The State of Liberty

I got bored today and wrote this, it’s kind of elaborating on things I’ve written here and on my site.

The United States of America…We are the bastion of liberty and the world’s object of admiration, as Reagan said, we are that “shining city on a hill,” right?

Many of us would like to believe these things. But what is a country where property rights mean little when compared to the will of the common good or a country where a third of one’s earnings are forcefully confiscated from the government and shifted through bureaucracy to corrupt and bankrupt government programs.

In the United States we have seen a constant assault on our liberties from both the right and the left. In the so-called “Progressive era,” the nation witnessed an assault on the spirit of Constitution, if not the Constitution it’s self. Progressives passed amendments to the Constitution that allowed for a direct tax on income and the direct election of Senators, virtually eliminating representation of the States in Congress.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments have been virtually ignored by the courts and politicians. The Founding Fathers were believers in the concept of Natural Rights and the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution and the intention behind it was to secure rights that may not have been specifically guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, such as the right to contract, privacy, travel or other rights to life, liberty and property. When you look at the Ninth Amendment with the Declaration of Independence, it is clear that the Founders believed strongly in individual accomplishment and self-government, you could refer to them as the “Manifesto of Natural Rights.”

The Tenth Amendment merely backs up the Ninth and is supposed to ensure the concept of federalism. Where the Constitution limits the federal government, states have the ability to step in and once again…self-govern. Though the States themselves must provide a “republican form of government.”

But due to the progressives the concepts of life, liberty and property are subject to the will of the common good and though there are right specifically guaranteed by the Constitution, they are now subject to plenary authority of the state legislature, to Congress, the Executive Branch (encompassing the cabinet) and the Judiciary.

The Supreme Court has this clever way of creating federal regulation of virtually everything under the commerce clause. Wickard v. Filburn is quite possibly the most ridiculous example of misuse of the Commerce Clause. The court determined that Roscoe Filburn was in violation of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, one of the New Deal travesties, because he grew more wheat than was allowed by law. Filburn told the court that the excess was for himself and his family and was not subject to federal quotas or the Commerce Clause, because was never intended to be placed on the market. The court unanimously ruled against him.

In 2005 the very foundation of the country was attacked in Kelo v. New London, when the Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut was acting in the public’s interested and was within the scope of the public purpose of the Fifth Amendment when it used eminent domain to take the land of several property owners and turned it over to a private entity to gain some sort of economic benefit by an increased tax base.

In the judiciary, guaranteed rights and individual liberty hold no weight to jurisprudence and court precedent.

The other branches of government are as guilty. Congress routinely passes legislation that is outside of its restrictions listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Whether it was the John Adams and the Federalists working to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts or a President interring Japanese-Americans during the height of a war, George W. Bush and the Republicans passing the USA PATRIOT Act, all three were done in the name of security and all three grossly violated the rights of due process.

It’s obviously reactionary politics. The idea that our government is “doing something” to protect us from Nazis, bankers and depression, Communists, terrorists or even ourselves. It is too much to ask our government not to do anything. Each time our government reacts to some sort of threat, it is always at the expense of individual liberty, and our right to self-govern is eliminated and treated as if it is some sort of crime.

Of course the end game, what these people want, is to eliminate the concept of individual rights and personal sovereignty and create society based upon the concept of the collective. That each citizen exists to fulfill the needs of the “greater good” and any action outside of that is selfish and some how immoral.

I don’t mean to sound like a McCarthy flashback, we are not in the middle of the Red Scare, but we are at a very serious crossroad in this country. One where we can change our course and work to bring back the essential liberties, both personal and economic, that have been essentially raped by power hungry bureaucrats or we can continue the present course that seeks to punish individual accomplishment.

Conservatives have a record equally damning. While progressives and liberals have worked to take away individual liberty through economic restraints and endless bureaucracy, Conservatives are using religion and the threat of terrorism to incite fear into the masses. One thing that I constantly hear from conservatives is, “Terrorists hate our freedom.” While they certainly hate our way of life, but I’d argue that through gay marriage amendments, elimination of privacy rights and a general disregard for the law, George W. Bush has done more damage to the idea of liberty than any person in recent memory. And let’s not forget that he has surpassed Lyndon Johnson in terms of spending, a feat not easily accomplished.

My question to you is, how much longer do we sit by the way side and allow our government to destroy our most basic liberties?

  • http://www.hccitizen.com Larry

    “I’d argue that through gay marriage amendments, elimination of privacy rights and a general disregard for the law, George W. Bush …”

    That summation sounds identical to the left-wing, progressive, liberal positions heard on Air America every day.

    While I agree that liberty is the defining aspect of American freedoms, (and excuse the trite phrase) freedom is not neither free nor is it without responsiblities.

    Hot-button issues and emotions are evoked by homosexual “rights” or restictions upon perceived civil “rights” in time of war, or a catch-all accusation “general disregard for law.”

    Again, Hillary decrying the Confederate flag in South Carolina carries moral, historical, ethical and political overtones – all used to pander to the audience. Regarding the sacred fire of liberty, one cannot disregard the historical and traditional values and principals of a nation and its people, all in the name of the ideal.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    Larry,

    The post may have sounded like the same thing that the left-wing progressives might say. But does that make it any less true? Does the Bush administration’s agenda endanger individual liberties or not? I would say that it’s quite clear that it does.

    Jason,

    I’ve recommended Randy Barnett’s book, “Restoring the Lost Constitution”, several times. Based on your post, I think you’d find it fascinating (as I did), and it will open your eyes even further to the actual timeline and mechanisms by which the Constitution has been eviscerated.

    I do have one bone to pick with you, though… Try not to call leftists “liberals”. They’re not in any way liberal. They believe in using the force of government to take away our rights just as much as the “conservatives” do. In fact, if anyone is liberal, it’s you and I. The dirty socialists (now known as “progressives”) stole the word “liberal” from us, and I want it back!

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Larry writes:

    “While I agree that liberty is the defining aspect of American freedoms, (and excuse the trite phrase) freedom is not neither free nor is it without responsiblities.”

    I am so tired of hearing these meaningless platitudes and jingoistic bromides. Liberty is actually the condition or state of affairs which allows freedom – anywhere in the world. I refuse to excuse the trite phrase.

    Freedom is absolutlely free. It is the suppression of freedom, by whatever means, that imposes costs on both the oppressor and the oppressed. There is no connection between freedom and responsibilities. Larry confuses freedom with privilege. Freedom is not a reward given to those who are deemed “responsible”.

    Hillary is free to decry any flag she wishes and those who don’t adhere to whatever Larry considers to be traditional values are free to live their lives in a state of liberty. Likewise, Larry is free to complain about their behavior. However, where freedom exists, Larry doesn’t get to define freedom.

    After all, freedom is a natural condition that allows us to do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t infringe on another’s rights.

    I’ve had it with the socialists and the fascists in America that want to impose their values on me through the force of government – whether their values are “traditional” or not.

  • http://jasonpye.com/ Jason Pye

    I haven’t read any of Barnett’s stuff, but I need to. You aren’t the only person recommending him to me.

    I understand about the “liberal” thing. It’s a nasty habit I’m trying to break.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Socialist and fascist are truly insulting words, for someone who doesn’t agree with you and to a person who has lived thru the cold war and remembers what those words meant then. If the libertarians ever succeed, it will be when that generation dies out. You will be free to rename and reinvent whatever you want.