Does the word coercion mean anything to you? Coercion is defined as: the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats. Using that as the definition, does it mean anything to you now? If you were to pick up a thesaurus and look up the word coercion, some of the synonyms for it are: intimidation, bullying, and oppression.
If you were to encounter an armed robber who then holds you at gunpoint and demands that you give them all your money; you are being coerced into surrendering to them what is rightfully yours. But robbers, rapists and other criminals are not the only ones who use coercion to obtain their goals; governments use it too.
In Federalist #15 Alexander Hamilton talks about the coercive power of government as follows, “Government implies the power of making laws. It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation. This penalty, whatever it may be, can only be inflicted in two ways: by the agency of the courts and ministers of justice, or by military force; by the COERCION of the magistracy, or by the COERCION of arms.”
I want to sidetrack for a minute and talk to you about the men whose thoughts influenced a majority of our Founding Fathers; the political thinkers who gave us the Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment was a period of World History that saw political thinkers, scientists, and even musicians revising their thoughts on a wide range of subjects. Among those whose thoughts influenced our Founders were men like Sir Francis Bacon, John Locke, Cesare Beccaria, and on Jean Jacques Rousseau.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was Swiss born but later relocated to France; where his thoughts influenced those who fought against monarchy in the French Revolution. The reason I bring this up is because there is something that Rousseau said that I think deserves your attention. Rousseau is quoted as saying, “Force does not constitute right … obedience is due only to legitimate powers.”
Yes, government implies the ability to make laws, and the coercive power to enforce them; but government can, and frequently does, become oppressive; especially when those whose duty it is to keep government in check neglect their responsibilities.
When I first began this quest for knowledge I sought out everything I could find that was ever written that could explain to me the purpose and intent of our Constitution. Among the many books I read was Associate Justice Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. As I have progressed in my knowledge and understanding I realize that the substitution of the word for with the word of between Constitution and United States completely alters the meaning, I still believe Story makes some valid points in his lengthy treatise.
For instance, in Section 900 Story states, “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?”
We the people are the watchmen whose duty it is to keep an eye on our government to ensure it does not exceed the powers given it, and by virtue of usurpation, become oppressive. I have often wondered, if our Founders were alive today, how they would feel about the manner in which we have fought to keep our government from usurping unconstitutional powers and becoming oppressive. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be too complimentary; in fact, I think it would be downright insulting.
People, at least most of them, are of the belief that, “Well after all, it is the government; so if it passes a law we have got to obey it.” I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that is the creed of slaves. Was our country founded by men who submitted unquestioningly to the authority of their government; or was it founded by men who resisted any and all laws which they felt were a violation of their rights as freemen?
It boggles my mind how anyone can even consider them self a loyal American, or a true patriot, yet not know the first thing about the document which forms their government or the first ten amendments to that document which protect just a few of our unalienable rights. It angers me beyond words how those of us who do understand these things are labeled as threats to society or domestic terrorists; when all we really want is to be left alone; to be free from the coercive power of government in the enforcement of unconstitutional laws.
In numerous political debates I have heard the argument that our Constitution was written over 200 yrs ago by men who could not have foreseen the changes that society would undergo, and the advancements in technology that make the world what it is today; therefore the Constitution is no longer relevant in 21st Century America.
Okay, I’ll buy that for arguments sake, and say, let’s abolish the Constitution. But, and this is a huge BUT, if you abolish the Constitution then you abolish the government it establishes; for you can’t have a legitimate government without a document granting it the authority to enact law on behalf of the people of this country. If you cannot see that then you may as well admit that what you want is a dictatorship or an oligarchy; a government whose existence is not based upon the rule of law, but upon the whim and caprice of men.
In all the political debates I have had, I have discovered that a vast majority of people believe that it is the governments job to take care of those in need; at the expense of those who have achieved some level of success. This idea that the redistribution of wealth goes against all that our Founders believed in and fought for. For instance, Ben Franklin once wrote, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
Thomas Jefferson, author of our Declaration of Independence and our nation’s 3rd President, once wrote, “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.”
This philosophy was still in existence as recently as the early 1900’s, when Theodore Roosevelt made the following comments, “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.”
What the hell happened America? I can venture a guess; we have forgotten something fundamental about the purpose for which our Constitution was written, best explained by the following quote by Ben Franklin, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
Those who espouse these socialist ideologies, and yes, they are socialist, still have the unmitigated audacity to talk of freedom and equality in the same sentence; when in truth their ideologies are destructive to the principles of freedom and equality. When Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal he did not mean that they were entitled to equality of wealth and stature. In fact, he specifies that we are all equal in our rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Can’t you see that by requiring that one segment of society be held responsible for providing for the needs of another that you are, in fact, enslaving those who are the providers to the beneficiaries of their stolen wealth; and yet you talk of freedom in the same sentence? All that does is it proves to me that you don’t know the first thing about what freedom really is.
While researching for this article I stumbled across a quote that I was unable to find the source from whence it was taken. Nonetheless I believe it to be pertinent to the discussion at hand, therefore will share it with you now, “Entitlements are not rights. People are not born with a claim on the property of others.” But that’s just it, people do believe that they are entitled to the property of others; they have been taught that from the time they took their first breath of life to the time they became eligible to vote; and they vote according to how they have been indoctrinated.
Previously I had touched upon the men whose thoughts formed what we call the Age of Enlightenment. I would like to share a quote from another of those men, this time John Locke. In Locke’s Second Treatise he mentions the following in regards to slavery, “No body can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it.”
Can you go to your neighbor’s house and demand that they surrender a portion of their earnings so that you may give it to the charity of your choice? Of course not, that would be considered criminal and a violation of their rights. Then by what authority does the government have the right to this same power which would be considered criminal if you were to exercise it on your own? Remember, you cannot give anyone more power than you yourself possess; so again, how can government have the power to do something that you yourself do not have as an individual?
A year or so ago I got into a very heated argument online with an individual who said that I would be violating the rights of welfare and food stamp recipients if I required them to undergo a drug test before becoming eligible for their benefits. REALLY? According to the individual I was arguing with it is perfectly acceptable for an employer to require that I submit to random drug testing, and yet the recipient of the money which is confiscated from my earnings cannot be asked to submit to the same conditions prior to receiving his benefits.
I told the person that if the recipients of these benefits do not want to undergo drug testing, then all they have to do is stop asking for the benefits. Then the person I was arguing with said, “But they are entitled to them.” According to whom; him, the government? I’ve read the Constitution and Bill of Rights many times, and I’ve never encountered anything in there that says that someone in need is entitled to satisfy their needs at the expense of someone else.
In fact, in 1794 James Madison once said, “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.” Once again, the fool I was arguing with spoke frequently about freedom and equality.
People, especially people who know absolutely nothing about me, think that I’m cold hearted and care nothing about the suffering of others. I’m all for charity; just not government mandated charity. The job of our government was not to assume the role of elective Robin Hoods who take from the rich and give to the poor. I wonder, if I were to ask all those who believe government should tax the people to provide for the poor how much they have personally contributed to those in need, how would they respond? Since I got married in 1989 I’ve been sending money to my wife’s family in the Philippines. Yes I know, that is not those in need in the United States; but I still contribute funds to support them. We have paid for the construction of the homes they live in, paid for medical expenses and college for my wife’s nieces and nephews. My wife keeps detailed records of how much money we have sent them; and the last time I checked the total sat around $60,000. So don’t tell me I am cold-hearted; how many of you would be willing to part with that much of your own money to help those in need!
In 1850 the Frenchman Frederic Bastiat wrote something that sits at the root of this whole social justice, redistribution of wealth argument. In his book The Law, Bastiat states, “Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others.”
If you do not have the right to deprive anyone of their property, then you do not have the right to ask government to use its coercive power as a substitute for your own lack of power and authority. What happens when this occurs is best explained by the opening words of Bastiat’s book, “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!”
The problem is this, people believe our government to be god, with unlimited power and authority; and that it is treason to question and resist the laws they pass. King George III said the same thing about the Colonists when they chose to sever the ties which bound them to him and his laws; yet we celebrate what they did with a national holiday while at the same time we insult and denigrate people today who seek to live by their same beliefs and values.
You see government exercise its coercive power every day without realizing it. You see it when you pass a police or sheriffs cruiser on the road. You see it on the news when you hear of a drug raid or someone arrested for some violation of the law. What you have to realize is that laws can be good and they can be bad; they can be benevolent or they can be used to oppress. As Jefferson so aptly said, “Law is often but the tyrants will.”
If laws are passed which are in strict accordance with the purpose for which government was established, then we have an abundance of liberty. If, on the other hand, the laws being passed exceed the government’s authority, and especially if they deprive the people government represents of their property or their liberty, then this is when government becomes tyrannical.
Can’t you see that our government is, in fact, tyrannical? Or have you been so indoctrinated that you could not see it even if your elected representatives held a press conference and openly admitted it? All you see is R versus D, liberals versus conservatives; you are so blinded by the two party paradigm that you cannot see that government as an entity is corrupt, evil and seeks to enslave you. So you still support it, when if you understood the purpose for which it was established you would be fighting it with every ounce of courage you had.
Maybe that’s it, maybe there is no more courage and resolve left in America, and freedom is simply too costly and bothersome for people to worry about. Maybe people today just don’t have what it takes to offer up their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to seek it.
Our Founders believed that it was our right to defend our lives, our liberty AND our property. Samuel Adams stated it thusly, “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…”
This same sentiment was echoed 80 yrs later by Bastiat when he said, “Each of us has a natural right—from God—to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two.”
Just because you do not believe in liberty, or are unwilling to defend it, does not mean that there aren’t those who do know what it means, and are ready and willing to defend it. You can call us rebels if you wish, we will wear the name with honor; as our Founders were considered rebels as well; as were the brave men who fought for their own liberty in America’s Second War for Independence.
It is at this point that I’d like to share the full quote from Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution that I partially shared with you earlier, as I believe it explains exactly what has happened in America. Ponder this well, as it applies directly to those of you who believe me to be a threat to your security or belief systems, “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?”
If you truly understood me, and what I stand for, you’d know that I pose a threat to nobody as long as they respect my rights and do not seek to use coercion to force their views upon me. But that’s the difference between what I consider the true patriots of America today and the rest of the people in this country; for your beliefs to work you must coerce others into playing by your rules, while all we ask is that you leave us be to our own devices. We don’t need you or your government to be happy, while you can’t live without us or the coercive power government gives you to fund your programs and shove your politically correct social justice beliefs down our throats.
It’s the old concept of the Golden Rule; do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You leave us alone and we’ll get along just fine, but you start forcing your views and beliefs on us, then you’re gonna end up pushing people to the point that they begin pushing back. And believe me, there is a lot of pent up anger and frustration that is going to be unleashed if we ever start pushing back.
Keep that in mind…