor camp. She knows the horror of living in a communist country, and so her love for liberty is great. She is also careful to support candidates that believe and defend the Constitution and the principle of less government control.
In The Land of Fair Play (by Christian Liberty Press), this idea of freedom was described as a feeling of coming out of darkness into the light; from a house with low ceilings and narrow walls into the free and open air.
As Americans we should work hard to understand our liberties, realizing where they come from and how we can protect them.
The following rights belong to every American.
1. Personal safety and freedom
2. Religious freedom
3. Free speech
4. Safety of property
5. Trial by jury
Personal safety and freedom mean that Americans are free in our homes and on the street from harsh rules and harassment.
In America “A Man’s Home is his Castle.” The police cannot enter your home without a court order. The forth amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right “to be secure in their persons, bodies, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Religious Freedom allows us to worship freely and it is not to be hindered. Our legacy of religious tolerance is a fruit of our nations Christian heritage.
This causes my children and I to wonder why religious expression seems to be less tolerated in the public square these days especially when it involves Christianity. We’ve heard stories of crosses, nativity scenes and The Ten Commandments being removed from common areas, courtrooms and even county seals and documents. For example, the Los Angeles County seal had a cross removed from it. A California Mission was allowed to stay though but not with a cross on it. If we remember our California history we know that the Missions were build and run by the Catholic church. It seems obvious to us that religious tolerance does not apply to Christians and that the meaning of “separation of church and state” has been perverted to silence all religious expression….especially Christianity.
Our freedom of speech means that as Americans we can meet wherever we want to discuss any subject. This includes our right to express our thoughts in writing. The only limit is that we must not purposely misstate the facts such as yelling “Fire” in a theater. We are able to freely communicate our concerns about public issues and speak freely without the worry of fear, or harm of prosecution. The Land of Fair Play states that “The control of speech, radio, television, newspapers, and books is one of the bulwarks of tyrannical governments.
My children and I see the contradictions when we hear of a bill like The fairness doctrine (vetoed by Ronald Reagan) being brought up again and wonder how such a law could be allowed in our free America. We wonder how a student or teacher could be prevented from praying a blessing at a gathering or graduation. This just seems un-American to us clearly violates these freedoms.
Safety of property refers to anything you own from a paperclip to a gun…to your home. The right to own things is very important and without this right we will never be free. In old Russia the peasants were not allowed to own property and this kept them in poverty. In America, what a man earns is supposed to be his own and the the taxes he pays must be fair.
Our America has trial by jury. Trial by Jury (a jury of 12 peers) is the right of every American when he is accused of a crime. Our trials must be public and not private as the trials despots are. The Land of Fair Play states the “The jury system provides an important check on legislative tyranny by giving ordinary citizens the right…to refuse to enforce statute laws that they are convinced are immoral, unconstitutional or unjust.” It is important to know that these rights are given to us by God and protected by our constitution.
It was recently announced by a congressman that our rights come from the government. If the government gives us our rights then they can take them away. Our right to “life liberty and pursuit of happiness” are unalienable rights given by our creator and protected by our Constitution.
We are in the midst of one of the hugest government expansions in all of our history. This new plan under the Obama Administration, will have more power over our lives than ever before in history. As Americans we have always believed in the right to govern our own lives and control our own destinies. It appears that we may be losing many of these rights because of the new government health plan, the new taxes, and the new laws and rules under the guise of environmentalism. As our freedom’s are being whittled away, I pray we will have courage and faith in God’s sovereignty and the spirit of the American people to stand up against tyranny.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. — Thomas Jefferson
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Proverbs 29:2)
Even though our country is still considered young, our republic has lasted longer than any other in the world because of this wonderful document that has become a model and inspiration for the world. Our constitution has protected us from tyranny and despots because it must be obeyed by the government as well as the people.
Our legislators cannot pass a law that takes away any rights protected by the Constitution. If our government tries to pass such a law that restricts our liberties, the Supreme Court should remove this law because of its unconstitutionality. We learned that there is no other country in the world that protects personal liberties like our America does. Our constitution is the supreme law of the land and is made to limit the power of men who may seek to destroy the liberties given by our creator.
My family and I were so surprised watching the news one evening when we heard one of our Democratic Rep.Phil Hare say that he “couldn’t care less” about the Constitution when he was questioned about the constitutionality of the health care reform bill. How could he make light of our constitution and act like it should not be considered?
Our 30th President Calvin Coolidge said, “To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” I pray that we will elect leaders who will defend and protect with reverence and respect our Constitution of the United States.
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir … that all men … would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lesson 7 The Duties of an American
Our family enjoys going to have fish and chips at a local English restaurant/pub in our neighborhood on occasion. We love it when the owner comes to our table to “shoot the breeze” with us for awhile. Our English friend is a proud member of the “tea-party” movement because he feels strongly about preserving freedom in America. He participates in the tea party protests because he values the freedom’s and opportunities that he has found here that are not as available to him in England. With his colorful English accent he tells us how he does not want America to slip into a European style socialism.
Even though some of our freedom’s, like being able to pray in school, are sadly gone today, America is still good and we have a responsibility to be upright citizens.
This week in The Land of Fair Play we learned about the six responsibilities of every American.
1. The Vote-We vote on the first Tuesday in November. We have a responsibility to get informed. We should read, watch the news, check the internet and talk to others in order to get informed on the issues and candidates. We must be diligent in this area or we will not be able to make a wise choice when we vote. The Land of Fair Play reminds us that, “It takes a keen, wide awake mind, that can read and inquire about the important issues of the day to vote intelligently.” We learned that it takes a constant interest in politics in order to keep up and that our republic will fail if the citizens become apathetic about politics and voting.
2. Taxes-Because it costs a great deal to run our system of government we must pay taxes. Our military, fireman, judges, legislators must all be paid for. Our streets must be paved and our parks must be kept up.
Taxes that we pay must be fair though, and our government has a responsibility to be good stewards of our money and must not waste it or go into much debt. Our representatives have no authority to legislate any law that conflicts with the constitution and taxes mandated must be in keeping with the constitution as well.
3.Jury Duty- In America we are guaranteed a trial by a jury of our peers. We each have a duty to serve on a jury when we are asked.
4.Fighting-Our America with all of it’s liberties was born of heroic fighting. Without the Revolutionary War we would not have America today. There was the war of 1812 which further ensured our freedom from England. WWI and II made the world safer and spread democracy and freedom for ourselves and oppressed people throughout the world. All Americans went to war gladly to defend those liberties which are more precious than life itself. Today we have an all volunteer army of fighting men and we are blessed and grateful to the men and women who sacrifice their lives for the freedom’s that we enjoy today. We pray for our soldiers that the Lord would protect them and allow them to come home soon. We pray that our President will give them the support they need in every area so that they can finish the job they began.
5.Obey the Laws-In the Land of fair play we must obey the laws whether the umpire is looking or not. A nation of lawbreakers is no nation at all. Even though The Ten Commandments has been removed from court houses and school classrooms, many people still believe in Biblical morality and the fear of the Lord keeps them walking upright. Obeying the law is part of the price that we gladly pay for living in a free and happy land. Our beloved country belongs to us all and when we break the law, destroy property, or even litter the ground, we are in a way hurting ourselves and our own home.
6.Pray- We must pray for our leaders and our country. I Timothy 2 states, “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior”.
I pray that our President will come to believe in the Lord, that He will seek God’s wisdom, that he will support freedom and the constitution…that he will support the life of the unborn. I pray for our country that we will turn our hearts and minds back to God, that we will seek God and use His word as our measuring rod, our guide and our compass. I pray we will have a revival in our land again. Amen!
Lesson 8 Home Rule
In our civics lesson this week we studied the principle of home rule. This principle means that each community should be allowed to do as much governing as it safely can. Personal liberty is the heart of Home Rule. When folks are able to self-govern as much as possible , they will have initiative and self-reliance. We Americans are an independent lot; we are self starters.
Centralized Government is the idea that all power should be centralized in Washington and that even your local policeman should be hired by the government. This is the way of the French…not the way of America.
The American way is exactly that of home rule meaning that each community knows what is needed for its people. I understand that the government wants to nationalize education so that there is more federal control over the schools and there will be one standard for every state. Do you think a small country school in Alaska should have exactly the same curriculum as a school in New York City? The principle of home rule would say that the folks in Alaska or New York know what is best for their community….not the federal Government.
In The Land of Fair Play we read that the success of our republic was due to the fact that the States are unified and yet have the full power of home rule. Our original system was based on each state having complete independence being connected only by a set of laws known as the Articles of Confederation.
With God as our foundation, our thirteen colonies joined voluntarily. The Latin motto E pluribus unum, which is on our coins means “One from many.”
Our founding fathers made no effort to destroy any part of the state governments but worked diligently to provide home rule to each state and yet unite them into a single nation that no quarrel could break apart.
The national Government is in charge of the mails or post office. The coining of money was also placed under federal control. The power to declare war and the military belongs to the federal government. The national government has the power to raise money by taxation to pay for Constitutionally mandated expenses.
Each state in the union is a government by itself with very great powers within its own area. We can build roads, run our schools pass laws about marriage etc. At this time in our Country we have a huge environmental disaster going on in the gulf of Mexico. Some of the states like Louisiana wanted to help protect its own areas from this huge oil spill in the ocean and have asked the federal government for help. The President has denied much of this help and has caused some states like Louisiana to “take matters into our own hands.” Governor Bobby Jindal has dispatched the Louisiana National Guard and state personnel to build shore barriers, lay sandbags and monitor the shores. It seems to me that the principle of home rule would allow each state to do whatever is necessary to protect its citizens.
Under our system of government each community will get the leadership it deserves. If the voters are intelligent and interested in their local government, they will be excellently governed. However if the voters are apathetic or do not want to take the time to stay on top of the issues, they will have corrupt leaders and the community will suffer.
What surprises me is when Christian families say that they are not interested in politics or that they do not have the time to even watch the news or read the paper. I’ve learned that we really do make time for things that are important to us. To me politics is theology applied. We must vote our values in order to have leaders who are men and women of integrity.
May the Lord help us to live peaceful lives through electing Godly leaders.
May God have mercy upon our Country and our States. May the Lord send revival again and heal our land.
Lesson 9 The Presidency
The Presidency of the United States is the greatest office in the world and is open to all; not reserved for nobility or the very rich. The only restriction is that the President must have been born in America, must be at least thirty-five years old, and must have lived in the US for at least fourteen years. This info can be found in the Constitution, Art II, Sec. 1, Par 4.
The President (The captain of the team in the Land of Fair Play) is supposed to lead the nation and make sure the laws are carried out. This branch of government is called the “executive” branch. The Congress is the “legislative” branch which makes the laws and the courts (our umpires) are called the “judicial branch.” The first duty of the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” ( I can barely type this out because our current President seems to think he is above the law and does not need to enforce the laws that are already on the books. For example, the President is sueing the state of Arizona for creating a law on illegal immigration that exactly mirrors the federal law. Yet, our President is attacking a state instead of enforcing the federal law on illegal immigration and supporting the state of Arizona. On another topic, the New Orleans Federal Court just recently ruled that the Presidents ban on off shore drilling for oil was not constitutional and would break the economy of Louisiana and the United States. Our President will continue to forbid this drilling regardless of the judges ruling and of the huge loss of jobs. It seems as though this President and administration is purposely destroying our economy and way of life. I’ll jump off my soap box now. Sorry.)
The President is one of the most powerful rulers in the world this is why we must not be flippant or nonchalant about our vote. We must not be a low information voter….we must dig deep, get all the facts from a variety of sources before we vote. The President is elected for a term of four years and can be re-elected for a second term if the people wish.
The President is Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy. (Art II, Sec 2)
He ranks above all our general and admirals and each soldier are under his command. When we elect a President we should also consider this and make sure he is someone who we would respect as a military leader and someone who admires and respects the military as well.
The Presidents powers are limited and he cannot declare war. The power to declare war is given to the Congress. (The House and Senate) All important appointments made by the President must be approved by the Senate. I do not believe that the myriad of our Presidents Czars have been approved by the Senate though. Perhaps their power is limited?
The President has been authorized to appoint fourteen secretaries in charge of many departments. These fourteen members are called his Cabinet.
The Cabinet includes:
*The Secretary of State
*Secretary of the Treasury
*Secretary of the Interior
*Secretary of Agriculture
*Secretary of Commerce
*Secretary of Labor
*Secretary of Defense
*Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
*Secretary of Transportation
*Secretary of Energy
*Secretary of Health and human Services
*Secretary of Education
*Secretary of Veterans Affairs
The Secretary of State helps the President run the foreign affairs of the nation. The President must negotiate treaties (agreements w/ other countries), send out ambassadors, issue passports (traveling papers), to citizens who wish to go abroad etc. The Secretary of State is one of the highest and important offices in our country. Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State under President Washington. Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State under President Obama.
The Secretary of Treasury handles all the money affairs of the government. He collects the tariff or tax on goods entering the United States, and all other taxes coming through the IRS. He pays out money for all expenses of the government. He coins our money through a subordinate known as the director of the mint and has general direction of the national banks and the Federal Reserve banks. The Treasury Department also is in charge of the Secret Service (arrests counterfeiters ), guarding the President, Engraving and Printing, postage stamps, food coupons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The current Secretary of the Treasury is Timothy F. Geithner.
The Secretary of Defense is in charge of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. He manages the nations military affairs and obeys the orders of the President. The department of Defense headquarters is at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Each of the Armed forces has it’s own college. The United States Navel Academy is in Annapolis Maryland; the US Air Force is in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Army’s college is the United States Academy at West Point, New York. The Marine Corps officers are trained at the Naval Academy. Robert Michael Gates is the current Secretary of Defense.
The Attorney General has charge of the Department of Justice and gives advice to all the department of the government and acts as their lawyer. He or she oversees the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI. He helps immigrants who enter the country and apply for naturalization and is supposed to prevent illegal entry of aliens. I found it disturbing that even though our Attorney General is supposed to take charge of of illegal aliens, our current U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, has admitted to Congress that he has not read Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law.
The Secretary of the Interior in charge of many internal affairs such as the sale of public sands, the national parks, helping American Indians, geological survey of mineral deposits, mining natural resources, and recycling solid wastes. This position also looks over the development of u.S. territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. (Recently President Obama spoke of adding Puerto Rico to our union…I’m not clear on his reasons why…perhaps to get re-elected?)
The Secretary of Agriculture maintains stations, where experiments with seeds and animals are done. It also includes the Forest Service and two departments that inspect food and drugs. Thomas J. Vilsack is our current Secretary of Agriculture under President Obama.
The Secretary of Commerce restocks lakes, rivers and the sea with fish. It is in charge of the census which is used to determine the number of representatives that each state should have based upon the population. The Secretary of Commerce also handles patents to protect inventors and also trademarks. The National Weather Service is under the control of this department as well. Gary F. Locke is our current Secretary of Commerce.
The Secretary of Labor investigates the conditions of labor and looks to the welfare of workers. The Bureau of Labor statistics gathers statistical information. OSHA (occupational Safety and Health Administration) enforces codes that seek to protect workers. This department enforces federal law that relates to minimum wages, equal pay and child labor. Hilda L. Solis is our Labor Secretary.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services oversees the governments efforts to improve the economic security and physical health of every citizen of the Unites States. He looks over Social Security (which is a retirement income), disability and health insurance. The Public Health Service, headed by the Surgeon General, conducts research. The Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and Medicare are all under this department. Kathleen Sebelius is our current Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is in charge of urban communities and their housing needs. He also allows for community development grants and encourages private investment to create new jobs and tax revenues. Shaun L.S. Donovan is our Secretary of Urban Development.
The Secretary of Transportation seeks to ensure safe and efficient transportation by land, water or air. There are nine major divisions including aviation, highways, railroads and seaways. The Unites States Coast Guard enforces federal laws and supports the Navy during times of war or emergency. The Federal Aviation Administration is another important agency and all air travel in the Unites States falls under the jurisdiction of the FAA. Ray LaHood is our current Secretary of Transportation.
The Secretary of Energy is responsible for directing federal policies and regulations regarding all aspects of the production, distribution and consumption of energy in the Unites States. Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy chosen by President Obama.
The Secretary of Education – The Department of Education provides money to schools and recommends policies or procedures for departments of education at the State level. Public Education has continued to decline even though more and more money is given for this support. Perhaps money is not the answer and parents should take this over? Arne Duncan is the Secretary of Education chosen by our President.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the largest civilian work force which serves over 50 million veterans and their dependents. The nations largest medical system is managed by the VA. It also helps to train veterans for new jobs. Eric K. Shinseki is the current Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The President~Part 2
Other offices include Independent Agencies and Commissions like the United States Postal Service (Mail), The Interstate Commerce Commission (Railroads , trucks and waterways), Environmental Protection Agency(Pollution), the Central Intelligence Agency (foreign intelligence) and the Federal Board of Governors (monetary policy).
The Executive Office of the President was formed in 1939 by President Franklin Roosevelt to assist him in all the demands on the President. The staff of the executive office sometimes have more influence because of the access they have to the President and also because the President will often appoint his friends to these positions. Two agencies in the Executive office are Management and Budget and National Security Council.
The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 and is operated by the Librarian of Congress who is appointed by the President. The Librarian issues copyrights for books, music and software.
The President plays an important part in the making of laws. When congress passes a law, the President makes it happen. The President also has Veto power. The word “veto” means “I forbid.” After congress passes a bill it goes to the President. He can sign it into law immediately or if he does nothing, it becomes a law after ten days if the Congress is still sitting. If Congress adjourns within 10 days, the bill will fail unless the President signs it. This is called “pocket veto.” If the President sends it back to Congress with out signing it the bill is dead as well. The President has the power to veto bills, send messages to Congress and to call special sessions of Congress.
He also has another power which is judicial. He can pardon any criminal convicted under a federal law. It is supposed to be used to free a man who has been wrongly or too harshly punished or to fix an error of the courts.
Election of the President- Our founders planned an Electoral College of wise men chosen by the people, and gave the election of a president and to this body. This body still exists, and when you vote for President you nominally vote only for “presidential electors.” The Constitution still provides for the Electoral College but the people vote directly for their President.
Inauguration Day- Although the President is elected in November every four years, he does not take office until January 20th of the following year which is Inauguration Day. On this day he takes the oath of office set forth in the Constitution. “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” After all of the festivities of this day he is driven to his new home, the White House.
The President’s death-If the President dies , the Vice-President becomes President. If both the President and the Vice-President dies at the same time, the Speaker of the House is next in line for the Presidency.
This chapter in The Land of Fair Play by Christian Liberty Press was a difficult one. My children and I will continue to study the information taught here.
We will remember to pray for our leaders. We realize from studying this subject that the federal government is huge and needs to be covered in prayer. We understand how dangerous it can be to elect a President who does not fear the Lord or uphold the Constitution. We learned that we must study the issues, get all the facts from a variety of sources, and never be a low information voter. The consequences of such actions could be dire if we do not take this duty seriously. We will always remember that the President of the United States has a tremendous amount of power indeed. We pray for our President….that he will seek wisdom from our Lord….that he will come to know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). May God Bless America… forgive our sins and heal our Land. Amen!
This week we learned about the Legislative Branch of government. Because laws are needed in our country and new laws need to be made as times change, the Constitution created our Congress to debate national problems and make our laws.
There are two houses or bodies of Congress: The House of Representatives (called the house), and the Senate. One meets in one end of the Capitol Building:the other meets in the other side. A bill must be passed by both sides before it can become a law. Both the Senate and House are our representatives and are elected by the people of the United States.
The House of Representatives have 435 members and are given to the states based upon their population. For example New York has 31 representatives but Delaware has only 1. Congress fixes the ratio of representation after each census is taken. I wonder why our recent census asked so many personal questions such as race if the only reason for the census was to find out how many representatives we need?
In order to be a representative you must be twenty-five years old and you can serve for only two years. If you’d like to be a senator you must be at least 30 years old and you term will be six years.
Both the Senate and the House often represent different points of view. Each is a check on the other. By the time both have agreed on a law, hopefully we can be confident that it is a wise and just one. If we elect Godly men of integrity who have a high regard for the constitution we can have more peace about the laws that are passed.
The Senate has 100 members, 2 from each State. Large and small states are thus represented alike.
Congress, like the President, is not free to do anything it wishes. It can do only what the Constitution permits. This causes me to pause because it seems that much of what is going on in congress and much of what the President is doing seems unconstitutional.I just keep hoping and praying that our representatives will watch over the republic and not allow anyone to circumvent the constitution or manipulate the laws and rules to promote an ideology that goes against the will of the people.
The Congress has the following duties:
1. To collect taxes.
2.To borrow money.
3. To regulate commerce with foreign countries & between States.
4. To coin money and punish counterfeiters.
5. To establish post offices and post roads.
6. To provide for patents and copyrights.
7. To maintain army and navy.
8. To govern the Territories and Dist of Columbia
9. To admit new states
10.To punish piracy and other crimes committed on the high seas.
11. To declare war.
12.To make all the laws needed to carry into effect these powers.
Congress and the Bill of Rights
This is really important to note. Congress with all of its power, cannot pass any law interfering with the liberties of American citizens. Personal safety and freedom, religious freedom, free speech, property, and trial by jury are all protected by what is called the “Bill of Rights” in the Constitution.
When a President or any federal officer violates the law or the Constitution, Congress can remove him by a trial known as “impeachment.” In this the House makes and accusation, and he is on trial similar to a court trial.
How Congress works. The House elects a speaker who presides over its sessions. His or her position is of great importance and influence. Currently we have a woman speaker named Nancy Pelosi and she appears to be promoting a socialist agenda and a welfare state. She is hostile towards the tea-party folks and appears to only support free speech for some people. She called the tea party protesters “astro-turf” and equates them with radical groups. In reality the tea party folks are just average Americans who are concerned about the out of control spending in government and the loss of freedom’s in America.
Any representative can propose a bill, meaning draft a law, that he wishes to. The new bill is sent to a committee which can either kill it or report it back to the House for action. The House is divided into a large number of committees, each with certain subjects assigned to it. One of the most important is the Ways and Means Committee, which approves all tax bills for the raising of revenue. The most powerful is the Committee of Rules, which will determine what bills shall be considered.The bill, if reported back by the committee, must be read three times on three different days. Hmmm I’m confused about this…as I recall our new health care Bill was passed without being read. In fact, Nancy Pelosi said that we will have to pass it before we can find out what’s in it!!!!
I’m becoming frustrated with the civics course because so much of it does not apply anymore to our government. Are we still in a Republic? Is this still land of the free and home of the brave? Why are our representatives allowed to pass bills without reading them? This is an outrage! God help us. God have mercy upon our beloved country. Amen.