Archive for the ‘Rights’ Tag

It’s Not Freedom If You Can’t Exercise It, Pt 1   Leave a comment

I’m a writer. Well, if you read this blog, you know that. I write a lot of non-fiction and I’ve published several novels. Writing is what I do.

I don’t write “Christian” books, but I am a Christian who writes. My faith works its way into my writing whether I mean it to or not because my faith is a part of me on a deep fundamental level. It doesn’t just dictate my surface actions on Sundays, but all of my actions, even the unthinking nouns and conjunctions.

From the moment I heard about Jack Phillips, I understood what he was going through. He was asked by a gay couple to make a custom wedding cake. Phillips explained that he would gladly make them cupcakes or cookies, but his faith teaches him that marriage is between a man and a woman and he could not participate in their wedding by making a cake that celebrated what the Bible teaches is sin.

I used to provide wedding photography as a ministry. If you couldn’t afford it or it involved hiking up a middling-sized Alaska mountain, I was up for it. People usually just reimbursed me for the film, processing, and printing. I stopped not long after I did a friend’s rock-climbing birthday. My friend is a lesbian and I had no problem celebrating her birthday. But she showed those photos to another lesbian we worked with and that woman asked me if I’d do her wedding. Fortunately, the wedding was in Hawaii so I could plead the cost. When I asked a lawyer about it, he said “You’re playing with fire. The day will come when someone is going to require you to violate your beliefs … do it for free … and take you to court if you refuse.” I let it be known that I was too busy with my writing to do photography for anyone not an official member of my church. True, but not so much that I wouldn’t have found the time for someone who needed it.

It is impossible to take pictures at a wedding or bake the cake and not be seen by others as approving that wedding. And whether you like it or not, the Bible is clear that homosexual activity is not something Christians can participate in. 1 Corinthians tells us to “Flee sexual immorality”, not put a nice set of clothes and attend a celebration to sanctify it.

Related imageThe jury is still out. Photography might be considered a passive recording of the event rather than an artistic expression. When I heard Phillips argument before the Supreme Court, I thought seriously about what would I do if someone came along and forced me to write something I truly knew would violate my beliefs.

Because I am both a non-fiction and fictional writer, I am somewhat like Jack Phllips. Sometimes I’m creating generic content for the masses and sometimes I creating a highly artistic enterprise. I would never say gay people can’t or shouldn’t buy my books. I suspect gay people have read my newspaper and magazine articles and blog posts. But what if one of my lesbian acquaintances came to me and wanted to hire me to write a narrative for her wedding? About 30 years ago, I actually did that for a couple who asked me to. I haven’t done it since, but I haven’t advertised that I would do that sort of thing. So, what would I do?

I wouldn’t decline the Christian couple who asked. I might not decline the non-Christian couple, although they might not like what I write. I would be very circumspect about doing that sort of service for a Christian couple where one or more of them were divorced from a prior spouse. It would depend on the circumstances. I would deny a Christian marrying a non-Christian because I think that is a Scriptural example of sexual immorality. And, I would decline a homosexual couple for the same reason. I should go see if my legal insurance is paid up. I just might need it.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled this week that the Colorado Human Rights Commission discriminating against Jack Phillips because it was blatantly hostile to his faith, considered it be “despicable” and “merely rhetorical and [sic] insincere”, comparing the invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. Such a sentiment “is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of … a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.”  Because no subsequent attempt was made to disavow those statements, Justice Kennedy concluded that “the Court cannot avoid the conclusion that these statements cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commissioner’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.”

Kennedy also noted that the Civil Rights Division had considered the refusal of other bakers to create cakes with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage, along with religious text and “found that the baker acted lawfully in refusing service.” The treatment of the conscience-based refusals in these other three cases with the Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ object was built on a presupposition that any message on the wedding cake would be attributed to the customers rather than the baker, but the Division never actually addressed that issue in its findings. One of the salient points for the Colorado Commission was that the bakeries were willing to sell other items to the customers, but then they dismissed as irrelevant Phillips’ willingness to sell “birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies and brownies” to gay and lesbian couples. The Commission had treated the other bakers’ conscience-based objects as legitimate, but treated his as illegitimate, thus judging the validity of his religious beliefs themselves … deeming his beliefs to be offensive.

“The Commission was obliged under the Free Exercise Clause to proceed in a manner neutral toward and tolerant of Phillips’ religious beliefs. The Constitution ‘commits government itself to religious tolerance, and upon even slight suspicion that proposals for state intervention stem from animosity to religion or distrust of its practices, all officials must pause to remember their own high duty to the Constitution and to the rights it secures'” (citing Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye).

Kennedy, writing the majority opinion found the Commission’s hostility to Phillips’ beliefs “inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

The SCOTUS left open the door for “cases of other circumstances” to further elaborate these arguments in the courts, reminding those future courts that “these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Contrary to popular media depiction, this was not a “narrow” decision. When fewer than a third of the justices dissented from the majority opening, it isn’t a narrow decision. 7 to 2 is practically a repudiation … especially when you consider that Elena Kagan — not exactly a conservative or constructionist juror — concurred with the majority.


More on that in my next post

Part 2

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.

Free Speech   1 comment

Image result for image of free speechThe true test of your commitment to free speech isn’t when you permit others to say things you agree with. The true test is when you permit others to say things with which you disagree.

Question 1: Is It Constitutional?   1 comment

In President Trump’s not-State of the State address, he made a lot of promises. Some of them I agreed with and hope he accomplishes, but his “trillion dollar infrastructure bill” is a bad idea. Did we learn nothing from Obama’s multiple trillion-dollar stimuli bills that kept the economy dragging along at a blistering 1% growth every year of his eight years of ruin?

Nowadays, when a Congressional bill hits the modern president’s desk for an up-or-down vote, he typically asks, “How will this help my party gain votes?” and “What interest groups will this bring to my side?” There have been a couple of modern presidents who maybe paused to ask themselves, “Will this spending help the economy, or advance the nation’s interests?”

It probably surprises some, if not most people, to know that our first presidents approached spending bills very differently. The first question they usually asked was, “Is this spending constitutional?” If the answer was “yes,” they would then ask “Is it wise, will it benefit the nation, or will it gain votes?”

The early presidents viewed the Constitution as a binding document that separated the powers of government for a purpose. They argued (rightly) that tyranny, high taxes and government oppression can only be avoided if governmental power is decentralized. Thus Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution restricted the power of Congress to spend taxpayer dollars to a limited number of items, mainly national defense.

Not surprisingly, then, early presidents adhered to the Constitution, even when it would have been politically expedient to do otherwise, James Madison was President in 1817 when Congress decided it was a good idea to spend fedral funds for internal improvements, such as the building and improving roads, canals, and waterways in the new nation. You can read the Constitution to discover that it does not grant Congress the authority to appropriate funds for roads and canals. If you read their extra-Constitutional writings, you will learn that the Founders recognized that improving highways was essential for economic development, but they believed that states or private companies should do the work. They didn’t think it was good government or just results when the people in Georgia could be taxed to build a canal in New York.

New York’s congressmen argued that federal funds could be used profitably in the national interest to build the Erie Canal. Since votes in the large state of New York were pivotal in many presidential elections, our early presidents had to decide whether to chase votes or follow the Constitution. Sometimes our presidents failed the test. I’m a great admirer of Thomas Jefferson, but as President he supported the construction of the National Road from Maryland to Illinois.

James Madison, who followed Jefferson as president, seemed to have supported the National Road, but he learned from the experience. He directly confronted the issue of federal aid for internal improvements in his next-to-last day as president. Congress passed what was labeled the Bonus Bill of 1817, which would have used federal funds to build roads and canals across the nation. Madison responded with a thundering veto:

“I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution.”

Madison admitted the bill would probably help the country, but then he observed that “such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution . . . and can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and a reliance on insufficient precedents.”

The bill’s Congressional promoters argued that building roads and improving rivers at federal expense would “render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense” to which Madison replied: “To refer the power in question to the clause ‘to provide for the common defense and general welfare would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation.” He added:

Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms ‘common defense and general welfare’ embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust.

Madison concluded that twisting the General Welfare clause in this way “would have the effect of subjecting both the Constitution and the laws of the several States in all cases not specifically exempted to be superseded by laws of Congress.”

Remember, Madison was a chief architect of the U.S. Constitution. At the convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Madison sat in front of the presiding officer. He never missed an important speech, and he took copious notes on the proceedings. When he said that the General Welfare clause cannot be used to give Congress “a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one,” he was echoing the original intent of the Founders.

Congress might still have been surprised by Madison’s veto because earlier he had conceded that “establishing throughout our country the roads and canals . . . can best be executed under the national authority. No objects within the circle of political economy so richly repay the expense bestowed upon them.” Despite saying that, Madison’s veto response here shows he believed that the country was better off following the Constitution rather than twisting its meaning to secure more rapid economic growth. If we want federal road-building, the Constitution provides a means to amend it so as to permit such activities.

Madison’s principled veto of the Bonus Bill of 1817 set a precedent that lasted for generations. The Erie Canal never received federal funds, though it was still built by commercial interests and the State of New York. Despite this precedent, Congress tested the resolve of President Andrew Jackson with the Maysville Road Bill in 1830, which would have used federal funds to build a turnpike in Kentucky.

Jackson scrupulously followed Madison’s lead and vetoed the bill, arguing that the proposed turnpike might be economically sound, but if the country used federal funds to build a turnpike in Kentucky, “there can be no local interest that may not with equal propriety be denominated national.” He echoed Madison by adding, “A disregard of this distinction would of necessity lead to the subversion of the federal system.”

Madison and Jackson were also following George Washington’s advice in his Farewell Address. “[Avoid] the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear.”

It took the United States government until Jackson’s presidency to fulfill Washington’s request and retire all its national debt. Jackson argued the new annual surpluses reflected the frugality exemplified by refusing to use federal funds for internal improvements. The government raised a small amount of revenue each year through tariffs, the sale of land, and excise taxes, especially on whiskey, but following the Constitution, the nation had limited spending, mainly for national defense—two wars with Britain and occasional frontier skirmish with Indians.

Explaining his veto of the Maysville Road, Jackson observed that on “the national debt we may look with confidence to its entire extinguishment in the short period of four years.” We were a nation “free from debt and with all her immense resources unfettered! What a salutary influence would not such an exhibition [of restraint] exercise upon the cause of liberal principles and free government throughout the world!”

James Madison, who lived to see the national debt retired, could point to his veto of the Bonus Bill as crucial in this achievement.

So here we are with $21 trillion in debt (each citizen owes more than $60,000) and our President wants to add another ONE TRILLION in debt. And it will be debt, because the economy is not producing enough to generate that sort of funding. It President Trump truly wants to different from other modern presidents, he should look back at the Founding generation presidents and commit to reducing the debt and freeing the market economy so that it can improve infrastructure. Government is the problem, not the solution. Get out of the economy’s way and the economy will handle it … just as it did back when the need was the Erie Canal.

You Don’t Have Rights to …   Leave a comment

You don’t have a right to infringe upon the rights of others. This is what we have lost in our country. You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — which our Founders recognized that included a right to property. You don’t have the right to infringe upon others’ rights to those things.

north dakota access pipeline

I’ve been watching the North Dakota Indian standoff with a pipeline company near, but not on, the Standing Rock Reservation. That’s my mom’s old stomping grounds, by the way, although not her tribe. I’ve watched as they have, sometimes violently, insisted upon protecting their water “rights” and their “sacred burial grounds”. I have cousins who have gone to join the protests and they’re proud of what they’re doing and they want me to join. They should know by now that I won’t.

If they were trying to run the pipeline across reservation land, I’d be there. I fully support the right of landowners to protect their property. But this pipeline will run completely outside of the reservation (I suspect that was a deliberate choice by the pipeline company, actually). This is not a private property argument for the Hunkpapa and Sioux. They don’t own the land. If there were burial grounds involved, they might have claimed the land and taken it into the reservation before this. Why didn’t they?

We could get into a huge discussion of why they thought they could control land they don’t own (and I would welcome the discussion in comments), but that’s not really my point in this article. They wanted to control this land without having to own it. That’s another discussion.

But I’m discussing rights here. The Standing Rock Indians claim this pipeline violates their “right” to clean water. and that “right” overrides the right of a pipeline company to build a pipeline, the oil companies to make money from their product and the consumer to use those products and have them delivered to the market in a safe, low-cost way. So this gives the Standing Rock Indians a “right” to attack pipeline facilities and personnel and stop the construction of this pipeline, but the pipeline personnel don’t have a “right” to control their construction site or protect themselves from rioters.

All pigs are equal. Some pigs are more equal than others.

All rights are important. Some rights of some are more important than the rights of others.


Rights only work if we all have them and government’s only role is to protect the exercise of all rights. If you read the eight pages of the constitution, you will not find any authority for the US government to decide whose rights are more important.

The Standing Rock Indians don’t own the land the pipeline runs across and they don’t own the Missouri River. They own the Standing Rock reservation, which is a half-mile away. Could a pipeline breach endanger their surface water access? Yes. So could a tanker car spill if this oil was being transported by train or truck. We should strive to make oil transportation as safe as possible. We already know that the safest way to transport oil is via pipeline. So the pipeline company is not doing anything wrong. They’re fulfilling the purpose of pipeline companies, which is to build and maintain pipelines. They lose money when a pipeline leaks so they have an incentive to maintain the pipeline.

An oil pipeline breech could still happen. I maintain my car, but occasionally things break on my car that I didn’t expect. I then fix it. Nobody (yet) has made the argument that I shouldn’t be allowed to own a car because there is a possibility that my car might break and that break might cause a problem for someone else (I might breakdown in an intersection, causing a traffic snarl, and make someone five minutes late to work).

So, despite the strong incentive for the pipeline company to maintain its property, this oil pipeline could break and cause a water quality problem for the Standing Rock Reservation. Entropy is inevitable. Everything rusts or rots. Maintenance aside, things happen and it is possible that the oil might someday leak into the Missouri River and affect the water quality for the Standing Rock Reservation.

And this is the argument for them to be able to stop this pipeline. Because something MIGHT happen.

But ….

Why do we assume we have a “right” to water that runs on land that we do not own?

“But, we’ll all die without clean water, Lela!”

Will we? I live in a state where there’s a lot of water, almost none of it drinkable without filtration. Glacier river water is so silty, you are basically chugging mud if you don’t filter it first. The creek on my cabin site runs out of a mineral belt, so we have to filter the water so we’re not ingesting arsenic, lead and other naturally-occurring toxic metals. Down creek from us, beavers have built a dam, so the people below the dam must filter for giardia. Last month when we were berry picking, I went down to our fill hole to find both moose and bear scat on the edge. Our filter also screens for fecal matter, but it was so disgusting, I had to boil the water before I could drink it.

The government does not come in to regulate the geology or the animals to protect my “right” to clean water. They don’t provide us with free water to make up for our crappy (pun intended) water supply. If we get sick because we’re stupid enough not to filter the water we have, the government doesn’t pay our medical expenses.

We have a right to filter the water we have access to. If we had selected land that didn’t have a water source, we would have had the right to import water for our use at our own expense.

Grow up! You have a right to the proceeds of your own labor and nothing else. Stop expecting other people to give you something you refuse to take the effort to secure for yourself.

Posted September 10, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty, Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Jefferson on the Federal Government   2 comments

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series.

Turning his mind from the Constitution and form of government, Jefferson hoped to explain the checks and balances of the federal system and also asked if perhaps the country should not be so attached to any one system

Jefferson knew that most foreigners did not understand how the United States worked and he attempted to explain the interaction to Major Cartwright.

With respect to our State and federal governments, I do not think their relations correctly understood by foreigners. They generally suppose the former subordinate to the latter. But this is not the case. They are co-ordinate departments of one simple and integral whole.

Jefferson rightly surmised that most foreigners though the states were under the authority of the federal government (which is how a national government works), but he was quick to correct this misunderstanding. Were he to suddenly be resurrected in the 21st century, he would quickly and probably forcefully remind us that our government was never supposed to involve the states kowtowing to the federal government. They were meant to be equal partners.

To the State governments are reserved all legislation and administration, in affairs which concern their own citizens only, and to the federal government is given whatever concerns foreigners, or the citizens of other States; these functions alone being made federal. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government; neither having control over the other, but within its own department.

Jefferson understood that the states were to focus on their own domestic matters while the federal government was only to function in matters with other countries or when states could not agree. He rightly states that the federal government is the foreign branch of the same government. Neither was supposed to have control over the other. I think this would be one of those times when Jefferson would want to amend the Constitution, if he could see how bloated and tyrannical the federal government has become.

There are one or two exceptions only to this partition of power. But, you may ask, if the two departments should claim each the same subject of power, where is the common umpire to decide ultimately between them? In cases of little importance or urgency, the prudence of both parties will keep them aloof from the questionable ground: but if it can neither be avoided nor compromised, a convention of the States must be called, to ascribe the doubtful power to that department which they may think best.

Jefferson foresaw conflicts and saw two solutions to them. One would be where the two parties just ignore when one oversteps on unimportant issues. That has not worked well fo us in the 200 years since Jefferson wrote the letter. His second option for dealing with overreach has never been used. We’ve never called a convention of the States to discuss whether doubtful power should be ascribed to the states or the federal government. Instead, the federal government has continually assimilated powers to itself and told the states to sit down and shut up. Jefferson, were he alive today, would be organizing committees of correspondence and militias in Virginia and urging Alaska and all the other states to do the same.

You will perceive by these details, that we have not yet so far perfected our constitutions as to venture to make them unchangeable. But still, in their present state, we consider them not otherwise changeable than by the authority of the people, on a special election of representatives for that purpose expressly: they are until then the lex legum.

Jefferson explained that the Constitution of the United States and the constitutions of the states were not set in concrete, but could only be changed by a special committee, elected by the people for the purpose of making changes. Until such a convention had been organized and met, the constitutions were considered the “law of laws.”

But can they be made unchangeable? Can one generation bind another, and all others, in succession forever? I think not. The Creator has made the earth for the living, not the dead. Rights and powers can only belong to persons, not to things, not to mere matter, unendowed with will. The dead are not even things. The particles of matter which composed their bodies, make part now of the bodies of other animals, vegetables, or minerals, of a thousand forms. To what then are attached the rights and powers they held while in the form of men? A generation may bind itself as long as its majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held, and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.

Jefferson touches on something that we can go around and around on. Should constitutions be unchangeable? Should one generation bind the next to what was important to that earlier generation? That earlier generation is dead and dead things should not dictate to the living, Jefferson said.

But it should be noted that Jefferson considered rights and the powers that issue from them to be the same from generation to generation. So while subsequent generations can change the structure of government set out in the constitution, the inherent and unalienable rights of men remain the same.

You see, that’s where folks like me disagree with those who would be our rulers today. They’re fine with the current structure of government, but want our rights to be changeable based on what they think is best. Rights, to them, flow from the government. Jefferson and our founders saw rights as being inherent in the individual. I live, therefore, I have a right to an opinion and to state it, a right to practice my faith as I see fit, a right to bear arms, a right to security in my person, property and papers, a right to a fair trial, and a right to be unmolested in my efforts to support myself and my family (in so long as those efforts do not harm anyone else). I don’t live in that world anymore. I live in one where my rights can be taken away whenever the government decides they are inconvenient to the government or some group the government favors.

I object.

I Did Not Consent

Rights vs. Wishes   Leave a comment

Rights Versus Wishes

Here is what presidential aspirant Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “I believe that health care is a right of all people.” President Barack Obama declared that health care “should be a right for every American.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Every person has a right to adequate health care.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his January 1944 message to Congress, called for “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” And it is not just a health care right that people claim. There are rights to decent housing, good food, and a decent job, and for senior citizens, there’s a right to prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let’s look at it.

Source: Rights vs. Wishes

Posted April 23, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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When A Post Just Keeps Going   Leave a comment

I wrote this over a year ago and from time to time, I log in and see a bunch of people have visited it that day. I don’t know what triggers that, but it’s cool. A lot of the stuff I write here is an attempt to get people to think. I am not always sold on everything I write. I reserve the right to change my mind based on new experience.

But I won’t change my mind about guns. When I was in junior high school my 95-pound mother scares three large aggressive men away from our house by brandishing her 357. They went down the road and raped a classmate.

A woman was stabbed but not beheaded last week because a coworker had a gun. An armed society is a polite society. And if I can contribute to that understanding, that’s great.

Shot Heard Round the World   5 comments


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

(Original Draft – When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained, & to assume among the powers of the earth the equal & independant station to which the laws of nature & of nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change.)

Our Founders grew up as subjects to the British crown and all that entailed. Some had grown up in England. Others were from the colonies. Many in the colonies, including some of the ones who would be patriots later, had never considered themselves anything but loyal subjects of the Crown. Even those who had read Locke and agreed with his arguments wanted liberty under the Crown, not separate from the Crown.

It’s worthwhile to know that those in England were treated a bit differently than the colonists were. If you lived in England, you had representation in Parliament. If you lived in New York or Virginia, you did not. When we get the simplistic notion that the American Revolution was a taxation revolt, we really are off-base. Taxation was but one symptom of the lack of representation in Parliament.

The patriots had tried for nearly a decade to resolve the issues that stood between them and King George.  Basically, the English fought a war against the French on our land and then asked us to pay for it. It was a war that never would have come to our shores except the English brought it here. When we get to the grievances against King George, we’ll talk more about it, but the English goaded the French into war on American soil and then expected the colonies to pay for England riding to our rescue, when in fact our militias had probably kept them from losing the American theater and it never would have been necessary had the English had simply stayed out of French territory in the Americas. Perhaps that might have been avoided if the colonies had had a voice in Parliament.

There had been countless letters of correspondence and representatives of the colonies crossing the ocean to make an argument for fair treatment under Parliament with the result that the governors in America had been authorized to put their foot on the necks of the colonists. They considered the colonists to be rebellious and in need of guidance. The more they cracked down on the colonists, the angrier the patriots became and it soon because clear to all that the colonists might have to protect themselves against their own government, so they began to store weapons and powder against that possibility.

England had essentially declared war on the colonies more than a year before the writing of the Declaration when British troops marched to confiscate American arms in April 1775. During that entire year, while holding Boston siege, the Americans continued to try to reconcile with the British and received only edicts and ridicule. So, when Thomas Jefferson wrote “it becomes necessary to dissolve the political bands …” it was not done lightly or, indeed quickly. There had been a good faith effort to resolve things peaceably even as the British were being anything but peaceable.

Drawing from John Locke, the Americans considered themselves equal to the British under God’s natural law and they had come to realize that England was never going to grant them the equality that was theirs by right. They weren’t asking for King George’s treasury and privileges. They were asking to be treated in the same manner as British subjects living in England. It had become clear that was never going to happen.

Therefore, separation had become necessary. They wrote their declaration – which was of independence, not war – to explain their reasons to the larger world.  They weren’t seeking to sweep monarchies from the face of the world. They were merely seeking to establish the reasons the American colonies were separating from the British crown. However, they recognized there was a foundation for their reasons for doing this, and thus they put forth a universal message. 

This was not just a treatise on why the Americans were separating from England, but why any group of people joined in governance to another group of people might wish to separate.

In some ways, through setting forth the argument for separation from a despotic government, the Declaration, more than the Battle on Lexington green, was the shot heard round the world.

THE Founding Document   Leave a comment

The Declaration of Independence is THE Founding document of America. It established the American colonies intention to separate from Great Britain for some very clear reasons. Some were universal reasons — natural rights and tyrannical government — while others were specific reasons — King George was the tyrant they were resisting. So, in honor of the 237th birthday of our country, I want to take a look at the Declaration of Independence and what it actually means. How many of us have actually ever read it?


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 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.–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.

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.
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.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


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