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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My thoughts today on the role of government, unalienable and inalienable rights.....

Government has a vital role in restricting people and defining their rights or better said as limits to these rights as people. Recognizing that we are all born with unalienable rights, those that we have by the simple virtue of being human; life, liberty and property (called pursuit of happiness in American parlance, a term broader than the early progressive libertarian thinkers in the 17th and 18th century) these are rights that cannot be taken away or given away (it is the right to property that cannot be taken or given away but the property itself can be done with as one pleases, ergo the pursuit of happiness).

A fine example of the limitation embedded in unalienable rights is that even if my life is in danger of say starvation, I do not have the right to unilaterally take someone else's food without their permission to save my life, my child's life or anyone else's life. My right to life ends at someone else's life and property.

So, we can understand why our rights are not totally absolute and are limited is simply that our rights cannot conflict with those of others otherwise society will be unable to operate peacefully. Early thinkers recognized that there can never be a world where there is a clear inarguable objective partial unalienable right other than a complete unalienable right but limited by the existence of others and therefore driving the need to have a government as an impartial adjudicator. Anything less than a complete unalienable right such as in one in which, for example, someone should be forced to give up their property to the benefit of someone else is subject to fail since one may be forced to give their unalienable rights against their will to benefit another. Granting of government inalienable rights can only be achieved by violating unalienable rights.

I argue that the granting of some new right by government can only be arbitrary. This new inalienable right granted to meet some argued for at objective would be impossible determine clearly and absolutely and if someone argues that this new right has an absolute objective point, it would necessarily include subjective opinions and analysis that will render it not objective at all and therefore arbitrary. In this environment, pretending to be objective whereas it is in actuality subjective and therefore possibly subject to a multitude of interpretations, arguments, conflicting interests, etc. we can expect that conflict and ultimately anarchy may ensue if this is allowed. People ultimately would begin to think that they are somehow entitled to other's property or even their life when adopting such flimsy reasoning to create this new supposed 'objective' reasoning behind the newly granted right. Ultimately, in trading for newly created inalienable rights our unalienable rights will lose their power and cease to have weight. We will therefore, through the simple act of our existence and living our lives on a certain piece of property, be forced to give to government that gives to others and ultimately become servants to government with no portfolio of rights excepting those granted and allowed by government. We all become serfs.

So, this adjudication of unalienable rights is the revolutionary portfolio of government duties as contemplated by the original framers of the United States. Prior to democratic republican government there were autocracies but problems emerged with these forms of government since the unalienable rights of people were not respected in its entirety and were sometimes enforced arbitrarily. Some people in these modern days, however, argue that times change and therefore rights change too. This may be true that times change but the rights embedded by virtue of being human, those granted by God, are those that can never change and those that are unalienable. The concept of changing rights due to changing times is nothing more than a ruse by some to create what they argue are new rights but that I argue are in fact not rights at all. Without total protection of all unalienable rights, none of them exist, its as if they are inseparable in one package.

The unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness begin to compete with these new government created inalienable rights that modern society has unfortunately created. These new rights have created a need for the greater power of government to embark on methods of providing these rights and this has led to a host of interventions including socialist wealth redistribution or to the forced redistribution of the unalienable right of property. These newly manufactured rights flow from rights solely granted by governments, and once government creates one of these inalienable rights it opens the door to create new rights that could include almost anything that anyone can dream up.

Examples of new rights created and granted by governments such as healthcare, housing or retirement income are very popular with some people but since these are granted by fiat, they are tenuous and can also be taken away legislatively. There is no protection for these rights since the basis to the granting of these supposed rights were based not on nature but by grants determined by people through government.

As we know, laws can be changed and there can be and were circumstances in which these rights are denied to people therefore illustrating that they are not guaranteed and can be arbitrary. In 1960, a Supreme Court upheld a decision where social security benefits were denied to someone who was deported from the United States due to membership in the communist party. This action was based on a law passed in 1954 when the world was worried about communism and in this legislation individuals were denied this right but even those that were fully eligible for this benefit excepting for being guilty of this specific crime could be denied. Here. I find it kind of amusing that a socialist wealth transfer payment was denied to someone guilty of being a communist. Maybe this was done just to annoy communists in general and deny them the kind of benefits that they were wishing to expand upon.

However, the precedent here and the point that I am making is that legislative action to deny benefits to one person, one group of people or any other subset of people can be enacted fully within the context of this right for any reason what-so-ever. This is the nature of inalienable rights. Additionally, this supposed right can be changed by fiat creating new contextual relationships relative to the right such as we find with the transfer payment Social Security; means testing, age, amounts to be paid etc. So, given the changes that have been enacted with many wealth transfer payment programs, inalienable rights can be tenuous and potentially totally unreliable at worst since we actually do not have a unambiguous legal right to this inalienable rights.

Furthermore, government, through the USA constitutional system has never actually been given a portfolio to offer these new inalienable rights that they created and that they granted to certain people or groups. Even with out portfolio, through this process, government is in effect transferring wealth from one person to another and I argue that it is this wealth transfer that the right is created and not the legislation granting this inalienable right. Without the ability to deliver the right, the right does not exist at all. We could never be granted the right to live forever for instance, since it would be impossible to deliver this to a person.

So, many of these inalienable rights have been created by the existence of a coercive tax code without which, thee rights would not and could not exist. We are forced to give up our property under penalty of punishment and are compelled into a system of creating and granting rights that are in their creation, arbitrary and without intellectual or constitutional legal support. Without the ability to take from one to give to another, this right could never be created. Furthermore, in this transaction, government has seized unalienable property from one to arbitrarily give to another. Under normal circumstances, these transactions to give one's property to another is something that one has the right to willfully engage if one feels compelled to as a choice, however, in its current configuration it is not a matter of choice but one that is forced on us through with the coercion embedded in the tax code. Through this, we have all become servants to government and not the other way around.

We have to recognize as a free people that government has created these inalienable rights out of thin air and in order to deliver these rights, government has to take or seize property and therefore, through the mechanism they are not permanent by definition, since property to seize to meet these obligations may not exist at one point. It is like my earlier example, one cannot create the right to live forever and one cannot create a permanent wealth redistribution system if the wealth is not there to take. This tenuous and nebulous ability to deliver and protect these rights ultimately define them as inalienable and non-permanent. Eventually the property that is taken to give away runs out and as Margaret Thatcher was purportedly to have said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."


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