All Men are Created Equal. And, no, Liberals are NOT more Equal than Others

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 4th, 2011

The Rule of Law and Contract Rights

This is the 4th of July.  A big holiday in America.  In most places.  It fell out of favor for awhile in Vicksburg, Mississippi, what with that city falling on the 4th during the American Civil War.  Some said that the Union‘s win kept the spirit of the 4th of July alive.  Many in the South said it killed it.  Especially those who have reframed the Civil War as a struggle between federal power and states’ rights.  And it is those who say states’ rights lost.  And the spirit of 1776 died.

Of course, the Civil War wasn’t about maintaining states’ rights in the South.  In fact, the South was all for a strong federal government to overrule states’ laws when it came to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  When northern states refused to send back escaped slaves to their southern owners, they asked for the federal government to enact a law to compel them to do so.  You see, the southern planter elite (a small percentage of the southern population who owned the vast majority of the slaves) was all about making the law favor them.  Much like the land-owning aristocracy had done it for centuries in feudal Europe.  Which is decidedly not in keeping with the Spirit of ’76.

The American colonies had already been at war with the British Empire for about a year when Thomas Jefferson presented the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress.  The cornerstone of that document is that all men are created equal.  Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.  Key to these rights is the Rule of Law.  Simply stated, it means the new nation would be a nation of laws.  Not of kings.  Or an aristocracy.  And the law would rule supreme.  No one would be above the law.  Not the planter elite.  Kings.  Or presidents (see Missing the Point on July 4: The Right to Vote Was Not The Main Achievement in 1776 by Warren Meyer posted 6/30/2011 on Forbes).

For about 99% of human history, political power has been exercised at the unchecked capricious whim of a few individuals.  The great innovation of western countries like the US, and before it England and the Netherlands, has been to subjugate the power of government officials to the rule of law.  Criminal justice, adjudication of disputes, contracts, etc. all operate based on a set of laws known to all in advance and applying equally to all.

And key to the Rule of Law are property rights and contracts.

Today the rule of law actually faces a number of threats in this country.  One of the most important principles of the rule of law is that legality (and illegality) can be objectively determined in a repeatable manner from written and well-understood rules.  Unfortunately, the massive regulatory and tax code structure in this country have created a set of rules that are subject to change and interpretation constantly at the whim of the regulatory body.  Every day, hundreds of people and companies find themselves facing penalties due to an arbitrary interpretation of obscure regulations.

Worse, with the growing power of the Federal government, it has become an increasingly accepted practice that Congress or the President may selectively violate the rule of law to benefit their particular constituents. Just ask secured bondholders at Chrysler (who had their legal rights wiped out by executive fiat in favor or the Administration’s pet union) or restaurants burdened with Obamacare compliance (whose competitors with better political access have gotten cost-saving waivers), what they think of the rule of law.

It’s a slippery path.  And it starts out small.  Little losses of liberty along the way.  Then the losses get bigger.  With the ruling powers always justifying that it was for the greater good.  Adolf Hitler rose to power through free elections.  And seduced the Germans.  People accepted his vision and willingly gave up their rights for the greater Germany.  With Germany ultimately becoming a dictatorship. 

Appealing to the greater ‘good’ is a powerful force.  It just takes a good speech to get the people to willingly follow you.  Such as when JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  You’ll be hard-pressed to find any such sentiment in any of America’s Founding Documents.  Because it goes completely against the American creed.  Americans don’t serve government; government serves Americans.  But this sentiment has prevailed.  And gave America the welfare state.  An explosion in the size of government.  And a loss of individual liberties ever since.  All to serve a greater good.  Such as when the president of the United States arbitrarily revoked the contract rights of those Chrysler bond holders.  So he could reward his friends and cronies in the UAW by giving them stock shares they had no legal claim to.

The central concept on which this country was founded is that an individual’s rights do not flow from government, but are inherent to all human beings.  Government in this context only legitimately exists to the extent that it is our servant in the defense of our rights, rather than as the vessel from which these rights grudgingly flow.

Statists of all stripes have tried to challenge this assumption over the last 100 years.   While their exact details have varied, every statist has tried to create some larger entity to which the individual should be subjugated:  the proletariat, the common good, God, society, the master race.  They all hold in common that the government’s job is to sacrifice the property and well-being of one group to another in the name of some vague meta-entity.

And they’re still doing it today.  But now it’s for the greatest greater good of them all.  The planet itself.  Without which none of us can live.

The Soothing and Incessant Whine of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy.  That’s the latest tool of subjugation.  We all must sacrifice.  Because if we don’t, the earth won’t be long on this planet.  So we’re seeing more and more wind farms.  Replacing a small percentage of reliable fossil-fuel produced electricity.  With a very unreliable but noisy windmill-produced electricity (see Noisy wind farm ‘drove couple out of their home’ posted 7/4/2011 on The Telegraph).

Jane and Julian Davis, moved out of Grays Farm, Deeping St Nicholas, near Spalding, Lincs, four years ago because of the strain of living with the incessant noise…

Mrs Davis, whose husband’s family cultivated Grays Farm for over 20 years before they were uprooted by the noise, said it had been a “nightmare living there”, and that they had no option but to leave.

Speaking before today’s High Court hearing, she added: “The noise is unpredictable and mainly occurs at night, you can never get to bed with the assurance that you will stay asleep…

“We want them to stop the noise so we can move back in,” she said, adding: “We want them to recognise that the noise is a nuisance so we can go back and get some rest and sleep like we did five years ago. “

You see, the problem with this couple is that they are not rich and/or famous.  Therefore, they have no rights to live peacefully in their homes.  Now on the other side of the pond, the rich and/or famous have fought to live peacefully in their homes.  Like the Kennedys.  Who are all Big Government liberals who support renewable energy.  Just not in their backyard.  And to date the rich and/or famous of Martha’s Vineyard have been successful in keeping windmills out of Nantucket Sound.

The Spirit of ’76

Liberal politicians and the planter elite have a lot in common.  For they believe they are above the law.  Yes, people should sacrifice so we can build windmills near their property.  But we shouldn’t build them where the rich and/or famous sail their yachts. Because that wouldn’t be right.  But writing laws that further restrict our lives while exempting themselves from those laws is perfectly fine.  Again, this goes completely against the American creed.  The intent of our Founding Fathers.  And the Spirit of ’76.  Which we should note well on this day of days.  July 4.  Independence Day.

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