The holiday that we celebrate on July Fourth goes by many names. It is proudly called “Fireworks Day” Those who celebrate Fireworks Day are likely doing so to relive a memory. The memory of their youth when their father after taking them to the fireworks stand, and coming home with a huge bag-of-fun, eager for darkness to be able to witness the exploding shower of excitement. I have celebrated just such July Fourths exactly that way.
Another name for the holiday that we celebrate on July Fourth is simply called “The Fourth of July” those celebrants have some residual memory of Jr. High and High School Civics classes. This group comes with the same bag of fireworks to ignite at dusk, but during the display, they remember that what they are celebrating is the day that marked the day that we started on the course of kicking the British out of OUR COUNTRY. Many of my own years passed in just this manner.
For many July Fourth is the holiday that celebrates “Independence Day”. This group paid closer attention in their Civics Classes, and then likely went on to do some supplemental reading. These revelers are celebrating the day that we declared our independence from the British Empire and embarked on an experiment in self-government, an experiment that has lasted 234 mostly glorious years. With a gnawing in the stomach, that portends the sunset of the glorious experiment, and perhaps a slipping back from individual sovereignty to being a collective subject accompany this celebration.
Take heart gentle reader there is on the horizon a newly evolving way to celebrate July Fourth. It encompasses the best of each kind of celebration from the flash, sparkle and boom excitement to the “button-popping” pride and the liberating Independence. There is emerging a Fourth way of celebrating the Fourth. It marks the point of demarcation on a journey that will take us to higher levels of liberty than we have ever even imagined. It marked the beginning of a completely new way of thinking about liberty, and more specifically about RIGHTS. Let us talk about rights. Let us talk about the History, Evolution and Future of rights.
There is one very curious thing about history. Historians do not appear until rather late. Theirs was the job of sorting out what had come before. The responsibility to name things that had happened long before their arrival. The job of naming those happenings fell to these historians. A phrase like “Classical Liberal” was not even coined until the mid 1920s. The phrase that now describes 17th, 18th, and 19th Century advocates of liberty. It was not needed, until the Progressives and the Populist successfully co-opted the word liberal to describe their “statist” programs. Historians are responsible for a plethora of other names: “The Age of Enlightenment”, “The Middle Ages” The Dark Ages, “The Protestant Reformation”, including two of the three names that describe man’s attitudes towards RIGHTS.
History and historians have clearly delineated at least three separate and different attitudes toward RIGHTS. There is perhaps a fourth, and maybe even a fifth. Future historians will confirm the last two based on what happens in the next 50 to 500 years. We only mention them here to show that the attitude towards RIGHTS may still be evolving.
For the first attitude towards RIGHTS named by said historians, we must return to the very dawn of life on this planet, around three and a half million years ago. This attitude towards RIGHTS starts there and takes us right up through most of our history, recorded and unrecorded, including yesterday’s newspaper. That first attitude toward RIGHTS has not completely disappeared. The first attitude about RIGHTS is “Might makes Right”. Any life form had the RIGHT to do anything he wanted to do IF HE COULD. One could do whatever one wanted to do because he had the might to do it, and the only limit on this seemingly limitless right and the only thing that prevented this action was greater might held by another, which of coarse made the greater might “more right”.
This stage of man’s development may sound somewhat brutal, and it was. However, this stage in man’s growth was completely necessary. Yes, I said that “Might Makes Right” was a necessary stage in our development. It placed a value on the strong. It enabled man to control and utilize a larger part of the available substance and move up along the evolutionary progress. It enabled strong men among us to marshal and lead large forces to move across the land masses making the “might make right” concept universal. Genghis Khan would be among the best known of the “Might makes Right” leaders. Khan was a Mongol conqueror. After uniting the Mongol tribes, he conquered and ruled one of the greatest land empires of history. Some of the other “Might Makes Right” alumni would include Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joe Stalin, and Saddam Hussein.
Near the end of this “Might makes Right” period, another element was beginning to evolve to alter the hierarchy of the strong man leader. The new element added to the mix was the “trusted advisor”. These alter egos are known by as many different names as there are different parts of the world and different cultures. They have been called Shaman, wizards, witch doctors, medicine men, and Lieutenants. Their arrival marked the birth of the next evolutionary step in humankind’s attitude towards RIGHTS. You see these alter egos climbed to their “second banana” positions not because they were strong but because they were smart. While there is a limitation on strength, there is no limitation on smarts.
As the strong man leaders died off, the alter egos the second in command quickly replaced them. These leaders proclaimed that they were not in their positions because they were strong but because their “god selected them”. This period in history has been named by historians the “Divine Right of Kings”.
Even though this stage was based on deception, it was nonetheless a necessary stage in the development of humankind, it was a stabilizing time. The rule of law while not universally applied began to take on more meaning; it laid the seeds of humankind’s next evolutionary step. It represents a time for growth and expansion of man’s understanding. This is the environment that produces a John Locke, a Sir William Blackstone, the contributions of a Richard Cantillon, pioneers of sociology like Adam Ferguson, fine-tuning the works of David Hume. There are many, many not listed but let us end the list with Adam Smith and Thomas Paine. During this period, man grew philosophically, and built the launch pad for the next step in the evolution of man’s attitude toward RIGHTS.
While the foundations and underpinnings of “natural law” are taking root, they are, at the same time, being studied by the Founding Fathers who ushered in a whole new attitude towards RIGHTS which took on the name “UNALIENABLE RIGHTS” or “INALIENABLE RIGHTS”. The precise elements, the exact formulation and perfect timing all coalesced to give birth to this completely new concept in man’s attitude toward RIGHTS and a brand new governance based on that attitude. In short, we had arrived at that time in our philosophical history that man realized that he had the capacity of self- government. That time in our evolution makes the concept that might made right ready to be discarded to the trash heap of history. That period when we realized we no longer needed a monarch supposedly put in power by God to guide us through life.
This was not only a completely new attitude toward RIGHTS; it also spawned a completely new relationship between man and his government. This entire miracle captured in just one paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence becomes our government’s “Mission Statement”. It lays out the basic plan as to what our founding fathers planned to accomplish with the government that would be created if we fought off the British Monarchy.
Starting with We hold these truths to be self-evident… this statement indicates that the underpinnings of these concepts were well laid, and were almost universally understood by 1776. The Declaration of Independence continues with, …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.
What a powerfully insightful sentence. It lays out man’s rights, (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness) with the dictum that these rights are granted by the Creator. That they cannot be taken way. Not even by the government being created. They are “unalienable” And that these truths are confirmed by observation of natural law.
Let us look just a little closer. 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. You have the RIGHT to plan and conduct that life in a way that you think will maximize your happiness. (These are all yours, so long as what you do does not interfere with another’s right to do what he or she wants to do with their life).
Next, 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 governments to "secure" them.) “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 to “secure” (that is to protect) our rights. It is also important to note that men make government, and therefore men precede government. This means that government is the agent to and servant of man, and not the reverse.
Now the framers are going to designate from where our government gets its powers, and at the same time put an important limitation on that national 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 the governed, it follows that man cannot create a government and give to that government powers that man himself does not have. Let me say that again. . If government gets its power from the governed, then the National Government cannot have powers that man as an individual does not have.
Now, let us ask some questions about the power of government. Remember we are only talking about the National Government. The State, the County and the City governments do not enter into these limitations. Question #1, does man have the RIGHT to defend his own life and property? The answer to that question is YES. Therefore, man can institute a government and share with that government the power to protect life and property. In fact, that is the justification for a military for national DEFENSE, a police force for property protection and a court system to adjudicate crimes against property.
Question #2, [And I am serious here.] Does man have the RIGHT to take money from your pocket, and give it to someone else that he thinks needs it more? The answer to that question is NO. Therefore, it would follow that if man does not have that right he cannot create a government, and give to that government the power to take money from you 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, educational standards setting, régime changing, weather reporting, democracy spreading, database keeping, farmer saving, speed limit setting, toilet designing, mail reading, phone tapping, or the dozens of other things that the national government is either financing or regulating.
The future of our already grossly eroded RIGHTS is grim indeed. With the two major parties competing with each other to buy votes with increased spending and increased regulation, RIGHTS for a time will have to pay the price. Rising from that downturn will be a newly evolved man, man that knows instinctively that the only rights he has are the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
He further knows, and you may be hearing this for the first time, though not likely if you are a regular reader of these pages, that you cannot initiate force to accomplish social, economic and personal goals. This means that as much as you may abhor drug use you will also know that you cannot initiate force to stop it. Furthermore, you cannot create a government and give to that government the power to legislate punishment ostensibly to reduce drug usage.
Those same criteria will apply to all victimless crimes like prostitution, loan sharking, minimum wage violators, immigration etc. Whenever these peaceful activities are criminalized an underground, often, a criminal gang will rise to supply these markets. Correspondingly, new law enforcement divisions are added to the policing department and new wings have to be added to the prisons. The resulting cost to the taxpayer is greater than the loss that the actions created, and to add insult to injury the actions that lawmakers find offensive expand.
The newly evolved population will see the initiation of force as a form of “create a problem” and then buy the votes of those who want the problem solved. In the passed the laws passed will create additional problems for a larger segment of the population and more votes are bought. And so on, and so on, and so on. This will not happen.
As we celebrate July Fourth, however you may celebrate it, ask yourself are you one of those evolved, or evolving persons that do not believe that if we don’t give tickets and fines to folks that slowly roll through a stop sign that in time the will roll through at 30 MPH? Are you one of those evolved, or evolving persons that do not believe that if we don’t give tickets and fines to folks that that turn left without the left arrow at 3:00 am in the morning will in time turn left without the left arrow at 3:00 pm during rush hour?
There is a whole new world on the horizon be ready for its dawning.