Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Untold Story of the First Thanksgivings

The public school system eschews teaching our children the first Thanksgivings were an abject failure in socialism, and forsakes teaching our children that Thanksgiving is a religious holiday.  The true story of the first Thanksgivings is one of failure, suffering and misery in Plymouth Colony.  The Pilgrims left Europe on a journey in search of religious freedom.  In December 1620, the Pilgrims landed at the settlement known as Plymouth Rock.

The Pilgrims were Christian people committed to God, family, and community. They suffered through the first year with half of them dying from sickness, starvation, or exposure.  In 1621, the first Thanksgiving was a three day feast with nearly the entire bounty supplied by the Indians. The following year proved to be difficult as the Pilgrims failed to produce enough food to adequately feed everyone in the colony.  The reason for the failure; the Pilgrims practiced socialism.

The first two years they grew food in common areas and practiced communal agriculture.  That is everyone in the colony was assigned a plot of land to work or a specific task such as hunting or fishing.  All food grown in the fields or meat and fish obtained through hunting and fishing were put into common storage.  Each person in the colony was entitled to take what they needed from the communal storage area regardless of their contribution.

William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, recorded these events in his journal, Of Plymouth Plantation:

All profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remaine still in the commone stock until the division… That all such persons as are of this colonie, are to have their meate, drink, apparel, and all the provisions out of the common stock and goods of the said collonie. 

For this comunitie was found to be much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.  For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. 

After two years of insufficient harvests, Bradford and others reconsidered the socialist system practiced within Plymouth Colony. They Governor and his advisors implemented a plan where each colonist had their own land and was responsible for working the land.  Most importantly, every family kept what they produced for themselves. Bradford wrote in his journal:

So they begane to thinke how they might rasie as much torne (corn) as they could, and obtaine a beter crope then they had done, that they might not still languish in miserie… And so assigned to every family a parcell of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use and ranged all boys and youth under some familie.  This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more torne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means the Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente.  The women now wente willingly into the feild, and tooke their little-ons with them to set torne, which before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and oppression.

By this time harvest was come, and in stead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoysing of the harts of many, for which they blessed God.  And the effect of their particular planting was well scene, for all had, one way and other, pretty well to bring the year aboute, and some of the abler sorte and more industrious had to spare and sell to others,  so as any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day. 

The moral of the story is the most virtuous, righteous people once constrained by the edicts of socialism could not work in a collective manner for the good of all.  Plymouth Colony prospered and flourished once they disposed of socialism and implemented a free-market solution.  Juxtapose the lessons they learned onto our society today.  With 300 million people in this country, how could anyone ever expect socialism to succeed?

Lastly, our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln officially declared:

The last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficient Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.

Hopefully, this Thanksgiving parents will teach their children about the abject suffering and misery endured by the Pilgrims as a result of socialism, that free-market solutions without government regulation and coercion provides the utmost economic liberty and opportunity, and that Thanksgiving is a government established religious holiday.

Hat Tip:  The Alabama Policy Institute article by Gary Palmer.


Filed under Economy, Philosophical

Do you know your Rights?

We often hear about and talk about our rights, but what does that really mean to people in a free society?  Is there one all inclusive set of rights?  Who grants these rights?  Can rights be abridged, denied, or revoked?   There are three categories of rights; unalienable, civil, and political. 

According to the Founders, unalienable rights are endowed upon man by his Creator.  For those that do not believe in a Creator, rationally they must acknowledge that man existed on earth before government because government is a man-made institution.  In either case, man existed in a state of nature without any government.

Englishman John Locke provided the basis for nature law and natural rights theory.  Locke declares that we are all by nature free and equal.  To be in a condition of freedom and equality, prior to government, is to be in the state of nature.  The state of nature may be construed as a description of the fundamental character of the human condition, and not as an historical circumstance.  In other words, it is the state we are naturally in, not a state we were in.  Moreover, Locke posits that the state of nature is of perfect freedom, but this does not mean a liberty to do anything we desire.  Liberty does not mean license.[1]

The Declaration of Independence states there are certain self-evident truths about mans fundamental status with nature.  The document states there are certain rights – unalienable – that man possesses in a state of nature, and these are known laws and rights, which are transcendent, eternal, immutable, and unchanging.  The Founders relied heavily upon Locke’s natural law and natural rights philosophy. 

Unalienable rights are often referred to as negative rights.  That is each man possesses certain rights as a matter of his existence and to posses those rights it obliges nothing from any other man except for the recognition that everyone possesses the same rights.  Some examples of unalienable rights are freedom/right of conscience, right to associate, right to contract, right to trade and barter, right to property, right to self-defense, right to speech, right to life, right to sustain your own life, etc.  These rights are never granted to man by other men, nor are these rights to be abridged or denied to man by other men. 

In a state of nature man’s first priority is to preserve himself.  That is to sustain his life.  Failure to sustain your own life results in death.  To preserve his own life, man employs his physical and/or intellectual talents to produce.  What man produces as a result of his effort is his property.  Property can take on many forms; money/currency, land, food, shelter, etc.  Man exercising his unalienable right to trade and barter can produce things other men desire, therefore he can then trade/barter for the goods or services he desires which results in a free market economy.  Goods are produced and services are provided based on the desires of others.  If man produces widgets and there is no desire/demand for widgets, the man producing widgets will have difficulty sustaining his life.  This natural demand for good and services is met by other men creating an equivalent supply resulting in a free market economy allowing men to sustain their life.  This economic activity occurs naturally and without the need for government or government intervention. 

The Founders and Framers believed man is capable of self-governance.  If man is not capable of self-governance than what gives man the capacity to govern others?  The Founders and Framers again relied upon Locke, and others, in there views on civil society.  In order to preserve our lives, liberty, and property we choose to come out of a state of nature and enter into civil society by an act of consent known as the social contract – referred to by Locke as a compact.  There are certain unstable conditions in the state of nature where force and fraud are employed to violate our unalienable rights.  To better preserve our unalienable rights civil society is formed, constituting the social contract.  The only legitimate foundation for any political rule is its voluntary acceptance by the citizens.[2]

Thus, going from a state of nature into a civil society, man institutes government with the sole purpose of protecting life, liberty, and property.  This is the sole purpose of government and government is instituted amongst men for this purpose only.  In a state of nature when force and fraud are employed rights are violated.  In civil society when government becomes destructive to the very purpose it was instituted, government becomes tyrannical and is more dangerous and destructive to man than if man remained in a state of nature and did not enter into civil society. Jefferson eloquently encapsulated these principles in the Declaration of Independence.  These principles  formed the basis for both the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and its successor, the Constitution. 

Now that unalienable rights are well understood, what precisely are civil and political rights?  First, these are rights that don’t exist in a state of nature and are a direct result of forming civil society and the political institutions created when man forms government.  Some examples of civil rights are the right to a trial by jury, due process, and being secure in your person and your things.  An example of a political right is the right to vote.  

Certain civil rights are closely tied to unalienable rights as they are extensions to protecting unalienable rights.  For instance, in a state of nature there is no concept of due process.  One man is wronged by another and the wronged man attempts to exact justice — his own definition of justice — on the person that wronged him.  The wronged man is the judge and jury.  A right to trial by jury ensures the judicial institutions established by man affords every man the presumption of innocence, to be treated equally and fairly, to defend himself in a court of law, and to be judged by a jury of his peers.  Likewise, it affords the wronged man a process to ensure his life, liberty, and property is protected.  Political rights on the other hand are correlated to participation in the form of government established by the social contract.

Likewise, man must also be secure in his life, liberty, and property from the very government he established.  Just as man cannot violate the unalienable rights of others, government cannot violate mans’ unalienable rights either.  Certain safeguards and protections are established to prohibit government from acting outside the legal authority delegated to it.  The Bill of Rights provides an excellent example of limitations placed upon government by the states and the people. 

During the health care debates we often heard health care is a right.  The logical conclusion of those proclaiming health care to be a right was government should provide health care to all.  Precisely, what type of right does man have to health care?  First, we should agree man is free to seek out health care.   Throughout the history of man, people got hurt or sick.  In every case, the best medical care and technology was available at the time.  Man was free to seek care if he determined that was the best action.  Man paid for the services of the person providing care.  Is health care an unalienable right? 

The answer is a resounding no!  Remember, unalienable rights obliges nothing from others.  The right to seek health/medical care is unalienable.  The right to expect another person to provide you health care, health care insurance, etc. is not unalienable at it obliges another person to provide a good or service to you.  Government enacting legislation to force one person to pay for the health care or health insurance of another is nothing less than coercion and theft.  The government must take property produced by one person – typically money – and give that property to another person that has no rightful claim to the property.  Moreover, by confiscating the property of one man you reduce, or possibly prohibit, that man from sustaining his own life and the life of his family.  It was established that property and mans right to his own property is the implementation of man sustaining his life.  Which is mans first priority – to preserve himself.

Therefore, government enacting health care legislation actual violates mans unalienable rights to property as government, through force or coercion, takes property from one and gives to another.  Government has created conditions for man worse than his condition in a state of nature.  Government violated the very purpose for which it was instituted; to protect mans unalienable right.  In a state of nature when one man takes another man’s property, rights are violated.  Government acting under the veil of legitimacy, and under threat of fine and imprisonment, acts tyrannically whenever it violates our unalienable rights.

In conclusion, there is a clear distinction between unalienable rights and civil or political rights.  The former are possessed by all men and exist in a state of nature before government is instituted.  The social contract establishes government for the sole purpose of better protecting mans unalienable rights, and man continues to possess these unalienable rights under any form of government.  The latter are rights established under government to provide certain protections to man from government, to establish certain principles of equality before the law, and to ensure all men can participate in the political institutions he established.  If government violates our unalienable rights its actions are tyrannical and illegitimate. 

 As Jefferson said so eloquently in the Declaration of Independence, “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 to 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.” 

In three sentences, Jefferson summarizes the bedrock principles upon which our Union was established, the purpose of government, and the right of the people to alter or abolish it when government acts contrary to its purpose.

[1]  Two Treatises of Government by John Locke.  Edited by Mark Goldie.  Introduction pages xxiii – xxix

[2] Ibid. 

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Irreconcilable Differences

Marriage is the union between a man and a woman.  Approximately sixty percent of these unions end in divorce often due to irreconcilable differences.  Irreconcilable differences is defined as “differences between spouses that are considered sufficiently severe to make married life together more or less impossible.”  Some irreconcilable differences include, but are not limited to, antagonistic feelings, financial difficulties, difference of interests, resentment, and constant bickering. 

The United States is a union.  The Declaration of Independence, Jefferson said, “[s]olemnly published and declared that these thirteen united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states… and that as free and independent states they have the full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, at to do all the other acts and things which independent states may of right do.”  

The free and independent states established the first federal government under The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union until it was replaced by the Constitution.  The Constitution clearly establishes the states intent to “form a more perfect union”.  In ratifying the Constitution States agreed to delegate certain powers to a federal government and retain the majority of powers for themselves.  The Constitution established the rules and powers which obligated both the States and the federal government to adhere to.  

Collectively, the states are one party to the Constitutional agreement.  The federal government was formed as a result and is essentially the second party.  Not unlike a union between a man and a woman that procreate and create offspring, the States ratification of the Constitution created a new federal government.  The federal government is the offspring of the States.

The marriage union and the union formed by the States are based upon the understanding at the time of inception.  In other words, the Constitution means what the States understood it to mean at the time of ratification.  This is known as original understanding.  Likewise, in a marriage certain vows (representations) are made when the man and woman are married.  In both cases, the parties agreed to certain conditions which neither is to violate.  To violate original understanding is to violate the compact; whether that is between a man and a woman, or between the states and the federal government. 

It probably goes with saying, but the agreement between the states and the federal government has been violated repeatedly.  The federal government is the primarily responsible for those violations.  Power has been usurped and assumed.  Powers have been expanded.  Powers have been delegated from one branch of government to another.  Today, States are like a spouse that remains in a marriage after being abused repeatedly.  It’s not dissimilar to the phrase “when a long train of abuses and usurpations” Jefferson used in the Declaration of Independence to describe a tyrannical and despotic ruler; whether that ruler is the British Crown or the current national government. 

Over time the union expanded and the population grew and diversified.  When the Constitution was ratified there was one representative for every 30,000 people.  Today, that number is one representative for every 712,000 people.  If we revert to the original ratio of representatives to people we’d have nearly 10,300 members of the House of Representatives.  To represent such diverse interests and people the current system of representation has failed miserably.  Under the Constitution and the original system of federalism states retained nearly all powers.  Each state was diverse and offered certain advantages or disadvantages.  Citizens could freely move to a state better suited to their desires.  People could vote with their feet.  Diverse people were best represented by diverse states, not one central, consolidated national government.  The founders and the framers understood this all too well. 

The union has reached a crossroads.  Do the States continue to remain in an abusive relationship with the very federal government the States created?  Do States seek to remedy the long train of abuses and usurpations and return to constitutionally limited government?  Or, do States recognize that the differences amongst the people have resulted in antagonistic feelings, financial difficulties, and differences of interests, resentment, and constant bickering? 

States entered freely into the union just as a man and a woman enter freely into a marriage union.  Likewise, marriages fail due to irreconcilable differences.  Indeed government is instituted amongst men and the sole purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property rights.  Government is meant to keep us free. Libertyand property rights are no longer protected by the government created to protect those very things.  States have been diminished into satellites often working hand in glove with the federal government to further abridge and deny our rights. 

Perhaps we need to have an adult conversation and recognize we have irreconcilable differences.  Perhaps the best thing for the people is an amicable divorce.  To peacefully dissolve the union or significantly alter it in a way that better serves the people.  The entire role and purpose of government has been perverted.  AsJeffersonsaid, “[i]t is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”  

While I don’t have all the answers, perhaps the union should be split into four or five regions each operating with complete autonomy, and under forms of government that best meets the needs of the people and the states.  Perhaps a small federal government remains just for the purpose of the common defense.  There are many variations to this idea as well as other ideas by people smarter than me.  By no means am I advocating a civil war or any form of violence.  We simply need to have an adult conversation about the proper role and purpose of government and implement a solution(s) that best meets those needs.  

In my estimation the status quo simply ensures the downfall of our union.  The downfall may be uncontrolled and consist of tyranny, anarchy, or both.  Maybe an amicable divorce is the most reasonable and practical solution for our irreconcilable differences.

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Filed under Constitution, Philosophical