The Hundreds: Thomas Jefferson’s Forgotten Plan for Restoring a Failed Republic

Thomas Jefferson became one of my heroes when I was 13 years old. So you’d think I’d enjoy hearing people say good things about him, but very often, I don’t. My reason is simple: the people who praise Jefferson seldom really understand him, and if they did, it’s questionable that they’d like him. (Others try to get rid of him by trashing his reputation.)

What People Don’t Know

A crucial thing people don’t know about Jefferson is this: he was fully convinced that freedom in America was fatally wounded—in fact on its deathbed—by 1810 or so. He maintained that he and his fellow founders had blown their opportunity and that American freedom had already slipped away.

Now, since what I’ve written above will seem almost inconceivable to many Americans, let me back it up by quoting a few of Jefferson’s letters:

Letter to John Holmes, April 22, 1820:

I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it.

Letter to Nathaniel Macon, 1821:

Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction. That is: by consolidation first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.

Letter to John Cartwright, June 5, 1824:

Our Revolution presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position… [What we really needed was] to break up all cabals.

“Cabals,” FYI, equates to “political parties.” (George Washington and John Adams also bewailed them.)

Letter to Samuel Johnson, 1823:

I have been criticized for saying that a prevalence of the doctrines of consolidation would one day call for reformation or revolution.

Letter to William B. Giles, 1825:

I see with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power.

I don’t think any honest reader can see Jefferson’s actual words and still conclude that he’d have any respect at all for the modern US government. And please believe me that there are more passages like these.

Jefferson’s Hundreds

While Jefferson was fully convinced that he and his friends had blown their opportunity, he wasn’t one to simply give up. So, in typical fashion, he put together a plan to recreate the republic. And you can find this plan in letters to his friends. (As best I can tell, no one in Washington ever gave them the time of day.)

I’m editing these passages for clarity. You should be able to find the originals online.

This is from a letter to John Tyler, dated May 26, 1810:

I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength.

  1. That of general education to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.
  1. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it. …

Every hundred, besides a school, should have a justice of the peace, a constable, and a captain of its militia. These officers, or some others within the hundred, should be a corporation to manage all its concerns, to take care of its roads, its poor, and its police by patrols, etc.…

Every hundred should elect one or two jurors to serve where requisite, and all other elections should be made in the hundreds separately, and the votes of all the hundreds be brought together. …

These little republics would be the main strength of the great one. We owe to them the vigor given to our revolution in its commencement …

General orders are given out from a center to the Foreman of every hundred …

Could I once see this I should consider it as the dawn of the salvation of the republic. …

Jefferson repeats essentially the same plan to Samuel Kercheval in 1816:

The article, nearest my heart, is the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of all which, taken together, composes the State, and will make a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern.

The division into wards … enables them by that organization to crush, regularly and peaceably, the usurpations of their unfaithful agents, and rescues them from the dreadful necessity of doing it insurrectionally.

In this way we shall be as republican as a large society can be, and secure the continuance of purity in our government, through salutary, peaceable, and regular control by the people.

Jefferson’s plan, in simple terms, is this:

  1. Divide the entire country into 100-person units with full self-governing powers.
  1. These units can then delegate some of their powers to larger governmental bodies, or not.
  1. The tiny size of these units would ensure that every person in the country knew his or her local representative… as in, “can knock on their door and complain to their face.”

This plan, which I like to call Jefferson’s Hundreds, would be simple to implement. These groups could be formed in any number of ways, in locations urban or rural. After all, counting to one hundred is hardly difficult.

Would It Work?

Whether governance in America is too far gone for reform is an important and legitimate question, but for the sake of today’s discourse, let’s assume that it remains a possibility.

So, if reform was still possible, Jefferson’s Hundreds would be a reasonable and effective way to return to America’s first freedoms. And there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t work.

Sure, the televised suits and uniforms would scream intimidating things about the Articles of Confederation being too weak, but that old argument can be solidly refuted. (I hope to devote an issue or two of my newsletter to the subject soon.) Then, of course, we’d hear, “What about the highways!?”… another emotional but paper-thin objection. And so on… all answerable, if people are actually permitted to try.

Might some people act like pigs under “the hundreds”? Certainly some would—but under this arrangement, their piggishness would be open to view and response, rather than being protected behind the cloak of authority.

So if we were really serious about reforming America, this would be the plan to pursue. It’s clear, of immense effect, and has the best of pedigrees. Furthermore, it is fully in harmony with the founding ideals of this country, in particular with the Lockean concept of man’s natural freedom.

So, to close, here are a few quotes from other American founders. Please imagine how they’d apply in a country built upon Jefferson’s Hundreds, and then reflect on their scope under the current arrangements.

I think the exercise will be worth your time.

Samuel Adams

The Rights of Colonists, November 20, I772

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man; but only to have the law of nature for his rule.

Patrick Henry

Speech to the Second Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

Samuel Adams

Letter to his wife, November 7, 1775

We must be content to suffer the loss of all things in this life, rather than tamely surrender the public liberty.

John Adams

Letter to Thomas Jefferson, November 13, 1815

The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junta, and a single emperor. Equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.

John Adams

Letter to Jonathan Jackson, October 2, 1789

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil…

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

This article was originally published by Casey Research.

The Earth Belongs to the Living, Not to the Dead

government debt wake upWhat if your grandfather had gone on a wild spending binge, long before you were born, and put himself millions of dollars in debt to people who knew he could never pay? Would it be your obligation to work double-shifts all your life to pay that debt back? And if you died before paying it off, would it become your baby’s obligation?

I think most of us would answer those questions with a resounding “No way!” As well we should. We are not and should not be slaves to the past – slaves to actions we never took and for which we had no possible means of consent.

On September 6th, 1789, in the very first year of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson endorsed precisely this conclusion in a letter he wrote to James Madison:

I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and encumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on.

For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation.

He wrote the same thing to John Wayles Eppes twenty-four years later, in June of 1813:

The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.

To lay debt upon the unborn is thoroughly immoral. To try to enforce such a debt is thoroughly criminal.

Your Child or Grandchild

This conversation is critically important, because each child born in the US is born massively indebted. Using $200 trillion to represent the promises already made to people now living (some estimates are higher) and assuming a population of 310 million, that comes to $645,161 of debt, by the time your child reaches his cradle. If you expect your child to become a productive person, his or her share will be roughly twice that amount, or approximately $1.3 million.

(The US government is not unique in this regard, by the way. I use the US example, because it’s easier and because most of my readers seem to be Americans.)

Would you sign papers loading your baby with such a debt?

I am stating these facts in personal terms to cut through the usual BS that passes for public discourse. I am also using the voices of “founding fathers,” partly because it undercuts the fraudulent government story that “we’re following the wisdom of the founders.” Beside, we’re talking about real persons here. Making it personal is not manipulative, but accurate. To make it amorphous would be manipulative.

And while I’m on the subject of founding fathers, here’s something George Washington wrote in a letter to James Madison, also in 1789:

No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence.

I think that’s a very clear and very moral expression. It is not, however, what has been done.

A group formed recently under the phrase, “Not our debt.” I know nothing about the group, but their phrase is entirely correct. The debt of the US government does not belong to us, and we have no moral obligation to repay it.

Most of us do pay something toward that debt (which grows exponentially, just the same), but we should stay very clear as to why we pay. That reason, of course, is naked force, as in coercion and violence. There is no morality to it, except the morality that some people might invent, either to salve their consciences or as sycophants to power. (Though most  just do what everyone else does, never considering why.)

My advice is this: Do whatever you want as far as paying under threat, but don’t ever be confused about the morality of this situation. This is a swindle of gargantuan proportions. And that’s precisely what Thomas Jefferson believed. You can see this in a letter he wrote to John Taylor, dated May 28, 1816:

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling posterity on a large scale.

Do what you need to do, but don’t ever think you have a moral responsibility to pay that kind of debt.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Jefferson’s Final Warnings

Thomas Jefferson WarningPeople remember Thomas Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence, which he wrote in 1776. A few will remember that he served as president from 1801 to 1809, but aside from that, they know almost nothing of his life and work. In actual fact, he lived till 1826, when he died on July 4, fifty years to the day after the ratification of his Declaration.

During those fifty years, Jefferson’s intellectual life bloomed. He was an inventor, a horticulturalist, and especially a philosopher. In fact, he was a brave and excellent philosopher.

As I wrote previously, Jefferson was convinced that he and the other “founders” had blown their shot at freedom. That’s not something that a lot of Americans are comfortable hearing, but it’s true just the same.

His Final Message

In his last years – after a lifetime of learning and experience, Jefferson had one thing preeminently on his mind: the principle of decentralization.

Rather than saying “centralization,” Jefferson used the word “consolidation,” but they mean the same thing. Here’s his core statement on the subject, from his autobiography, written in 1821:

It is not by the consolidation, or concentration, of powers, but by their distribution, that good government is effected.

This statement put Jefferson at odds with the political leaders of his time and raised difficulties for him, as he writes in a letter to Judge William Johnson in 1823:

I have been blamed for saying, that a prevalence of the doctrines of consolidation would one day call for reformation or revolution.

For the following passage – a letter to William Johnson, written in 1822 – I’ll set Jefferson’s words in italics and my explanation/commentary in plain text:

They [a political party] rally to the point which they think next best, a consolidated government.

Here he points out that political parties tend to favor centralization, which they certainly have since.

Their aim is now, therefore, to break down the rights reserved by the Constitution to the States as a bulwark against that consolidation

This party is trying to steal the power of the individual States and centralize it in one city, and they are willing to alter or bypass the Constitution to do so.

the fear of which produced the whole of the opposition to the Constitution at its birth…

Here Jefferson is saying the Anti-Federalists were right and that the Constitution could not prevent the theft of liberties by the national government.

I trust… that the friends of the real Constitution and Union will prevail against consolidation, as they have done against monarchism.

Notice his phrase, “the real Constitution.” Already in 1822, he needed to make this distinction, because the Constitution was already being twisted, overridden, and bypassed.

In a letter to William T. Barry in 1822, Jefferson writes this:

The foundations are already deeply laid by their [the Supreme Court Justices’] decisions for the annihilation of constitutional State rights, and the removal of every check, every counterpoise to the engulfing power of which themselves are to make a sovereign part.

Jefferson is likely referring to the Marbury v. Madison decision of 1803, a decision that American schoolchildren are taught to revere. Jefferson, however, considered it a disaster, as he explained in a letter to Abigail Adams in 1804.

Jefferson continues:

If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruption, indifferent and incapable of a wholesome care over so wide a spread of surface.

Between Lincoln’s Civil War (which enslaved the states to the national government) and the effective takeover of 1913, the country has been brought under a single government. Washington DC is the seat of the American Empire, and the individual states are minor players. It was supposed to be the other way around.

Here is a fragment from Jefferson’s letter to C.W. Gooch in 1826:

… I have little hope that the torrent of consolidation can be withstood….

And a passage from his letter to William B. Giles, in 1825:

I see… with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power.

Either We Take Jefferson Seriously Or We Don’t

If we take Jefferson seriously, we must flatly reject the now-consolidated US government as a corruption.

If we reject Jefferson, we reject his Declaration too, and we also reject the foundations of liberty in America.

A third choice is to put ourselves – purposely – into a sort of mental fog, hoping to avoid the responsibility of seeing and choosing.

There is one final choice: to say that Jefferson was great until 1809, but then he went goofy. That theory, however, would be very difficult to support. The older Jefferson became, the better he became.

So, either we take him seriously, or we don’t.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

“I’m Glad I Won’t Live to See It”

dontseeIt’s a little scary how often I’ve been hearing one comment recently, of which the following is typical. It appeared on a financial web site about a month ago:

This is all going down to hell, and we are all to blame for it. I am glad that I am old. It started maybe 10-15 years ago. Before that, pensioners would tell me they would love to be 20 years younger. Now they all say they are glad that they aren’t any younger and will soon be off this rock.

I have a highly informed friend that reminds me of precisely the same thing every time I see him.

It’s Not Just Pessimism

A certain number of people are naturally pessimistic, and some of those people might be expected to make such statements. And I’m sure that some do. But that doesn’t look to me like what is happening here.

First of all, the one common characteristic that I see among people making these statements is that they are well informed.

Second, a good portion of them are basically optimistic people, quite willing to concede that what follows the bad passage may be very good. Their concern is simply that the bad period will last too long to live through, so they’d rather check out before going through it.

Personally, I don’t think the bad period will be quite that bad or last long, but only time will tell.

The Numbers

Right now, the United States government is in the hole something like 200 Trillion dollars. That number includes commitments that are owed in future years, but unless the system breaks, that’s really what they owe. Businesses have to account for their debts that way.

The total annual earnings of US residents is about 13 Trillion dollars. That’s only 6.5% of what is owed.

So, here’s what this debt load would look like when transferred to the scale of a typical American family:

  • You make $50 thousand per year.
  • You owe $769 thousand. (Plus interest, of course.)

Good luck paying that off, especially because that $769K is laid on top of your mortgage, auto loans, student loans, and credit card balances.

These are the kinds of numbers that the “I’m glad I won’t see it” guys understand. The debts simply cannot be paid, and what happens when the system breaks could be very, very ugly.

And, of course, the problems are not just financial. The entire ruling class of the world is out of control, massively arrogant and certain to flip out at some point.

People who say such things fit into two camps:

  1. Those who are older and who understand that the breakdown process will last longer than they will. They’ll be glad to die before it gets really bad.
  2. Those who expect to live long enough to make it through the collapse and into whatever comes after.

A huge number of folks are oblivious, of course, and fit into neither of these groups. They’re the ones who will get run over by all of this… just as they do every time.

It’s my opinion that the sharper and deeper the crash, the sooner it will be purged, and the sooner we move through the welfare riots, shortages, and martial law phase. If the system breaks, productive people will get a glorious fresh start. If the system merely declines, it will drag the entire culture in the direction of North Korea.

But, again, we shall see.

Jefferson Saw It Too

As it turns out, my hero Thomas Jefferson was an early “hope I don’t live to see it” guy. But what he was concerned about wasn’t a currency collapse but the destruction of self-government via a civil war. (There are always smart guys who see it coming, though they are seldom listened to.)

Here’s a passage from a letter Jefferson wrote to a friend in 1820, when he was quite old:

I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it.

And Jefferson was right: Four decades later millions of Americans were convinced to grab weapons, march in lines, and butcher each other.

The end result of the American Civil War, aside from wholesale death and mutilation, was that the states lost nearly all of their power to Washington, DC. After that point, any claim of self-government was purely promotional fluff. If the states – who had created the union – couldn’t maintain their rights, how would any individual stand against the Beast on the Potomac?

The Civil War (and Lincoln in particular) killed the America of Jefferson, Adams, Henry and Payne.

I’m glad the destruction didn’t happen during Jefferson’s lifetime. He didn’t deserve that pain… and neither do the better old folks of our time.

I am convinced, however, of this: The more that productive people understand what’s happening, the faster the fall and reset will be.

Start talking to your friends and neighbors. Add deeds to your words. Don’t stop.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Blow That Killed America 100 Years Ago

1913“There is a lot of ruin in a nation,” wrote Adam Smith. His point was that it takes a long time for nations to fall, even when they’re dead on their feet. And he was certainly right.

America took its fatal blow in 1913, one hundred years ago; it just hasn’t hit the ground yet. This is a slow process, but it’s actually fast compared to the Romans. It took them several centuries to collapse.

The confusing thing about our current situation is that America – and by that I mean the noble America that so many of us grew up believing was real – has long been poisoned. Its liver, kidneys, and spleen have all stopped functioning. Its heart beats slowly and irregularly. But it still stands on its feet and presents itself as alive to all those who would let their eyes fool them.

And I’m not without sympathy for those who want to believe. They find themselves in a world where politics is almighty, and where their comfort, prosperity, and perhaps their survival all hang in a delicate balance. They don’t want to upset anything, and questioning the bosses is a good way to get yelled at.

But just because someone wants to believe doesn’t make it so. We are not children and we are not powerless. We Producers should never be intimidated by those who live at our expense. So let’s start looking at the facts.

1913: The Horrible Year

For all the problems America had prior to 1913 (including the unnecessary and horrifying Civil War), nothing spelled the death of the nation like the horrors of 1913.

Here are the key dates:

February 3rd:

The 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, authorizing the Federal government to impose income taxes on individuals. An amendment to a tariff act in 1894 had attempted to do this, but since it was clearly unconstitutional, the Supreme Court struck it down. As a result – and mostly under the banner of bleeding the rich – the 16th amendment was promoted and passed.

As a result, the Revenue Act of 1913 was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in October. Income taxes began in 1914, with the government swearing (as in, “only a crazy person would say otherwise!”) that the rate would never, ever go higher than one or two percent.

And, by the way, the amendment was introduced by Senator Aldrich of Rhode Island, to whom we’ll come again shortly.

April 8th:

The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, taking the powers of the states and transferring them to Washington, by mandating the popular election of senators.

Previously, senators were appointed by state legislatures, restraining the power of the national government. This change gave political parties immediate and massive power, nearly all of which was consolidated in the city of Washington.

The amendment was ratified in the name of restraining the rich and making government into a force for good. It was true that state governments were often corrupt, but the implied idea that Washington was pristine was and remains a bad joke. A structure featuring small, separate pockets of corruption is far less dangerous than one featuring a single, large seat of corruption, to which oceans of money are gathered. As Thomas Jefferson wrote:

It is not by the consolidation or concentration of powers, but by their distribution that good government is effected.

December 23rd:

Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act, which had passed Congress just the previous day. This system – called the Aldrich Plan, and promoted by Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island – gave a monopoly on the creation of dollars to a consortium of large banks.

The Act was passed, by the way, in the name of financial stability.

And Senator Aldrich? Wikipedia says this about him:

He… dominated all tariff and monetary policies in the first decade of the 20th century… Aldrich helped to create an extensive system of tariffs that protected American factories and farms from foreign competition, while driving the price of consumer goods artificially high… Aldrich became wealthy with insider investments in streets, railroads, sugar, rubber and banking… His daughter, Abby, married John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the only son of John D. Rockefeller.

I’ll leave you to connect the dots on Aldrich, his family, the Rockefeller banking empire (Chase Manhattan and others), high political offices (such as Governor and Vice President Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller) and so on.

The Combination

Here is why I say that these three changes of 1913 killed America:

They robbed every producer in America of their money and handed it to politicians.

Until 1913, ordinary people kept their money. Carpenters, grocers, and repair men were able to make business loans and to retire on stock dividends. Once the income tax came in, however, politicians were empowered to skim off more and more of their money, which is precisely what happened. While the modern skim is multi-faceted, the average producer is now stripped of half his or her earnings every year, leaving politicians to spend it.

They consolidated all power in Washington DC.

This is precisely what James Madison wished to avoid when writing the US Constitution. (Again, note the Jefferson quote above.) By depriving the states of their remaining power, the City of Washington had no opposition. Since then, the Washington government has taken over practically everything on the continent and is choking it to death… a lot like the city and empire of Rome before it.

They created a money empire that took over almost everything.

When you start talking about the immense power of central banking, people generally turn away from it, because it’s just too much to take. So, let me say it this way:

How much money could you make, if you knew precisely when interest rates would go up or down?

A lot, right? Well, that’s exactly the power that these bankers have – because they’re the ones who set the rates.

Then, with that money, and with that foreknowledge, how many politicians could you pay off? How many pieces of legislation could you buy? Through all the financial problems of the past few years, which is the one group that has been protected at every step? Ever wonder why?

I could add more, but I think my point is made. America, as we grew up thinking of it, is dead. Whether the carcass hits the ground in days or decades is almost irrelevant; it’s over.

The question that remains is what we’ll do about it.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

What Is Liberty Exactly?

what is libertyMore or less every modern politician talks about “freedom” or “liberty.” Actually, they don’t talk about it as much as they use it as a magic incantation. They go on at length about “our free country,” but if you could get them to define freedom, that definition would be something along the lines of “what we have.”

Once we’re past such self-praising nonsense, we’re still left with the original question: What is liberty exactly? And then the trouble begins. There are dozens of definitions. This is a problem. We’re all going around talking about liberty, but no two of us mean precisely the same thing. If you’re looking for reasons why liberty gets so little real traction in the world, this would be a good place to start.

So, it’s about time that we clarified what we mean by these terms. And, since I’ve spent decades pursuing liberty, and since no one else seems to be addressing this, I’ll take on this chore myself.

First of all, I’m going to treat “liberty” and “freedom” as the same concept. After all, the word freedom comes to us from old English and liberty from old French, and they both mean the same thing: unconstrained.

The problem with unconstrained lies in the fact that we are constrained by the natural world, by everything from gravity to rocks to weather. Nature constrains us. Yet, we don’t feel oppressed by nature – it isn’t trying to hurt us or limit us, it simply is what it is, and we can use it as we wish too. Our bodies are part of nature, after all.

It is when other people force us to obey, use violence against us, or simply intimidate us, that we feel constrained and abused. (Which tells us all we really need to know about the nature of liberty and humanity.)

So What Is Liberty?

Here is a precise definition for freedom/liberty:

A condition in which a man’s will regarding his own person and property is unopposed by any other will.

That is the bedrock. From there you can add other aspects if you wish, but you cannot deviate from this core and still be talking about “liberty.”

For example, Thomas Jefferson used the same core idea (notice the inclusion of “will”), but added a political aspect:

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.

The great John Locke also held to this core, but took it in a more philosophical direction:

All men are naturally in a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man.

Personally, I like a very plain version of the same sentiments:

We should be allowed to do whatever we want, so long as we don’t hurt others.

I generally call these statements as Lockean, since John Locke was the first person to clearly define the concept of liberty in modern times. But, that’s just my preference.

These statements are clear, and they define liberty. No more really need be said.

You can ignore manipulative “freedom to” statements like Franklin Roosevelt’s famous Second Bill of Rights, whose proposed ‘rights’ included the right of everyone to their own home. This, of course, would require the enslavement of builders, suppliers and taxpayers. (Roosevelt never mentioned that side of the equation, of course.)

There’s only one thing which I will add to this discussion, and that is this: None of us have a monopoly on Lockean liberty.

Anyone who holds to Locke’s formulation is your brother and sister, and you must accept them as such.

We are past the time when we can be insular (if there ever really was such a time). You don’t have to agree 100% with the Ron Paul people or the free-market anarchists, or with anyone, but if they accept the core statements above, you must accept them as joint heirs of the Lockean liberties.

If you think someone is wrong, you can ignore the difference of opinion, or you can, respectfully, correct them. Better still, you could laugh at your joint human frailties and move forward together. What you may not do, is to cast them off as idiots; you may not resent them for honestly disagreeing. If they believe in John Locke’s liberty, they are your allies, not your enemies.

If we can’t do that, we don’t deserve to succeed.

Paul Rosenberg
What is Liberty Exactly?
FreemansPerspective.com

Thomas Jefferson: “We Failed”

Thomas Jefferson failedThomas Jefferson – one of my long-time heroes – was convinced that he and his friends blew the chance they had to establish true freedom in America. I know that a hundred thousand self-praising textbooks, speeches, pundits and songs claim that Jefferson and the rest established freedom, but that’s NOT what Jefferson thought, and that is NOT what he said. (You can choose whom to believe for yourself.)

Nearly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence, he was of the opinion that the founders did not fully live up to the moment presented to them.

Here is a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Cartwright on June 5th, 1824. Jefferson’s words are in plain text and my modern paraphrasing of the lines are in italics:

Our Revolution presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position.

The Revolution gave us a shot at real liberty, but we blew it.

We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had little entered into our former education. We established, however, some (but not all) of its important principles…

We weren’t prepared for what we had to do.

We think experience has proved the benefit of subjecting questions to two separate bodies of deliberants. But in constituting these bodies, [we have] been mistaken, making one of these bodies, and in some cases both, the representatives of property instead of persons.

We thought our legislative structure would protect us, but they were bought-off right away.

This double deliberation might be obtained just as well without any violation of true principle, either by requiring a greater age in one of the bodies, or by electing a proper number of representatives of persons, or by dividing them by lots into two chambers, and renewing the division at frequent intervals, in order to break up all cabals.

What we really needed was something that would break up parties and factions.

George Washington said almost the same thing about parties, by the way. Here is a section from his Farewell Address of September 17, 1796, with my paraphrasing again:

All combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character…are of a fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give them an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party.

All political groups are fatally dangerous. They gain inappropriate force and displace the will of the people.

A small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

Small groups of clever and dedicated men will corrupt the actions of government, making it serve their own ends.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then address popular ends, they are likely to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to usurp for themselves the reins of government.

No matter if these groups do some good things, they will still take over government.

I think history says that Washington was right; parties did destroy the public good, and continue to do so.

And here’s what Samuel Adams thought about the citizens allowing small groups of men (like parties) to choose candidates for them:

I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the many, to be done by the few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption–the Tool of a Junta.–Heaven forbid!

And to confirm the corruption of Congress that Thomas Jefferson mentioned, here is a letter that Samuel Adams wrote to his friend Richard Henry Lee on January 15th, 1781:

Is there not Reason to think that even those who are opposed to our Cause may steal into Places of the highest Trust? I need not remind you that Men of this Character have had Seats in Congress from the beginning.

And just to add one more voice, here is what Benjamin Franklin said to the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787:

I believe, farther, that this [constitution] is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.

There is more that could be said on this subject, but it is almost superfluous. What matters is that we get the primary point:

The best of the American Founders were fully convinced
that their shot at freedom would fail or had failed.

So, what does this say about all those fancy speeches and songs about “the land of the free“?

And if we don’t have freedom, what is it that we do have?

Paul Rosenberg
Thomas Jefferson: “We Failed”
FreemansPerspective.com

Abusive Government: The Good Guys Are NOT Coming To Save Us

Abusive Government: The Good Guys Are NOT Coming To Save UsA lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.

Some think that certain groups of politicians will pull it together and fix things, or that one magnificent politician will ride in to fix things. Others think that certain members of the military will step in and slap the politicians back into line. And, I’m sure there are other variations.

There are several problems with this. I’ll start with the small issues:

  1. It doesn’t happen. A lot of good people have latched on to one grand possibility after another, waiting for a good guy to save the day, and it just doesn’t happen. Thousands of hours of reading, writing and waiting are burned with each new “great light” who comes along with a promise to run the system in the “right” way, and give us liberty and truth. (Or whatever.) Lots of decent folks grab on to one pleasant dream after another, only to end up right back where they started… but poorer in time, energy and finances.
  2. Hope is a scam. It’s a dream of someday, somehow, getting something for nothing. People who hope do not act – they wait for other people to act. Hope is a tool to neuter a natural opposition: they sit and hope, and never act against you. Even the biblical meaning of hope is something more like expectation (or sometimes waiting) than the modern use of hope.
  3. Petitioning an abuser for compassion. The “good guys” are considered to be a few people inside the abusive government. But if the good guys were really good, wouldn’t they have dissociated themselves with an abuser some time ago? By pleading for the good guys to rise up, people are asking one sub-group of the abusers to save them from the rest of the abusers. However, they all work for the same operation; they all get paid out of the same offices; according to the same rulebook. And if the good guys are so willing to turn against their employers, why would they have waited until now?
  4. Movies. We all grew up in the company of movie heroes who rode in at the last minute to save the noble victims. From John Wayne to Star Trek to Bruce Willis, the story line differs little. These are pleasant stories, of course, but cinema is not reality, and hoping for it to become reality is something that we should get over prior to adulthood.

But, as I say, those are the smaller issues. Let’s move on to the serious ones.

The Magic System

A lot of Americans believe that the American “Founders” created a system that automatically fixes itself. They talk about the “balance of powers,” and think that it will always save them from a tyrant. The balanced powers of the US Constitution, however, were trashed within fifteen years and doubly-trashed just a century ago.

In the Constitution, the states balanced the power of the national government (the one now in Washington, DC.) Not only did the states control half of the legislature, but they decided if and how they would implement the edicts of the national government. And that included deciding whether a law was constitutional or not.

This changed in 1803 with the Marbury v. Madison ruling. This ruling – taught as a work of genius in American schools – was a fraud against the US Constitution. In it, the Supreme Court held that they understood the Constitution better than James Madison, the man who wrote it!

But worse than even this, they held – with absolutely no basis – that it was they who would decide what was constitutional or not. The states were tossed aside. Even the sitting President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, called it “a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”

Marbury’s Judicial review (the Supremes ruling on constitutionality) merely involves one branch of the national government providing a check on the other branches of the national government. After Marbury, no one could check the national government.

Washington DC was unleashed with Marbury v. Madison. What made it almighty was the 17th Amendment of 1913, which took the powers of the states and transferred them to Washington, by mandating the popular election of senators.

With senators being elected directly by the populace, the states were cut-out of the equation. In their place, political parties gained massive power, and nearly all power was consolidated in the city of Washington.

And so it is today. Washington is an unfettered beast. The system will NOT fix itself; the mechanisms to do that were lost a long time ago.

The Easy Way Out

Standing up against a beast like Washington DC is scary, to be sure. Understandably, not many people want to do such a thing. But if the beast is abusing you, what other choice do you have? You can certainly avoid or evade the beast, but we all know that the beast hurts people it catches avoiding it, so the risk of doing this isn’t zero either.

So, what’s a person to do? They hate their abuse, but outright disobedience would be scary. Unfortunately, many people have come up with a third option: Get someone else to do it for you.

Lots of writers have done this, for example: Write flamboyantly about the abuses people face and stir them to “rise up against the power.” Fairly seldom does the writer take big risks himself – he just stirs up others to do the scary stuff.

Something very similar happens to basically moral people who don’t want to risk pain and suffering: they imagine good guys riding in to save them.

But, as I say, these are genuinely decent people, and they are willing to take smaller risks to help the good guys: They will spend time and money promoting them, and they will even accept name-calling in many cases. They just don’t want to become full-blown rebels and outcasts.

The result of this is predictable: abuse by the political class. If the politicians show them a viable possibility every election cycle, they’ll keep voting their way forever… and the hero never really has to show up.

The Sad Truth

Let’s just say it:

No one is going to ride in and save you.

If you want things to get better, then YOU will have to make them better. YOU will have to stand up and take the arrows, yourself. Liberty, at this stage of human development, requires risk and pain.

I trust that you will remember the end of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount: That it is not those who call upon his name who will be saved, but only those who DO the things he said.

Likewise in this situation, our only hope of salvation lies in DOING.

Paul Rosenberg
Abusive Government: The Good Guys Are NOT Coming To Save Us
FreemansPerspective.com