Archive for the ‘natural rights’ Tag

Common Sense on Self-Defense.   Leave a comment

Which would you prefer?

Modern Idolatry   55 comments

There are many idols in this world. We don’t tend to think of idol-worship in our modern society. We are so sophisticated that we don’t make graven images to bow before. That doesn’t mean we don’t have idols. Any time a Christian puts anything higher than God, it becomes an idol. Even our government can become an idol if we put obeying it above our obligation to obey God.

Here in the United States, many Christians insist that we must support our government and obey it, even as it does things that are cruel, greedy, murderous and godless. If you point out where the US government has gone astray, they will cite Romans 13 and a handful of other passages to assert that Christians must never, ever disobey the government because that is tantamount to disobeying God.

So they plunk down their tax money and they send their sons and daughters off to war, to pay for and participate in assassinations, unjust wars, taxpayer-funded abortion, drone strikes, and attacks on American citizens (such as Ruby Ridge). They don’t complain and often they cheer.

When President Obama authorized a drone strike murder on American citizen Anwar al-Alwaki I objected on two grounds — one that he was an American citizen and therefore supposed to be protected by the Constitution and two that our government should not be using drones to kill anyone. If we are a nation founded on the rule of law, then simply sneaking up on someone we suspect of terrorism is not good enough. Innocent until proven guilty, right to a fair trial, right to face your accusers … and all that. Yet, many of my fellow Christians informed me that I didn’t have a right to judge the government as abusive and out of control because of … Romans 13.

It goes further than that, however. God gave us the right of liberty (1 Peter 4:15), which our Constitution acknowledges, but the American government tells us what we must do, own, buy, sell, and consume. Our Constitution sets forth protections for criminal and civil procedings in a way reminiscent of the cities of refuge and the trial in the gate system of Israel, yet our government recently has given itself the power to arrest and incarcerate without evidence or trial. God gave us the right of property (Exodus 20:15), which is recognized in the Founding documents, but the American government imposes coercive taxes, confiscates possessions, and tells us what we can and cannot own. God gave us the right of privacy (1 Peter 4:15), acknowledged by the 4th amendment, but the American government gave itself license to spy on us through our computers, telephones, and records and by means of cameras, drones and even our neighbors.

If God granted these rights and safeguards them through His divine law, then it reasonably follows that man has no authority to take them away. That used to be understood in the United States and was enshrined in our constitution, but in recent times we have given ourselves the right (through the government) to define and even take away the rights of other men, thus attempting to dethrone God and replace Him with the government.

Does that seem like an overblown statement?

In a society that is supposedly founded on self-government, when the government steals, coerces or murders, it does it in your name. Christians are called in the Bible to refrain from such activities, but when our government engages in them, it does so on our behalf … though increasingly against us.

To obey a government without question because you believe God has required you to obey it even as it violates His commands is as much idolatry as Caesar declaring himself God!

Unenumerated Rights   Leave a comment

I got to the 9th amendment and it needs more coverage than a single blog post.

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Thomas Jefferson served as ambassador to France during the Constitutional Convention, so was unable to attend. He wrote to James Madison, advocating for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights. “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.”

Thomas Jefferson was an anti-federalist. He advocated a weak central government. He wasn’t entirely wrong. The anti-federalists foresaw the quagmire we are bogged down in currently.

Madison wasn’t convinced initially. He called specifying rights a “parchment barrier”. A Bill of Rights is just dried ink on paper. Despots worry about controlling the military and confiscating private guns rather than words on paper. Madison, a federalist who believed that a strong central government was a good thing, thought our rights were better preserved by giving Congress an unlimited veto over state laws and creating a council made up of the executive and judicial branches whose sole job was to veto federal laws.

It’s interesting that Madison wanted a strong emphasis on vetoing laws that encroached on rights and freedoms. Madison wanted to simplify the government. Today, we pile on laws pretending to protect rights and freedoms. We complicate matters.

Eventually, Madison came to favor a Bill of Rights, not because he thought they would stop a future dictator, but because he believed that breaking the paper barrier might rally revolution against a future oppressive government.

The 9th amendment is an overlooked amendment these days. Most Americans can’t cite it, but it may be more important than the 1st or 2nd amendments because it preserves all of our rights not cited in the Constitution.

Some people want to believe the 9th amendment allows us to make up rights as we go along. They will point to the 9th and proclaim a right to health insurance, a right to a standard of living or the right to a government-provided retirement plan. Natural rights limit what government can do. They do not burden people with things they must do. By forcing working individuals to support people who are exercising privileges (not rights), we are assaulting the liberty found in natural rights. By insisting that healthy individuals participate in health insurance not only for themselves but for less-healthy individuals who are subsidized so they can afford the insurance, we are assaulting liberty.

Rights Not Listed   Leave a comment

In looking at the Bill of Rights and the risks to it by a convention of the states, I’ve reached the 9th amendment, which essentially says “if we forgot any rights you can think of, those exist too.”

Our Founders were wise men who had given a great deal of thought to the subject of liberty and natural rights. Most of them recognized that government was always a risk to the liberty of the individual and most of them believed passionately in the liberty of the individual. Individual citizens had formed the state governments which were now forming the federal government. The Constitution was being written to put restrictions on the government, not the people. Some of the Founders (we call them the anti-federalists) were concerned that people might get the wrong impression and think that government was granting us our rights when in reality, the Constitution was acknowledging our pre-existing rights and saying the government should keep its hands off the sovereignty of the people. It should be noted the “federalists” agreed with this. That’s why the 9th amendment was forwarded to the states for ratification.

The 9th amendment’s purpose was to restrict government power by recognizing the people’s sovereignty. The Founders recognized that they could miss something important in being too close to the subject for too long, so they put the 9th amendment in to assure that the government wouldn’t get the idea that the people only had the rights enumerated. The people held all the power, they were just delegating some of it to the government to get things done, not to tyrannize the people. This did not mean government gave us our rights. We also didn’t give any up when we agreed to form the government.

There’s never been a serious direct attempt to repeal the 9th, but let’s face it, the federal government increasingly acts like it has been repealed. So … you get it …

Let’s have the conversation and provide this generation with ownership of our rights  and our constitution in the hopes that we will encourage the citizens of the United States to put the federal government back in the box it was originally framed in so that we can get back to living in liberty. We have become so afraid that “they” will make changes to our most precious rights that we have forgotten that the Constitution doesn’t protect our rights. It merely acknowledges them. We have to protect our own rights … by exercising them.

Article V is one way we exercise our rights.

2nd Amendment Does Not Protect Guns   1 comment

In looking at the risk to the 2nd Amendment from a convention of the states, I had to admit that there are some risks already aimed at our right to bear arms. Our liberty in this area is at risk without the Constitution even being touched.

The Constitution of the United States acknowledges pre-existing liberties that are founded on something greater than the Constitution. It doesn’t grant us these liberties. It was meant to protect those liberties. And, it’s not working anymore in that capacity.

Congress may not make any laws that restrict our right to bear arms, but by clever use of terms, it has allowed states to restrict those rights for more than half a century. That trend appeared to be on the reverse with Supreme Court cases like Heller in recent years, but there are vocal advocates for a constitutional amendment to repeal and replace the 2nd amendment.

And I don’t necessarily oppose such an effort. Let them propose an amendment to repeal the 2nd amendment. Do we seriously believe that 75 separate state legislative bodies are going to vote to ratify it? And, if they do … that doesn’t take away our RIGHT to bear arms. Whatever a court or legislative body may decide, RIGHTS cannot be taken away because rights are inherent in your existence as a human being. Decisions by lesser bodies like Congress, the Supreme Court or even 75 state legislative bodies does not amend your RIGHT to bear arms. Such decisions should merely serve to convince us that it is necessary to exercise our rights – all of them, including the right to bear arms.

The Constitution is a foundational document to our republic, but it does not establish our liberties. It merely acknowledges them. Furthermore, the Constitution is not a sacred text. It was meant to be amended because our Founders recognized that it was man-made law of a self-governing people. Attempts to amend the Constitution in Congress used to happen all the time. Most such efforts failed because the state legislatures didn’t agree with Congress.

Why do we think this would be any different?

A Third Way   Leave a comment

Election cycle after election cycle has produced growing tyranny. At the same time, polls show that the American people are highly (60-75%) dissatisfied with the current government and feel there is never any progress toward resolving the real issues of the country no matter which party is in control. When the Republicans were in the majority of all three branches of government, tyrannical regulations continued to grow and so did spending. When the Democrats were in the majority of all three branches of government, tyrannical regulations continued to grow and spending increased even faster than under the Republicans. Now that we have divided government, tyrannical regulations continue to grow, spending has stabilized, but the problems are mainly being kicked down the road. Solutions are addressed in one chamber to be ignored by the other and if it gets passed the Senate, the President will veto it. If he doesn’t and it becomes law, the administrative state will bury any solution that moves toward self-government deep, deep in a vault never to be seen again.

States have good ideas, but the federal government ignores the states or threatens them with draconian action if they “get out of line”. The solution when the ballot box doesn’t work is … some would say revolution, but revolutions are bloody and result in graveyards and involve completely setting aside the existing form of government. I like the government our Founders designed. I’d like to pull it out of the swamp it’s been buried in and wipe the muck off, see if it might actually work in the 21st century if given a chance. If only our Ruling Class would allow that …
Our Constitution provides the means to peacefully correct the current mess, but Congress as currently arranged is not going to pass the REINS Act (requiring a thorough Congressional review and up-down vote on all federal regulations) or constitutional amendments requiring term limits, balanced federal budgets, repeal of the 16th Amendment (personal income tax), and the17th Amendment (direct election of Senators) and restructuring (or repeal/replace) of the 14th Amendment (where it interferes with the 10th Amendment). If Congress won’t act to send amendments to the states for ratification, then the Constitution provides an alternative means to avoid armed revolution. An amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (uh, yeah, not going to happen) or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.

I was taught in political science classes that an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is a scary thing that never turns out well. It’s never happened in the United States, unless you count the convention that replaced the Articles of Confederation with the U.S. Constitution. That history gives us a reason to be nervous of such a gathering, but the question we need to ask ourselves is:

Should we fear that gathering more than we fear the unchecked growth of governmental tyranny?

My professors, who were almost all on the moderate left, feared a conservative uprising to create a permanent ban on all abortions, relegating women to barefoot pregnant culinary servitude, imposing a theocracy, and making Ronald Reagan President for life. Today, I’m sure they worry about conservatives doing many of the same things. But let’s be honest. Those on the right fear what a liberal uprising might do on such issues, including making Barack Obama President for life, and the very real risks to the First Amendment protections for political speech, the 2nd Amendment, the 4th Amendment and 10th Amendment. Heck, I worry about the potential effect on the entire Bill of Rights. There are those who believe that the dangers of a runaway convention are so severe that we cannot risk ruining our Constitution by even allowing such a convention to take place.

For a long time, I agreed. Now, I’m not so certain. I haven’t drank any koolaid yet, but I’m re-evaluating my position, because:

  • · The federal government has grown far beyond its constitutionally imposed limitations.
  • · All branches of the government have participated
  • · Each exercises unprecedented control over the lives of the citizens.
  • · The “administrative state” acts as a fourth, extra-constitutional branch of government that falls outside of the normal checks-and-balances of the federal structure.

The federal kraken has grown into a leviathan that we may not be able to tame without an Article V amending convention.  We have three choices – continue with growing tyranny, explode into a revolution, or take an intermediate step that may seem radical, but might avoid bloodshed.

In Federalist No. 48, James Madison wrote: “The conclusion which I am warranted in drawing from these observations is that a mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits of the several departments is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands.”

Madison was prescient.  Even the mighty Constitution itself has not been enough to restrain against the encroachments of a tyrannical concentration of federal government power.  Perhaps it is time the citizens rise up, through a Convention of the States and restrain the federal kraken again.

I don’t write that without trepidation. I’m a federalist, so I tend to trust the states far more than I do the federal government, but the America of the 21st century is not the America of the 18th. There are risks inherent in such a gathering. California and Texas have radically different ideas of what the country should look like. However ….

The Founders made this mechanism available in the Constitution itself to avoid another blood-soaked armed revolution. I imagine they recognized it as necessary since all of them were violating the Articles of Confederation which did not include any sort of mechanism for admendment. Imagine, learning from your mistakes? Back to the subject. Thirty-eight states must ratify any amendment. Take a look at the red-blue map and look at the states so represented. I couldn’t find 38 states that could form a radical left or right bloc. I did count 38 states that might be in favor of stuffing the federal kraken back in the cage from which it has slithered.

Remember, the US Constitution was written to encourage gridlock, to slow down the political process until broad general public consensus was reached. Nothing can come out of a constitutional convention and be ratified by so many states unless the public in general wants it. And that’s the point!

Each state’s legislature would need to weigh carefully the delegates to this convention and give them specific instructions on what they may and may not meddle with. Alaska is unlikely to send delegates who oppose the First Amendment protections on speech, the Second Amendment protections on fire arms, the protections on fair trial, privacy, or states’ rights. I think we might be surprised at how California and New Jersey feel about states’ rights once they realize that the power to infringe upon their rights is also part and parcel with the power to infringe upon the rights of others states. The body of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are probably safe from being heavily meddled with by 38 states – well, actually 75 of the 99 legislative bodies in the 50 states. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, by the way. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be debate at the convention on the Bill of Rights. I just can’t see 75 legislative bodies agreeing to ratify substantial changes, even on the 2nd amendment and most especially on the 10th. If anything, I think they’d want to make that one clearer.

The following 17 amendments may be a different matter. They should be a different matter because many of them were ill-conceived, enacted with era-specific agendas, resulting in unintended negative consequences that may, in some instances, outweigh the positive benefits. No, I’m not saying these amendments should all be repealed. I’m saying they want examination and reform as needed and, if Congress won’t do it, then the state legislatures must.

State legislatures would need to carefully weigh how their authority would be wielded by their delegates at the convention. Choosing delegates would be instructive in itself. Following the convention, just as in 1789, the amendments would have to go to each legislature, most of whom must weigh their decisions based on the voter sentiment in their own state. Thirty eight states (75 separate legislative bodies) would need to agree to them for them to change our constitution. There would no doubt be some version of the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers floating around during the ratification process. Some states might put it to a direct vote of the people. Others would probably create ratification committees. Again, the debates triggered would go a long way toward educating the public on the Constitution and perhaps giving us ownership of it. In 1787, the whole Bill of Rights was put up as a package, but that needn’t be the process for whatever a convention came up with in, say 2015. More than likely, it would be a line-item ratification just as congressionally-generated amendments have been. Though it’s not without risk, what better example of states rights and self-government do we need in the 21st century?

The alternative is we wait for the situation to become so bad that Americans take up arms against Americans. Oh, yeah, we did that once before. Southerners started shooting at Northerners, the President declared war and, after four years of bloodshed, the “winner” forced the loser to cede states’ rights in favor of an imperial administration. The country has been on a liberty-damaging trajectory ever since.

What if we had called a constitutional convention in 1860 and resolved the slavery question through compromise and negotiation instead of bloodshed and tyrannical reconstruction? Which do we prefer?

New Communities without Representation   Leave a comment

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

The British government feared that the popular assemblies of the colonies were growing too large and powerful as new communities were formed and additional representatives were elected to the assemblies of the colonies. New Hampshire, South Carolina, and New York passed laws allowing for the establishment of new communities with elected representatives to their respective popular assemblies, all of which were disallowed by King George. Virginia was also constrained by the same policy. The colonists insisted that representation in their assemblies was their right, because government must be by consent of the governed. The British maintained that representation was a privilege granted by the King.

If you live in a small-population state like Alaska, Wyoming or North Dakota, you are well aware that your representation in Congress is worth pretty much nothing. The only reason Alaska got anything from DC for the last 30 years was that our Congressional delegation had a lot of seniority. I’m not saying revenue-sharing is right. I’m just saying that small-population states get shafted when it comes to revenue-sharing because the lack of representation. New York and California have all the votes. That wasn’t a problem back in the days when the federal government was funded off tariffs and most taxes never went further than the state capitol, because states took care of their own needs, but now, most states can’t tax their citizens for in-state services because those who pay taxes pay so much to the federal government that they just say no to state taxes. So states require revenue sharing. But if you’re a small-population state, Congress shafts you because you’ve got no power in Congress and ….

Similarly, lower population states overwhelmingly voted against Barack Obama for President, both times, yet here he is — president. Why? Because New York, California, etc., have the votes in the Electoral College, so low population states get shafted in terms of representation at the national level.

This is also a (somewhat smaller) problem in Congress because if you live in a largely rural state with a single large city, you will end up with a single representative who is representative of the city and not the rest of the state.

Have we reached tyranny yet?

Royal Lawlessness   1 comment

George III King of Great Britain Ireland until 1800 King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and...He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

George III (George William Frederick; June 4 1738 – January 29 1820) was King of Great Britain from October 25, 1760 until his death. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two Hanoverian predecessors he was born in Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover, which was in Germany.

His life and reign, which were longer than those of any previous British monarch, were marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdoms, much of the rest of Europe, and places farther afield in Africa, the Americas and Asia. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years’ War, becoming the dominant European power in North America and India. However, many of its American colonies were soon lost in the American Revolutionary War. Further wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France from 1793 concluded in the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

In the later part of his life, George III suffered from recurrent, and eventually permanent, mental illness. Medical practitioners were baffled by this at the time, although it has since been suggested that he suffered from the blood disease porphyria. After a final relapse in 1810, a regency was established, and George III’s eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, ruled as Prince Regent. On George III’s death, the Prince Regent succeeded his father as George IV.

Several of the colonies had been obliged from their establishment to submit their laws to the King for his approval. This power, the Declaration implies, was never consistent with the fundamental principle of just government: consent. By adding “laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,” Jefferson indicates that the laws that were vetoed were intended to accomplish the fundamental purpose of government stated in the preamble, “to secure these rights.” One important example of this charge was King George’s refusal to comply with various attempts by the colonies to abolish the slave trade, as Jefferson explicitly stated in his original draft of the declaration (I posted it earlier). The King, wishing to protect this profitable British trade, defeated all attempts by the colonies to curtail or abolish it.

Colonial governors or chief executives within each colony were required to suspend certain kinds of laws passed by the colonial assemblies until the King should give his assent to them. Sometimes these laws would be neglected by the King for years. Jefferson wrote in his “Summary View of the Rights of British America” (1774):

“With equal inattention to the necessities of his people here has his majesty permitted our laws to lie neglected in England for years, neither confirming them by his assent, nor annulling them by his negative.”

Remember, I said I’d get into the discussion of modern government. Well, this is where the rubber hits the road. If you live in a border state, how important is it to control illegal immigration? Yet, the federal government under both the Bush administration and the Obama administration have done nothing. When Arizona tried to do something themselves, the Obama administration took them to court to make them stop.

Yes, it is one of the few federal duties to protect our borders, but when the federal government refuses to do it, officials are playing King George to the colonies.

Remember, all governments result in a certain amount of necessary evil. As we go through this list, ask yourselves — are we there yet? Is everything hunky-dory and Americans are just complaining or does the federal government require major reform or — well, it is the Declaration of Independence that we’re talking about, after all.

What the King Did   Leave a comment

–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Now Thomas Jefferson was going to list the abuses of King George. I’m going to go through them and show how they correlate with today’s governmental abuses against We the People.

Note that Jefferson asserted that King George wanted to establish an absolute tyranny in the Americas. That sounds like hyperbole to our ears. England was thousands of miles away. This is how that statement would have been received in England had the Founders not listed the following inventory of actual abuses.

Fortunately, this list serves to give us a measuring stick for the usurpations of our modern government.

Rebellion Not Lightly Taken   1 comment

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. 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.

(Original draft of the Declaration – prudence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light & 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. but when a long train of abuses & usurpations, begun at a distinguished period, & pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject them to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government & to provide new guards for their future security.)

The colonies had existed under the English system from their inception. They had put up with a lot. The Pilgrims had been abused by their own countrymen for exercising their religious beliefs. Their liberty was curtailed and so they left. But even in leaving, they maintained ties with the English crown and considered themselves subject to it. Many other American colonies were created for similar reasons. The Americas had seen their own liberty lost during the French and Indian War (which was really a larger war between the English and the French that came to our shores because England violated a territorial agreement with the French in Canada), being forced to accept incompetent British control of their militias which resulted in high casualty rates, unable to protect their own communities because they were away from home, crops rotting in the fields, etc. They had remained faithful, if argumentative, subjects.

Prudence (we might say practicality) said you didn’t change a well-established government so long as its necessary evils were tolerable. Distance from England had made its rule tolerable for over a century, but then England had decided that it needed the Americans to pay for the French and Indian War and that required governors who were active and abusive and rapacious. A long train of abuses and usurpations followed with the goal of forcing the colonies to submit to arbitrary rule without representation in Parliament.

Jefferson now asserted that it was their right (yes, liberty is a right), but also their duty (an obligation) to toss aside this abusive government and provide new protections for the future security of their rights. The Founders knew war would result and war never brings security to anyone, but the war would eventually end and the new government would have a chance to provide a new system to guard the rights of humans.

In summary, we shouldn’t rebel lightly. The American Founders were not inherently a revolutionary generation. They wanted liberty, but if there had been a way to do it without conducting a civil war against England, they would have. They had spent over a decade trying to avoid this moment and the moment was upon them, not because they wanted it, but because the crown had refused to stop abusing the rights of the colonists and the colonists had reached a point where the abuses had become intolerable. They had sought to reform their relationship with the British, but now they were left only with secession.

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