“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.” United States Declaration of Independence, ratified July 2, 1776.
Join the “Founders on your Corner” float in the Independence Day parade in Pinellas Park/Kenneth City. Meet on 62nd St. N between 46th Ave and 54th Ave from 10-10:45 on Saturday July 4th, 2015.
Two of the most important founding principles of America are a societal dedication to Natural Rights and Individual Liberty. Natural Rights are those which men and women possess naturally – from their first moment of life. As Thomas Jefferson put it in the Declaration of independence, natural rights are derived from “Nature and of Nature’s God”. One of these natural rights is “Individual Liberty”, another key foundational principle of America. In today’s America, our founding principles have not only been forgotten, they have been denigrated and in many cases destroyed by our government and others in society who seek domination over their fellow man. The lives of America’s citizens and the lives of our children and grandchildren are now in jeopardy due to the treason to natural rights and individual liberty endemic in America today. Citizens who want to preserve the natural rights they possess and their individual liberty, must stand firm against governmental and social forces that seek to remove them.
Share your stories. What Natural Rights and Individual Liberties have you been denied or have seen denied in your community or America? Place them in the Comment section!
Natural Rights – Features
When we take our first breath – nay when our DNA is first created at conception – we have natural rights. Among these, as stated in the Declaration of Independence are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, which are endowed to men and women by their Creator. Our individual rights are “Unalienable”. In other words, they are part of us and we can no more voluntarily give away our natural rights than we can give away our own breath. Though we may seek to give away our rights, they are still ours and cannot be dispossessed – they can’t be alienated from ourselves.
Many government leaders and social activists claim that it is the role of government to bestow a right on a person. Some people who are supporters of our U.S. Bill of Rights mistakenly believe that they are “granted” certain rights by it. They point to their “first amendment right” of free speech, or freedom of religion. They indicated their “second amendment right” to bear arms or their “fourth amendment right” to avoid search and seizure without a warrant. But because the rights of persons are natural to them and unalienable, each person already possesses each of these rights and needs no government to “grant them”. The Bill of Rights actually is a set of limitations on government to ensure that the Federal government shall not make or enforce law to deny these rights. Indeed, government’s sole purpose should be to protect our natural rights.
Human Rights and Their Link to Human “Duties” – An Ethical Abuse
When people mistakenly believe that a right is “granted” to them by a person in power, they may fail to recognize that that same person or government can seek to “remove” that right. For instance, some like to point to the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and it’s calls for rights of everyone to “social security” and a “standard of living” that is “adequate”. The U.N. points to the rights of “food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services” and “the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” The U.N. indicates a right to “work” with incomes that are “just and favourable” and their life should have “dignity” with “free education”, but then goes onto say that “everyone has duties to the community” that “In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.” The U.N., in attempting to declare the rights of individuals then declares that they are forever in servitude to others to ensure “just requirements” for “general welfare” and “morality”. This stark example illustrates how when an organization of men and women seek to declare “rights” they are also seeking to limit rights. These entities then state one person can be deprived of a right “by law” to ensure whatever the ruling class shall determine is “just”, “moral” and provides “social security” and “dignity” for another person. A good discussion of this occurs at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute by law professor Frank Van Dun.
The key feature to notice is that in the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights, the PEOPLE ARE LIMITED in their freedom, while in the United States of America’s Constitution, the GOVERNMENT IS LIMITED in its power!
Modern Betrayal of Natural Rights
Any government or authority that seeks to “grant” rights are automatically illegitimate. The American miracle was the recognition that our government can never grant a right to any person as every human being already has their rights naturally. Rather, the America government was designed not to grant rights, but to protect the rights of its citizens – from encroachment by other citizens, powers or from the government itself. Kings grant rights, as do Tyrants, dictators and leaders of Socialist countries in Europe. They then take them away for displays of power, as a means of political payoff or self-advancement or punishment to political enemies. America is on the same course as societies that descended into dictatorship in the name of human rights (China, USSR, Cuba, Venezuela, etc). A reflection on recent events locally in the Tampa Bay area and nationally help illustrate true natural rights and how they are being betrayed.
- To provide the “right to health care”, the government forces people to buy over-priced health insurance plans that cover things they don’t want and then impose rationing protocols on them that prolong their suffering and shorten their lives for the “common good”.
- To ensure the natural right of Security from external threats, the U.S. government denies the right to privacy and security from the government itself through the use of phone tapping, phone record analysis and data surveillance and data mining by the NSA as well as the use of drones.
- To provide the “right to marriage” a government in Oregon fines a baker owner $135,000 and denies them their natural right to associate with those they wish.
- In claiming to protect a right to “clean air” the government denies the natural right to purchase products of our choice at low cost by banning incandescent lightbulbs, imposing outrageous EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants. They increase the garbage bills of poor and middle class people in cities, force them to recycle and remove their regular trash pickup.
- In providing “free education” our local governments take our money through taxes and then refuse to return them to a family to get education outside of a government run school.
- To preserve the “aesthetics” deemed “appropriate” or for the “general welfare” by the ruling class, they ban the use of electronic message centers for some, but not others.
One of the key natural rights possessed by every person is Individual Liberty. Each person is free to choose to live the life they wish as long as their actions don’t deprive another person of their true natural rights. John Locke was an important 17th century English philosopher that inspired the American founders with his “Second Treatise of Government” and other teachings. Locke Observed this regarding the natural right of individual liberty:
“The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative power shall enact, according to the trust put in it…”
The Bill of Rights ensured that Congress and the Federal government itself would be severely constrained to ensure that the government itself could not interfere with certain individual liberties – some of which they spelled out. The natural rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, freedom to petition the government, freedom to bear arms for self-defense (mostly from governments), free access to due process and true justice and more. The Bill of Rights stated that “Congress shall make no law” to restrain these things. Since not all protected rights were spelled out in the Bill of Rights, the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was clear that: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. In other words, if a power is not delegated to the U.S. government by the Constitution, the individual states or individual people themselves retain those rights.
Governments and Individual Liberty
John Locke also pointed out that “The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.” There are three important concepts here. First the government does not exist without the people creating it. Secondly, the people LEND their power to the government – the power is delegated to them. Finally, that government cannot do anything that would be unlawful for them to do itself. So since people have the individual liberty to keep and bear arms and have no right to deprive another person of that liberty, the government is also forbidden from depriving people of those liberties.
Yet today, individual liberties are constantly being removed from American Citizens. Here are some examples:
- People are forced to have their income taxed and have that tax deducted automatically from their pay. People that aren’t forced to write a check to the government for taxes are much less likely to recognize how much of their own money they are missing due to government.
- People are denied the right to develop their own properties in responsible ways that would benefit them, facing draconian zoning laws. They are forced to meet certain building codes for “the common good” if they spend “too much” money on improvements. For instance if a person seeks to spend more than 50% of the value of a home on renovations in Florida, they must meet modern hurricane code for the entire home due to federal subsidized flood insurance.
- The income of citizens is taken away through a payroll tax to place in “Social Security” or “Medicare” and that money is not returned to them or their family if they die. The Supreme Court rules that the social security benefits can be cut if the government can’t afford to pay them.
- Citizens can be locked up in jail as an “enemy combatant” if the President deems them to be a terrorist under the National Defense Authorization act.
- Individual citizens are driven from their jobs, positions or have their businesses ruined when a mob of extremists demand they be silent in opposing things such as “gay marriage” or “social justice”.
Preserving Natural Rights and Individual Liberty
George Washington pointed out that “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” America has been fundamentally transformed from a place where natural rights and individual liberty is protected from government and social encroachment into a place where a ruling class decides what rights and liberties a citizen may have. Citizens can reverse this treason to their lives, but must embrace all that comes with natural rights and individual liberty: personal responsibility. If people want freedom, they can’t live with a government security blanket that becomes threadbare or yanked away to provide for someone else. If people want a government that protects their rights, people have the responsibility to restrain their government. If people wish the right to express themselves or act in their own conscience, they must stand up for others that are attacked by extremists who seeks to suppress the natural rights of another – in solidarity with the oppressed.
The essence of natural rights and individual liberty can be found in these words from Jesus Christ. Whether you view him as your Lord and Savior (as I do) or a merely the finest of historical figures, the prosperity and peace due to all men and women flow from what he taught:
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus Christ