A Libertarian Constitution

 
 

Politics is the art of getting others to pay for what you want.  Tyrants—be they appointed by a deity, through the exercise of military might, or by catering to the social mores of a majority—use the power of the State to force conformity to their purpose.  A Constitution imposes limits on a tyrant’s power.  “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.”[1]


The top grievance cited against the British Crown by the First Continental Congress was  “That [the Colonists] are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever a right to dispose of either without their consent.”[2]  The Virginia delegation to the Second Continental Congress brought with them the Virginia Declaration of  Rights, drafted by George Mason, stating:  “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights . . . namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”[3]  While Jefferson’s first draft of the declaration referred to the right of property, this Inalienable Right was ultimately replaced with “...Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...” in the final declaration, as a contrivance to keep the slave-holding States from using the Declaration of Independence to justify the continuation of slavery.


George Washington warned us that political parties “...serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party”.[4]  Yet our present Constitution is formulated in a way that promotes the formation and maintenance of political parties, and rewards their rent-seeking[6] behavior at the public expense.  From the tenor of our current political discourse and the sustained malaise of our economy, it is increasingly clear that yet again a time has come to refresh the Jefferson’s “tree of liberty”.  This time, hopefully, without the blood of patriots, tyrants, or the starvation of masses as in other such tipping points:  the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression (which brought on the current Progressive Era).


In his eloquent defense of the American Revolution, Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote:  "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."[5]  A recent scan of the public record shows that 30 States have passed resolutions for a “General Call for a new Constitutional Convention” under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, just 4 shy of the two-thirds majority necessary to pass.[7]  While almost half of these Calls were in support for women’s suffrage in 1910-1911 (the 19th Amendment was subsequently ratified in 1920), seventeen of these Convention Calls have passed State Legislatures since 1960 and remain both unfulfilled and in force to this day.  The goal of this site is to justify and propose a new Constitution based on Libertarian ideals.


If you've got an ideology, you've already got your mind made up . . . and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time.[8]  Unfortunately, ideology reigns supreme in most human endeavors.  To paraphrase Max Planck, winner of the 1918 Nobel prize in physics, Peer-review ensures that science only advances as scientists die.[9]  Organized religions spawn wars and burn heretics merely for citing facts that are in conflict with their revealed truths. The trial of Galileo (1633) provides just one example, Galileo was condemned by the Pope, to recant his empirical observations and mathematical proofs that the earth was not the center of the universe.[10]  Once a belief hardens, and is repeated often enough, it can be difficult to dislodge from the mind.  "Repeat a lie often enough and it will be believed" — Joseph Goebbels. This is, has always been, and will always be one of the cornerstones of political tyranny.  The Founding Fathers delivered us a document, the Constitution, which is now considered divine truth by many who would attack and kill those that challenge their truth rather than listen to considered arguments.  Just ask the Kent State students shot and killed on May 4th, 1970 by the Ohio National Guard for protesting their Government’s military involvement in Vietnam.[11]  Oh, right, you can’t.


Paraphrasing Saint Augustine of Hippo (398), it is disgraceful and a dangerous thing to try to convert a non-believer by spouting nonsense.  Therefore, I endeavor to provide referenced factual justification for the new constitution  presented herein.  The new constitution proposed herein is proposed as a draft, or straw man, and I solicit readers comments.


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[1]  United States Declaration of Independence, as adopted by the Second Continental Congress (July 4, 1776), http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/ (accessed Sept, 2011).

[2] Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress (Oct. 14, 1774), http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Declaration_and_Resolves_of_the_First_Continental_Congress (accessed Sept, 2011).

[3] Virginia Declaration of Rights (June 12, 1776), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Declaration_of_Rights (accessed Sept, 2011).

[4]  George Washington, “The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States”, in:  American Daily Advertiser, ed. D. Claypoole (Sept. 19, 1796), http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp (accessed Sept, 2011).

[5]  Thomas Paine, “Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, on the Following Interesting Subjects” (Jan. 10, 1776), http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/commonsense/text.html (accessed Sept., 2011).

[6]  Rent-seeking is an economics term for an attempt to derive income by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by adding value, such as capturing monopoly privileges from government regulation or subsidies.  The term derives from practice of appropriating a portion of production from ownership or control of land.

[7]  Friends of the Article V Convention, for a listing see:  http://foavc.org/file.php/1/Amendments (accessed Sept., 2011).

[8]  Bill Clinton, “The problem with ideology is, if you've got an ideology, you've already got your mind made up. You know all the answers and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time. You tend to govern by assertion and attacks.”, at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, October 18, 2006, http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton

[9]    Max Planck, “ A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”, Wissenschaftliche Selbstbiographie. Mit einem Bildnis und der von Max von Laue gehaltenen Traueransprache., Johann Ambrosius Barth Verlag, (Leipzig 1948), p. 22, as translated in Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp.33-34 (as cited in T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Max_Planck

[10]    The Papal Condemnation of Galileo (June 22, 1633), http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html

[11]    Kent State Massacre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings

Life, Liberty, and the Protection of Property