The Tyranny of Legislation

In a society based upon the principles of individual liberty, there is a need for only seven laws:

  1. One may not take another’s life unless one’s life or property is in imminent danger.
  2. One may not physically assault another individual unless one’s life or property is in imminent danger.
  3. No one has a right to take, use, or damage another’s property without the voluntary consent of the owner of such property.
  4. Commerce must be conducted honestly. All products and services must be represented accurately and function as described and intended.
  5. All parties who voluntarily enter into an agreement or contract are obligated to fulfill the terms of said agreement or contract.
  6. All social and economic interactions must be undertaken on a voluntary basis. No one must be coerced to engage in any social or economic activity.
  7. An individual’s personal rights must always be respected and protected. No personal, moral, societal, or other preferences supersede the rights of personal liberty.

Laws may be legitimately passed to clarify each of these seven laws. For example, laws or regulations preventing one from causing pollution may be legitimate, since pollution emanating from one individual or concern may damage the property of another. Laws that ensure commerce is conducted honestly may be legitimate, provided that such laws don’t hinder commerce or provide an advantage or penalize any party.

Any type of law not addressed by the above seven laws is probably illegitimate in a free society. These include laws in which one’s personal morality, preferences, or ideals are coercively imposed upon another. Examples of these types of illegitimate laws include laws that regulate individual behaviors that do not infringe upon the liberties of others. Sexual practices, religious preferences, economic decisions, personal moral beliefs, and lifestyle choices are areas that should not be subject to coercive legislation.

Laws should also not be passed to address the economic or social preferences of any group of individuals, regardless of how noble or useful such preferences appear. Not only do attempts to establish a “nanny state” paternalistic society inevitably fail, they also are an affront to the concept of personal liberty. One should have the freedom to make one’s own decisions, even if those decisions are bad. When government tries to act as the arbiter of “good decisions,” or attempts to protect people from the consequences of their decisions, that government creates a society of mediocrity. In such a society, the population has no personal incentive to make good decisions, since government protects them from their own failures. Conversely, and more importantly, such a society also discourages risk taking. Those who have accomplished the most throughout history have usually been those who were willing to assume the largest risk and to deviate from conventional thinking. A paternalistic nanny state merely reinforces and rewards the status quo. It actively discourages new thinking and the new ideas that fuel economic and social progress.

Attempts to create social or economic engineering solutions through the coercive power of government, besides infringing upon personal liberty, inevitably lead to unintended consequences. These so-called solutions usually involve providing an advantage or reward to a certain group, while denying the same advantages or rewards to other groups. This means that government, instead of protecting individual liberty and initiative, actively interferes with the organic growth of the economy or society by imposing its preferences for behavior or outcomes. For example, providing tax incentives to specific industries artificially inflates the value of these industries, while ignoring or penalizing industries that may actually produce more societal or economic good if left to compete in a free marketplace. This also creates an atmosphere that invites governmental corruption, as any special interest will lobby, petition, or bribe the government for special favors. When a favor is granted to any specific interest, other interests are, by definition, penalized by not being allowed to compete on the same level. Rather than competing on merit, by the strength of their own products or services and their acceptance in a free marketplace, organizations are forced, in this corrupt environment, to compete upon the basis of the clout they wield in government. There is no economic or societal advantage in using clout, rather than merit, to determine the success or failure of any undertaking.

The same argument about unintended consequences holds true to legislation that attempts to regulate personal behavior. The attempt to ban the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages failed miserably. People routinely ignored the law (leading to a breakdown in respect for government) and illegal organization sprung up and thrived in order to satisfy the demand for the now-illegal beverages. A similar situation exists in the consumption of recreational drugs. Legislation outlawing the consumption of recreational substances and the so-called “War on Drugs” did little to stifle demand for these substances. Instead, these laws caused the emergence of illegal organizations and cartels to supply the inherent demand for these substances. Since this commerce is illegal, there are no contractual controls to govern the behavior of these organizations or ways to ensure that such commerce is conducted honestly. It should come as no surprise that these illegal organizations engage in violent behavior, since their basic trade is illegal to begin with.

In order to combat the violence caused by organizations that have sprung up in response to such ill conceived laws, public law enforcement has had to become more militaristic in order to fight the violence, and more and more laws that restrict basic civil rights and liberties have been passed in order to address the problems caused by this illegal trade. For example, in order to prevent cash transactions and money laundering by drug cartels, Americans can no longer conduct any cash commerce in excess of $10,000 without notifying Federal authorities. Even if the authorities are notified, civil forfeiture laws allow government authorities to seize property if they claim to suspect such money or property was obtained through illicit drug sales. There is no need for due process before seizing a person’s property – suspicion is enough. It is up to the owner of the property to prove that their property was obtained through legitimate means. The basic concept of innocence until proven guilty, which is a cornerstone of a free society, is abandoned in order to maintain the façade of legislation initially enacted to create a socially engineered solution to a perceived problem.

There is no denying that addiction can be a tragic and debilitating experience. However, the choice to consume an addictive substance rests solely with the individual choosing to indulge in these substances. He or she should bear the brunt of those decisions, not society as a whole. The entire population should not have their behavior constrained, or liberties restricted, because a small proportion of the population fails to make good decisions. Attempts to use the coercive power of government to regulate specific behaviors not only fails to ensure good decisions by the targeted population, such legislation usually has significant negative effects on the rest of the populace.

Laws that exceed the seven listed above are fundamentally an attempt by a group of people to impose, through threat of government-enforced force or forfeiture, their will upon others. No matter how well-intentioned, laws that impose the will of one group upon another group are an assault on personal freedom. The United States was not founded upon the principle of the mediocrity of collectivism. It was founded upon the principles of individual liberty and personal initiative. We must be very vigilant when leaders or candidates propose “solutions” that exceed the scope of these seven basic laws. Although they may craft a compelling argument in favor of their solutions, these “solutions” are merely the leader or candidate’s attempt to impose his or her will on the populace. There is a term for the form of government that coercively imposes its own preferences on the population, even if the leaders are “freely” elected by the populace. That term is “dictatorship.”

 

Why Progressives Must Ban Santa Claus

Progressives, in their never-ending zeal to establish a utopia on earth as envisioned by a select group of elite social engineers, have neglected to confront one of the most oppressive symbols of the white male dominated Western-centric imperialistic patriarchy of privilege – Santa Claus! Good progressives must demand that even the mention of this evil being be preceded by a trigger warning and that safe spaces be created free of Santa Claus’ presence. It’s time the left declares a war on Santa Claus.

Let’s look at why the presence of Santa Claus must be eradicated from a progressive society.

The most obvious reason is the blatant bias and discrimination practiced by old St. Nick. He only delivers toys to the homes of Christian children (excepting Jehovah Witnesses and some other small denominations). While distributing toys to the homes of practitioners of the same oppressive religion that brought us the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and so many other calamities hundreds of years ago, he intentionally refuses to deliver toys to adherents of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism. Displaying his abject lack of commitment to diversity, Santa Claus bypasses the homes of Wiccans, Animists, non-theists, and anyone else who does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It is long past time that society rejects such an exclusionary and prejudiced practice.

Santa Claus also perpetuates social division and inequality. Even with his exclusionary practices of ignoring non-Christians, it is no secret that children from wealthy families receive better presents than children of the economically oppressed. There is no place in the world for such inequity.

Santa Claus’ labor practices also deserve scrutiny and condemnation. He has established an off-shore manufacturing facility, beyond the reach of OSHA regulations, equal opportunity laws, and other regulations designed to ensure the fair treatment of workers. His workshop lacks diversity. His workforce is exclusively composed of elves. Nymphs, fairies, sprites, and other mythological creatures need not apply. Even the elves are not guaranteed fair treatment. There are no assurances that the employees of Santa’s Workshop are being paid a living wage and there is no union to protect the interests of the elves. Considering that alternate employment opportunities in the barren wasteland of the North Pole are scarce, we can be almost certain that Kris Kringle is exploiting his workers. Remember that even within the confines of his establishment, opportunities for advancement are almost non-existent. Santa’s Workshop has always been led by a white male. There are no females, minorities, or underrepresented mythical beings in any significant leadership positions.

Santa Claus is a typical white male Western colonizer. He established his workshop in lands traditionally inhabited by the Inuit population. It is very unlikely that he secured the permission of the aboriginal population before establishing himself in the North Pole. Even though he has taken their land, Santa refuses to employ the indigenous peoples in his enterprise, instead importing elves from far-off lands. His presence in the North Pole certainly is contributing to climate change and it is not unreasonable to believe the presence of such a large manufacturing and distribution concern is contributing to the melting of the polar ice caps.

Santa Claus ignores the basic precepts of social justice in his activities. He routinely spies on the children serviced by his operation, to the point that he can actually see if they have been sleeping and knowing when they are awake. Ignoring socio-economic factors and cultural differences, Santa takes it upon himself to be the sole judge as to whether children have been naughty or nice. He refuses to accept the fact that children are not in control and not responsible for their naughty behavior.   If children are naughty, it must be due to the oppressive climate in which they are raised. Naughtiness is a problem of all of society, not of individual children. Santa’s inflexible expectations of behavior are obsolete in a culture of moral ambiguity. Singling out naughty children and penalizing them by delivering coal instead of toys is a major attack on the self-esteem of our young charges.

Even the use of coal to discipline naughty children displays Santa Claus’ disregard of proper environmental stewardship. Why must he deliver a fossil fuel that is one of the major contributors of global warming? He displays a blatant disregard for our planet. If Santa Claus was truly concerned about the future of the world, he would only deliver locally-sourced, environmentally sustainable, gluten-free, renewable items to children. Our environment would be so much better if Santa was to stop delivering toys and coal to children and replaced it with something more environmentally sound – like kale.

One must not ignore the chilling affect of his surveillance activities against our children. Old St. Nicholas has, in recent years, established a secret police force to supplement his already intrusive monitoring of the behavior of children. He has deployed a Gestapo-like contingent of elves to invade children’s homes, where they sit on a shelf all day observing the behavior of children. Every night, these intrusive investigators return to the North Pole and provide Santa with a report on the activities of children in a given household. After submitting their reports, these elves return to the homes of children, spying on their activities from the safety of a shelf in the house. One can only imagine the pressure this puts on our population of delicate children. Rather than receiving gifts as their rightful entitlement, Santa is planting the subversive idea in children’s heads that rewards are actually based on behavior.

It is a documented fact that Santa Claus presides over a hostile workplace. One of his reindeer, afflicted with a physical deformity that made him different than other reindeer, had been continuously subjected to hostile comments and ridicule. It is known that this poor reindeer was purposely excluded from the recreational activities of other reindeer, all because he was different. Santa maintained a blind eye to this practice and only accepted this oppressed reindeer when he was able to exploit the reindeer’s disability during one particularly stormy Christmas night. In fact, progressive organizations like PETA have publicly questioned whether it is right that Santa forces eight tiny reindeer to pull a heavy sled full of toys for twenty-four hours straight, with no breaks for recuperation or refreshment. How can anyone, in good conscience, defend this type of animal exploitation?

Some apologists of Father Christmas point out that he does have a diverse sleigh team. The lead reindeer, Rudolph, is differently enabled. Two of his reindeer, Dancer and Prancer, are known to be gay. And two others, Cupid and Vixen, are believed to be transgendered. Although this one instance of enlightenment on the part of Santa should be applauded, it hardly mitigates his other offenses.

No progressive could condone the lifestyle choices of Santa or the bad example he sets for our children. Santa Claus has been photographed smoking a corncob pipe, ignoring the known health effects of tobacco consumption or the danger his second-hand smoke poses to his employees and the children he services. Kris Kringle is also morbidly obese, and, according to all known accounts, limits his diet to milk and cookies. This sets a bad example to children who may be lactose intolerant and, as any good progressive knows, cookies are laden with sugar, a known poison. All reports indicate that Santa Claus lives a sedentary lifestyle and exercises only once a year, when he spends an entire day descending and ascending through chimneys. This is hardly the type of person any progressive would subject to children.

Santa Claus is an exclusionary, reactionary, unenlightened relic of the dark ages and the mere mention of his name should be prohibited. Progressives must demand that the government protect children from his presence and that all visages of St. Nicolas be removed from public and private spaces. It is apparent that a vast right-wing Christian conspiracy is in place to support this racist, big corporation bigot, probably financed by the Koch Brothers. All good progressives must protest until speech codes to outlaw his name are implemented and government regulations are put in place to prevent Santa and his elves from entering progressive safe spaces. Only government should be empowered to distribute free goodies, not conservative Christians trying to brainwash our children with tea bagger ideas through bribery. The progressive cause depends upon swift action to eradicate this threat to a truly color-blind society of equal outcomes.

The Misrepresentations and Naïveté of Firearms Opponents

After every notable act of violence involving firearms, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction among a portion of the population to call for bans on certain types of weapons or restrictions on gun ownership. Those calling for restrictions on Second Amendment rights use historical misrepresentations, incendiary rhetoric, and an inability to learn from experience to justify their emotional distaste for firearms.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly reads,

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Opponents of firearms emphasize the term, “well regulated Militia” as their justification to legislate restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. They interpret this phrase to mean the government has the right to impose regulations on ownership and that the right to bear arms is only guaranteed for military units sanctioned by the Federal government. These opponents of firearms either fail to recognize the historical context of the Second Amendment or are engaged in a purposeful attempt to misrepresent it.

The concept of Federal regulations and restrictions on everyday activities is, in a historical sense, a relatively new phenomenon. The idea that the Federal government has the power to impose its will on the states and the people therein did not even originate until the Civil War and was not institutionalized until the Progressive Era in the early twentieth century. The framers of the Constitution did not use the phrase, “well regulated” to mean Federal oversight and restriction on the right to bear arms. What, then, did the phrase, “well regulated,” imply at the time of the passage of the Second Amendment? “Well regulated” was a relatively common phrase meaning that something was in proper working order. Within the context of bearing firearms, “well regulated” meant that someone was properly trained and proficient in the use of these weapons. That meant that people bearing arms were expected to be trained in the use of the arms, and as members of the militia, engage in periodic drills. The phrase did not imply that the Federal government had the authority to regulate the use of firearms, as we commonly understand the term, “regulate,” to mean today. Indeed, the entire concept of granting a central government the right to unlimited regulation was totally foreign to the Founding Fathers. The term, “militia,” is also misunderstood or misrepresented by opponents of firearms. They argue that the militia only consists of the National Guard and reserve units of the uniformed services and that the Second Amendment only pertains to people enlisted in these government-controlled entities. This is probably due to ignorance of the Efficiency in Militia Act of 1903, which codified the circumstances in which state National Guard units could be brought under federal control. The act did not, however, restrict militia membership to organized units (like the National Guard). In fact, the Efficiency in Militia Act recognized the existence of an unorganized militia (which was also recognized in the Militia Acts of 1792). The unorganized militia was comprised of all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 17 and 45. In other words, the entire population of capable males was considered, by default, members of the militia. (It could certainly be argued, based upon current legislation and Constitutional interpretation, that the age and gender restrictions are no longer in force.) Therefore, every citizen of the United States, by default, is a member of the militia and subject to the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment.

Militias in America were historically designed to allow citizens to band together for the common defense. All able-bodied males of a certain age (as codified in the various Militia Acts) were expected to be trained and proficient in the use of firearms and expected to be able to use those arms if the need arose. The Second Militia Act of 1792 required that every male citizen possessed a firearm and adequate ammunition. Except in rare instances, militias were established and controlled at the local or state level; federal control was limited to extraordinary circumstances, usually limited to service in a declared war or insurrection.

There was a good reason for establishing militias at the state or local level. People at the time of the passage of the Second Amendment distrusted a standing army in times of peace. The abuses of British authority were still fresh in their minds. Rather than granting power to a large central government, the citizenry preferred to restrict most political power to the states or individuals (as codified in the Tenth Amendment). If there is any doubt that the framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to apply to all citizens, one needs only read the amendment carefully. It clearly states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” shall not be infringed. Note the use of the word, “people.” The amendment does not restrict the right to keep and bear arms to governmental authorities; it extends this right to all people. This does not contradict the first part of the amendment because, as was already established, the militia was composed of all people. Anyone arguing that the Second Amendment should not be universally applied is ignorant, or is purposely misrepresenting both the historical context and the true wording of the amendment.

The opponents of the rights codified in the Second Amendment also resort to incendiary rhetoric to appeal to emotions, rather than reason. The most common example of this is referring to certain types of firearms as military-grade “assault” rifles, as if the only purpose of these weapons is to assault someone in the commission of a crime. Although many of the opponents of the Second Amendment are woefully ignorant of different types of firearms, they usually use the term, “assault” rifles to refer to automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Of course, many firearms opponents don’t even know the meaning of these terms.

In general terms, a fully automatic weapon fires multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger. Machine guns are the most obvious examples of weapons in this category. A semi-automatic weapon only fires one round per pull of the trigger. Although a new round is automatically chambered after the previous round is fired, it can not be fired until the shooter consciously pulls the trigger. A single-shot weapon requires that a round be manually chambered each time the weapon is to be fired.

Fully automatic weapons, the only true “assault” rifles, have been subject to substantial restrictions since the National Firearms Act of 1934, and virtually outlawed by the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. They are not available to the general public except under very stringent and specific circumstances, as prescribed by law. Today, the only “long guns” available to the general population are single-shot and semi-automatic rifles, each of which require a specific single pull of the trigger for each fired shot.

Finally, the opponents of the possession and use of firearms rely upon emotional knee-jerk reactions to violent incidents (or outright political pandering), rather than reason. Legislation at both the state and federal level restricting access to firearms has proven ineffective at stemming the violent incidents seen lately. On the federal level, more and more restrictive legislation has been passed (including the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986, and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993). Many states have even more stringent restrictions on the use and possession of firearms than provided for by federal statutes. In addition, it is a crime, with substantial penalties, to harm a person with a firearm, except in cases of self-defense. If these laws have not prevented those with evil intentions from committing crimes, how can we expect further laws to do so? Rather than addressing the real causes of violence, further restrictions on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms will only penalize individuals who use firearms for legal purposes, like hunting, target shooting, and personal defense. Although further gun restrictions may allow a fearful population the illusion of protection, these “feel good” laws will do nothing to prevent future outbreaks of violence. Additional laws will only have the unintended (or maybe intended) consequence of turning otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals if they inadvertently run afoul of one of the newly legislated restrictions.

The recent spate of mass shootings has certainly been a tragedy, and it is understandable that people are searching for ways to prevent further occurrences. But further restrictions on our Second Amendment rights are not the answer. (In fact, they may even make the citizenry more vulnerable to attacks by removing the deterrent of self-defense). Most of the mass shooters are willing to die during the commission of their crimes, so further laws will not deter them. The perpetrators of these vile deeds obviously have no respect for human life, including their own. Perhaps the reasons for this tendency are worth exploring if we wish to prevent further occurrences of violence. Further restrictions on our Second Amendment rights, however, will, as historically shown, have no impact on preventing further mass shootings. In fact, further gun restrictions may have the negative impact of lulling the population into a false sense of security while other actions that may actually reduce tendencies towards violence are ignored.