August 23, 2013
"Mr. Speaker: We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to so appropriate a dollar of the public money. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks." -Congressman Davy Crockett
Not one other member of the U. S. House agreed to match Davy Crockett's offer of one week's pay as charity for the widow of a deceased army officer, the subject of the Bill. They would rather give away our money. Nothing has changed.
Many years ago, when I was in the Army, the "hat" was passed for the local charity. Everyone was "encouraged" to give so that the detachment would get a 100% award and the Captain was fairly adamant about obtaining that goal. Now I was in the Army as a draftee and I had to be there. I had no choice. But something comes over me when someone tells me I "must" do something, especially when it concerns what I consider to be a voluntary act. My "back" went up and I said no, rather emphatically. Because I did not give to the local charity and I was the only one that did not give, the detachment did not receive the 100% award.
Needless to say, the Captain was none too pleased with me and called me on the carpet. I believe his words were, "we have places to send people like you" and he alluded to Vietnam. It was 1961 and Vietnam was just heating up. I wasn’t really too keen on going there.
He went on to say that I had better have a damn good reason for not giving, or I was "going to pay", one way or another. As I was standing before the Captain at attention, my mind raced for a good “reason.” I finally blurted out that, "….. on the list of groups that were receiving the charity, I noticed three subversive groups and I couldn’t in good conscience give my money to those groups." My answer satisfied the Captain begrudgingly, but he always had his "eye" on me. It’s a wonder I didn’t end up in Vietnam. Fortunately, I had a bird colonel on my side.
All of my life I have been battered by people telling me what to do, when I fully did not want to do whatever it was they wanted me to do. When I worked at Boeings in Seattle, it was the same thing. They had to get 100% in the local charity drive for each company division. Division heads were dressed down if they didn't get that 100%. But Boeing was really good at convincing us to just have our donation deducted from our salary. That way you won’t miss it. Propaganda! I resisted there too, but paid a price for my resistance.
The reason for my resistance should be obvious. I still consider myself a free spirit, equipped with unalienable rights, as a gift from my creator. One of those rights is the right of free choice. Voluntary charity fits neatly in the right of free choice. To "give" is and should be "MY" choice, not the governments, not the army and certainly not the company for which I am employed. I haven’t been employed by any company for over well 30 years now, as I don’t follow instructions well. In one review of my work, I was told I had an over zealous personal initiative disorder. To this day, I’m not sure what the reviewer meant by this, but I have an idea what he meant …... I don’t "play" well with the other children. Being the maverick that I am, it is probably just as well that I am otherwise self-employed.
Which brings us to the touchy subject of government enforced charity. It seems, according to the government’s definition of charity, I have an absolute obligation to "help" my fellow man and the government is the final arbiter as to the depth of that obligation and who is deserving of my enforced charity. With the force of law and the threat of being grilled, fined, penalized and jailed by the Internal Revenue Service if I don’t comply, it could be construed that my obligation can be any amount that government decides is my "fair share" of that charity. This is not charity ladies and gentlemen, this is servitude! This is enslavement! This is being wrapped in invisible chains! This is removing liberty and the right of free choice! If we do not resist this unconstitutional injustice with all of our might, if we do not tell others to resist, we deserve to be slaves.
At the risk of offending a large segment of the American people, let me be succinct: "I owe nothing to anyone that I don't freely choose to give."
Let me be even more succinct: "I owe nothing to society, my country, or anyone person or persons except honor, self-reliance, independence and individual responsibility, as my capabilities allow."
The essence of true freedom is free choice. Without free choice we are but slaves to whomever wish to dominate us and unfortunately the world is full of those who would dominate us, as individuals and as a nation. If we are not free to choose, then we are not free. It is no more complicated than that.
I choose to be compassionate of my own free will because being compassionate has value to me and to my life, not because I may go to Hell if I do not show compassion. And my compassion is strictly limited to those who truly cannot help themselves, family and friends. My compassion is not extended to those who have two working arms, two working legs, a reasonably functioning brain and in good health. Let the lessons of life's adversities bring them to self-reliance, independence and individual responsibility. If we do otherwise, then we breed a nation of weaklings who would rather be servants to their handlers (slaves) than stand tall and proud as free men.
Oh yes, I know I will hear from some religious people saying that "... we are our brother's keeper", as they fall back on what they were taught in Sunday school. That irrational compassion for the functioning weak and free loaders among us and to those who illegally invade our sovereignty as a national mindset, are what have brought us to the brink of national bankruptcy and threaten our very existence as a free and prosperous nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I was not created to serve my fellow man, nor were you. I serve the essence of my life because I WAS created, as do all living things. I was pre-programmed to preserve that life at whatever cost, as survival is an absolute requirement for the preservation of life. If there are those (individuals, groups, or governments) that choose to take my possessions without my permission, or take my life, I am pre-programmed to vigorously defend my possessions and my life by whatever means as an act of self-preservation, if I strongly believe that my possessions and my life have value to me. If I see little value in my possessions or my life, or I am unwilling to defend them, then I am easy prey for those who are determined to dominate me.
I had no choice in my creation. I had no choice in my early environment, even though I am a product of that creation and that environment. I only owe my parents respect, if they are worthy of respect. I only owe respect to authority if that authority is not corrupt. I only owe respect to others if they too are worthy of respect and they are self-reliant, independent, individually responsible and honorable within the limits of their capabilities. However, as an act of free choice, I have compassion for those, who through no fault of their own, cannot be self-reliant, independent and individually responsible. I have a special niche of compassion for those brave men and women in uniform that serve, or have served our country, on or off the battlefield.
I owe my children the solemn duty to prepare them for adulthood by instilling in them and teaching them pragmatic moral values and the value of self-reliance, independence and individual responsibility, as absolute requirements for survival and freedom. If I am incapable of doing that, I have failed in that solemn duty and I have failed in my duty to my country, for I will have created an extra burden on society for which society will have to pay.
If I start a business, I owe nothing to anyone. Those who speak of "corporate responsibility" are those who wish to dominate us by guilt. If however, I create a product or a service that offers value and meets expectations and I do no harm, I will prosper and my customers will be happy. If I do the opposite, the free market will remove me from business and I will have failed in business. That is the essence of a free market.
To many of our readers this must seem harsh, self-indulgent and almost arrogant if you will. But this is the harsh reality of all life, if life and liberty are to be preserved. My only duty to others is to treat them as I wish to be treated. That duty is manifested in my efforts to act with honor and do no harm to others.
Government's role is to protect all of us within our nation's borders from harm from enemies, foreign and domestic and to protect all of us from the harm that individuals or groups may inflict on others, within reason. Government's other duty is to stay within the limits of its power and protect the rights of the individual as the absolute mandate contained in our Constitution. That is the essence of a fair and just government. Government's role is not to exceed the limits of its power, or buy votes or crony favors with our money, or over-regulate and over-tax our possessions, our property and our life, for that is the essence of an arrogant and fascist government, bent on total domination.
The substance of what we have delineated here was plainly laid out at the end of the speech given by John Galt in Ayn Rand's fictitious novel entitled, "Atlas Shrugged", from which we now quote:
"In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.
"But to win it requires your total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is a sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.
What John Galt said is the very essence of individual liberty, the irrevocable gift from our creator. It is the substance of what millions of men and women have died for in the defense of freedom. No matter what you may think about his words, they are not a repudiation of compassion, as compassion is an act of volition ..... an act of free choice. Compassion is not and never should be, a mandate from government because a government mandate is the antithesis of free choice. The American people are the most generous people on Earth, if government doesn't suck them dry to buy votes or favors.
It is clear. The window for free Americans to save individual liberty is rapidly closing. The time and the place to act are right now. There may never be another chance, our situation being that dire. Without a clear understanding of what individual freedom means, there can be no strong commitment to reclaim it, much less preserve it.
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Many years ago, around the time the Declaration of Independence was written, a famous man said: "The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance." This is not only appropriate to the defense against the enemies we can see, but it is doubly appropriate to the defense of the enemy we can't see, that dreaded enemy of all ..... apathy! Time is running out as the door to freedom is almost closed. And when the giant door of liberty clangs shut in your forlorn faces and the last faint ring fades quietly into the night, may each of you remember in anguish, the opportunity you had to keep that door open and may your inaction burn forever in your memories, like a red hot branding iron on your bare skin. If this day comes to pass, and it may, you will have forsaken your duty to your children and grandchildren and your individual duty to be honorable, self-reliant, independent and individually responsible, the very essence of freedom and free choice. You owe nothing to anyone except ..... self-reliance, independence, individual responsibility and your sacred honor.
© 2013 Ron Ewart - All Rights Reserved
Ron Ewart, a nationally known author and speaker on freedom and property issues and author of his weekly column, "In Defense of Rural America", is the President of the National Association of Rural Landowners, (NARLO) a non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington State and dedicated to restoring, maintaining and defending property rights for urban and rural landowners. Mr. Ewart can be reached by e-mail for comment at email@example.com, or by 'phone at 1 800 682-7848.