Woe The People

by Jeff Williams

Maybe the mistake was made in the Preamble of our Constitution. We The People should probably have been written We The Individuals. That sounds a little silly, but if you had told me in 1787 how far the United States would drift from the spirit of the Constitution and the original intent of the founding fathers, I would have wanted the document that solidified a new nation to be as clear as humanly possible.

The single biggest threat to freedom in this country is the destruction of the rights of the individual. This is actually the biggest threat to freedom anywhere. When the rights of the individual are trampled upon by a government, whether that government acts in the name of one man or in the name of 250 million men, then the spirit of freedom is gone. Whether that government claims to be a democratic republic or a socialist dictatorship, when the rights of the individual are sacrificed to the whim of other individuals, ALL freedom suffers.

The only legitimate job of a government should be to protect the rights of its citizens and to mediate contractual disputes between them. What we have now is not a government that protects its citizens rights, but a government that attacks, limits and removes its citizens rights.

The current number of laws on the books are staggering. And many of those laws defy common sense. Common law is very basic. It protects the rights of the individual and the individual's property from the actions of other individuals. But our current system is regulation after inconsistent regulation. Censorship, banned substances, outlawed practices are everywhere. If you ask why people seem to have no respect for the law anymore, I will answer that it is because the lawmakers have no respect for the people anymore.

Thomas Jefferson said in his first Inaugural Address: "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him?" Why do we allow legislators to govern our personal lives? Do they hold all the answers? Do legislators live perfect lives? Do the people that they represent have all the answers? Do the people that they represent live perfect lives?

Too many laws are passed "in the name of society" or "for the good of society." Well, what is society? Society is made up of individuals. If a law is passed that is done not to protect individual rights, but to enforce a certain type of behavior, how can it be expected to be upheld and observed by the citizens? More often than not, laws are passed not "for the good of society" but rather "for the good of the majority" or "for the good of the special interests." This can be anything from our current drug laws, mandating prayer in schools, banning assault weapons, or giving the IRS its seemingly unlimited power. It therefore becomes a crime to smoke marijuana, own certain brands of firearms or to cheat on your taxes, although your "crime" has no victims.

Who can respect a government that allows its citizens to smoke tobacco, but puts its citizens who smoke marijuana in jail? Who can respect a government that lets rapists out of jail early to make room for drug offendors with mandatory sentences? Who can respect a government that attacks it citizens for the crime of owning unregistered firearms? Who can respect a government that penalizes its citizens for not understanding its own ridiculous tax laws? Who can respect a government too busy playing Robin Hood? Who can respect a government that enforces a certain brand of morality or religion onto all its citizens?

Who can respect legislators making promises with other people's money? Who can respect legislators making promises with other lives?

The law is so convoluted, and the power of government so rampant, that Congress can create an entire criminal class through a single act of legislation. Is it any wonder why the current campaign finance laws are so confusing? What is preventing one political party to legalize fund-raising practices that it excels at, while possibly outlawing fund-raising practices that its opponents excel at. In short, Congress can pass laws that outlaw many personal practices that the majority party disaproves of. Congress has the power to put entire social groups into jails simple for the "crime" of behaivor that is not "approved by society."

The key word is approve. Although the actions of certain individuals may not be approved of, to punish those actions through legislation is outrageous. At the end of every act of legislation is a jail cell. And when one majority, or one political party has the power to throw its opponents into jail for actions that they disapprove of...then what is the point of even claiming to be a free country anymore. When one group of individuals, when the government has the power to punish other individuals not for violating the rights of other individuals, but for "inappropriate behaivor," the freedom as we know it is over. When one group of individuals has the power to deny the rights to other group of individuals...the spirit of America dies.

Any behaivor that an individual performs today without violating a single person, without creating a single victim, can become a crime overnight through a simple act of Congress. That is a VERY dangerous power to entrust in the hands of a small group of legislators. Especially legislators who are increasingly influenced more and more by special interest groups and powerful lobbyists. Rather than beating its competition in the open and free market, it now becomes a very real option that many businesses can legislate their competition out of business. It is less about business and more about power. It doesn't matter how good of a businessman one is, it matters who you know in Washington.

And it doesn't take much skill to hide political favors under the shrouds of legislation done for the "best interest of society."

Anytime that anybody uses the power of government to shape either economic or social policy, it is always done at the expense of the rights of the individual. It does not matter if it is done at the expense of one individual, or 250 million individuals, it is still wrong. Is does not matter if it is the Democrats instituting economic policies or the Republicans instituting social policies, it still is wrong. It is wrong whenever any one individual or group of individuals tries to impose their views of society onto any one individual or group of individuals.

Any individual who chooses not to be a burden to society does not deserve to have society be a burden to them. Any individual who chooses not to violate the rights of other individuals does not deserve to be rewarded with have those other individuals violate their rights. Any individual who chooses not to run the lives of other individuals does not deserve to have their lives run by other individuals instead. Just because one happens to be in the majority on a certain issue does not mean that the majority has the ultimate power to dictate social-economic policy to the rest of the country, especially when those policies violate individual rights. Rights are "endowed to us by our Creator" not "endowed to us by our government." Rights can not be granted by governments, but they can be forcefully removed.

"Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." ~Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819

It is time to repeal ALL laws that criminalize actions that have no victims, and to spend all of our judicial resources into prosecuting the real criminals...those who violate the personal rights of individuals.

Our Declaration of Independence holds that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable 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 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."

The phrase "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" is just one of the parts that we have forgetten. "Damn the consent of the governed to the will of the majority" seems to be our new creed.

The phrase "that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" seems to be another phrase that we need to amend. "The pursuit of happiness as long as said happiness meets the majority of society's approval" should be the new phrase.

Ah, heck. Why not just scrap the entire Declaration of Independence and all over with a new one that reflects our changing attitudes? I mean, why not just make it official?

Jeff Williams