Monday, August 10, 2015

An A-Z of Liberty


is for America, Land of the (formerly) Free
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address 
People say America is exceptional. I agree, but it's not the complexion of our skin or the twists in our DNA that make us unique. America is exceptional because we were founded upon the notion that everyone should be free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. 
Rand Paul, TEA Party Response to President Obama 


is for Bastiat, Frederic, French economist and economic journalist, and philosopher:
[W]hen the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or creed — then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people. It substitutes the will of the legislator for their own wills; the initiative of the legislator for their own initiatives. When this happens, the people no longer need to discuss, to compare, to plan ahead; the law does all this for them. Intelligence becomes a useless prop for the people; they cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their property. 
Try to imagine a regulation of labor imposed by force that is not a violation of liberty; a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of property. If you cannot reconcile these contradictions, then you must conclude that the law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice. 
Frederic Bastiat, The Law 


is for conscience, the birthplace of, and the last fortress for, liberty:
No people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyments of civil liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Conscience as to their Religious Profession and Worship. 
William Penn, Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, 1701
No provision in our constitution ought to be dearer to man, than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprizes of the civil authority. it has not left the religion of it’s citizens under the power of it’s public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the consciences of men either attainable, or applicable to any desirable purpose. to me, no information could be more welcome than that the minutes of the several religious societies should prove, of late, larger additions than have been usual, to their several associations. and I trust that the whole course of my life has proved me a sincere friend to religious, as well as civil liberty. 
Thomas Jefferson to The Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church at New London


is for the Declaration of Independence, the pre-eminent statement of the natural right to liberty, together with a masterful indictment of tyrannical abuse of liberty:
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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


is for Elrod v. Burns, a Supreme Court case addressing the limits on patronage decisions in public employment based on political opinions:
The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury. 


is for Friedman, Milton, American economist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, economic adviser to Barry Goldwater's failed presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan's successful one, and economic adviser to President Ronal Reagan:
Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it... gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. 
Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom.
is for Gibbon, Edward, English Historian of the Enlightenment Era
The obvious definition of a monarchy seems to be that of a state, in which a single person, by whatsoever name he may be distinguished, is entrusted with the execution of the laws, the management of the revenue, and the command of the army. But unless public liberty is protected by intrepid and vigilant guardians, the authority of so formidable a magistrate will soon degenerate into despotism. The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people. A martial nobility and stubborn commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies, form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against enterprises of an aspiring prince. 
Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire



is for insurrection, an indispensable cognate of liberty, as a tonic and cure to tyrannical government and usurpations:
I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.1 Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government." 
Thomas Jefferson (Letter to James Madison Jan 30, 1787)
[T]he right of secession may be urged from higher ground. I believe that, irrespective of any written law -- of any human laws -- there are circumstances in which a people have a right to rise in rebellion and take up arms. I can conceive of circumstances in which the sacred right of rebellion would not only be a right but a duty. I fully indorse the "sacred right of insurrection." But it is not to be lightly used:  but on good and adequate ground, insurrection is more than a right, it is a duty. In some cases rebellion to man is obedience to Cod. But to justify rebellion, two conditions are indispensable: firstly there must be an intolerable grievance and secondly every moral legal and constitutional means for obtaining redress must have been exhausted before the sword is drawn. Then a people have a right to rebel and God defend the right. 
Ernest Jones, Esq., The Slaveholders War


is for Jefferson, Thomas, author the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, the Third President of the United States:
the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it[]s natural manure. 
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Stephens Smith, 1787
Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance. 
Thomas Jefferson, Argument for the Slave, Howell, in Howell v. Netherland, 1770
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia


is for knowledge, the indispensable tool for the diffusion of liberty, and the security of liberty, amongst the People:
Your old friend Mr. Jefferson still lives, and will close his illustrious career, by bequeathing to his Country a Magnificent Institute for the advancement and diffusion of Knowledge, which is the only Guardian of true liberty, the great cause to which his life has been devoted. 
James Madison (Letter to George Thompson, June 20, 1825)
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. 
James Madison (Letter to W. T. Barry, 1822)
Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of knowing their rights, and where learning is confined toa  few people, liberty can be neither equal nor universal. 
Benjamin Rush Essay Proposing a System of Public Schools (1786)


is for liberty,
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. 
Samuel Adams
Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. 
John Adams.
By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion. 
Lord Acton.


is for Mill, John Stuart, whose interest in liberty can only be taken seriously to edges of the British Isles, for he found no problem with exercising tyranny over "barbarians":
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest. 
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. 
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. 
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty


is for Nature, and for Nature's God, the source of the rights to life, to liberty, and to property.


is for Otis, James, American colonist, lawyers, statesman and author:
Taxation without representation is tyranny. 
James Otis, A Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives (1762)


is for Paine, Thomas, the English-American political writer and agitator, author of Common Sense and The American Crisis:


is for quorum, the minimum number of an assembly necessary to be present before the assembly may lawfully proceed to do its work. The work of liberty is the work of every man, no quorum is required for each man to act in provocation of liberty, in expansion of liberty, in exploration of liberty, and in defense of liberty.


is for Reagan, Ronald, small town boy, Hollywood actor, Union president, California Governor, President of the United States:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. 
Ronald Reagan, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (1961)
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. 
Ronald Reagan, Speech at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin (1987)
I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts. 
Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address to the Nation


is for Spooner, Lysander, American abolitionist and anarchist,
[E]very man who puts money into the hands of a "government" (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will. [] That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future. [] That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man's money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so? To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his moeny without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it. [] If a man wants "protection," he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to "protect" him against his will. [] That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury. [] That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support. 
Lysander Spooner, No Treason


is for taxation, which is not the price of liberty, but an encroachment on it:
Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects
Murray N. Rothbard
Government: If you refuse to pay unjust taxes, your property will be confiscated. If you attempt to defend your property, you will be arrested. If you resist arrest, you will be clubbed. If you defend yourself against clubbing, you will be shot dead. These procedures are known as the Rule of Law. 
Edward Abbey
It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part
Benjamin Franklin (Sorry, Ben Carson, Ben Franklin says no to the tithe system of taxation)
Changes in attitudes toward authority, in some cases manifested as open hostility and organized resistance. Taxpayers are exhibiting a declining respect for and reliance on “the law” and government in general. A “decay in the social contract” is detectable; there is a growing feeling, particularly among middle—income taxpayers, that they are not getting back, from society and government, their money’s worth for taxes paid. The tendency is for taxpayers to try to take more control of their finances, perhaps because they see an uncertain economic future for themselves; they exhibit a declining willingness to pay the share of governmental expenditures (including expenditures they may strongly disagree with) which government says is theirs to pay. 
IRS Strategic Plan, (May 1984)


is for unalienable, the spelling used by Thomas Jefferson in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, because the idea is more important than how you spell the idea, and the idea is that the rights endowed on us by Nature and Nature's God are not alienable, that is, they cannot be taken away or denied.


is for vigilance, eternal, the actual price of liberty.


is for West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court decision protecting students from compulsory participation in flag salutes, because, the Court concluded, the effort to compel student was rooted in a tyranny of the mind:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.  
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)


is for Youngstown Sheet and Steel Tube Co. v. Sawyer, in which the Supreme Court rejected the seizure of private property by the Executive Branch:
The President's power, if any, to issue the order must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself. There is no statute that expressly authorizes the President to take possession of property as he did here. Nor is there any act of Congress to which our attention has been directed from which such a power can fairly be implied. Indeed, we do not understand the Government to rely on statutory authorization for this seizure.  [] Nor can the seizure order be sustained because of the several constitutional provisions that grant executive power to the President. In the framework of our Constitution, the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker. The Constitution limits his functions in the lawmaking process to the recommending of laws he thinks wise and the vetoing of laws he thinks bad. And the Constitution is neither silent nor equivocal about who shall make laws which the President is to execute. The first section of the first article says that "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States. . . ." [] The Founders of this Nation entrusted the lawmaking power to the Congress alone in both good and bad times. It would do no good to recall the historical events, the fears of power, and the hopes for freedom that lay behind their choice. Such a review would but confirm our holding that this seizure order cannot stand. 
Justice Hugo Black, Opinion for the Court


is for zombification, the process by which the heart born yearning for freedom is coddled into a comfortable and submitted relationship with the State:
Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia