Article Archives by Subject:  Rights

03-06-2013
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Rand Paul
Rand Paul
Subject: Action Alert

Earlier today, Rand Paul, the Republican Senator from KY, began a filibuster of the nomination of Obama appointee, John Brennan, to head up the CIA. Paul is conducting this filibuster in an attempt to force President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to declare their allegiance to the Writ of Habeas Corpus (Section 9) and the right to trial by Jury (5th Amendment) as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. He is demanding that they state categorically that the Executive branch does not have the authority to unilaterally target for death, any American citizen on American soil who does not pose an immediate threat. So far, both have refused to make a clear declaration.

The need to take such a stand comes in the wake of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) coupled with the administration's recent actions to turn Homeland Security into a unconstitutional, national, military organization and transition local police into a paramilitary force, while concurrently stockpiling arms and ammo and deploying drones across America.

Paul and Obama on Drones

If you are not already concerned, then you haven't been paying attention!

We now have a government that has gone mad with power and has no hesitation in mowing down any pesky constitutional concerns that still get in its way. Rand Paul has drawn a line in the sand and is taking a firm stand for limiting the government to its ennumerated powers and for protecting all of our rights. This filibuster is a symbolic act, and a very important one. The question is will the administration be forced to concede that their are limits to its actions, or will this filibuster simply fizzle out and soon be forgotten, along with the last remnants of our rights.

You can either sit back and wait to see what happens, or you can place yourself on the front lines and act to support this effort. I am asking everyone who reads this to act — and act immediately to provide support for what Rand Paul is doing. First, you can visit his Facebook page and adding your voice to the may others who are standing behind this effort. Follow this by going to his Senate Contact page, and leaving a personal message expressing your support for what he is doing. And then, most importantly of all, write a letter to the editors of your local papers, letting them know that there is considerable grassroots support for what Paul is doing—and why he is doing it. Contact like-minded friends and family and see if you can convince them to contribute their voice as well. In the big scheme of things, this may seem like only a small and inconsequential act, but I say that it is the first of many to come. Let's make this one count for all that it is worth!

Rand Paul's Filibuster

For those interested, the filibuster can viewed live on C-SPAN2

Thanks to all of you for your willingness to fight for the cause of liberty. It means a great deal to me.

UPDATE:

9:30 PM PST: Here is a link to a new White House Petition asking that the president to respond to Rand Paul on the drone strike issue. Sign it!

12-24-2011

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Subject: The Straw

Back on September 17th, during his weekly radio address, President Obama proclaimed that Americans must finally start paying their "fair share" in order to reduce the federal deficit. Of course this is all just verbal misdirection used to hide the fact that what he is actually talking about is merely another run at one of the most important goals of his administration — wealth redistribution — from those who have earned it to those that covet it, with the ruling government class taking their usual handling fee in the process.

And who is it that is not paying their fair share? Of course it is certainly not the virtuous bottom 50% of wage-earners who contribute little to nothing in income and payroll tax. (The bottom 47% pay no income tax at all, and that is precisely what makes them virtuous!) No, according to Obama, it's the greedy, cheating, wealthy households and businesses — the now famous 1% — that have been holding out on the rest of us, and justice demands that they must finally be forced to pay up.

And how are the top 1% fleecing us? By currently carrying only 40% of the total income and payroll tax burden (up from 18% in 1980). And if you increase that pool to the top 1.5% of households, representing the magic $250,000 income number, then that group pays roughly half the total. (For more details, see this article.)

So one is forced to ask, in Obama's mind just what level of tax burden does he deem to be fair to impose upon that small minority of Americans? Is it sixty percent? Seventy percent? More? He never tells us, because there is no hard and fast answer. For Obama, merely earning more than someone else is all the evidence required to condemn that person and justify the use of government force to confiscate their ill gotten "surplus."

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett seems to agree with Obama's egalitarian philosophy, and famously issued his call to "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich", demanding that the government raise taxes on him and other wealthy people. Taking up the cause, a group of twenty-four "Patriotic Millionaires" descended upon the Capitol to demand that Congress raise taxes on the wealthy in order to deal with the serious federal budget deficits and growing national debt. And just how serious were they? When confronted by reporter Michelle Fields of The Daily Caller (video below) and offered the opportunity to use their great wealth to make a voluntary debt reduction contribution to the Treasury Department, they all refused. And neither can I recall Buffett volunteering some or all of his fortune towards that end. It does make one wonder whether these patriots are truly concerned about the debt. Or instead, is it possible that their actual motives are not quite so altruistic, having more to do with seeing the chains restricting the freedom and property rights of others pulled ever tighter, even if it ends up impacting them as well?


    "Patriotic Millionaires?"

In 1957, the author and philosopher Ayn Rand published the novel Atlas Shrugged, depicting the consequences that inevitably result from government intervention in the realm of economics. As that story unfolds, we see the government exerting more and more control over business activities. However, instead of achieving the promised improvement, we observe conditions continuing to deteriorate at an ever accelerating pace. As government policies tie the hands of competent business leaders, making it increasingly difficult for them to act on their independent judgment and in service of their own goals, we do not find them running to the politicians and begging to be altruistically sacrificed on the pyre of subjugation as we witnessed with our patriotic millionaires. No. Possessing far too much integrity to abase themselves in that way, these men and women decide to go on strike by simply disappearing and leaving the problems of managing economic production to those who condemn them for their ability to successfully do so.

Over the past few years more and more people have been shocked to see in how many ways Atlas Shrugged has proved to be prophetic in anticipating the specifics actions and consequences that have resulted from bad political actions driven by an underlying evil philosophy. And the idea that men of ability, when pressed too far would choose to strike, is one literary device that has dramatically presaged today's reality. As Rand put it in a conversation between her characters, Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden:
    "If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?"

    "I . . . don't know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?"

    "To shrug."

Here are some examples of real-life strikers in action:

Stealing from the rich isn't an idea original to Obama; people have been trying it ever since Ogg caught his first wild boar and Yuup decided that he would like his "fair share" of that. But hiring a group of thugs, called "politicians", and getting them to do all the hard work for you was certainly a civilizing advancement! In 2008, the Maryland "Yuups" identified their "Oggs", and they were called millionaires. Here's what happened, as reported in the Wall Street Journal:
    Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

    One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year — even at higher rates.

Push too hard on your victims, and just like Keyser Söze, "Poof, they're gone!"

On occasion, a few of these individuals will make public the reasons for their departure, similar to the radio address delivered by John Galt towards the end of Atlas Shrugged. Here are excerpts from two such letters:
    Good Bye and Good Luck, by former Illinois state senator, Roger Keats.

    As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye to my friends and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of it. After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart. BUT enough is enough! The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we can't continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here. I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/4rd [sic] of our population. ...

    We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county in the most corrupt state in America. I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire police and fire! Our Crook County CORPORATE property tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House and the most senior alderman in Chicago each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their client's tax assessments. ...

    Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20% and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes over 20% in one year. I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us. I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets. My best to all of you and Good luck!

    Why I'm Leaving New York, by Tom Golisano, Chairman of the Board of Paychex, Inc.

    I love New York. But how much should it cost to call New York home? Decades of out-of-control budgets, spending increases and relentless borrowing have made New York simply too expensive.

    Politicians like to talk about incentives — incentives for businesses to relocate, incentives to buy local and incentives to make smart decisions. After reviewing the 2009 budget, I have identified the most compelling incentive of all: a major tax break immediately available to all New Yorkers. To be eligible, you need only do one thing: move out of New York state.

    Last week I spent 90 minutes doing a couple simple things: registering to vote, changing my driver's license, filling out a domicile certificate and signing a homestead certificate — in Florida. Combined with spending 184 days a year outside New York, these simple procedures will save me over $5 million in New York taxes annually.

    That savings doesn't include that Florida has a 6 percent sales tax, compared to New York's 8 percent or more. Florida has lower utility taxes and lower gasoline taxes. The Florida homestead certificate guarantees my property taxes will not grow more than 3 percent. ...

    It's not an easy decision, but I'm being forced away from my family and friends, a pain shared by too many parents and grandparents in this state.

    I'm leaving. And by domiciling in Florida, I will personally save $13,800 every single day. That's a pretty strong incentive.

    Like I said, I love New York, but I'm not going to pay New York more for the waste, corruption and inefficiency that is New York state government.

The same story has played out over and over again in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Illinois and elsewhere. And it's not just wealthy individuals, but entire businesses which also look to relocate when the burden becomes too great. As reported in CNN Money:
    Buffeted by high taxes, strict regulations and uncertain state budgets, a growing number of California companies are seeking friendlier business environments outside of the Golden State.

    And governors around the country, smelling blood in the water, have stepped up their courtship of California companies. Officials in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and Utah are telling California firms how business-friendly they are in comparison.

    Companies are "disinvesting" in California at a rate five times greater than just two years ago, said Joseph Vranich, a business relocation expert based in Irvine. This includes leaving altogether, establishing divisions elsewhere or opting not to set up shop in California.

Or another example from the Wall Street Journal:
    Late Tuesday night, Democrats in the Illinois house and senate rammed through Governor Pat Quinn's 67% hike in the state income tax and a nearly 50% jump in the state corporate tax. The increase will add $1,400 to the average family's tax bill, and we doubt it will help job creation in a state that has lost 374,000 jobs since 2008.

    New Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker immediately rolled out a press release inviting Illinois businesses to decamp to the Badger State, contrasting his agenda to reduce taxes and welcome business with the Illinois increase. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels added: "We already had an edge on Illinois in terms of the cost of doing business, and this is going to make it significantly wider."

Contrary to what progressive state politicians repeatedly try to tell themselves, so long as alternatives are available, intelligent individuals and businesses will not merely sit back and "take it", but will continue to pursue what is in their best interest. When one state acts abusively, there are 49 other possibilities to explore in order to locate a healthier environment. However, when the federal government gets involved in imposing its punitive taxes and regulation across the entire country, then options become much more limited, difficult and costly. For certain large scale industries and very wealthy individuals, there may be the possibility of moving business or investments offshore. But in many other cases, the problems created by political intervention simply outweight all of the alternatives. The tipping point is finally reached, and the most sensible path is to simply call it quits — a phenomenon that has been accelerating in recent years and has come to be known as "Going Galt".

In the Tri-City Herald we here the story of Bob Bertsch:
    It took Bob Bertsch 25 years to build his construction business and just a day for it all to go away.

    Bertsch, 65, said he is down-sizing because the tax burden got too expensive to stay in business.

    "I am tired of carrying all the tax load," Bertsch said. "I renew 13 licenses here every year just so I can spend money in this city."

    Bertsch makes no attempt to conceal his frustration with the costs government imposes on small businesses like his.

    "Government is killing small business. We used to have 24 employees at our peak. Now, all of those people who used to work here are in unemployment lines," he said.

On David McElroy's Blog, he recounts the words of Alabama coal mine operator Ronnie Bryant who, after having listened to two hours of business-bashing by the public, environmentalists and politicians, had this to say:
    My name's Ronnie Bryant, and I'm a mine operator. I've been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people ... [pause]

    Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can't pay their mortgage. They can't pay their car note. They can't feed their families. They don't have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just ... you know ... what's the use?

    I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They'd be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What's the use? I don't know.

    I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there's so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there's no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I've decided is not to open the mine. I'm just quitting. Thank you.

Zero Hedge posted the letter that hedge fund manager Ann Barnhardt sent to clients, announcing the closure of her business. Excerpts follow:
    Dear Clients, Industry Colleagues and Friends of Barnhardt Capital Management,

    It is with regret and unflinching moral certainty that I announce that Barnhardt Capital Management has ceased operations. After six years of operating as an independent introducing brokerage, and eight years of employment as a broker before that, I found myself, this morning, for the first time since I was 20 years old, watching the futures and options markets open not as a participant, but as a mere spectator.

    The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets — because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy. ...

    Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. ... What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. ...

    I will not, under any circumstance, consider reforming and re-opening Barnhardt Capital Management, or any other iteration of a brokerage business, until Barack Obama has been removed from office AND the government of the United States has been sufficiently reformed and repopulated so as to engender my total and complete confidence in the government, its adherence to and enforcement of the rule of law, and in its competent and just regulatory oversight of any commodities markets that may reform.

The Hazleton, PA Standard Speaker reports that Dr. Frank C. Polidora, an orthopedic surgeon, quits:
    A Hazleton doctor is resigning from the medical staff of St. Luke's Miners' Memorial Hospital, Coaldale.

    Dr. Frank C. Polidora, a longtime Hazleton orthopedic surgeon, blames the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March for his decision. He has been on the hospital's staff since 2003.

    "The Democrats' 'passage' of OBAMACARE on March 21, 2010, was the final straw," Polidora wrote in his resignation letter to William Crossin, chief executive officer of St. Luke's-Miners. The resignation is effective Saturday.

    Contacted Thursday, Polidora said his decision to leave had nothing to do with the hospital, a facility he praised. Rather, it was about following his own principles. ...

    "To be a true physician, one must be moral. To be moral requires freedom, both political and economic. The freedom of the physician has been lost by degrees over the last 45 years," he wrote in his letter. "OBAMACARE has totally destroyed this freedom, especially as it applies to a hospital practice." ...

    "I fear for the future of the hospital as those in power in our country are seeking to replace the practice of medicine, the profession of healing, with an industry that produces health, but who will, intentionally or not, create a process that removes the unhealthy," Polidora said in his resignation letter.

The Wall Street Journal discusses Thomas Depping's decision to close Main Street Bank:
    Main Street Bank lends most of its money to small businesses and is earning decent profits. But the Kingwood, Texas, bank is about to get out of the banking business.

    In an extreme example of the frustration felt by many bankers as regulators toughen their oversight of the nation's financial institutions, Main Street's chairman, Thomas Depping, is expected to announce Wednesday that the 27-year-old bank will surrender its banking charter and sell its four branches to a nearby bank.

    Mr. Depping plans to set up a new lender that will operate beyond the reach of banking regulators — and the deposit-insurance safety net. ... "The regulatory environment makes it very difficult to do what we do," says Mr. Depping. ...

    Bankers have long complained about their overseers, but it is rare for a bank to basically close its doors aside from an acquisition or failure. Mr. Depping blames the move on a tightening regulatory noose.

Jerry Della Femina tells his story in the East Hampton Independent:
    In the beginning it was a dream. I would own a restaurant in East Hampton. It would be a warm, beautiful place with great food and wonderful service. It would become one of the most popular restaurants in the Hamptons. ...

    So why am I selling one of the most successful restaurants in East Hampton? In 2008 I watched Barack Obama run over Hillary Clinton to become our President. From the very first "Yes We Can" and "Change You Can Believe In," I decided that this country was falling in love with an attractive, great-speechmaking hustler/socialist who, if he got into office, was going to pursue his agenda to destroy the best health care in the world and re-distribute wealth. Yours and mine. I told my friends that from that moment on everything I owned — my houses, my advertising business, my newspaper and my restaurant — was for sale. ...

    Why does this so go against my grain? Maybe it's because of where I've come from to get to where I am. I've been broke, so broke with a wife and kids and no job that I had to borrow money from my parents, who didn't have it for themselves but always managed to come up with it for me.

    I got lucky and worked day and night and built a great advertising agency. I have employed thousands of people in my lifetime. I've been good to them and they have been good to me.

    I'm just not ready to have my wealth redistributed. I'm not ready to pay more tax money than the next guy because I provide jobs and because I work a 60-hour week and I earn more than $250,000 a year.

    So why am I dropping out? Read a brilliant book by Ayn Rand called Atlas Shrugged, and you'll know.

For every newsworthy story of an individual or business that decides to throw in the towel, there are untold others that go unreported. Many businesses — and sometimes entire industries — are destroyed by a burden of taxes and regulations that simply cannot be borne in a market-driven economy. This much is at least clear to some.

But what gets little discussion is the psychological toll that all of this government intervention takes. What few seem to understand is that for the small minority who are prepared to accept full responsibility for themselves — living by their own thought, judgment, goals and actions — each unreasonable tax is not merely a burden, but is seen to be a gross injustice; every new piece of legislation is another set of circus hoops through which one is forced to jump; regulations are a leash, and every regulator a self-appointed master with a whip in hand. For the independent man or woman, government intervention attempts to reduce them from their stature as fully human, to some form of caged beast under the constant control of others.

Government intervention is the supreme demotivator!

It hammers away at passion. It undermines creativity. It erodes drive and the will to succeed. It destroys the joy found in action and the pride realized through success.

To put it simply, it drains the fun out of life.

In an attempt to place a monetary price tag on our economic losses, enormous energy is invested by bureaucrats, analysts, pundits and the media in calculating debt ratios, unemployment levels, energy costs, borrowing fluidity, and any number of other metrics. All the while the real price being paid — the total loss of human motive willpower — dwarfs all of those calculations, but goes unacknowledged. Go back and reread the stories above and look for what they all have in common. These once productive individuals, all of them wealth and job creators, have pulled the plug on their endeavors. And why? Because, thanks to government intervention, they can no longer find the joy that their work once brought them. The rewards of hard work have been lowered while the costs have increased, to a point where further effort is no longer justified — at which point, it's time to shrug.

If you see the issue in this light, then you can understand why, when Ayn Rand spoke of the struggle for our future, she did not describe it principally in economic or political terms, but instead framed it as something much more important: a moral battle — a fight for the true nature and soul of mankind. At its most fundamental level, each person must strive for their passion — their joy — their happiness. And they must oppose anything that stands in the path of those pursuits.

Today, the greatest obstacle standing in our way is a government that has escaped its constitutional straitjacket and become an oppressive monster, injecting itself into every crevice of our lives. If we are to move forward along a path to where we once again can assert ourselves as individuals, in full control over our own destines, then it is imperative that each political action we take be directed squarely at that goal. Half-hearted stop-gap measures will not solve this problem, and are in fact, partly responsible for what led us to this moment. It is time to apply the ultimate litmus test to every statement uttered by every person aspiring for political office:

Does this candidate articulate a consistent set of well defined policies that support my personal independence? If he accomplishes the things he is proposing, will this maximize the opportunity to pursue my life passionately, allowing me to set my own goals in service of my own definition of happiness?

I suggest that if you cannot respond with an unreserved "Yes!", then this is not a candidate worthy of your support. Reject him or her and seek out another who has earned the right to represent you by demonstrating that they fully understand and respect the right to your personal independence.

Never compromise when extending your political support, for doing so is simply an indirect way of compromising on your own life, your values, and ultimately your joy. Always consider just what you demand of yourself when pursuing your goals, and then be sure to never settle for anything less from those in whom you are prepared to vest with political power as your representative. This is the only strategy that has any long range hope of correcting our current situation. Anything less is a recipe for our continued cultural descent.


P.S. 01-06-12:
    Here is a link to an article by Hungarian entrepreneur Andor Jakab, who explains in detail precisely why he's not even considering getting started building up a new business. The final straw can break some before they even get out of the gate!

    This Is Why I Don't Give You A Job
11-21-2010

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Michael Wolfensohn
Subject: We've Got a Social Disease


"Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." — Ayn Rand


We hear the message from every quarter:   "Help thy neighbor",   "You are your brother's keeper",   "It takes a village". These are all expressions of the philosophy of altruism, which prohibits a self-interested and therefore a self-responsible concern for one's own wellbeing, substituting in its place an external focus on the welfare of others.

In the personal arena, a constant exposure to this message results in a society where people are trained to pay very close attention to the actions of their friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers. Since they have been instructed to be responsible for the safety and wellbeing of others, it often becomes necessary to intervene in their lives in order to advise against mistakes or actions that are judged to be foolhardy or dangerous. And this leads to the establishment of the busybody as an accepted social norm. Do you choose not to wear a bike helmet, or recycle, or shop at the local organic grocery store? The busybody has no hesitation in informing you of your error — and feeling great about it — regardless of whether or not you desire and have invited their input. After all, it's only for your own good, and they have been told that this "selfless" intrusion into your life is the essence of the morally good.

However, there can be a problem. Sometimes the other person — the object of these good intentions — simply will not listen to and adopt the recommendations that are being offered, so generously, in their own best interest. It can be frustrating when someone else doesn't see, understand and accept what is so clearly the proper way to think and act. Maybe their problem stems from a poor upbringing and exposure to the wrong influences. Or possibly they are distracted by other concerns, leaving them with a dangerous blind spot. Or, as is often judged to be the case, they may simply not be smart enough to work out out the optimal course of action on their own. Whatever the reason, the busybody, looking for other ways to help, turns to government — the repository of force — in order to make sure that these misguided people are made to do the right thing. Here are a couple of examples:

    Well neighbor, you didn't listen to me when I warned you about the importance of wearing you seatbelt during that trip to the corner grocery, so I decided to help you anyway by voting for a legislature willing to enact a mandatory seatbelt law. Maybe that $200 fine will get your attention and help you to start thinking straight. Oh, and you're welcome!

    Hello there my Samoan brother. Can't you see that you are being exploited by the capitalist oppressors runing the tuna industry? They offer you jobs in their canning factories at wages that I would not allow them to pay to my dog! Why do you not rise up and demand to be treated fairly? Well, if you will not stand up for yourself, being the busybody and savior that I am, I will do it for you by making sure that the U.S. Congress raises the minimum wage to acceptable levels. What? Starkist and Chicken of the Sea just moved their operations to other countries and now you are unemployed with no other jobs available? Well, at least you should be happy that you are no longer being oppressed! And have no fear my friend, for my love and concern for you is boundless and I will not let you starve. Please accept this can of dog food, complements of the compassionate American welfare system. My mission here is accomplished. Onward and upwards.

Busybodies in private life are annoying, but when these same people move into government where they can impose their views upon others, not through persuasion, but by force, they then become a very real danger. This country was founded on Enlightenment principles which held the sovereign individual, in possession of inherent rights, as the fundamental unit from which more complex social organizations were then formed through mutual voluntary association. However, the influence of altruism has slowly transformed our culture towards a collectivist view, where many people now see "society" as the preeminent social unit, with the individual citizens as subservient components, each owing a moral duty to the group. And where political leaders were once seen as representatives, entrusted with the task of protecting the rights of all citizens so that they might determine their own course through life in pursuit of their own definition of happiness, the collective shift has created fertile political ground, allowing the busybodies to acquire positions of power, transforming them into totalitarian masters intent upon ruling over the lives of their subjects.

Over the years, like a Chinese water torture, the transformation from freedom to oppression has occurred slowly, drip by drip, so that each incremental change was never large enough to cause the American people to rise up in rebellion. Starting out with a limited mandate to manage the post office and post roads, governments, without any express constitutional authority, simply started to assume control over all manner of transportation from cabs to buses, to trains to subways and air travel. Aviation and shipping ports, along with most utilities and communication mediums were nationalized. Total control over the money supply was achieved through the creation of a fiat currency coupled with regulation of the banking system, after which they began branching out to regulate industry after industry, until they had accumulated the power to effectively intercede across the entire economy.

Not satisfied with that, the autocrats also wished to control even the most minute details of our personal lives. Under the guise of "public safety", they began to regulate and license one occupation after another. Starting with medicine, profession after profession fell under government control, granting to these political rulers the power to decide if, and under what conditions, we would be allowed to practice our trade. And once the licensing system was firmly established, the fiction of public safety was dropped, and controls on up to 500 occupations including manicurists, flower arrangers and fortune tellers were implemented. And while they were cementing their ability to dictate our means of earning a living, these politicians also created legislation giving them the power to manage our education, retirement and medical care while redistributing wealth to control the housing and feeding of some, at the expense of others.

Today, they instruct us on how we may transport our children. They tell us what we can eat, drink and smoke. They determine how and what we may build on our property, and require us to seek supervised permission should we wish to remodel a bathroom. We must submit to being groped at an airport, and our computer can be confiscated and searched at will without a warrant. School children are forced to perform mandatory community service, and two years of mandatory national service is currently being proposed for all adults. And on and on it goes. Every step in this abusive accumulation of power and exercise of control, has resulted in the loss of each citizen's individual rights, while always being justified by the altruistic claim that it is done with only the best interest of others as the goal. Could that be so? Even if we disagree with the results, are the politicians truly well-meaning in their intentions, having only our best interest at heart?

Every once in a while an opportunity presents itself to strips away the facade, allowing us to see the true nature of those politicians who claim to be our benefactors. Such an event recently took place in New Castle, NY, as reported here and here.

Four thirteen year old boys had a dream of becoming entrepreneurs by buying a hot dog cart and starting a small business venture. In order to purchase the cart, they would need to save a fair amount of money, and so, with their parent's approval, they decided to spend their weekends making cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods and selling them at a nearby park. During their first outing, the boys had great success, earning $120 in sales. On the following Sunday, two of the boys returned to the park and set up their table. A man with his wife and two children was passing by. He stopped to ask the boys what they were doing, and they eagerly explained. He then walked away to make a telephone call. The boys assumed that he was calling his friends to come down and support their cause, but instead he had phoned the police who arrived a short time later and told the boys that they were breaking the law and must stop. It turns out that in order to sell cupcakes, they would have to obtain a two-hour vendors permit from the city at a cost of $175, as well as provide a certificate of insurance for $1 million. So much for the entrepreneurial plans of four enterprising youth. And who was the individual who ratted them out? None other than New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn.

Did Mr. Wolfensohn care enough about the boy's dreams and the lessons they would learn from their hard work to simply let the matter slide and instead help them by purchasing a few of their goods? NO. Did Mr. Wolfensohn make an effort to explain the need to obtain a permit and then help the boys navigate the bureaucratic system and find a way to continue without breaking the law? NO. Did Mr. Wolfensohn have the simple decency to talk directly with the boys, explain his concerns, and ask them to please halt their sales activity? NO. With all of these possibilities available to him, what Mr. Wolfensohn did was treat these innocent children like common criminals and, like a snitch, turn them in to the cops. And now, Mr. Wolfensohn is puzzled, because, of course, he only did it for the public good!

Wolfensohn is your typical busybody, who, by being elected to even the modest post of town councilman, has been transformed into a petty tyrant, able to inflict great harm within his domain. He see it as his mission to monitor the actions of those around him and make sure that they never step outside of the straitjacket of rules and regulation he so cherishes. Only a person who thrives on power and control over others could act as Wolfensohn did in this circumstance. But the important lesson here is to recognize that Wolfensohn is merely showing us the honest soul of a great many politicians, including that of our current President. Remember this the next time you hear some politician tell you that the seatbelt law or the health care legislation is something that they support because it is in your best interests. The truth is that while they speak, they are actually dropping the noose around your neck and in a moment or two, they will be yanking on the other end of the cord.

Yes, we have a serious social disease, and if we do not inoculate against it very soon, it is going to kill us.

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to Mr. Wolfensohn and published on various public sites.

    Of Cupcakes and Kings

    An Open Letter to Michael Wolfensohn of the Town of New Castle, NY

    Dear Mr. Wolfensohn:

    I side with many other people in finding the actions you have taken against Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, halting their sale of homemade cupcakes and treats, to be an arrogant and reprehensible abuse of power. Like a great many other politicians from the township level on up to our President, each of you see yourselves as superior to your fellow men and women and wish to rule over us, restricting our free choice to act independently in the pursuit and realizations of our individual dreams. You believe that your position grants you the ability to regulate every aspect of our existence, while reducing the rest of us to the role of beggars who must come, hat in hand, asking you to grant us your beatific permission, whether it is to practice our chosen profession or to sell a measly cupcake — always of course, accompanied by the necessary bribe, oops, I mean requisite administrative or licensing fee.

    Often, people are confused by the actions of politicians when they shroud their oppressive and unconstitutional acts in misdirecting altruistic rhetoric such as the "public good" or the "general welfare". But here we have a situation where the naked truth is exposed for anyone to see. So Mr. Wolfensohn, thank you for stepping out from behind the curtain and allowing the average citizen to observe the exact nature of your intentions. You have sent a clear message to two thirteen year old boys, wiping away any naive innocence they may have held, and replacing it with a clear understanding of the exact nature of the oppressive society in which they live. It is a lesson I am sure they will never forget -- nor will I. The truth is that through your actions, you have made me ashamed to be both an adult and an American.

    And to everyone else, whether you are a cab driver, hairdresser, automotive mechanic, realtor, veterinarian, accountant, lawyer, teacher, nurse, dentist, doctor, architect, engineer, therapist, florist, librarian, beekeeper, fortune teller, or any of the hundreds of other licensed and regulated professions, please remember that you are receiving exactly the same treatment as Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff. And where a child should properly be confused and upset at their first exposure to this sort of treatment, we adults know better and should be outraged by it! It is time to put a stop to this abuse. We elected Mr. Wolfensohn, and all of the other politicians, in order to protect our individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not for them to become our masters, granted the power to direct and control our lives. Let each of them know that you are a competent adult, capable of managing your own affairs and making your own decisions, and in the name of freedom, you are reasserting your independence and autonomy and will no longer allow them to tell you what you may and may not do with your life.

    Regards,

    C. Jeffery Small

You can share your own thoughts with Mr. Wolfensohn by sending him an email message at: mbwolf@town.new-castle.ny.us

And if you have a comment for one of your Senators or Representatives, you can find their contact information at: Congress Merge


External links to reprints of this article:
09-13-2010

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Pruitt-Igoe
Subject: Your Property and Property Rights Are Being Dynamited!

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." — George Santayana

Urban Planning

    From Wikipedia:

    In 1947, Saint Louis planners proposed replacement of DeSoto-Carr, a run-down black neighborhood, with new two- and three-story residential blocks and a public park. The plan did not materialize; instead, Democratic mayor Joseph Darst, elected in 1949, and Republican state leaders favored total clearing of the slums and replacing them with high-rise, high-density public housing. They reasoned that the new projects would create a net positive result to the city through increased revenues, new parks, playgrounds and shopping space.

    In 1948 voters rejected the proposal for a municipal loan to finance the change, but soon the situation was changed with the Housing Act of 1949 and Missouri state laws that provided co-financing of public housing projects. The approach taken by Darst, urban renewal, was shared by Harry S. Truman administration [sic] and fellow mayors of other cities overwhelmed by industrial workers recruited during the war. Specifically, Saint Louis Land Clearance and Redevelopment Authority was authorized to acquire and demolish the slums of the inner ring and then sell the land at reduced prices to private developers, fostering middle-class return and business growth. Another agency, Saint Louis Housing Authority, had to clear land to construct public housing for the former slum dwellers.

    Pruitt-Igoe was a large urban housing project first occupied in 1954 and completed in 1955 in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after its completion, living conditions in Pruitt-Igoe began to decay; by the late 1960s, the extreme poverty, crime, and segregation brought the complex a great deal of infamy as it was covered extensively by the international press. The complex was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center towers.

    At 3 PM on March 16, 1972 — 16 years after construction was finished — the first of the complex's 33 buildings was demolished by the federal government. The other 32 buildings were destroyed over the next four years. The high-profile failure of Pruitt-Igoe has become an emblematic icon often evoked by all sides in public housing policy debate.

    Does anything above sound familiar? Government urban planners, with big ideas and only the best interests of the "general public" at heart, use the power of the state to seize huge tracts of private land, raze everything in sight, hand over that land to private developers, and proceed to create a new social and economic Shangri-La. Except things, for some unexpected reason, don't really turn out as anticipated! Oh well, don't worry. We'll get it right next time.

    From Wikipedia:

    During the 1950s and 60s, New Haven [Connecticut] received more urban renewal funding per capita than any city in the United States. New Haven became the de facto showcase of the new modern redeveloped city and plans for its downtown development were chronicled in publications like Time and Harper's magazines throughout the 1950s and 60s. Robert C. Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Lyndon Johnson Administration, once said that New Haven during this time was the closest America has ever been to having a "slumless" city.

    Since 2000, downtown has seen an increasing concentration of new restaurants, nightlife, and small retail stores. The area has experienced an influx of hundreds of new and renovated apartment and condominium units, and a significant number of up-scale restaurants and nightclubs have opened.

    Well, that certainly sounds more promising! However, as an architect and a resident of New Haven from 1978-1988, I recall a slightly different picture. Through the 60s, 70s and early 80s, despite being the home to Yale University, New Haven was an economically depressed area. All of that urban renewal money had been spent purchasing low-rent buildings within the downtown core, knocking them down, and creating temporarily gravel parking lots while wondrous new structures were planned. However, by the early 1980s, after 25 years of "planning", most of these areas remained open gravel lots, giving much of the city the appearance of a bombed war zone rather than a thriving community.

    But what about the claims of being a "slumless" city? Well, that might well be true. Every building within New Haven that offered inexpensive storefront rents and provided affordable housing on the upper floors were demolished. All of these self-sufficient business owners were displaced, as were their clientele, the low-income tenants who had previously occupied these buildings. With no place left to live or work, these people moved on to other cities or became new clients of the state-run subsidized housing developments springing up everywhere.

    While private development was being encouraged in the mid-to-late 80s when I left the state, I think the article's reference to economic expansion beginning to take real hold after 2000 — a 45-50 year period of economic stagnation — is the ultimate indictment against urban renewal. Strike two.

    From Wikipedia:

    Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development. The case arose from the condemnation by New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property so that it could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan which promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues. The Court held in a 5-4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    Following the decision, many of the plaintiffs expressed an intent to find other means by which they could continue contesting the seizure of their homes. Soon after the decision, city officials announced plans to charge the residents of the homes for back rent for the five years since condemnation procedures began. The city contended that the residents have been on city property for those five years and owe tens of thousands of dollars of rent. The case was finally resolved when the City agreed to move Kelo's house to a new location. The controversy was eventually settled when the city paid substantial additional compensation to the homeowners.

    In spite of repeated efforts, the redeveloper (who stood to get a 91-acre waterfront tract of land for $1 per year) was unable to obtain financing, and the redevelopment project was abandoned. As of the beginning of 2010, the original Kelo property was a vacant lot, generating no tax revenue for the city.

    In addition, in September 2009, Pfizer, whose upscale employees were supposed to be the clientele of the Fort Trumbull redevelopment project, completed its merger with Wyeth, resulting in a consolidation of research facilities of the two companies. Shortly after the merger closed, Pfizer decided to close its New London facility in favor of one across the Thames River in nearby Groton by 2011; this move coincides with the expiration of tax breaks on the New London campus that also expire by 2011, when Pfizer's tax bill on the property would have increased almost fivefold. [As reported in the papers] "Pfizer Inc. announced that it is closing the $350 million research center in New London that was the anchor for the New London redevelopment plan, and will be relocating some 1,500 jobs."

    Remember, these are the people who believe that they can run automobile plants, manage the entire US economy, and will soon be in charge of your life-and-death health care decisions.

    In each of the three cases cited above, who knows just how many houses, businesses, and millions of tax dollars were taken from productive people who would have furthered their lives and made sensible investments with their money, only to instead have it squandered by these bureaucrats? Then, realize that it is not three, but hundreds of similarly failed experiments taking place across the country each year, and the mind boggles at the lost wealth, in the billions and trillions, that has been pumped into these rat holes of disastrous attempts at social engineering by the central planners. They failed in the 1950s, and again and again in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, right up through the destruction of the town of New London, CT in 2009, and still no lesson has been learned — other than we can have our property confiscated from us at any time, so long as the magical incantation "for the public good" is first proclaimed.

Zoning

    But until they come along and take your property for some urban planning scheme, it's yours to do with as you see fit, right? Not a chance. So called Euclidean Zoning laws, instituted in the early part of the 20th century have long placed a complex set of restrictions on what any individual could do with their land and buildings. These regulations specify what types of uses are allowed (residential, commercial, religious, etc.), the location where any structure may be placed on the lot, overall land coverage, total usable building area, height, allowable exterior pavement, types of landscaping required, restrictions on signage, lighting, grading, drainage, and on and on.

    After more than one hundred years of imposing these guidelines and restrictions all across the country, we must, by now, certainly be living in a designer's paradise. Well, according to a July 8th article in Architect magazine titled Brave New Codes, the result has been as follows:

    The separation of uses written into Euclidean zoning codes made sense to the lawyers who wrote them, but they have the effect of creating bland and inefficient places, Plater-Zyberk says.

    Great places weren't being produced under Euclidean zoning, according to Plater-Zyberk. "It became evident that this regulatory framework was really what was driving suburbia, sprawl, and the things that were being criticized as being inefficient and unsustainable," Plater-Zyberk says. "It wasn't that people wanted it to be that way—the codes were just written that way."

    So, the ill effects were not produced because "people wanted it to be that way", they were forced upon us all because "the codes were just written that way". Then the solution is obvious! Remove the zoning codes and let people achieve those better results that they desire. But no, freedom and choice is never a solution that crosses the mind of the totalitarian planner. Just as we saw in the case of urban planning, the zoning advocates believe that they now have all the answers and can create nirvana with a different set of regulations. So coming soon to a city near you is Form-based Zoning, the cure for what ails you.

    From Wikipedia:

    Form-based zoning relies on rules applied to development sites according to both prescriptive and potentially discretionary criteria.

    Design-based codes offer considerably more flexibility in building uses than do Euclidean codes, but, as they are comparatively new, may be more challenging to create. [...] When form-based codes do not contain appropriate illustrations and diagrams, they have been criticized as being difficult to interpret.

    One example of a recently adopted code with design-based features [...] creates "form districts"

    One version of form-based or "form integrated" zoning utilizes [...] three district components - a use component, a site component and an architectural component. The use component is similar in nature to the use districts of euclidian zoning. However, with an emphasis on form standards, use components are typically more inclusive and broader in scope. The site components define a variety of site conditions from low intensity to high intensity such as size and scale of buildings and parking, accessory structures, drive-through commercial lanes, landscaping, outdoor storage and display, vehicle fueling and washing, overhead commercial service doors, etc. The architectural components address architectural elements and materials.

    As a home or business owner, you have really got to love that "potentially discretionary criteria". It can really add some excitement to your life! And as an architect, it has got to be a relief that the form, elements and material design choices will now be made for you by a government agency rather than being a decision formulated between you and your client — much as medical decisions under nationalized health care will now be dictated by a bureaucrat rather than resulting from a consultation between patient and doctor.

    Here are some additional comments from the Brave New Codes article:

    "A lot of times, [the zoning codes are] just telling you what you can't do." [Peter] Park says Denver's form-based code tries harder to guide developers and designers toward what they can do, mainly by being a very visual document.    [Emphasis added]

    So instead of being left free to do anything other than what is specifically restricted, the new codes turn western culture upon its head by actively prohibiting everything except that which is explicitly allowed. Your right to use your property is now being placed in a straitjacket where a few subjective, discretionary strings are then loosened to allow you some very restricted range of motion, based not upon what you desire, but upon what others deem is best.

    "If the architects could understand that they're part of a larger effort of placemaking, and it's not just a restriction like any old code, I think that they would have a good time working with form-based codes."

    "Often 'design freedom' becomes another term for 'anything goes' solutions that contribute little, if any, to the collective enterprise," Jiménez adds. "Limits are not the curtailing of freedom, but rather opportunities to transcend them."

    Translated, this means that, as an architect, I will learn to enjoy my new role as an implementor of their rules, as soon as I come to accept my proper place as a comrade in the collective enterprise of state-mandated placemaking. These people have covered all the bases and their actions would bring a smile to Ellsworth Toohey's face.

    This collective premise is so pervasive in our society that many people are not even aware of the extent of its effect upon them. For example, in another article in Architect magazine titled If a Tree Falls, the author, Lance Hosey, discussing the ecological benefits to using regional construction materials, makes the following offhand statement:

    How would the construction industry change if builders were limited to what's in their own backyards?

    Notice that he didn't say "if builder's limited themselves", but "if builders were limited", ignoring the possibility of using persuasion and immediately assuming that external force should be applied against all builders in order to achieve his desired results — a result which apparently is to be taken as self-evidently correct and proper. For the collectivist, individual choice and personal freedom are nonexistent concepts, and all that matters here is an economic calculation concerning the use of raw materials. Trees and water are precious. Humans are beneath consideration.

National Social Engineering

    Which brings us to the real purpose of this piece. From an article written by Bob Livingston, it came to my attention that back on August 6, 2009, Christopher Dodd submitted to the Senate S.1619, a bill titled the Livable Communities Act of 2009, which was followed on February 25, 2010 by the companion House resolution H.R.4690, the Livable Communities Act of 2010. On August 3rd, 2010, S.1619 was released from committee and sent to the Senate and is currently awaiting a vote. Let's examine the major provisions of this legislation.

    • Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities
      This establishes another huge federal bureaucracy with broad powers applied at the state, regional and local levels, to promote planning and construction meeting federal guidelines for sustainability, energy conservation, affordability, and mass-transportation.

    • Implementation of Grant Programs
      This sets up a huge sub-bureaucracy for various grant programs used for the distribution of federal tax dollars to state, regional and local governmental organizations, as well as to private consultancy groups. This is the carrot used to induce participation and the hammer which elicits cooperation, and ultimately submission, to federal authority.

    • Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities
      This establishes an executive-branch council that coordinates and oversees the operations of the entire program. Of course, there would be one or more new czars installed to oversee the overseerers.

    • Funding
      The initial appropriation through 2013 is in excess of $3.7 billion.

    As has been the case with all recent congressional legislation, the bill deals with the establishment of a large and complex bureaucratic framework intended to implement goals which are merely hinted at within the text. At this point there is no direct way to gage the intentions of, or the specific actions that might be taken, by those ultimately chosen to staff this operation. In this way these bills can be made to appear as all things to all people, while being immune to meaningful criticism. Nevertheless, I think we can draw a few broad generalities based upon the goals of those sponsoring this initiative.

    • The creation of a federal planning and development agency would be a new and significantly greater infringement upon the remaining property rights of individuals and businesses.

    • The additional bureaucracy and costs imposed by this bill would create a substantial new impediment to economic recovery and future economic growth.

    • A large segment of the grant funding can be predicted to go to eco-groups who will be eager to finally be able to impose their "green" policies upon everyone else.

    • The sustainability and energy conservation goals of this legislation would significantly increase the cost of construction and energy in an effort to drive development in a different direction.

    • The mass-transportation goals of the bill would result in strictly controlled development corridors of high-density housing, serviced by rail. Gasoline prices would be forced significantly higher to discourage the freedom of automobile usage.

    • The affordability goals of the bill would be used as another tool for the redistribution of wealth in the country.

    • A long term goal might be the elimination of all suburban or rural homes, with these citizens being forced into cities. This could easily be accomplished by a congressional act condemning these properties and then razing the structures, just as we have seen demonstrated repeatedly by urban planners of the past.

    If central planners of the past were able to create such devastation in the wake of their grand schemes, imagine the magnitude of harm that could be unleashed by placing this much power in federal hands.

Global Social Engineering

    Dodd's bill is the first significant piece of legislation introduced in the United States which attempts to implement the goals of Agenda 21, described by the UN's Division for Sustainable Development (A division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) as follows:

    Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.

    Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992.

    During that conference, Agenda 21 was signed by President George H.W. Bush.

    A review of this document reveals the following goals:

    • Unite all nations in a common effort for sustainable development, with the UN ultimately acting as a super-government having authority over the remainder of the world's national governments.

    • National governments are required to "strengthen institutional structures to allow the full integration of environmental and developmental issues, at all levels of decision-making".

    • A massive redistribution of wealth from the rich (developed) countries to the poor (undeveloped) ones under the guise of creating "a more efficient and equitable world economy". In other words, eliminate world poverty in the name of promoting sustainable livelihoods and reduce the standard of living in developed countries as a necessity for reducing environmental stress.

    • Developed countries are to provide health care for undeveloped countries.

    • Global financial institutions are to be funded by rich countries in order to implement the environmental policies dictated by the UN.

    • By recognizing the "increasing interdependence of the community of nations", and working to "overcome confrontation", "foster a climate of genuine cooperation and solidarity", "strengthen national and international policies", and by adapting "to the new realities", strong countries are to be subjugated to the weak.

    • Use the UN's now discredited IPCC report as justification for throttling the economies of developed countries.

    • Adjust all land-use and resource policies to mitigate changes to the atmosphere, promote bio-diversity, conserve resources, minimize pollution, promote sustainability, provide shelter for all, promote sustainable construction, energy distribution, and transportation.

    • "Transfer" environmentally sound technology from the developers to those with a need. (Steal it.)

    • Promote education, public awareness and training. In other words, an active propaganda campaign.

    Agenda 21 is nothing more than a capitulation of the good to the bad, the rich to the poor, the strong to the weak, the productive to the unproductive, the creative to the uncreative, and the free to the unfree, all under the pretense of a global warming disaster which has been thoroughly debunked as one of the worlds biggest lies.

Conclusion

    As was the case with Health Care, the Disclose Act and Finance Reform, the Livable Communities Act is likely to be another piece of legislation that will be attempted to be pushed through the Democratic Congress with little regard for the impact upon the constitutional rights of the citizens of this country, or upon the fragile state of our economy. This is an administration focused upon one goal only — that being the consolidation of power — and this bill would expand federal power into devastating new areas. I encourage everyone to spread the word about this bill, and to contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them to vote NO when this Act comes up for consideration.
03-24-2010

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Investors.com
Subject: 20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms

To get a quick overview of how pervasively the new health care legislation will reach into your pockets and exercise control over your life, read the article, 20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms by David Hogberg.

Then get out your wallets and onto your feet and do what you can to fight back against those, whether in Washington or living next door, who have demonstrated a total lack of respect for your constitutional rights and wish to enslave you in service of their desires. These people are not your friends, and they are only just getting started.
02-18-2010

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The Rights of Man
Subject: The Rights of Man

There is a new activist website titled The Rights of Man which, as the name implies, is intended to promote the spread of ideas in support of individual rights, as articulated in the U.S. Constitution.

The main thrust of this site is directed at the creation of letters which can then be easily mailed to selected recipients such as politicians or media contacts. Additionally, letters made public on this site may be reviewed by others, and if desired, signed and mailed by them to the recipients, thereby increasing each letter's impact.

I encourage you to visit this site and craft your own contributions in the battle to restore our freedom and rights.
01-20-2010

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Scott Brown
Subject: My Direct Letter to Scott Brown

I just sent Senator-Elect Scott Brown the following letter.
    Dear Mr. Brown:

    Congratulations on your win last night. I was one of the many from outside MA that provided financial support for your campaign leading to this great day for both you and the entire country. But Mr. Brown, please do not let us down. You have been sent to Congress for one purpose: to do everything you can to stop the socialist juggernaut from crushing the spirit of America. Your job is to defend the rights of every individual and to cut the scope of government back wherever possible, doing what you can to return it to its singular function of protecting our rights, and nothing more. So once you have cast your vote against the health care legislation as you have promised, remain true to the principles of the people who elected you and continue the valiant fight to uphold the U.S. Constitution. If you do that, you will stand at the forefront of the Second American Revolution and earn yourself a place in history.

    Do not be seduced by the congressional seat and decide, as so many others have, that being elected has somehow granted you the wisdom and the powers to assume the role of making decisions for and manipulating the lives of the citizens of this country. Always remember that we are each sovereign individuals with the constitutionally guaranteed right to our own lives. We are not wards of the state. This means that we each get to make the decisions for ourselves as we best see fit, and that right is not limited to health care, but to every aspect of how we pursue our lives and every decision we make in disposing of our earnings. As the Constitution states:

    "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;"
    Fifth Amendment

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

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"
    Tenth Amendment

    The United States government was not granted the powers to make health care decisions for the citizens, and therefore, it remains a right of each individual. And that same reasoning holds true whether it pertains to deciding whether to invest in an energy efficient appliance, a fuel efficient car, determining whether and what type of mortgage to obtain, and whether we wish to provide financial help to a poor individual, a failing company or a foreign country in the aftermath of an earthquake. Always remember that the products of each person's efforts are their property, to dispose of as they - and only they - see fit. And the choices that they make are their means of pursuing their own happiness.

    The single proper role of federal government is to be a protector of the rights of the citizens. Every time the government steps outside that role and passes legislation to regulate business or personal actions, it has transformed from a protector into a violator of those rights. The majority of the text of the U.S. Constitution was written with the express purpose of constraining government so that it would not violate its mandate and become an agent of oppression. As you can clearly see, those protective measures were long ago breached and this country has been on a rapidly accelerating slide towards totalitarianism. Please make it your single-minded purpose to go to Washington D.C. to put the governmental genie back in its bottle and restore the right of every citizen to determine their own future.

    So again, I send you my best wishes for your victory and am excited to see you head to Washington and help us all in the struggle to recover our lost liberty.

    Sincerely,

    C. Jeffery Small

The election of Scott Brown is a watershed event with many positive consequences. But Brown has demonstrated with his actions before the election, and comments made afterwards, that he is not a person who sees the relationship between a government and its people as it was intended by the framers of the Constitution. I suggest that everyone who supported his election write their own letter to Scott Brown, letting him know that he is representing all citizens of this country, not just those of his home state, and explain to him your views and expectations for his term in Congress. Let's make sure that as he heads off to Washington D.C., he goes with a clear understanding of his proper role.

01-17-2010

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The Christian
Science Monitor
Subject: Too Fat To Fail!

An article by Paul Hsieh in The Christian Science Monitor titled Universal healthcare and the waistline police starts out:
    Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

    Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

    No, this is contemporary Japan.

    The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs.

This is the fate in store for all Americans if we fail to stop the current health care legislation from passing, for if it does, the government will finally have a very powerful tools at its disposal, allowing it to reach into the personal lives of each citizen and control our actions as it sees fit.

Paul concludes:
    Just as universal healthcare will further fuel the nanny state, the nanny state mind-set helps fuel the drive toward universal healthcare. Individuals aren't regarded as competent to decide how to manage their lives and their health. So the government provides "cradle to grave" coverage of their healthcare.

    Nanny state regulations and universal healthcare thus feed a vicious cycle of increasing government control over individuals. Both undermine individual responsibility and habituate citizens to ever-worsening erosions of their individual rights. Both promote dependence on government. Both undermine the virtues of independence and rationality. Both jeopardize the very foundations of a free society.

    The American Founding Fathers who fought and died for our freedoms would be appalled to know their descendants were allowing the government to dictate what they could eat and drink. The Founders correctly understood that the proper role of government is to protect individual rights and otherwise leave men free to live — not tell us how many eggs we should eat.

    If we still value our freedoms, we must reject both the nanny state and universal healthcare. Otherwise, it won't be long before the "Waistline Police" come knocking on our doors.

Read the entire article.

Paul has it exactly right, except that I would challenge him on one important point. By categorizing our government as a "nanny state", he makes the common error of giving the benefit of the doubt to the government by assuming that its motives are all directed in our best interest. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Our president and members of Congress know nothing at all about you and your unique circumstances, and could care less about your personal wellbeing. They have no interest in being you caregiver. That is simply a convenient fiction to conceal their true intent, which is to gain control over your actions and direct your life in service of their agenda. And their agenda is nothing more than raw, naked power. To them, you are merely a natural resource to be mined until your productive vein runs dry. Look at all recent actions taken or proposed by the government and identify the common denominator as it pertains to the American public:
    Warrantless Wiretaps? Control!
    Declaration of Carbon Dioxide as a Pollutant? Control!
    Outlawing Student Loans from Private Institutions? Control!
    TARP Bailouts - with Strings Attached? Control!
    Nationalization of the Housing Loan Industry? Control!
    Nationalization of the Automotive Industry? Control!
    Nationalization of the Financial Industry? Control!
    Nationalization of the Insurance Industry? Control!
    Nationalization of the Medical Industry? Control!
    Nationalization of the Energy Industry? Control!
    Mandatory Community Service for All School Children? Control!
    Proposed Mandatory National Service for All Citizens? Control!

And the list goes on. This is on top of the government having already nationalized the education, utilities and transportation industries, and heavily regulating the agriculture, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors, to name but a few. Where once we were a free people in a free country, able to pursue our lives in whatever manner we chose, so long as we didn't violate the rights of others, today our lives are so managed that it is extremely difficult to find some area where an individual may act without first seeking permission, paying a tax, or worrying that some agency might come behind and judge those actions to have been in violation of one of the unfathomable number of regulations that have been enacted.

Don't oppose health care reform because it is bad medicine. Fight it for all you are worth because it is you personal freedom — and the freedom of all of your family members — that is at stake. And that is something worth fighting for!
Barack Obama Barney Frank Nancy Pelosi Christopher Dodd
Do These People Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart?



[Thanks to Cloud Downy for bringing this article to my attention.]
01-16-2010

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LA Times
Subject: Don't Worry, Be Happy!  Yeah Right!

In a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times titled Researchers say it's official: TGIF, baby!, Shari Roan reports on startling research that reveals that "People are happier and feel better on the weekends". Who knew? The article reports:
    The study found that people love the freedom associated with weekends and even feel better physically.

    The study reinforces what is known as the "self-determination theory," which means that well-being is based on one's personal needs for autonomy, competence and social relationships.

So, this research from the University of Rochester has concluded that people find pleasure in "freedom", "personal autonomy", and "self-determination". Stop the presses!

Maybe someone should inform the people in Washington D.C. that their intrusive meddling into the lives of the citizens, with their policies to regulate our every decision and action, is a clear violation of our right to the pursuit of our own happiness.

In fact, let's start with the abomination known as health care reform which is explicitly designed to eliminate self-determination and freedom of choice for every one of us, destroying our individual autonomy and instead, treating us like a herd of cattle. Let's all make one final effort to contact the White House and our congressional representatives and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that their actions are making us VERY UNHAPPY, and that we DEMAND that they stop violating our unalienable rights and begin protecting them as they swore an oath to do when they took office.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to let them know that now we have scientific proof backing us up! :-)
02-30-2009

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Brad Harrington
Subject: The Hugest Heist in History

Bradley Harrington writes another excellent open letter regarding the problems that we face in light of the Obama administration's spending over just one short year.
    THE HUGEST HEIST IN HISTORY

    By Bradley Harrington

    "What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom." — Adam Smith, "The Wealth Of Nations," 1776–


    In a commentary I wrote shortly after the 2008 presidential election, in discussing the upcoming fiscal policies of the soon-to-be Obama administration, I said: "You are about to witness a government spending spree that is going to make the meddling of FDR's 'New Deal' or LBJ's 'Great Society' look like penny-ante poker in comparison."

    I was chastised, at that time, by many for my "alarmist" prediction. Now, over a year later, let's look at the facts:

    (1) Previous spending: in our rear-view mirror, we see nothing but bailouts—AIG, GM, Chrysler, "stimulus" spending, etc. Price tag: well over $1 trillion.

    (2) Current/projected spending: "jobs" bill just passed by House; price tag of $154 billion; "omnibus" spending bill just signed into law by President Obama; price tag of $447 billion; health care "reform" proposals; price tag of $1 trillion.

    "'The New Deal by today's standards involved a miniscule amount of spending,' said Allan J. Lichtman, a professor of political history at American University." ("Analysis: Obama plans eclipsing New Deal spending," Tom Raum, Associated Press, Feb. 20.)

    And more:

    (3) Federal budget: fiscal year ending in 2009, $3.1 trillion; fiscal year 2010, $3.55 trillion, an increase of nearly half a trillion.

    (4) Federal budget deficits: fiscal year 2009, $1.42 trillion; projected federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2010, $1.2 trillion. Projected federal budget deficits over the next decade, $9.1 trillion.

    (5) National debt: this stood at $9.9 trillion in 2008, and was lifted to $12.1 trillion in February of this year. And, in just the last few days, Congress and President Obama lifted that ceiling again by another $290 billion (barely enough to fund the federal government's ocean of red ink for another piddling two months), and both intend to raise that ceiling again come February, when it is expected to be boosted to $14 trillion. In fiscal year 2010, this will equal 98.1% of our GDP.

    Translation: Our national debt will soon equal the entire amount of production of the entire United States for an entire year.

    So, who pays for it all? Who provides the blank check? The producers, who else? Money does not grow on trees, despite what our "leaders" seem to think—if they think at all. And don't kid yourself about how it's only the "rich" who will pay for this: there simply aren't enough "rich" people in this country to fund a $14 trillion bill. With a current population of 308 million, the national debt now exceeds $40,000 per capita; when the debt ceiling gets raised again in the next couple of months, that figure will jump to over $45,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

    This, I submit, is an absolute looting spree, happening right before our eyes, and, as such, constitutes the hugest heist in all of human history. It is nothing less than an irrational, amoral, legalized, politically-promoted plundering of the productive assets of the United States, with no thought or reason given to the consequences, of which there can only be one: total, terminal economic dissolution and disintegration.

    And what can we expect from such a collapse? Social catastrophe, martial law and the final destruction of the American Republic. What did Rome get when she fell, devastated by taxes and control? The barbarians and the Dark Ages. What did Germany's Weimar Republic get when she was shattered by hyperinflation? Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.

    That is the future that awaits us, should we continue our present course: and not in some far-off, distant time, but in the next few years. Is that the "American Dream" you'd like to experience for yourself and your children?

    And, if not, what do you intend to do about it? Sitting on your butt, collecting a "welfare" check and voting for more of the same is no longer an acceptable answer.

    If you think it is, you might choose to ponder the words of one of America's Founding Fathers who had a much better grasp of the issue:  "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!" (Samuel Adams, Philadelphia State House Speech, 1776.)

    As for the rest of us, isn't it about time we rolled up our sleeves?

    Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

As Brad asks, "what do you intend to do about it?"

In addition to the usual actions of writing and speaking out against the policies that are leading to the decline and fall of America, here are some activist-oriented organizations to investigate. If you find one that meets your requirement, join in and add your efforts to the cause of restoring liberty to America.

If you know of other good activist organizations or actions that you would like to recommend, please sent them to me and I will include them on this list.
12-20-2009

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The Declaration
of Independence
Subject: The Second American Revolution: It's Time To Make Your Stand

Today, Ben Nelson, the senator from Nebraska, declared that he is going to support the Senate's health care bill as the 60th member of a Democratic coalition that has no Republican support. As reported in The Huffington Post:
    "The Nevada Democrat [Harry Reid] agreed to a series of concessions on abortion and other issues demanded by Nelson"

Other concessions? What could those be?
    "The Nebraskan [Nelson] also won increased federal funds to cover his state's cost of covering an expanded Medicaid population at a cost that one Democratic official put at $45 million over a decade"

So taxpayers in other states will now also pick up the cost of expanded health care for Nebraska's residents similar to provisions that Harry Reid managed to write into the bill for Nevada citizens. Well, why not? It's all in keeping with the Obama administration's master plan for wealth redistribution. You still have some wealth left, and therefore it obviously needs to be redistributed to others. But is that the only last minute piece of pork added to the bill? Of course not.
    "Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., claimed credit for a last-minute, $10 billion increase in funding for community health centers nationwide"

    "Another provision in Reid's changes provides additional federal funding for hospitals in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and the Dakotas, although no cost estimate was available."

    "The revised bill also calls for a .9 percent increase in the Medicare payroll tax on incomes over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Reid's earlier bill had a smaller hike, .5 percent."

    "The bill also taxes high-cost insurance plans"

Read Robert Tracinski's article, You Will Lose Your Private Health Insurance for a concise summary of the true implications and impact of the final legislation that will soon be voted on once the House and Senate bills are reconciled.

With the imminent passage of the health care legislation, it is finally time to take a firm and uncompromising stand. As was stated over 233 years ago in The Declaration of Independence:
    "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, ..."

    [Emphasis added]

Unlike the TARP bailouts, and other incursions into the US economy, which, with stretched-to-the-limit incredulity, might charitably be credited as horribly misguided efforts with underlying good intent, no such claim could possibly be made for the Congressional health care bills. These are nothing more than a naked power-grab, granting to the government a significant increase in the direct control over the personal lives and decisions of every in America, intentionally destroying individual liberty.

It is time to choose a side of the single greatest issue facing America, and declare your allegiance either to tyranny or to freedom.

The time for the Second American Revolution is now at hand. It is up to every freedom-loving person to commit all of their intellectual, physical and financial resources to the cause of liberty. We must retake control of a government which no longer represents us - or else, we must abolish it. As we have seen demonstrated time after time over the past year, the opportunity for reasoned debate with the opposition has long since passed and the moment has arrived to pull out all of the stops and take forceful action on every possible front.

Remember Ayn Rand's observation:
    "Evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us"

Those committed to destroying the US Constitution and enslaving all of us into serving their tyrannical ends will only succeed if we stand by and allow them to do so. Recognizing this fact, it is up to us to mount counter efforts. While new opportunities for action are being organized and put into effect all across the country, there are many things that can be done immediately. Here are some suggestions:
  • Step up your efforts to write and phone the White House and all members of Congress. Commit a certain amount of time each week to write new letters and make repeated calls to the most deserving politicians. Don't tell them that you disagree with their policies — tell them that you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any longer! Let them know in no uncertain terms that the gloves are coming off and that you are going to do everything in your power to dismantle the corrupt machinery of government and take back your constitutionally guaranteed rights to your life, liberty and property. When they are receiving this message from thousands of people all across the country, they are going to get very nervous. Make it your personal mission to make Nancy Pelosi cry. And don't stop with her! Contact information for all congressional members can be found at Congress Merge.

  • Write articles and letters-to-the-editor of your local paper expressing your outrage over the constitutional transgressions being exercised by Congress and the President. Help transition the political dialog in country away from less important issues of specific tax or legislative proposals to the critical issues of constitutional rights. As Nancy Pelosi and other politicians have demonstrated, they are completely unprepared to defend themselves on constitutional grounds. This makes them very vulnerable to attack from this quarter.

  • Get involved with your local Tea Party chapter and help organize local and state protests. Generate as much noise and publicity as possible. Again, the message should now become not one of simple disagreement, but a vocalization of honest outrage and a principled unwillingness to voluntarily comply with the intent of Congress and the President. Become conscientious objectors - unwilling to participate in your own enslavement.

  • Start planning your strategy for the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party on April 15th. Organize family and friends and come up with a creative idea that will generate publicity and convey your personal message to as many people as possible.

  • Make plans to go to Washington DC when the next Tea Party march gets scheduled in 2010. If the press thought that 1.2 million protesters was "a few thousand", let's see what they have to say when we make it 3 million or more!

  • Show your commitment and make a symbolic statement with a Personal Declaration of Independence, by adding your name to the John Galt Pledge, if you have not done so already.

  • Link to this article on your personal blogs and help spread the word that the time for action is upon us.

Working together, we will form an irresistible force that will beat back the destroyers of freedom.

In Liberty,

C. Jeffery Small
12-10-2009

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Brad Harrington
Subject: A Patriot's Open Letter

This open letter, written by Bradley Harrington to our political representatives, is an excellent articulation of the most fundamental issue currently facing our country. We are in nothing less than a battle for the enlightenment ideals of individualism, unalienable human rights and liberty that is embodied in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
    A PATRIOT'S OPEN LETTER

    By Bradley Harrington

    "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." — Thomas Jefferson, Letter To Benjamin Rush, 1800 —


    An Open Letter To Our "Representatives" In The United States Government:


    As a patriot, and as a former military veteran, I need to tell you a few things. I know that you folks have a lot to do, and don't really want to take the time to listen to me. But I strongly suggest that you do; for that attitude, you see—of being to "busy" to listen to the people who populate this country—is part of the problem I need to discuss with you.

    For hundreds of years, people like me have kept this nation strong and free. Many of us are currently serving America in the Middle East; a lot of us still surviving served in Vietnam. Our fathers served in Korea; our grandfathers in World War II; our great-grandfathers in World War I.

    All the way back, we have fought, sweated, battled, bled and died to protect our nation from attack. Whenever you called upon us to serve, we were there. We didn't question your right to send us off to war; we assumed that you had our ideals at heart; we believed that you knew what you were doing, and we unhesitatingly took out whoever you named as our enemies. Hundreds of thousands of us were killed in that process—but, as long as we knew that we were defending liberty's torch, even the laying down of our lives was not too high a price to pay.

    In the Revolutionary War, we fought to separate ourselves from the tyranny of King George III and to establish this nation, "conceived in liberty," as a safe haven for individuals to peacefully live their lives and pursue their happiness. Those were, and are, our ideals, and we have always viewed America, her history and her institutions as mankind's last, best and greatest hope. And, for many decades, our efforts and achievements enabled our nation to shine as a magnificent beacon to the "poor and huddled masses" yearning to be free.

    "Patriotism," to us, you see, is not blindly following our leaders wherever they might lead: it is respect for, and admiration of, the principles of freedom that animated the creation of the United States. It is a profound passion we have, at the very core of our souls, in regard to man's unconquerable mind and the indomitability of the human spirit. Patriotism, to us, is not loyalty to a government, but loyalty to an idea, and it drives all of our thoughts and actions: the idea that men and women have a right to be free.

    Have you been doing your job as well as we have been doing ours? Have you been as true to the ideals our nation was founded upon as we have? Or have you used your power to "engage in a long train of abuses and usurpations?" (Declaration of Independence, 1776.)

    Today, we observe that you and your laws have reduced our economy to a shambles; have aided and abetted the destruction of our social order; hampered the processes of our courts; stifled our productive capacities; and ensnared the citizens of this nation in a web of offensive and arbitrary decrees that can be designed for one purpose only: to turn us into serfs. And, now, as you sit in your citadels of power in Washington, D.C., you tell us, when we protest, that you are "busy." Busy doing what? Taking away our liberties and turning this once-proud, once-free nation into a shoddy, second-class "welfare" state?

    I respectfully suggest that you'd better think again: for not all of us are mindless automatons to be led like sheep to the slaughter. Many of us know our history, and have read the Declaration, and are fully aware of the part that says: "That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it..."

    We military patriots haven't perished in one war after another so that you, our so-called "representatives," could destroy the ideals we have always combated to defend; we fought one revolution to protect those ideals in 1776. So, take notice: if you, in your colossally arrogant, controlling ignorance, continue to take us down this corridor of coercion, we might just decide that it is time to do it again.

    Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
11-26-2009

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Joe Galloway
Subject: Thanksgiving: Learning How to Appreciate Your Rights

Joe Galloway is a combat journalist and author of the book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young". On a recent book tour through Lubbock, TX, he offered his views on military conscription, as reported in this article from Texas Tech:
    "When I was growing up, there was a draft," he said. "We fought World War II, Korea, and Vietnam on the draft, and nobody liked it, but it reached out and pulled in Americans from all walks of life, and that wasn't a bad thing at all.

    "We are a nation of 300 million people and fewer than one percent of us wear the uniform and do all of the serving and sacrificing for all of the other 299 million, and they've been worked pretty hard these last eight years."

    The U.S. dropped the draft system after the Vietnam War, but Galloway said he believes the United States would benefit from some program that compelled young men and women into national service, creating more appreciation for the liberties they enjoy as Americans.

In a video interview attached to the article, Mr. Galloway states:
    "I don't think that's what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they set things up. They thought you had to earn your freedom and democracy"

This got me thinking about the issue of Americans appreciating or failing to appreciate certain aspects of their lives, and I am in agreement with Galloway that many people in the U.S. have no real understanding of the nature of their individual rights, including their liberty, and therefore fail to properly appreciate them. But I cannot agree with Galloway's solution — the same one being proposed by the Obama administration — which is to violate those very rights in an effort to teach people to treasure them!

The "right to life" identifies that each person's life is sacrosanct and may not be violated by another, while the "right to liberty" means that each individual may select their own goals and pursuits in accordance with their will, free from external compulsion. I am sure that it is true that if you conscript a person into national service for a few years against their will, command their every move during that period, and place them in combat situations where their very life is in grave danger, if they survive the experience and are once again freed, most people will come away with a deeper appreciation for their life and their liberty. Of course, the same thing can be said for a survivor of a Siberian Gulag, and, in principle, there is no real difference between these two situations, as both are violations of the rights of the individual.

I also disagree with Galloway's interpretation of the Founding Father's intentions with regards to our rights. The Declaration of Independence states that we possess:
    "certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

which means that these rights are absolute and an indivisible part of our human nature. Quoting from unalienable.com:
    The absolute rights of individuals may be resolved into the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right to acquire and enjoy property. These rights are declared to be natural, inherent, and unalienable.    [Atchison & N. R. Co. v. Baty, 6 Neb. 37, 40, 29 Am. Rep. 356.]

    By the "absolute rights" of individuals is meant those which are so in their primary and strictest sense, such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy, whether out of society or in it. The rights of personal security, of personal liberty, and private property do not depend upon the Constitution for their existence. They existed before the Constitution was made, or the government was organized. These are what are termed the "absolute rights" of individuals, which belong to them independently of all government, and which all governments which derive their power from the consent of the governed were instituted to protect.    [People v. Berberrich (N. Y.) 20 Barb. 224, 229; McCartee v. Orphan Asylum Soc. (N. Y.) 9 Cow. 437, 511, 513, 18 Am. Dec. 516; People v. Toynbee (N. Y.) 2 Parker, Cr. R. 329, 369, 370 (quoting 1 Bl. Comm. 123).]

Clearly, if our rights are inherent, unalienable and exist outside of the Constitution and any formation of government, then they are not something that need to be earned. As the Declaration of Independence clearly states, governments are not formed in order to dispense rights, but instead:
    "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed"

The original purpose of our government's formation was to protect and defend the individual rights of each citizen. It is some twisted form of Orwellian illogic that concludes that those fundamental rights are protected by their violation! And it is the cruelest perversion when this method is applied to young, developing minds as is currently being done in public school civic classes all across the nation. In the name of "service-learning", school children are forced to perform hours of "community service" work while any discussion of the nature of individual rights and the guarantees of those rights in the U.S. Constitution are buried. And this is after these same children have already been conscripted into forced education.

People's gaps in knowledge, resulting in a corresponding failure to grasp the true value of a thing, is certainly not limited to the abstract concepts of individual rights. If one believes that it is the government's function to determine what is of value for each of us, and that it is the government's further role to educate us to appreciate those values, even if force must be applied to achieve that goal, then, in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, let's consider another program that might be implemented.

I suggest that every American be required to live in an isolated log cabin in northern Minnesota for a period of two years: heating their home with wood that must be cut, hauled and split; getting water from a stream which must then be purified by boiling; using candles or open pit fires for light; butchering their own meat; plowing, planting, growing and harvesting their own crops; and maintaining the structure as required, including building an optional outhouse if desired. Of course, everyone would be encouraged to explore sources of alternative energy, sustainable forestry, organic farming, low-impact waste management, and energy conservation in their spare time. I know with absolute certainty that anyone surviving this wonderful experience would have "earned" a much greater respect and honest appreciation for: the hot dog that they purchase at their grocery store; the gallon of gasoline that they pump into their automobile; the flush of a toilet; the flick of a switch that floods the room with light; the push of a button that raises the room temperature by a few degrees; the convenience of picking up the telephone and calling a roofer when a leak is discovered; the simple pleasure of a conversation with another person; and so much more!

If forced military, national or community-service are good ideas that are justified due to their beneficial effect upon the conscriptee, then I can see no argument against this proposal which would have considerably more beneficial impact. Impact being the operative word!

Of course, I'm kidding. I would never suggest that a program like this was in any way justified in being imposed upon citizens of a free country. I was just making a point about individual rights and why conscription is wrong in principle. However, if someone were to suggest that we make this a requirement for anyone running for political office, then you would have my attention!

Happy Thanksgiving!
11-10-2009

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Opinion Piece
Subject: We Own You. Get Used to It!

On today's OpEd page, a Wall Street Journal editorial highlights the true goal of ObamaCare, as articulated by one of its supporters, John Cassidy of the New Your Times.

    Confessions of an ObamaCare Backer

    The typical argument for ObamaCare is that it will offer better medical care for everyone and cost less to do it, but occasionally a supporter let's the mask slip and reveals the real political motivation. So let's give credit to John Cassidy, part of the left-wing stable at the New Yorker, who wrote last week on its Web site that "it's important to be clear about what the reform amounts to."

    Mr. Cassidy is more honest than the politicians whose dishonesty he supports. "The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment," he writes. "Let's not pretend that it isn't a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won't. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind."

    Why are they doing it? Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of "making the United States a more equitable country" and furthering the Democrats' "political calculus." In other words, the purpose is to further redistribute income by putting health care further under government control, and in the process making the middle class more dependent on government. As the party of government, Democrats will benefit over the long run.

    This explains why Nancy Pelosi is willing to risk the seats of so many Blue Dog Democrats by forcing such an unpopular bill through Congress on a narrow, partisan vote: You have to break a few eggs to make a permanent welfare state. As Mr. Cassidy concludes, "Putting on my amateur historian's cap, I might even claim that some subterfuge is historically necessary to get great reforms enacted."

    No wonder many Americans are upset. They know they are being lied to about ObamaCare, and they know they are going to be stuck with the bill.

So there you have it. It's OK for the politicians to lie to us, because they own us and operate from a position where they can freely make critical decisions about our lives without regard to our own personal thoughts, beliefs and desires. Truth is reserved for those possessing the right to self-determination, so let there be no illusion that the concepts of the right to one's life, liberty and property have anything at all to do with what is now occurring in this country. We are effectively all slaves of the state and subject to whatever whim it manages to concoct and ram through as legislation. The limitations on allowable government action that are delineated in the US Constitution are being totally ignored by all three branches of our government. We are rapidly becoming a totalitarian state.

Sign the John Galt Pledge and then contact each of your Senators and Representative and let them know, in forceful terms, that you are not asking, but demanding that they adhere to the intent of the US Constitution and expect them to protect and defend your constitutional rights. It is time to let everyone in Washington know that you are mad and have reached the limits of your patience.
10-10-2009

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Slaying Leviathan
Subject: Involuntary Servitude for All

Reader Leslie Carbone, the author of Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform, brought to my attention an interesting article that she wrote back in November 2008 titled, Emanuel Proposes Slavery. In this piece she discusses Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama's call for the creation of a "Civilian National Security Force" that would conscript every American into a mandatory period of national service for the purpose of:
    "basic training, civil defense preparation and community service."

With terms like "basic training" and "community service", it's duces wild as to what the government could do with – or to you during your period of conscription.

Now Rahm is a nice guy, and he is only proposing a three month period of mandatory service. And if you buy that, then you must think that the top income tax rate is 7% and that your Social Security number will never be used as a means of identification. A program like this is always proposed as a small thing, which then quickly expands to feed the bottomless pit that is our federal, state and local governments.

There were a few issues raised in the comments section to Leslie's article that I would like to address here.

A couple of the readers complained about the use of the term "slavery" being applied to this proposal, when it was simply "temporary compulsory service" and, as one reader put it, "that's all." . Well, this sort of semantic argument is about as interesting as calculating the number of angel dancing on the head of a pin. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution states:
    "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Emanuel's plan certainly qualifies as involuntary servitude, so it is clearly unconstitutional. And as far as I am concerned, every form of involuntary servitude is a form of slavery and vice versa. The duration of the servitude is immaterial because we each possess an unalienable right to our lives - and that is an absolute. And so long as we refrain from violating the rights of others, no entity, whether they be another individual, a group or a government, may morally lay claim to one one moment of your life.

Some of Leslie's readers also commented on the fact that we have had compulsory military service in this country, on and off, throughout our history, and what Emanuel is proposing is nothing different. Of course, these arguments were meant to defend this new form of conscription on the grounds of "tradition". But that argument doesn't hold water if you read the 13th Amendment. It contains no exception to the ban on involuntary servitude, other than as punishment for a crime. The truth is that military conscription or a "draft" is unconstitutional as well. As one of the commentators put it: "Compulsory military service IS involuntary servitude, which IS slavery". The use of conscription in this country has been a travesty to our rights and any future attempt to reinstate a draft must be opposed on constitutional grounds.

Now, I am a huge supporter of our military as an absolutely essential institution, required to protect our lives, rights and freedom, and I have deep respect for anyone who commits themselves to that job. But the fact that I see this function as important, does not somehow grant me the special privilege of then being able to force someone else to provide that service against their will. The only proper way for a free people to interact with one another is voluntarily, with the initiation of force prohibited. And this is especially true when dealing with the government, which is charged as the repository of retaliatory force, to be used strictly in service of our protection. When the government steps over that bright line, as ours did long ago, and begins to initiate force against its citizens, then it is time to do what our forefathers once proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence:
    "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"

Whether our current form of government can be salvaged, or whether it has become so corrupted that it must be replaced, is something worth carefully considering.
09-29-2009

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Subject: Lockport Township, IL High School Moves Towards Mandatory Community Service

As reported today in The Homer Horizon:
    The Lockport Township High School District 205 Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 22, moved a step closer to adding community service as a curriculum requirement for students.

    Board members voted 5 to 2 to approve the first of two steps that would enact the policy to require community service hours of students, with a final vote on the matter scheduled to take place at the next board meeting on Monday, Oct. 19.

    Under the policy, the mandated service hours would be phased-in to all classes beginning in the fall of 2010. Seniors (Class of 2011) would be required to complete 10 hours of service, juniors 20 hours, sophomores 30 hours and freshmen 40 hours. [...]

    Michael Lewandowski and John Lukasik voted against the policy, with Lewandowski speaking out against the proposal during discussion at the Sept. 22 meeting.

    "Should we encourage our students to help the community? Yes. Should we force them to help the community? No." Lewandowski said. "Doing this voluntary is one thing but forcing them to do it is another.

    "We shouldn't force our students to do something against their will in order to graduate."

    Lewandowski worried the policy would provoke "incrementalism."

    "We've all seen how the government can creep into our lives," he said after reading to the board the 13th Amendment. "I don't want the federal, state or local government to say, 'well, the school district have approved this, so we can, too.'"

    Board member Angela Kamely responded to Lewandowski's statements.

    "We're doing this as a graduation requirement, not as a right to live," she said. "I support helping make a more well-rounded student."

And with that mere flourish, Ms. Kamely brushes away the 13th Amendment and the rights of the students. Hey, it's only their education, not their lives!

And just as a reminder: The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Oh well, it's just a technicality. What's more important is to shape a "more well-rounded student" — in Angela Kamely's image.
09-09-2009

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Subject: The Purpose of The John Galt Pledge Initiative

The United States of America is at a tipping point, where individual rights and personal freedom now hang precariously in the balance. As we move forward, will we be the masters of our own lives, deciding for ourselves what goals to pursue and how best to allocate our personal resources in service of those goals? Or will we allow ourselves to be treated as children, handing more and more of the decision-making over to the government, demanding that it assume the obligation of providing for all of our wants and needs? The price for abdicating responsibility for one's life is the forfeiting of one's freedom. Those of us committed to the path of personal autonomy must fight for our freedom if we are to retain what remains, and regain what has been lost since the founding of this country. My purpose for this site is to create another effective tool in that battle for liberty.

There are many avenues available for engaging in this struggle. Writing letters-to-the-editor, op-ed pieces, articles for magazines, blog entries or forum posts is one. This is a one-to-one type of activity where the individual writer communicates directly to the individual reader. Another is the use of organized protests. The Tea Parties are a good example of this technique, and on September 12th, many citizens will descend upon Washington D.C. to march in protest against the current administration's policies. This is a many-to-one activity, where the ultimate effectiveness of the action is directly proportional to the number of participants. For example, if 300 people show up in D.C. on the 12th, that might generate a page six mention in most newspapers. However, if 80,000 people march, then it becomes headline news which will have a profoundly greater impact.

[OK, I guess I was proven wrong on that count. You can ignore 80,000 people. You can even ignore a million! All the more reason to make sure that we do get our message out.]

The goal of this initiative is to create a permanent public record of protest that can later be referenced as a kickoff point for many different types of campaigns. But where the message of the Tea Party protests have been diffuse, I want the ideological message of this site to be strictly focused upon one critical point:
  • We demand that the government protect, not violate, the constitutionally guaranteed rights of every independent citizen

In order to have this demand taken seriously, it requires an outcry of protest loud enough that it cannot be ignored. So just as with the gathering in D.C., the number of people signing up here to show their agreement with the fundamental principle of the sovereignty of the individual is critical. And that is why I encourage you to participate, and then do what you can to make other like-minded individuals aware of this opportunity to also engage in this action.

Once a critical mass has been reached here, showing broad-based support for our constitutional rights, I would then encourage all of us to continue to become involved in other forms of education and protest that are of personal urgency. This might include arguments against nationalized health care, wealth redistribution, corporate bailouts, government control of the money supply, interference in the economy, national service, cap-and-trade, etc. Regardless of the specific topic, I would suggest that as part of the analysis, it should be shown that the proper position to take is the one which supports the rights of the individual, as delineated by the U.S. Constitution. And this site can be referenced to show the level of support that exists for making the protection of our rights a key requirement when considering any piece of legislation.

The value of this approach is that it provides an ideological basis for every issue, which is ultimately grounded on an unassailable constitutional foundation. Those arguing from a different viewpoint can then be reduced to either having to defend the Constitution themselves, or acknowledging their lack of support for that document. If this approach is used effectively, the entire tenor of the debate could be shifted from an ever evolving discussion of numerous pragmatic concerns to a very focused one of fundamental principles. And I can guarantee that those who are currently working feverishly to destroy our freedom cannot stand up to the scrutiny of fundamental principles.

So the goal for this initiative comes in two parts:
  • Phase one: Promote this site in order to reach a wide audience and allow every liberty-minded person the opportunity to contribute their support to this effort, creating a document that acquires power through the number of individuals standing behind it.

  • Phase two: Attack the government's proposals on ideological grounds by demonstrating that in violating rather than supporting our individual rights, they have no constitutional authority to proceed.

In closing, let me add one additional point. It is important to remember that, as individuals, each of us speak only for ourselves. By signing this personal Declaration of Independence, each person is indicating their support only for the ideas explicitly expressed in the pledge, and not for the words or actions of any other person. Please feel free to reference the list when making a point about the level of support for our constitutional rights, but do not assume or assert that anyone on the list supports your personal approach or viewpoints in fighting the battle for freedom.


Suggestions

I am very interested in receiving feedback and suggestions regarding this project, and I would enjoy hearing any ideas you may have for related activities. Interesting ideas, suitable for a wide audience, will be displayed on this page. Click on the button below to contact me by email.
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C. Jeffery Small