Individual Rights Belong to Everyone

Some polls are showing that a majority of Americans feel that the government is out of control. This is based on continuing revelations about the IRS targeting politically incorrect groups, as well as the Justice Department seizing information from journalists.

It’s interesting that it takes scandals such as these to drive the point home. What’s interesting about our government is not the scandals coming to light, but the things that never became scandals—yet should have.

In the last few years, the federal government has virtually seized control of the lending industry and the automobile industry. It did so in the name of an economic crisis, but all governments justify whatever they wish in the name of economic crisis. Ditto for the health care industry, now almost exclusively in the hands of the government as new laws take effect this and next year.

Crisis? Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were a response to ‘crisis,’ and crisis is no justification for anything.

Americans tolerated, and in large numbers even approved of, most of these measures. They reelected the President responsible for most of them, at least most of the recent seizures of private property and the products of private enterprise.

It seems that a majority of Americans are not especially offended when it’s ‘only’ members of the business world who are throttled by government. Americans only become upset—and probably then, only temporarily so—when it potentially affects them personally.

This shows a depressing lack of attention to principle. Individual rights is a principle. Freedom depends on this principle. It’s not something that only applies when convenient; it applies across the board.

Some who now express horror at the government singling out a political group—any political group—for special harassment at least sense the importance of principle. ‘It’s not about the Tea Party. It’s about the government punishing any politically active group, merely for having a view that offends the government.’

It’s too bad that sense of principle was not present when government did all the other things to violate the rights of individuals.

The recent revelations and scandals are an opportunity for Americans to unite under core principles. The two major parties are constantly blaming the other for all that ails us. But each of these parties—Democratic and Republican—have one thing in common: Refusal to identify any principles. You would think in the wake of these scandals that somebody would emerge as a leader, particularly on the Democratic side, and say, ‘This isn’t right—no matter who the victim is.’ That’s not happening, at least not yet, which means it’s up to the American people to override their two party system and take a stand on principle. Will it happen? No evidence of this yet, but I suppose time will tell.

Individual rights belong to everyone. Increasingly, Americans have—over the decades, and in the last few years more than ever—allowed their government to cross over boundaries never envisioned by the Framers of the original Constitution.

Government passes a law and decides it owns the health insurance industry. The EPA imposes regulations because the government has decided it should control the amount of economic productivity allowed in a society. Government sets the standards and the norms, and all must follow. This is not liberty; it’s the progression of tyranny. And those who tolerated these violations of individual rights have no business feeling surprised or shocked when government goes a few steps further than ever before, as the Obama administration has evidently done.

Human beings possess free will. They’re free to reverse course at any time, and to require their governments to do so. The United States was founded on the overthrow of a monarchy. Neither liberty nor tyranny are inevitable.

You cannot overthrow tyranny or injustice without reference to an objective principle. That principle should be individual rights, at least if liberty and freedom are the goal. Individual rights refer to each human’s moral and corresponding political right to be free from the initiation of force.

If the things our federal government has been doing the last few years don’t qualify as the initiation of force, then nothing does. If the government’s seizure of journalist files and the use of the IRS to harass individuals “unfriendly to the King” does not reawaken a new generation of Americans, then I cannot imagine what will. If Americans are not prepared to defend the principle of individual rights in the arena of First Amendment rights, then there will—very shortly—be nothing left to defend at all.

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