Sunday, January 31, 2010

Freedom?

What does freedom mean? I think (as did the founders) that freedom is the respect of life, liberty and property. Jefferson posited in the Declaration of Independence that it was also 'the pursuit of happiness', which covers more than property. I'm inclined to agree with him.

Freedom includes the right to delegate certain powers to others. However, if we did not possess a power to begin with, we can't delegate that power. We do not have the power to take property from someone, so we aren't able to delegate that power. All powers of government being delegated by the people, the government has no power to take someone's property.

The Fifth Amendment states that if government should ever take property, it should be for public use, and the person should be justly compensated. This doesn't authorize government to take private property, it only states that if private property is needed for use by the public, the government should, like all individuals from which it's power is derived, be required to compensate the individual from which the property is purchased.

The writers of the Bill of Rights were attempting to protect themselves and future Americans from the unjust stealing of private property in the name of government. Today, court cases and legislation have whittled away at the rights of individuals to make it seem as if the government owns all the land and property. Modern interpretations imply that We, the people, merely rent it via property taxes, etc., but that was never the intention of the last line in the 5th Amendment.

Taxes were never meant to be direct, either, without apportionment. The taxes the Constitution allowed for were not theft, in that theft is a violation of the people's property. Taxes on goods and services are taxes that are legal, and not theft, because they require a person to willingly engage in a legally taxable activity. If you choose to drive a car on a public highway, you will pay the excise tax on gasoline in order to pay for the highway.

Direct taxes on a person's income are direct theft, and violate the very freedom our nation was founded upon. The income tax, as written, is a direct tax on income and therefore violates our right to property. One way to make the income tax less-tyrannical would be to apportion it. This way everyone would pay the exact same amount. Provisions for those who are unable to afford the amount to pay less, instead of higher tax rates for those who have a higher income, would be closer to freedom, as well.

Still, unless the end use of the tax were stated and supported by bids and other proof of the use of the money, the direct tax is less-than-ideal solution to revenue generation. Income taxes have been a tool used by tyrants, and are concepts put forth by those who do not respect the right to private property, such as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, the authors of the Communist Manifesto, who included a graduated income tax as one of the 10 core principles of Communism.

I don't think many people want freedom, anymore. I think they see government as freedom, and protecting some lame concept loosely associated with democracy. Democracy, which can be defined as the tyranny of the many over the few, is never a focus of the founding documents. A Free-Republic is, however. The Constitution guarantees a 'Republican form of government'. A republic is based on rules and guarantees. A democracy only follows the whim of a majority. If we weren't a republic, the majority could have long ago voted away all the rights of the minority. While it has happened a few times, the republican ideals have eventually prevailed.

So, if we really don't define freedom as freedom, what is it? Freedom from being free?

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