Know Your Rights: Individual Liberties

As America celebrates 245 years of independence this month, it’s important to reflect upon the ideas that inspired the freedoms that We the People celebrate today. Classical liberalism, inalienable rights, and the decentralization of power are among the guiding concepts that created a foundation for the nation’s legal and societal structures and still guide the country today.

Classical Liberalism and Inalienable Rights

The principle of classical liberalism, which inspired modern libertarianism, is attributed to John Locke, an English philosopher that the American revolutionary generation drew great inspiration from in the founding of the union.

In one of Locke’s writings, “Second Treatise of Government,” he argued that the government’s only role is to protect natural rights: Lives, Liberties, and Estates. This was later written as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by the Committee of Five in the Declaration of Independence. These natural rights are liberties that no government could take away from the people.

The Constitution, written by James Madison and compromised upon during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, drew from these natural rights and compiled the liberties seen as essential for a free state. The first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were written to limit the power of the government and protect the rights of the people.

The idea that the government’s sole purpose is to protect these rights is an idea that was shared by Adam Smith, an Irish thinker who is considered to be the Father of Economics. He reinforced the laissez-faire (“let do”) philosophy and coined the term the “invisible hand.” The invisible hand describes the economic and social order that is achieved through the seeming chaos of the free market (Roos).

While some may criticize free enterprise as “selfish,” Smith believed that self-interest is not separate from the betterment of society. The drive to accrue wealth and provide for one’s self is tied to the values of personal responsibility and strong work ethic. Free-market enterprise allows for economic freedom, class mobility, and the equality of opportunity.

Government Interference

The government’s main purpose in domestic economic affairs should be stepping in to stop corporate and monopolistic power from treading on the rights of the people or colluding to suppress competition. A government’s job is not to pick winners or losers in a market—a system like that would inevitably lead to the actual exploitation of the working class.

The state’s interference in free-market enterprise disrupts the ability of small businesses to compete and the working people to succeed. The government has been going against the will of the free market with the Federal Reserve (a “private company” that loans money to the government) printing as much money as it wants, indirectly stripping wealth away from the people. Not only does it devalue savings, but prices also rise due to inflation (which is the highest it’s been in 13 years).

And in an attempt to force people into renting properties instead of owning them, the Federal Reserve has been working with BlackRock, a corporation that is buying properties for well over the asking price.

This is only adding to one of the greatest transfers of wealth in history. In 2020, state governments enforced lockdowns that massacred small businesses and benefitted corporations like Amazon and Walmart that were still allowed to be open.

Many governors also willingly allowed the Antifa terrorism that led to over 2 billion dollars in property damage in only a few weeks. The riots and looting have continued for over a year and in that time, businesses have been shut down and driven out of these areas. The violence has also led to the death of innocent people and brought destruction to low-income communities.

Joe Biden’s March-passed American Rescue Plan may have helped those who have been unemployed due to the lockdowns, but it has hurt the labor force overall. The bill’s unemployment benefits pay 42% of workers more than what they made at work. Bank of America economists estimate that anyone making less than $32,000 a year is better off staying unemployed than returning to work.

In doing this, the government is competing with businesses rather than temporarily supplementing salaries. This has essentially led to an increase in the minimum wage as people won’t return to work unless they’re paid more than they are now through unemployment. For many, that’s the equivalent of $16 an hour in a 40 hour week. The lack of workers due to this is only adding to the supply-chain issues and shortages the American people are facing now.

The U.S. has been increasingly seeing government overreach in the market. It seems that the Establishment wants there to be a centrally planned economy where American citizens work for big corporations and never attain a significant amount of property. For the betterment of the people, America needs a limited government that gives rights, not takes them away; it needs to allow American citizens to generate real wealth and the government must create a balanced budget to end neglectful spending as a nation.

The American people also ought to defend free enterprise. Defending free enterprise means defending economic liberty and personal responsibility as well as standing against tyrannical power.

The Threat To Our Rights: A Tyrannical Government

America having a written Constitution better protects the people from government overreach. That is no longer a guarantee, but the document gives Americans who believe in the nation’s ideals a set of values that they can fight for.

Currently, the power in place has created laws that defy the rights promised in the Constitution:

  • Freedom of Speech: The government has allowed Big Tech companies, who collectively have a monopoly on online speech, to suppress political and ideological opinions. Joe Biden’s administration and the DNC are now calling on fact-checkers to monitor private text messages that contain “misinformation” about the vaccine. Press Secretary Jen Psaki has also confirmed that Facebook censors users for the government.
  • Freedom of Religion: State governments around the country restricted and prohibited indoor church and synagogue gatherings while COVID-19 restrictions were in place.
  • Right to Keep and Bear Arms: On both a federal and state level, there’s been legislation that has banned certain firearms or parts, implemented mandatory training courses and licenses, and put other barriers in place that bar innocent civilians from practicing their right to self-preservation. Hundreds of laws surrounding arms that infringe on Second Amendment rights have passed and remain in effect.
  • Government Surveillance: The Patriot Act has been in place since 2001, making it legal (but not constitutional) for the government to spy on citizens. More recently, according to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, an inside source of the NSA revealed that the government agency was spying on Carlson so that they could selectively release information to defame him and have his show taken off the air.
  • Medical Privacy: Vaccine passports, which have been implemented in the state of New York, violate the right to medical privacy.
  • Right to a Fair Trial and No Cruel or Unusual Punishment: Protesters and rioters who entered the United States Capitol building on January 6th are currently being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day with no bail (even those without charges), are allegedly being beaten by guards, and are facing horrible and unsanitary conditions.
  • States’ Rights: The federal government has been ignoring states’ rights and overstepping its boundaries. The “For the People Act,” which has passed the House, would force states to roll back election integrity safeguards. U.S. Capitol police are also now opening field offices in California and Florida to investigate “threats against members of Congress.”

A government should be for the people and by the people, not a corrupt few that seek to strip rights away from citizens. Whatever feelings one may hold about issues such as voting, vaccines, religion, or arms should not blind them to the fact that the actions listed above are unconstitutional.

States’ Rights

The 10th amendment of the Constitution grants states control over anything not forbidden by the federal government such as their military, education, safety, health, and elections.

States are represented on a federal level through the Senate, where each state gets two Senators.

When it comes to presidential elections, states assign electors who vote for the candidate chosen by the people of their state, giving that candidate a certain number of electoral votes. States are granted different amounts of electoral votes based on their population size which allows for better representation of the people of each state. America has the Electoral College system in place because it is not a direct democracy, it is a Constitutional Republic with Democratic institutions. Having this process prevents the urban cities of the United States, which are the most densely populated areas in the country, from voting for the entirety of the population.

The point in states’ rights and the electoral college is that different populations in the U.S. live different ways. People in rural Idaho or Wyoming don’t want to live the same as people in San Francisco or New York City.

As of late, this split between the more rural and urban populations in America has become a far greater issue. In May of this year, seven Oregon counties voted to secede and join Idaho (as Greater Idaho) due to urban areas such as Portland and Willamette Valley deciding how the state is run.

As discussed in the May 31st article of the Ahmed Mlih blog, “Critical Woke Theory,”

Pew Research released a study titled “The shift in the American public’s political values” that illustrates the polarization of the American public from 1994 to 2017. While there were years where the American public was fairly centrist, there has been a trend toward the left over time. The Hidden Tribes report delves into America’s political landscape and reveals how little the left and the right agree on when it comes to key issues. The 2018 piece states that approximately 8% of the U.S. population are progressive activists. According to a CNN finding in 2019, half of the American public believes the party has moved too far to the left.

The growth of the far-left faction in the country has divided America greatly, making it harder for the people to unify.

Socialism: Another Threat To Our Freedoms

The Radical Left’s socialist agenda seeks to upend economic freedoms and upward mobility in the United States through “equity,” neo-Marxist theories, and identity politics. The leftist criticisms of the market economy stem from the notion that free enterprise exploits working-class people and only serves the interests of a greedy, wealthy class.

An economy that operates using market forces is not oppressive, though. It has been proven to be the most efficient system in helping people rise out of poverty. In America, extreme poverty makes up only 0.11% of the population. The extreme poverty rate for parents is almost zero.

The market economy works across the world. Even though China still has a centrally planned economy that strips away the people’s property rights, they incorporate a market that allows for the creation of wealth. An article from Catalyst explains that China “has opened many sectors of its economy in recent decades. Since 1995 alone, the Asian country’s economic freedom score increased from 52 to 58.4 points—outpacing the rest of the world. In roughly that same period of time, the Chinese economy lifted 800 million people out of extreme poverty. That’s right: 800 million Chinese people—nearly three times the U.S. population” (Ladan). While still an oppressive regime, they understand that communism on such a macro level will fail without enterprise.

That’s exactly what is playing out in Cuba. The Cuban people are currently protesting over the government’s Soviet-style economy and the regime’s oppression of the Cuban people. Their internet access is being restricted and people are being taken by the government for defying it. Rather than adopt a system that would help the people, the “Revolution” seeks to keep its people impoverished.

Where Does America Go From Here?

For a nation to thrive, it must hold shared values and its population must be able to communicate with each other. Even if the people make different choices within their respective states, our nation was created for “a moral and religious People[,]” according to John Adams. At the very least, we must have a shared belief in our inalienable freedoms and respect for documents such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as well as symbols such as the American flag.

Many far-left Americans are rejecting the flag, the founding documents, and what the nation stands for, though. A Black Lives Matter group in Utah called the American flag a “symbol of hatred.” The Woke Left wants to abolish the systems in place and replace “capitalism” (free enterprise) with communism.

Disrespect for the nation has reached a national level. The NFL 2021 season will include the playing of the “Black national anthem” alongside the Star-Spangled Banner. Enough of the country feeling unrepresented by America’s national anthem for the National Football League to be playing two separate songs shows that the nation is only moving apart.

And it’s unlikely that the left and right will find unity soon. According to a report from Bright Line Watch, 47% of West Coast Democrats and 66% of Southern Republicans support secession from the United States. As political and ideological division grow, a peaceful divorce is an idea that Americans are seriously considering. It’s not certain what direction America will take, but if a peaceful separation doesn’t take place, the conflict between factions is likely to worsen.

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