These ideas are lodged deep within my heart. Human history and our own experience reveals our nature, and our rulers make our lives harder when they act in opposition to that nature. Below are a list of my beliefs, the same beliefs that inform my vision for our town. This list will grow from time to time.
Self Interest is Natural and Good
Understanding the difference between self interest and selfishness is important. Selfishness is not a common characteristic for regular folk. Sure, most of us are a little indulgent on occasion, but we generally do right by ourselves (avoiding self harm), our loved ones (not hurting those we care about), and society as a whole (like not stealing from or killing strangers, or standing in line semi-patiently at the grocery store). Self interest, to the extent that we understand what’s best for us, extends all the way out to what keeps the peace in all of civilization.
Voluntarism over Coercion
In this life there are things we have to do and things we want to do. Everything we do falls into one of these categories. Aren’t you happier when you do things because you wanted to? I can get stressed or resentful because of the things I have no choice about. Our rulers would have us believe that without their threat of violence, society would descend into chaos. They’d like us to doubt our own ability to be productive or make good decisions without that threat of punishment.
What most of us don’t realize is that even though there are thousands of criminalized activities, the reason we don’t feel particularly constrained is because we have no inclination to break most of those laws in the first place. Seriously, how many of us know all the laws that exist even just on the local level? Did you know it’s illegal to park your car in your own yard? Why isn’t that common knowledge? It’s because our inclination is to use our driveways. In this case, who cares if we park in our yard on occasion? But think of all the more serious crimes. Harming people, taking their stuff, or damaging their property doesn’t come naturally to almost any of us, because whether we realize it or not, we like feeling secure in our own lives and possessions. We have no motive for giving other people a reason to do any of those things back to us, right?
The greatest exception to this rule happens to be our rulers and those that serve them. Yet we endure without return fire. Without stealing their money when they violate a traffic law, imprisoning them when they violate our rights, without killing them when they would certainly kill us, and have. Are we just a bunch of cowards? I don’t think so. I think we are by and large far more civilized than the kind of people who seek the power to rule.
This comes back to self interest. Even if the laws weren’t on the books, who would want the reputation of a thief, murderer, vandal, etc? Who would want to risk a neighbor’s retaliation for those actions when getting along is so much easier most of the time?
In short, voluntary action reveals human nobility. Coerced action reveals human weakness. The smaller your government, the more voluntary your life and I promise, the more you can enjoy it.
We are the Economy
We are the economy. You and I. Everything we buy or don’t buy, sell or don’t sell, every decision we make with our money. All that going on at the same time, second by second, day by day, is what makes an economy. When politicians and news media discuss the economy, they’re talking about all of us and the multitude of decisions we make. Describing the economy is pretty simple, but understanding what’s going on takes a lot of research. It’s difficult enough that it takes entire firms to come close, and they make lots of money just coming close.
Politicians are even less connected than the rest of us because government isn’t accountable to the economy. They are the last kind of people you want impacting how we invest our money. When they budget they borrow against future taxes, steal from unrelated funds like the rainy day or social security, erase debt, extend their own credit, give themselves raises, raise taxes, put quotas on traffic ticket issuance, you name it. They’re living in a taxpayer funded fantasy land, they’re somehow still strapped for cash, and think they know better than all of us together how to order all the tiny financial decisions we make from day to day.
So my belief is simple. We are capable of making our own decisions and will find greater prosperity in Lawton when we do. Governments were not set up and aren’t equipped to control the economy – to control us. Get the government out of the economy and watch Lawton grow. Because it will. A lot.
Freedom for You is Freedom for Me
In our country on every level of government there are groups and individuals calling for more laws. Each of them has usually a single issue that they care about, and to hell with the rest. Issues like abortion, marriage, the environment, the regulation of industry, animal welfare, the poor, gun violence, and many, many others. Each of these groups wants to restrict the liberty of other groups based upon the claim that their position is morally superior.
When these activist groups get their law passed they also lose the same freedom they just took from everyone else. They don’t feel the loss of course, because right now they aren’t exercising that freedom. But what happens when they need it? It will be lost, and will have to be won back from the same government that granted their wish to restrict it in the first place. And it has been in this way that we’ve lost countless degrees of liberty over the years.
A good example is the marriage license. We brought the tradition of licensing marriage over from the state-run Church of England, who enjoyed control and revenue from it. In the U.S. we have seen it used to prevent interracial marriages and now gay marriages, and every time we run into a problem with the license, we call for the ‘right’ to include yet another group under the corrupt umbrella of government marriage licensing. Shouldn’t we be taking marriage away from the government? Is it any of their business who you decide to spend your life with?
Apply this logic to every non-violent behavior in society. Instead of trying to use government to force everyone else to behave the way we think they should, instead of asking the government to put us all under their coercive grasp, we ought to fight hard to keep government out of our lives instead of rationalizing the application of government force for our own personal use against people who aren’t violating our rights in turn.
Our Rights are Not Granted by Government
You may have heard this one before. Many of our Founding Fathers believed it as well. Our rights are natural to us and predate the establishment of any government. We are all capable of understanding the right to life, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Despite this they set up a strong national government to bind the states together. Not forever, but at the time it needed to be strong enough to present a unified front and warn off some temporary external threats and influences. Still, we forget that the Constitution and its first ten amendments were drafted as restrictions upon the very government it established. That’s the only reason the several states were convinced to sign up. One Civil War later and we all believe the union is indivisible, but I’ll save that one for a later article.
My point here, my belief, is that our rights come from our nature, just as our tendency to endure bad rulership does. Humans are complex creatures, but you can tell what rights are natural when you think of having to exercise them for the purpose of self-governance or even survival. How can we not be allowed to wield weapons capable of protecting our lives, loved ones, property? How can it be true that we have no right to speak on the matter of our own circumstances? Is it that hard to believe that in order for there to be a crime, there must be a victim?
If our rights came from rulers, then they could and would have taken them all away by now. Ruling is easier with subjects that have no rights. They don’t strip us of our rights because those rights are not and will never be entirely in their hands. All we need do is shrug.