Natural law recognizes that the law and morality are deeply connected. Morality relates to what is right and what is wrong. Natural law theorists believe that human laws are defined by morality, and not by an authority figure, like a king or a government, any government, even a democratically elected one.
Beginning last week Massachusetts drivers will face consequences if caught using their cellphone while behind the wheel. The concept makes sense, the fewer drivers are distracted the less chance of an accident. I agree with this assumption.
Many drivers have voluntarily been following the hands-free initiative because they know it is right. But to create a law that prohibits drivers from texting, talking or using the phone unless they use the hands-free mode is an abuse of the political system.
When I object to something being done by the government, the “indoctrinated” concludes that I object to the activity that is being regulated. If I disapprove of state education, then I am opposed to any education. If I object to state-enforced equality, then I am against equality. If I object to my taxes being budgeted toward war, then I am un-patriotic. No, it’s the force that I object to!
I have not been in an accident involving a cell phone. Once I hit a car in the rear end while looking down to change the radio station. A thirsty friend once had an accident while picking up his water bottle to quench his thirst. Does our benevolent Commonwealth have the duty to create legislation requiring hands-free radios or hands-free water bottles?
Laws to help keep me safe are sold as benevolent laws but in reality, are just an expansion of government control. The function of law is not to regulate our conscience, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of our inalienable rights.
Laws are not to prevent people from interfering with other’s free exercise of their rights. A philanthropic law is contradictory when it has an ill effect upon persons and property. If the law acts in any manner other than to protect rights, it violates our liberty.
Force of Law
With law comes the use of force, usually used for coercive compliance. When does force become necessary? Individuals use force in defense of person or property. It then stands to reason that a collective force (police) should only be allowed to use it for the same two purposes. Therefore, any other use of force would be illegitimate. Force used to support laws made for religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic are not eligible for the use of force.
In, The Law, by Frédéric Bastiat, he addresses the misconceptions of the law. Bastiat’s work examines, in great depth, the law as it relates to government and society. He insists that the government assumes people are inert, passive matter, a kind of vegetation indifferent to its own existence.
Bastiat believes that the state’s mission is to mold people into a society, by law. They look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Their mission is to shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor-corps, and other variations.
Bastiat suggests that just as the gardener needs axes, pruning shears and saws to shape his trees, the government needs the force that can only be found in law to shape human beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, tax laws, relief laws, and school laws.
The consequences of passing laws such as this are that the people no longer need to discuss, compare or plan ahead; the government is doing it for us. Intelligence becomes a useless prop, we cease to be critical thinkers; we lose our personality, our liberty, our property.
The makers of the law, the legislators, have lost their understanding of what law should be. Law is to guarantee the safety and property of the individual and not to oppress persons or steal their property. They arrogantly assume that people must be shaped, by the hand of their authority, into an infinite variety of forms, more or less symmetrical, artistic, and perfected.
Legislative leaders portray themselves as having the inclinations that their constituents may not have. They tell us that mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue.
They justify that the law, along with its force, is necessary in order to improve the human race. Too many legislators make a career of organizing it, patronizing it, ruling it and place themselves above mankind. They assume that in the heart of a man lies fatal traits that will ruin them if not checked.
They assume that without law people would be free to follow their own inclinations and would arrive at ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production, slavery instead of freedom and peace instead of war. Their justification for making a law to protect me from myself is laughable.
Bastiat wondered, “If the natural tendencies of men are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
Public education is their indoctrination program, much like a sign pointing in the direction to the road of servitude. Its teachings come from books on philosophy, politics, or history, rooted in the idea that mankind receives life, organization, morality, and prosperity from the power of the state.
Their textbooks promote the idea that mankind tends toward degeneration, and is stopped from this downward course only by the hand of the legislator. They claim that the law gives the authority to enforce, control, benefit, and improve mankind.
They teach that men like Hamilton, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson and FDR were saviors for the “indispensable nation’s” democracy. Their teachings ignore the facts that depict them as power intoxicated tyrants. They are our icons because they were able to further the centralization of governmental authority at the expense of freedom and justice.
Injustice – A Reality
The state will claim that the law and force will keep a person within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing but mere abstinence from harming others. They claim the law violates neither personality, liberty, or property and that they safeguard all of these. They defend laws as being the rights of all and that justice is achieved only when injustice is absent.
Legislation cannot correct the reality of injustice. I am not as handsome as Brad Pitt, I am not as intelligent as Einstein, I do not possess the oratory and literary skill of Patrick Henry or Thoreau. Injustice is not a curse it a challenge. It only becomes unjust when it violates freedom, justice and Natural Law.
When the law and its agent for force impose regulation of labor, method, education or selection it is abusive. It substitutes the will of the legislator for the will of the people; the initiative of the legislator for their own initiatives. The results of their laws becom; the “New Jim Crow” prison system, homelessness, addiction, war, violence and immorality.
The “Law” Is Our Shepherd
Individuals, not the state, are solely responsible for their choice between right and wrong, vice and virtue where the result leads to punishment or reward. We can no longer remain passive and consider ourselves incapable of bettering our prosperity and happiness by our own intelligence. For if we continue to play sheep to their shepherd, society will unwittingly be pushed toward the cliff of compliance.
When society gives up its personal responsibilities to the government it gives up its freedom. Therefore, good fortune and bad fortune, wealth and destitution, equality and inequality, virtue and vice we are told depend upon the political administration. The state is then burdened with everything, it undertakes everything, it does everything; therefore it is responsible for everything.
The law becomes omnipotent. The government’s responsibility is enormous with its undertaking control of wages, the care for all who may be in want, the support all unemployed workers, the interest rate of loans. The state’s purpose is then to enlighten, to develop, to enlarge, to strengthen, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul of the people. The reality is that the government should not and cannot do all of these things.
Today we stand a crossroads. In 1776, Jefferson described it,
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
The “event” today is the same as it was in 1776, the State’s usurpation of citizen power. The State is a monopoly of coercion led by people seeking to maximize their power and wealth at others’ expense. The leaders use both natural and stage calamities to exploit their advancement of power. From Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from hands-free cell phones to the real ID we continue to give away our power to control our lives as they grab more power.
Calamities give the state an excuse to make law or regulation to protect us from future incidences harming us. The laws and legislation that protect “me” are only justifications to gain more power. The Declaration of Independence provides a blueprint for what justifies governmental power.
“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.”
Murray Rothbard once described the limited constitutional “State” as: “a noble experiment that failed … the man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then says, “Limit yourself”; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian.”
The great myth of central planning is that injustice can be eliminated, it cannot. History has proven that a centralized government fails and usually ends with some degree of revolution. “Central Authority” is not going to magically produce the right outcomes for society. It only produces huge deficits, both financial and moral.
The happiest, most moral, and most peaceful people are those who follow a liberty principle. Mankind is not perfect but all hope rests upon the free and voluntary actions of people. Revolution accomplished peacefully is preferable. A peaceful solution lies within the human relationships founded upon liberty and not authority. How about a hands-free government!