Liberty once lost is lost forever.
(17 July 1775)
Let’s say government, at both the State and federal levels, offered a form you could fill out and sign, which would exempt you from taxes; how many of you would rush to fill it out? I bet most of the people would; nobody that I know likes paying taxes and if there was a way for them to get out doing so they’d grab at it in a heartbeat.
Now let’s add a twist. Let’s say that form contained certain conditions that went along with not paying taxes; conditions that made you ineligible for any tax funded service. Let’s say you fill out that form and suddenly you could not obtain unemployment insurance, Social Security, or Food Stamps. Let’s say that by signing that form you were restricted from accessing the 911 system and the emergency responders such as police and fire departments.
How many of you would still rush to fill out that form?
Now let’s make things even MORE interesting. Let’s say by a person signing that form they also became free from the rules that governed those who chose to pay their taxes so they could receive the benefits they funded.
As long as the system, and those within the system, left me alone, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
However, even if the government provided such a form, I do not believe in an instant that people would honor it; that they would leave the person be and allow them to live their life as they pleased.
Let’s say one of your neighbors were to sign such a form and then began to cultivate marijuana in their back yard. Would you leave them be, or complain to the system that their activities frightened you, and you wanted something done to stop them? Would the system, allow an individual living in a community of obedient little sheep to do things which it restricted the rest of the community from doing?
What if your neighbor openly carried firearms both on their property and in and around the community for their protection? Would either you or the system allow them to continue?
I doubt it; and the question is: WHY?
Do you not know the definition of LIBERTY?
Merriam Webster defines liberty as: the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely.
Is that not one of the things our government was established for; to secure the Blessings of Liberty to those who wrote it, and the generations of people who were to follow? How can people claim to be free, have liberty, when there are so many laws which govern what they can and cannot do? How can society claim to cherish liberty, then turn right around and call for laws which restrict it?
If there is one thing most people simply do not understand, it is the relationship between people, the government instituted to serve the people, and the liberty those people held prior to the establishment of any form of government.
All of our rights; the ones some of you take for granted and others seek to restrict, originate not from any form of government, but as our being human beings. This concept is known as Natural Law; the state all men are in when there is no societal control over the actions of man.
John Locke described this state as follows: “TO understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.”
This state may frighten some as the freedom to do as one pleases also comes with the responsibility to accept the consequences of the choices you make, without placing the burden of those choices upon anyone but yourself.
People may also fear a state of absolute liberty; thinking that it gives others the right to bring harm to them. Not so, as Locke continues by saying, “But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” (My emphasis)
A couple centuries after Locke wrote his Second Treatise a Frenchman by the name of Frederic Bastiat wrote something that, if you would only think about it for a second, is quite profound. In his book The Law, Bastiat states, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
Our public school systems are guilty of many things, but the one thing I cannot forgive them for is the lack of a serious study of our country’s history. History is more than just the study of dates, events and names of those who participated in those events. History is also the study of the causes of these events and the consequences of them.
Let me ask you a real quick question. Why is it that your history teachers tell you that men like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams and Patrick Henry were American Patriots, yet tell you that men like Robert E. Lee, Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, and Jefferson Davis were rebels and traitors? Did not both groups fight for the same thing; independence from a government they believed to be tyrannical?
I do not want to make this about the causes and effects of the Civil War; I only want you to ask yourself if it may be possible that your history teachers were not completely truthful with you. Having taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about the founding of this country I can attest to the fact that my teachers either did not know the truth; and therefore could not teach it to me, or they were intentionally neglecting to tell me certain aspects of this country’s history.
Yes, I learned more about American History than do the children attending school today; another fact I can attest to as having a son who went through the public fool system almost 30 years after I did. Even so, the things I was taught were the bare bones, stripped down version that only covered dates and events, not the consequences and significance of those events.
Let’s take a moment to discuss two lines from two separate documents; one from the Declaration of Independence, and the other from James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson writes, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
Then, in his Memorial and Remonstrance Madison declares, “Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”
At first glance these two statements may seem to contradict each other; one calling for patience, while the other calling for resistance to any encroachment upon our liberty. Yet, are they contradictory? Madison did not call for the abolishment of government, only that the people should resist any encroachment upon their liberty. Jefferson did not sit back and say the people should tolerate encroachments upon their liberty; only that they should not abolish their system of government just because it had violated their rights one or two times.
You see, Jefferson continued by saying, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” That is exactly what our Founders did, and exactly what the Confederate States did 85 yrs after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Why then the disparity between how we view our nation’s founders, and those who chose to secede from the Union?
It is because that is what we have been taught, or indoctrinated into believing to be more precise.
While people may know the basics of our nation’s founding, they probably do not know the significance of the events that occurred during that era of American History as it regards to the power and authority, or sovereignty, of the people living in America at the time.
Prior to the Revolution the people living in what we know as the United States were subjects; beholden to a King and subject to his will. They may have been separated from their sovereign by an ocean, but that did not take away from the fact that he could, and did, send soldiers to enforce his will upon the Colonists.
There were a myriad of reasons why the Colonists resisted the laws passed by Parliament, and I won’t go into them all. Let it suffice to say that they had reached the point where enough was enough and they decided to seek independence. Independence wasn’t something that was given them, and it didn’t come without the cost of bloodshed and loss of life. But to them death was preferable to the tyranny of an unjust King. As Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Their resolve was firm; either they would obtain their independence; their liberty, or they would die trying.
Fortunately providence smiled upon them and their cause, and they obtained their independence; and their liberty. But what did that mean for them?
After they had obtained their independence, and after they had established a system of government, the Supreme Court would rule, “…at the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects…with none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America are equal as fellow citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty.”
Are you capable of understanding the significance of that statement? What that means is that the Colonists reverted back to that State of Nature described by Locke where they could, “…order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.”
Each of the Colonies, or newly constituted States, became a sovereign and independent nation of their own. This fact is attested to in the peace treaty which ended the Revolutionary War, and signed by both the King and representatives from America, “His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states…”
Although they had joined together in a confederation to fight a common enemy, each State was free and independent of their neighbors; each with their own system of government to regulate the lives of the people within them.
As the governments of each State were created by the sovereign authority of the people within those States, any form of government over the whole of the confederation must take into account both the sovereignty of the people, and of the States themselves.
As the people had ceded, [given up or surrendered], a portion of their sovereignty to their State governments, to create a federal system, a REPUBLICAN system, they would have to balance the amount of both individual and State sovereignty which would have to be surrendered to give the federal government the necessary powers to function, while preserving the liberty for which the government was established to preserve.
That is the primary reason why our Congress was divided into two houses, the Senate; which represented the States, and the House of Representatives; which represented the people. This delicate balance of power ensured that both the States and the people had a say in what laws would be passed by the federal government; and any law which was found harmful to the sovereignty of either could be blocked by the respective house of Congress.
Still, there were those who felt these checks and balances weren’t enough. Patrick Henry went so far to say, “There will be no checks, no real balances, in this Government: What can avail your specious imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances?”
Yet there were those who were more moderate in their thinking; those who felt that by a few amendments or a Declaration of Rights of some sort, the Constitution would become one which formed a strong enough government to manage the affairs of a nation, while preserving the rights of the people and the States.
Therefore a Bill of Rights was introduced; twelve amendments, of which 10 received the necessary votes to become part of our Constitution. People misunderstand the Bill of Rights; thinking that it grants them their rights. That is not true, as Jefferson so clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
No, the Bill of Rights grants us nothing; it only serves to place restrictions on our government from enacting any law which restricts the rights contained within it. This fact is confirmed in the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, which states, “THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…”
The Bill of Rights is a restriction placed upon our government; rights that they have no power to legislate away. It is not up to them to decide to what extent we may exercise those rights, or what the meaning of words like ‘arms’ are in the 2nd Amendment. Their job is to ensure that no law is passed which restricts those rights in any way, shape, or form. The moment they enact laws which violate any of our rights is the moment our government takes the step Madison warned us to be on the lookout for, “Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.”
A right does not require permission from anyone to exercise. Therefore if the government tells me that I need a permit to ‘bear’ an arm, then the law which requires that I obtain a permit prior to carrying an arm is an infringement upon that right.
The people of America today may know one or two of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights; but I’m betting they don’t know about the 9th Amendment. The Bill of Rights is not all inclusive; it does not, nor could it possibly, cover every right held by the people.
Prior to the Bill of Rights being introduced and ratified Alexander Hamilton offered a compelling argument against one. In Federalist 84 Hamilton said, “I go further, and affirm, that Bills of Rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?”
Yet a Bill of Rights was introduced, and ratified. Among the rights protected is the 9th Amendment, a sort of umbrella clause for all the unlisted rights. The 9th Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Our government was created by our Founders for certain specific reasons, to perform certain specific functions. When it oversteps the limits the Constitution outlines its acts become usurpation, or tyrannical; especially when it uses force to compel obedience.
In Federalist #10 James Madison assured the people that “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” If these powers are defined, then one should be able to go to the Constitution and read each of these powers and determine whether the actions of their government fall within the strict confines of the power granted them by that document.
Nowhere does it say I must participate in a retirement fund such as Social Security. Nowhere does it say a person must obtain health insurance. Nowhere does it give the government the authority to regulate what choice of medical treatment a patient may undertake by making illegal certain substances simply because they cut into the profit margins of the big pharmaceutical companies which lobby Congress. Nowhere does it say that public moneys may be taken from the Treasury to fund projects that benefit but a few, or a certain category of people.
Yet we allow these things because we do not know the purpose for which our government was originally established; and more importantly, we have forgotten what liberty is all about. One of Patrick Henry’s biggest concerns about this government was that it would come to threaten the liberty of the people. He warned the people, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”
Like it or not, our Constitution is a law, for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace. (U.S. Supreme Court; Ex parte Milligan, 1866) Therefore, who are the criminals when our government violates the law; those who oppose the actions of their government, or the government that has overstepped its legitimate authority?
Yet when people today stand up for their rights against the might of the government, they find themselves labeled as criminals; either being fined, imprisoned, or executed even; and the people of this country stand not behind those who assert their rights, but behind the government which abuses those rights. We hold our law enforcement agents up on pedestals for protecting us, when in truth they are strong armed thugs that enforce the will of tyrants.
One would do well to read the words of Thomas Jefferson, written in 1775 in a letter to William Small, “Can it be believed that a grateful people will suffer [individuals] to be consigned to execution, whose sole crime has been the developing and asserting their rights?”
Unfortunately, in today’s world, I would have to answer in the affirmative.
America has forgotten what it means to be free; and I mean truly free. We prefer the comfort of servitude as long as our government keeps us safe and secure. Our Founders must be looking down upon us with utter disgust at what we’ve allowed to happen.
We have become so pussified that a graphic I brought to work awhile back, which stated something along the lines of, “What are we waiting for? Our Founders would be shooting by now” got me in trouble at work because of the fear of gun violence in the workplace.
Liberty is not something that is given to you, it is something that is yours from birth. It is only when you choose not to fight for it that it can be taken from you.
In a speech delivered in 1921, Judge Billings Learned Hand said, “What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
As long as you tolerate even the slightest infraction of the powers granted government by the Constitution; as long as you tolerate the slightest violation of your rights; as long as you tolerate the lesser of two evils in those who represent you, you are NOT standing for liberty.
I heard someone say the other day that by voting for Trump we could put a dent in the tyranny of past presidents; I believe the person saying this was referring to Obama. What power does a president have that can undo the damage done by previous sessions of our government? He can only recommend that Congress take action to repeal unconstitutional laws; but should the Congress fight him, there is nothing he can do.
So how could Trump put a dent in governmental tyranny without himself becoming a tyrant who has overstepped the power given the Executive Branch?
If you truly want to fix America then your attention is focused in the wrong place. Government is not the solution to all our problems; IT IS THE PROBLEM. We have become so reliant upon, so dependent on government to do all these things for us, that I don’t know if America could handle restoring government back to the limited one outlined in our Constitution. Yet that is what it would take to fix the problems this country faces.
Too many generations have passed in which liberty has been pushed further into the shadows, to be replaced by people with hands outstretched; asking for government to do this and do that for them. Little did they notice that while their hands were outstretched to receive all these goodies, government was placing the shackles of servitude on at the same time they were giving us our handouts.
If you truly want to fix government, then your motto should be LEAVE ME BE; LET ME LIVE MY LIFE AS I PLEASE. After all, that is what liberty is all about.