These columns have previously appeared in newspapers around the country. Joan R. Neubauer is an author and works as the Public Liaison Officer for the Davis Mountains Trans-Pecos Heritage Association in Alpine, Texas. You may contact her at email@example.com, or call her at 432/837-3461. Joan also invites you to weigh in on various issues at this blog.
This column first appeared in December 2009.
CLIMATE AND COPENHAGEN
Joan R. Neubauer
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. C.S. Lewis
While our Senators debate Healthcare Reform, for our own good of course, Cap and Trade lurks in an out of the way corner of the hallowed halls of Congress. Recently, the press has given it precious little coverage, and its supporters hope that the American people have forgotten all about it. However, if this bill becomes law, we will face fierce challenges to our Constitutional Rights.
On the international front, in a few days, the leaders of 192 countries will meet in Copenhagen to pound out a global climate control agreement based on computer models, and the science of climatology—both in their infancy. They will ignore a growing segment of the science community that asserts that not only is the earth cooling, but man’s activities have an almost nonexistent effect on climate. They will spin the latest e-mail leaks from the University of East Anglia that admits that scientists there have destroyed, ignored, discarded, or slanted data that failed to support their position on climate change. However, neither the Copenhagan Treaty, nor Cap and Trade has anything to do with climate, but rather control of people and wealth. If Cap and Trade passes, life in this country will change dramatically.
No longer will someone with a new and exciting home idea be allowed to make that idea a reality. Energy costs will rise as never before, and we’ll have just as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere because those with the means will purchase carbon credits and continue to move forward as though nothing had happened. The rest of us will have to choose between keeping warm or driving to work; and rising energy costs will affect the price of everything else.
If the president signs the Copenhagen treaty, and if the Senate ratifies it, we’ll find our sovereignty subjugated to the United Nations and our Constitution nothing more than a quaint reminder of the past, all for a concept that nearly half the scientific community refutes. A main provision of this treaty requires the United States to pay compensation to the rest of the world for our “abuses” of the environment, “abuses” which have produced medical, scientific, and economic advances unprecedented in human history.
We have shared these and improved quality of life for billions worldwide. We have become a wealthy nation, in part, because of these advances, and as a result the world has consistently turned to us for help when disaster strikes. In our generosity, we have given trillions of dollars to friends and enemies alike to relieve human suffering. And yet, the world feels we owe them compensation.
Saddling this nation with still more financial responsibilities in the throes of the “worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” does nothing but punish us by further burdening our economy, and line the pockets of the rich and powerful leaders of the corrupt U.N. Cap and Trade will require us to build our homes according to cookie-cutter designs, pay annual registration fees, and open our homes to federal inspectors, all rampant curtailments of our Constitutional Rights.
Before Barack Obama goes to Copenhagen, while he’s there, and when he returns, bombard your senators with phone calls and emails. Tell them to refuse to ratify this treaty. Let them know that we will not give up our sovereignty to the United Nations or any other entity. Tell them to vote against Cap and Trade. Remind them that our people will not remain quiet in the face of eroding rights and encroaching tyranny. And while you’re at it, add that if they do vote for it, we’ll not only refuse to vote them back into office in the next election, we’ll work tirelessly to elect their opponents.
This column first appeared in November 2009.
GOVERNMENT IN MY DOCTOR’S OFFICE
Joan R. Neubauer
The general [federal] government will tend to monarchy, which will fortify itself from day to day, instead of working its own cures.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in a letter to George Washington, Philadelphia, May 23, 1792
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has unveiled HR 3962: The Affordable Health Care for America Act, 1,990 pages of government intrusion into one of the most private of human relationships, that between a patient and doctor. The bill carries with it a price tag of nearly $1 trillion over ten years. But, Pelosi says, it will cover about 95% of all Americans and lower the deficit by about $104 billion over that same time period. In addition, Congress plans to make about $500 billion worth of cuts to Medicare.
Taking a critical look at these claims quickly shows us that the Affordable Health Care for America Act is clearly not affordable, as it adds approximately $100 billion dollars to the annual budget for a period of ten years; at a time when our dollar is at one its lowest points in history; at a time when our national credit card is maxed-out; at a time of high unemployment; at a time when the Federal Reserve is printing money to pay our bills; at a time when we are in hock up to our eyeballs to China. Aside from the moral objections, this makes no financial sense.
Ah, but Pelosi says it will lower the deficit by up to $104 billion dollars over the next ten years. Divide that number by ten and you get $10.4 billion saved each year over that time period. That’s still a serious deficit of more than $96.2 billion each year, which will require taxpayers to cover it—that is in addition to the money we already send in taxes.
Pelosi also said that this bill will cover about 95% of all Americans, however, she failed to mention that currently, 83% of all Americans already have health insurance, and 85% of them are happy with the insurance they have. Therefore, this costly bill will only insure a net gain of about 12% of the population, a small minority. In addition, this bill will eventually mandate that every American purchase health insurance, arguably a gross violation of our Constitutional right to privacy. The liberals are the first in line to argue a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. This woman wants to make her own choices about whether she wants health insurance or not.
Then we have the issue of Medicare. For generation after generation, the government has made a whole segment of our population, the elderly, dependent upon this federal program for their health care. Now Congress intends to cut $500 billion out of the Medicare budget by cleaning up fraud. I seem to remember the government saying the same thing on numerous occasions in the past and failing miserably while the fraud and excessive spending continued at the expense of our elderly. Why should I believe them now?
In this country, we enjoy the best quality of healthcare anywhere in the world. Our hospitals are full of people from other countries who have come here to obtain care that their government run systems have denied them. Granted, we could certainly improve our current system by allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, doing away with the issue of pre-existing conditions, and higher than necessary costs. Let Congress address those problems, but keep our free market free. Keep the government out of the conversation with my doctor, out of my records, and off my back.
This column first appeared in October 2009.
FREE SPEECH AND FREE PEOPLE
Joan R. Neubauer
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
President Obama’s new regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has something new—actually something old with a new twist—to offer us. He’d like to see the enactment of a new Fairness Doctrine that would include the establishment of a panel of “nonpartisan experts” to ensure “diversity of view” on the airwaves. O, joy of joys! O, rapture! The government now wishes to determine the fairness of our television and radio content.
Sunstein proffered this idea in his 1993 book, The Partial Constitution, and compared the need for the government to regulate broadcasting to the moral obligation of the U.S. to impose new rules that outlawed segregation. In his “First Amendment New Deal” he focuses on television, and includes a government requirement that “purely commercial stations provide financial subsidies to public television or to commercial stations that agree to provide less profitable but high-quality programming”—a great idea to accomplish the redistribution of wealth in the broadcast industry, and a way to kill the free market. I suppose Mr. Sunstein hasn’t noticed the proliferation of differing points of view on the hundreds of television channels we have access to, or the variety of radio stations we have when we tune across the dial.
If this regulation becomes a reality, you can bet they’ll impose it on radio, the Internet, and printed material such as newspapers and magazines. Once that’s in place, you’d better look over your shoulder before you utter a word, because those restrictions will most likely expand to everyday conversations.
As bad as all this sounds, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If this administration and our Democrat controlled Congress get their way, we’ll find ourselves living in a country where the government owns the automobile and financial industries; censors broadcasters; runs healthcare; taxes quality of life with Cap and Trade; can shut down the Internet at a moment’s notice for a real or perceived emergency; and confiscate guns. Political correctness will govern our every thought word and deed. We’ll all find ourselves reduced to the lowest common denominator to make sure we don’t endanger anyone’s self-esteem, and we can all read articles filled with sweetness and light that extol the prevailing party’s virtues and accomplishments in nonprofit newspapers owned by the government.
All of the above has either already happened or legislation is already pending in Congress to make it happen. Unless we step up and stand up to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” we will no longer recognize our country by this time next year.
This column first appeared in September 2009.
SLAVERY AND TAXES
Joan R. Neubauer
There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.
According to an article in the New York Times on August 25, 2009, “The Congressional Budget Office, which unlike the administration did not account for the president’s policy proposals in its latest report, increased its projection of deficits over the next decade. Absent any changes in law, it said the deficit would rise to $7.1 trillion, from $4.4 trillion in March.”
Since taking office in January of 2009, Barack Obama has run up a deficit larger than all other presidents combined in American History, that’s 233 years, since the birth of this nation in 1776. We managed to fight World War II for less.
In the throes of “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” – our fearless leader’s words—he has placed a greater burden on the citizens of this country, their children and grandchildren, than ever before. Such a yoke reminds me of the slavish burden placed on serfs in the Middle Ages when they had to turn over nearly everything they owned to the Lord of the Manor for the privilege of working the lord’s land, living in their little thatched house, and eating the dregs of their produce. Such a realization makes me wonder why. What could possibly be in this man’s mind?
No responsible leader would hold citizens back from climbing out of such an abyss, yet, Barrack Obama continues to push onward with an agenda that promises to curtail our rights and impose confiscatory taxes for generations to come. With such a plan in place, the citizenry will spend its resources trying to survive and pay taxes and have little time or money to spend trying to change things. Involvement in the political process will decline as we shift into survival mode, and more people will turn to government to provide more services out of necessity, thus enslaving us to the government.
Eventually, the people will run out of money and the United States of America will consist of a population of childlike dependents, unable to care of themselves, stand up for themselves or their freedoms, and focused on the next government provided meal and doctor visit—a nation of wimps. This isn’t rocket science, just a basic knowledge of human behavior.
If you don’t believe me, just think back to your basic psychology course and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and you’ll see how it applies here. According to Maslow, only until we humans have taken care of basic survival needs like food, water, and shelter, can we think about a higher level of activity such as political involvement. However, tyrants throughout history didn’t need Maslow to tell them this. They only needed to observe human behavior to realize how to gain control.
In November, Barack Obama promised change, and he is desperately trying to deliver on that promise. If we allow him to lead our Congress in the direction of his vision, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave will change into the land of the slaves and the home of the wimps.
This column first appeared in August 2009.
ALL HAIL, OBAMACARE!
Hail, hail, the gang’s all here,
What the heck do we care?
What the heck do we care?
Hail, hail, the gang’s all here,
Stand up and cheer Obamacare!
Okay, everybody, throw away your private health insurance cards. Uncle Barack will send you a brand new laminated card with your name and number on it, guaranteeing free healthcare for you and yours from cradle to grave. Get rid of those nasty and costly monthly premiums. Just sign over your paycheck to Uncle Barack to pay all the taxes you will now have to pay. Don’t laugh. The proposed Healthcare Reform Bill, HR 3200 will effectively make all of those liberal dreams come true.
If HR 3200: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act becomes law, your tax money will fund the murder of unborn children; a bureaucrat who will choose your healthcare for you; “free” healthcare to everyone whether here legally or not; restricted enrollment for “special needs” people; rationed healthcare; mandatory “end of life” counseling for the elderly (read that as state sponsored euthanasia); and give the government direct access to your bank account to transfer funds—among a myriad of other offensive provisions. All of this will eventually destroy the private insurance industry and will result in no choice for the American people.
I have a three-page list that summarizes the basic provisions of this huge bill (over a thousand pages), that most of our congressmen have not read, nor do they plan to read. If you’d like to try, click on www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text. Before too long, your eyes will glaze over to give you that deer-in-the-headlights look, but you’ll get the general idea that this bill is an attempt by government to intrude into your life in unprecedented ways. They even want to tax soft drinks, those terrible, unhealthy beverages, to help fund this plan. Enough!
During the August recess, our representatives will venture out into their districts to meet with their constituents. Take the opportunity to tell them how you feel about this terrible intrusion of your freedoms. (And don’t forget to mention Cap and Trade, The Food Safety Act of 2009, NAIS (National Animal Identification System), and the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2009. Make it clear that they must vote down these horrible bills.) Of course many will try to convince you of the merits of HR 3200. Then ask them why this bill exempts congress? Why will members of congress and their families continue to use the same private provider they have used for years?
Our government has run the postal system and Amtrak with high inefficiency and huge losses for decades, but they’re hardly life and death issues. Healthcare is. Do you trust these guys with your life and the lives of your children?
Make it clear that polls indicate that a majority of Americans don’t want this bill. We don’t need this bill. If Congress votes Obamacare into law despite our objections, we will have an immoral, inefficient, costly, inadequate system, much like those that have failed in the rest of the world. But I don’t guess we need to really go beyond our borders to see the results of a government-run healthcare system. After all, we do have Medicaid and Medicare. Just look at how well they function.
This column first appeared in July 2009.
Ever since the birth of our nation, we have provided the shining beacon of liberty, an example to the world. That flame of freedom that burned so brightly lit the way for lovers of liberty no matter where they called home. People risked their lives to reach our shores where they could enjoy their God-given rights as we led the way in the celebration of free speech, open debate, religious freedom, public education, and rugged individualism.
I grew up at a time when any of our citizens could travel freely in the world and proudly proclaim their American citizenship, and when such a declaration would be met with welcoming smiles and unparalleled hospitality. Today, to claim your American citizenship makes you vulnerable to kidnapping and worse.
Since that time, and I don’t have that many gray hairs, things have changed a great deal. Today, political correctness governs our words. As a consequence, we no longer say what we truly think for fear that someone might take it the wrong way. We censor ourselves, and if by chance we make a faux pas, the world crashes down on us as though we’ve just wiped out the last of a species.
We don’t want to challenge our friends and family, much less our elected officials on hot topics like abortion, global warming, and national health care because the art of open debate has gone the way of the horse and buggy. We don’t want to deal with the grief of name calling, violent tempers, and loss of friendships.
Forget about religious freedom. No longer can we articulate a simple prayer before a football game because it may offend someone’s sensibilities. If a co-worker complains because you wear a cross around your neck, you may find yourself out of a job if you refuse a superior’s request that you leave it at home. I wonder why it’s okay to wear a t-shirt plastered with obscenities, but not a crucifix.
Children may graduate from public school without knowing how to read, balance their checkbook, or know the basics of American history. If they have no idea of the mistakes and successes of the past, I don’t know how we can expect them to run the country when their turn comes.
I grew up with heroes such as Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and the Swamp Fox. All of them, rugged individualists, relied on themselves and led others of like mind to settle territory, birth a Republic, and fight tyranny. They didn’t wait for federal funding to come through. They knew what had to be done and they did it. How far have we come from these admirable individuals?
This July as we celebrate the birth of our nation, our flame of freedom still burns, but I’m afraid our bright beacon has dwindled to a flicker. Our country no longer leads the way to the future, but rather looks to the rest of the world and the past before deciding what to do. We have lost so much of what makes us special.
Americans, rekindle that fire of freedom and charism of leadership. Breathe new life into the flame with the desire for freedom and the oxygen of action. Get involved. Remind our elected officials that whatever they do, they must protect our rights. Support candidates that defend and protect the Constitution. And then, wave your flag and proudly tell the world, “I am an American.”
This column first appeared in June 2009.
A HATEFUL CRIME
Joan R. Neubauer
…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws….
Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
By definition, any crime against another stems from a feeling of hate. No one robs, cheats, steals, or kills out of true love. So when SB 1913: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 reared its head in the Senate, I went into research mode.
Some sources referred to the pending legislation as the Matthew Shepard Bill. Matthew’s brutal murder in Wyoming in 1998 commanded the attention of the media which portrayed his killing as something that happened only because of his homosexuality. Upon further investigation, facts revealed that this terrible crime came about because of money and drugs. However, the media failed to report this newfound information and continued to exploit the victim’s homosexuality—something Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) pointed out during debate in the House to howls and jeers from across the aisle.
Setting aside the sad inspiration for the bill, it stands in stark violation of the 14th Amendment. Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) said, “In addition to posing a litany of constitutional problems, today’s legislation alarmingly overturns the cornerstone of equality in our justice system by placing a higher value on one life over another. In no way could I support a bill that more harshly punishes criminals who kill a homosexual, transvestite or transsexual than criminals who kill a police officer, a member of the military, a child, or a senior citizen.”
Giving special protection to certain groups of citizens over others diminishes those who cannot claim the same protections. In addition, such protections not only extend to the crime itself, but the thoughts behind the crime. Did the perpetrator commit this crime because of a thought process, or catalyst from another person or thing? Since when must we account for our thoughts?
Representative Broun then added, “This unconstitutional hate crimes bill raises the possibility that religious leaders or members of religious groups could become the subject of a criminal investigation focusing on a suspect’s religious beliefs, membership in religious organizations and any statements made by a suspect.”
Extending this bill to include religious leaders who faithfully teach the tenants of their faith is very dangerous. We may not all agree with the beliefs of other faiths, but the 1st Amendment guarantees everyone’s right to believe and preach what they believe is the truth, free of interference from the State.
In the final analysis, we don’t need this new hate crimes bill. State and local jurisdictions already effectively prosecute crimes. You can’t kill someone twice or more cruelly simply because they belong to a protected class. Dead is dead. However, SB 1913 threatens to overturn equal protection under the law; diminish my citizenship; get inside my head; and make me accountable for my religious beliefs. Let’s not give the Thought Police anymore ammunition. Instead, let’s work and pray for less hate in the world.
This column first appeared in May 2009.
THE THOUGHT POLICE ARE COMING
Joan R. Neubauer
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, managed to alienate and offend millions of patriotic Americans with her recently released “intelligence” report on “right-wing extremism” in America. This memo, distributed to local law enforcement officials around the country, warns of possible terrorist activity among extremist “right-wing” groups such as veterans; those who oppose abortion; those who have concerns about immigration and current economic policies; and those who support gun rights. Such categorization leaves me breathless and in shock. Apparently, Ms. Napolitano has no concept of either the First Amendment or the loyal opposition.
With the First Amendment, the founding fathers intended to protect speech of all sorts, but particularly political speech. They wanted open and lively debate of the issues. They wanted people to openly express their opinions without fear of recrimination or of being labeled an enemy of the state. For 233 years, our government has functioned with the full realization that not everyone will agree on every issue, and that disagreement doesn’t equate with disloyalty. In the end, such disagreement most often leads to the exploration of ideas and compromise for the best solution.
I can only think that this intelligence report is either the result of some deep-seated fear this administration has of the loyal opposition, or a desire to control everything about our lives, including what we think. Either one you choose is bad news. The next thing you know, they’ll be sending us all off to re-education camps for attitude adjustments.
I am deeply saddened and disappointed that Ms. Napolitano has issued such a report, and I mourn for the mentality that produced it. Our country has indeed come to a crossroads. I know that I have no other path than to follow the mandate that our Constitution gives to each citizen of this county: I will “to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
If veterans, pro-lifers, gun rights supporters, fiscal conservatives, and people who demand secure borders are terrorists, I proudly stand beside each one of them to protect our rights from those who would take them from us. And like John Hancock, I boldly sign my name to this editorial with a byline so they can find me.
This column first appeared in April 2009.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Joan R. Neubauer
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Declaration of Independence
We stand on the edge of a precipice. To our right stands a bridge with all that we have ever known and held dear—The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, freedom, capitalism—principles that have led us to the status of Superpower with astounding success. To our left, we see a chasm of socialism, Marxism, social experimentation, government control of every aspect of life, and proven failure. Which one will the American people choose?
That bridge to the right has brought us success in the past because it has nurtured freedom among our people, a freedom bestowed upon us by our Creator. We have the freedom to work, and to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We have the freedom to own property, invest in a new idea, or to begin a new business, and to profit from it. We have the freedom to govern ourselves, and expect that our elected officials will hear our voices. Such freedoms have brought us not only success, but have made us the world’s only remaining Superpower.
In contrast, that chasm to the left has demonstrated nothing but failure. Marxism, tried for nearly 80 years in Soviet Russia, collapsed in utter poverty with its people starving and waiting in line for hours to purchase a roll of toilet paper. Adolf Hitler led the great socialist experiment in Nazi Germany, only to bring his country to defeat and his people to terrible suffering.
Cuba and China remain the only remaining bastions of Marxism. Cuba remains a communist country only because of support from China, and we see China’s star on the rise only because it has begun to use the principles of capitalism to invest in commodities around the world and lend money. Socialist Europe, likewise, has declined with curtailment of individual rights. Yes, I agree when socialists and communists say that such systems make everyone equal. That’s absolutely correct, because in such systems, no one has anything. Margaret Thatcher once said, “The only problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
We the people have not only the freedom to choose, but the power to choose. Granted, no system is perfect, and we have had our reversals in the past, but we have always had the freedom to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move forward stronger than before. Time after time, the American people have chosen liberty over oppression and freedom over tyranny. They have chosen to fight to preserve their values and their ideals. Freedom does not come freely, but at a very high cost, and more than a million brave men and women have paid the ultimate price. Millions of others and their families have sacrificed in countless ways. Will you support their sacrifice, or will you throw it over the side? Which will you choose?
This column first appeared in March 2009.
WHO WILL BAIL OUT THE CONSTITUTION?
Joan R. Neubauer
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.
In light of the threatened bailout, people have understandable concerns about their money and taxes, but I haven’t heard many express concerns about whether they will retain their God-given rights under the Constitution, particularly the right to own private property. This bailout package so desperately pushed forward by President Obama has all the makings of turning this country into a socialist state.
If you know anything about socialism as an economic system, you know that it places the ownership and control of production and distribution of capital, land, and commodities into the hands of the community as a whole. In other words, socialism gives the government all the rights to own property, land, factories, financial institutions, and businesses. In an act of benevolence, the government may grant certain dispensations to individuals to “own” such things but only under strict regulation and government control. The government also taxes income at an exorbitantly high rate so as to provide “free” health care, job security, infrastructure, and other necessities of life. Sound familiar? We’ve almost reached that point, but this bailout package will bring us closer to the socialism practiced by France, Sweden, and other European countries.
The recent bailout of the financial institutions has placed the government in control of much of the banking of this country. If you don’t think that’s scary, wait until you see legislation that will allow electronic transfer of taxes from your bank account. Just wait until someone finds a way to raid your 401(k) plan to buff up the national treasury.
Then of course, we have this new bailout of the economy, a package so expensive and far-reaching, that the government can lay claim to ownership of at least a portion of the private companies that accept its benevolence. And then I wonder what will prevent Big Brother from reaching for our Deeds of Trust and finding a National Security reason for confiscating our property?
Keep private property private. Protect your rights under the 5th Amendment. Protect the U.S. Constitution. Write to every one of your legislators today. Call them. Make your voice heard. Remember, the true power of this government resides with us, the people. Make it clear that on your next trip to the ballot box, you will vote for someone who will listen to you. What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away.
This column first appeared in February 2009.
Joan R. Neubauer
I am…a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country; and the least appearance of an encroachment on those individual privileges is apt to make my blood boil exceedingly.
Benjamin Franklin a.k.a. Silence Dogood, 1722
Think back to when you took civics in high school and learned about the U.S. Constitution. I know you remember learning about things like “balance of power” and the three branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial. However, if you read between the lines, the Constitution also reserves rights for an implied fourth branch—the people.
You and I, members of that auspicious branch, who by virtue of our birthright as human beings, have particular rights which Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated in The Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Jefferson understood this basic principle as did Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and our other founding fathers. Without an understanding that these rights come to us as a birthright from our Creator, we depend on government to give them to us and we feel obligated to the authorities. However, in this great American Experiment, as Charles Francis Adams called it, those who govern only do so by consent of the governed, we the people. Whatever powers the government possesses comes from us, the people.
The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution, only delineate and affirm our basic human rights—our birthright—however, they come at a cost. We must remain ever vigilant and stand ready to defend these rights. Just as any employer must know about the activities of their employees, we who employ our elected officials must know what legislation they wish to pass; what taxes they wish to impose; and how they propose to curtail our rights. Then we must operate within the system of this great American Experiment to make our voices heard and remind our officials where their power comes from. If they fail to listen, we should register our complaint at the ballot box and vote for someone who will listen the next time.
Remember, we the people have basic rights, and we hold the power in our hands, but it will only do us any good if we use it.