Two Questions About Government
The only things that are for certain, goes the old saying, are death and taxes. And, it would seem to be so. Of the former, modern science has found ways to delay it, but the technology of death avoidance is out of reach, despite the fervent desires of those looking for “the singularity.” As to the latter, history teaches that taxes and the governments that insist on them are almost as unavoidable. In the dimmest recesses of time there are hints that government as we know it didn’t exist, or was extremely minimal. But these are just the barest of hints. The vast majority of the historical record is made up of accounts of various governments and government actions, and usually despotic ones at that.
While death remains a certainty, maybe in the 21st century it’s time to start questioning if government, particularly on the national level, should be.
With that in mind, here are two questions to ponder:
- When did you, personally, give your assent to be governed?
- What has the government done lately that justifies its continued existence?
The first question is uncomfortable. We like to think, especially in America, that we are fundamentally free. If so, this means we are, or at least should be, free to choose our associations. But, we are most emphatically not free to associate.
The obvious example that most people think about is Obamacare. Under this odious measure, you must buy health insurance, or else, under threat of government sanction. In other words, you must associate yourself with an insurance scheme. You have no choice in the matter. You have no freedom to associate or not associate.
Many Americans were surprised that this clear violation of fundamental freedoms was approved by the Supreme Court. And yet, the precedent that you are not free to associate as you wish has been long established.
If born in the United States, you are born a citizen of the country, subject to its laws. This is taken for granted. But it is a fundamental violation of the freedom to associate. You did not give your assent to this arrangement. In fact, you were not given a choice. And, just to make sure that there is no doubt that you are, in fact, an involuntary subject, you are issued a government ID number and, when you turn 18 (if you are a male), you are forced by law to register for the Selective Service, just in case the government wants to force you into involuntary military servitude. Moreover, any value you create by working is claimed, in part or in whole, by the government and forcibly taken from you in the form of taxes of various types.
Sure, you get to vote on some things, such as which scoundrel you want to send to Congress, but if you are completely honest, you must realize that at the fundamental level you were not given a choice in whether or how you relate to the government. You were born subject to it.
This is not freedom.
Here’s how Lysander Spooner put it:
The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the Constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to be an agreement between any body but “the people” then existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind any body but themselves.
As for question number two, regarding what the government does to justify its existence, we find that, in fact, the government’s actions are consistently dangerous and tyrannical.
This has especially been so over the last 15 years. Consider some developments:
- The government has decided it can torture people, as long as the torture is downplayed by using the appropriate euphemism (enhanced interrogation). By contrast, in the wake of World War II, at Nuremberg, “torture was categorized as a crime against humanity as well as a war crime,” wrote James Friedman, a professor of Constitutional Law for the legal news site Jurist.
- The government has decided it can kill people through secret extrajudicial means. Of this terrifying development, Judge Andrew Napolitano has written: “Now, we have a president whose principal law enforcement and intelligence officers have boasted that the president relies on a legal way to kill people without the time, trouble and cost of due process. The president himself, as well as the attorney general, boasted of this, as did the director of national intelligence and the director of the CIA. Yet, when asked by reporters for The New York Times for this legal rationale, Holder declined to provide it. He argued that the legal rationale for the presidential use of extra-judicial killings was a state secret….”
- The government routinely decides that it can and should launch wars all over the globe without any real semblance of effort to get basic authorization from the branch of government that supposedly has sole authority over war powers. Most recently, the Obama administration sought to launch an all-out assault on Syria without a declaration of war and against the wishes of the military’s top brass. It was only halted at the 11th hour when, reportedly, the Joint Chiefs warned the president that he was about to embark on an epic military blunder. Needless to say, such a blunder has bloody consequences for everyone involved, including American citizens who are being put in harms way.
- The government steals from, experiments upon and kills Americans. This underscores the unfortunate truth that the government acts as if it believes that it alone owns the lives of citizens. For example, from 1932 to 1972, the government, through the U.S. Public Health Service, conducted the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. In this program, the government duped 600 victims into believing that they were receiving free government medical treatment so that “researchers” could see what would happen to them when syphilis was allowed to progress without treatment. This was only one of the most egregious of dozens of dangerous and deadly medical experiments carried out on Americans surreptitiously by their government. Wikipedia has a dreary compendium of the many examples of unethical human experimentation carried out by the government on unwitting citizens. They include biological warfare and radiological tests, sometimes carried out on entire cities and communities. While these examples of unethical research and experimentation are both gruesome and outrageous, the government also engages in more mundane forms of tyranny that demonstrate that it holds its subjects in both contempt and in thrall. For example, the federal government currently is considering the seizure of some 90,000 acres of Texas.
In his “Resolutions Relative to the Alien and Sedition Acts,” Thomas Jefferson offered this advice: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
The government itself has long since thrown off the bonds imposed by the Constitution, and, in truth, no one born in America and alive today ever gave their consent to being governed under it.
Despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution is far and away the best charter of government ever devised by man, government itself, considered in general as an institution, is irredeemably corrupt and is, arguably, the most dangerous force on earth.
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