Correct Principles: Foundational Notions for a Free Civil Society
“The government that governs best is that which governs least.” —Abraham Lincoln
With Freedom Comes Responsibility
There are indeed some principles that, if followed, will work to guarantee the maximum freedom and happiness for all. Many people in our society, who would rather be given their daily bread than have to work for it, do not desire to be free so much as to be taken care of. This is, however, not an acceptable trade-off in a civil society that wishes to maintain freedom. Milton Friedman, in addressing the issue of equal outcomes, once said, “The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.” Ben Franklin was of like mind when he said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” What must be enforced, if we are to have American-style freedom, is a culture of personal responsibility. What follows is an explication of eight principles that promote the values of freedom and responsibility.
Principle One, the Principle of Agency: That which is immoral for you to do is also immoral for the government (as your agent) to do. If you cannot take money or property from one neighbor, for redistribution to other neighbors, then the government, acting as your agent, cannot do it. (Note: The Supreme Court has held that the General Welfare Clause embedded in the Taxing and Spending Clause of the Constitution limits the spending of federal revenues to matters of general interest to the federal government in its provision of common goods, services, or infrastructure that are to be made available to every American: postal roads, post offices, military defense, et cetera.)
Principle Two, the Principle of Respect for the Freedom of Others: All problems should be solved with the most freedom possible. If you want to have a gay wedding, it is your right to enlist a photographer to take wedding photos, but you must find one who is willing; it is not your right to force a photographer to take pictures against his or her will. You are free, but so is everyone else. (Note: Anti-freedom judges have actually forced Americans, un-Constitutionally, to act against their consciences; read here: http://eaglerising.com/11517/government-overreach-killing-freedom-religion/.)
Principle Three, the Right to Keep What Has Been Fairly Earned: Property—once it has been legally bought, duly taxed, and owned outright—shall never be put in jeopardy of being taken from its owner by any government entity, except by Constitutionally-governed rules of eminent domain. Property, once purchased and taxed, should be taxed no further by any government entity. Current rules allowing property to be seized by the government, if an ever-recurring tax bill goes unpaid even once, effectively removes the right of property ownership from those who have lost the means to continue paying taxes, due to job loss, illness, or some other misfortune. Also, if property is seized according to rules of eminent domain, the reimbursement of its value to the property-holder shall not be taxed, lest the act of taxation render the reimbursement less than the property was originally worth.
Principle Four, The Right to Seek Individualized Solutions in Matters Respecting Personal Health, Household Governance, & Business Matters, as Long as No One Is Physically Abused: Just as other people’s remedies are usually not a perfect match for your individual circumstances, without some particular adjustments that only you would be aware must be made, neither do government fixes tend to work well for people, businesses, healthcare, or anything else. Government can never know what is right for the proper help of every individual. Only you can truly know what is best for you. A government rule that disallows restaurants from putting salt shakers out for customers—well-intentioned though it may be—harms people with low sodium and chloride levels who have been told by their physicians to eat more salt. Government-sponsored prescriptions are generally about controlling people, not helping them.
Principle Five, Collective Liability Should Be Avoided & Individual Responsibility Promoted: The public debt should be perpetually returned to a state of balance and a “rainy-day fund” maintained. The borrowing of money in such great measure, that repayment of it will have to be deferred to future generations, constitutes a veritable theft of the wealth of those who never incurred the original debt, nor necessarily would have approved of spending the funds in the manner they were spent. Those who borrowed and spent the money must themselves take on the responsibility of paying back the debt in short order.
Principle Six, People Should Be Allowed to Keep as Much of the Money They Have Earned as Possible, to Ensure the Maximum Reward Practicable for their Efforts and Creativity. Government must respect hard work, and the people who perform it, by keeping tax burdens as low as possible, by maintaining the value of the currency people have earned, and by keeping financial rules governing the lives of the people down to a minimum. It was none other than Abraham Lincoln who supported the notion of a “wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
Principle Seven, Problems Should Be Solved, Whenever Possible, at the Same Level of Government That Created the Problem: The smallest unit of government is the individual, who must learn governance of self. If a problem exists between neighbors, they should strive to solve it without utilizing formal authorities, unless the matter proves to be impossible. Likewise, problems at the municipal level should remain municipal problems, et cetera. Every time the problem-solving entity is far-removed from the precinct wherein the problem is located, the solutions set in place will almost never work to the satisfaction of those being forced to live with them. Instead, new problems are created, and they are problems that have now been placed beyond the reach of the locals to solve for themselves. Things are made worse, as a result, and can no longer be so readily remedied.
Principle Eight, Any Legitimate Benefit Offered by the Republic to Its Citizens Must Be Bestowed Only upon Individuals & Never upon Institutions: Any government benefit must, of course, eventually be repaid in full or else must promote the general welfare in a way that does not redistribute the earnings of some to others. There is, for instance, a student-loan program, whereby the funds are distributed to educational institutions that often make fraudulent claims about coming cost increases, thereby getting more funding approved to enable students to pay the sham increases. This has resulted, over the last fifty years, in an average increase of 8% annually to the cost of higher education. Giving the loan money directly to students would have allowed students to shop for the best deals, driving costs down and quality up, and ending with a great deal less student debt. Giving money to the institutions has corrupted the pricing signals that are sent in the marketplace, causing less value to be obtained for higher prices. This overpayment for higher-education products has caused a misallocation of financial resources by the government, since the misspent money could have been used in other ways: to research cures for cancer, to send more students to college, or to lower tax burdens.
A Continuing Discussion
Although the above list is by no means exhaustive, it does represent the kinds of ideas that Americans need to be considering and discussing on an ongoing basis. Americans need to focus on principles every time political decisions are made, for, devoid of a basis in correct principles, no political decision can ever prove to be sound. Citizens of our civil society need to be clear on what freedom principles are, and make decisions that do not violate them, lest freedom, in the end, be lost for all time.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com