A Quest has three stages: a Call To Adventure, a Journey, and a Return.
Over the last several years, people with whom I am acquainted have been ‘called’ and are engaged in the ‘journey’ to accomplish one or more of the following:
- Reduce the size and scope of government
- Restore the Constitution
- Recover our lost liberty
When the discussion gets intense, someone will introduce Thomas Jefferson’s definition of Rightful Liberty … and the room goes quiet.
Different reasons, often as many as there are persons in the room, are offered as to why this definition is impractical. I have no interest to debate the objections in this forum.
Jefferson’s’ definition should be easily embraced as the compelling vision, the goal, the desired end-state for participants in the “liberty movement”. Yet it is not.
I presume those who object must either have an undisclosed competing vision, or are merely unable to define a path to achieve Rightful Liberty as a desired outcome.
What follows is my attempt to complete the Quest. This is the ‘Return’ – an effort to prescribe the actions necessary to achieve the goal. It is informed by a minimalist world-view often described as “Two Rules For Civil Society”:
- do not encroach upon others or their property
- do everything you agreed to do
The achievement of rightful liberty requires deconstruction of government at both the National and State levels. For the sake of simplicity, I accept the Founders’ view of a Federation among the several States.
This draft is in the form of a bill to be acted upon by the legislature. It prescribes how the North Carolina General Assembly could begin a Quest for Rightful Liberty.
There are unexplored implications and certain dangers in this proposal.
UPDATE 6 September 2013
If I were to revise this ‘proposal’, details of Section 2 Prescribed Actions would be heavily influenced by my recent article entitled: “In Search of Mr Jefferson’s Liberty“.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Short Title: NC Rightful Liberty ACT
4 July 2013
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO RESTORE RIGHTFUL LIBERTY TO
PERSONS RESIDENT UPON THE SOIL KNOWN AS NORTH CAROLINA
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
An initiative to examine and revise the Statutes of North Carolina, and the Ordinances and Regulations of all governing agencies within the State, to guarantee Rightful Liberty and restore the true purpose of governance within the borders of North Carolina.
Table of Contents
SECTION 1. Guidance
1.1. Rightful Liberty
1.2. Absolute Rights of Individuals – Natural, Inherent and Unalienable
1.3. Sovereignty and The People of North Carolina
1.4. Force – Initiation and Retaliation
1.5. Purpose and Proper Role of Government
SECTION 2. Prescribed Actions
2.1. Scope and Responsibility of NC Government
2.2. Financial Responsibility and Accountability
2.3. Laws and Operation of NC Government
2.4. Oversight, Progress Reports and Periodic Review
2.5. Penalties for Non Compliance
SECTION 3. References and Attribution
SECTION 1. Guidance
Philosophy to direct the actions prescribed in Section 2
1.1 Rightful Liberty
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
“That a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary, to preserve the blessings of liberty.”
~ Article XXI, Declaration of Rights, North Carolina, 17 December 1776
1.2 Absolute Rights of Individuals – Natural, Inherent and Unalienable
The absolute rights of individuals may be resolved into the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right to acquire and enjoy property. These rights are declared to be natural, inherent, and unalienable. Atchison & N. R. Co. v. Baty, 6 Neb. 37, 40, 29 Am. Rep. 356.
By the “absolute rights” of individuals is meant those which are so in their primary and strictest sense, such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy, whether out of society or in it. The rights of personal security, of personal liberty, and private property do not depend upon the Constitution for their existence. They existed before the Constitution was made, or the government was organized. These are what are termed the “absolute rights” of individuals, which belong to them independently of all government, and which all governments which derive their power from the consent of the governed were instituted to protect. People v. Berberrich (N. Y.) 20 Barb. 224, 229; McCartee v. Orphan Asylum Soc. (N. Y.) 9 Cow. 437, 511, 513, 18 Am. Dec. 516; People v. Toynbee (N. Y.) 2 Parker, Cr. R. 329, 369, 370 (quoting 1 Bl. Comm. 123).
Individual rights state explicitly the requirements for a person to benefit rather than suffer from living in a society. They codify man’s protection from the initiation of force, as required by his rational nature. Being required by man’s rational nature, rights are not arbitrary or negotiable. They are absolute requirements for life within a society. Rights are absolute.
1.3 Sovereignty and The People of North Carolina (as Individuals and Bodies Politic)
Man is a being of free will. Man can choose to think, drift, or evade — but choose he must. His thoughts determine: his character, his values, his emotions, and his actions, and so his thoughts determine his destiny.
As reason is solely the attribute of an individual, and man’s thinking determines his choices and actions, then each man is the master of his own destiny. The individual is sovereign.
Individualism is not opposed to man living in society. Individualism is opposed to man living in society as a slave.
The free men and women of North Carolina understood …
I. That all political power is vested in and derived from the people only.
II. That the people of this State ought to have the sole and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof.
XIII. That every freeman, restrained of his liberty, is entitled to a remedy, to inquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same, if unlawful; and that such remedy ought not to be denied or delayed.
XVIII. That the people have a right to assemble together, to consult for their common good, to instruct their Representatives, and to apply to the Legislature, for redress of grievances.
XXI. That a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary, to preserve the blessings of liberty.
~ Declaration of Rights, North Carolina, 17 December 1776
And the founders encouraged them:
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.
~ Thomas Jefferson
1.4 Force – Initiation and Retaliation
The initiation of force is the act of one man initiating force against another, as opposed to retaliatory force. Force includes such acts as murder, theft, threats, and fraud. It is acting against another person without their consent. The initiation of force is never moral.
Man’s nature is such that he survives by reason. Survival by reason requires the ability to act on your reason. Force destroys that ability. When you use force against someone, you are destroying their ability to survive by destroying their ability to use reason, and their ability to survive will suffer to the extent that force is used.
Retaliatory force is a response to force. It is force meeting force in kind. It is the only proper response to a person who initiates force. Since force inhibits survival, men can only thrive within a society if they are shielded from the coercion of others. Government is instituted among men to fulfill this function.
1.5 Purpose and Proper Role of Government
The sole legitimate purpose of government is to secure the unalienable rights of individuals from infringement and encroachment.
A Government is an organization in a specific geographic location which is dominant in physical force. Government is necessary to ensure the proper use of force. For this reason, it must specify objective laws to clarify the use of force, and it must have the ability to enforce these laws.
The purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Since rights can be assaulted both within a country or outside of it, the government must deal with either threat. This requires a well-regulated militia for defense of the country, and a police system to protect the individual citizens from other individuals within the state.
To ensure that rights are upheld properly, the judgment of the use of force must be objective. Since individuals involved in an incident are not likely to be objective, it is the government’s job to judge the individual use of force by its citizens. For this reason, the government must provide a court system or other form of binding arbitration. Laws are the tools by which the court decides if a use of force is valid or not.
The Rule of Law is a concept required for a free society, where individual rights are absolute. Its basic premise is that the use of force is tightly controlled by objective, predefined laws. It is opposed to the Rule of Men, where those wielding power can use force in any way they choose.
The Rule of Law is the system that subordinates the use of force to specific rules. It is based on the premise that some uses of force are wrong (the initiation of force), and some applications of force are right (retaliatory force). It is based on the understanding that the peaceful, productive interaction of men is conditional on individual rights, and the use of force can make that impossible.
The Rule of Law in practice means a system of objective, predefined laws governing the use of force among people. It means requiring the government to obey those same laws.
A proper government, a government which is designed to allow man to live his life to the fullest according to his nature (as a rational being), is a government which upholds individual rights and does not itself violate them in any way. The name of that political system is Capitalism.
SECTION 2. Prescribed Actions
2.1 Scope and Responsibility of NC Government
Limiting the powers of government to the protection of persons and property – broadly understood in the Lockean sense as “lives, liberties, and estates” – provides a clear sense of justice and promotes a spontaneous market order, enhancing both personal and economic liberties. An overreaching government does the opposite.
a) Develop a clear definition of the responsibilities of government with regard to the welfare of the People of North Carolina, limiting the scope and powers of NC government as described in 1.5 and 2.1 (e.g. defense, adjudication of disputes, etc.)
b) ‘Disconnect’ North Carolina from all FedGov agencies, programs and activities that are not explicitly authorized in Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution as adopted in 1789 and amended in 1791.
i) Issue a formal declaration which states that all such agencies, programs and activities are void and prohibited within the jurisdiction of North Carolina.
c) Ensure that North Carolina meets its legitimate obligations under Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution, especially as regards the following:
i) To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
ii) To provide and maintain a Navy;
iii) To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
iv) To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
v) To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress
d) Review all NC gov offices and agencies regarding their links to and participation in FedGov programs. Determine which of the programs of FedGov offices and agencies, if any, are legitimate within the definition of 2.1.a.
i) Prepare specific and minimal plans to transfer administration of those programs to NC, within the constraints of 2.2 and 2.3 below.
ii) Prepare plans to terminate all other FedGov programs within NC government.
e) Develop plans to protect the People of NC against retaliatory action from, and future encroachment by, FedGov.
i) Provide guidance and support to households and communities for the development of Neighborhood Protection Plans for individual and community self-defense
ii) Assist the development of inter-community support networks at a sub-County level for continuity of critical resources (water, food, munitions, medicine, etc.)
iii) Establish plans for the ‘unorganized militia’ of North Carolina to coordinate integration of inter-community networks into a state-wide protection and defense network
f) Review all remaining NC gov offices and agencies regarding their purpose and programs within the definition of 2.1.a.
i) Prepare specific and minimal plans to decommission all NC gov offices, agencies and programs that exceed the scope and responsibility in 2.1.a.
g) Provide timely notification of impending terminations and changes to the People of NC.
2.2 Financial Responsibility and Accountability of NC Government
The offices and agencies of North Carolina will operate on a “cash” basis, without federal subsidy or public debt. Motto: If we cannot afford it, we will not do it.
a) Eliminate all forms of government wealth redistribution, transfer payments and subsidies within North Carolina.
b) Restore allodial title to all real property owned by Persons living on the soil of North Carolina.
c) Review and revise the current financial interaction between FedGov and North Carolina.
i) Document the cash flow from the People of NC to FedGov and FedGov to NC gov.
ii) Determine the appropriate contribution from North Carolina towards the operation of the enumerated and legitimate functions of FedGov.
iii) Establish a mechanism to audit state revenue spent at the federal level, and penalties for the use of NC revenue outside the scope of Article 1 Section 8.
iv) Prepare specific and minimal plans for NC gov to make payments to FedGov for enumerated and legitimate services rendered on behalf of the People of NC.
d) Review and revise the current tax code and tax base within North Carolina.
i) Determine the effect upon revenue of the remove all ‘progressive’ taxation.
ii) Prepare specific and minimal plans for the conversion of the tax code to a flat tax based upon retail consumption.
iii) Establish the tax ‘rate’ based upon the minimum revenue required to continue the residual services established in 2.1.a. 2.1.c.and 2.1.e.
e) Annual budgets will be prepared using “zero-based” methodology.
The offices and agencies of North Carolina shall not own Real Estate and capital goods. Where necessary, property and plant will be rented or leased through private contracts.
f) Review and privatize the real estate and capital holdings of NC government.
i) Prepare specific and minimal plans to ‘privatize’ current holdings and contract as required to operate the residual government established in 2.1.a, 2.1.c and 2.1.e.
ii) Review all properties on which a federal presence exists in North Carolina. Ensure continuity of facilities for services that pass the test of 2.1.b and 2.1.c. For all other properties, prepare specific and minimal plans to acquire and displace FedGov,
g) Future projects for ‘capital improvements’ undertaken by North Carolina shall be funded and managed through private contracts.
i) Establish mechanisms to administer bids and contracts that will identify and minimize bribes and cronyism, along with appropriate penalties for improper behavior.
2.3 Laws and Operation of NC Government
If laws are just, liberty and property are secure. The most certain test of justice is negative – that is, justice occurs when injustice (the violation of natural rights to life, liberty, and property) is prevented. The emphasis here is on what Hayek (1967) called “just rules of conduct,” not on the fairness of outcomes. No one has stated the negative concept of justice better than the 19th century French classical liberal Frederic Bastiat ( 1964: 65):
When law and force confine a man within the bounds of justice, they do not impose anything on him but a mere negation. They impose on him only the obligation to refrain from injuring others. They do not infringe on his personality, or his liberty or his property. They merely safeguard the personality, the liberty, and the property of others. They stand on the defensive; they defend the equal rights of all. They fulfill a mission whose harmlessness is evident, whose utility is palpable and whose legitimacy is uncontested.
In short, the purpose of a just government is not to do good with other people’s money, but to prevent injustice by protecting property and securing liberty.
a) Create operational definitions to clearly distinguish between laws ‘Malum In Se’ and ‘Malum Prohibitum”
i) Establish a clear test of ‘harm’ that is consistent with Section 1 above, and the concepts embodied in the US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.
ii) By extension, create a definition for ‘Malum Prohibitum’ which can be used to examine each element of the current body of Laws within North Carolina
b) Review all NC Statutes, Ordinances, and Regulations against the definitions established in 2.3.a for infringement upon rights of the People of North Carolina.
i) Repeal or nullify all current laws that are merely ‘Malum Prohibitum’ and do not pass the test of ‘real injury’ to People or their property.
c) Review the penalties associated with residual laws that pass the test of 2.3.a and 2.3.b.
2.4 Oversight, Progress Reports and Periodic Review
Oversight will be conducted by individuals who have a minimal conflict of interest.
a) A civilian board of directors will be established by self-selection from among a pool of volunteers who meet the following criteria:
i) Current resident in North Carolina, with residency of at least 25 contiguous years
ii) Living free from debt at present, and for a prior period of 10 contiguous years
iii) Personally created and operated a small business at profit
iv) Never been an elected official, political appointee, or employee of the State
b) Progress on Prescribed Actions will be reported quarterly, by the board of directors, via publication in newspapers, an Internet website, and direct email to interested parties.
2.5 Penalties for Non Compliance
Penalties will be severe to discourage evasion and fraud, including but not limited to one or more of the following:
a) Removal from office, dismissal from position, termination of contract.
b) Fines equivalent to the value of the funds or property mismanaged.
c) Incarceration for duration to be determined by the civilian board of directors.
SECTION 3. References and Attribution
Regarding militia and firearms
All civil action is ultimately individual action. We struggle as individuals against encroachment and nonperformance. I and others must be willing to resist other individuals and our State. Any end-state, short of anarchy, is still a State.
I own myself, the Person. To defend my life I require freedom of action, my Liberty. To sustain my life I require things which are produced by my thoughts and labor, my Property.
My Rights in Life, Liberty and Property are ABSOLUTE because they cannot be severed in whole or in part without changing my status from sovereign to serf.
“All restraints upon man’s liberty, not necessary for the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery, and differ from each other only in degree.”
Other persons, or groups of people, may attempt to encroach and infringe. They can only do so by initiation of force; against my will. And that leaves me morally free to retaliate with force.
“The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, at any time, and with utter recklessness.”
“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
I will only tolerate a certain amount of interference in my life.
And I get to choose how much.