Liberty Requires Responsibility

Nancy Pelosi. Photo courtesy

Freedom to succeed includes the freedom to fail.

The federal government has been rapidly expanding for the past century, and throughout that time has not once considered reading their governing document. From FDR’s New Deal to the DOA,DOE, DOT, HHS, and Homeland Security, the amount of responsibility assumed by the federal government is ever expanding. Each time the government assumes a responsibility, it removes that responsibility from the states or from the individual. The 10th Amendment is explicit: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. What powers are delegated to the United States by the Constitution you ask? Article 1, Section 8 outlines the 18 enumerated powers of Congress. If it’s not in there, it’s the job of the States or of individuals.
When it comes to civil liberties, the federal government's role needs to be limited. Policy decisions should be based on the morals of the non-aggression principle, which is a stance in which initiation or threat of violence against another or their property is considered to be an aggressive act, and impedes an individual’s free will and self-determination. Aggression towards others can also include theft, vandalism, fraud, and assault, whereas these conditions result in debt or damage to others. Acts of violence are not considered aggression in the instances of self-defense or defense of others. Jesus Christ that was wordy.
We can apply the non-aggression principle to a broad range of civil liberties, many of which are not explicitly stated in the Constitution, but have been implied in the 9th Amendment. Take the marriage equality issue for example: there is an ongoing debate on whether or not it should be legal for homosexual couples to marry, or whether or not polygamy should be legally allowed. These questions are important, but they ought not be the first questions asked. We should first ask what the role of the government is in legislating marriage. The Constitution does not grant the federal government power to control marriage law, and therefore that power is reserved for the states. States issue marriage licenses (which are non-religious BT dubs). Marriage is a religious institution. The function of marriage as it relates to state law is no different from civil unions, or rights of an attorney. For the sake of simplicity, the word “marriage” can count as a legal civil union between two consenting adults. What more is there to debate? You have the choice to have one other adult as mutual legal partners, no matter your sexual orientation (if two guys are blowing each other a few blocks away, and you’re upset, please invent a time machine and go back to Hiroshima, Japan just a few minutes before the Enola Gay arrives).

There are so many examples of the federal government assuming responsibilities that it is not granted by the constitution. They've gotten away with assuming many of these responsibilities by convincing us all that privileges are rights. If something can be given to you, it is a privilege. If something can be given to you, it can be taken away, and rights cannot be taken away. We have been told recently that people have a right to health care, a right to higher education, and a right to vote. But this is America! I have more rights than that! I have a right to a cell phone, and television, and for cigarettes and a car! We do not have a right to materiel. We do not have a right to services. We have a right to life, liberty, and to pursue happiness, even if we don't achieve it. We have a right to defend ourselves, to keep what we earn, to marry who we want, and to not be indebted at birth to the poor decisions or circumstances of others. We have a right to expression and of protest and privacy, and we have a right to equal protection under the law. Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

The United States Army is an excellent example of assuming the responsibilities of individuals. If you get  a DUI, it's the Army's fault. If you sexually assault someone, it's the Army's fault. If you are a racist or a sexist, it's the Army's fault. The military implements all these programs to mitigate the risks of looking bad, such as the Equal Opportunity Program, the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program (SHARP), and countless traffic safety and family readiness programs. You might assume that with the implementation of all of these programs, the rates of sexual assault, drunk driving, and discrimination have diminished. You'd be disappointed to learn that the rates in all three are increasing, because it's not the individual's fault, it's the organization's fault. When you hold individuals accountable for their actions, they will behave more responsibly. Of course, the Army is a government agency, so it's not surprising when they don't value responsibility (see No Child Left Behind).

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