A guest post by Charles Cooper. Previously released at
Freedom Forge Press.
In America, government is a system. It is a system whose object is to promote freedom for her people. It is no mistake that the system manual, the Constitution, puts almost all of its emphasis on restraining the system instead of restraining the people.
And yet, our system grows in scope and power every year—often to the detriment of her people’s freedom. Our government may have recently met the only restraint that could contain it, the availability of money. Yet Congress sweeps this problem under the rug and out of view while concealing the ever growing financial crisis that if left unchecked threatens to throw the country into economic ruin sometime in the near future.
The only goal of our government is to ensure the most freedom for the greatest number of our citizens. Everything else is up to those citizens and to some extent, luck. To achieve this goal, the Constitution limits government’s power—not the liberty of its people. But how do we the people ensure that the government obeys its own supreme law? I would suggest, as a means of containing government, is an establishment of the scope of government as an absolute. The only thing Government can do that individuals cannot is use force to achieve an end, moderate disputes among her people, and make agreements with our fellow nations.
Second, we must agree on three principles as fundamental and then integrate them into a staged-gate algorithm where failure at any one stage prevents something from becoming a law. These principles are:
1. Equality: Toward that end, all people will be treated as equal under the law without regard for any characteristic or choice they have made.
2. Property Rights and the right to contract: All people will have without fail the fundamental right to own property and to make bargains and trades as they see fit. Two consenting adults make an agreement.
3. Justice: Government cannot correct for the natural results of decisions made by people. It will only be allowed to interfere where some fraud or other violation of rights has occurred.
Through those filters, the algorithm for law making looks like this:
1. Is the purpose of the bill to enable freedom, choice, or otherwise create the opportunity for people to further their potential? Yes, continue to the next question. No, stop here: this is not a question for our government.
2. Does the law apply equally to all citizens all of the time? Yes, continue to the next question. No, stop here: this is not a legal action for our government.
3. Is there a private sector, market based solution currently in place? Yes, stop here: this is not an issue for government. No, continue to the next question.
4. What is the best approach for solving this issue, creating a market or creating a law? If market, then create a private sector solution. If Law, continue.
5. By now, you’ve found that Government only has two purposes, defending the people and their rights and ensuring that people reasonably uphold contracts. Everything else belongs to the states or the people, and I question the role of the states outside of the same algorithm.
Every individual in this world has a “power pie” that divides neatly into only two pieces. Those pieces are the power that one has and the power that one gives away. In order for all people to achieve their full potential, they must retain as much power as possible. It is no wonder, then, that when the Government of the United States was so small and constrained, our people achieved so much. Government is a power vacuum, drawing on your potential, feeding itself and growing larger and stronger. This is why every generation is called on to fight for its freedom. This is why the fight to constrain government seems so futile and so lost.
But the fight for freedom and to limit government’s power is not futile: a biannual peaceful revolution is built into our government, every four years a complete revolution at the ballot box. It is designed to allow for a reset constraining its growth. This begs the question, where is the will to reset? Where is the will to eject the specter of power from its place of establishment?
The answer is just as simple. The will to reset government’s seeming one-way track to more power and more resources is in each of us. The desire to make our own destiny instead of accepting a mundane fate of common outcomes and common mediocrity pervades who we are as a people. We must seize on this desire to be free and act on it by choosing elected representatives who share a love of freedom before the cost of our patience is blood.