A Not-So-Happy Fourth of July

Do you have more personal liberty today than on the Fourth of July 2012?

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he used language that has become iconic. He wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not only did he write those words, but the first Congress adopted them unanimously, and they are still the law of the land today. By acknowledging that our rights are inalienable, Jefferson’s words and the first federal statute recognize that our rights come from our humanity — from within us — and not from the government.

The government the Framers gave us was not one that had the power and ability to decide how much freedom each of us should have, but rather one in which we individually and then collectively decided how much power the government should have. That, of course, is also recognized in the Declaration, wherein Jefferson wrote that the government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.

To what governmental powers may the governed morally consent in a free society? We can consent to the powers necessary to protect us from force and fraud, and to the means of revenue to pay for a government to exercise those powers. But no one can consent to the diminution of anyone else’s natural rights, because, as Jefferson wrote and the Congress enacted, they are inalienable.

Just as I cannot morally consent to give the government the power to take your freedom of speech or travel or privacy, you cannot consent to give the government the power to take mine. This is the principle of the natural law: We all have areas of human behavior in which each of us is sovereign and for the exercise of which we do not need the government’s permission. Those areas are immune from government interference.

That is at least the theory of the Declaration of Independence, and that is the basis for our 237-year-old American experiment in limited government, and it is the system to which everyone who works for the government today pledges fidelity.

Regrettably, today we have the opposite of what the Framers gave us. Today we have a government that alone decides how much wealth we can retain, how much free expression we can exercise, how much privacy we can enjoy. And since the Fourth of July 2012, freedom has been diminished.

Full article: http://reason.com/ar … happy-fourth-of-july



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