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An Objectivist Declaration Of Independence

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I did it. I wrote a declaration summing up what the government should be, in my opinion. I would love to hear reasonable debate, and I'm very open to editions.

On July 4, 1776, our forefathers voiced their belief that their political condition was unjust and prohibitive to their rights as men. In their brilliant declaration, they put forth their grievances, and announced their independence, justly citing their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Once more, the right of the people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is being suppressed. Thus, it is necessary for the people affected to voice their objections and demand justice. It is in the spirit of the same patriotism that drove our founding fathers that we voice the following concerns.

Our forefathers demanded the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In no way did this imply that one be provided with happiness, but simply the right to the pursuit of it. We find the government’s responsibility here to be the protection of the pursuit, independent of coercion by any party, including itself. In this respect, the government has failed.

Our government has forced us to contribute to the happiness of others, at our expense, without our consent. This is to say, we have been taxed to fund programs we did not choose to fund. The motivation of these programs has been social spirit, and so we declare our right to determine individually what constitutes social spirit.

The government of the United States has required, under threat of incarceration, that we support a welfare program that wrenches our earnings from us for redistribution to those who have not earned what is being given to them. We assert this to be the same, in spirit, to those beneficiaries robbing us in the street. We have paid for the education of the masses, without our consent. We have funded the subsidies of businesses incapable of staying afloat, without our consent. The government has taken our money, our work, and given it away, against our will.

A great many of these programs are important to the citizens of this nation. Then we say let those citizens continue to contribute, from their own earnings, to these programs. We simply demand the right to refuse. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America specifically grants us this right, and it is thus we demand that the unconstitutional taxation of our nation immediately cease.

We recognize the government’s right, however, to demand compensation for services rendered to its citizens. Thus the cost of its own upkeep can rightly be demanded in exchange for citizenship. This cost, however, must be equally divided amongst all constituents. Any services rendered to its citizens by the government, can justly require compensation, and we therefore recognize the right of the government to charge its citizens appropriately for law enforcement, military protection, contract enforcement, and any other direct action either voluntarily provided or reasonably included in maintenance and protection of citizenship. We recognize the right of any citizen to choose not to pay for citizenship, but we do not recognize the right of that individual to enjoy the benefits of that which they will not pay for.

Our government has not been fiscally responsible. The military has been used outside of the purpose of self defense. The government has funded programs that do not benefit every citizen equally. The Fifth Amendment states that we must be justly compensated for any private property seized by the government. Because the people of our nation are required to pay for their government in exchange for their constituency, it is imperative that they be compensated justly. Any government action outside of the interests of all of its citizens is illegal.

Our government has taken a hand in our business practices, refusing to allow the market to follow its own course. With the short run in mind, the government has acted to protect the rights of its workers. We assert that these rights can only be called such so long as they do not violate the rights of others. No right which benefits one party at the expense of another can be correct.

We recognize the right to assemble. With this right comes the right of a workers’ union to demand adequate treatment from an employer. We recognize the right of an employer to hire a worker that will work under lesser conditions; we recognize the right of a union to strike in defense of these beliefs; we recognize the right of the employer to replace these workers, and to bear the consequences. Should he be correct in his denial; should the union’s demands be unjust, it shall be his right to protect his interests. Should the union be justified in their requests, the public may boycott the employer; the replacement workers may be under-qualified. The employer will be the winner or the loser for his or her own choice. We make known our indignation at government coercion. The Constitution of the United States can not be construed to deny the rights of the people, as is stated in its Ninth Amendment.

We recognize the rights appropriated to us in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. We recognize the right to freedom of speech, of belief, of expression, of petition. We demand that this right be upheld in a way that does not violate the rights of others. The government has no right to force one man to provide forum for another. No person shall be required to voice any opinion contrary to their own beliefs. A newspaper; a television or radio station can not be required to spread the beliefs of any individual without its consent. A store owner can not be forced to let someone defame them on their own property. Again, the Constitution can not be construed to deny the rights of the people.

Though inconvenient, we demand that all of the rights assured to us by the Constitution of the United States of America be upheld by the government of our nation. We demand that any law or government action contrary to the rights of any citizen be immediately repealed or abolished. This includes amendments to the constitution created after its inception. To act otherwise is in direct violation of the principals embodied by our country as envisioned by its creators.

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Very interesting. I've never seen anyone actually go through the effect to even make a draft! Kudos.

I'd take a lot of the government transgression details out; simply stating that the government has violated the rights of the people might be sufficient... and make it a lot shorter :worry:

I also wouldn't mind something to the effect of all people are really created equal, i.e. minorities have equal rights.

We recognize the right of any citizen to choose not to pay for citizenship, but we do not recognize the right of that individual to enjoy the benefits of that which they will not pay for.

That could get contentious...

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The main issue I was wrestling with was the idea of compensation for services rendered. Forcing someone to pay for something is immoral, but the government provides its constituents with certain services that individuals can not opt out of. National defense is the prime example here, another is simply having a government institution.

I tried to use the original Constitution as the starting point for my grievance, as I was trying to talk about violations of rights rather than changes in the definitions of those rights. Therefore I went to the original Bill of Rights and found an amendment stating that no private property could be seized for the public good without just compensation. I think this makes sense, because in this case no one loses, and I took this to provide moral license for certain kinds of taxation (which many on this board seem totally opposed to, I'd love to discuss this further). I feel that the institutions of government, law enforcement, and national defense are all just compensations for the price of their funding, and no citizen can really "opt out" of these services.

Therefore I consider it appropriate that since the government is obligated to supply its services (protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) to all of its constituents regardless of whether they want them, it's only fair to charge the constituency for a sort of "price of admission." The only way to make this non-coercive is to say "If you don't want to live in this country, you don't have to."

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I don't go into politics much, but I'll give my two cents:

Therefore I went to the original Bill of Rights and found an amendment stating that no private property could be seized for the public good without just compensation. I think this makes sense, because in this case no one loses, and I took this to provide moral license for certain kinds of taxation (which many on this board seem totally opposed to, I'd love to discuss this further). I feel that the institutions of government, law enforcement, and national defense are all just compensations for the price of their funding, and no citizen can really "opt out" of these services.

"Just compensation" could get quite tricky. Who'd decide what is "just?" Who would be capable of deciding the "just compensation" for, say, Galt's motor research? Just some ideas, but remember that a Declaration doesn't have to go into all the specifics, just the general idea. Incidentally, I'm not sure whether you've read it or not, but Anarchy, State, and Utopia (by Robert Nozick?) might be of interest to you, as it touches on a lot of these issues. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but he does make a case.

Therefore I consider it appropriate that since the government is obligated to supply its services (protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) to all of its constituents regardless of whether they want them, it's only fair to charge the constituency for a sort of "price of admission." The only way to make this non-coercive is to say "If you don't want to live in this country, you don't have to."

It's late (or early?) so bear that in mind with my responses B)

One question toward this might be what about the poor and those unable to pay for whatever reason? Alternatively, if you can't use your land how you wish (i.e. must support gov't,) are property rights truly sovereign?

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These are excellent points, but I to respond to your first statement,

Who'd decide what is "just?" Who would be capable of deciding the "just compensation" for, say, Galt's motor research?
it's not the government's right to determine something like that. The only thing I meant by "just compensation" was that there are certain services which a government must render its citizens, such as military, law enforcement, etc. Just because someone wasn't willing to pay for the police doesn't mean he can break the law. But it's unethical to force the government to provide any service uncompensated, as the government is an abstraction made up of individuals bestowed with certain powers granted by the people. To make someone work for free is contrary to morality.

Others have stated that contract enforcement fees could pay for the government, but I find this to be unfair as well. Why should those paying these fees have to fund everyone's government? This is fundamentally wrong, though I have yet to reach this chapter in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and eventually I could be changing my tune on this if provided with a good enough argument.

Thus I feel that in instances where the people must come together, to agree on a responsibility to bestow upon their government, they implicitly agree to pay for the carrying out of these responsibilities. You make a good point in,

if you can't use your land how you wish (i.e. must support gov't,) are property rights truly sovereign?

But it's in the protection of your property rights that the government is working in this instance, and this protection, like insurance, for example, costs money.

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I'm not clear on what your purpose is. It's one thing to object to certain characteristics of current government, and another to state the principles that describes how government should operate. This doesn't mean that you have to rigorously pick one to the exclusion of the other, but my evaluation is that you don't put enough into the justification for reform, but also don't make the straight normative declarations sufficiently comprehensive -- maybe you should write two essays.

I need to object to one particular part:

Though inconvenient, we demand that all of the rights assured to us by the Constitution of the United States of America be upheld by the government of our nation. We demand that any law or government action contrary to the rights of any citizen be immediately repealed or abolished. This includes amendments to the constitution created after its inception. To act otherwise is in direct violation of the principals embodied by our country as envisioned by its creators.
First, what is "inconvenient" about recognising and respecting the rights of people? Second, why would convenience be a relevant consideration? Third, rights that are actually assured by the Constitution are upheld by the government. The problem is that "Constitutionally recognised right" is not the same thing as "objectively justified right". Overall, the Amendments have been a good thing, not bad thing, from the rights-protecting POV. It's really hard to identify any right as being guaranteed just given the original, unamended Constitution, so defining "rights" with reference to that original statement would be a significant step backwards. In fact what we need is a clear and unambiguous statement of individual rights, and a defining statement that limits the function of government to propection of those rights. That's what isn't found in the Constitution.
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First, what is "inconvenient" about recognising and respecting the rights of people?
Completely restructuring the government of this country to "recognize and respect the rights of people" would be a colossal undertaking.

Second, why would convenience be a relevant consideration?

At least in my experience, the "but that's just the way it is" argument holds a frightening amount of water. That sentence was thrown in for the benefit of those not subscribing to our beliefs.

Overall, the Amendments have been a good thing, not bad thing, from the rights-protecting POV
When I said I was for repealling amendments made after the inception of the original Constitution, I meant only those amendments which contradict the ideas of the orginal document, or which violate the rights of any individual. Perhaps I should rephrase:

This includes amendments to the constitution created after its inception.

To say "This includes amendments to the Constitution created after its inception which violate these rights, as dictated by the Ninth Amendment."

my evaluation is that you don't put enough into the justification for reform, but also don't make the straight normative declarations sufficiently comprehensive
I would appreciate examples of this and constructive criticism, it's hard to work from a blanket statement like that.

In fact what we need is a clear and unambiguous statement of individual rights, and a defining statement that limits the function of government to propection of those rights.

Can you help me out with that? I thought I captured it, but I guess not. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks so much for taking interest! I really appreciate it.

Edited by donnywithana
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Can you help me out with that? I thought I captured it, but I guess not. Do you have any suggestions?
The point that needs to be emphasised, above all, is that man has the right to seek those values that support his life, and that it is for the individual to determine through reason what those values are. The proper role of government is to protect that right, by controlling the use of force -- protecting the individual against the initiation of force, and using retaliatory force only under objectively justified circumstances exclusively for the protection of the rights of individuals.

This is the purpose of government -- yet many people do not understand that fact. It is a very simple purpose, and my suggestion is that focusing on this one simple fact is where you should put your effort. With this point clearly stated, so much follows automatically. There is no independent "right to assembly" -- that is just an instantiation of the right to act in pursuit of your chosen values; there is no independent right to seek or hold a job -- again, that is just a specific instance of the right to act in pursuit of your chosen values. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is itself too specific.

I also suggest not getting too tangled up in an idealization of what the Constitution might, under some interpretation, be thought to have said. The 5th amendment does not guarantee us the right to not pay taxes; note that no rights are guaranteed to the individual and generally rights are granted to "the people". Only the most twisted reading of the Constitution and the 9th and 10th amendments can lead one to think that congress does not have the power to build hospitals for free healthcare and pay for it with tax money. Congress has the power to do whatever it dang well pleases except for requiring the professing of a particular religion, prohibiting criticism of the government, outlawing guns entirely, and those other rights expressly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. It's just a distraction to claim that the Constitution prohibits taxation when that has clearly been proven false -- the emphasis should be on the fact that the Constitution should prohibit taxation.

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I also wouldn't mind something to the effect of all people are really created equal, i.e. minorities have equal rights.

If a legal standard - at a Constitutional level - states that all citizens are protected equally under the law, why would special provisions need to be made for minorities, women, etc.? Even a mention sort of implies a meaning of "all people are protected, even those people", as if it's a common assumption that a lesbian of Eskimo descent would otherwise be excluded from the protections a hetero white male would enjoy.

A is A; "all citizens" means "all citizens".

Furthermore, I'd change that "created equal" part to simply "are equal". All you have to do is define what legally constitutes a citizen, and lock down equal protection. You can't outlaw religion in politics, but, assuming a proper Constitution would have a clearly defined amendment or clause abolishing official church law from becoming (or being used as the basis for) state law, I'd hate to leave an opening like using created or creator - especially Creator.

Although I'd welcome the coming of a Second Constitutional Congress before the mess really hits the fan, I fear that there may not be enough men of the mind - or even men of the Enlightenment - to truly and finally secure the sovereignty individual rights. Many things would have to happen first, and it would take many decades to reverse the damage done, especially by some of the breaches written into the original, unamended Constitution.

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... nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I also wouldn't mind something to the effect of all people are really created equal, i.e. minorities have equal rights.

All you have to do is define what legally constitutes a citizen, and lock down equal protection.

It appears that you two have not learned the lessons of History. Notice all the trouble which has flowed out of the word "equal" in the fourteenth Amendment: anti-discrimination laws which compel discrimination and violate property rights; "affirmative" action; national government oversight of virtually anything States or localities do; etc..

Equality is not a value. It could be, and often is, achieved by pulling down the successful rather than lifting up the unsuccessful.

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If a legal standard - at a Constitutional level - states that all citizens are protected equally under the law, why would special provisions need to be made for minorities, women, etc.?

The Declaration of Independence also stated something similar (though all people didn't have equal rights then,) and I don't recall if "citizen" was clearly denoted in his Objectivist DoI.

It appears that you two have not learned the lessons of History.

Equality is not a value.

Perhaps, but equality of rights is far different from equalizing of means. Equality of rights, with what the "rights" are being briefly explained, is something that is quite necessary.

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I think that before we start getting caught up in some of the things being discussed, the ability of the government to pry money away from someone needs to be circumvented. If people want to have Affirmative Action, and they're willing to fund it, then that's something that the government can not morally get involved in. The same thing goes for non-forceful racism, prejudice, etc. If people want to be stupid, that's their prerogative, and can't be legislated for or against.

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