Happy Birthday Mr. Jefferson, We Fight On

“for I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” — Thomas Jefferson

Today, April 13, is the birthday of one of the greatest men of any generation. Thomas Jefferson’s most famous work was the writing of the Declaration of Independence in which he stated the quintessential American concepts that a people have a right to secede from or overthrow a tyrannical government and that our fundamental rights as humans are not granted to us by government but are ours by the terms of our existence. While imperfectly executed by these thirteen newly independent states, these ideas were themselves the shot that was really heard around the world. They marked the birth of a new nation. Possibly the first ever built upon ideals rather than the accidents of geography or the intermarriages or conquests of royalty. They have inspired men and women across the globe to seek, and in many cases to risk all for, Liberty.  The signers were no exception. When they pledged their lives, their liberty, amd their sacred honor, they were not kidding. Signing this document made them traitors to the King. Either success or death awaited.  As Jefferson’s fellow Virginian, Patrick Henry, famously stated, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

If this document were Jefferson’s only accomplishment, his would have been a worthy life. But he went on from there. Ambassador, President, statesman, scientist, architect, founder of the University of Virginia, the list goes on.   But it is fitting that as we remember this man on his birthday, we take a few minutes to re-read that amazing document that many of us might not have read since grade school. And that we re-dedicate ourselves to the ongoing struggle for libeety against an ever encroaching government and the anti-ideologues who seek to shackle us.

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription (from the National Archives website)

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.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Source of Economic Growth – Guest Review

I provided my own review of Dale Halling’s Source of Economic Growth. I am also pleased to provide this guest review by my friend, ObjectiveAnalyst:

Source of Economic Growth

Author, Dale B. Halling ISBN 9781511829687 100 pages

The primary thesis of the book is an under-appreciated and often overlooked driver of prosperity and improvement of the general welfare. That is Intellectual property rights. Without the protection and capacity to profit from one’s innovations there would be little incentive to share labor saving devices with one’s fellow man. These devices, which are the product of one’s mind have been protected, thus fostering the dissemination, manufacturing and widespread implementation.

In order that a society have an improving standard of living and avoid subsistence living, or worse, it is critical  that one profit from not only the labor of one’s hands but also of their mind. It is the innovations of man that have thus far fostered the increased supply of goods and reduction of costs to the consumer. This has improved the real world wealth and quality of living for all. The capacity to protect one’s innovations and profit from them has been the incentive to invent, improve, manufacture and share.

Imagine a world without modern agricultural equipment or information age technology we all take for granted today. It would be impossible to sustain the present population and those of us that did live would live hand to mouth; except of course our feudal lords who would live well at the expense of others. That is the world we would return to.

The book is well written, contains historical data correlating and supporting the premise that the nation with the  highest degree of protection for property of all kinds, with an emphasis on intellectual property has the advantage over other nations when it comes to the prosperity of its citizens. The arguments of the detractors are addressed with convincing counter arguments and examples. The author, himself an expert in the field, has gathered together the data and conclusions of other experts to demonstrate with exacting clarity the importance and value of a strong patent and copyright system to human advancement.

There is no other path. We must move forward with innovation. We must protect it and foster it, or we as a race will be reduced to a primitive time caught in the Malthusian trap. It is only our unequaled capacity to be tool makers and inventors that has allowed us to move beyond it. Despite all the outcry of unequal distribution of wealth the poor are not as poor as they would be if we did not encourage the entrepreneur and inventor. It is the promise of  profit from one’s mental labor that has done this. The man whose work is honorable, but only manual, such as pulling a few levers of a machine repeatedly on a factory floor owes a greater debt for his job and prosperity to all of those that made the machine possible. It is not the other way around.

I enjoyed this quick read and consider it a handy and invaluable reference book in my library. I hope you will also.

Happy reading,

To buy this book, click for the paperback version or Kindle version below:

Paperback: Source of Economic Growth
Kindle: Source of Economic Growth

Source of Economic Growth – A Review

Dale Halling’s Source of Economic Growth is an excellent work making the case that innovation is the ultimate source of economic growth.  As he wrote:


“Humans are different from every other organism on Earth in that they alter their environment to meet their neeeds while organisms alter themselves to adapt to the environment.  The way man does this is to use his mind to create inventions that will solve a problem of his existence.”


Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, the pace of inventions allowed humankind to escape the Malthusian trap of ever greater population leading to stagnant subsistence levels of per capita wealth.  He goes on to show that the reason why this revolution began in the English speaking world was because this was the first time that significant property rights were given to inventors vis a vis their inventions.  These property rights provided both the incentive to innovate as well as a means of allocating capital in a free market environment to ensure that the inventions that would create the most wealth received needed capital.  Halling goes on to demonstrate that the creation and enforcement of a strong system of property rights for inventions, is a strong predictor of national economic success into the modern age and, of course, advocates for such a system going forward.  “Property rights in assets result in significantly improved returns from those assets” and since “inventions are the source of economic growth, it only makes sense that if you want to increase economic growth you will provide property rights for inventions.”


 Whether you are a seasoned economist or a novice, somebody setting government policy or somebody else voting for such people, this work is an important contribution to understanding how to cause economic growth.  If I had the money, I’d put one in the hands of every member of Congress.  If you are interested at all in economic growth, you should get this book for yourself.


To buy this book, click for the paperback version or Kindle version below:

Nobody Earns Minimum Wage

So nobody actually earns the minimum wage. They receive it but it is not earned. The minimum wage is for people that do jobs where the value of their work to society is so low that pretty much anybody could do the work. As a consequence, a fair employer would rather pay the person the fair market value of their efforts which would be less than the minimum wage. But instead of fairness, the employer is forced by the government to pay the employee more than the value of their work.

Hard work has next to zero value by itself. To be valuable, it must be directed toward some purpose that results in a product or service that you value or that others value and for which they will pay. If you create a value, and agree to accept an amount equal to another person’s valuation of it, then you have earned the money. Their valuation may or may not make sense to you but your hours of hard work rarely play a factor in that valuation. This works even if you were alone and trying to live isolated from society.

If I drop two people on two nearby deserted islands and the first works 8 hours a day for three days and secures fresh water, builds a shelter, fishes, makes a fire etc. the second decides his worst threat is the possibility of a typhoon and works three days at ten hours a day digging a hole to protect himself. Before he dies of dehydration. Whose labor earned more? The one that earned life or the one that earned death?

If you earn $6 an hour then that is largely because that is the value of your production to your employer and you have agreed to accept it. If the King who rules your land decrees that from henceforth, the least anyone will be paid in his land is $10 an hour then your employer is forced to make a choice. She can let you go or raise your pay to the minimum wage. But, if she raises your wages to $10 an hour, she is not doing so because your value to her has increased. She is doing so because if she does not then all the king’s horses and men will come with weapons and close her business down. She is being forced to do so.

We have a name for the act of forcing somebody to pay money that they otherwise do not and should not owe. It is called extortion. It is still extortion if there is no king and you are governed by a legislature. In fact, that makes it even more immoral for you. Because you did not vote for the king but you are responsible for the legislature and its laws. Whereas before, the king was acting in his own name, the legislature is acting in yours. So you are the extortionist.

Extortion – noun
the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

Ok. So if pay is “earned” when the value of production equals or exceeds the amount paid, then clearly somebody, somewhere, earns the minimum wage. So “nobody” is an exaggeration. The irony is that Those who earn the minimum wage are one of the true victims of the minimum wage extortion racket. Because they get to earn their wage while those around them receive it as a “right”. To anyone lacking self motivation, this system quickly becomes an incentive to not worry about providing value.

In one of the few occasions in which the Left admits that government regulation incentivizes “bad” behavior (but evidently only for the rich, never the poor or working class), they propose that businesses pay less than a “living wage” because they know that their lowest paid employees receive government assistance. Historically of course, we have a name for people who are incapable of producing or unwilling to produce enough to meet their needs to stay alive:  DEAD. In my example above, the idiot worked hard toward an inappropriate end and died. If he had done nothing, he also would have died. You have a natural right to life. That means others may not deprive you of your life. It does not require them to act to keep you alive.

Based on this view by the Left that the welfare state corrupts only one party in the semi-free market, they make some version of the following argument:

  1. Many minimum wage employees receive government assistance from public welfare programs.
  2. The only reason they need this is because they cannot live on the minimum wage paid by their employer.
  3. We should make their employer pay them more so that they will not need the public assistance for which we are paying.

What this argument boils down to is:

  1. They currently receive money from our taxes that they are not earning.
  2. They need that extra money to live.
  3. And of course that is not their fault but their employers’.
  4. We should extort additional unearned money from their employer so that it does not have to be extorted from taxpayers.

Of course they are not honest enough to call it extortion. And they try to camouflage their argument by implying or stating that the employers are exploiting their employees by not paying them enough. So they intend to replace one form of theft (the taxation supporting the welfare state) with another (extortion of additional wages from business). It is made worse by the fact that leftists try to cloak their program in morality by appealing to guilt and/or compassion. But extortion is always immoral. And if it makes you feel better to extort then you are an immoral person. An appeal to guilt or compassion merely adds a sham veneer to this immoral system.

So why not just end all extortion? And rely on the free market and the resulting self interest of people and the benevolence of charitable people take care of the problem? The result would increase liberty, responsibility and accountability and eliminate the use of force.

Of course, you might not believe it is really extortion. So start a business, refuse to pay minimum wage unless it is earned no matter who tells you to,  and let’s sit back and watch the results. Just do not call me from jail. Or drop your soap.

Progressives, Fascists, and Racists

What did you learn about Fascism in school?  Of course you learned that it was BAD.  But what did Fascists actually believe?  What were their political and economic policies?  Turns out they were socialists that realized you did not have to actually own the means of production to control the means of production. They were completely against liberty and capitalism as all socialists must be. They rejected the Internationale because it was dominated by the Bolsheviks and made their socialist ideal national rather than international. Some argue that their policies and approaches would change frequently. That is true.  That stems partly from Fascism’s philosophical relationship to the American Pragmatist school of philosophy. Do what works to accomplish the goal. And the goal – one they share with socialists – is control. Control.  Even when the means differ.

European fascists pushed for a militaristic mobilization of society. Early on, like the American progressives, they drew inspiration from Bismark’s Prussia. In America, the progressives followed the same inspiration but knew Americans would not go for the militarization of all society. They knew they needed major crises that would justify their statist approach so contrary to the historic American Constitutional Republic. William James coined the term “moral equivalent of war” to describe such crises. That is why we had a “war on poverty” (completely ineffective). And a war on drugs (also completely ineffective).  And a “war on terror”. And this is why progressives love the climate change issue. Crises provide reasons for control and scare the population into trading liberty for security. And how could you come up with a slogan more perfect for enslaving humanity than saving the whole planet.

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” — Rahm Emmanuel

The three approaches to progressivism/fascism heavily cross-pollinated each other. Mussolini modeled much of his early activity on Wilson’s regime in WW1 and FDR’s New Deal could have been right out of Mussolini’s play book. FDR and Mussolini had quite the mutual admiration society going on until Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1936. Hitler also referred to his platform as a New Deal and it included his anti-capitalist vision of state-driven economic mobilization and control.

German fascists (Nazis) added in racism and anti-semitism to a much greater extent than the Italian Fascists. There is nothing inherently racist about fascism. Racism is just an add-on that might or might not be there. In fact, many communist regimes have been racist. And many European nations have histories of anti-semitism apart from their changing political systems.

The fascists in America called themselves Progressives. Chronologically, it might be more correct to call the Italian Fascists progressive rather than calling the Progressives fascist as American Progressives adopted and tried to implement these views before Mussolini came on the scene.  And while racism can be tied to any political approach, many of the Progressives were racist and more like the German fascists than the Italian ones in that regard. Some of the forced sterilization programs put in place by Progressives in the US were copied by the Germans in the early days of the Reich.

That said, the vision of “progress” this approach offers leads logically if not inevitably to ideas about how to “progress” humans – whether the human race in general or a specific nationality or ethnic group. This results in eugenics based policies and historically did so in both Germany with its obvious horrific results and the US with its more hidden history of eugenics in the first half of the 20th century.

But after a war with European fascists and after the horrors of the Holocaust became fully known, Progressives wanted to distance themselves from fascism and began to call themselves liberals. “Fascist” became a term of derision ultimately divorced from the actual philosophical, political, and economic ideas espoused by Fascism. The adoption (or theft) of the term “liberal” was a complete lie as liberals historically believed in liberty and free markets and progressives believe in expanding state control over every aspect of people’s lives “for the good of society.” This terminology theft was not difficult since Progressives control academia, public schools, and the media. They largely took over the Democratic Party during the 20th century but are also significant in the GOP.

Progressive political philosophy is collectivist and statist. It rejected the principles of natural rights that form the basis of the American Republic. Progressives view the Constitution as something to work around or ignore so they call it “living”. But the sense that they use the term “living” renders it actually dead. Progressives rely on fear and crises to get the people to give up their liberty to the state.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L. Mencken

It may be too late although liberty-lovers should continue to fight. The progressives have made huge inroads in undermining the liberties guaranteed by the American republic and to replace it with a soft totalitarianism in which the appearance of democracy serves the same function as bread and circuses in Rome. Ultimately, all collectivist statist governments collapse under their own weight and contradictions. When that happens, those who love liberty must be ready to stand in the ashes and rebuild a free Republic.

Oh the horror! Liberty and Insecurities

My right to own a gun trumps your insecurities that are being fed by an agenda-driven fear-mongering media. My liberty always trumps your feelings of insecurity. And if you do not believe that then you are part of the reason why liberty lovers should own guns.

The media uses shooting incidents, however statistically improbable, to drive their agenda in a culture where homicide rates have continued to trend downward for over 40 years even as gun ownership has gone up and concealed carry permits have gone up drastically. The fact of the matter is you are safer than ever. You have nothing to fear but fear itself and those that would use that fear to see you in chains.

The True State of the Union?

I’ve lost most of my confidence in the political class. I will no longer vote for the lesser of two evils. That merely guarantees more evil. Unfortunately the majority of Americans are willing to compromise so long as the free shit keeps rolling in. It’s not going to change before it all collapses. The Democrats offer fast collapse while the Republicans offer slightly slower collapse. Maybe it would be better to just rip the bandaid off. Hopefully there will be enough people left dedicated to liberty to rebuild at least a smaller free republic afterwards.

We are past the tipping point. Federal debt and liabilities mean the government is insolvent. The true inflation rate (the actual amount of overprinting of our fiat money) requires merely a hiccup to bring the house of cards tumbling. And the Fed keeps printing more of its promissory note legal tender. Federal scope and power has so overflowed the dikes put in place by the Constitution that it is doubtful that this should even be considered the same country. Ninety-four million working age Americans are not working but the official “unemployment rate” is only 5%. Half of the American people pay no income tax yet get to decide what the other half pays. The Democratic Party has fallen so far that it has a criminal as its front runner over an admitted socialist while the best the GOP can offer is Donald Trump followed by a bunch of semi competents whose idea of smaller govt is trimming the increases.

The number of people unwilling to trade their liberty for security continues to decline. Many no longer even consider liberty as they hand their power away. Of course there is hope in that only 11% or so actively participated in the American Revolution. The rest were either loyalists or apathetic.

Being Negative on Rights

Negative rights form and must remain the foundation of our American ideals lest we replace our flawed but serviceable Republic with a more totalitarian structure (whether the hard totalitarianism of the 20th century or a softer version in which the mailed fist is covered by a velvet glove).  The lack of understanding of the negative nature of natural rights and the attempt to enshrine positive rights is at the root of many of today’s hottest political issues.  Negative rights are generally those that make us free FROM the force or coercion of others as opposed to positive “rights” which would give us the right TO something.  Negative rights are natural rights and form the foundation of our Republic.

Natural rights are rights that adhere to us as human beings because of our nature.  Government or individuals might trample upon our rights but fundamental to our very existence as human beings are the right to not be physically harmed or killed by another, the right to maintain one’s own beliefs, thoughts, and reason, the right to worship (or not) as one pleases, the right to protect one’s existence both physically by maintaining arms and judicially by maintaining silence, the right to gather with others, the right to be free from forcible seizure of the products of our work and thought, and the right to use our resources to disseminate our own beliefs or thoughts.  These rights are “negative” by their nature because they do not entitle us to anything.  You have these same rights if you are dropped on a deserted island.  On that deserted island you do not have the right to food, water, shelter, clothing, healthcare, etc.  Nature does not give you those rights.  If you choose to stand on such “rights” on the island, rather than on your reason and work, you will die.  But until you die, you may think as you please, worship as you please, assemble with anyone else that might want to assemble with you, and place as many of your views into bottles to float away as you have bottles to float.

There is a drive both nationally and internationally to create “positive rights”. These are “rights” or entitlements TO things rather than from things.  Some who do this understand the implications and are evilly seeking power over others.  The masses who go along with them have not thought these ideas through to their logical conclusions and are agreeing because they seem good or “fair”. After all, how could anyone disagree with a person’s right to X if they need X to survive?

Let’s take water for example.  Most of your body weight is water and you must replenish this to continue to live. People from the Pope, to UN movers and shakers, to some of your facebook friends support a “right” to clean water.  This ultimately means free clean water. The problem is that the delivery of clean water to your faucet is not free. It requires effort by laborers and engineers, the purchase of equipment and materials, and significant know how developed over the last 150 years. None of that is free. Therefore, the only way to make this a right for some is to violate the rights of others.

Who is going to tell all the municipal water workers they have to work for free? And when they say no and leave their jobs does this right extend to forcing them to stay?  Who is going to tell the pipe companies, pump companies, tank companies, and  treatment equipment companies, that they must supply their wares for free?  Who is going to tell the engineers they must think for free?

So who is going to work for free when you make clean water a right? And when they say no then you can force them right? Because they are violating your self declared rights. Hopefully you pay the police that force them but technically you shouldn’t have to because no doubt that is part of your right as well.

What? That is crazy you say. Nobody will work for free. We will just make some people – those who can afford it – pay for the others. Now you have merely traded one victim of your extortion plot for another. And you are doubly violating their rights because you are now violating their natural rights as well as this new right to water you have created. Because if they have to pay for it, it is not a right to them.

Any so called “right” that involves somebody else’s labor or assets ultimately involves extortion or slavery. That is why there are no positive rights in a just society. There is no such thing as a legitimate right which entitles you to something. You have a right to freedom of press but you are not entitled to receive a printing press. You have a right to freedom of religion but you are not entitled to have whatever deity you decide to worship actually exist.  You do not have rights to things. Any “right” to things that you decide upon ultimately requires taking things from somebody else by force – whether their labor or their assets. It is at its best extortion and at its worst slavery.   You may believe otherwise of course. That is why I have the right to keep and bear arms. To defend myself against people like you.

Gibbs’ Unwritten Rule: NCIS and our

I like NCIS. It is probably my favorite TV show. I like the characters, the plotlines – pretty much everything about it. Of course if you like NCIS you must be familiar with Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon). Gibbs is known for many things – black coffee, palm slaps to the back of the head, bourbon in nail jars in the basement, and a set of rules he has been accumulating since his days in the Marine Corps. These rules are guides for his career and life. The rules are numbered but have been revealed haphazardly throughout the series. Based on the NCIS wiki, there are about 50 rules but so far only 31 have been revealed. There seems to be one rule however that applies to Gibbs and his team as well as many other heroes of police tv shows:

The Unwritten Rule:  Break any rule to get the bad guy – just do not get caught.  

Rules to be broken include the Constitution as well as other federal laws (all of which as fictional federal law enforcement officers they are fictionally sworn to uphold). The team regularly breaks federal law by hacking computer servers, tracking and hacking phones without warrants, breaking and entering to search residences without warrants, and continuing to interrogate suspects who have requested an attorney. They have also assaulted suspects in interrogation and have even killed a criminal or two rather than apprehend them (but they were really really bad criminals).

But we watch the show. We know Gibbs and his team are the good guys. They’ve got our backs. We can trust them. We come to expect that they will do whatever it takes to catch the bad guys and protect us. It is all in the name of entertainment but it also can condition us to make these tactics seem more acceptable.  But these rules were not made to be broken whenever a truly good guy sincerely believes he needs to break them to catch the bad guy.  Even if the good guy seems really good, like Gibbs.

Amendment IV to the US Constitution

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Unfortunately these problems cross over from the fictional TV world to our real world.

  • In the highly publicized case of the alleged Silk Road mastermind, federal agents illegally hacked foreign servers to identify the defendent and were not even required to show how they obtained the “evidence” at trial.
  • Police use of dogs trained to give a positive at will to “justify” unconstitutional car searches is well documented.
  • Civil asset forfeiture rules enabled police departments to illegally steal more money last year than all the burglars in the US combined.

Unfortunately, these examples merely brush surface of the problem of government authorities who have become accustomed to overreaching their authority at will.  So does Gibbs have a relevant rule?  Maybe number 40:

“If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are.”

And of course there are ten others known as the Bill of Rights.


Which Man in the High Castle?

So I am watching the new series based on the Philip K Dick novel of the same name. The story supposes that the Germans and Japanese won World War 2 and partitioned the United States between them. It is the 1960’s and a whole generation is growing up that does not remember a free United States. Within the story, a small resistance tries to keep the knowledge of freedom alive by passing around bootleg copies of a movie that shows the Allies winning the war. Admittedly, I am not far into the series and have not read the book. But it gave me an idea.  A question really.  Who actually won World War 2?

The question might seem ridiculous. Ostensibly the answer is easy. Western democracy won out over European and Japanese militarism and fascism. But did it?  The war might have been one of the first modern wars of ideology – wars fought for ideas. And if that is the case, the winner may not be so clear-cut. Because, in fact, the same seeds that blossomed in Italy as fascism and in Germany as Nazism took root in the US as well and had been growing since well before the war. These seeds have continued to grow until we face a future that might be described as “soft” totalitarianism.

  1. The growth of the security and surveillance state,
  2. The intrusion of government into nearly every aspect of your life,
  3. The blending of the two parties until regardless of which way you vote, you get more of the same,
  4. The merging of government and corporate interests,
  5. The replacement of free speech with acceptable speech,
  6. And the education and conditioning of the masses to find this condition acceptable.

This assault on the underpinnings of the world’s first free republic began in the late 1800’s as the progressive movement began to gain steam. Early changes strengthened the federal government, turned a shy republic into a global empire, created a central bank, and made constitutional changes designed to weaken the power of the states vis a vis the federal government. It saw the implementation of eugenics schemes whose impact are still felt to the present day. During its first heyday, FDR set out purposely to dismantle the constitutional restraints placed on his office and the federal government as a whole.