Thursday, January 31, 2013 | 15 comments

The 2013 Real State of the State


The hallmark of any good politician (which is not something to which one should aspire) is the ability to take credit for successes not of your making, and deflect accountability and responsibility for problems of your doing. It is a skill endemic to the political class generally, and rarely are people with significant power immune to it.

The fruits of this skill were visible in last night’s State of the State address by Governor Herbert and in past speeches and statements he has made. The existence of this trait does not necessarily mean that Herbert is immoral, incompetent, or ignorant; he is certainly not alone in exhibiting this trait. Really, Herbert’s taking partial credit for Utah’s greatness and sidestepping Utah’s problems says much less about Herbert than it does about the rest of us—those who buy into the flowery rhetoric and sound bytes without challenging claims and pressing for more substance.

We are often told how great Utah is—that it is the best managed state, that businesses are flocking to our state with jobs, that low taxes and regulations earn the state one accolade after another. And while outside organizations do offer their praise, many of the successes with which politicians pad their campaign mailers come not because of government involvement, but in spite of it. Many of these benchmarks do not indicate how well the government is doing, but rather how well private industry and society are faring despite the state.

Last night’s address painted a picture of a mythical Utah. Those who wish to truly understand the nature and condition of the state cannot be content with fairytales and incomplete descriptions. The truth is much different than what was said last night. For that reason, Libertas Institute has decided to provide Utahns with a more accurate State of the State—no rhetoric, just reality.

Voluminous code

Don’t underestimate legislators—they can do a lot in a little amount of time. The general session of Utah’s part-time legislature meets for just 45 calendar days per year, and in that time, 104 legislators each sponsor an average of eight bills. Nearly 500 bills are passed every single year. Sometimes a bill is just tweaking existing code, but many times lengthy new paragraphs are incorporated into state law.

The laws and regulations in Utah now total 10 million words in length. This astronomical number is 13 times longer than the Holy Bible, 490 times longer than Utah’s Constitution, and over 2,000 times longer than the U.S. Constitution.

There is a perception that Utah is a limited government state comprised of self-reliant individuals. When compared to some other states this may be true, but standing alone, Utah’s government is anything but limited. We often hear complaints about how much the federal government is trying to control our lives, but the state has become a smaller version of Washington, D.C., with plenty of unnecessary, illegitimate, and interventionist laws of its own. Talk is cheap; simply claiming that limited government is important does not mean that we have it here in Utah.

Dependence upon D.C.

For all the chest-thumping you hear from Utah politicians who claim to be angry with the federal government for its overbearing mandates and unconstitutional edicts, one might expect actions to match. Instead, the government of Utah is reliant upon D.C. for nearly 1/3 of its entire budget (excluding the additional $1 billion plus in federal dollars which circumvent the state government).

This financial dependence upon another entity, even if that entity is redirecting some of Utah taxpayers’ own money, creates a precarious situation in which Utah politicians are reluctant to push back against federal encroachment too hard, or at all, for fear of losing funding. It is not uncommon to see a federal bureaucracy threaten a reduction or loss of funding to the state for non-compliance with its edicts, whether with transportation funding, Medicaid, or other tax-based revenue.

A 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling noted that such penalties, used to coerce a state into compliance, can “pass the point at which pressure turns into compulsion.” Such was the case with the Medicaid funding threat, leading Justice Roberts to write in his opinion for the recent “Obamacare” ruling that “the financial ‘inducement’ Congress has chosen is much more than ‘relatively mild encouragement’—it is a gun to the head” (see page 51).

From Hill Air Force Base to UTA to municipalities eager for federal funding for infrastructure, business, and recreation projects, politicians at all levels of government are eager to provide their constituents with goodies while forcing others to foot the bill. People want stuff done, and in many cases they want their government to do it for them.

Utah, contrary to its self-reliance and limited government popular perception, has historically proven quite eager to petition the federal government for funding. Far from biting the hand that feeds them, many Utah politicians are simply all bark.

Consider Governor Herbert’s 2011 inauguration in which he declared, “As a state… we will vigorously resist the increasing burden of federal intrusion into our lives.” We are patiently awaiting an array of actions which are consistent with that verbal declaration. Thus far, the actions actually implemented demonstrate a continued and increasing reliance upon D.C.—whether with Common Core, federal gun control, economic development (source, page 3), infrastructure (page 9), agriculture (page 11), education (page 13), or social welfare (page 15).

The State of the State: A More Accurate Depiction | Libertas Institute Cartoon

The enlargening Nanny State

Utah has long micro-managed the availability and distribution of alcoholic beverages within the state—a clear violation of the free market and an apostasy from the proper role of government. In recent weeks, reports emerged at just how intrusive the state was enforcing the many regulations associated with this control.

Undercover agents issued nine citations to restaurants in December alone for allowing patrons to drink an alcoholic beverage before ordering a meal. This non-crime is apparently sufficient reason to fund an undetermined number of nanny state agents to patrol private businesses to ensure that consensual adults cannot contractually engage in commerce. After an uproar in response to the initial report, Lt. Troy Marx of the State Bureau of Investigation, which conducts the undercover operations, said that their agents will no longer be citing restaurants for serving alcohol to diners before they order food, as long as the customers eventually order.

“We won’t be citing a restaurant because people are drinking something while looking at a menu,” he said, but “We’ll be looking to make sure people order.” The reader can decide if this is any less nanny state-like.

The fact that agents of the state are paid to micro-manage the affairs of innocent adults who are not violating anybody’s rights shows the degree to which the nanny state has blossomed within Utah. Seatbelt laws (with attempts to make it a primary offense), prohibitions on texting while driving, attempts to ban smoking within a vehicle with children present, vice crimes, and a number of other legal prohibitions and regulatory restrictions have turned Utah into a nanny state.

People should not be protected from themselves by those who claim to represent them. Adults should be allowed to engage in whatever behavior they wish so long as it does not violate the rights of another person. A government which exists to secure individual rights does not claim the power, let alone exercise it, to prohibit people from acting in a way that a majority of politicians may happen to personally disagree with.

Permission slips and protectionism

According to the Institute for Justice’s comprehensive report on business regulations around the country, Utah is not the bastion of a free market some think it to be. Our state was ranked 13th as having the most burdensome licensing laws, and was labeled the “12th most extensively and onerously licensed state.” A concluding paragraph in their analysis highlighted some of the problems with Utah’s licensure apparatus:

While emergency medical technicians need only about one month of training, other occupations with less impact on public safety require much more, such as manicurist (70 days), massage therapist (140), skin care specialist (140), barber (233) and cosmetologist (467).

Licensure has two components which substantively infringe upon individual liberty and betray the supposed free market principles of Utah’s conservative governing officials. The first is that licensure is nothing more than a permission slip, whereby the government threatens an individual with fines or jail time—both forms of coercion—should they choose to engage in a certain occupation without the government’s approval.

This is a violation of what Thomas Jefferson considered a “first principle” of rightful government: the “guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” James Madison echoed this argument, one with which we emphatically agree:

That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations…

Politicians elected to manage the state government frequently give lip service to the free market, but rarely apply those principles in a consistent fashion. New bills are regularly proposed in the legislature which would add more licensure, such as this year’s bills to require licensure of cigarette rolling machine operators and HVAC contractors (with perhaps more bills to come as the session progresses).

This violation of the free market and an abdication of the state’s responsibility to secure it were highlighted in a federal judge’s ruling last August which rejected the state’s attempt to require a license of Jestina Clayton, a hair braider. Judge David Sam said:

The right to work for a living in the common occupations of the community is of the very essence of the personal freedom and opportunity that the Constitution was designed to protect.

The second way in which business licensure violates liberty and the free market is by introducing unfair competition by creating a system of economic protectionism. Prosperous industries with significant political connections and clout often collude with the government to introduce licensure, thereby creating a barrier to entry for future competition. This has the effect of slowing the supply of workers in that field, thereby allowing for greater profit for existing workers.

One study suggests that nationwide, occupational licensure has resulted in nearly three million fewer jobs. Because low income or low skilled workers are discouraged and/or prohibited from competing within the licensed occupation, and because existing workers can therefore maintain higher rates through reduced competition, consumers end up paying higher prices. The same study suggests that nationwide, licensure has resulted in an annual consumer cost of $203 billion.

“The dirty little secret about state licensure is that the people who lobby for it are usually the stronger competitors of those who would be licensed,” notes Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Their goal is not to protect the public, but instead to raise barriers to new competitors who might cut prices and lower profits.”

Politicians throughout the state claim to champion the free market as an ideal, but often fail in practice to reduce or repeal existing barriers and prevent new ones from being implemented.

Debt

Utah is recognized for its low taxes and debt, but it is not at all debt free. Its annual budget is $13 billion and total debt and obligations currently amount to nearly double that—$25 billion. The Governor’s budget overview lists, as one of its budget principles, that the state should “avoid unnecessary debt.” It would be prudent to reduce spending across the board, steeply, to pay down this debt and be completely debt free. Unfortunately, in light of current interest rates the Governor believes it is “prudent” to borrow even more.

Packed prisons

Over 10,000 people are locked in state prisons and county jails throughout Utah. 91 are locked down in solitary confinement, a place where one inmate says, “We expect tragedy.” This deprivation appears to be imposed upon prisoners at the behest of their overseers with no written guidelines, creating a potential for abuse such as when requiring solitary confinement for benign actions such as not moving a cup fast enough.

It costs the State an average of $27,117 to house one inmate for one year. Many of these inmates are being locked in a cage for a non-violent offense; in 2010, 916 arrests were made for sex-related offenses, 21,985 were arrested on drug-related charges, 11,978 for violating the state’s liquor laws, 4,398 for “drunkenness,” 5,179 for the loosely-defined “disorderly conduct,” and 1,157 for loitering or violating a curfew.

The imposition of justice against those who have violated another person’s rights is commendable and necessary. Unfortunately, Utah has many laws which turn consensual agreements into criminal behavior, leading to fines and jail time for those whose actions are not inherently criminal, but which are done against the wishes of a majority of the legislature. If the “crime” leads to jail time, many of these non-violent individuals can and do become hardened and once released engage in actual criminal behavior, whereas had they not been sent to jail they may likely have never been tempted to act in such a manner. This “crimogenic” situation makes things worse, and not better, for society at large. As one commenter notes:

Want to make a hardened criminal? Throw a non-violent 19-year-old kid in prison because he was convicted for minor drug possession three times. He may never have committed any other crime in his life other than having a stash of marijuana on him, yet after several years of imprisonment with hardened criminals, he may re-enter society having been raped by other inmates, exposed to gang violence within the prison system, and without connections in the outside world. And while he may have been punished under the letter of the law, what was the benefit to society? Most likely he’ll re-enter the prison system within a short time for another, often more violent crime, because of a lack of opportunities to redeem himself on the outside. It is a tremendous cost to his family, community, state and the taxpayer.

Some efforts have been made to treat non-violent offenders differently, but many more actions are needed to ensure that justice is served only against those who have violated another’s life, liberty, or property.

Socialism galore

The state of Utah spends nearly $4.5 billion on social services (see page 15), a figure which comprises 35% of the budget (see page 1). There is a lengthy list of social services for adults, families, children, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, and others in need. Even education, which comprises a whopping 39% of the state budget, is itself a socialistic service when funded through taxes and administered by the government.

It would seem, at least superficially, that many Utahns protest socialism when practiced by the federal government, but largely fall silent when it comes to the state taxing for and administering the same services. While the U.S. Constitution does exist as a barrier to the federal government’s implementation of such programs, no legitimate delegation of authority authorizes the state government to tax some people to provide services to others.

Nothing is to preclude Utahns from helping those in need; most would agree that we have an obligation to render assistance to those who cannot subsist on their own. Social safety nets are an essential part of a healthy society, but like many other things, the question comes down to who should administer it and how it should be funded. Because individuals lack the authority to compel their neighbor to subsidize or fully provide their health care, employment assistance, education, and other important needs, they cannot delegate that authority to the government.

The coercive taxation of one group of individuals to provide services to another group of individuals—a government-mandated redistribution of wealth—is what many people commonly refer to (pejoratively) as socialism. This scheme is vibrant and expanding within the state of Utah.

No free market

Along with social services, a number of other government initiatives exist which directly violate free market principles. One prominent effort is the array of activities found within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which uses taxpayer dollars as incentives to lure businesses from out of state. It exists, as its website says, to “provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in the state.” GOED’s annual operating budget is over $30 million (see page 17) and over the past seven fiscal years, has caused the state to forgo $646 million in taxes to offer these incentives.

Imagine how it feels as an existing Utah business to see your own government, to which you have been paying substantial taxes over the years, using your tax dollars as an incentive to lure in a competitor. This logically bankrupt approach to economic development policy enables new companies to be paid by their competitors to siphon away their talented employees.

Through GOED, the government arbitrarily picks winners and losers in the marketplace, and as always, the politically-connected stand to benefit. This government agency regularly pats itself on the back for enticing businesses and movie studios to select Utah as their location of choice. This, they claim, is a boon for the local economy, arguing that the investment of some capital brings in long term capital to the state along with the associated increased taxation revenue. These positive ends cannot be attributed to the free market when the means used to obtain them are orchestrated, incentivized, and managed by the government.

Further, as was explained in a Pew Center on the States report last April on tax incentives, “no state regularly and rigorously tests whether those investments are working and ensures lawmakers consider this information when deciding whether to use them, how much to spend, and who should get them.” In other words, it is possible, and even quite likely, that the market successes being claimed and championed by the politicians would be just as likely to occur independent of such incentives.

Spencer Eccles, GOED’s executive director, argues that “It’s well worth it to pay a little bit back on the money that the company is paying into the state. You are reducing the total [tax revenue], but at the same time, were it not for the incentive, you would basically have no revenue.” This simply is not true. Companies come to Utah of their own accord all the time, without any incentives, and existing companies are forced to submit a substantial amount of their earnings to the state. There would be, and is, revenue independent of such incentives.

Whatever their effectiveness, robbing Peter to pay Paul (or in this case forcing Peter to pay more taxes to give a tax break to Paul’s business) is wrong and unfairly awards benefits to those who can successfully court a few bureaucrats. Governor Herbert said last night that he would “continue to work tirelessly with… the legislature to empower the private sector to create job opportunities for every Utahn.” GOED’s efforts empower a limited few businesses within the private sector only; to play fair, and to secure a free market, GOED must be dissolved.

No right to contract

What do hair braiders have in common with polygamists? Both groups, along with far too many others, are denied the right to contract. Immigrants, consumers of alcohol, would-be medical marijuana patients, midwives, plumbers, veterinarians, home owners, and hundreds of other types of people are denied the ability to engage in peaceful commerce as they please with another consenting adult without first needing to comply with the state’s illegitimate mandates as a condition of their contract.

Implied within the freedom to contract is the freedom to associate. The two are inseparably intertwined, and similarly violated by the state. Consider the well-publicized case of Kody Brown, a polygamist with four “wives.” He is legally married only to one, and cohabits with the others without having attempted to obtain a marriage license. Nevertheless, officials aimed to classify the relationship with his other wives as being a common law marriage, and thus violating federal anti-polygamy laws.

The Brown family had troubles with local officials as well, with Lehi police investigating the family to possibly charge them with bigamy, a third-degree felony, which could have meant up to two decades in prison for Kody and up to five years in prison for each of his wives. As the police noted, state code identifies bigamy by cohabitation, and not just through marriage contracts. In other words, state law violates the freedom of contract between these peaceful, loving persons, and prohibits their association. Fornication and adultery are materially similar (worse, actually) and exempt from legal punishment, but evidently making a commitment to a loving person with whom you want to live is rejected by the state.

Free markets do not exist without the freedoms of contract and association. Freedom itself requires these two fundamental components to be protected and available to all peaceful, law-abiding persons. Utah’s government systematically violates these core concepts of limited government and instead regulates behavior to shape society in a way the majority of politicians prefer.

The accolades aren’t wrong, just incomplete 

As we have said before, Utah is a wonderful place to live. Especially when compared with other states, Utah fares better in many regards, and for this we are thankful. But the state’s relative success does not justify the status quo; there is significant room for improvement.

To the extent that politicians throughout the state have taken actions consistent with individual liberty, private property, and the free market, then they should be applauded. There have been many praiseworthy efforts, both legislative and otherwise, to correct some of the aforementioned issues and to better secure liberty. We aim to help swing the political pendulum in that direction more quickly in the years ahead.

Implementing the proper solutions to our political problems requires having the proper benchmark against which we can judge the actions of those in charge. Last night’s address by Governor Herbert was yet one more example of the use of the wrong benchmark for good government. His remarks, which he titled “The Best Kind of Economic Recovery,” were chiefly centered around how Utah’s government will manage the economy to help create more jobs. For the current Governor, the state’s overall economic climate is the primary determination of how efficient and effective the state government is operating.

To the extent that the wrong benchmarks are used, then the wrong solutions will be implemented. Focusing on jobs and economic growth as a primary factor for determining how to manage the state has led, and will lead in the future, to an institutionalized infringement of individual liberty, which is given secondary status (if even that).

Instead, state officials should restore the “security of individual rights,” as Utah’s Constitution says, as a primary benchmark for good government. All actions taken, by any branch, agency, or level of government, should first look to this metric when determining how or if it will act.

In two sections of his address last night, the Governor claimed that the state of the State is “strong.” If the state’s affairs are analyzed solely based on economic factors, then perhaps his contention is accurate. But the information contained in this report, and other information that was excluded, suggests that the real state of the State is in fact weak, when liberty is the primary criteria used in the analysis. As Goethe said, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” Living under the current laws and regulations of the state, Utahns are not free.

Like the Governor, and many other government officials, we wish to improve Utah. We encourage state officials to consider the state of the State more broadly, and expand their view of what must be done to improve the lives of all Utahns.




13 comments
David Wayne Dommer
David Wayne Dommer

Wow! You have expressed the most important of any issue, that of true freedom and true liberty, excellent piece! The state of the State of Utah is and should. E an indicator nationwide as to the extent of government that is the very monopoly maker by transferring wealth and the few deciding for the many. Because of the socioeconomic development administered by government and the intrusive measures used to enforce what they deem "compulsive" to force inequality and pure unadulterated iations of the Supreme Law of the Land Instituted by the Constitution and the powerful God given Rivhts thereof, are in effect and actually demand Immediate justice by eliminating any and all laws that have infringed upon those very Rights. We have the truth, facts, law and evidence that supports your commentary and the tools lawfully to bring any of the public servants who are being paid ( on the backs of the very people they are writing "bills" against.) to justice if they do not do what we have voted them into their positions to do, and that is serve the private and their very Oaths state that they will obey, support and defend the Constitution and the inherent God given Rights that they themselves are so grateful for. That's why their Oaths of office are their reward or their detriment if they choose to execute their office morally and ethically according to the clear instruction given to us through our founders who warned us of the very situation we are faced with in this nation. I ask people to read the Declaration of Independence and ask themselves, shouldnt we as the people submit and petition this most important document right now! As the government we have upon us now is a much greater threat to our liberty than any situation previous!? We have all of the facts before with the 60 million statutory laws that are designed purely for ex hanging our Rights for privileges and therefor finding us in violation so that they can bring charges against and therefor "bank" with us. I know for a certainty through my studies that politicians and the corporate banking monopolies are trafficking in our energy by many of the violations to are liberty that you very clearly layout! Like the quote about thinking you are free when in fact your are not! I know many think "Treason" is a harsh accusation, but when you look at the definition and extent of injury associated with corrupt government and knowingly violating ones Rights, treason is what we are really talking about here!? The stance that you are taking is honorable and equitable for one and alls liberty, by accountability and a upstanding track record regarding the service rendered for the payment and security that one is compensated with. Many of them are bonded for the purpose of protection and we can bring justice to them through the federal court venues by seeing to their being absolute and honest in their service or pay the price! That's what we the people are presently Doing! Paying the price and losing our liberty on top of all of the fees and fines and ineffectivity of a poorly managed entity. Peace.

Bane73
Bane73

Good article. One correction to consider: a law prohibiting smoking in a vehicle with children is hardly a nanny law. It is explicitly protecting a victim unable to defend themselves. Just because its a child's parent doesn't make them totally immune, we wouldn't overlook a parent feeding poison to their child for example. And of course, smoking is poison.

Bane73
Bane73

 @Awar_e I think you are missing my point.  Completely.  I am not making the "do it for the children" argument.  Not at all.

 

If you read all of my comments below, I think it's pretty clear that I am arguing that forcing a person to ingest a poison is assault.  That since you can't force an adult to sit in a constrained environment while you smoke (say, a car), then smoking in a car with another adult doesn't constitute assault.  But since you can force a child to sit in such an environment, that does constitute assault.

 

In a nutshell, forcing a child to sit in a car while you smoke is assault.  Society has a duty (again, read the Declaration of Independence, it's pretty clear on the matter) to protect all of our basic natural rights -- particularly where we are in a situation where we are incapable of protecting those rights on our own (say, a small child trapped in a car with a smoker).

 

The challenge I put forth below applies here as well: if smoking in a car with a child does not constitute assault (or you concede it does but do not feel the child should be defended from such), how do you defend the laws protecting you from assault by your neighbor or protecting you from someone putting poison in your food?

 

And please don't tell me you subscribe to the argument @RhondaH  is making: get rid of all laws and let people all fend for themselves; that's not limited-government, it's non-government and anarchy and there would be no point in having a nation, constitution, DOI, etc.  Oh yeah, plus it would never work unless you replaced gov't with church; oh joy.

RhondaH
RhondaH

 @Bane73 If that is true, then what is the difference between the car law and a new law banning them from smoking in the house with their child?  

 

I think the idea here is the government doesn't believe that we will be accountable to anyone else so we must be accountable to them.  That's one reason John Adams' statement is true that the Constitution (or our state constitution) is sufficient only for a moral and religious people.  It's in large part because we know we will give an accounting to God, one where we cannot hide anything.  I am responsible.  I am loving.  I am moral.   (http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,moral)  The government is so afraid of people making wrong choices that they abridge the rest of us in our ability to make good ones, speaking generally here.  

Bane73
Bane73

 @RhondaH  There is no difference.  And there SHOULD be laws about not smoking in a house with children.  

 

It's one thing to not invent laws to be make people accountable for everything -- but if you make absolutely no laws to protect the innocent who can't protect themselves, what kind of moral society is that?  Are you asserting that everyone will automatically be moral?  Clearly not.

 

If you would argue that smoking in cars/homes around children should NOT be illegal then what defense could you possibly have for laws stating that you can't poison an adult or that you can't dump toxic waste into a community's water supply?

 

I am as libertarian as they come.  

But I draw the line at the point where I could abuse my freedom against the interests of a person unable to defend themselves or situations where I could harm another without them realizing it -- I view those conditions as similar to fraud.  

Creating those laws won't stop everyone intent on harming those people -- but it will make everyone aware that it's wrong and thus keep it to a minimum -- and that's the point.  

 

You and I are intelligent and moral and don't need such laws.

But when I was 20, the same was not exactly true -- had I been a smoking parent I may have engaged in such wreckless conduct.  I know because I look back with regret when I used to babysit my buddy's boy and turn the car stereo up way louder than I should have with a small child in the car.

 

Again, before you just go citing "protectionist law" -- explain how making a law against dumping toxins into our water is justifiable but dumping toxins into a child's confined breathing space is not.

 

Maybe I'm missing the point; if you can explain the difference between those two, I'll be happy to listen and possibly change my view.

David Wayne Dommer
David Wayne Dommer

@Bane73 @RhondaH Apoology warranted!!! Shhhhh. No assumption or presumption period, zero, zip!

Bane73
Bane73

 @RhondaH I appreciate this last reply.  It does indeed clarify quite a bit.  I find little to argue with here so I feel confident in agreeing that -- in the large -- I think we have more in common than I last thought.  Thank you for your effort to clarify.  :)

 

I agree that general religious/moral principles are a core the vast majority of us can agree on -- I am no Christian, for example, but as a Deist I can agree with most of the basic big ethics points that most Christians believe belong as a part of our public discourse.

 

I agree with the point that it is preferable to hold the ideal of having a society that understands the basics of liberty vs. responsibility in lieu of legislating every detail.

 

But we didn't devolve to this point overnight; it has taken us over 100 years to wreck our system.  Turning near-total responsibility over to a populace we spent 100 years stripping away their sense of morality and understanding of liberty, and hoping they sort it out in time without creating a whole bunch of victims, I don't believe is reasonable.

 

It's an ideal to strive for.  But in the meantime we have worse battles to wage and could spend less time fighting about this ideal and more time focusing on the larger problems.  We have to work, over a long stretch, to re-educate our youth on the issues of liberty vs. responsibility (ie: ethics) -- but in the meantime we have to deal with the very real and present dangers of gun grabs, money and power grabs, corruption, gangs, etc.  And part of that includes adults who don't give a damn about a child's health.  We have to worry about un-winding so many big gov't programs that, at this moment, in this time, it just doesn't ring as sensible to me to spend our efforts convincing legislators to not support a bill that otherwise is morally sound.

 

If you tell the general public this bill is bad, I guarantee they won't "get it" -- and will label you as a radical not worth listening to.  All of the rest of your otherwise great ideas with more likelihood of being understood will be instead ignored.

 

In other words, you've got to pick your battles. 

Trust me, this battle isn't worth having -- perhaps in 50 or 100 years things will be more prime.

 

At any rate, thank you for your efforts to clarify.  I really do appreciate the opportunity to better understand where you are coming from.

RhondaH
RhondaH

 @Bane73 

Please allow me to clarify a couple points.

 

One, I do not speak for the creators of this website nor for the Libertas Institute itself.  I'm attracted to it because they are working to teach people to educate themselves on what liberty is and how to make a difference in its advancement.  However, each of us still understands 'liberty'  slightly differently from the next person.

 

Two, I clearly was not expressing my point of view well enough.  I am not an anarchist.  I believe that the state and nation do have a place in creating and executing the law, as well as in judging cases individually as needed. They, however, have taken a good thing and turned it to a bad one.  In my point about the three choices we face, the first choice was about continuing to legislate more and more details.  I believe law is necessary, law which fits under the Founders' overall intent of the Constitution.  We've been fed so many lies about the Founders and the Constitution that the challenge is to find the truth.  One of the truths, though, is that they believed in God and our responsibility to Him, both as citizens and lawgivers, and that religion is absolutely essential.  Religion is what colors every choice you make, every action you take, whether it is organized religion or not.  There are 'universal morals' that we can all agree on, no matter our religious affiliation. Benjamin Franklin, among others, promoted these.  For a list, see http://www.universalmoralcode.com/sources.html

 

The term 'Christian anarchy' is a misnomer, one which I think has been given deliberately.  Christ will eventually be our literal king, but that time's not here yet.

 

I'm sorry for the confusion stemming from my lack of clarity earlier.  I won't carry on this conversation any longer because I think it's going on a wide tangent and detracts from the article above.  Thank you for your study and thought in the pursuit of  liberty.  It's sometimes hard to find common ground in this format, but I'm confident that we have it.   

Bane73
Bane73

 @RhondaH I'm sorry but I cannot follow your line of reasoning here.  It is so anathema to our founding principles, and so tainted with religiosity (note: our founders believed in morals/ethics and a general public sense of religious basics but were not fans of pushing any particular view of religion over another like you are doing here), that I cannot find a common ground we might share to build from.  Without a common ground, we who profess freedom will never be able to conduct a coordinated effort to save our nation from socialism or "party"-ism.

 

The Declaration of Independence very clearly states that our basic natural rights are Life, Liberty, and Happiness (also often referred to as Conscience or Property in other documents around that time).  It then goes on to say that the sole basis of creating gov't is to secure these rights.  It's obvious that a "strong-man" doesn't need these rights protected against anyone (aside from the larger body politic), thus gov't exists primarily to secure these rights for the weak (and, again, for the individual against the collective).  

 

It should be just as obvious that a fundamental part of securing my "liberty" (as well as my "happiness") is to secure me against assault.  

 

Assault comes in many forms, but in a civil society (ie: law-based and where all are equal and equivalent before the law) no person should be allowed to assault another (personal DEFENSE is clearly not assault, I'm not talking about the right to self-defense here); thus, the *initiation* of aggression must be regulated and delegated solely to the gov't.  Else not, if your neighbor wanted to walk up and punch you in the face, s/he could do so with no legal ramification.  That's all fine and dandy, I suppose, if you are proposing we should live in an anarchic society -- but AFAIK this site proposes we live in a society true to our founding documents.

 

The DOC clearly states: "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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men".

 

What you are proposing we change to is totally contrary to the traditional USC and is essentially anarchy.  Have fun with that if that's what you are going for.  Christian Anarchism is nothing I want anything to do with, nor does 99.999% of America of even Utah.

 

If this site is intending to promote that sort of foolishness, it will never be a political force in Utah.  I sure hope like hell that this view you're pushing is not what this site is intending.

 

I want basic laws protecting me from the abuse of others.  That's a far cry from telling me how to be moral or what I should do to maintain my health.  But, yes, I want a basic simple framework to give me legal protection against abuses of others -- otherwise my only recourse would be to constantly fight and shoot people who abuse me and I really don't want to be doing that every day.

 

 

RhondaH
RhondaH

 @Bane73  @RhondaH 

Consequences are a necessary part of growth and learning.  Again, what happens for good or bad in law depends on the character of those in whichever part of the government they are functioning in.

 

You're focusing on the consequences of having unrighteous and immoral citizens and leaders.  I'm trying to point out the only real solution- 

repent, 

and return.

Bane73
Bane73

@RhondaH Are you suggesting that we repeal the assault laws too then?

RhondaH
RhondaH

 @Bane73 

The point is that it is a very slippery slope, where it is easy for the government to take the stance of  'we know better than you so we'll decide for you'.   My point of view is that this was the very issue that was fought in the war in heaven.  One side wanted to limit our choices and consequences and claimed this would result in amazing things.  The other side was about teaching truths, learning to discern between good and evil through observing and experiencing.    Only one option results in people experiencing true growth and advancement.  The price of one is restriction of abilities and growth.  The price of the other is some pain and suffering along the way, but with a Savior to make it all fair in the end.

 

Both of us agree that we live in an over-regulated, over-legislated society.  The point is to find how we can reverse that trend.  When people are making increasingly stupid and destructive decisions, we have three options or a combination of the three.  

-One is to continue to legislate more and more.  This results in code so large nobody can stay on top of it, let alone comply with all of it.  It also results in people who don't think but instead look to someone else to tell them what they can and can't do, or who rage against it.

-The next is to stop legislating and instead punish actual crime.  This can also be a slippery slope, depending on the belief system of whomever  is making the judgment call on what constitutes a crime.

-The third is to teach the people correct principles, to make popular ideas that are aligned correctly with eternal and natural law, to remind people that they will ultimately answer to God for everything they do.  This is why religion is so absolutely essential to an orderly and prosperous society.  Eternal truths are found in true religion, and through them we learn to better discern - and choose- between what ultimately builds what can endure forever and what ultimately destroys it.  

 

Using the third method eliminates the need for the first option, and eliminates the danger inherent in the second.  People can govern themselves when they are moral and educated, as Brett said.    That was basis of the Great Experiment, and must be returned to in order to enjoy our God-given rights.

brett530
brett530

You guys are arguing the same thing our founding fathers caught over. the constitution and our liberties only work when we have a moral and educated population. the problem we face now is, thanks to liberals, we don't have a very moral or educated population. The foundation of liberty is being systematically eroded.

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