December 5, 2012
Limiting GovernmentBy Sylvia Bokor
Individual rights have been bastardized. There is no such thing as "a right to a job," "a right to health care," "a right to a decent home," et cetera. No one can transform the actions of those that create products and/or services into another's purview.
Today, violations of individual rights are so pervasive that many Americans are ignorant of what individual rights actually are and of the extent to which their rights are daily violated.
Individual rights are not rights to the skills, knowledge, and/or products that others create. Individual rights are rights to actions.
The right to life is the freedom to take those actions to sustain one's life. The right to property is the right to keep what one earns. The right to liberty is the freedom to move about freely, uncoerced, to visit and/or live and seek work where one chooses. The right to the pursuit of happiness is the freedom to take those actions that one believes will result in one's enjoyment of life.
Inherent in the principle of individual rights is the proviso that no one may violate the rights of others. There can be no "right" to violate rights.
Yet there is a rapacious violator among us and it is not criminals or confused youngsters. It is government -- i.e., elected and appointed officials.
Do you want to start a business? Politicians violate your rights by demanding that you buy a permit to operate it, practice a given skill, sell certain products, handle various chemicals, operate a machine or a vehicle, construct a building, et cetera.
Do you want to expand your business or find a job? Union leaders and politicians collude to violate your rights through minimum wage laws.
Do you want to move to a state that has a better market for your business? Or maybe you want to merge with another business in order to create a more efficient and profitable operation? Politicians violate your right to life, property, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by demanding you ask their permission.
Politicians' violation of individual rights and regulations is symbiotic. That relationship directly affects the growth of government.
Signed into law in 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act was an unprecedented violation of individual rights. Alleged to be a safeguard against "unfair competition," it opened the door to hundreds of violations of individual rights across the board.
During the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt massive interference in the economy began in earnest. In addition to hundreds of executive orders, Roosevelt and his politicians enacted a quantity of regulations that took virtual control of many areas of business. The most destructive and long-lasting were: ending the gold standard; regulating the banking industry; regulating the stock markets; paying farmers to reduce production; forcing wage earners to pay into a "retirement" fund over which they had no control and no choice of investment; forcing employers to allow unionization of their employees and giving organized labor leaders the right to bargain collectively; mandating minimum wage laws.
Amity Shlaes, senior fellow, the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, "Not only through the New Deal, but also through the 1950s and onward the number of workers in the public sector grew. By 1962 they represented an eighth of the national work force." The government had become a behemoth.
The Federal Register, which publishes all regulations indicates by its number of pages the mammoth surge in regulations. From 1975 to 2011, the number of pages increased from 71,224 in 1975 to 169,301.
As the number of regulations grew, recognition and protection of individual rights shrank completely reversing the intention and meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Government was becoming unlimited; individual rights had become limited.
Between 2008 and 2010 the federal government grew by 143,000 employees. By 2009, the number of federal employees alone was more than 2.10 million. Add the 546,000 Postal Service career employees and the number swells to 2,645,000 federal employees.
In 2011, Obama placed on the regulatory agenda 2,676 new regulations. New agencies were formed. More government workers were hired.
Every time a regulation is enacted, it violates the individual rights of every American. The Affordable Health Care Act best exemplifies this fact. It violates the rights of medical personnel, patients, health insurers, insurance clients, medical suppliers, wage earners of every other kind and every home owner. But that's not the end of it. Taking part in that gang rape of our individual rights, the Supreme Court in effect upheld politicians' right to violate rights. Justice Roberts' opinion argued that it was okay to violate our right to life, i.e., to choose what products to buy, because Congress has the authority to violate our property rights, i.e., to levy taxes.
That Supreme Court decision made way for what some have correctly called "a regulatory tsunami." The Affordable Health Care Law alone has already established -- although the work is not even close to completion -- 180 new boards, commissions and bureaus, and created over 13,000 pages of new regulations.
The Dodd-Frank Act -- an act that further regulates an already over-regulated industry -- presently has more than 200 proposals and rules and is not yet completed.
Elected and appointed officials have passed regulations in almost every profession. The regulations distort business projections, interfere with our choices and plans, inculcate uncertainty and undermine risk-taking. They adversely affect income, job opportunities, and general prosperity as businesspeople seeking to protect their enterprises close their plants and/or farm out work to other nations. Further troubling is that the plethora of regulations is causing our most productive and innovative to opt out of the workforce entirely, diminishing economic growth and future prosperity radically.
And still elected and appointed officials write more regulations.
The one protection Americans have against omnipotent government is recognition and protection of individual rights. It is the only mechanism that effectively limits government in size and scope.
To limit government, violation of individual rights must be forbidden. All elected and appointed officials must be prohibited upon penalty of fines and/or imprisonment from violating individual rights in any way for any reason.
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