L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 137, September 3, 2001
Locke Laid, Gary Gabs
American Fascism - Part 3: Because We Told You So
by Keith Shugarts
Special to TLE
THE DEATH OF LIBERTY AND FREEDOM THROUGH LEGISLATION
15,000,000 Federal Laws and countless state and local laws. All of these raindrops in the storm of government that is wearing away the foundation of liberty and eroding the fascade of freedom in this country. Many of those laws violate much of the philosophy of freedom - personal ownership, the freedom to learn, and the acceptance of risk - and the mechanisms the Founding Fathers created within the Constitution to prevent that erosion have been found to be flawed and open to the interpretation of a majoritarian democracy.
As Robert LeFevre, the libertarian lecturer and author wrote, "When government invokes its rules, all persons must conform. Variations are forbidden. We are forced to obey regardless of our own individual problems or talents. No leeway is permitted." Thus even in a democracy that operates under the myth of freedom there is one and only law, and that is the law of the government.
Drug laws and minimum age laws, social security and medicare, all implimented by the government and all usurping the ideals of personal ownership, the freedom to learn, and the acceptance of risk.
1. Personal ownership
There is a desire amongst many in this country to control the other person, to make the other person do what they want him to do and act in a certain way. Again Lefevre write in regards to governments being installed amongst man that they can, "be employed against the other fellow to compel him to provide money for our schemes, to compel him to do or not to do according to our wishes." However, this runs counter to the idea that a person is sovereign over himself but it is the central theme and point of modern American democracy.
2. Man must be free and allowed to learn, and make decisions (wise or foolish) that will allow him to progress
However, as we have seen, the government instead feels compelled to prevent man from making these decisions. This is done usually through force, through the threat of punishment, or the confiscation of property. However, and again quoting Robert LeFevre, "a decision forced and not freely taken is an immoral decision". So therefore, anytime the government attempts to force morality upon someone it is in effect doing the opposite because it it denying that person the freedom to make his own decision.
A study came out indicating that 95% of parents who had college aged children were concerned about the use and abuse of alcohol by those same children. Why should this be alarming or news. These children are not allowed the freedom to learn about alcohol themselves. Instead they must rely on government propoganda, school programs, and peer mythology instead of learning for themselves about the effects of alcohol. They are denied the freedom to learn.
3. The acceptance of risk.
Freedom and risk go hand in hand. Man tries to balance risk with security. However, going back to point number 2 where man also has the right to make his own decisions. It is the individual that makes his own decision on the balance between security and risk, not the government. When it is the government's role in determining that balance, as Robert LeFevre states, "force will be invariably invoked to keep others from being free" This is because that while security might be a desirable state, enforced security is immoral.
An individual decides to purchase a gun for self defences. He is making the decision to accept the risk that this weapon might be used against him or accidentally cause harm to someone else as well as providing protection for him. It is his decision and his acceptance of that decision that provides him freedom. Yet in many areas of this country that decision is denied him. His decision making is usurped and given to a government bureaucrat. His decision and his freedom are thereby given to the government.
There are those who will say that the Constitution is supposed to protect against these encroachments. Walter Williams, filling in for Rush Limbaugh, quoted James Madison, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expanding, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents".
Another quote on Walter Williams' website gives the impression that there is a single interpretation of the Constitution ,"Today, little that Congress does is authorized by our Constitution."
Walter Williams' commenting on the logic of interpreting the Constitution often uses the analogy that he would not want to play a game of poker with people who change the rules. However, even in my family, there have been votes on the "rules" that would be used in card games subject to a democratic vote of all present. It is the existance of this majoritarian democracy that provides the ability of those charged with following the Constitution the ability and power to interpret it. The American people have given the legislators the power to interperate the Constitution.
The interpretability of the Constitution was noted and warned about by the anti-federalists. Brutus, writing on December 27th, 1787 noted "that simply allowing the Congress to that the power to lay and collect duties and excises, would invest the Congress with authority to impose a duty and excise on every necessary and convenience of life". Surely that warning has come to be shown as true. Later in that same writing, Brutus comments on phrase in the Constitution "promote the common safety and welfare" saying "the government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves". Again it is shown that the interpretability of the Constitution itself is the weakness that allows the legislature to create laws which deny life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
It is the interpretability of the Constitution itself and the existance of a majoritarian democracy that allows the legislature to usurp the sovereign ownership of ourselves and denies those inalienable rights - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or property - from Locke) - that the Declaration of Independence puts forth.
I would like to thank Neil for introducing me to the philosophies and teachings in Robert LeFevre - they've helped greatly in the writing of this article and helping me understand my libertarianism.
Additionally, I will be on vacation next week and therefore my next article will appear on your electronic doorstep two weeks from now.