Effective Gun Control

[Adaptation of post originally written on February 5, 2013]

The President of the United States of America is proposing “common sense gun reforms.” First, I’ll note that a reform is a change, usually implying the improvement of something. If the reform does not lead to change or improvement, can it still be called a reform? Second, how do we refer to something as “common sense,” when common sense suggests that it makes sense in the first place. Limiting freedoms under the auspices of saving lives and reducing violence, only to have more lives lost and increased violence against innocent people does not sound like it makes sense.

Unfortunately, no one seems to really understand what it would take to have effective gun control measures. Many of the advocates of these proposals have even admitted that these measures will not have a significant impact in reducing violent crime. There are three sides to this issue–those that do not believe gun rights should be further limited, those that want to remove guns from public access, and people in the middle that are apparently unaware that half-measures are pointless, if there’s going to be any impact. The middle-ground in this case is for those that do not understand the theories behind either of the other positions.

Background checks do very little to deter or prevent crime, but become popular due to the wishful thinking that they will help keep guns out of the hands of felons, etc. The fact of the matter is that most people that commit crimes with guns either: a) Did not have a prior record and pass the background check; or b) Get their guns another way (theft, illegal purchase, etc.). On the other hand, they do make it more costly and bothersome for law-abiding citizens to get guns and background checks also create a default gun registration for any citizens that decide to purchase a gun. Proposed changes also create gun confiscation programs (in case any of you thought that was off the table because you don’t want it). More people are seeking mental health care as stigmas around it are decreasing and availability is increasing. However, as requirements are increased for psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc., to report diagnoses to the government, the current movement is towards confiscating guns from people seeking treatment. This will start to reverse the trend of actually seeking help and likely affect numerous people that are not a safety risk. If you don’t think anyone is talking about confiscation, look at the measures being proposed around mental health…and getting a diagnosis is not difficult (unless it would mean a disability rating for medical discharge from the military).

State and local gun control measures make even less sense than federal gun control (just as banning rifles makes even LESS sense than banning handguns). One would hardly think that was possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe the federal government should enact gun control measures, or that they have a right to do so (I’m pretty sure I’ve addressed that enough in previous posts). But I’m going to, once again, add more fuel to the fire by describing the actions that would NEED to happen in order for gun control to have the desired effect.

IF gun control actually worked, state-level action would be the most ineffective way to accomplish it, next to local ordinances. Look at New York (and New York), Illinois (and Chicago), California (and Los Angeles), and Washington, D.C. All of them have strict gun laws. All of them have high crime rates using firearms.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to keeps guns out of the hands of criminals, but it is even harder to keep guns out of the hands of criminals when there are geographical neighbors with guns and weak control of borders (points of entry).

Let’s just say that a city banned all guns (not just rifles, since handguns are used in far more crimes than all other types of guns combined) and ammunition for any reason whatsoever (goodbye Second Amendment). They might claim that since no one has a gun, no one needs a gun, even for self-defense (completely ignoring the problem of government tyranny). Would you feel safer in that city?

Let’s say that they were so dedicated to being gun-free that they banned guns from law enforcement. Would you feel safer now?

But wait, there are all of the people who already had guns before the ban took effect. This means that people would still be able to obtain guns, which could still be used for crime in the city. It has been estimated that there are about as many guns in the United States as there are people, in the hands of about a third of the population. If the city wanted to get rid of all guns, they would first need to get all of the guns, otherwise, their law is pointless, having failed to reduce the number of guns in the city. Many places have called for citizens to turn in their guns. What criminal would do that?

Since it is absolutely idiotic to think that criminals will give up their guns voluntarily, the next option is to wait for guns to turn up in a crime. This method means that more crimes will have to be committed than there are guns, because criminals often commit more than one crime before getting caught and there are regularly cases when the weapon is not recovered. We could count on decades of crime with guns only in the hands of criminals. Of course, citizens who became criminals by keeping their guns would also keep the door open for the theft of more guns by criminals. The only way to ensure that all guns are out of the city, and thereby keep everyone safe from gun-related violence, would be to actually confiscate all guns.

The first task of confiscation would be knowing where to start, which would mean gun registration. Unfortunately, we can be certain that many gun owners (and the criminals) would not voluntarily register their guns (goodbye fifth amendment). This means that every home and location in the city would have to be searched (goodbye fourth amendment). These searches would certainly have significant results, but cannot possibly be expected to recover all of the guns in the city. There are just too many places to hide those guns. But again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they somehow recovered every single gun in the entire city.

How can they now keep all guns out of the hands of everyone in the city in order to prevent gun-related violent crime?

The next problem would be new guns coming into the city. Remember, only the city has implemented these controls so far, while the rest of the state has a “gun problem.” In order to ensure that guns from other cities do not enter this city, we would have to set up a border with strict controls. The trick to securing an area is to limit and control the entry points. This would mean only a few ways in or out of the city, with walls and patrols around the remaining area. The entry/exit points would have to be guarded and every individual and every part of every vehicle searched. Think about airports, only searching cars.

This would quickly get ridiculous, as you can imagine, which would necessitate controlling who is permitted in and out of the city. Only limited traffic that is considered essential for the city could be allowed, otherwise it would overwhelm the searches and guns would get into the city (goodbye freedom of movement).

Naturally, this would be easier if all of the neighboring cities followed the same rules. So pass a state law. Now, all of the same problems present themselves again, only at the state level. The state would need stronger borders against other states that do not have the same laws.

But wouldn’t it be easier if every state in the nation followed the same rules? Now we have federal laws to accomplish what the city was trying to do (with the same loss of rights across the nation, instead of one city).

Oops! We forgot about our porous borders with Mexico and Canada, as well as our broad coasts and booming commerce. We would have to seal up every border area to ensure no guns come in from other countries, otherwise we have the same problem with criminals and guns. This means the exact same scenario as the city trying to protect itself from guns from other cities, except between nations.

The only solution to this seems to be regional laws across nations. We would need a treaty to eliminate firearms from all neighboring countries. Perhaps a Union of Americas. With the oceans separating us, there would be greater difficulty in getting guns into the Americas from other continents.

Difficult, but not impossible or unusual. Even with our efforts to keep illegal products from entering the U.S., we still get contraband from other parts of the world, not only from the Americas. One answer might be to stop trade and tourism between hemispheres (goodbye commerce). But a better answer might be to institute the same gun control measures all over the world. After all, isn’t it already working for the U.S.? Or wouldn’t it be at this point, if we did these things?

Perhap a U.N. treaty could bind everyone together by the same laws. Once the entire world is following the same laws, we would finally be safe from guns (nevermind that there is a UN treaty to ban firearms being considered by the U.S. That sounds conspiratorial). Now, everyone could travel throughout the world without worrying about gun violence. Of course, that would mean removing guns from military and law enforcement, as well. Not only would they no longer be necessary, but their possession of guns could pose a risk to everyone else, including if they were stolen.

Now, in each of these cases, from the local to the global, law enforcement/military would need to continue to possess firearms for a period of time. This would be necessary to stop the threat of those who are attempting to keep their guns from the government.

Knowing what it would take for gun control to have any real impact on crime, why would gun owners be concerned about confiscation of firearms?

The scenario that is more likely than what I described (because it is the pattern used in Engalnd, Australia, other countries, and slowly in the U.S.) is a gradual slice-of-the-pie method of slowing, targeting, and eliminating guns. The reason for this is because everyone that actually looked at both sides of this debate understands that confiscation of guns is the only level of gun control that could possibly affect gun violence (although not overall violence).

If anyone claims that gun control measures do not mean that people will be taking away your guns, they are ignorant or LYING! It is either a lie that it will reduce gun crime, or it is a lie that they are not going to take away guns. Instead, they will make it more difficult to buy guns and ammunition, limit who can purchase/own guns, identify who has guns, ban some types of new guns, ban other types of new guns, ban some types of guns altogether, ban more guns altogether, confiscate the guns banned, ban all guns completely, and then confiscate what is left.

People will still die violent deaths. Criminals will still rape and torment and kill adults and chilren. You will be less able to protect yourself or your family. Although there are fewer guns, criminals will still get them. Criminals will also carry knives, which are far easier to make than guns, and still illegal for you to carry.

So, pick a side. Decide if you’re in favor of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, or if you’re in favor of eliminating private ownership of guns, but don’t be duped into thinking that half-measures will actually accomplish anything.

 

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Liberty Requires God As Ultimate Judge

Natural law is the law by which we are bound in the state of nature. The state of nature is defined as having no judge between one person and another, except for God. If someone violates our rights under natural law, they will be accountable to God and we are accountable to God for our response–whether it is just or not.

To protect our rights and to have an impartial judge, we create governments with common, known laws. This provides more consistency and moderates the tendency towards excessive punishments. It creates a more immediate source that we can look to for appeal against those that violated our rights.

Unfortunately, because we are fallible, injustice will still occur. When it does, we have given up our authority to take matters into our own hands and, when all appeals under the law have failed to provide justice, we are again left to appeal to God for justice. When under the laws of a government, we no longer have the authority to place the life, liberty, or property of others in jeopardy when they violate our rights–we give that authority to the government. Without God as the Ultimate Judge, the government would be our final appeal.

There are two basic beliefs that deny this appeal to God for justice:

1) Denying the existence of God.

2) Believing that God exists, but has given the authority to judge (placing the rights of life, liberty, and property in jeopardy) to people.

Without an appeal to God, our hopes for peace and justice are dependent on governments. This requires world government, in order to create an appeal at the highest level of our ability–laws that govern everyone on earth to ensure justice between nations and between people of various nations. The end results of this will still include injustice, because we will never be infallible–but that does not prevent various religions and ideologies from trying to create a perfect system, where perfect justice would exist.

Liberty cannot exist in a world government, because there is no place left to go–there cannot be choice in belonging to a government when the government encompasses everything, leaving no ability to leave the bounds of its authority. The result is that world government would violate our rights by its very existence.

The only belief that is consistent with liberty is the belief in God as the Ultimate Judge, who maintains the authority to judge our actions after this life, whether they are just or not.

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Open Carry: Rights and Duties

If you have read any of my other posts about the right to bear arms, you know that I have a strong opinion about what natural law allows in this regard. That being said, so as not to mince words, I will sum up this post with the following equation:

Restaurant/Business = Private property = No right to carry

Restaurants and businesses also have rights–which include refusing business to anyone they choose (although that right is at risk lately, as well). Their decisions are likely to be based on what they think is best for their business. All this talk of open carry “rights” loses it’s meaning when those carrying firearms leave the public areas and enter private property (such as businesses) that belong to someone else. When we do so, we are only carrying at the good pleasure of the business owners and management. Recently, some of those carrying firearms in the open gained attention on media and social networking sites, when they wore out their welcome and forced business decisions.

Even as an advocate for the Second Amendment, I cannot be more clear on this point: THERE WAS NO VIOLATION OF RIGHTS by the restaurants or businesses. Support for 2A has nothing to do with supporting ignorance and potential violations of the rights of others. It is a natural (and secondary) right to carry a firearm, whether open or concealed–because we have the right to protect ourselves from the loss of that which the government cannot restore upon appeal–namely our lives (John Locke, Second Treatise on Government). But duties ALWAYS accompany rights–and we always have a duty to respect and defend the rights of others–this is the price of freedom and especially of entering into society with established laws.

The right to self-defense (and the means necessary for it) do not extend to those places where we are not required to go (e.g., businesses and restaurants) and one right (self-defense) does not permit us to violate the rights of others (private property, peaceful assembly, etc.) as though we were entitled to do whatever we want, whenever we want. If you want to enter someone’s home: ask! If you want someone to allow you to carry a firearm in their business–be polite and demonstrate by your actions that they can trust you with a firearm in their business! That is the difference between the mentalities I have seen in recent weeks–entitlement vs. responsibility. The type of weapon carried is of little concern to me if it still communicates respect for the rights of the people who are allowing you to enter their business. This is the difference between civilized and uncivilized.

If I were not allowed to carry, but concerned for my safety–I would not enter that business. If I felt comfortable entering a business with whatever they allowed me to bring in–I would do business there. That is how my liberty allows me to maintain my rights. If anyone wants to debate a right to carry, they must understand that this right affects only public space (and your own private property)–otherwise it would violate the primary rights of liberty and property, which would also take away from our rights of reasonable means of self-defense to protect life on our own property.

Picture this: Businesses are forced to allow customers to carry firearms into their businesses in the name of rights of self-defense. This would mean, first, that these businesses are REQUIRED to serve people they may not want to serve–this means they are not able to make business decisions for themselves. Their liberty (OUR LIBERTY) to choose would be limited. Second, this would mean that our property (the investment we put into our business and our real property upon which we do business) is not ours to do with as we see fit–to our profit or loss. Instead, we would be forced to allow other people to do things that would threaten our property and prosperity. Third, if we do not have the ability to limit what we are willing to allow people to have (such as firearms) and do (such as holding those firearms in a threatening  or intimidating manner) on private property, then what ability do we have to prevent threats to our lives and property? We would be required by law to allow people to get so close to us with weapons that we would not be permitted to respond until someone’s life will have been lost. This is ridiculous to suppose and violates the very premise that some of these “advocates” of open carry are suggesting as their reasons for carrying firearms–to protect life and property.

The nature of rights is such that one cannot and does not negate another. Any right ends where it violates the rights of another. My right to bear arms ends where it violates the rights of others. I am adamantly in favor of the right to bear arms because it is necessary for the preservation of the rights to life, liberty, and property. But I am for ALL RIGHTS, not only the right to bear arms. If we reject the rights of others to make decisions for themselves on their own property, or in their own businesses, we will have already lost those rights that our arms were intended to protect.

I am glad to see people genuinely interested in protecting and restoring their rights. I am incensed when I see people violating the rights of others. This is why I believe this topic has created such a split among supporters of the Second Amendment–there are those who, like me, see these actions as further violating rights, rather than defending and restoring our rights. Whenever rights are violated, the tendency is to turn towards stricter laws, that often swing in the direction of further limiting freedom. Reason, judgment, and civility are needed to strike an appropriate balance between the duty to preserve rights and the duty to restore rights.

I would encourage everyone involved in advocating for rights to consider three things:

1) The difference between, and purposes of, primary and secondary natural rights.
2) The duties that accompany the rights you wish to preserve or restore.
3) The tendency to forfeit some rights in an attempt to preserve another right.

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Secession and Revolution

Neither a state, a group of states, nor any other group in the United States of America has the right to secede from the Union. The process for secession follows a similar pattern as that of states being granted statehood. This includes approval from state legislatures, US Congress, and the President. Any attempts to withdraw a territory of land within the Union without following this constitutional process is illegal and the seceding state remains a legal part of the United States, as was the case when some states attempted to form the Confederate States of America.

Another method of regaining independence from tyranny is revolution, as in the beginning of the United States. Revolution—in this case referring to violent revolt against the standing government—is permitted when that government has already abdicated their authority through the violation of natural rights (John Locke). Revolution in the US is ONLY JUSTIFIED when ALL OTHER constitutionally provided recourses have been exhausted. Some of these include:

Executive power to: veto laws that violate natural rights (a violation of the Constitution is a violation of natural rights); nominate judges for the Supreme Court; ensure free elections that can remove the President, if he violates natural rights.

Legislative power to: review presidential appointees; pass/repeal laws to protect natural rights; impeach the President and other officers of the government if they violate their oath and natural rights; and be removed from office if they do not vote to preserve the Constitution.

Judicial power to: make judgments according to the laws that have been established in the nation, especially determining if lesser laws violate or adhere to the greater law of the Constitution.

States power to: ratify amendments to the US Constitution; hold a Constitutional Convention to adopt a new form of government; and (previously) select senators for the US Senate.

People’s power to: vote freely in order to remove representatives (of offices at all levels of government) that violate their rights; petition the government for redress of grievances; referenda on state laws; and revolution when ALL OTHER RECOURSES have been exhausted and the government has abdicated its authority through the violation of natural rights.

Anything short of these steps is a violation of the Constitution and of natural law—the revolution is not justified. This is the pattern followed by our Founding Fathers. It is only after they had exhausted all of the recourses they had available to them by the laws of England, including asking the tyrant himself for mercy, that they followed the criteria for revolution set out by John Locke, and repeated in the Declaration of Independence, to declare their independence from their oppressors and were free to create their own form of government to preserve the natural rights of the people.

A short recap—the following things would have to BE TRIED in the face of tyranny and FAIL in order to justify revolution:

-Free elections

-Appeal to the Executive Branch

-Appeal to the Judicial Branch

-Appeal to the Legislative Branch

-Constitutional amendments from the states

So far, with all of the liberties we have lost over the years, we continue to have free elections (and elect our own oppressors) and have not exhausted the recourse of state governments.

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Immigration

Liberty includes the right to locomotion. When free government is formed, it is by the consent of the people in forming that government. What is it that binds those who were born in that nation to obey its laws when they are of age? Remaining in the nation.

A child is not bound by the decisions of its parents. Although the parents may decide to be citizens of a nation, a child, when of age to make independent decisions, may decide to leave. This is an important aspect of liberty. “If you don’t like it, move to another country.” This statement is often thrown around inappropriately when there are disagreements about politics. However, it is the right of individuals to do so. If they remain, they are bound to uphold the decisions of the majority, where those decisions fall within the agreed upon rules of government that are established by the Constitution. Governments that prevent or prohibit citizens from leaving the nation have certainly reached tyranny and have left rebellion against the government (whether violent or non-violent) as the only remaining method of reclaiming individual rights.

If we imagine a worldwide government, the conflict is apparent that the liberty of citizens is already lost, due to the inability of that citizen to leave the jurisdiction of the government. They no longer have a choice about which form of government they will follow. Already, we have reached a peculiar point in history in which there seems to be no place on the earth without a government. Many of these governments have created restrictive rules about citizenship, immigration, and even visas, or permission to visit the nation. From a security standpoint, these laws have many benefits. From the standpoint of liberty to flee one government and seek another, this introduces some challenges.

The right of movement and leaving a government is necessary for liberty, but it does not necessarily follow that we have a right to join any society or government that we choose. If a people are to secure the type of government they choose, they must be allowed to set standards for entrance into that group. This has almost always included people who were born as a native of that nation, which means being born to those who are already citizens of that nation. Take the example of a man and a woman, who are citizens of one nation, but have a child while visiting another nation. It would not be reasonable to think that they would be prevented from bringing their child back to the nation of their citizenship, considering the duties and obligations of those parents towards that child. If the child, who is yet unable to give consent to the government of the parents’ nation, does not have a right to give consent and remain when able to do so, he would be forced to leave that nation. If forced to leave the nation, where would he go?

We cannot say that a child, born to two parents with citizenship in another nation, has a right, by nature, to citizenship in the nation where he was born (although this may be allowed by the laws of the birth nation). The child, by birth, is under no contract, because that child is unable to consent to anything. Neither is the nation obligated to preserve the rights of anyone with whom it does not have a contract, which belongs to the citizens of that nation. The parents, not being party to the contract of the government they visit, are in a state of nature with that government, bound only to respect the laws established by their hosts, without violation of their own natural rights.

Here we have the dilemma of immigration. To what degree do we allow those of other nations to seek citizenship in our nation?

Some primary complaints about immigration include: 1) Increased competition for scarce jobs; 2) The use of government resources (particularly social services and government assistance); and 3) Failure to contribute taxes (illegal immigration). There are also complaints from the side of those that are (or would like to) attempt legal immigration, but I will address these later.

Although there have always been concerns and prejudices regarding immigration, the need to keep track of legal immigrants into the country increased with the advent of income taxes. When people were primarily taxed based on purchases or real property, the taxes could be assessed without concern for citizenship. Immigration was largely irrelevant to these methods of assessing taxes.

Once taxes were based on income, it become necessary to keep track of how much each person was paying individually. This task required an increased ability to keep track of who was in the United States and who was working. If the government did not know who was here and who was working, it would be unable to ensure that they were actually paying income taxes.

The need and the ability of the government to keep track of workers increased with the advent of Social Security. Not only did the government need to know who was working and how much they made, it required an account (or record) to be kept of the wages earned and the taxes paid by each worker every year. As a program for citizens of the United States, it also became increasingly important for the government to distinguish between workers who were citizens and those who were not, as this was relevant to the future obligation of the government to make Social Security payments.

As social programs and labor laws increased (including Medicare and minimum wage laws), keeping track of workers became increasingly important for the viability of government. In addition, minimum wage laws increased the appeal of hiring workers who were not citizens. Where income taxes created a necessity for government record-keeping of workers, it also created a mutual incentive for employers and illegal immigrants to avoid reporting to the government. Employers could pay less in both taxes and hourly wage, while the workers could earn some income, while avoiding the increased costs and bureaucracy in gaining work visas and citizenship (resulting from the same government measures).

The proper role of government, however, is the protection of our individual rights. Operating outside of the law often left workers vulnerable to violations of their rights and created a distinct market for human trafficking.

These measures, although in some cases attempts to protect current American citizens, resulted in different classes of work, decreasing the labor market for citizens in some areas. Instead of protecting jobs for citizens, it made some jobs unprofitable for citizens, while hiring citizens for some jobs meant increased costs.

As Congress typically does, it attempted to resolve this problem by increasing the regulation, while also increasing the burden on employers. A following step in this evolution is that increasing numbers of illegal immigrants went from working under-the-table to stealing and purchasing stolen identities (social security info, etc.) in order to work as a “legal,” tax-paying employee, at the expense of those whose identities were stolen.

The results have neither decreased the workforce of illegal employees, nor has it decreased the use of government resources by non-citizens. In fact, laws have increased the access of those who are not legal citizens to taxpayer provided services.

There are steps to improve access to legal immigration, rather than the barriers that have been created. This will only solve part of the problem. As long as we have a tax system based on income and government-provided social programs, there will always be incentives to avoid the standard employer-employee relationship. Income taxes and social programs have REQUIRED the government to be concerned about immigration, because the viability of government services and social programs rely on a strict accounting of workers.

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The Myth of Moral Relativism

A moral is the belief that a person holds about what is right and what is wrong. Moral relativity consists of the idea that what is right for me is not necessarily right for anyone else. The same goes for everyone. Because everyone has a unique experience, we all have unique wants and needs. The idea of unique experience also suggests that no one is ever in exactly the same situation as someone else. There are always some differences that give each person, even if they were twins, a different experience of those situations and events.

First, moral relativity must set aside any beliefs about God, because it denies absolute truth. If there is no certain definition for good or evil that applies to everyone, then the being that one person labels a God might just as well be seen as devil. Or seen as some other imperfect and fallible creature. Without the conception of being good, which necessitates the existence of a definite value for goodness, we could never believe in God (at least not with any consistency in our beliefs). This is certainly hypocrisy among Christians and others who claim to believe in God, yet also claim a belief in moral relativity. Such an amazing stretch of the imagination seems to be an effort to avoid conflict, but conflict, or opposition, is a basic natural law.

Few people actually follow moral relativity to its terminal end. If we are to believe that there are no definite laws that determine right and wrong for all people, then there can be no exceptions. If there are exceptions, however rare those may be, there must be definite, absolute laws that determine right and wrong.

This recognition leads us to consider the most vile and despicable acts that a person could conceive. We cannot simply dismiss these as coming from the insane unless we admit that a definite law applies to those who are insane, where it does not apply to everyone else. Allow me to suggest some despicable acts that should be accepted by moral relativists: murder; murder of little children; cannibalism in any culture, for any reason, and on a regular basis; sexual acts on infants and children; rape; genocide; and slavery. We have examples of each of these being excused by the people who have committed these acts for one reason or another.

If you believe that any or all of those acts are wrong for everyone, then why are they wrong? What is it about that act that offends your conscience?

The answer will come down to a belief about what is right. A moral. Anyone who holds the belief that those are wrong does not believe in moral relativity.

If you believe there are definite morals—there are things that are definitely right and wrong—then where did those morals originate? They must have a source. Some might argue that they are unnatural. Yet they have occurred in different cultures, throughout the world, and across time by people who apparently knew little or nothing about these practices in other areas. If that is the case, how can it be argued that it is unnatural? If we find it in human nature, it suggests two things: 1) Immorality in the nature of humans; 2) The source of morality (right and wrong) is outside of nature. But this tends to lead us back to God and the fallen nature of humans, so let’s consider the next problem with moral relativity.

Second, advocates of moral relativity tend to suggest that, if something is right for an individual, we should not forbid it or even tell them that it’s wrong—because it’s right for them. The inconsistency here should be obvious. If we should not forbid people from doing something, that suggests it is wrong to do so, which is a moral. Otherwise, it may be just as right for me to forbid or ridicule something that I don’t like as it is for them to do it. If I cannot be wrong for ridiculing or forbidding someone else’s actions, then the entire philosophy of moral relativism falls into the realm of “survival of the fittest,” because those who survive will be able to continue their own actions. As such, either moral relativism demands a conception of absolute moral truths (including human rights) or the entire concept consists of useless mental gymnastics. Since, moral relativism demanding absolute morals invalidates itself, I am left to conclude the latter.

In other words, moral relativity is an excuse that attempts to avoid the real conflict, which is the attempt to replace the morals of religions, such as Christianity, with conflicting actions and beliefs. Some recognize that this is the debate: what set of morals should we follow. This is at least an upfront debate in which we can address the conflicting morals, or the different beliefs about right and wrong.

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Principles of Society

What are laws? Laws are rules that are based on the values of the rulers in a society.

What is a society? A society is a group of more than one person that is bound by the Principles of Society, including: Order, Autonomy, Reciprocity, and Sacrifice.

Just as the Principles of Society are universal laws that govern society, there are Natural Laws that govern individuals. These natural laws include the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. When a social unit is formed, these natural rights between each member of the society are bound together by the principle of Sacrifice. In other words, there must be some sacrifice related to each of these natural rights. This is not a sacrifice of these rights, which we are unable to sacrifice, but the sacrifice we make in society is to accept the duty that is now necessary to preserve the rights of all other members of that society. We sacrifice previous duties and prerogatives for increased duties and unity. The creation of society is the expansion of duty. That duty is not to provide for the outcomes we may desire from these rights, but to protect these rights from violation by others.

Our rights were granted from God, but we are more stewards than owners of these rights. This concept becomes clearer if we look at Christ’s parable of the talents, while considering the talents to be a symbol of our liberty, or our ability to use the rights we were given. Because there was a reckoning and each man was held responsible for his use of the talents he was given, it is implied that each man also had the authority to use those talents. This authority represents our rights. So, authority to use the talents represents our rights and the talents themselves represent the liberty we have to exercise those rights.

These rights are individual rights. Although he showed more responsibility and wisdom in fulfilling his duty, the man with five talents was not held accountable for the actions of the man with one talent. Nor was the man with five talents given the right to take that talent from the slothful servant and put it to better use—only the lord had the authority to make that transfer. Neither wisdom nor ability changed the individual rights each man was given while the lord was away.

Because we are stewards and not owners, we do not have the ability to give up our rights. We may work together, as those with talents may have found it advantageous to invest together, but we cannot take rights from another or entirely give up our rights. Had the man with one talent given it away, he would still be responsible for the talent and may have been required to go retrieve it. If he left it in the open for others to take, he would still be responsible for it. If he attempted to select an agent to invest the talent, he would be responsible for the agent he selected. He would also be responsible for selecting another agent, if the first had poor results. The rights we have are unalienable—meaning they cannot be taken away or transferred to another, except by the one that gave us these rights: God. This brings us to the aspect of duty.

Having been given the sole right to act, we have also accepted the duty to act as well. There is no right given without a duty attached. Our natural rights include a duty to preserve and increase our liberty. At best, the man with one talent only preserved that talent, but he did not increase it. As such, he may have fulfilled his duty to preserve, but neglected his duty to increase. This increase of liberty can only happen in society—not by rejecting, but by fulfilling duty. Although we possess liberty in nature, the security of that liberty is uncertain and under constant threat. Joining with a society not only increases our ability to produce, but also improves our ability to secure our rights.

Liberty is expanded to the degree that a society provides the legitimate functions of government (securing liberty), with the least possible cost (of life, liberty, or property) to its citizens. A failure to fulfill duty is a failure to preserve or increase liberty. This also follows the parable of the talents. The man that was given one talent did not fulfill his duty with that talent. No one else had a right to do so. Only the man that was given the talent could fulfill that duty and he was given time to fulfill it. When the lord returned to find that the servant failed in his duty, the talent was taken away from him and, with it, the authority to act.

The individual right to life includes the authority to exact justice when someone violates that right. In a state of nature (before entering into society), the individual is the judge of these violations of right and the punisher of the offender. When an individual’s rights are violated, he may solicit the help of all others, who are willing to help (thereby increasing his ability to act), in order to bring the offender to justice. This authority of each individual to judge and punish is sacrificed when the individual enters society and a common judge is selected. However, in securing a common judge, we also adopt the duty to support that judge in maintaining our rights. In the state of nature, our right to life also includes defense against those who are violating, or attempting to violate, our rights. We also have the right to act in defending the rights of others, in defense of the law of nature. In a society, the defense of the rights of others becomes our duty, rather than our prerogative. Our sacrifice enables the principle of Order to unite the society in the preservation of life and the common protection against offense.

In the state of nature, we also have the liberty of making our own rules to live by, as long as they do not violate the rights of others. When we enter into society, we maintain the liberty to affect the rules by our vote, but we also accept the duty to be bound by the rules established by the majority. This sacrifice relates to the principle of Autonomy, which allows for united actions, while preserving individual liberty.

Finally, we naturally possess the right to private ownership of property, through the labor we put into those things that were once the common product of the earth. We can use (or dispose of) our property however we may choose and no one can rightfully take that property from us, when we have not violated the rights of another person. However, if a society is to function, it requires resources for both protection and enforcement of the laws. Therefore, it is each individual’s duty to provide a portion of work for the functioning of society. The principle of Reciprocity relates to the sacrifice of some property in order to secure the right to property, as well as life and liberty.

There is not a society that is not bound by some form of government, whether formal or informal. The Principles of Society, when rightly understood, should guide us to form a just government, or a government that protects natural rights, rather than violates them. Unfortunately, when individual rights to life, liberty, and property are rejected—and society is viewed as a collective—, the gate is wide open for tyranny.

A tyrant (which I mean to include any group of tyrannical rulers) makes use of Order, Autonomy, Reciprocity, and Sacrifice, but the body of the people is viewed as if an extension of the tyrant’s body and property. The tyrant defines what kind of order will fall on the people. The tyrant is autonomous in his decisions to enact laws and the industry (reciprocity) of the people serves the designs of the tyrant. As such, the tyrant determines the sacrifices that will be made.

If it is our duty to expand our rights, and if our rights can only be expanded in a society, then it is our duty to unite in society with others. However, this does not suggest that we are bound to unite with a particular society. When uniting with a particular society would lead to a loss of rights, it cannot be assumed that duty would require us to unite with it. Instead, our duty would be to form, or unite with, a different society. If no society existed that would not violate our rights, and if we were unable to effect a change in any of those societies, we may rightly keep ourselves separate from society. As long as we are united with a society, it remains our duty to seek the preservation of the rights of all those in that society.

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