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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Declaration of Independence as a Mission Statement

By Chuck McGlawn
Let us describe the appearance of a penny. This is going to be an “open book test”. (so get yourself a penny.) First, it is copper in appearance. On the heads, side there is a likeness of President Lincoln. There is also the phrase “In God We Trust”, and there is a mint date, and mint location and the word “Liberty”. On the tails side is a likeness of the Lincoln Memorial, the phrases, “UNITED STATES of AMERICA”, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and lastly the denomination, “ONE CENT”

Now that is not a complete description of the penny, it doesn’t take into consideration that Lincoln’s likeness is in profile. It does not describe the slight ridge that borders the coin, and a dozen or more details both obvious and subtle, that could be included in the description of a penny. We just want to show that if you had a penny right in front of you, you could do a fairly good job of describing that penny. In addition, we believe that most any sixth grader, even a sixth grader with a public school education, could understand that description, and could go to a box of coins and easily pick out pennies by using just the description above.

The Declaration of Independence Imposes the Proper Function of our National Government.
What does this have to do with defining the proper function of our National Government? We believe, if you had the basic documents right in front of you that you could describe the proper function of our National Government just as completely. Moreover, when you completed that description of our government, any sixth grader could understand its description, and would know the proper function of our National government.

What we are now going to give you is the description of our National government, as it is defined and limited by some elements of our basic documents. The Declaration of Independence is the “Mission Statement”. It lays out the basic plan as to what our founding fathers planned to accomplish as a Nation.

The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness….” There, in one powerfully insightful sentence, you have Man’s rights. (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness) You have the dictum that these rights are granted by the Creator. In addition, they cannot be taken way. Not even by the government being created. Moreover, that all of this is a truth that is confirmed by observation of natural law.

We make an assumption here, that if you have RIGHTS, we mean real rights, then everyone else must have those same rights as well.

Let’s continue. The Declaration says that you have, “…certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” I contend that you have three and only three RIGHTS. Simply by being born you have the right to LIFE. And you have the RIGHT to do with that LIFE anything you want to do. That is called LIBERTY. In addition, you have the right to plan and conduct that LIFE in a way that YOU think will maximize your Happiness. (These are all yours with only one limitation. That nothing you do can interfere with another’s right to do what he or she wants to do with their LIFE).
The next line in the Declaration of Independence (And remember, this is the Mission Statement and the blueprint for our National Government.) the framers make a vitally important assertion. “…That to secure these rights…”, (notice here that these are rights that we had even before we had empowered a government to "secure" our natural rights.) “…governments are instituted among Men…”. Please note here exactly what is being said, that “We The People” are going to engaged in a contract with our (soon to be formed) government and the National Government’s job is going to be “…to secure (protect) these rights.” It is also important to note that men make government, and therefore precede government. This means that government is the agent to and servant of man, and not the reverse.

Now comes the most important statement. The Declaration is now going to designate from where our National Government gets its power, and at the same time put an important limitation on that governmental power. The Declaration of Independence says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” There you have it. If government gets its power from you the governed, it would logically follow that man cannot convey to that government powers that man, himself does not have.

You may be asking, “How does this work exactly?” To demonstrate let us use three examples. #1) Did man have the right to defend his own life before he had a government to help him defend his life? The answer to that question is of coarse yes. So man can institute a government and share with that government the power to protect his life. In fact, that is the justification for a military. Please note here that we do not turn over to government the total power to protect our lives, for if we did that then we would no longer have the right to defend our own lives. I contend that since we have a right to protect our life, and we share some of that power with our National Government we can then tax ourselves to finance a defensive military. Please note, that the military that our taxes finance can only be defensive. Since man, as an individual does not have the RIGHT to initiate force on another to accomplish personal goals, then it follows that he cannot combine with others to create a military and give to that military the power to initiate force to accomplish communal goals.

This precludes creating an executive branch of government that has the power to order the military into preemptive military action. BTW, that includes our present preemptive action in Iraq and Afghanistan. No military action taken since Truman formulated the domino theory has been defensive. Truman spawned the opposition to any hint of Soviet Union expansion anywhere in the world.

#2) Did man have the right to defend his own property before we had a government to defend that property? The answer again is yes. So man can institute a government and share with that government the power to protect his property and with that shared power, the government can establish a police department, and charge that entity with the job of protecting our property. This function of government can also be financed by taxes. However, since the protection of property is a local job the National Government did not exercise the Police power.

Here is the third example. Read the following very carefully. Question: Before we had government did individual man have the right to take money from others, and give it to someone else that they thought needed it more, the answer to that question is a resounding NO, it is called theft. Therefore, it would follow that collectively man cannot create a National Government, and give to that government the power to take money from others and give it to someone else that the government thinks needs it more. This means our National Government can have no power to extract taxes from you to educate children, no matter how badly you may think children need educating. It means that our National Government can have no power to extract taxes from you to fund social welfare, no matter how needy you think some people are. It also can have no power for health care providing, business promoting, Park building. It should not be involved in educational standards setting, régime changing, weather reporting, democracy spreading. It should not be spending tax monies on database keeping, farmer saving, speed limit setting or toilet designing. No matter how large a budget surplus our government may have, it should never spend taxes on mail reading, phone tapping, corporate bailouts, or the dozens of other things that the national government is either financing or regulating.

A closer look at all these things might cause you to ask a question. “Why would our National Government risk alienating citizens by taxing them. The answer reveals the motive. All taxes, with the exception of taxes that finance the proper functions of government, is an attempt on the part of our National Government, to transfer wealth for the purpose of vote buying. Ask yourself this question: Why should the National Government have the power to extract taxes from the States and the citizens within those States, and then use the threat of the withholding of that same money to force those same States to comply with some program that the national government thinks important?

Article IV Section 4 of the US Constitution says, “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government.” It is not likely that you have ever heard this phrase before. If you did, it was unlikely that you were given an explanation as to what it means.

Let me say this, we would be living in a radically different world if the lessons from the Declaration of independence and a clear understanding of Article IV Section 4 were a part of our national consciousness. I contend that as it becomes a part of our national consciousness, we will begin to have a National Government that is limited to the taxing and regulation powers as defined by the Constitution. Then we would have 50 or more States that would be competing for populations like K-Mart and Wal-Mart competes for customers. It would mean that every tax and every regulation would be instituted to provide betterment to the populations of each State. I suggest that at this birthday celebration of our Nation we resolve to make the lessons it teaches an ever growing part of our national conscious.

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