natural rights

End the idol worship: Ideas over men

Statue of Freedom

In the final minutes of the 2005 film, V for Vendetta, Peter Creedy, the head of the dystopian government’s secret police, fires several rounds into the Guy Fawkes-masked protagonist, V, fearing for his life.

“Why won’t you die?!” he shouts as his revolver reaches an empty chamber. “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh,” V says. “Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof.”

While he got the attention of the repressed people of England and encouraged them to stand up against a cronyist government and the surveillance state, V was a faceless symbol of an idea — an idea he hoped would live on after he died.

Edward Snowden got Americans’ attention last June after he, through journalist Glenn Greenwald, blew the whistle on National Security Agency’s vast surveillance apparatus. The disclosures continued throughout the last year and will, reportedly, end with a grand finale in the coming days when Greenwald releases a list of names the controversial intelligence agency has targeted for spying.

Just last week, Snowden, who is living a seclusion in Russia, gave an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, the whistleblower’s first with a U.S.-based television network, in which, when asked, he said that he thought himself to be a patriot.

“Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the violations and encroachments from adversaries,” Snowden told Williams. “And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries, they can be bad policies.”

The Perpetual Battle for Natural Rights

With all the scandals today – namely, at the IRS, AP, and NSA – many believe our government’s actions are violating our natural rights: mostly, our freedoms of speech, press, due process, and privacy. These “natural rights” are fundamental basic human rights, not based on man-made positive law. Many of these rights were codified by our founders in the Bill of Rights… but not without tumult.

There are those today - even within the liberty movement - willing to compromise on many issues that would infringe on the natural rights of others, in both domestic and foreign policy. I think they are wrong. In this brief history of how our Bill of Rights came about, I encourage you to look for parallels between today’s struggles and our country’s founding.

A Constitution Without Rights

John Locke, regarded as the Father of Classical Liberalism, grounded the premise for his 1690 Second Treatise of Government on the idea of natural rights. This idea, while revolutionary at the time, provided a template for subsequent political theory. Merging Locke’s idea with the British Bill of Rights of 1689, George Mason, a member of the Virginia delegation, penned the Virginia Declaration of Rights in May of 1776 - preceding both the Virginia State Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In its Article 1, he penned these words:

War: Who Profits and Who Pays?

War is a violent competition between two Governments to determine who will make the laws, levy the taxes, and regulate the behavior of individuals within a given geographic area.

War is ugly. It is brutal. It is about killing others until they submit. There is nothing more serious in the world than the taking of another individual’s life.  It is the most grave of businesses. And If you believe in Natural Rights and the Principles of Individualism it should only be conducted as a defensive act against an aggressing Government.

Unfortunately, today like in the past war is looked upon not as a grave business but business as usual for the United States Government.

Today, the United States Government has military personnel on 900 installations around the world and over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money is used to fund the wars overseas and the continued “projection” of military power around the world. This is all done for the production of security for the American people. We are told by the propagandists inside and outside of the United States Government that we are all safer because of the endless war in Afghanistan, the continued military presence in Iraq, and the continued military drone assassinations of individuals deemed “terrorists” across the world. Then are also told that it is  our moral imperative to kill warlords like Kony in Uganda, to help oust dictators like Assad in Syria and help kill dictators like Gaddafi in Libya so rebels could take over the reigns of government and bring about democratic reforms (which is usually code word for socialism). We are told that this is in the big scheme of things being done to protect “American Interests” overseas which in turn benefits all of us at home.  Which in reality is a lie perpetrated by the government and its allies in the media to benefit itself and the few who profit when it goes to war.

Individualism and the Individual Mandate: Two Incompatible Concepts

For the last few days the Supreme Court has listened to a case in which they have been asked to decide the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

This case is not about health care. It’s not about lowering premiums or rectifying the problem of the uninsured shifting healthcare costs to the insured, it’s not about increasing access to health care. It is simply a debate between whether or not the federal government is adhering more to the principles of individualism or collectivism.

The individual mandate is based upon the principle of collectivism which is the opposite of the principle of individualism,which the federal government was originally founded upon. But over the course of the last 225 years after the Constitution was ratified more and more laws have been passed that were based upon the ideas of collectivism and most have been upheld as “constitutional” by the Supreme Court.

Ayn Rand wrote in her awesome essay, Textbook of Americanisms, that “Individualism holds that man has unalienable rights which can not be taken away from him by any other man, nor by any number, group or collective of men. Therefore each man exists for his own sake and not for the sake of the group.”

On the other hand the Individual Mandate which forces every American to purchase a product is based upon the ideas of collectivism because it’s the majority who are using the force of Government to coerce individuals to act in a certain way.

In Textbook of Americanisms, Ayn Rand explained what the principle of collectivism really boils down to:

Book Review: It Is Dangerous To Be Right When The Government Is Wrong

Fox News analyst and best-selling author, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, released a new book Tuesday October 18th entitled, It Is Dangerous To Be Right When The Government Is Wrong: The Case For Personal Freedom. I have not read any of Judge Napolitano’s prior books, yet I have watched his television show on Fox Business, Freedom Watch, and I find myself agreeing with nearly everything that he says.

Many of you know that I am a Libertarian (card-carrying, candidate-supporting Big “L” Libertarian), so it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the latest work by Judge Napolitano. While most libertarians or Libertarians use the Constitution as their basis for political philosophy, the Judge goes beyond the Constitution to its roots as a protection of natural rights and Natural Law for all people. As someone who believes that the Constitution serves as our protection from the government trampling on our natural rights, I found this book aligns nearly identical to my political philosophy, as well as my sense of morality. Do not let that alignment keep you from reading what I found to be one of the best cases for personal liberty and the responsibility that an individual pays for such liberty.

The right to own property is fundamental

Property rights seem like such a simple matter.  It’s rather binary after all.  You either own it, or you don’t.  There’s not a lot of middle ground on this issue.  However, it’s often a matter of discussion as to whether property rights actually exist and, if they do exist, what do they mean.

To be honest, property rights don’t mean a whole heck of a lot anymore.  Once upon a time, a man’s property was sacred.  It was something that another man dared not touch without permission.  It was the foundation for a free society, each man working together to protect his own patch of heaven from the Mongol hordes waiting to tear it all apart.  Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.

Following the Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo decision, property rights obviously mean little to the federal government.  However, property means so much more than just the patch of dirt where your house is located.  Understanding that is understanding why the Kelo decision is so evil, though I don’t accuse those who made it of such a malicious thing.

You see, some people don’t think property rights exist, that it’s not truly a natural right.  They argue that it’s a construct of the human mind and therefore has no place in society.  However, I believe something very different.  I believe that the right to own property is encoded in our essence.  Property, you see, is part of being human.

Small children, unable to speak or even understand human language will lash out when a favorite toy is taken away from them.  At this primitive level, they understand the wrongness of seizing someone else’s property.  They lash out as children do, because they haven’t been told that they are being forced to give up for the greater good.  Some grow up and accept that.  Others grow up and see it as nothing more than a rationale for seizing that which is rightfully ours.

Rights and the Health Care Debate

A few days ago, we discussed the concepts of insurance and public utilities. In order to advance the discussion on the health care debate, it is important to analyze the proper role of the state in the provision of health care. We’ll start with a discussion on rights.

The concept of rights is complex and, unfortunately, somewhat subjective. Western philosophy and political theory have struggled with the concept for centuries. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines rights as “qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to a lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval.” That is a mouthful and doesn’t help much. It is fair to say that the concept of rights is subject to broad interpretation and can be applied to many things. Thus, it is important to explore different types of rights - especially as it pertains to those which should be granted and/or protected by the state.

The English monarchy established one of the first and most influential documents which pertained to the relationship between rights and the state. This document is the famous Magna Carta which established that the King was bound by the law and that free men had certain rights which could not be violated by the monarch. This laid the groundwork for future constitutional law and an expanded discussion of rights during the Age of Enlightenment.

World Government and The Consent of the Governed

An interesting commentary entitled “And now for a world government” appears on Gideon Rachman’s blog on the web site of the Financial Times in London. He begins by saying:

“I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the U.S. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible.”

Refuting Progressives: So Easy A Blogger Can Do It

A blogger by the name of Allen Clifton over at “Forward Progressives” has put out a list of “facts” that annoy conservatives and Republicans, supposedly for fun. Allen writes:

I highly encourage all liberals to share this with their conservative friends.  Then watch as they haplessly try and argue against each comment.

It’s irresistible. And, as I expected, it doesn’t actually make us look bad. It just shows that progressives like Mr. Clifton haven’t thought their argument the full way through. I’ll leave the points Mr. Clifton makes in bold and my responses below.

Let’s begin:

1. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say we’re a Christian nation.

2. In fact, no where in our Constitution does the word “Christian” appear even once.

These points are actually true, and I cannot argue with Mr. Clifton. The Constitution does not mention the word “god,” and while many of the Founders were religious, it is questionable whether they were hardcore Christians or rather deists (or, in Mr. Jefferson’s case and the case of others, Christian Deists.) There are mentions to God in the Declaration of Independence, but again, are these references to the Christian conception? The Declaration refers to “Nature’s God”—a deist term, not a Christian one. The only time the Constitution mentions God is in the dating: “ the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.”

That’s hardly grounds for making the Constitution a Christian document. That’s just how you told the date back then. These days, we replaced “Lord” with “Common Era.”

COMMENT CHECK: Obama Has No Mandate, And Might Does Not Make Right

A commentator going by the handle of “Travis” posted an, shall I say “intriguing” comment on my recent post about Grover Norquist. Travis writes:


This has nothing to do with the evil media, this has everything to do with elections.

Your slash-taxes-and-government policy preferences were put up to a vote earlier this month, and they lost. The American people re-elected a president who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting entitlements and preserving government services.

This is just the bandwagon fallacy.

To illustrate my point, let me put it to you this way: Suppose Candidate A (for a naughty word Jason says I cannot type) campaigns on a platform of fixing our economy by killing all the poor people. Now, let’s say that, for whatever reason, a majority of Americans disagree with Candidate A’s policy position, yet, strangely, they end up electing him into office anyways. Does this mean that Candidate A’s policy to kill the poor is the right thing to do?

That was a rhetorical question, there’s really no need to answer.

Yes, Obama won the election. But just because a guy wins what is essentially a popularity contest does not mean that his policies are ipso facto the right ones and everyone else should roll over and play dead. I guarantee you that liberals would not have done that if Romney won, as they did not do it when Bush won (particularly after 2004, when he won the popular vote.)

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