Don’t Prepare Your Kids to be Slaves of the State

February 1, 2014

As we all know, the jails are full of victimless criminals in America.  Whether they are street walkers, gamblers, or drug users, many are serving time not for hurting anyone, but as protection against themselves or because they committed an act considered immoral by society’s moral elite.

However, adults are not the only ones punished for not hurting anyone.  Young children are usually placed in time out, spanked, or have their toys confiscated by their parents for committing the victimless crime of not sharing.

Picture this, little Jonny has a friend over to play, but refuses to give him a turn with his slinky.  After much quibbling between the two young lads, Jonny’s dad intervenes by taking the slinky away from Jonny and giving it to Jonny’s friend while Jonny is placed in time out on the couch to think about what he did.

But, what did little Jonny do?  He did not hurt his friend or violate his friend’s rights.  After all, he didn’t steal from or hit him.  What he did was obnoxious and inhospitable by societal norms, but no crime worth punishing was committed.  Little Jonny’s toys are his property and it is his decision whether or not to let others play with them.

If you disagree, then consider why adults are held to a different standard?  If my neighbor wishes to borrow my hedge trimmer, but I don’t loan my tools out to anyone, does some authority figure come along and take it from me and give it to my neighbor while I am placed in time out in a ten by ten cell?  Most people would say that is a preposterous example that would never happen.  Agreed, then why are kids punished for not sharing their toys?

Like adults, kids have a choice to make.  If they don’t share their things, when they are at a friend’s house, that friend may not share his things with them.  Worse yet, a child who doesn’t share may not have any friends even if he wanted them.  The bottom line is that the natural world has a way of working these issues out.  There are plenty of incentives for little Jonny to share.

But, let’s return for a moment to the example about the neighbor who wanted to borrow my hedge trimmer – the example is not so far-fetched upon closer consideration.  In America, it has become all too commonplace for our neighbors to ask for authority figures (government) to make us share our income with others or face time in prison.  Whether it is big bank bailouts, the military industrial complex, public employee unions, corporate and individual welfare, or foreign aid, Americans are constantly required to share their money with others or face jail time.

And that is really the lesson to be learned about punishing kids for not sharing their things with others.  It teaches them at a young age that property rights equates to selfishness and prepares them to be subservient slaves to the state which takes their property through taxation or price inflation and gives it to others.

At the end of the day, sharing should come from the heart not because you will be placed in time out or put in a cage.  Parents should teach their children empathy for others while respecting their property rights.  In an age of massive public assistance spending and “too big to fail” bailouts, property rights have taken a back seat to political expediency.  It is time property rights were once again respected. Parents can begin that process with their young children.

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The Right to a Job Doesn’t Exist

November 20, 2012

The idea of the United States of America was born during the Age of Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries).  The great philosophers of that time challenged the divine right of kings by enunciating a new theory for the social order.  Their theory was articulated by the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), who claimed that man originally was born in a state of nature where he had the absolute rights of life, liberty, and property.  Thus, when Thomas Jefferson presented the Continental Congress with the document that would lay the foundation for our government and society, the Declaration of Independence, he included one of the most eloquent and oft quoted statements in the English language:

“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”

In essence, this one profound statement gives all Americans rights that cannot be taken away by any legal authority.  The greatest of these rights is the right to property, which includes an individual’s body as well as possessions he/she has toiled to produce.

So, where is this treatise headed you might ask?

This Friday is Black Friday in the United States and to protest the labor practices of mega-retailer Wal-Mart, some of its employees are planning nationwide walkouts.  On the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. supposedly 1000 picket lines are expected at Wal-Mart stores across the country.  Specifically, the activism is meant to draw attention to what strike organizers call Wal-Mart’s “retaliation against employees who speak out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care”.

Now, there is no question that Wal-Mart employees are entitled to freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, just like all other Americans.  And they have enjoyed that right by virtue of the fact that none have been imprisoned or worse for speaking out against their employer.  But, this action by disgruntled Wal-Mart employees has really nothing to do with freedom of speech; it has everything to do with property rights.

In the employer-employee relationship, the employer has property rights to the business which includes, the buildings, inventory, and all other aspects of the enterprise (i.e. good will) not seeded to another entity.  This also includes the paid positions made available to the public by the company.  In this same relationship, the worker has property rights to his/her labor.

This arrangement is consistent with the right to property proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.  A right which includes an individual’s body as well as possessions he has toiled to produce (in this case the business enterprise) and is the reason why the hiring process includes the worker filling out an application, meeting to be interviewed, and negotiating an employment contract.  Consequently, the right to one’s labor is an indispensable property of the individual.  But the job that he sells his labor to perform is the property of the business.  Thus, the right to a job doesn’t exist because that would be a violation of the property rights of business owners.

Now, I realize there are such things as anti-discrimination laws, collective bargaining laws, and other acts of government which grant workers the right to employment and job security.  But, they violate the unalienable right to property guaranteed first in the Declaration of Independence and then in the U.S. Constitution.  They are also egregious representations of how far we have strayed as a nation from our original ideals of liberty.

If Wal-Mart employees are unhappy with their working conditions, they have a right to petition their employer within the confines of their labor contract.  If their grievances are not met, the choice before them is to either continue to honor their labor contract or resign.  The founding principle which gave birth to American liberty requires this.


Lies, Intolerance, and Disrespect for the Rule of Law

August 22, 2010

President Obama was absolutely correct last week when he proclaimed that the Cordoba Initiative, under the Constitution, had “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”  Of course the president’s remarks set off a firestorm of responses from Republicans looking to capitalize on the issue in this election year.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that Mr. Obama’s view “demonstrates that Washington, the White House, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America.”  Former House Speaker and potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012 Newt Gingrich said on his website last month simply “No mosque.”  Lastly, of course, the Jesse Jackson of 21st Century political America Sarah Palin wrote in a Facebook message originally posted July 20 – “Many Americans, myself included, feel it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project … to go forward on such hallowed ground.”  These remarks and others like them represent what is so wrong in America today – deceit, intolerance, and disrespect for the rule of law.

In the first place, Palin is stretching the truth by using the “hallowed ground” rationale. The proposed site of the mosque is several blocks from Ground Zero and would be surrounded by a store offering lingerie, a peep show, and sex toys, at least 11 bars, and a strip club.  Calling this neighborhood “Hallowed Ground” is like attaching the same nomenclature to the Strip in Las Vegas.  Given the current makeup of the area, a mosque would add a spiritual influence to its fabric and actually make the district more “hallowed”.  In any event, Palin’s statement, like many uttered by our politicians today, is misleading and has certainly led many Americans to a false opinion of whether the mosque should be built.  

Newt on the other hand employs direct intolerance in his opposition to the mosque project.  “No mosque” leaves little room for negotiation.  How can someone who possibly aspires to be president be so vehemently discriminatory?  Since there are already 10 churches and 3 synagogues in lower Manhattan near the Ground Zero site, a mosque would actually enhance the diversity of that community.  Additionally, these are times when people of different faiths should come together to solve problems and be role models of tolerance and cooperation.  I can imagine no greater tribute to those lost on September 11, 2001 than for the churches, synagogues, and mosques near Ground Zero to work together on projects that promote understanding and peace.  With Newt’s thinking this won’t be possible.

Lastly, Senator Cornyn should know that property rights under the Constitution are not a popularity contest.  Just because a majority of Americans hold a certain opinion, in this case that the mosque should not be built in Lower Manhattan, it does not mean it is the law.  The Constitution specifically grants all Americans equal protection under the law and protects us against deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.  The builders of the mosque have broken no laws and are entitled to the same justice as churches and synagogues.  Thus, they have a right to build their place of worship on their property.  Cornyn’s inference is dangerous because it violates the Constitution by making mob rule king and minority rights arbitrary at the whim of the mob.  At a time when property rights are already under attack from both courts and policymakers, all Americans should stand with the Cordoba Initiative in support of its property rights.  By doing so, they may be defending a future attack on their own.

The debate over the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” is representative of the lies, intolerance, and disrespect for the rule of law which has become so pervasive in American society.  To gain an upper hand in a campaign politicians lie.  We see this all the time in campaigns where candidates have lied about their opponent or themselves.  We have become intolerant by labeling those we don’t agree with “racist”.  More ominously, we have become a society averse to the rule of law, by condoning leaders who lie under oath, lie to start wars and invade sovereign nations unprovoked.  Instead of chastising the president for defending the Constitution, it would have been refreshing if Cornyn, Palin, Gingrich, and others who claim to support the same document, would have come out in support of the president’s position.  Perhaps in America’s current environment this is too much to ask?

Article first published as Lies, Intolerance, and Disrespect for the Rule of Law on Blogcritics.