Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reclaiming Individual Rights by Julie Ranson

I’ve noticed a particular theme in the statements and signs of those so-called “right-wing extremists” (also known as, domestic terrorists, wingnuts, astroturf, among other pejoratives). Posters that declare “Hands Off My Healthcare,” “Socialism isn’t Cool,” and “No New Taxes” speak of the American’s understanding of freedom and individual rights. Our capitalist system is founded upon the individual’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” which translates a variety of ways within the American community – economic wealth and personal freedoms among them.

The website,, describes the role of government in a capitalist society quite simply… and, please note, narrowly.
“A proper government's only responsibility is to protect the rights of the individual, by banning the initiation of force, thus making all relations between men peaceful, i.e., free from the threat of violence and fraud."

As James Madison said, “if men were angels, we would need no government.” So, how does a government protect these individual rights and promote a peaceful existence among men and women? It passes laws. It uses police and the courts to carry out this duty. An army is required to prevent us from foreign invasion. There ends the role of government in a capitalist society.

“In a free society each and every man lives under a rule of law, as opposed to a whim-ridden rule of men. It has only one purpose: to protect the rights of the smallest minority that has ever existed -- the individual……..(Emphasis added.)

Over many decades, while the citizenry “slept” as fat, dumb, and happy participants (i.e., greedy beneficiaries of wealthy-taxpayer bounty) in the ongoing dive into socialism, the government overstepped its constitutional bounds by regulating a variety of individual pursuits. Under the guise of protecting our safety and, in essence, saving us from our own stupidity, the government has passed myriad laws that intrude into our individual choice-making. In particular, the government has inserted itself into the family in significant ways. (Compulsory public education, mandated immunizations, the “Great Society” of the 1960s, child welfare laws, the list goes on). Most recently, a group of Michigan parents lost their children’s morning child care arrangements because state law regulates daycare. A kind neighbor volunteered to help out the working moms by watching their children prior to the school bus’ arrival. You know what they say….No good deed goes unpunished.

The Capitalism Site reminds us:
In a free society it is the actions of government -- and not the actions of citizens -- that are regulated.”(Emphasis added.)

Instead, government has become the regulator of individuals, groups, and businesses. This trend toward regulation has led to a variety of economic problems, for instance, economic unfairness (especially where “equality” and “fairness” have been promised by the government), and, of course, a political system whereby strong players are able to buy regulatory favors from politicians.

So, when individuals talk about “taking their country back,” they’re referring to these foundational freedoms. Yes, we’ve been lazy and ignorant, silent accomplices in the theft of our freedoms. We are no longer silent and we want our freedoms back.

(This is a first in a series of posts about individual rights/freedoms. The next post will focus on healthcare/insurance reform.)