Are We Truly Free?
A facebook friend posted this last night:
I wish our lives could be lived super simply and spending each moment making memories with the ones we love most. If only it was legal for me to find a plot of land and build a home and grow what I need. How are we free again?
In fact…I am free to work any job i can and or want to in order to pay my government. Free to follow its laws. Free to live anywhere legally deemed. Free to get an education that is illegal for me to refuse up till college which is free only to those who illegally exist here. I am free to raise my food under restrictions. I am free to hunt my food with a permit…again how am I free?
It’s a very good question, one often posited by anarchists (I’m not saying this person is an anarchist).
Anarchists say the reason we have government is because we fear that people will misbehave if left to their own devices.
Well, history is replete with examples of people being left to their own devices.
Look to Seattle where the anarchists destroy private property simply because they don’t believe that anyone should own property. Look to Afghanistan where most regions are run by local warlords. Look at Africa which has pretty much the same problem. Look to Somalia, to be more specific.
If there is a power vacuum, some warlord will step in and fill it.
Since around 1900, maybe a little before, this country has moved steadily to the left. By left I mean more towards totalitarian government. We have moved from a constitutionally limited government to a governmentally limited society.
I’ve argued before that anyone who wants more government, in any form, is a leftist. Those who want less government are the ones to the right.
Don’t get me wrong. Government is a necessary evil, but big government is not. Our ancestors threw off the chains of oppression because they were tired of a government that meddled in their lives, raised their taxes, and if they asked the government to repeal a law, or not pass a law, it only got worse.
The constitution was designed to limit the Federal government, to give it certain powers and responsibilities. One of the most common misconceptions is that the Federal government has rights. Well, it doesn’t. It has powers, and there is a big difference.
A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have.
While the Federal government was given the power of creating laws that would supersede State laws, the idea was that the States would decide for themselves. The Federal government was to take care of the common defense, and diplomatic issues with foreign nations. If States had disputes between them, the Federal government was to settle it. The Federal government was to prevent the states from warring with each other.
The States, while not being completely sovereign, were left autonomous, to decide what laws worked best for them, and what issues they needed to address. After all, who would know better what the State of West Virginia needs, for example; West Virginia or the Federal government?
There are certain things we need the Federal government for. There must be a certain amount of regulation for food safety, making sure that there isn’t lead in our paints, or that corporations aren’t dumping chemicals into our rivers.
Of course, why can’t the States make those decisions themselves?
The FBI, Homeland Security, the National Security Administration, and agencies such as the US Forest Service are not Constitutional. Nowhere is the Federal government allowed to have its own police forces. Nowhere is the Federal government allowed to own forests. The National Parks and National Forests are unconstitutional. The Feds are allowed, according to the Constitution, allowed to purchase land from the States for the following purposes:
for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;
Is a National Forest a needful building? No.
Unfortunately, there are parts of the Constitution that were left vague, and we suffer for it.
Welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing, Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Education, all unconstitutional.
I realize that the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare legal under the taxing authority of the constitution, but that doesn’t make them right.
The Declaration of Independence says we have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are no guarantees to happiness, but we have the right to pursue it.
Article One of the Constitution states that Congress must
…pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;
Strictly speaking, the Constitution does not say that Congress is to provide for the general welfare of the people, just the States. The Constitution was not written with the idea that the people are subservient to the Federal government. Just the opposite.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The Tenth Amendment does not mean that we can do as we please, but that the people retain ultimate power. The idea was that the States know their business and needs better than a central government, so whatever power the Federal government has not been granted has been retained by the States. The States, being the smaller, more local government is in touch more with the people than the Federal government, so they should be allowed to make their own decisions.
James Madison said, in a speech on the House floor,
If Congress can apply 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 establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads. In short, every thing, from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare. – James Madison in remarks on the House floor, 1792
It’s been said that once the people discover that they could vote themselves money from the public treasury, that would be the end of this Republic. That’s usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but I’m not sure if that’s a spurious quote or not. Assuming that Franklin did say it, he was slightly off.
Since the late 1800’s and into the early 20th century, people discovered that they could use the government to make laws to force people to live their lives as others thought they should. They use various disguises: “public safety”, “public health”, “national security”, and more recently, “terrorism”.
For the public safety, we need to require that people wrap themselves in bubble wrap before leaving the house, getting into a car or riding a bicycle.
Second hand smoke is deadly, so we must ban it everywhere, including the outdoors.
Just because you can smell cigarette smoke doesn’t mean you are getting second hand smoke.
We need to require everyone to wear a seatbelt, every motorcycle rider to wear a helmet, every bicycle rider must also wear a helmet.
We have to spy on you, because national security demands it. We will watch your phone records, your internet postings, your financial transactions and your private emails. We will watch you with cameras, fly drones over your house, because there are terrorists who want to kill you.
In the meantime, you should not insult Islam and accept Sharia into your life, and we’ll grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, because there are terrorists out there who want to kill you, so it’s a national security issue, you see? We have Congressional oversight and a transparent secret court that has all of its proceedings classified Top Secret. Trust us, and reject those voices that would say that government can become tyrannical.
Give us your guns, because you really don’t need them, and public safety demands that we no longer allow people to have semi-automatic weapons because someone might shoot up a school or a mall. If you don’t, we’ll just create background checks and have gun owners declared mentally ill and we will deny your right to weapons based on that.
For the public safety.
The Constitution spelled out exactly how Congress could lay taxes, but in the early 1900’s, progressive Republicans put forth the 16th Amendment which changed all that. It allowed them to collect an income tax on the people. Why? What happened that the Federal government suddenly needed all this money? To pay for World War I? No, the war started a year after the amendment was ratified, and the US was only involved for 8 months; five years later.
Congress has, at various times, tried to impose income taxes, but they were found to be unconstitutional, except in the case of the Civil War income taxes, only because Congress rescinded them before they could go before the Supreme Court.
As the 20th Century approached, the parties began to demand an income tax. Why?
To stick it to the rich, who they felt had too much economic power.
1913. The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments were passed giving Congress the power to tax incomes, and stripping away the representation of the States in the Senate (because of the “fear” of corruption, rather than actual corruption) and giving it to a vote of the people. What the Seventeenth Amendment did was allow the political parties to get their hooks into the US Senate as well as the House of Representatives.
Of course, these people went on to amend the Constitution to prohibit alcohol, which is a silly thing to add to the Constitution. It was later repealed in 1933. In the meantime, it created a black market for alcohol, and a violent gangster subculture, which in turn led to the first Federal gun control laws. For the public safety.
The 1930’s and 40’s saw the rise of the welfare state in the wake of the Great Depression. Social Security food stamps, and section 8 housing were created under FDR.
The 1960’s saw an increase in the welfare state with the creation of welfare, Medicare and Medicaid under LBJ, who declared war on poverty. Nixon declared a war on drugs shortly after.
As a society, we have an obligation to take care of the poor and those who aren’t as well off, right? Yes, and no.
Thomas Jefferson believed that the States should take care of their own poor. In fact, he felt that each state should be subdivided into wards of about 24 square miles, and each ward should take care of its own poor. Not the Federal government.
Like Madison above, some of the Founders believed that the Federal government should keep its nose out of the States business.
Again from James Madison:
Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison speech to the House of Representatives, 1794
The key word in providing for the general welfare, is general. Health, happiness and prosperity. That does not mean providing healthcare for the masses. That means things like regulating paint to make sure it doesn’t have lead in it, to make sure drinking water is clean. General welfare does not mean the massive spending of taxpayer money.
From 1940 through the 1980’s, we have seen the greatest expansion of a standing army, than any other time in this nation’s history.
With the attacks of 9/11, we changed direction. The government declared war on terrorism, and established the Department of Homeland Security and the spying programs we are dealing with today.
War without end. War on poverty, drugs, terrorism. By any means necessary.
It’s ironic that those like Michael Moore and Bill Maher who decry the eroding of our civil liberties are among those at the front of the line saying we should abolish the Second Amendment.
So, what’s my point? What am I trying to say?
I have been trying to point out where and how the Federal government has been slicing off more power, and by doing so, eroding our freedoms, slowly over time.
Are we truly free?
Never trust a government that says “trust me”.
Since the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we have seen a slow erosion of our freedoms. It started with the 16th and 17th Amendments, and the Federal government, over time, has effectively neutered the State governments and the people in turn. Taxes are used to coerce and “nudge” people in the direction the government wants them to go.
There seems to be a tax for everything today. A tax for hunting, a tax for fishing. A tax to drive, a tax to attend a concert or sporting event.
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
– George Harrison – “Taxman”
Through taxes, government manipulate us, nudge us, push us in this direction or that.
That was never the true purpose of government, but it is the nature of humans to grab for more power. They don’t do it all in one fell swoop, they do it slowly, just as you turn the heat up slowly to boil a frog. He doesn’t realize that the water has been heating up until it is too late.
Are we truly free, or is the government bringing the water to a boil so slowly that our grandchildren will be slaves to the government?