George Donnelly recently blogged about his personal Bill of Responsibilites. I think his approach to crafting a message of liberty, through the lens of personal responsibility, is a creatively powerful one. It is his post that has inspired this one.
I've tried in the past to formulate a consistent approach to describing to people what true liberty is, but I think quite often that message resorts to telling people that they are doing something wrong and/or immoral. While I might be correct, focusing on someone else's faults is often not very constructive. Instead, why not focus on how I choose to live my life and my justification for doing so?
This Bill of Responsibilities is essentially a contract with myself. These are things that I believe are central to my being a good and productive person. However, if I fail to do these things, I not only fail myself but also the rest of mankind. My hope is that by living up to my own expectations, I can provide a framework for others to emulate and improve upon.
So here goes, my own personal Bill of Responsibilities:
I have the ultimate responsibility for my own survival. The division of labor that has evolved within mutual societies is wondrously beneficial to the progress of mankind and it should be taken advantage of in order to increase one's quality of life. However, the existence of such developed societies does not relieve my own personal responsibility to provide for my own needs and desires. In addition, every action I take in life will have some impact upon others. A free and prosperous society requires that I take responsibility to never use unjustified force or fraud against my fellow man.
I have the responsibility to take care of myself. I cannot rely on anyone else to provide for my shelter, sustenance, education, livelihood, security, health care, entertainment, retirement, or any other thing.
I have the responsibility, as a civil member of a society, to only engage others in a voluntary and mutually-agreeable fashion. I have the responsibility to never force an individual to do what they do not want to do, unless that force is a justifiable reaction to their own aggression.
I have the responsibility to keep my word in my dealings with others. If I fail to honor my agreements, I have the responsibility to make full restitution in as timely a fashion as possible. To do otherwise is fraudulent and manipulative.
I have the responsibility for my mistakes. If my actions unjustifiably harm or endanger another person, I am responsible for making full restitution in as timely a fashion as possible. To do otherwise is reckless and violent.
I have the responsibility to defend myself and my family from those that would hurt us. I cannot rely on any other individual to risk their own life or livelihood to protect me.
I have the responsibility to educate myself. Schooling is insufficient, and in many cases, destructive of the cognitive abilities of the mind. Information, derived from any source, must be processed by an engaged, observant, and critical mind.
I have the responsibility to resist cooperating with people that choose to conduct themselves in violent ways. To cooperate with such evil, would immediately endanger myself and my family. To be idle and complicit in any crime against myself, strengthens the aggressor and provides the potential of harming my fellow man.
I have the responsibility to question authority. Does an authority conduct themselves in a responsible manner? Do their claims of authority stem from actual property rights, or do they stem from fraud or force to acquire your compliance for their own gain? To leave these questions unanswered, or worse, unquestioned, is to allow one's mind to degenerate into a state of Stockholm syndrome.
I have the responsibility to speak out against injustice and to support others that do as well. In order to live in a free and prosperous society, justice must be served.
I have the responsibility to continuously exercise my liberties, for they are precariously positioned to be lost if I am not practiced in defending them. I have the responsibility to continuously work to assert my retention of lost liberties, for the longer I wait and do nothing, the more unrecoverable they become.
I've come to the realization that I will be going to jail in the near future. Not for hurting anyone, but because the oppressive and unconstitutional powers-that-be see me as an Enemy of the State and an affront to their illegitimate power.
Two friends of mine have recently been thrown in jail. Neither of them have harmed, had any intention of harming, nor even inconvenienced, anyone. Their "crimes" are for having "contempt" for the state-funded thugs that wish to bully them into compliance with their procedures. Their only "crime" is that they had some questions, questions that the state did not want to hear.
Lauren Canario, who was invited to the federal court building to retrieve her camera (that the feds stole from her), walked through a metal detector checkpoint at a time when the guards weren't looking. She was ordered to go back through the checkpoint and was subsequently arrested when she asked why she was required to do so. She'll be in federal prison for 30 days.
Ian Freeman, of Free Talk Live, today was arrested over a couch. You can read the backstory of his case where his tenants have an old couch in his yard that the city of Keene wants removed. Ian is very willing to remove the couch, but simply wants to talk to the person who made the original complaint. Instead of hiding behind the force of government, the original complainant should speak to Ian in a friendly, neighborly way just as civilized communities ought to behave.
Instead, Ian was compelled to go to court today. He went there having every intention of complying with the request to remove the couch. He has also made this very clear to the court on previous occasions. He simply wanted to demand that he be confronted by his accuser, as is his constitutional right. However, within 45 seconds of entering the court room, he was railroaded into being found in contempt of court and was immediately arrested. The court removed the public observers from the room and only allowed them to view Ian on camera (without audio) to monitor the proceedings. The judge found him guilty, despite not being shown his accuser, and he has been sentenced to three days in prison for the matter of the couch and 90 days for being in contempt of the court's proceedings.
The Keene city court has today shown that it is a court that does not recognize the right to be confronted with one's accusers, a court that does not recognize the right to have a public trial, and a court which has gone way beyond simply upholding the "rule of law". What country is this exactly?!? The Keene city court has decided that it has a personal vendetta against all local liberty activists. Accordingly, the prospect of me going to prison is a virtual forgone conclusion. I will refuse to back down from asserting my rights when the time comes. My line in the sand was crossed quite some time ago.
The state thinks it can quell liberty simply by flexing its muscles. On the contrary, an equal, and very much opposite reaction is about to occur.
I've been a registered voter ever since I was 18 and a dues paying member of the Libertarian party for most of that time. I've always felt it was important to vote, especially according to ones conscience. I've always taken voting very seriously and have strived to always choose the best candidate -- the one who would do the least amount of harm -- the one who would stand up in defense of liberty.
Frequent visitors to this site will know that I have talked a lot about politics over the years. I've mentioned names of politicians that I've supported: Michael Badnarik, and Ron Paul. I've even dropped names of politicians I don't support: Mitt Romney. Recently I dropped out of the Libertarian party, but I remained sure that I could find a new political home, one that would respect my desires to have a principled approach to living in this democratic-republic of "ours".
Specifically, I wanted that new political home to be the Free State of New Hampshire.
When I got here I wanted to get involved with everything. One problem the Free State has ... is that you can't do that. You HAVE to choose what you're going to do, simply because there is so much activism going on here that you cannot be in two places at the same time. The first thing I got involved with was the NH Liberty Alliance delivering literature on the most freedom friendly candidates running in NH. Being very disgruntled with the state of national politics, I sincerely wanted to get involved with NH local politics, believing that I could do two things:
- Keep my principles of the non-initiation of force
- Actually get people, that actually represent my desires, elected
This was a prospect that gave me immense hope. I wanted to come to NH and change things. Instead, NH changed me.
I began helping one of the NHLA endorsed candidates, Jason Bedrick, in his campaign for the state legislature. I asked him, will you sign the small government pledge? I thought this was a very reasonable thing for him to do, I had heard that NH was one of the freest states in the country and has the largest legislature in the country (meaning a low citizen to representative ratio) and that the NHLA was endorsing the best liberty-friendly candidates they could find, to top that off Jason Bedrick was the NHLA top pick with a rating of A++ on their scorecard. Certainly, I had to have been dealing with the most liberty friendly candidate in the country.
He would not sign the pledge. Instead he would continue to vote for increased taxes, albeit minimally, and that he would pledge to limit "the budget increase to inflation plus population growth." In other words, he could not find one single government program that he could cut in order to decrease the states budget. Later, I would find that Jason endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. Is this seriously the best that the NHLA could find?!? Helping Jason was the last political action I've taken in NH.
Instead, I have been involved with alternative forms of activism. I have been to the federal court in support of the peaceful civil disobedience of Kat Kanning and Lauren Canario who were both jailed for peacefully and silently protesting tax funded torture in an IRS office. I have engaged in civil disobedience of breaking curfew laws in Manchester city park. I have participated in open-carry litter pickups. I have sold hot dogs in violation of police orders to vacate a plot of land. I have supported a friend in peaceful protest and burning of the US Flag. Granted, none of this may seem like much, but I feel that I have been able to demonstrate my spirit of liberty with more people than I ever could by shoving junk mail in someones door or by voting.
But why am I not voting? Certainly it wouldn't take much of my time to go mark a check by someones name that could possibly make our society ever-so-slightly more free? Right?
I have been frustrated recently because I cannot find a candidate that I can support, but I didn't understand until very recently why it so hard for me to find such a candidate -- my principle that it is wrong to initiate force against another is antithetical to the very idea of voting. When I vote, I cannot vote for the lesser of evils; a lesser evil is still evil. Even from a purely defensive argument, I cannot vote for the person that will do less harm to me because that vote is seen as a mandate. It is an endorsement from me to the candidate that he should follow his preestablished platform, one that I vehemently oppose, but one that I ultimately voted for. It is a vicious cycle of buck passing. It's also not good enough that I vote for a candidate that actually will increase liberty. Sure, he may promise to decrease government, and he may actually accomplish it. But what about all that he fails to do? There may be a candidate that will abolish 15 different government agencies, but there is no candidate out there that will ever abolish them all. Even if there was, he surely would be unwilling to do it all at once. By voting, I am supporting, and ultimately condemning, everyone in this country to serve the state in the meantime. And here's the rub, while I want liberty, especially from government, I have no right to take what I consider oppression away from someone that actually wants that oppression.
What I have discovered is that it is actually impossible for someone to represent me. Therefore, it is my responsibility to assert my own liberty in my own life. I cannot rely on anyone else to fight for my liberty, nor even if I could, no democratically elected politician could ever do so without violating another persons rights. I pledge to pursue a life full of voluntary interactions with my fellow human beings, never forcing my view point on them, unless they agress against me first.
Ron Paul, you're an admirable man. I sent you hundreds of dollars in hopes that you would inspire this country towards the ideals of liberty. You did not fail me. However, I cannot vote for you ... and I won't.
Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others. --Robert LeFevre
I forget if I ever mentioned this on here or not -- I regularly (though not frequently) call Free Talk Live to express some of my opinions on various issues. I like to record these calls for posterity mostly so that I can, like with this blog, see where I have grown and evolved over the years.
Today I called in about Intellectual Property.
Check out my Free Talk Live log
I need to step up the frequency of both blog posts and calls to talk shows. Both are great fun and make me feel like I've accomplished something.
What has our world come to? A man gets put in jail because his daughter hasn't gotten some dumb, meaningless certificate? A man is losing his job, by dictate of the state, because his daughter, even though she's actively going to school, can't pass her math test?
Oh, but judge David Niehaus says that "if she passes the test, her father could get out of jail before his six-months sentence is up." Thank you David Niehaus for your generous and fair --- ZZZZTTT GOVERNMENT COMPLIANCE CIRCUITS FAILING --- Nowwaitjustagoddamnminute, how is this guy supposed to help his daughter pass the test if he's in jail??
ZZZTTTT ... This blog post is now interrupted by this Big Booming Governmental Voice:
"Be careful children, because Nanny Government is watching you! If you break any of our arbitrary rules you too may find your parents taken away because obviously they are very bad people and you deserve to be taken care of by the magnificent and omnipresent State. We'll make sure you get the indoctrination .. ahem .. education you need that your parents are unworthy and furthermore incapable of providing, despite their meaningless, pitifull attempts. Do not resist. You will bend to our desires. Don't worry, out of all of this, you will become a more productive and obedient citizen of our slave-driven society, we promise!"
ZZZZTTT -- Think for yourselves People!
The courts are subverted. They will never serve us. They serve the desires of big government and we're only going to see more and more of this leviathan usurp our rights and lay waste to our economy and our liberties.
Oh, and fuck you DIS-honorable David Niehaus.
Next Page »