Archive for the ‘#politicalphilosophy’ Tag

Divvying Up the Political Pie   2 comments

There’s a battle coming over America’s political pie with the potential for creating a peaceful revolution that could conceivably return American society back to its liberty roots. I’m all for PEACEFUL (noncoercive) revolution. By 2050, I suspect some major changes in how our political pie is divvied up that might have profound effects on our freedom.

This 2015 chart shows us the political pie.

  • Social Security is 24% of that pie.
  • Healthcare (Medicare/Medicaid/ACA-AHCA/etc.) is 23%.
  • Defense Development (the military & intelligence agencies) is 20%.
  • Non-Defense Discretionary is 18%.
  • Other Mandatory Spending is 13%.
  • Net Interest is 6%.

Sometimes when we look at a pie chart like this, we think of it as static, but that’s not the case with the US budget. Social Security and Healthcare are going to expand for the next 25 years. Every day, 10,000 people go on Medicare. Medicare costs the government over $1,000 a month for each person enrolled. The inflow of eligible recipients is not going to stop for the next 25 years.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Baby Boom?

People in the 50s and early 60s bred like bunnies and those children are now getting older. Those born in the early part of that demographic bulge are already drawing on the system. The rest of us are following behind. As the right side of the chart grows, other slices of the pie must shrink. You see that category: Non-defense Discretionary? It was 16% in 2015, but it’s probably closer to 14% today. That $585 billion is all the available loot for Washington DC to fight over. The rest of the budget is already obligated. Politics cannot change the rest of the budget. Politics today, in terms of federal spending, is now down to under 14% of the budget, and it is probably heading toward 10% by 2022, regardless of who is president after 2020.

Sometime before the 20’s are over, there will be no more discretionary slice of the budgetary pie. You think Congress is dysfunctional now, just wait. There will be blood in the aisles and K-Street lobbyists jumping off the Washington Monument when political voting blocs that thought the size of their slice was guaranteed will find that it isn’t.

This outcome of battle is going to change the nature of civil government in the United States. A series of battles that parallel ours will take place in Western Europe, where it all began in the 1880’s when Bismarck introduced the welfare state.

Liberty in the West has been under relentless assault for at least a century by the expansion of the administrative state, which has extended the power of central governments into every nook and cranny of European and American life. Bureaucracies have created administrative law courts that have been substituted for civil courts all over the West, providing their own judges and acting as their own juries. They execute the laws that they have interpreted autonomously. This process is well developed, and appears to be irresistible. It is the overturning of the Western legal tradition. The process is relentless and unaffected by politics. It is protected in the United States by Civil Service rules. All over the West, comparable protections exist. Tenured, these people cannot be fired and their word is the law. Here in the United States, the system is manifested in the Federal Register, which publishes over 80,000 pages of fine-print regulations every year.

What stops that? Nothing, except probably budget cuts. There are a lot of schemes offered, but really, nothing else offers any hope.

I’m not suggesting defunding the federal government. I’ve stopped believing it is politically possible. What I’m talking about is default. Washington at some point in the near-future is not going to be able to pay its bills. The unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security will eventually force the bankruptcy of the federal government. The magnitude of these liabilities has been discussed by Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff in his testimony to the Senate Budget Committee in 2015. The only way to stop it will be to cut off Granny.

Reading this, my husband is thinking “Please don’t cut off my mother’s benefits. She’ll have to come live with us and that didn’t work out well in the past.” So, he’s going to vote against cutting off Granny, but Granny is also part of the best organized voting bloc in the United States. The senior citizen vote is unstoppable … as unstoppable as administrative law … and it’s a growing demographic.

I am supposed to retire in 2028, so I know what they’re thinking.

I’ve worked hard all my life to pay those stupid payroll taxes so that my inlaws and brother can live a decent life in retirement and now that I’m reaching retirement age, you’re not going to cut me off of what I bought and paid for.

It’s possible I’m off by a few years one way or another, but sooner or later, the entire budget will become nondiscretionary. Whenever it does, the political battles over who gets the loot will escalate into a bureaucratic war over funding. The gloves will come off the iron fists as the federal government hurtles toward a collision between these two unstoppable forces. One of them is going to prove to be unstoppable. The other one is not only going to be stopped, it is going to be reversed. Let me suggest that the senior citizens are more unstoppable than the administrative state because the senior citizens have family and friends.

“Who gets the loot when 100% of the federal budget is nondiscretionary?”

That central political question will begin around 2025 as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid continue to absorb the lion’s share of the federal budget. We’re discussing a statistically inevitability. The Great Default won’t begin with a cutback of checks going to old people. That’s too politically risky. Instead, it will begin with cutbacks to the Pentagon and the administrative state. The Pentagon and the administrative state haven’t organized voting blocs comparable to AARP and the Gray Panthers. The Granny Demographic is going to get an increasing share of the federal pie.

The politicians will respond to the electorate, which means they will be forced to cut funding to the regulatory agencies if they are going to expand the funding of Medicare and Medicaid, which they have to do if they want to maintain power. When money gets re-directed to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, it will have to be redirected from existing executive bureaucracies that make up the administrative state.

I hate the welfare state because I think it enslaves people to the government and strips them, knowingly or not, of dignity and value. So, it’s odd to say this, but the expansion of the federal welfare state offers a great mid-term hope for American liberty. The expansion of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is politically and actuarially unstoppable. Politicians are going to have to put everything else in the budget on the chopping block .. including the Pentagon and the administrative state, which includes.

Politics has always been about divvying up the loot. America has gotten away with having a lot of sacred cows and third rails for many decades because we were a prosperous nation with vast national resources that could innovate itself out of our own stupidity, but that era has passed and, at least for the next 25 years, we’re going to see increasing government debt and fights over divvying up the pie. It won’t be politically conceivable for the federal government to default on the debt in the next two decades (you’ll have to wait for the Baby Boomers to pass and then my kids will probably gladly be ready to shed that monkey), but a lot of sacred cows are going to get slaughtered before 2030 arrives and they will continue to be slaughtered all through the 30’s.

The administrative state, the great enemy of Western civilization, is going to be cut back as a result of the unstoppable expansion of welfare spending on the senior citizen voting bloc. Hooray for the early Baby Boomers. They are going to get their grasping hands on a growing percentage of the federal budget and loot my future. Hey, somebody is going to loot the Treasury; it might as well be my brother’s half of the demographic bulge. I’d rather he gets it than let the administrative state and the Pentagon loot it.

Nondiscretionary spending will be a political battlefield by 2025. At least initially, it will be a three-way battle. The Pentagon, the administrative state, and the senior citizens are going to appeal to the public for a greater share of the pie.

The voters, particularly at the conservative end of the wading pool, are generally gung-ho for the Pentagon. The general public does not understand the administrative state. It will be difficult for the various bureaucracies to make an effective appeal to voting blocs. Their own voting blocs are too small. Federal employees could vote as a bloc and still not move the needle. Special interest groups for particular kinds of regulations have a narrow effect compared to fear of Mohammed and sweet little Granny. It is easy to make fun of bureaucrats in general, but nobody wants another 9-11 and we’d all be loath to be accused of shoving Granny off the cliff. So, Granny and GI Joe win the propaganda battles. Conservatives will back the Pentagon while the Democrats will (probably) back the administrative state. One or the other will surrender a portion of its budget to the other, but both are going to lose out to Granny.

Which brings us back to Brad’s reaction to this article. When push comes to shove, the voters would rather see the money go to their parents than to the Pentagon. In a crisis, the voters would rather see their parents move in with them while still receiving federal checks rather than not receiving them.

Ronald Reagan warned us almost 40 years ago that Social Security would be bankrupt by 2025 and there would be a political clash between the generations: retirees vs. workers. His prophesy still stands: that day will come. But before it does, there will be a grand political alliance between working-age adults and their retired parents. Now, that’s an unstoppable alliance. Voters will become willing to cut back money that goes to the American Empire by way of the Pentagon if that is what it takes to keep the money flowing to senior citizens. There will be political agreement among the generations, so military budget will be cut, followed not long after by reduced funding to the bureaucrats who regulate and strangle the American economy.

The fundamental political questions that lie ahead of us are fiscal. Monetary reality is going to lead to political battles, but at some point, the federal government won’t be able to support Granny. Having already decimated the Pentagon and the administrative state, the federal welfare state will also implode.

We might have a decade or two to find ways to adapt during the transition period, but only if we start talking about it now. This won’t start with the progressive Democrats because they are too invested in the administrative state and lack a faith community to turn too, but the conservative movement and Christian churches should begin to sort out the issues of centralism versus decentralization. The US Constitution has proved remarkable durable, but eventually it will lead to dividing up the loot in Washington, ignoring and subjugating local governments and making individuals reliant upon government promises that it could not keep — exactly the centralization train wreck the anti-Federalists predicted in 1787.

I think we are going to have a decade in which the issue of decentralization will be one of the crucial political issues in America. When Washington’s checks bounce, because the money is going to Granny, America’s academics, intellectuals, social theorists, website editors, and the handful of pastors who speak to the wide breadth of the Christian churches  will have to deal with the fiscal and political reality that nobody is talking about today.

This is the grand opportunity today. It is time for serious thinkers to begin thinking seriously about a world in which the non-discretionary budgets of all national governments in the West must be re-allocated to meet the growing demands of the retired senior citizens. The outcome of this budgeting process and the re-thinking of this process will re-shape society around the world between 2050 and 2100.

Posted August 22, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in economics, Uncategorized

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Enemy of the People   1 comment

The Left is very worried about what Donald Trump is going to do to American Democracy. Mark Shields of PBS worries that Trump is going to cause a constitutional crisis.

Image result for image of donald trumpMaybe it has something to do with not voting for either Trump or Clinton, but I don’t care. Really! Yes, I wince every few days over something Trump tweets, but by and large, I don’t see him as more of a danger to American “democracy” than the last several presidents. But there are some people who really, really are convinced of this.

Consider Scott Hamann’s anti-Trump rant, which reveals not only his own beliefs and feelings but also those of many other people. A lot of people agree with him, judging from the steady stream of similar kinds of extreme and outrageous remarks that have been made public. Many of them are divorced from reality.

Speaking of divorced from reality, California Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi said President Trump was “turning his back on children and dishonoring God for withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.”  (Here.)

Pelosi’s criticism of Trump has been unrelenting for months now. She recently said “…Republicans in Congress have become enablers of the Trump-Russia assault on our democracy…We have suffered a desecration of our democracy not seen since Watergate. Similarly, Hamann leads off with “Trump was installed by the Russians, because they wanted to undermine American democracy…”

Seriously?

News flash for Nancy and Scott and whoever else subscribes to this alarmism — no matter what labels we attach to the national government of America, that government has been sliding steadily downhill for a long, long time. It is and has been entirely incompetent for a long time. Its domestic and overseas intrusions are abominable and pervasive to the point of evil. The government in its vast ignorance and hubris keeps raising the risks of nuclear war and World War 3. The government’s meddling serves only narrow business interests, oligarchs, bureaucrats, power-hungry psychopaths, busybodies and opportunists. Its interventions corrupt the people, dumb us down, and make us helpless, dependent, mindless and lazy. Whatever progress has been made by the American people has been in spite of the bad actions of our “democratic” government.

Americans should undermine our “democracy”. It needs a strong dose of desecration because it has taken on an entirely undeserved role as a sacred institution. The next marches on Washington should be to downsize the government drastically, to end rules and regulations, to cut out bureaus, to end programs, to lay off bureaucrats, and to eliminate whole departments. The New Deal and the subsequent growth of government built upon it were and remain extremely harmful to Americans and ought to be repudiated. The country needs to engage in a vastly different kind of restructuring of ideas and government. The alternative is decline and eventual loss of what we claim we want to preserve.

Trump is no machete against the elitist structure of Washington DC. At best, he’s wielding a penknife against selected parts of the overall jungle that is the federal government. What we really need is a fleet of chainsaws. Truthfully, Trump is fertilizing and watering some of the most egregious parts of the tyranny garden. The vocal extreme protests against him from Left and Right measure the depths to which a large portion of the population has sunk as its “democracy” has deteriorated into an unholy mess of corruption reaching into every state, county, city, town, village and hamlet. There is no one and no place that the workings of “the people” and “their democracy” have not corrupted. There is no redemption from this evil except return to basic principles of self-governance that have been rejected in the pursuit of mistaken ideas of societal perfection.

Schaeffer Cox Appeal Hearing   Leave a comment

I am glad that a defense attorney finally went after the central issue here … how can someone be found guilty of plotting to kill fictitious people? If that’s really against the law, there are a lot of novelists who should be serving time in prison.

Schaffer was guilty of being a loud-mouth with a big imagination who failed to recognize a new “friend” was an FBI informant who was inserting outrageous scenarios into every conversation so he could record over 200 hours of conversations in order to cherry-pick a few sections that made him look like he wanted to commit murder when he didn’t.

Come, Let Us Talk and Listen   Leave a comment

I really strongly believe in the right of every human being to state their opinions without fear of retaliation by government or individuals. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed in that belief. Shouting “fire” in a theater is not an opinion. It’s an incitement to panic. Calling people names has more nuance. If you call someone a derogatory term from 30 feet away, they are responsible to control themselves. If your face is in there and you have a club, they might seek to defend themselves.

Related imageSo neo-Nazi thugs in Charlottsville, Virginia decided to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue by marching in the streets calling “Jews will not replace us.”

I actually mildly oppose the statue removal because I feel like it’s an attempt to scrub history and that doesn’t set well with me, but I have a better idea for our alt-right folks … buy the statue, buy a plot of land, put the statue on the land and stop screaming about it. Really, you could probably do a Kickstarter program and find folks who would fund it for you, but you could also just pass a hood around at the next KKK gathering.

 

These young people clashing in a town with a university founded by Thomas Jefferson imagine that they can change others by marching, waving flags and shouting slogans. It’s not just the alt-right who believe that, but the counter-protesters who are clashing with them also believe it. Please note, folks, that people rarely change their minds about people they oppose when the opposition is driving a boot into their ribs. And, both sides have done that this weekend. There is no good side on this. There’s just violence and aggression.

Many of the young men and women in the alt-right movement come from good homes and, under normal circumstances, would never hurt anyone, but they are a marginalized group that hangs around with others who are similarly marginalized and pretty soon the rhetoric they use to sooth their social pain starts to make sense and it seems reasonable to do the things they do, especially since they see groups like Black Lives Matter get away with smashing shop windows, burning cars and beating Trump supporters. History teaches that no idea is too insane to be off-limits to a group that perceives itself to be powerless through ordinary means of ruling. The means justify the ends

 

But know that the forces arrayed against them also have an intolerant ideology that would seek to subjugate these young men and women and silence anyone who expresses any opinion they deem “incorrect”. They also justify their violence and coercion in the name of “tolerance”, which is pretty ironic because they’re not at all tolerant of diversity of opinion. This burgeoning leftist movement seeks to counter the emerging alt-Right movement by demanding the government crack down further on human rights and freedoms. It’s really a perfect storm for totalitarianism and sort of reminds me of when Hilter stood before the burned-out hulk of the Reichstad and insisted he needed total power to protect Germany from their enemies.

 

What do we who are not caught up in the rhetoric and violence do now? The answer lies in the source of the problem. The huge mess began with bad ideas — bad thinking created by marginalization by a societal elite who doesn’t want to hear any opinions it didn’t approve. The answer to bad ideas is better ideas. We all need to throw ourselves into the intellectual battle as never before.

What are those good ideas?

You’ll find it in the historical progress of the last 500 years. You’ll find there a lot of books and speeches about social harmony, human rights, the aspiration of universal dignity, the conviction that we can work together in mutual advantage, the market economy as a means of peace and prosperity, and, above all else, the beauty and magnificence of the idea of liberty itself.

It’s time to rededicate ourselves to the mission of educating people to understand the left/right cycle is a violent trap that we can escape from if we will embrace liberty and the right of everyone to hold an opinion, even when it is wrong, without fear of physical assault and coercion.

Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story | Daniel J. Mitchell   Leave a comment

Every so often, I run across a chart, cartoon, or story that captures the essence of an issue. And when that happens, I make it part of my “everything you need to know” series.

 

 

Source: Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story | Daniel J. Mitchell

I don’t actually think those columns tell us everything we need to know, of course, but they do show something very important. At least I hope.

And now, from our (normally) semi-rational northern neighbor, I have a new example.

This story from Toronto truly is a powerful example of the difference between government action and private action.

A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. 
Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. …Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year.

There are actually two profound lessons to learn from this story.

Since I’m a fiscal wonk, the part that grabbed my attention was the $550 cost of private action compared to $65,000 for government. Or maybe $150,000. Heck, probably more considering government cost overruns.

Though we’re not actually talking about government action. God only knows how long it would have taken the bureaucracy to complete this task. So this is a story of inexpensive private action vs. costly government inaction.

But there’s another part of this story that also caught my eye. The bureaucracy is responding with spite.

The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards…City bylaw officers have taped off the stairs while officials make a decision on what to do with it. …Mayor John Tory…says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves. …“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”

But there is a silver lining. With infinite mercy, the government isn’t going to throw Mr. Astl in jail or make him pay a fine. At least not yet.

Astl has not been charged with any sort of violation.

Gee, how nice and thoughtful.

One woman has drawn the appropriate conclusion from this episode.

Area resident Dana Beamon told CTV Toronto she’s happy to have the stairs there, whether or not they are up to city standards. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” she said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”

Which is the lesson I think everybody should take away. Private initiative works much faster and much cheaper than government.

P.S. Let’s also call this an example of super-federalism, or super-decentralization. Imagine how expensive it would have been for the national government in Ottawa to build the stairs? Or how long it would have taken? Probably millions of dollars and a couple of years.

Now imagine how costly and time-consuming it would have been if the Ontario provincial government was in charge? Perhaps not as bad, but still very expensive and time-consuming.

And we already know the cost (and inaction) of the city government. Reminds me of the $1 million bus stop in Arlington, VA.

But when actual users of the park take responsibility (both in terms of action and money), the stairs were built quickly and efficiently.

In other words, let’s have decentralization. But the most radical federalism is when private action replaces government.

 Reprinted from International Liberty

Editors Note: Since this article was originally published, the local government tore down Astl’s $500 stairs, citing “safety standards,” and plans to replace it with a $10,000 set.

One Toe over the Line   Leave a comment

I’ve never really been into plays featuring political satire, but I used to be a fan of late-night comedians who poked fun at politicians and politics in general.

I don’t watch many these days. It’s just too vicious and not very funny anymore. Johnny Carson poked fun at every president, regardless of party. Jimmy Kimmel, not so much.

I am a fan of Shakespeare, however, and would love to see Julius Caesar acted live … well, except maybe not the version put on by The Public Theater for this year’s lineup of Shakespeare in the Park. In the modern retelling of the play, the theater group chose to create a clear reference to President Donald Trump as the protagonist. Some friends who live in New York saw that performance and were so shocked by the reference they left the performance.

Image result for kathy gifford trump head“I will not condone any group suggesting that we kill a sitting president,” Dorothy wrote. “I don’t support President Trump, but I won’t support treason either. Of course, they have the right to do what they want … say what they want … but I don’t have to condone it by sitting through their performance.” Dorothy and her husband, long-time devotees of theater, have decided to boycott The Public Theater, not just for this season, but for all future performances.

I’m 99% certain that Dorothy and Gene did not vote for Donald Trump. They both campaigned for Barack Obama on his first outing. I’m not sure about Dorothy, but Gene is a lifelong Democrat who ended his party affiliation when Barack Obama ran for a second term after what Gene, an accountant, thought was an economically appalling first term. He tells me he wrote-in Rand Paul on the 2016 Presidential ballot, which surprised me to no end. The man is in his 70s, changing his electoral preferences because our current system is that broken.

If this play took place in Caesar’s day, it’s likely the members of the theater group would not have lived to hear their reviews. In the weird modern-day world, the New York Times defended the play vigorously, though other media outlets have been more mixed in their response. This is part of the reason I believe we’ve reached a point, both domestically and internationally, where violence has replaced civil discourse.

Certainly the United States is no longer a society of educated (not necessarily schooled) and interested citizens willing to listen to someone else’s viewpoint without retaliating against them in violence and open displays of hatred.

I’m not fan of Milo Yiannopoulos, but I objected to the violence and suppression he faced when he traveled to Berkeley College last year. Students who took issue with Yiannopoulos’ views sought to silence him by attacking the building he was supposed to speak at along with burning objects and hurling debris. Similar behavior occurred when Ann Coulter attempted to speak there, but it also has occurred on other campuses. and even off-campus venues. I”m thinking that wearing a Trump t-shirt outside of a Trump rally is a dangerous thing to do. Universities attempting to encourage discussion of diverse perspectives now look more like totalitarian states rather than places where public discourse is encouraged.

This frightening turn of events most likely will have grave political and social ramifications. This country was founded on the principles of free speech and protection of the right of everyone to speak their minds. Is speech really free when it is designed to silence others? When does free speech become dangerous to society? And, which is more dangerous — the alternative perspectives being silenced or the speech of those trying to do the silencing?

I remember that libel and defamation lawsuits were a big deal when I was a working journalist, but I guess people have given up on countering the outrageous claims of tabloids and inflammatory speech. It appears you can effectively say anything about anyone, public or private, on any platform as long as you don’t intend to act on anything you say and so long as you don’t make someone so mad they take aggressive action against you.

Image result for berkeley riots 2017 imagesBut, hey, Kathy Griffin discovered there are a few faded lines remaining after she posted a sickening photo of President Trump’s decapitated head in her hand. The media actually did chide her for going too far. Still, 50 years ago, that sort of display would have gotten some serious attention by the Secret Service. I suspect had Ann Coulter appeared with an image of Barack Obama’s head in a similar fashion, she would have spent some time in an orange jumpsuit.

The political climate existing today is veering dangerously toward force as a means of silencing opponents rather than a culture of engagement. In an effort to enshrine toleration, a pluralistic culture has decided that the only views that should be tolerated are its own, subject to change with every alteration of their collective opinion.

Frankly, it’s a mentality seen on both the left and the right, across the media, and among voters, although there are some Trump supporters who recently showed a great deal of class. Americans increasingly see government as the means to achieve their ends and have become willing to employ its power to force others to comply.

President Gerald Ford said, “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” but nobody seems to listen to him anymore.

Kathy Griffin’s photo was disagreeable. The Public Theater group’s substitution of a Trump-esque Caesar was disagreeable. Trump supporters who punch out their opposition are disagreeable. There was a time when college students used to riot over the administration refusing to allow a speaker on campus. Now, they employ reverse censorship by silencing others through civil unrest or through public displays of murder. Through these means, they exercise their ability to promote censorship of these individuals and their ideals. And that is incredibly disagreeable.

Aristotle once said, “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” We may be nearing despotism. When people produce public displays of ‘staged’ murder of any American citizen, we are all at risk. Anyone associating with that person has been given a message as to how they and their views are seen. 63 million people voted for Donald Trump. Surely, Kathy Griffin and The Public Theater company don’t want to see them dead too? Or do they?

This is the important question that bears asking. Leaders represent the views of the people who vote for them. We have a framework in this country for the peaceful transition of power and we have enshrined such civil rights as the right to peaceful protest and removal from office by vote. The founders knew there would be people of varying political sentiment living in America. Their design was not for open acts of violence to represent how opposing political viewpoints are viewed.

American and global civil discourse is at a crossroads. We can either accept that violence will rule how we interact with others both from behind the protection of our computer screens or openly in the public square or we can decide to rein in intolerance in the name of tolerance.

Once these types of acts become mainstream it is not long before societies devolve into chaos. Liberty-minded individuals know the power of civil public discourse and education. That is how we spread the ideals of freedom. We must start championing these values. We need to end the violence and hatred before a despot decides to end it for us.

The Social Contract   Leave a comment

The 7th in Joe’s series on Natural Rights. Lela

Source: The Social Contract

The Social Contract

[NOTE: This is the seventh in a series of posts intended to work out the principles of Natural Law. It builds off of the posts that have come before it.  If you have not already read The Natural Right to Contract, I strongly suggest that you do so before reading this post, as this post is a continuation of the former and everything that comes before it.  I also ask that you understand, while this is not technically a formal argument, neither is it a casual argument.  Thus, it is not necessarily the easiest thing to read, but then, this is because I am trying to explain some difficult concepts in a manner as easily understood as I know how.  I trust that you will bear with me.  In return, I will break the whole into smaller, more easily digested posts.]

Image result for image of social contractNow that we have established a definition for Natural Rights; learned how to extrapolate them from our primary Natural Right of free will; discovered that how we act toward each other regarding these rights creates universal morality; and discussed how our natural right to contract cannot be used to give up our Natural Rights or demand that others give up theirs; and discovered how willingly agreeing to do something for another can create a personal duty to the person with whom we contracted; now we have to deal with a reality of life – there will always be people who chose to violate the Natural Law governing individual Natural Rights.  This is why we create communities, States and Nations: so that we can help each other protect our individual Natural Rights and liberty from those who would otherwise trample them.  When we do so in accordance with Natural Law, the communities, States and Nations we form are created by an extension of our individual Natural Right to contract with each other.  Taken together, we call this the Social Contract.

The Social Contract is that agreement to which every individual belonging to a given community willingly agrees in order to benefit from a collective effort which can justly be aimed at serving only one purpose: the equal protection of the individual rights and liberty of every individual party to the contract.  Essentially, a person grants the community (i.e. government) the authority to exercise certain aspects of their free will on their behalf.  Instead of exercising the individual right of self-defense, by agreeing to the Social Contract, individuals agree to set up a cooperative system of laws, courts and associated enforcement systems.  It is from this willing agreement to limit our individual free will and to grant limited authority to exercise and protect it on our behalf that all just government derives and maintains its authority over a community.  Should the government abuse its authority, the individuals who created that government retain the authority to alter, replace or abolish it through the inalienable nature of the Natural Rights.

Now, a person need not agree to the terms of the Social Contract, but that individual needs to understand that, should they choose not to agree to it, they are not entitled to any of the benefits of the contract.  They are not entitled to the benefit of whatever courts that community creates; to the mutual protection of the police, fire fighting services or any other civil assistance; to any military defense the community may organize: they are not entitled to anything that community has promised to each other as a term of the Social Contract which formed and governs it because they are not Party to the contract.  That means they have no rights under it.  At the same time, every member who agrees to the Social Contract that forms and governs their community willingly creates a Natural Right for the rest of the community against which they can justly demand the individual comply with the terms to which they agreed.  Harkening back to our last post on the Natural Right to contract, we also see that the individual creates a duty for themselves toward every member of the community as an extension of their act of free will that made them Party to the Social Contract.

In other words, if I agree to join a community, I have agreed that I will willingly do everything the contract demands of me – so long as they are in accordance with the limitations of Natural Law.  What’s more, when I agree to be Party to the Social Contract governing a given community, that act of my free will extends a Natural Right to each member of the community against which they can justly demand and even force my compliance.  This is how I become subject to the laws of that community: because I agreed to subject myself to them as part of the contract (remember, there are limits on what the contract can demand).  Finally, as an inherent part of my agreeing to be part of the Social Contract, I also create a personal duty to each member of the community.  I am bound – by Natural Law – to perform these duties to the best of my ability, whether the rest of the community does the same or not.  This is part of what it means to be a citizen: to be a self-governing equal in the maintenance and operation of a free and self-governing community and to conduct one’s self according to the Natural Law governing the behavior of every individual within that community at all times.  And, when called upon to do so, to defend the individual rights and liberty of every individual in the community, be it by participating in the civil and criminal justice system, or the community’s military organization.

Now, just as there are limitations on the Natural Right to contract, there are limitations of the Social Contract.  One cannot grant an authority through the Social Contract that an individual does not possess.  In other words, you can only give the government authority to do on your behalf that which you have an individual Natural Right to do on your own.  Nor can you agree to give up, or demand that others give up their Natural Rights as part of the Social Contract.  And most important, the whole can never become greater than the sum of its parts.  In other words, the community which is created by the Social Contract is the equal creation and servant of each individual that agreed to create it.  It owes an equal duty to every individual in the community, and is equally bound to every individual.  It can never become greater than any one person, or even the sum of every individual within the community.  The community is nothing more than the function of the Social Contract.  It is not and can never become an entity in itself, and allowing it to even be thought of in this manner is a violation of Natural Law.  When it is allowed to actually function as a living being, then that is an abomination to Natural Law which will devour Natural Rights and Liberty to feed itself.

This is the essence of the Social Contract which forms a society and grants just authority to that society’s government, and the limitations which govern the extent to which this Social Contract can reach.  In our next post, we will discuss the glue that binds this all together.

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