Happy 4th of July! (7/2/14)

The other day I was browsing through dinar sites and caught a glipse of this article.


Uncomfortable Independence Day Questions

Here comes another Fourth of July – a good time to ask some serious questions – and ponder just how “free” we really are:

* Why is it ok to celebrate violent resistance to a government by our wig-wearing ancestors, but “extremist” to say anything negative about government today?

* If people can’t be trusted to govern themselves, how is it that some people can be trusted to govern others?

* What’s so great about taxation with representation?

* Has anyone ever showed you the “social contract”?

* If we’re so “free,” why can’t we even celebrate our “freedom” by lighting off a few firecrackers and bottle rockets in our own backyards? They’re illegal in most states these days for ordinary citizens to even possess – let alone use.

* If the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, why do the “interpretations” of that law by judges supersede the plain language of the Constitution?

* Why do civilian cops have military ranks? Sergeants, captains – even four-star “generals” . . . some of them have military flair (AKA “fruit salad”) too … as if they’d “served” in a war somewhere.

* If it’s wrong for me (an individual) to do something aggressively violent, how does it become right when a group does the same thing?

* Is morality merely a question of numbers and percentages?

* Does calling a thing by a different name change the nature of the thing? Does a cat become “not-cat” by dint of calling it “not-cat”? If it’s still a cat – no matter what I call it – how is it that taking someone else’s money (theft) becomes not-theft when it’s called “taxation”?

* If abortion is acceptable because it’s “the woman’s body” and thus, “her right to choose”- how come a man can’t choose to do what he likes with his body? Like choosing not to wear a helmet while riding his motorcycle, for instance?

* How come there are no “senile citizen checkpoints”?

* If the “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” why are the people forced to get the government’s permission to keep and bear arms?

* How is it “reasonable” to stop people en masse and at random, and force them to submit to an interrogation/search?

* Why are we forced to transact our business with privately owned banks? Why is it illegal for us to exchange value for value among ourselves?

* If you have the right to not incriminate yourself, why is it considered a criminal act to decline to fill out a federal tax form?

* Did anyone ever ask you for your “consent” to be governed? What if you do not consent?

* Why is an officer’s“safety” more important than your safety?

* If the “civil” war was fought to free the slaves, how come the commanding general of the Union Army, Ulysses S. Grant, owned a black man while he waged war on the South? (He freed the poor man eventually.)

* If corporations are “persons,” how come you can never get one on the phone – much less put “him” in prison when he defrauds you?

* Why is it ok for big cartels like Monsanto to sell genetically modified foods on their say-so that it’s ok, but a “crime” for a local farmer to sell unpasteurized milk?

* If slavery is against the law, why is it we’re compelled to work for the benefit of others?

* Shouldn’t everywhere – anywhere – be a “free speech zone”?

* If you own your home, why must you pay rent to the government every year in order to be allowed to continue to live there?

* How come other people choosing to have sex – and choosing to have kids – imposes a financial obligation on you that’s enforceable at gunpoint, but choosing to adopt a cat and figuring out how you’ll feed him and pay for his bills is entirely your own problem?

* Why don’t school busses have to have seat belts?

* If guns are so dangerous, how come politicians are surrounded by cordons of heavily armed men?

* How did the good ol’ USA become the “homeland”?

* If you believe it’s ok to fight off a mugger, how come it’s not ok to fight off a tax collector?

* If only “Congress may declare war,” how come we’ve been “at war” (on “terror”) for going on 13 years without a congressional declaration of war?

* Why can’t DMV (or IRS) “customers” say “no thanks” to the services offered?

* How can health care be a right if someone else is forced to provide it?

* Do you suppose motorcycles would be “allowed” if they were a new invention?

* If you’re a free man, why must you obtain permission to travel, marry or work?

* How is eminent domaining a man off his land any different than simply stealing his land?

* Why are we forced to do business with, feed, house – even hang out – with people we’d avoid if we were free to do so?

Answer – hell, even read – these questions and you’ll come to grips with just how unfree we actually are this Farce of July. Better to stay home, wear black and mourn what we’ve lost – what some of us have freely given away – than to go through the sad pantomime of celebrating our enslavement.

Throw it in the Woods?


This strikes me as talking points from one of those “patriot” groups who think that we’re a step away from living in a dictatorship or a police state because there have been restrictions placed on our freedoms.  In reality, our freedoms have always had restrictions.

Nearly a century ago there was a case where a defendant named Charles Schenck claimed the right to freedom of speech in handing out leaflets discouraging people from submitting for the draft during WWI.  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated that avoiding the draft was a criminal offense, and that encouraging such a criminal offense during a time of war presented a clear and present danger and could be punished, thereby placing established limitations on freedom of speech.  In his opinion he used the example of falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater to illustrate how freedom of speech is not absolute.

People who claim that we’re losing our right to freedom of speech overlook the fact that we have more rights today in this area than we did a century ago.  Can you imagine somebody today being prosecuted for voicing opposition to the draft?

People complain about taxes, but the truth is taxes are lower across the board, and the top marginal tax rate today is less than half of what it was during the 70s.

People complain about their 2nd amendment rights being taken away, but gun ownership is still legal.  True, there are restrictions on gun ownership, but there are also restrictions on vehicle ownership and operation.  We don’t complain about that because we understand the need for public safety provided by those restrictions.  Why should it be easier to own and operate a gun than it is to own and operate a vehicle?

My point is that many of these claims that our rights and freedoms are being taken away are based on perceptions, and not facts.  Having said that I’d now like to address a few of the points in the article.

  •  I don’t hear anybody saying that it’s extremist to say anything negative about our government.  I criticize the government all the time and I’ve never been called an extremist.
  • Of course nobody has ever seen the social contract, because it isn’t a written contract.  It’s a concept behind the relationship between the governmental authority and the citizen who gives up a certain amount of freedom in exchange for the services that the government provides.  We accept the contract without being conscious of its existence, but if it didn’t exist we would certainly notice because we would have anarchy.
  • Fireworks are deemed illegal in many states because they are dangerous.  DUH!  Sure, they’re fun, but talk to your local fire department about their experiences at New Year’s and July 4.  Does that mean that we don’t live in a free country?  Of course not.  It means that we’re tired of irresponsible people posing a threat to our neighborhoods with fireworks and we’ve passed laws to protect our property.
  • The “plain language” of the constitution isn’t always so plain.  For example, the 8th amendment says that cruel and unusual punishment isn’t allowed.  Now how do we interpret that?  Is capital punishment cruel?  Some people think so, and as a result we’ve tried to make it painless.  It’s certainly severe, regardless of whether or not you consider it cruel.  But what about unusual?  It’s definitely not unusual, because it has been practiced for thousands of years in virtually every civilization.  So does the expression “cruel and unusual punishment” refer to punishment that is either cruel or unusual, or both cruel and unusual?  (We have the same dilemma with the wording for impeachment because of “high crimes and misdemeanors”)  If it refers to “either” then perhaps we should do away with capital punishment, but if it refers to both then we shouldn’t necessarily end it because while it might be considered cruel by some people it certainly isn’t unusual.  Language by its very nature is often vague and subject to interpretation.  The founding fathers knew that and that’s why they built into our constitution a mechanism to deal with this issue.  Another reason we have judges to interpret the constitution is to provide checks and balances within out government.  For example, if congress passes a law that is unconstitutional, we have a mechanism in place to address that called judicial review.  The courts review the law and determine its constitutionality.  And if the court gets it wrong, their ruling can be reversed in the future by another court.  Such was the case with capital punishment.  For ten years there were no executions in the US, but prior court rulings were reversed and it resumed in 1977.
  • I don’t see the connection between a woman having an abortion and a man wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle.  Abortion is legal because of a Supreme Court ruling (which I don’t agree with, by the way) and motorcycle laws are established by states.  A better argument in my opinion would be why should a woman have the right to terminate a pregnancy without the father’s approval, but if she decides not to terminate the father can’t force her to do so and then is required to provide for the child after it’s born.  To me that is the inequity.  Still, how does that support the assertion that we don’t live in a free country?
  • It’s okay to fight off a mugger because they’re breaking the law and presenting you with the threat of severe bodily harm or death.  It’s not okay to fight off a tax collector because they’re enforcing the law and there is no threat of bodily harm involved.

Okay, I think that’s enough.  Basically this is just a good exercise in critical thinking.  What sounds good to some paranoid anti-government people when they first read through something like this fails to hold up under closer scrutiny.  The US is still a free country.  Are there restrictions on those freedoms?  Certainly there are, but we can still come and go as we please, and we can still criticize our government and vote to change our leadership if we don’t approve of the job that they’re doing.  For all of its faults the USA is still the greatest country in world history IMO, and hopefully will remain so for many years to come.

Happy Independence Day!!!