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February 2017 Policy Study, Number 17-2

   

A Commentary on the American Founding

   

Part 13

   

 

Our first impulse is to search the Constitution, but it is the wrong place to look.  Not only is it amendable; but more importantly, the immutable principles in question were acknowledged by our Founders to exist before the Constitution was written.  The Constitution is the instrument through which we execute the mutual security of our rights and defend the founding principles upon which our republic is established, but it doesn’t tell us what those founding principles are.

 

Our Founders acknowledged these principles in the very first sentence of our initial founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  It reads in part, “…and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”With these few words, they justified the actions they were about to take in severing their current relationship with England and establishing their own government, and they also identified the source from which the principles that would serve as the foundation for our new republic were to be found.

 

We were to be “a nation of Law and not of men.”  And the law they chose was the Natural Law.  They believed it was written on the hearts of men, that man intuitively understood the difference between right and wrong.  That is the Natural Law.  Natural Law is immutable.  It cannot be changed by a Legislature.  It is the unchanging measure by which the majority is to be restrained.  Our Founders understood that if the law (I use the term advisedly for it is merely civil code.), were created by them, it would always be subject to the passions of the majority.  Consequently, the new republic would be subject to all of the ill effects of direct democracy itself.  They knew this because they were quite familiar with the histories of the two republics of which we have previously spoken.  And those two republics failed.  They made their own law.  They were unable to sustain themselves because they failed to implement the immutable measure with which they could govern the passions of the majority.  Our Founders went even further.  They proclaimed to the world that, “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.” (Emphasis added).

 

Our Founders stated that the beliefs upon which they were about to establish their new government were beyond any and all argument, for they proclaimed those beliefs to be “self-evident.”  These rights were evident in and of themselves.  They went on to list three great categories of rights (“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”), which they declared “unalienable.”  That is, they were the property of the sovereign individual, and no one else, including government, held any claim upon them.  These rights were a gift (“endowed”) from our Creator.  It simply was not within the province of any mortal government of men to grant them.  They understood that no government had that kind of power, much less the authority to grant rights.  Governments can grant privileges at the expense of someone else, but they cannot grant us true rights.  We hold our rights from birth simply because we are human.

 

And the most significant statement they made denoted whence those rights are derived.  Did they say our rights would come from the majority or from the government they were about to create?  NO!  They said:  “ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR.”  (Emphasis added).  Our Founders ultimately secured our individual sovereign rights and liberty in the hands of our Creator.  First and foremost, I believe because they truly did have faith in Him and firmly believed that this was the correct order of things.  Second, they intuitively understood that if they placed their sovereign rights and liberty in the preserve of a man-made government ruled by the majority, their rights and liberty were at all times subject to the pleasure of that majority.  The very same majority could as easily rescind their rights and liberty as it granted them.  They intuited that their rights and liberty were only secure in the hands of our Creator.  History seems to bear them out.

 

Though our Founders used few words to ensconce this simple philosophy of governance in our founding document, make no mistake about it — the difference between our intended form of government and all other forms of government of which I am aware, save the Jewish civilization at the time of Judges — is profound.  Understanding the foundation of our natural rights is of crucial importance.  If our rights are construed to be mere privileges granted by the majority (civil rights, as opposed to natural, God-given rights), they cease to be unalienable.  How does this constitutional republic work in practice?

 

Natural Law would certainly suggest that no individual has the authority (right) to expropriate the fruit his neighbor’s labor over his neighbor’s objections.  It is quite probable that you have identified the condition just described as theft, and you would be correct in your judgment.  An individual simply does not have the authority to steal.  He doesn’t have the authority to steal for his own benefit.  He doesn’t have the authority to steal for his family’s benefit.  And he doesn’t have the authority to steal and then donate the benefits to the good cause of his choice.  The Natural Law has it that each of us, as individuals, has first claim to the fruit of our own labor.  That is the right to expect that the fruit of our labor is ours alone, to do with as we wish.  Our fellow man has no inherent claim to our produce, whatever the reason.  We may, and should, share our bounty with him; but that does not translate into a rightful claim on his part to our produce.  It is a wrongful act to expropriate the fruit of the labor of your fellow man by either force or guile.

 

It would logically follow that if an individual doesn’t have the authority to steal, then he cannot grant any such authority which he himself does not possess to an elected official to exercise on his behalf.  He can’t name (elect) someone to steal from his neighbor for him.  Again, it is theft.  The fact that he is in the majority, even an extremely large majority that encourages the act of theft, does not ameliorate the act.  It is still an act of theft.  Yet, isn’t this just exactly what our system of taxation has become?  Under the threat of force, duress, and coercion supplied by a government which we have installed, assets are taken from one man and given to another.  We call this “income redistribution” or “income transfer payments.”  And we firmly believe we are doing the Lord’s work.  It should be painfully apparent that this act, however good the intentions, is contrary to the Law of Nature.

 

If our system of government were working as our Founders designed it to work, our established government would be a bulwark to protect the individual from this unseemly act of theft instead of being the instrument of its implementation.  As mentioned before, the fact that a democratic majority is in favor of the theft and transfer is no barrier to this being an act of theft.  It merely means that this usurpation, this unlawful act, this tyranny, is a tyranny propagated by the majority rather than tyranny at the hands of a single tyrant.

 

Although I have cited the example of theft to be used for income transfer payments, many other examples could be given, such as the expenditure of funds for large “public works” which directly benefit the few rather than the many.  (These new mega sports complexes funded with public monies would fall into this category.)  Still, the principle is the same, and it is just as wrong.  Our government and democratic majority have long since denied the need for their actions to be validated by the Law of Nature.  Consequently, the rights of the minority, the individual, have been consistently nullified.  This is exactly what our Founders worked so hard to prevent.  Carefully consider the merits of a republic versus a democracy, and the Natural Law versus civil law.  Take pains to develop a firm understanding of each of these topics, for it seems inevitable that we are destined to again answer the question as to which of these systems of government, democracy or a republic, “shall seem most likely to affect their [our] Safety and Happiness” in the most positive manner.

 

   

 

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