You know, it really amazes me how so many people still believe that they are free, that they still live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, it really does. Most people in this country wouldn’t recognize freedom if it came up and bit them in the ass, or came to them in a gift wrapped package.
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, freedom is defined as “the quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” But freedom is much more than simply being able to do whatever you want, it also means that you are not reliant upon anyone else for your sustenance, for with reliance comes bondage because those who provide you with your sustenance always impose certain limitations, or restrictions, if you will, upon your actions.
But freedom also means that you must respect the freedom of others, that you must not do things which cause others to be ‘less free.’ Therefore, freedom means that you can enjoy an unlimited exercise of your natural rights, without constraint as long as you do not interfere with others from doing the same. The purpose for which government was established is to secure the blessings of liberty to the people, with liberty being defined as “the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely.”
Founding Father James Wilson wrote that “Government…should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government which has not this in view at its principal object is not a government of the legitimate kind.”
In Federalist 51 James Madison declared that “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” What Madison meant is that if men respected the rights, the freedom of others, there would be no need for government to enact laws to control their actions. This does not apply only to those who live in America and enjoy the free exercise of their rights, but to all nations as well. So government is established to ensure that we are free to exercise our rights, and to enact laws which ensure that these rights are protected, not restricted.
I know many of you have heard the term natural rights, while many others haven’t. What are natural rights? Natural rights are those rights we inherit from our being humans, they come to us as part of our being in a free and natural state as human beings, and they are as ingrained in us as deeply as our DNA. As former Attorney General Ramsey Clark said, “A right is not what someone gives you; it’s what no one can take from you.”
In 1722 Samuel Adams wrote that “Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”
To be truly free, as our Founders intended, we were to enjoy the freedom to make our own choices in life. Some choices might not be wise, but under natural rights we are free to make them anyways. Yet we must not burden others because we make bad choices in life. As Friedrich von Hayek writes in The Constitution of Liberty, (1960), “Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions…Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.”
In Frederic Bastiat’s brilliant treatise entitled The Law, he states, “Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property. But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder. Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain—and since labor is pain in itself—it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it…It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.”
Plunder is simply defined as to rob or steal goods. Therefore when, by government mandate, a portion of the fruits of our labor, (i.e. our wages), are taken from us to fund programs which redistribute those earnings to others, it is plunder, and it is a principle our Founders were steadfastly against. In 1816 Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to Joseph Milligan, which in part stated, “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
Therefore, using all the facts that I have provided, do you still believe that you are free?
As Samuel Adams said, we may defend our life, our liberty, and our property in the best manner we can. If someone breaks into our home with the intent of robbery, or harm to our persons, are we free to defend ourselves as we see fit? Or, has government restricted that essential right of self-defense by declaring that we must consider ourselves to be in fear of life before we can defend what is rightfully ours? Does that restriction also limit you to defending your property to within the confines of your home, or can you shoot someone dead who is in your driveway trying to steal your vehicle? As I stated previously, the choices some people make may not be so wise, and theft is not a wise choice when people are guaranteed the right to defend their property. But the law, as Bastiat also states, “But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. ”
It seems you can’t turn on the news without hearing something about the glitches in the Obamacare website and how the deadline for people to sign up for it is today. This is law, that those without health insurance sign up for this government program. But what if you don’t want to sign up for it, do you still have to? Yes, it is called the individual mandate, that all those without insurance sign up for this ‘entitlement’ program. But what of freedom? What of our right to be free from coercion, or constraint in choice or action?
And what of all these other ‘entitlement’ programs that are funded by tax dollars? Participation in Social Security is mandatory, as is participation in Medicare. Do you even know what entitlement means? Entitlement is defined as “the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something.”
I ask you where in our Constitution does it say that people are ‘entitled’ to a portion of the earnings of those who work, simply because they are unable to find a job, unwilling to find one, or unable to? Am I cold hearted and uncaring for those who are suffering? No, that is why we have charity, to give to those in need.
Charity is a Christian belief and it was also a belief held by our Founders. George Washington once said, “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.” But government mandated charity is plunder, or theft if you care to call a spade a spade.
Part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was the Agricultural Adjustment Act. In Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts opinion on this legislation he states, “A tax, in the general understanding of the term, and as used in the Constitution, signifies an exaction for the support of the Government. The word never has been thought to connote the expropriation of money from one group for the benefit of another.”
The annals of our nation’s history are filled with examples where acting presidents had vetoed bills which appropriated funds the benefit those in need. In 1794 Congress proposed a bill to provide aid for Haitian refugees. President James Madison vetoed the bill, saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
In 1854 president Franklin Pierce vetoed a bill which would have provided federal aid to help the mentally ill, stating, “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [To approve the measure] would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”
In 1875 president Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill for charity relief saying, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.”
Yet today it is commonly believed that that is the very nature for which our government was instituted, to take care of those in need. It is also believed that the government is to be our protector since most are unwilling to take responsibility for defending themselves, or their property.
It seems that most people believe that they are ‘entitled’ to these programs, to these protective services, even when it comes at the cost of their liberty. Or as Alice Cooper once sang in 1971, “I need everything the world owes me/I tell it to myself and I agree.”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the world, this country, nor I don’t owe you a damn thing except the freedom to make your own choices, and to suffer the consequences if those choices are bad ones. What you obtain in life you obtain by merit, by conduct deserving of reward, honor, or esteem. These things are not free, they must be earned.
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”
You may believe that the purpose for government is to do all these things, but you would be wrong in that assumption. In 1792 Congress passed a bill subsidizing the Cod Fisheries, which then president James Madison vetoed. His veto message regarding this bill is the most concise statement regarding the appropriation of funds, and the powers granted Congress that I have ever read, and you would do well to read it carefully.
Madison declared, “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress… Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.”
Did you get that? Do you understand that by your continued support for laws which enact more ‘entitlement’ programs you are subverting the very foundation, and transmuting the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of this country over two hundred years ago?
A couple more things and then I will bid you farewell for now. In 1833 Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote an lengthy legal treatise on the Constitution. In it he warned of how our Republic might fail. To me it is almost prophetic in nature as it describes exactly what has happened in this country over the course of many generations.
In sections 900 & 901Story writes, “§ 900. Yet, after all, the fabric may fall; for the work of man is perishable, and must for ever have inherent elements of decay. Nay, it must perish, if there be not that vital spirit in the people, which alone can nourish, sustain, and direct all its movements. It is in vain, that statesmen shall form plans of government, in which the beauty and harmony of a republic shall be embodied in visible order, shall be built up on solid substructions, and adorned by every useful ornament, if the inhabitants suffer the silent power of time to dilapidate its walls, or crumble its massy supporters into dust; if the assaults from without are never resisted, and the rottenness and mining from within are never guarded against. Who can preserve the rights and liberties of the people, when they shall be abandoned by themselves? Who shall keep watch in the temple, when the watchmen sleep at their posts? Who shall call upon the people to redeem their possessions, and revive the republic, when their own hands have deliberately and corruptly surrendered them to the oppressor, and have built the prisons, or dug the graves of their own friends?
§ 901. This dark picture, it is to be hoped, will never be applicable to the republic of America And yet it affords a warning, which, like all the lessons of past experience, we are not permitted to disregard. America, free, happy, and enlightened, as she is, must rest the preservation of her rights and liberties upon the virtue, independence, justice, and sagacity of the people. If either fail, the republic is gone. Its shadow may remain with all the pomp, and circumstance, and trickery of government, but its vital power will have departed. In America, the demagogue may arise, as well as elsewhere. He is the natural, though spurious growth of republics; and like the courtier he may, by his blandishments, delude the ears, and blind the eyes of the people to their own destruction.”
I have proved my point, rather clearly I believe. I now ask you to support your beliefs with facts and evidence. As John Adams stated in his defense of the British Soldiers at the Boston Massacre, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
I now yield the floor to you…the defense of our Constitution now rests…