Freedom. The Most Dangerous Idea of All

May 14, 2021

By Devin

Freedom is dangerous. I don’t know about you, but I never spent so much as a minute considering the value or importance of freedom during the first 45+ years of my life. Nor did I ever think about the implications of freedom to how we live our lives. It was easy to just enjoy the freedom I was born into assuming that life, as an American at least, would always be that way. Some said, “Oh, this is America. It’ll never change. Certainly communism will never happen here.” What is it they say about saying “never?”

When I was kid, we frequently walked to and/or from school over a mile away. We crossed six-lane highways by ourselves when we were barely 10 years old. We used to walk on weekends a couple of miles away to the soda fountain to get a coke. No parents. We didn’t wear helmets for anything. We rode our bikes all over town, by ourselves. I got my driver’s license at 15 and immediately started driving everywhere. No parents. We drank and drove and it wasn’t even against the law, at first. Then, when it was, nobody enforced it. Seatbelts? Who needed them? When I left home at 18 to go to college, I have no idea how I survived for the next dozen years or so without health insurance. The list of dangerous activities we participated in in those days goes on and on and on.

Then, something happened. Gradually, over time, people started focusing on the need for being safer. To be sure, curbing the drinking and driving was a good thing. Although we haven’t completely stamped it out, imagine how dangerous the road would be nowadays if there were no DWI laws and no social pressure not to drink and drive? But once we sort of accomplished all we could with that, then it was on to the next most dangerous thing. I’m not sure what that was, but certainly at some point, we decided it was safer to wear a helmet while riding bicycles. And safer not to let children roam so far from home without parents. Eventually, the phrase, “Safety is our Number 1 priority!” became a phrase heard from every business in America. Safety. Safety. Safety.

Yikes.

Fear as a means of control

An incident occurred at my church a few weeks ago. I wasn’t there and I don’t know what it was about, but I got an email from the pastor saying that everything was handled well and that there was never any danger to our membership or “the children.” Our pastor stated that as always, “safety is our Number 1 priority.” I thought to myself, since when??? I thought saving souls was our Number 1 priority! Safety? Pffft. Definitely not Number 1! And probably not even Number 2 or possibly even Number 3!

If you’ve turned on a TV and watched the news anytime in the last 20 years, you’ve undoubtedly been subjected to all kinds of news stories about how dangerous the world is and what we need to do to be safe. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Oh, and COVID! If you want a real measure of just how effective the TV is at scaring the living daylights out of people, just look at how we responded to COVID.

So what purpose does all the fearmongering and promotion of safety serve? I will tell you. It serves to take away your freedom. It serves to give those in power, more power.

What total freedom looks like

Let’s go back to North America pre-1492. There was no centralized government in North America. No government at all. No land ownership. No laws. No police forces. No armies. It was truly the definition of Anarchy. The people who lived here were tribal, because tribalism was necessary for survival. And yes, tribes fought each other, but it is a vast continent and horses had not yet been introduced from Europe, so travel was very slow. Interactions were necessarily fewer. And no telephones or even telegrams to communicate messages over long distances. All communication occurred by word of mouth. I submit that in the course of human history, rarely has there ever been a place and time where more freedom was enjoyed by more people than in pre-1492 North America.

Now imagine yourself suddenly being sent back in time to that era here in North America. You might not make it through a single day before someone or something killed you. Or you might survive long enough to learn how to protect yourself. Maybe. Jared Diamond says in Guns, Germs, and Steel that if you didn’t know anyone or weren’t related to anyone, you’d likely have been killed by the first person you encountered. Even now, when two people meet for the first time, they often try to figure out if they know anyone in common. And if they do, somehow that makes them feel better. Now you don’t have to fight to the death! But you might forget each other as soon as you walk away.

Regardless of how you’d fare, one thing is certain, without any laws or law enforcement, you’d experience a level of freedom you’ve never had before. Ever. But with that incredible level of freedom, you would also experience a level of danger like you’ve never had before. Anyone, at any time, could kill you without any repercussions whatsoever. That’s kind of scary. But the freedom. Oh, the freedom! That dude that just offended you? Stick a spear in him and walk away, if you want to. Or not. Total freedom. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing. I’m just saying that is a very, very high level of freedom.

One of my favorite books is Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides. The book is an historical account of New Mexico and the life of Kit Carson. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In the book, Kit Carson lived a life of such amazing freedom as no American in the last 100+ years has ever even imagined. As a legendary Mountain Man he survived and thrived in the wilderness of the Mountain West. He killed anyone who attacked him and no one ever questioned it. It was a supremely dangerous existence. He didn’t have to live that way. He was born in Missouri in civilization. He bolted from an apprenticeship as a teenager for the west and never looked back. He lived by his wits and most importantly, he CHOSE to live the life he lived. The threat of possibly being killed himself did not scare him back to Missouri. And he wasn’t a particularly big man. In fact, he was kind of short and small. Not exactly what you’d think it would take to be a legendary Mountain Man in the early 1800s.

Control and a lack of freedom go hand in hand

My point is, freedom and danger are inseparable. INSEPARABLE. Being free and living in a free society is inherently unsafe. The safer you make your world, the more you limit freedom. How many laws do we have on the books here in America now? Does anyone even know? And how many people are in prison? And how many law enforcement officers are there in America today? And people with cell phones recording everything that happens so they can bust you later if need be? We live in a surveillance state. We have instantaneous communications systems so we can call out whatever forces necessary immediately to handle any lawlessness we want to. (Notice I said “want to,” not “have to.”) There are so many laws on the books now, it’s as Stalin’s Deputy Premier Lavrentiy Beria said, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.” We see that going on now with the selective and politically motivated prosecutions being undertaken by various prosecutors across our nation.

The only way to make sure everyone is absolutely safe is to put EVERYONE in prison. Since that isn’t practical, the next best way is to control every aspect of your life. How do you do that most efficiently? By scaring people into conformity. Let fear be the driver. How do you scare them? You threaten their safety. How do you do that? You show them images of rioting on a nightly basis. You show them interviews of doctors talking about how deadly and dangerous some virus is. You talk about the crime wave. You talk about pedophiles stealing children and trafficking them. You post images of the lost children on milk cartons so everyone is constantly reminded of how dangerous the world is. You talk about war in the Middle East and you do everything you can to stoke it.

You also make sure the rich get richer and the middle class gets poorer. How do you do that? By printing money like it’s going out of style, thus causing rampant inflation, and pumping that money into the stock market so the rich get richer, while raising taxes on the middle class. You jack up the price of gas at the pump by shutting down pipeline projects and prohibiting drilling on public lands and placing a moratorium on horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Then your news media reports all the bad economic numbers and stresses people out.

Finally, you fan the flames of racial tension every day. You highlight every instance of a white police officer causing injury or death to a brown or black person while ignoring the vastly larger numbers of black and brown people killing each other. And ignoring when a black or brown police officer kills a white person (yes, it happens). You make it so brown and black people hate white people and white people are scared of offending brown and black people. These are people who used to live and work side-by-side comfortably, but now look at each other with suspicion. Is my neighbor a white supremacist? Is that guy walking down the street a Black Lives Matter rioter? I’ve lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for over 20 years and now, for the first time, there are posters downtown shouting for white people to leave. Get out now!

Wow.

The natural state of man

As the Founders of the USA believed, and I believe, the natural state of Man is to be free. God made us to be free. With that freedom comes great responsibility. You may have heard that before. But even more importantly, with that freedom comes great danger. And the more freedom you have the more danger you are in. That’s just a fact. The two are inseparable. Some people have a very high tolerance for danger and others have little or none. How do you create a society and a nation that accommodates everyone? It’s not possible. However, you can aim for the sweet spot. You create a system of extremely limited government, just enough laws to punish those who commit the worst crimes, and a police and justice system appropriate in size to carry out the punishment of those who violate the laws. You don’t selectively enforce the laws. You don’t create a political class that is above the laws. You make darn sure the rights of free speech, free exercise of religion, and the ownership of firearms and ammunition are protected absolutely. And people need to understand that they themselves and their families are primarily responsible for their own safety. The police are there primarily as back up and to arrest and charge those who break the laws. Not to be your personal body guard.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Freedom ain’t free.” That’s true. But it’s also true that freedom is dangerous. If you want to live in a world where there is no danger, then I’m afraid you’re going to have a hard time finding a place to live. Certainly America is not your place to be. But if you want to be free to do whatever you want to do, to chase your dreams, and live your life according to your own moral standards, so long as it doesn’t infringe on others’ rights to do the same, then the America envisioned by our Founders is the best place in the world to be. Let’s hope the Socialists, Communists, Fascists, Political Elitists, Big Tech Oligarchs, and finally, the worst of all, the Globalists don’t succeed in tearing our country down and destroying the last best hope for freedom (and the inherent dangers and risks that come with it) the world has ever known, America.

Oh. And KILL YOUR TV!

Forget the Great Depression, 1913 Was Far Worse

by Devin

The 16th and 17th Amendments were ratified in 1913. On February 3, the 16th Amendment gave the federal government the power to “lay and collect taxes on incomes.” Something the Founder’s never intended to happen. And to make matters worse, on April 8, ratification of the 17th Amendment changed how U.S. Senators are chosen, as originally laid out in Article I, Section 3, Clauses 1 through 3 of the Constitution.

Originally, U.S. Senators were chosen by the various State Legislatures. The full text is thus (bold emphasis mine):

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The full text of the 17th Amendment is thus (bold emphasis mine):

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

In the first sentence of the first clause of Article 1, Section 3, and of Amendment 17 the method of selection is changed from (referring to the States), “chosen by the Legislature thereof” to “elected by the people thereof.” The purpose of this change was to give direct control of the Senate to the people of each State. The argument for such a change is readily made by appealing to the desire of citizens to have direct control over the selection of their U.S. Senators. This, it would seem, is the most democratic way to ensure the citizens of each State are best represented in the U.S. Senate.

So what were the consequences of this change?

To answer that question, we must first understand why the Founders decided that U.S. Senators should be chosen by the State Legislatures, rather than by the people of each State. As we all know, and as is enshrined in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are elected by the people of each State. This, just like the selection process for U.S. Senators, was overtly intentional. That is why it is called, “The People’s House.”

On the other hand, the U.S. Senate was not intended to be another “people’s house.” It was intended to represent the governments of each State. Since each State Legislature represents the people of the respective States, the people would still be represented in the U.S. Senate, but indirectly through their State Legislatures.

If, at this point, you are thinking that all this sounds rather esoteric and unimportant, not to mention downright undemocratic, you are not alone. Ratification of the 17th Amendment depended upon just such a basic misunderstanding by American citizens of the Founders’ intent for the role of the U.S. Senate. A role that was, as originally envisioned and enacted by the Founders, to give voice to each State’s government in Congress.

You may ask, why do State governments need representation in Congress?

That’s a good’question. The answer can be found, ironically, in the 10th Amendment, which was ratified along with the first nine amendments in what is well-known to most as the Bill of Rights. The full text of the 10th Amendment reads thus:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

One sentence. Simple. This amendment was directly linked to the original role of the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Senate’s job was to ensure that no legislation made it through Congress that violated the terms of the 10th Amendment. This seems a little bit backward at first, because the 10th Amendment was ratified along with the rest of the Bill of Rights four years after the Constitution was ratified. But the whole purpose of the Bill of Rights was to spell out the 10 most important things the Constitution was designed to protect in such a way as to make it absolutely crystal clear, just in case there were ever any question. And how have there ever been questions!

Now that we have over 200 years of experience with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we can easily see just how incredibly smart it was to include the Bill of Rights! Given how frequently (practically daily) the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to religious freedom are being challenged and how often the First and Second Amendments are cited in defense, without the Bill of Rights, we would likely, by now, have none. Thank God for the Bill of Rights!

So what about that 10th Amendment? Why does it matter how U.S. Senators are selected?

Think about it. U.S. Senators, just like members of the U.S. House of Representatives, are beholden to those who put them there. If they were beholden to State governments, how easily do you think they could get away with passing federal legislation that in any way infringes upon the powers of the States? Not too easily. Think State sovereignty.

In this day and age, the States are constantly bullied by the federal government in various ways. The most recent occurrence being the direct threat to revoke federal funding for any public school that fails to implement a policy allowing any male or female to use any bathroom they choose. Why is our federal government in our school bathrooms?!

If you were around back when the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 years, you might recall that while this happened nationwide, all at once, it was not done by federal law. It was done by the federal government threatening to withhold federal highway funds from any state that failed or refused to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 years.

That’s right. The drinking age is not federal law. It is State law. And it used to be freely set by each State for their own citizens, as they saw fit. This is clearly a 10th Amendment issue, as setting the drinking age is not enumerated in the Constitution as a federal power. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1986 did not actually set a national minimum drinking age. It merely codified the federal government’s intent to extort the States into submission. This is a classic example of federal government bullying and overreach. Don’t believe me? Google it.

One State, Louisiana, fought the bullying, but eventually capitulated. If you are, or have ever been, in the U.S. Military, you know that on military bases the drinking age is still 18. Talk about hypocrisy! Apparently, what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander!

So, back to answering our question about the consequences of the 17th Amendment. When U.S. Senators can pass federal laws that force State governments to act against their will, State governments can do nothing about it. Nothing. And since State governments comprise the most local and immediate representation of their citizens, the will of the people is subverted.

You may ask, if the people directly elect their U.S. Senators, why wouldn’t they simply kick them out of office for passing a law that subverted their will at the next election?

Simple. The people are busy living their lives and not paying attention. How else to explain Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain?! Furthermore, the people do not understand the significance of each federal law that chips away at local control of their lives. State governments, on the other hand, are a much smaller subset of each State’s citizens and their job is legislation. These are the very people who, given control of the U.S. Senate, would not stand for being bullied by the federal government. It used to be a major part of their job.

A second major consequence of the 17th Amendment was a major reduction in the public’s attention to whom they elect to their State legislatures. No longer having to worry about who their State Representatives and Senators might choose to send to Washington, D.C., their interest was severely diminished. As a result, State governments are now populated by people, about which, few of the people they represent know very much. And knowing that few voters are paying attention at the State level gives State legislators the ability to abuse their positions and be derelict in their duties.

So what would happen if the 17th Amendment were to be repealed?

Firstly, at each of the following three election cycles, the State Legislatures would appoint replacements for those U.S. Senators whose terms were up. Since as of this writing 30 States are under total Republican Party control, it is likely that the U.S. Senate would become dominated by Republicans in short order unless the Democratic Party suddenly made major gains in the State governments.

Secondly, numerous federal laws that trample on State sovereignty would be considered in Congress for repeal. And no bills further infringing on State sovereignty would make it past the U.S. Senate, thus taking a major step toward reigning in federal power. Federal agencies that have made a habit of imposing crippling regulations on States would be directly in the crosshairs of U.S. Senators who would have to answer to their State’s government if they did not put a stop to it.

In short, the bullying would end.

Thirdly, the voting citizens of each State would pay a heck of a lot more attention to the candidates running for their State Legislatures at election time. The citizens of each State would have a very big hammer to use against a runaway federal government in the form of their own State government. Any U.S. Senator not doing the bidding of his or her State’s government would be a one-termer. No campaigning to a public that is too busy living life and earning a living to stay on top of what is going on in D.C. would help.

Finally, think of the reduction in disgusting negative political television ads that would occur each election cycle if U.S. Senators no longer had to campaign to the public for office! That alone might make it worth it!

It is time to Repeal the 17th Amendment!