The minimum wage debate is in full swing again. Many of the leaders in the argument against it are business owners, and they are frequently demonized for this, even though they rightly maintain that they need to preserve their profit margin in order to stay in business. In this they are correct, however, most of them make a fundamental mistake in regards to their pay scale, for which they should be blamed as much as the minimum wage is. This mistake is to view their labor costs as a whole, and therefore wholly as an expense. This is the root of their basic mistake. This has, unfortunately, been fostered by the increases in the minimum wage at a faster pace than the market would sometimes bear, especially since the minimum wage is usually applied as a blanket rule rather than being tailored to a specific environment.
Can a government legislate these rights? No. These rights are beyond the purview of any government. These rights are inherent to every human being. Although most, if not all, governments seek, and eventually gain, the power to control these aspects of a person’s life, it is neither moral nor just for that government to do so. The only person who can legitimately modify or remove these rights is the person in question. No one else, be it family, friend, religion, or government, has that authority. A person can surrender all or part of their own rights, but only if it is done by their free will and full understanding of the consequences.
I will insert here that I am not in this piece going to be discussing the role of parents in relation to their children. That will be another subject.
Back on track, there are two questions frequently asked of me as a way of challenging my position. One refers to the power of the government to punish non-compliance, while the other usually involves a statement such as, “They are doing it for your own good.”
Granted, the government has the power to inflict a wide range of punishments. Unfortunately, all too many people equate power with authority. There is a significant difference. Power, in regard to government, is the ability to use force, coercion, or intimidation to influence actions of individuals or groups. Authority, for government, is the right to engage in an action. Since a government is not a human individual, it has no natural rights, only those rights given to it by the people in the society to which the government is attached. Government by consent.
So what if the majority of the people involved install a government, and assign, for example, the authority to that government to restrict travel by requiring passports (subject to approval, of course, by the government), limit the items with which you can travel (TSA regulations), and charge a fee to everyone who travels (gas tax, excise tax, tolls, surcharges, etc.). What of the person in the minority who did not approve of or agree to this system, do not these things violate their natural right to the liberty to travel? What of the person who can not afford the fees to acquire a passport? What of the person incorrectly assigned a place on the “no-fly list?” What of the person who can not enjoy the full fruits of their own labor because, in part, they have to divert some of their efforts in to the raising of monies to pay for the taxes and fees associated with the owning of a vehicle and the acquisition of the fuel to power it? Yes, these people’s rights are being violated by the majority who have installed a system of government with the power to do so. Agreed, the people who installed this government have a legitimate moral right to subjugate their own natural rights to this government, but they are moral criminals, rights thieves, if you will, for forcing this subjugation on those who are unwilling to freely surrender their own rights.
We have clear justification, then, for refusing to comply with a legislation which infringes upon our rights, but should we choose non-compliance we must do so with the certain knowledge that the government does have the power to punish us, even though it has no right to do so. At every peaceful opportunity, by speech, vote, or non-compliance, if we believe in natural rights, we should seek to diminish the power of the government and its ability and inclination to infringe upon our rights.
“But it is for your own good!” I could easily violate my own anti-profanity rule in response to that one. As far as I can tell, this response is only used by those who have failed, or refused, to fully consider the entire situation. Who better to determine what is for the best for a person than that person? Is there really anyone wise enough, or knowledgeable enough, to direct another persons life? Certainly many think that they are, but who would you rather trust to make your personal decisions, yourself or someone whom you have not even met?
By way of demonstration, I will submit that I personally refuse to buy health insurance, and have held this position for some time. Even before everyone began to talk about insurance in the time of the Obamacare debacle, I was criticized by some for cheating the system by not paying in to it. They claim that if I became injured, for example, and received treatment, everyone else would have to pay for that treatment. This seems to be their most prevalent and effective argument for the system of forcing people to pay into a system which they do not want, and was most probably one of the most effective arguments which led us to Obamacare. I counter this by explaining that if I receive a service from someone, and they desire payment in exchange, then I am obligated to pay. I am morally obligated to pay the individual or entity providing the service, not a third party such as a government bureaucracy or an insurance company.
At this point I am usually accosted by phase two of the attack. “What if you can’t afford it, or if you die, who will pay for your funeral?” First, this may sound cold and heartless, but if I have no family or friends to voluntarily see to the disposal, I will no longer care if you just push my carcass out of the way and leave it to nature. I would, however, recommend that you find a way to do something more sanitary and cosmetically appealing. I would do the same for you had you no family or friends to see to it.
As to the question of cost, I will answer this with one of my own. Why is it so expensive in the first place? Could it be the high cost of higher education, which is so lucrative that the government itself recently acquired the student loan business? Maybe the insurance companies have too much control in the setting of prices and the selection of services? What about the role of the pharmaceutical industry? Perhaps the government’s judicial branch, made up principally of lawyers is giving too much leeway to other lawyers to profit through legal litigation? Are the taxes levied on the health care providers, or the insurances which they are mandated to purchase, driving prices up? It is well past time that we began looking to items such as these to find the causes to the unfortunate state of our health care, and quit trying to fix it by adding still more layers of mistakes.
That being said, I will pay out of pocket if I can, or make other arrangements if I can not. A person receiving a service, knowing that a payment for that service will be expected, and who intentionally fails to pay is intentionally violating the natural rights of the provider(s) to experience the fruits of their labors. This is where the argument supporting a system of taxation in exchange for services falls apart. The proponents of this system would have us believe that by engaging in this we are helping people. But are we really helping them, or are we simply transferring this “rights theft” to someone else? The taxation system which is touted as necessary and humane for helping those who can not, or will not, pay for services or goods actually steals (for lack of a more honest word) from others to pay for the original theft of service which occurred when someone accepted the service with no intention or ability to pay. (Look again to the previous paragraph for a few of the causes for the high prices). This theft of service should be what is identified and addressed rather than covered up by yet another theft in the form of taxation.
(It is also worth noting that a person is well served by learning how to treat their own minor injuries and illnesses on their own, thereby having less need for a healthcare provider for these situations)
I apologize to the reader for inserting the lengthy explanations above, but I did so to forestall the questions which would be raised by those seeking to avoid the main subject, that of natural rights. Although our current government was founded by people who thought it important to speak of natural rights in the Declaration itself, these rights are no longer widely held with as much esteem. This must change, and change soon, or as people forget that they once were allowed to enjoy these rights they come into danger of accepting their roles as assigned by others. The modern day serfdom sought by authoritarians everywhere.
As for myself, I will do my part to protect all of our natural rights by bringing attention to them through the keypad. In the future I hope to cover some of them more specifically as I am able.
In the news this week is the developing “circus” surrounding the exploits of Mayor Rob Ford. It has been reported that he has admitted to using illegal drugs, among other things.
Setting aside the “reality show” type reporting of these events, we find that this situation boils down to only one question. What, if any, sanctions should be assessed in this case, and should the job performance and popularity of this man be taken into account?
Some are saying that these drugs should not be illegal in the first place, and therefore the law which Mayor Ford violated was unjust. This, indeed, may well be a valid point, but it is currently only an opinion, as the law does exist, and the executives in government are supposedly required to enforce it until such time as it is repealed.
The Mayor’s own brother made the argument that, in essence, nobody should seek to punish the Mayor, as all people are guilty of wrongdoing at some point in their lives, and only a person free of guilt should be allowed to ask for sanctions. If we accept this as a guideline for society, then we must discard all laws and the attempts to enforce them, because none of us are totally free from guilt, and, therefore, there is no one in existence capable of justly accusing another of wrongdoing, or of enforcing a law.
Another common argument used in support of the Mayor is the premise that what a person does in their private lives should not be used as a reason to discipline someone at their job. This is a very strong point, and in most cases should be stringently applied. Failure to apply this principle in most jobs would certainly give employers the authority to direct their employees private lives arbitrarily, using loss of income as a means of coercion.
This last point, however, contains an exception. The accused in this circumstance is a mayor. As a mayor, he is the chief executive in the city, and the top officer in charge of law enforcement in his jurisdiction. Beyond being accused, he freely admitted to engaging in an illegal act, while not in a state of duress. This form of confession should reasonably be held on par with a conviction in a court.
Any public official tasked with the enforcement of laws should without question be expected to abide by those laws themselves, and voluntarily accept the sanctions in their own lives for failure to comply as they would require of anyone else. We can not hold the past against our officials, but they must be required without fail to abide fully with the laws that they are expected to enforce while in office. Failure to do so should be an indisputable reason for removal from office.
One remaining option is available to legitimately allow an official to remain in office in the face of an admitted violation of a law. This is in the case of an antiquated or unjust law which is enforced on NO ONE. The only viable argument which I can see for the failure to remove this mayor from his position would be if the city could demonstrate that it charges absolutely nobody with a crime for the violation of the law which Mayor Ford admittedly violated himself. If the city has cited anyone at all for violating this law, then Mayor Ford must step down or be removed from office, and be charged at a minimum with the average severity at which the ordinary person would be charged. Failure to hold politicians to this standard simply creates an elite class of politicians who rule with a double standard, with one set of rules for themselves and their friends, and another set for the rest of us.
In summation, the only way that Mayor Ford should be allowed to remain in office is in the event that he can conclusively demonstrate that the law which he admittedly violated has never, during his tenure, been enforced on any other individual in the jurisdiction for which he is responsible.
As a post script, to those who would seek to compare this situation to the events surrounding the impeachment of President Clinton, I present the following, significant, differences: President Clinton was accused of no violation of a law which would have been enforced on the average person, he was accused of lying to the American people, his employers. The people had the opportunity to sanction President Clinton for this, and chose not to. These two cases are not at all on the same level, and it is not rational or legitimate to use one to resolve the other.
We are all animals, though human, we are still animals. As commonly defined, “a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organsand nervous system and able to respond rapidly to…
Grand Regional (Rapids) Voices is your chance to have a say in your community. The group meets on the first and third Saturday of each month at the Sawmill Inn on Hwy. 169 South, Grand Rapids, MN. Coffee and social gathering starts at 9:00 A.M. Meetings start at 9:30 A.M. This is always your place to have your voice heard. This meeting is open to the entire region. Click on the "Contribute Articles & Ideas" link to ask questions and offer opinions or concerns.