Recently at a dinner party some friends and I got talking politics. I know, dangerous. Yes, dangerous but important. I do not subscribe to abstinence when it comes to talking about two very important issues of life: politics and religion. We will save religion for another article. The trick is to control ones emotions so that all voices can be heard and that anger and contention is not introduced. Easier said than done perhaps, but critical. Remember these are all my friends and no difference of political opinion is worth wrecking the relationship over.
One friend, whose political stance I didn’t know well, asked me the question: “Yeah, but what laws have actually affected you personally, other than tax law.” He conceded the most obvious point, taxes. This fellow, who I have great affection for and consider a wonderful friend recently moved from the Pacific Northwest and therefore I might assume he is a little more left leaning than I am, however we share the same religious foundation and therefore I suppose we don’t differ radically, but who knows.
Anyway, I answered the question:
- Laws that coupled health care with employers and forever bound my health insurance options to my employment options. This is totally absurd. My employer should have nothing to do with it. The system should function more like the auto insurance system does, private and under my control.
- ObamaCare which has recently made my employers healthcare costs climb and which has required them to change from a magnificent 100% coverage plan with a $15 co-pay to a plan of 80/20 split with a deductible and co-pay.
- ObamaCare which has taken away my freedom to choose not to be insured if I so desired. Now choosing not to have health insurance can result in a crippling fine and even prison.
- McCain Feingold campaign finance reform, although now overturned, restricted my right to free speech and in so doing didn’t accomplish what it intended but instead drove political funds into private entities that are not required (and appropriately so) to disclose where they get their money.
- Laws that bloat and protect public employee pension programs at the expense of the rest of the state budgets which results in year over year budget cuts to the schools my children attend.
- Restrictions on the 2nd amendment which do not allow me to carry a firearm into certain areas of the country. Most notably schools, which leaves them extremely vulnerable and void of anyone that could respond instantly to an attack.
- Building permit laws which require that I pay the State money to get a permit to build anything on my land if it is over 9 feet tall. Even if is a swing set, or a shed for my lawnmower.
- Seat belt laws, bike helmet laws: In understand these laws are well intentioned and I understand them in the case of protecting minors, but for adults we should be free to make our own choice on these matters and not be threatened by a powerful state with fines and or jail time.
- And of course the tax law, which he conceded, that takes about 40% of my income away by force and threat of imprisonment.
- And there are many others…
Not everything that is good should be mandated by law, and not everything that is bad should be restricted by law. If fact most of them shouldn’t be. But let’s go back and examine the question for a moment: “What laws have affected you personally?” The implication is that if a law doesn’t affect me personally then why should I care? I think this is the wrong way to think about it. The laws allowing slavery would not have affected me personally but you better believe I would be adamantly apposed to them. They affect others and the society I live in, and my children live in. I want America to be as biased towards individual freedom as possible – for all of it’s citizens, and only when there is a clear and present danger should the State and it’s police step in and create a law or take action to protect and/or control us.
Laws prohibiting murder, stealing, arson, and slander, for example are appropriate because they inflict upon another's unalienable rights of life, liberty, and private property. Notice I didn’t complain about the speed limit laws, if there were fewer cars in the country, or they could only go 35 MPH, then I would say we don’t need them. But the danger is clear when you have so many and deaths because of them are so prevalent.
The immigration laws, or lack of them, or lack of their enforcement don’t affect me personally (not yet) because of where I live. (I admit that I could argue this the other way too, but for now I will take this approach). I believe that immigration is a beautiful thing that adds to the richness and renewal of our Country; but only when it is done with order. The chaotic mess we have now threatens us organizationally. It’s not because of their culture or country of origin. It’s simply because we have no idea what is really happening and that is not a force for good for any of us. We need lots of immigration, much more than our legal system allows for right now. But we don’t need any illegal immigration. It disrupts society and sets us all at odds with one another and creates disadvantages that are not helpful. We should have tight control on illegal immigration and a lenient policy of legal immigration. Basically, if you don’t have criminal history, and can speak basic English, then you should be allowed in. I think the language component is critical because nothing divides people faster than the inability to communicate.
But this is not an article on immigration, or any other specific law. What I am talking about is, when are laws appropriate? Our founders setup a system of government that restricted the it to specific enumerated powers and explicitly stated that all other un-enumerated rights are in the hands of the people. The problem has been that we the people have been too egger to delegate our powers to the state and trust them to tell us how to live our lives. In some cases we delegate powers that we in fact do not have and thereby give the government powers they should have never been given because we did not have them in the first place.
The God of heaven gave us three gifts at the dawn of time: first LIFE, second AGENCY (or the ability to choose) and a Plan for Happiness when he reveled his will through religion. I find it no accident that our Founding Fathers declared three divinely given rights that this country would be founded upon: LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS. We must error on the side of individual liberty and delegate that sacred gift to the State only when there is a clear and present need to do so. Forfeiture of this power without sufficient cause will bind our ability to grow as individuals and retard our capability to achieve great things in the future.