IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. 
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: 
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. 
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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C.S. Lewis on -soft- Tyranny

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

This is essentially why I am against increasing the power to the State. A lot of things come packaged nicely (welfare, healthcare, environmentalism, ‘No Child Left Behind,’ etc) and they end up being communicated as moral imperatives. There is a very real danger when governments believe that they decide what’s in the best interest of their citizens, as opposed to the people themselves. (Peter DeFazio talked about this very thing in his reply to my letter about the Fairness Doctrine).

As someone who is philosophically conservative, I believe that for freedom to flourish, is vital for each person to have the power to make decisions about what is best for themselves.

I think this is often why Conservatives are perceived to have a lack of compassion in regard to social programs. For instance, I was listening to a left wing radio show the other day and the host, who was discussing global warming, stated something in the effect of, “You see, Conservatives are always opposed to people coming together to fix a problem (in this case, the problem was global warming).”  Close, but the host left out one crucial point:

Conservatives are opposed to governments forcing people to come together to fix a problem. This is because, governments are the only entities that have the power to force citizens to do anything (in America, usually through taxation and regulation). Non-governmental organizations do not, instead relying on a person’s free choice to support that organization. 

The ultimate problem is that any time we hand over power and responsibilities to The State, it is nearly impossible to get them back. Not to mention, citizens become less self-reliant, instead counting on the government to make important decisions, or provide for important personal needs.

Back to what Lewis was saying. Whether we elect John McCain or Barack Obama this year, the country is not going to immediately spiral into tyranny. However, some of the ideas that BOTH McCain and Obama are pushing are small steps in this direction. Do not be fooled into feeling guilty when it comes to social issues by the nice (morally imperative) way that they are packaged: “It’s for the children, the elderly, the environment, fill in the blank… (One real world example: Al Gore has stated that the climate problem is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. Thus, people who disagree, or might question his position aren’t just wrong, they’re immoral. I wrote a whole post about this topic called The Cost of Disagreement.)

The bottom line is whatever the issue, (oil prices, healthcare, environment, jobs, taxes, etc), don’t buy the, “you are morally obligated,” emotional fluff. The important question should be:

Does this idea promote personal liberty – or is it handing more power to The State?

In other words, is it a small step towards, or away from tyranny?

Now, there is a great deal of talk about what should be done about certain problems in society. Those thoughts can be reserved for another time or post. For now though, my opinion is that for most things, the government isn’t the answer.

What Makes America “the best”?

This is a reply that I wrote on an article by Daniel Hodge titled: America, The Best Country Next To 10 Others. Follow that link to read his article. The following were my thoughts:

In my view, the thing that makes America stand out (call it “number 1” or “the best”) among other nations has nothing to do with our productivity, our healthcare, or our education system. It can be summed up in one word: Liberty.

I believe the reason we have a productive nation, a decent education system, and good healthcare, springs from our nation’s backbone of liberty. The truly sad thing about America today is how few people there are that fully grasp how preciously fragile liberty is, and how unique it is to America.

The foundation of our government is built upon several revolutionary (not to mention, Biblical) concepts that nurture this idea of liberty. These are best illustrated, not by me, but from reading them directly:

“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”The Declaration of Independence

This idea that freedom (liberty), rights, and happiness are not given to individuals by governments, but are bestowed on every individual by our divine Creator gives value to each human being. In doing so – it acknowledges that each human being has the power to choose their own destiny and that individuals loan that power to the government. Thus, the government’s purpose is to use that power to protect and nurture liberty. The acknowledgment of this idea in one of the three major founding documents of our nation is remarkable when you really think about it, and I think, something radically unique to America as a nation.

It should be mentioned that the founders of our nation were good studies of human nature. They thus instigated a 3 branch system government with checks and balances designed not to allow too much power in the hands of any one body. They did this because they knew Liberty would be crushed if too much power ended up in the hands of the State.

Also, don’t be fooled. Often, when people talk about “living the American dream” they mention material things like owning houses and cars, or making money (or the buzzword: Success). This is a fundamental misunderstanding. The American Dream is about having the freedom to pursue your own interests (including religion) throughout your life. (so long as your dream does not infringe on another person’s – which is why it was necessary to instate a government that upholds the Rule of Law).

Also, you mention the United States not requiring citizens to learn foreign languages. And thank God this is true! I’m not sure you realize what you are advocating here. Like I mentioned above, it is not the governments job to make its citizens do one thing or another. That’s not liberty, it’s tyranny.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s very important to learn foreign languages. But it is the individuals free choice to realize the importance of becoming bilingual in a globalized world. Then it is up to them to take the steps to learn other languages. Perhaps the government could encourage this – but requiring it flies in the face of what makes this nation great. In my view, if there is anything that is weakening American citizens, it’s their increasing reliance on The State to solve their problems. (On a personal level, I would rather be free, than educated.)

And I am not advocating glossing over America’s flaws, of which we have many. But in this nation it is the responsibility of the citizen to strive to become better – not the State. The best thing about America revolves around the state not forcing, but encouraging positive growth in it’s citizens and giving them the freedom to do so (also discouraging regressive or destructive behavior).

Anyway, if you want to talk about the decline of America – then you should be concerned about the back-benching of liberty. Again, the greatness (or best-ness) of America is its unique system of government that should be encouraging and nurturing the freedom given to man by God. As American’s, (second to the cause of Christ as Christians) I think these are the ideas we should promoting around the world (instead of crappy movies, music and cheeseburgers.)

That’s my ten cents. Sorry if it’s a little disjointed.

So there’s my opinion. What do you think makes America great (or perhaps, not so great…)? 

Socialism’s conflict with Liberty

Earlier I mentioned that I would be returning to the discussion over Socialism and its direct conflict with individual liberty. Yesterday I ran across some excellent audio that discusses the concepts of Liberty and Socialism and clarifies them in regards to the platforms of the current Liberal and Conservative philosophies.

I believe that these are crucial issues that must be understood as we are facing maddeningly high oil prices, steep medical bills, and national elections. It is critical for voters to understand that if they are voting for socialized solutions to these problems, ultimately they are voting for massive increases in governmental power and devastating reductions in individual liberty.

I have chopped up a great 6 part audio series from the Mark Levin show where he explains with great clarity Socialism and it’s conflict with the fragile American system which was originally designed to encourage liberty.

Before you listen, here is a small disclaimer. I want to point out here that I do not think people pushing socialized ideas are evil. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and many people of the left are pushing for socialized medical systems. I do not believe that they are doing this out of evil intent. Heck, when I had a much more liberal understanding of politics (most of my life up and through college), I used to think Socialism wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t evil for believing that way, and neither are you if you happen to think nationalizing health care is a great idea.

What I didn’t understand, and I urge you to at least consider, was that socialism ultimately cannot coexist with liberty.

So without further ado – here’s the audio. It’s a bit of a tour-de-force of the conservative viewpoint of the American Government. Part of it swings around to talk about the oil companies because they happened to be in the news that day. However, the oil situation is applicable here as many are advocating more governmental meddling, even complete state control. I guarantee that you will not hear these ideas on TV, in anything from Hollywood, or even school for the most part. I have outlined some of the points mentioned in each clip below and please feel free to leave comments. I am not asking you to agree, only to consider the ideas presented. Remember that clarity is far more important here than agreement.

  • Freedom (or liberty) is always competing with tyranny.
  • Ann Rand: “Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake. That his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society. That the only justification of his existence is his service to society. And that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to it’s own tribal collective good.”
  • The essential characteristic of socialism is the denial of individual property rights. – In other words, all things belong to the collective society – also known as The State.
  • Can human rights exist without property rights?
  • Tyranny doesn’t come at once in a democracy – it comes in pieces. (The idea that bad things come first as small “friendly” ideas wrapped up as: the children, the elderly, the environment, health care, etc.)
  • I want to point out here that Conservatism (not to be confused with “The Republican Party”) is about taking power away from the state and giving it to individuals, essentially – localizing it. This is the opposite of socialism.
  • Republicans, for the most part – aren’t really doing anything to help the situation.
  • The left creates enemies of the state, such as oil companies and Halliburton. But most people don’t know anything about these companies and how they do business, let alone how many jobs they provide.
  • Sen. Obama somehow gets to decide what’s appropriate for people to discuss about him and his presidential campaign. Here’s the current list of people/topics concerning Barack Obama that he says are “Distractions” and we shouldn’t be concerned about: Tony Rezko, William Ayers (American born terrorist, formerly part of the Weather Underground), Bernadine Dorn (Ayers wife), Jeremiah Wright (Sen. Obama’s pastor of 20 years – because apparently, Obama wasn’t at church on God Damn America Sunday, or The Government Created AIDS to Kill Black People Sunday, etc. and he had no idea that Wright held these views) Michelle Obama (Barack’s wife who we aren’t suppose to criticize even though she gives stump speeches all the time and has been a central force in his campaign).
  • The constitution is a set of guild lines so that the federal government would nurture individual liberty and not hinder it.
  • The Government’s villain of the day – Oil companies. But most people don’t realize how much control the government already has of the oil companies.
  • We shouldn’t be relying on the government to provide for our needs.

The rest of the world is increasing supplies, looking for more sources or oil – and we are not. The main argument I hear is that we should be looking for alternative sources of energy. That’s a nice thought – except that we will need oil to find those alternatives!

Currently – our entire economy revolves around oil. We cannot just abandon it in search of some magical futuristic (currently non-existent) form of energy. And don’t even get me started talking about Nuclear energy. Guess what – the environmentalist have blocked that idea too with their junk science. Read this article my buddy from work sent me: Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Re-think What it Means to Be Green. In particular this bit on Nuclear Power.

The last segment addresses the question of whether “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” includes things like health-care, etc. This bit is especially important as it outlines the idea that the government is so disconnected from the individual that it cannot effectively provide these services.

I hope that this post has been helpful in illuminating some of the problems with the idea of Socialism.

I have written a more extensive series on Socialism called: Why Reject Socialism. You can read it over at Appeal To Heaven.