Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Life, Liberty,...and Property

In one of his earlier drafts of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson had defined the unalienable rights as: Life, Liberty, and Property. That, among other things got changed in the rewrite. But it speaks to the importance of economic freedom being linked with political and personal freedom. To quote Ronald Reagan, announcing America’s Economic Bill of Rights (July 3, 1987):
“Inextricably linked to these political freedoms are protections for the economic freedoms envisioned by those Americans who went before us. While the Constitution sets our political freedoms in greater detail, these economic freedoms are part and parcel of it.”
In essence, there can be no political freedom without corresponding economic freedom.

The only essential role of government is to protect the right of the individual from the tyranny of the collective. Too bad the various governments, led by the sycophants of Imperial Washington, don't have a clue about protecting individual rights. Instead, they continue to usurp freedoms. Obviously, we're going to hit the economic ones.

First, there's eminent domain. That's where the government takes your land for the greater good. At least they pay you. But the idea is that the government can mandate this.

Even worse is government controlling what you can do on your land. You have your city and county ordinances. Not terrible, but annoying. You have some state shit. Also annoying, and sometimes invasive. But our federal albatross takes the cake. From mindless wetland regulations to protecting the rights of albino spotted zorgylflex salamanders and the emotionally complex trees, there are all kinds of regulations used to restrict property rights. So instead of being able to clear a ditch that got plugged and filled up, a property owner may have his land rendered useless because some slug or bug on the endangered species list decided to mate there. This is proof that a bucket of coal oil and a match can clean up messy problems. Boom.

For personal property, we have agencies that regulate our clothes, our electronics, our toys, medicine, our weapons, our food, and the airwaves. And they're still trying to see how they can reach a decrepit hand into cyberspace. Now while all of these agencies do have some value, some importance, and some justification, they make the list because, with too much power to take those decisions on themselves, we lose our freedom to choose. So we get the lighter with the annoying-assed child safety device, the garage door sensor that has to be installed, the myriad things designed to save the planet from whatever the climate change flavor of the year is, the flashlight with a safety instruction book that had to kill a whole forest just for the number of books produced to tell us not to piss in it before inserting the batteries, and the justification to whittle away rights defined in the Constitution in the name of protecting people.

Then there's restrictions on what you do with your money when you try to buy free speech and empower your choice of representative. You're limited to what you can buy, how mych you can buy, even when you can buy. Of course, with politics, this means finding every loophole, cheat, and bendable law imaginable, instead of just a transparent system that lets everyone spend and speak freely. No politician who would make things so inane should even be nominated for a high office. Wait. Didn't somebody pretty much do that already? Oh wait, he's not nominated yet.

Okay, that leaves the granddaddy of them all, that systemic rape of your wallet and mine, taxes. I'm sure I'll miss a few here, but this is a blog, not a book. We start with federal, state, and local income taxes. You have Social Security and Medicare taxes. State and local sales taxes. Corporate taxes, which we pay every time we buy something, because those corporations certainly don't pay taxes. We have property taxes, then taxes on money from selling the home. We have sin taxes, from cigarettes, to liquor, to fatty foods out in Cali. We have gas taxes, death taxes, and (coming soon) carbon taxes. And any company that makes too much money, we just raise their taxes (which they pass right back to us). But it's okay, really. After all, it is our money. Why should we decide what to do with that, when there are plenty of great and glorious things government can do with it, at ten times the price. Any wonder why I'm always dropping links for the FairTax every time?

In the end, our political and personal freedoms are intrinsically linked to our economic freedom. And as economic freedom is stripped away, all freedoms are diminished.


Satyavati devi dasi said...

All I'm gonna say here is that I have spent my entire life living with EPA regulations and I appreciate them. We lived on a lake when I was a kid and I spent most of my time in or on the water. There were some problems with people with very old homes that were designed to be used 1-2 weeks a year. Their septics drained directly into the lake. When these became fulltime homes this was obviously a problem. The EPA got it straightened out.

In Wilmington keeping the wetlands safe is a very big deal to a lot of people and a lot of good work has been done to make sure they don't get ruined.

Where we live now, the two big lakes in the county are owned by Progress Energy. Each has a plant and you can see the steam and so on pretty much all the time. The EPA is all over these people. Each lake is seriously protected and the one in our backyard has a 400' zone around it where nothing can be touched. The amount of regulation is intense even for regular people to build a house because of the septics and so on but for PE it's a hundred times more. But no one seems to mind, because the lakes are beautiful and the fact that the regulations keep idiots and big power companies from messing them up keeps property values up, development continuing, and provides an actual tourism industry in a county that has absolutely nothing else except tobacco and soybean fields. For an area with a median household income of $37K you can imagine the benefit of tourists coming to fish, swim, boat, hunt and pay money for all of the above.

If PE and general people didn't have these rules to follow they wouldn't, and we'd be looking at a big nasty wet hole in the ground. It does cost more money (sometimes, it didn't for us) to make sure your septic is right and EPA-OK. But by keeping the impact on the lake to near nil, everyone benefits both on a personal level and financially with the money brought in.

Like all things, this is a two sided coin.

Have a good day.

Obob said...

But in the end, people come to depend on the government to do everything for them. People pay the taxes to make sure we don't run with scissors, then demand medical aid when we were dumb enough to poke our eye out. If we effectively educated the masses, they would know not to. Thus avoid injury. (subtle reference to Katrina kids)
The less taxes, the less government programs for people to depend on. The less people depend on the government, the more free they are. It's a progression thing.
Do we need some government oversight, obviously. Look at Love Canal to the Patriot Act to NCLB. But they can go away after the mess has been cleaned up. Cut the programs back and terminate the employment of government leeches who have a job to keep them happy and complacent.

Obob said...


Obob said...

and as for eminant domain. Which is part of the Constitution, half my parents neighborhood is becoming an interstate. So the people from Kokomo can save five inutes on their commute.
Government in action!!!!!!!!

Beth said...

And another frightening infringment on our freedoms that too many Americans are willing to give the government control over is our energy consumption. Don't people realize that if that is regualted by the government in the name of the greater good, we're at the mercy of them for almost every aspect of our lives?? This was not what patriots died for in the Revolutionary War folks.

Obob, you expect state run educational system to properly teach kids this??

Obob said...

I can be a terminal optimist at times. Tragic flaw

Patrick M said...

Saty: That's why I say there's justification and reasoning behind every program out there, and that they do some good. But the problem is that government keeps growing, extending its reach, and we lose freedom as a result. That's why I don't say we should eliminate every government entity not expressly specified in the Constitution. But there seems to be no limits on how many problems an individual can run into if they run afoul of entities with the powers of the EPA.

By the way, we have a lake here too (Grand Lake St Marys), and we've had our share of problems with it. I'm just hesitant to hand off may of those issues to the fed when they could be solved at the state or (even better) local level.

Another take on this, which relates to your post on heath care:

Right now, we have money sucked from our checks to feed Medicare. I'm looking at mine right now, next to deductions for Social Security, state tax, local tax, and school district tax (EIC eliminates my federal taxes). In total, that's about 10% (my present income really sucks) of my check that various entities take to fund things. How much would it cost me if you add a tax to pay for health care for everyone? And why does another entity get to decide how my money should be spent?


Obob: Conservatism is optimism!

Also, both you and Beth have most excellent points.

Beth said...

Did I leave you speechless? lol

I agree that conservatism IS optimism, optimism in the individual, and optimism in the Constitution!

Patrick M said...

No, I'm just disjointed when I type. I actually typed the response to Obob first, stated in on Satyavati, then started you, went back to her, then added the tag on the end of Obob because I really didn't have anything to add to your comment.

Oh, and I was fielding tech calls throughout that.

So my thought process is downright loopificated, if I ask me. It even produces words like 'loopificated,' for example.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

You already heard me say I ain't right.

This is directly related to my thoughts on the general lack-of-healthcare situation as it pertains to my specific-lack-of-healthcare situation at the moment.

SO because you haven't been reading the blog long enough to know how things get sometimes when I ain't right, I ain't gonna argue.

But it ain't pretty.

Beth said...

One must be careful when multitasking, Patrick!

Obob said...

there are advantages to be being borderline ADHD

Patrick M said...

Saty: You've read about as much of my blog as I have of yours.

Other than political viewpoint, you think I'm any more right that you?

Beth: I always wait until the kids are in bed before I multitask, as I don't want them walking in on me.

Wait a minute.... :)

Obob: Like the ability to find deep meaning in the Weird Al Yankovic movie UHF?