Monday, June 01, 2020

Is Justice the concern of those shouting for 'justice!'?

My own life & liberty, and that of my family & friends, depends upon the individual rights of everyone of my fellow citizens (without regard to their wealth, race or religion) being equally upheld and defended by the rule of law. For those charged with personally enforcing the law, to slight or abuse anyone's rights, let alone physically injure or even deprive them of their life - whether by negligence, callous disregard or deliberate murder - is a horror and an infuriating offense beyond my ability to express. On being found guilty after due application of the law, such officers should, must, be brought to feel the full weight and punishment allowed by law.

That is what justice requires. Is that also what you require?

What are your reactions to 'obvious' injustices in the news - not necessarily your first reaction, as that can be, maybe even should be, an emotional one, but about the first reaction that you thought to broadcast to the world on social media or by your vocal presence in the streets? I felt the same reaction as I suspect most people did, on seeing a man subdued, plaintively crying for his mother, and dying in police custody - but what would you have me do with my outrage, and why? Is expressing my outrage on social media going to benefit, George Floyd? Is it going to somehow turn the wheels of justice that had already begun turning after his death was publicized (the four police involved were fired, and one arrested before this weekend's rioting)? Would taking to Social Media and trumpeting additional anger at 'the police', or 'the system' or just injustice in general - would that be expressing a concern with Justice, or with expressing a personal 'judgement!' on the little that is known about something which we all ought to know has much more to be known than what is available on Facebook or Twitter? Does calling me a racist because I haven't vented my spleen on Facebook, serve your desire to see 'justice!' for George Floyd?

If you are concerned with justice, here are some non-negotiable starting points that are hopefully not just mine alone:
  1. What seems so obvious to you might be wrong.
  2. I don't know all of the facts.
  3. Justice is not possible unless you pointedly "hear the other side"
  4. "No one can be an impartial judge in their own cause"
Justice is something that can only come from a methodical process of examining the facts, determining their full context, identifying whose individual rights were violated, weighing whether or not that is something the Law (govt) properly has a say in, and then determining what actions, penalties, rewards, will best confirm and carry out that judgment.

If that isn't the position that you start from, then justice is not what you are aiming at, and more than likely, massaging your own shallow ego, is. You are aiming at expressing your feelings, demonstrating your outrage, flattering your own self-importance, and seeing to it that others see how visibly you flatter those positions that are popular to you both, etc., but nowhere within such an aim as that, is there or can there be an actual interest in Justice.

 Do you disagree? Do you truly equate Justice with, inflammatory outbursts, unruly and even violent demands for 'fairness!', speaking out 'for the oppressed!' while muzzling any and all dissent? Does somehow your 'Getting even!' with the faceless serve anything but your own interests? Or maybe you are one of those with an Ivy League education who've 'learned' that 'speaking truth to power!' involves firebombing police cars (one of many reasons why I view the 'Ivy League' as more weed patch than flower garden) will somehow serve the noble agenda of altering the political landscape for 'Social Justice!'?

Do I really need to bother to point out that none of those actions are the least bit interested in the interests of Justice?

Whatever your feelings for the police might be, if justice has any place within your own interests, the nature of that job which all of us depend upon being done, and how charges of impropriety on the job are to be handled, must be considered. An officer of the law does a job that routinely requires the use of physical force, and even the proper use of deadly force, in the course of their work. Those people that the policemen's duties bring them into contact with, of course include persons and criminals who, having a vested interest either in escaping justice themselves, or even from sheer spite, will falsely accuse the police of a crime. Assuming of course that justice is your goal, how do you think such incidents should be handled?

Police departments have procedures for handling and investigating such incidents, and for removing their officers from active duty while the investigation proceeds; there are defined steps and criteria for determining if the charges have substance, and for discipling or even putting such a policemen under arrest, if the evidence warrants it.

Assuming that Justice is your goal, should those procedures be followed all of the time, or should they be pragmatically bypassed when passions are running high? Do you think such procedures should be tossed aside because, ya know, you just know he's guilty?

Say, would you like the police to be able to throw you in jail because, ya know, they just know you're guilty?

What should we do? I'm not asking what we want, or what we feel, but what should we do to ensure that Justice is served? Does screaming for the cops head on a platter serve justice? Does posting and publicly posturing about how outraged you are serve justice? Can I assume that you understand that the answer to that is: 'No'?

If you're a person who believes that the police or government are routinely violating your rights and the rights of others, then if justice is your goal, you may well decide to protest. I can understand and fully support the people who do believe (rightly or wrongly) that an injustice has been committed, and that if they see it is part of a long pattern of similar injustices, will feel the need to publicly protest in order to draw attention to their grievance. I support them 100% in that. I've done the same myself in the past, and I've helped organize protests, large ones, over a period of several years. But our peaceful protests, were actually peaceful, orderly, and clean, and they were so, because Justice was our goal. When we found malcontents and bad actors in our midst, we exposed and rooted them out, and expelled them from our protests, because justice was our concern, and not theirs. Fortunately for us back then, there were very few bad seeds in our midst and so they were easy to identify, isolate, and expel. Unfortunately for those protesting the George Floyd incident today, because of the political ideals that've long been supported in our urban areas and schools, their ranks are riddled with those who don't give a damn about George Floyd's life, or of other people's lives, individual rights, property, or justice, they care about political power only, and expelling them from their midst is going to be a herculean task.

Dear non-black people, STOP DOING THIS!

Assuming that Justice is your concern, is it right to demand that when someone dies while a cop is making an arrest - even if you have pictures and video - does it serve justice to assume that the case is closed, no investigation necessary, throw him in jail? Is it justifiable to not just protest, but to riot and loot businesses and neighborhoods and destroy the livelihoods of those with no connection to those police actions? Is it justifiable at all - AT ALL - to lend your vocal Social Media support to those who do inflict violence and rage upon communities across the nation, in order to 'express yourself'?

I feel the outrage over a man who appears to have lost his life, due to the callous disregard of his person, by the very police that we all rely upon to uphold and defend the lives, property and individual rights of us all - there are few greater outrages in civil society. I understand and support the decision by some to peacefully protest that such injustices occur, and to do so repeatedly.

I do not, however, in any way shape or form, allow that any peaceful protest involves obstructing or abusing the lives and property of others. The moment a single protester upends a trashcan upon a car, let alone breaks a window, that protest ceases being peaceful, and unless those who did come to protest peacefully, expels and/or subdues those bad actors, then their protest will be transformed by them into a mob, and the looters, vandals and arsonists who are part and parcel of such mobs will have transformed that once peaceful protest, into a riot, and that opens all involved up to being put down with whatever exercise of force - including lethal force - that the police and/or National Guard deems to be best suited to eliminating that threat, with the least potential of harm for the public, police and/or National Guard.


Are you still with me, or is that a bridge too far for you to go? If so, you may well be one of those who, despite our warnings, gushed over 'Occupy Wallstreet',  and who did not understand that that trajectory would lead from there to the rioting in Ferguson, or from there to college, and to Antifa, and on down to where we are today, but there's one thing to be learned from your example: Justice has no place in your thoughts, and tomorrow is going to be a true surprise for you, and a painful repeat of history for those of us who've paid alarmed attention to what history has for teach its lessons to the slow learners.
Those of you posting and preening about 'Justice!', whether you're a run-of-the-mill Pro-Regressive leftist who gives little thought to a consideration of matters beyond your feelings, or the more deliberate supporter of 'fascist organizations such as antifa', or one of the many anti-authority Libertarians, I personally hold the straight-up looter in much higher regard, than I do you. The fellow who sees the lack of order as a means of obtaining something of actual value for himself, who doesn't bother with the obvious deceptions and perversions of 'justice' that the 'Virtue Signaler' is engaged in, I rank them head and shoulders above the rest of the mob. I'm still ok with the looter being shot on sight of course, but I still have more respect for them, than for those of you who hurl your virtue signaling out into the public mind, in order to stoke the flames of unrest and transform truly peaceful protests into murderous riots, in the name of 'Social Justice!'

In a just society, it is the Preaners and Anarchists who would be the object of condemnation and protest. One day, perhaps, we might again enjoy living in such a society as that. One day. After we've learned that such thoughts of vengeance and anger sully the minds of those who think them.

Whether we have a long, long, way to go before we again see the sun rise on a land like that, or we get to live in that world today, depends only upon our seeking real Justice for all, and giving each other the respect due to a fellow human being, because they are a human being, just like you.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Remembering Memorial Day, once more and evermore

American war dead, Flanders Field, Belgium
Remembering, once again... Memorial Day... it is enough to remember today those who have fallen in defense of our nation. But it's not all we can do, for them or for us, and to leave it there, I think, deprives them, and you, of an important part of what they died for. It seems to me that you can remember them even more completely if you will remember what it was that they gave their lives in defense of. If you remember why it was that their lives came to be remembered on this day, then you can in some sense repay them and also deepen your own position in your own life.

Do you remember what Memorial Day was designated for you to remember? It has changed over the years, but it began as 'Decoration Day', back in 1868, on May 30th, a day chosen because it didn't mark the anniversary of any battle - an important point - as a day to officially mark, what people had unofficially been doing across the land on their own for some while, decorating the many, many graves of those who had 'died in the late rebellion'. After WWI, when many more graves were dug, the day was changed to Memorial Day to remember all of those who have died in service of their country, in all of its wars.

But what does it mean to remember? What can it do? Remember... the members of our lives who were lost can never be re-membered... those who are gone are gone forever, but in the service of... what? Why did they give their lives? Why decorate the graves of soldiers, those who have gone before their time, lives which were violently lost... why? Family and friends will remember their fallen family and friends, they have no need of a national holiday to do that, there is no use for you who they do not know to pretend to remember those you never knew - but that is not what we pause this day to remember.

What did their untimely deaths have to do with your life here and now?

Does their death have any relevance to your life? Asking another question might put us closer to the trail, what relevance can your life have to your nation without remembering why they lost theirs?

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who gave their lives, the 'last full measure of devotion' in the service of the United States of America, but not just to their homeland - any country can do that, and they do - nothing exceptional there.

But we are an exceptional nation, and simple remembrance will not do, because simply defending their homeland is not what they did or why they did it.

Why did they do it? What did it mean?

Maybe it'll help by looking at it from the perspective of the Oath which led them into the military life which put their own lives at risk for yours,
"I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
That is what they risked and lost their lives for, was it worth it? Do you grant their lost lives a value in yours? And that is the heart of it isn't it? Does the life they lost have value in yours?

Well, if you can say the words "your life", as something you live, something which you value and have some measure of control over, then yes, their lives were lost in service of your being able to think of your life as yours, and that - that is something which should cause you a spasmed breath, one abruptly caught in your chest in reverence and awe... that another's last breath was let go as 'darkness veiled his eyes' not just so that you could draw your previous, current and next breath as you wish, but so you could do so in a state of liberty.

Now I think we're getting closer to re-membering them and memorializing their life, through yours. Let's chase that a little further.

What does it take to say 'your life'? What does it take to live your life? What must you do, absent simply having others take care of you, what must you do to live? First off, you must use your head, you must think... but just thinking isn't enough to continue living, after all, you could very well choose to think that by imagining very clearly and distinctly that your shoe would become a salmon if you declare it so, but such thinking would do nothing to advance your life. For your thinking to benefit your life, it must be productive, and to do that it must reflect reality... your life will continue on only if at least some of your ideas help you to transform the reality you face on a daily basis into those materials and conditions which benefit your life... food, shelter, etc, IOW 'nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed'.

For your life, to be lived, you must be free to think, for your thoughts to benefit your life you must see to it that they respect reality - cherish truth -  for your freedom of thought to be anything other than a mockery, you must be free to put them into action, and again, for your thoughts and your actions to be a benefit to you, rather than a mockery, you must be free to retain and use that which your thoughts and actions have produced, and what they produce is called property.

Today, for the lives we remember having been lost, to have meaning and value to us, your life must be able to be lived in the spirit which they gave their own lives up for, that of liberty; the liberty to live your life in the pursuit of happiness in your life.

Those we memorialize today gave their last full measure of devotion in service of the document which makes that possible, the Constitution of the United States of America, a document which outlines the ideas necessary for ensuring your ability to live your life, in liberty and pursuing happiness. They gave their life for the ideas which best reflect the reality of life and the requirements of man living in liberty so that in his life, if he applies his thoughts to actions which serve to produce the materials he needs, that will enable you to live your life and pursue the happiness you seek in life, secure in that property which you expend the actions of your life in producing.

The Constitution was designed to do just that. It was worth fighting and risking death for, because it was seen as the means to securing a life worth living for, for themselves, their families, and their posterity - you.

The Constitution, was designed with a profound understanding of human nature in mind, and was structured in such a way as to give voice to the major perspectives of life so that:
  • - the people at large, concerned in the issues of the moment, shall have a voice in the House of Representatives
  • - the states shall have a voice through those people who have lived successful will have a perspective favorable for preserving everyone's property through their voice in the Senate
  • - these two perspectives shall be combined to use create legislation operating for the benefit of the people, within certain enumerated powers
  • - when both houses agree upon laws, the nation has a voice in the President as chief executive, to reject or sign legislation into law and see to it that the laws of the land are faithfully executed
  • - the law itself has a voice in the Judicial branch which is concerned that laws are applied justly to the people in whose name they were written
These branches are structured in such a way, utilizing the famous checks and balances, so as to have just enough interest in the other branches as to wish to see them function well, as well as to wish to preserve their own branches from becoming slighted and unbalanced.

The founders knew well that most states fall into ruin not under promises of harm but under promises to better the conditions of one group or another for the betterment of all. And so our system is designed to keep each branches desires to 'do good' in check, by the other branches benefit as well, and that none gains power over the others - each must see 'their point' of the other and work together, securing a state that enables you to live your life in pursuit of happiness.

But the people who ratified the constitution didn't think that the original document, which united government into balanced cooperation, was enough to secure the liberty and freedom of the governed, and so they insisted that it also specifically uphold and defend a few key rights, Rights which long experience as Englishmen... and then as Americans deprived of those rights, knew would be required to prevent a new tyrant from turning their government against their liberty 'for their own good'. They demanded the Constitution be amended to secure the peoples liberty to live their own lives, secure in their property and associations and activities which seemed to them to best hold the promise of pursuing happiness through, and that produced the Bill of Rights.

This foundation of government was and is an ordering of ideas, designed to enable each persons actions the liberty to act and secure their property without violating others rights in pursuit of the same, so that each person can have the incredible gift of being able to live their own lives as they see fit.

This is the Constitution which was, and still is, worth fighting for, and risking dying for, because it makes possible the kind of life worth living, lives in which each person might choose to pursue; and the idea of living in service to that, of making not only your own, but others lives livable... is a glorious pursuit, and those in the military who offered up their life in service of it... they are truly worth our pausing on at least one day a year, in solemn remembrance of the life they offered up to make your life a possibility.

Remember them, thank them, and with them in mind demand the liberty to live your life secured under, and securing, those laws which they gave up their life defending, do that, and you will truly be memorializing their lives and making their sacrifice worthwhile.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields, Moina Michael replied with her own poem for Memorial Day:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
 That grows on fields where valor led,
 It seems to signal to the skies
 That blood of heroes never dies.


In Flanders Fields John McCrae, 1915.
 In Flanders fields the poppies blow
 Between the crosses, row on row
 That mark our place; and in the sky
 The larks, still bravely singing, fly
 Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 We are the Dead. Short days ago
 We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
 Loved and were loved, and now we lie
 In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
 The torch; be yours to hold it high.
 If ye break faith with us who die
 We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
 In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What the words 'Government' and 'Economy' really mean: You Living Your Life

What's become most interesting to me in the last few days, is that the Coronavirus is now providing a backdrop for people to see the actual meaning of two words which have become so used and abused in our daily lives as to become either nearly meaningless, or to be assumed to mean something else entirely, to us. Those two words are:
  • Economics 
  • Government
Americans, and perhaps especially surprising to the people of California, are coming to realize that the word 'Economy', which has become such a sterile and despised term, actually means:
  • You and your ability to live your life.
, and that it is most often used as a euphemism to distract you from realizing that.

People are discovering that those actions and activities which are extremely essential to providing the means and ability to live their lives, and to take care of their family, friends, interests and all of their material needs, have been deemed 'unessential', and that they themselves are being made to seem paltry and 'selfish' to their fellows, by means of that same term: 'the economy'.

People are also discovering that the entity which most misuses and abuses the term of 'the economy' in an effort to desensitize you towards it, for their own benefit and gain, is: Government.

What people are coming to discover, is that what government actually does, and especially under the cover of that term they'd prefer to remain as meaningless to people as possible, 'the economy', is to use its power to forcibly prevent you from taking a large number of those actions that you think are extremely essential and important to your life, and to do so with little or no reasonable justification for its exerting its power over you, in areas ranging from going to church, to gathering with friends, to supplies you can get at the store, going to the beach, or in whether or not you can go to work to enable your doing everything else.

There's much more involved here to give some serious thought to, but first and foremost I hope that people will now take especial notice that 'The Economy' refers to everything you do in your life and in your relations to your fellows, and that what results from how well or poorly the Government uses its power to uphold (or abuse) your ability to do what you need to do to live your life, is: The Economy.

I'll say that again: What we refer to as 'The Economy', is what results from how well or poorly your government upholds and defends your individual rights.

I'll also point out, once again, that the 19th Century pro-regressive 'Progressive' academic field of 'Economics', was created to conceal that truth, by replacing the field which had been very focused on making that clear: Political Economy.

However accurate or flawed that predictions for the Coronavirus have been, it is a highly infectious, potentially debilitating or even fatal virus, and those saying either that it's the new Black Death, or of little more concern than the common cold or flu, are likely either cranks, opportunists, or people who don't give much thought to what they say. It's important that we remember that as we began to become aware of the examples of China, Iran, France and Italy, it was apparent that there was reasonable cause for concern that our equipment, personnel, and facilities would be overwhelmed if the virus were to hit America in a similar fashion as it did 'over there'. With that in mind, our federal, state and local governments advising of 'Social Distancing' measures, was justifiable (even if many states and localities interpretations and implementations of that policy, were unjustifiable) actions to follow in order to 'flatten the curve'. Today, by the reports I've seen, even in severe hot-spots such as New York City, that curve has been 'flattened' - we have the equipment, personnel and facilities to handle infectious outbreaks.

At this point in time, the potential of a vaccine, or even of easily available tests, are still out of reach. Without discounting the threat of the disease, and without discounting the need for people to behave responsibly around those most vulnerable to it, the curve has been flattened, and it's no longer justifiable for any of our governments to prevent people en masse from going about their lives - some previously unthought of measures may still be warranted, but restraining people from their lives, is now a greater emergency, than the emergency that the virus itself poses to us.

But what people are slowly discovering, thankfully, is that the far more clear and present danger to all of our lives right now, is our not giving our thought and attention to what these terms of 'The Economy' and 'Government' mean, and mean to our lives.

Lets cure that!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Forty Years of Emergency Powers Unmasked

Hey, Coronavirus Emergency, am I right? ♪♫ My Corona!♫♪ Yep, everyone's just stunned to death about the unprecedented assault upon their rights... yehhh... about that. It's tough to find a recent report that does more than throw Trumpasms, but this article from 2014 noted that we were at that time operating under 30 separate national emergencies, each of which have given the POTUS extraordinary powers over us (some more info here), and one of them had been renewed by each president from Jimmy Carter thru Barack Obama (I'm not sure if Trump has, but I wouldn't be surprised).

Yes, our ability to exercise our individual rights is in peril, but the biggest threat by far, IMHO, comes from our not knowing what they even are, let alone what they entail, and - except for the conveniences and political squirrel of the moment - our lack of interest in ensuring that our laws should limit government's role and powers to upholding & defending our individual rights, lives and property.

'Social Distancing' is soOo drastic... right? Let me ask you, which do you think expresses a greater disregard for your individual rights and liberty, the state's power to make a person wear a mask, or its power to forcefully come between a parent and their child? Do you know who already knows what your answer to that is? Uncle Sam, and he knows what your answer to that is, because way back in 1909 a key designer of America's school systems, said that "Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.", and that power has increased every year for 111 years, and today there's not a state in the union that doesn't consider a parent to have less of a claim to their child, than the state does. And that power needs no emergency to excuse its being used.

And a mask is what you're freaking out over?

Yeah, your ability to exercise your individual rights is in peril. Surprise.

If you want Uncle Sam to be concerned about how you feel, first you've got to show some sign that you understand why he should be.

/rant

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The inhuman consequences of Economic Thinking

Right now, as the Coronavirus and our local, state and national responses to it have nicely revealed how starkly polarized we are, we've united into a nice stew of concerns, where on the one side we've got folks lining up with
"You can't just shut down the economy, people need to work!"
, and on the other side we've got them wailing that
"I don't want to die for your haircut! Keep businesses closed!"
Ya know what I can't help noticing? Just how disturbingly much that they (Pro-Regressive Leftists, Libertarians, and Conservatives), agree upon.

What do I mean by that? Well... 1st off, what point of view do these positions frame the problems that America is facing today, through, the Economy or Justice? Sure, they'll quickly jump to phrasings of 'what's right!' and '___justice', but the words typically chosen by both to express their 'opposing' points of view, have been those above which are what we might call Economy-Centric, rather than what might be called a Justice-Centric (a term that'll aggravate those it's fun to aggravate), POV, of how well or poorly we are justly upholding & defending the lives, rights and property of all hasn't been the central concern of those experiencing either position.

2nd, both positions are supposedly in response to how the Coronavirus has been dealt with, and yet neither position deals with what we've dealt with at all. To recap, without the 2020 asssight... sorry... hindsight complete with anachronistic google goggles, in mid-March when decisions needed to be made about the dangers visible through Communist China's murky veil of obfuscation and lies, and only somewhat more clearly visible in its impact on Iran, and the very clear devastation it was wreaking on Italy, the Federal govt called for 'Social Distancing' guidelines, which some states followed, and some imposed with more severe blanket lockdowns, for the stated intention of slowing the Coronavirus's progress (not to stop or eradicate it), to contain any saturated outbreaks, and so 'flatten the curve' to give us the chance to prepare equipment, facilities and personnel to handle the disease. That's been done, and so now when we need serious discussion of where we are and what to do next, both of the above positions demand 'action!' without discussion. If they were interested in reasonable approaches to liberty, their 'position' might be expressed in something more like:
"The curve's flattened, we're prepared, what reasons & evidence warrant restraining people from reasonably going about their lives?"
That would at least invite reasonable discussion, from both 'sides', but neither side expresses reasonable positions, they express what they are driven by - fear - and both are demanding action, not discussion. There's a reason for that.

If you still don't see what I see the two positions as agreeing upon, ask yourself this: do their opposing positions, mean that they fundamentally disagree on everything? I don't think so. Look at it this way, imagine two rival football team's in the Superbowl: are they opposing each other? Well, on the surface, sure. But how fundamentally opposed to each other are they really, when both teams chose to play the same game, by the same rules, in the same stadium, on the same day and for the same trophy? They disagree on some particulars, obviously, but more importantly they fully agree on all of their shared fundamentals, and upon nearly everything else but who should win the championship. And perhaps most of all, they're agreed that people should be watching football, not baseball. Right?

I hate to break it to you folks, but with all of the factors that go into watching these economically minded 'opposing teams' play their game in America; they're not expressing fundamental disagreements with each other, but a nearly unanimous agreement upon every essential point but who should win their championship game - a sport which America wasn't playing when it originated.

Those who're all up in arms over all 'Social Distancing' guidelines being "A slippery slope to Socialism!" are very late in sounding the alarm - the biggest slip we've slid down that slope, took place decades ago when nearly everyone of the Left, Right & Libertarian views, gave up on the Justice-Centric concerns, and coalesced around the various positions of Economy-Centric teams and the pretense that they disagree on something important. They do not. The 'opposing' positions being offered are examples of 'Economic Thinking', and each are implicitly conceding, or explicitly advocating for, the notion that extended matters of life and death are the stuff of economic policies, and that serving and managing the economy is government's, and your, rightful purpose. That step having been taken, it's all been one slow and steady pro-regressive step after another, to where we are today.

I'm not saying that I'm unsympathetic to why people favor these positions (I'm strongly drawn to one, and not insensitive to the other) but the extent to which their support is decided by their preferred economic ideology, is the extent to which the decisions made in service to them won't be decided by the set of ideas that America was originally formed from and upon. Those earlier ideals led to the revolutionary concept of a people enjoying liberty by participating in self government - are the very ideas that are filtered out by the later theories of 'economic thinking' which held (and still hold) that experts should govern and direct the people based upon what their expertise determines to be for the 'greater good'. Someone a year from now might be able to look back on which team 'wins' this debate, and tell us which position was 'correct', but to the extent that position is determined by ideology, neither position can be true.

"♬ ♪ ♫ Sunrise... Sunset...♫ ♪ ♬"
How can something be both correct, and not true? Well... in much the same way that one of my libertarian friends just gleefully announced that the position he took in January/February, now 'has been proven true!', which, while what he said then, may correlate with what eventually proves to be correct, his position was, and will in no way prove to be true. To see what I mean, think about whether the earth revolves around the sun, or the sun revolves around the earth - how a person goes about answering that, is, in the long run, more important than what their particular conclusion might be. How so? Back in Ancient Greece when it was still a subject of lively and unresolved debate, there were some smarty-pants philosophers such as Aristarchus, who proclaimed a Heliocentric universe (also wrong, BTW, we have a sun-centric solar system, not a sun-centric universe) and said that 'The earth revolves around the sun!', but their reasons for saying so, had to do, not with careful astronomical measurements and calculations of stellar parallax, etc., but instead were positions they said were 'true' because they felt they were a purer expression of geometry which should be reflected in the heavens, and therefore must be 'true'. Yes, earth really orbits the sun, but he didn't know that.

Aristotle, on the other hand, said that because the available measurements and data they had did not support that conclusion, he reasoned from what facts he could see were true, and concluded that the sun revolved around the earth (sorry, was that laughter I heard? Psst!: What do we call what happens at the start and end of the day? Yep, 'Sunrise', and 'Sunset', which are true descriptions of what we are perceiving, even though we now know they aren't actually correct. So pipe-down smartypants 😎).

Was Aristotle wrong? Well, yes, in the context of what we know today. But we only know that today, because centuries worth of investigators using methods derived from his methods of reasoning and proof, finally came to know that the earth does in fact revolve around the sun. So you see, Aristotle's method of reasoning - staying on solid ground while methodically getting from here to there - was true, even though his particular answer has been discovered in time to be incorrect.

OTOH, just imagine if Aristarchus's belief, that being smart in somethings, meant that what he felt should be true, was reason enough to proclaim it as actually being 'true' in other things - if his method of 'reasoning' had won the day, where might we be today? That tendency is one that smart people have always been dangerously prone to being seduced by, being so impressed by what they know that they know, they presume to know how best to do everything else, and everyone else must guard against their having the power to 'do good!' unto them because of what they think they know best about. This is one of those lessons of history that we've had to keep relearning throughout history, that when we let 'right thinking' people determine what we must take to be 'true', a perilously self-satisfied ignorance settles across the land (and in our minds).

Which... coincidentally... brings us back to the 'Economic Thinking' of today.

No matter which side of the 'go to work!' or 'stay at home!' coin toss it is that you might be rooting for, it's the same coin of 'Economic Thinking' being tossed in the same ideological game, and in most cases which team people root for, Left, Right or Libertarian, reflect differences of opinion that they've arrived at in much the same way that a person becomes a 'Patriots' or a 'Dolphins' fan: their family & friends always liked them, or they admired their winning history & championship wins, or they're fans of their star players (or their hot girlfriends)... and they give little thought to all of the detailed rules of team ownership, player drafts and marketing, that goes on behind the games being played out on the field.

That's all perfectly fine for selecting sports teams, but what do you know of the rules that the Economy-Centric league plays by? Do they reflect reality, or convention (𝜋 r2, or yards needed for a 1st down)? Since their positions affect and direct every facet of human life - shouldn't you know? If you bother to look,and methodically examine what you see, you'll find that modern economic 'principles' are built upon the often arbitrary ideas of the likes of Malthus, Comte, Ricardo, J.S. Mill, Karl Marx, Lord Keynes - men who, with a huge assist from American Pragmatism, didn't think that we either could know, or needed to worry about knowing, what was actually real and true, so long as, like the ancient astronomer Ptolemy centuries before them, they could simply 'adjust' their formulas enough to 'make it work'. Ptolemy was the guy who believed that the planets revolved around the earth, and when his calculations didn't quite account for the planet's puzzling backwards motions in the night sky, he carefully fudged some numbers into what he called an ‘epicycle’ to 'correct' for how they should be rotating around the earth. Before you simply laugh at that too, you should look into how key factors which hugely impact the orbit of your life, such as the Federal Reserve's Interest Rate, GDP & Consumer Price Index, are determined. Ptolemy at least had the virtue of being ignorant of how the solar system actually worked. Our modern 'Economic Thinkers', are aware of, yet deny, the observations and ideas of Adam Smith, Jean Baptiste Say, Frederic Bastiat, James Madison (yep), etc, and have no such excuse for proposing their 'economic principles' which at best obscure, and most often hide, the facts and principles of how a political economy functions.

Why are those ideas turned away from? Because despite the Justice-Centric universe we were founded upon, we've been nudged into living in an Economy-Centric universe, and whichever team - Leftist, Conservative, Libertarian - might try to convince you that their economic model is correct, they are all wrong, and because what is true - that an economy is what results from how justly or unjustly a society treats the individual rights and property of its people - is at odds with each of those models, they all cooperate in fudging the numbers so that their systems seem to 'make it work'.

The modern field of economics was created as a vehicle for a narrow, politicized, and cherry-picked worldview of the 'social sciences', and it was pasted over the top of the still developing field of Political Economy towards the end of the 19th century. From the start, it pointedly discarded the understanding that an economy is what results from how well, or poorly, a people understand and exercise their individual rights, within a reasonable political and judicial system, within their culture, and within their understanding of what is real and true. Instead, Economic Thinking discards all concern for such depth and instead teaches that govt should use its numerous agencies to nudge it's people's lives and actions in order to improve those financial measurements they wrap up in the nice bow they call 'the economy'. But whether that leads people to measure lives by dollars and cents only - whether in abundance or by a lack of them - both filter the measure of being human by their narrowed focus on this or that ideological (positions divorced from truth) view.

Saying that 'Economic decisions' do or should determine the direction of society, is the game that both the 'go to work!' or 'stay at home!' fans are cheering on (loosely sponsored under the 'Socialist' and 'Capitalist' economic leagues), which is a case of the tail wagging the dog - and the only reason to propose it, is to eliminate the 'dog' - AKA: what is human, from society. The processes which various & sundry 'experts' (those with an unbalanced knowledge of a single narrow field of thought) use to exclude a messy humanity from the neat views of society, are the fields which modern Economics was created to marshal (and no, it's not just me saying this, this Princeton Professor has written on it, and others have as well).

'Go Team!'
Even though I despise the game they're both involved in playing, it's probably no surprise that I'm more sympathetic to the 'go to work!' fan's position, not because I think they agree with me, but because their enthusiasms at least usually correlate with mine (sorta like how the quantity of cheese consumed correlates with the number of people strangled in their bedsheets), and as I've been criticizing them the most over my last few posts, this time I'll first focus on the other team in this economic game.

And does the 'stay at home!' team ever make their message easy to criticize. Sure, the cheer-leading chant they rouse their fans with, that human life is more valuable than getting a haircut, is factually correct and sounds good on the surface, but beneath the surface it's troubled all the way down, fumbling it's facts well before making a truthful 1st down. How so? Look at what their words fully mean. The meaning behind their chant:
"I don't want to die for your haircut! Keep businesses closed!"
, has about as much concern for justice as that of a lynch-mob. It assumes that our lives serve the economy, it assumes that economic policies are the tools that should be used to manage our lives, for the benefit of the economy (if you scoff, see Wickard v. Filburn), and that all we need to 'live!', are better economic policies to be implemented and made sustainable by economic stimulus checks, Universal Basic Income, etc,. That's a pure fail and multiple flags should be thrown on the field. But it pales in comparison to it's other presumptions.

Sure, it's true that my choice to get a haircut, is, for me, a trivial one, but look at what has to be ignored in the fuller meaning of their own statement! To the life of the lady who cuts my hair, my choosing to have her cut my hair, is not a trivial matter, at all. My choice, and her other customers choosing her services, while perhaps trivial on our parts, is a very serious matter to her life, as cutting hair is how she makes it possible to live and to provide for her family; as is the case for the owners of the business which employs her to cut my hair; as is the case with the shopping center which provides the facilities for that particular hair cutting business to operate in, as well as dozens of other businesses, which are all essential to an enormous number of families, who, only because of the operations of those businesses - landlords, owners, workers and customers - are they able to have and maintain the numerous neighborhood homes outside of those businesses, which together provide the very essential matters of shelter for the lives and property of those who live in them, and so on, and so on, and on, across the city, county, state and nation.

While it may be necessary in an emergency to temporarily halt some activities to preserve the lives and community, it is not possible to separate any one business from others, for any significant length of time, without destroying the entire web of choices and actions that people must make in living their lives, which we've desensitized ourselves into referring to as 'an economy'. And to think that the wealth which the interweaving of their choices and actions produces, can somehow be accessed and distributed by a government which has prevented their actions and choices from producing it; to think that even some of that wealth can continue to be had for any significant length of time, while all of it is stopped in its tracks, is, aside from being deliberately stupid, is nearly criminally negligent in failing to consider what human life is, requires, and depends upon, to be lived - which, BTW, is an excellent summary of exactly what 'Economic Thinking' is, and means.

And to take it a step further, as responsible reasoning requires, to trivialize the very real and inescapable needs of living life as a human being, is to trivialize the desire and concern for living amongst similarly minded people in a society that is able to pursue and enjoy the liberty to do so. To characterize the system of individual choices within a system of laws that makes it possible to live in liberty, as being of a trivial nature, is an unforgivably narrow minded and willfully stupid thing to say and support. Have you considered what those 'trivial ideas' separate you from? Tell me, without them, what objections could you offer to 'belonging' (assigned) to a collective - of the scale of a nation state or a tribal pack is unimportant - that exists by pillaging, murdering and raping competing tribes for power, food and shelter? What objections would you be in a position to offer against enslaving 'others' (and a great number of your 'own people'), so as to make that primitive process sustainable? Cue AOC, Pelosi, The Press, etc., who are actively proposing just that.

And make no mistake, their desire, their yearning, to give to government the power to shut our lives down, under the false flag of 'the economy', is just the most recent display of the stunted nature of the pro-regressive desire to give government mastery over every aspect of human life as is on display in the shutting down of church services, playgrounds, and just daring to play.

What they also trivialize, is history's horrifyingly large number of lessons that are readily available for learning how well such 'ideals' have proven to turn out, from the Terror of the French Revolution, to the slaughters of Nazi Germany, USSR, Communist China and on down to the here and now in Venezuela. Those lessons don't matter to them, because they don't engage with them, they simply open their eyes into a passive 'wokeness' of nice thoughts, and that's enough for them to just know the evils of going out to get haircuts; not for them is the need to bother with facts and observations, they know important things (probably having diplomas attesting to the belt size of their smarty-pants), and they are seduced by how smart they presume themselves to be. Aristarchus would be so happy to trade admiring glances with them.

When they mutter of one statist scheme or another that 'it'll work this time...!', they do so in ignorant denial of the fact that it's not the people running the governments who fail their supposedly ideal system - if they replaced any of the current or past thugs, with those they see as being the very best they can find or imagine today, they too would soon find themselves heading up systems that would turn out the very miserably same. That pervasive misery is what those 'economic systems' produce, and they do so, not because of how efficient their 'economic policies' are, or are not, but because of the reality of human nature which they ignore, and the need for a system of justice that's compatible with it, which their 'high ideals' deny, denigrate, and destroy.

The Virtue Signalling they are promoting is spreading sympathetic feelings for, and actual instances of, real evil. Fix that. Please.

If you don't want them to have power over you, you need to do more than blame them, you have to do more than just chant for the other team. You have to actually identify what it is that you are looking at, and choose to learn something of its nature, and methodically integrate that knowledge with other matters that you've learned to be true - adjusting your assumptions to meet facts, rather than the other way around - in order to understand how the appearances of 'high ideals', might give a nefarious cover to the reality of evil and destruction, which no socialist/communist/fascist system can avoid producing.

That being said, let's turn to the team I'm more inclined to be sympathetic towards.

What a shame....
Well first... I've been glaring at them for weeks, and I've already noted how their own statement of "You can't just shut down the economy, people need to work!" concedes a power and purpose of government economic policy over that of individual rights and law, and I've already called them out for giving so little attention to how dependent individual rights are on properly considering the context that lives are being lived in, and I've already pointed out how incompatible some of their ideas of 'rights!', are with liberty itself. So I'll start (while keeping in mind what I just said about the integrated nature of our lives) with noting that when 'my team' says that "You can't just shut down the economy, people need to work!", minimizes the life and death issues involving this virus, and it shows an appalling disregard for the reasonable concerns of their fellows, that such thoughtlessness could cause the virus to spread. That doesn't mean that mandated social distancing policies shouldn't be lifted, but only that some care should be given to the procedures for doing so, and to the concerns of those who've been given reason to believe that they could adversely affect them.

If you think that you can enjoy liberty, while advocating for public policies which fail to show a reasonable regard for your fellows, it's not liberty that you are seeking, but only a way to impose your own 'your way' upon your fellows, which, ain't liberty at all.

I think I should also poke just a bit more at those who claim to know so much, from so little, those recklessly smug folks, who, overly represented in the Libertarians (whose concerns for the economy, trump what they think govt should and shouldn't do) and neverTrump'r contingents, who, largely fueled by their newly found powers of googled expertise in how diseases spread, they imagined themselves to be so incredibly smart & wise that they could immediately, and responsibly(!), call out to all who'd listen 'It's a con! You fools, it's no worse than the Flu! It's all a con!!!' as early as February (BTW, those Flu mortality rates we've all been so comforted by? Turns out they're not so comforting. At all.). But what they demonstrate most, is a style of thinking that bears a very close resemblance to those ancient Greek smarty-pants who said 'the earth revolves around the sun', and like them, while in a narrow sense some of their facts taken in isolation may tally as factually accurate, in that the Coronavirus hasn't produced the numbers of dead that had been initially feared, they too had no sound basis supporting their belief that it 'should be' so, beyond their own ideological assumptions. Once again, Aristarchus would be so happy to trade admiring glances with these 'new' thinkers.

We're here - now what?
We chose in the face of a pandemic emergency, to act, and that's where we are now. That elected officials chose in the face of those conditions, to take emergency actions, which are very much inline with why 'governments are instituted among men' (to uphold and defend our lives, individual rights and property), was neither surprising nor an issue for me, but how well or poorly (and far more poorly than well) that they've chosen to take actions appropriate to the conditions closest to the level of intelligent decisions being made (Subsidiarity), has been my greatest concern (see this post). Those who still claim to be all about 'liberty!', chose to deny the reasonable concerns that their fellows had for their lives, and demanded that all such decisions were unconstitutional assaults on 'muh liberty!', which given similar decisions by America's founders, made a mockery of themselves, and, IMHO, aided in the spread of even more unreasonable measures.

Policies of 'Social Distancing', are fine to advise, but less fine to impose without regard to clear conditions on the ground warranting them - not only do they then become ineffective, they are prone to abuse, and to result in excessive (and very understandable) reactions and pushback from those they are less appropriately imposed upon. If you are surprised by that, shame on you.

Likewise, if you are surprised that emergency measures are required in an emergency, shame on you. Here's a real reality all should be paying close attention to: In the context of an emergency, elected officials will and should impose measures by means of the authority which We The People have put into their hands - if you have the wrong people in power, whose fault is that? And of course, if they seek to extend temporary emergency measures, into permanent policies as a 'new normal' with no push-back from you, shame on you as well. If you don't take your government and your vote in it seriously, shut up and sit down. If you prefer not to 'dirty your hands' with politics, then maybe shut up and enjoy being ruled over by those you foolishly enable to get power over you.

Without getting into how wise the particular judgments made have been, to deny that govt has and should have those powers in an emergency, is to deny the very reasons that govt is implemented and diminishes the Individual Rights it is intended to secure, and it makes a mockery of the Liberty that our founders fought to secure for us (as pointed out in this post).

Stop playing the 'Economic Game', open your eyes and mind to the deeper reality which that ideological shell game misrepresents, conceals and evades. You are a human being, you have inalienable rights and powers by the nature of being human, but you cannot exercise them, you cannot even pursue, let alone achieve, 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness', without adhering to a method of reasoning that looks both to the perceptible facts, as well as to the ever higher abstractions which enable us to conceive and perceive truth through. To imagine that can be ignored, is to take an inhuman view of human life, which is to be Economy-Centric, rather than Justice-Centric, point of view.

It'd be nice if the 'go to work!' & 'stay at home!' fans would put their economic games aside for the moment, and spend a bit more time and thought on what is right, and true, wise and Just. We're all going to continue going around in circles if we don't, and America will remain outside their orbit until we do.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Here's a revolutionary idea: Is what you mean by 'rights!', compatible with Liberty?

When you have a problem, it's important to identify what it is, and to not misidentify it as being something other than what it is, right? Because... we know we can't fix the right problem, by working on the wrong problem, right? And the more serious the problem, the more that applies, right?

For example, if you were outraged over how the police misused and abused their power while making an arrest, would it help to expose their misbehavior by protesting "We have 'rights!' so it's wrong for the police to arrest people!"? Whatever your intentions might've been, or how sympathetic people probably would have been to what you might have told them you'd seen, by instead telling them that a well established, necessary and rightful norm of policing, is a violation of 'rights!', you'd be discrediting yourself, you'd be deflecting from whatever wrongs actually had been done, and the result would probably be that those who should have been brought to justice, would walk free under the cover of the "crazy talk" distractions your ill-considered words enabled them slip away under.

Such thoughts as that have been on my mind a lot lately, and are why when my friends have recently asked 'Why aren't you out defending our 'rights!' with us?!', I've essentially been answering "Why are you attacking our liberty and trying to yank our individual rights out by their roots?" Both those saying 'Govt can't make me stay home!', and those saying 'Govt must order everyone to stay home!', are threatening our liberty, less from the words they do say, than for the reasonable discussions which their reckless words ensure won't be had.

Don't mistake me, there are a dangerously large number of governors, county executives, mayors and various tyrannical ticket jockeys, who are misusing and abusing the powers they've received through the Communist Chinese Coronavirus emergency (some aspects of which I've gone into here, and here, so I won't belabor those points here), and those abuses range from shutting down the businesses of an entire state, to arresting parents taking their kids to play in the park. Those are abuses, dangerous ones, and they do need to be corrected.

But to expose and fight the actual abuses in such governmental misbehavior, you need to cite the instances and contexts wherein such measures & actions are wrongful. We need to  engage in a reasonable discussion of the real concerns on either side of the fence. For instance, my position might be,
"Given what we know about conditions, how is it justifiable to impose the same restrictive rules on a park in a congested city, as to one in the suburbs or rural areas? The circumstances of traveling to, accessing, and using them, involve vastly different conditions and proximities between people, so imposing the same rules to all parks cannot be sensible, and if they're not sensible, they cannot be effective, and to knowingly enforce such inappropriate rules across such differing contexts, is a reckless use & abuse of power - from the level of parks, on up."
, while a reasonable concern from the other side of the fence might be something like:
"Given what we know about conditions in how the virus persists on surfaces, travels up to 15' by cough or sneeze, and that people can think that they're perfectly healthy, when in fact they're infected and spreading the virus for 10 to 15 days before they feel a single symptom, we need to restrict everyone's activities even in parks, and not to do so would be a reckless & negligent abuse of power."
, either or both of those arguments at least warrant consideration, they raise points that should be considered, and which deserve a reasonable response. But when you ignore the reality of people's concerns, especially while we're in the midst of a global pandemic of a deadly new infectious disease, when you ignore all of the relevant contexts and wail instead that:
'Govt can't make me stay home!'
, (which, BTW, contradicts over 230 years of American legal history in dealing with quarantines and public health emergencies
, or from the other side insist that:
'Govt must order everyone to stay home!'
, (which, BTW, flies in the face of over 230 years of American legal history, and people's right and need to earn that wealth which you might be counting on for the govt to redistribute to you)
, both of them are aiding and enabling the misuses and abuses of power to continue on unabated, both are pushing ideologies instead of pursuing justice, and both are failing at the fundamental requirement of living in Liberty - dealing with disputes with your fellow citizens by reasoning, rather than by forcing (which the ignoring of context is the intellectual equivalent of) your view over theirs .

I've spent multiple years acting for and writing on the importance of individual rights and liberty, and against centralizing power under increasingly abusive govt, so I'm not going to focus on those arguments again here (though you can find a few of them here). But centralizing power under government, isn't the only threat to liberty that we face; centralizing your concerns to only furthering your narrowed wishes and whims without regard to how they might affect your community, is also a threat to your, and our, liberty, and the failure to see that, is just as important for you to look into.

The fact is that the ability to see and show how and why the various governmental overreactions are wrongful, requires our utilizing and taking note of the very same contexts and reasonings that are excluded and denied by the claim of having an absolute and total 'right!' to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it, without a reasonable regard for the rights and concerns of your fellow citizens. The specious claim of 'rights!' made without a reasonable regard for the common good (note: the 'common good' is a very different thing from 'for the greater good!') is itself an individual affront to Liberty, as John Finnis, a respected professor of Natural Law (which is the theory of law that our Founder's era conceived of our nation through), noted in a comment on the nature of tyranny, that:
"...tyranny, in the classic conception, is bad one-man rule; ... But tyranny is any self-interested rule (where self is any number, not concerned with the common good but with their own interests)."
John Finnis, Natural Law & Natural Rights, pg. 469
Moronic memes, like this one (Redcoats: "Put on your masks." Minutemen:"Kiss our ass"), not only trivializes what the Minutemen showed up at Lexington & Concord 275 years ago this week to fight for, it isn't compatible with what they fought for. Those patriots, with liberty and the 'traditional rights of Englishmen' very much on their minds, were fighting for a much deeper conception of Liberty, than having their society & government yield to every 'rightful' whim a person might want to act upon, and they did so because they had the knowledge, understanding and wit to know that Liberty means something more than simply 'an absence of restraint'. They did not fight for a govt that could do and did do nothing, or for a society in which they could do anything they felt like, but to have a voice in the decisions that their govt made in securing their liberty - which is what "No taxation without representation!" meant. To reduce their understanding of Liberty, to 'Govt can't make me!' shows an amazing ignorance of the laws that those 'Sons of Liberty' themselves had chosen to write into their laws before, during, and for decades after the time of the American Revolution, laws which had to do with everything from what styles of clothing were acceptable to wear, to not being able to work, gamble or drink alcohol on Sundays, to state sponsored support of church attendance.

Are you seriously going to call those Minutemen 'Sheep'?! Or call them petty tyrants?!

As I said in a previous post "Context Matters: Individual Rights are neither privileges nor blank checks; Limited Govt is neither dictatorship nor anarchy in drag". Our Rights are Inalienable, and though exercising their powers IS contextual, it's always within the context of upholding & defending them - but you have to give reasonable consideration to the full matter, to be able to say.

Patriotic Perspective
To get some perspective on our original patriots understanding of Liberty meant to them, it might be useful to take a quick look at the oldest functioning Constitution in the world, drafted during the American Revolution by John Adams, where the constitution of the state of Massachusetts's Preamble, stated:
"The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; it is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good. It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a constitution of government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and a faithful execution of them; that every man may, at all times, find his security in them."[emphasis mine]
If you pay attention to their words, you'll see that their goal, their understanding of liberty, was that it was to be realized through a government of laws respecting their citizen's rights and privileges, which were to be reasonably formulated, debated, and passed into law by the people and their representatives, and administered in accordance to the laws of that written constitution. That process was what they understood to be the fundamental requirement for making liberty possible, respected and enjoyed by all. They were obedient to their laws not in the manner of obedient subjects, but as reasonable people governing themselves by reasonable means in both agreement and disagreement - THAT is what was meant by living in liberty. Whether or not the final outcome of a particular law agreed with their own personal position on it, was a distant and secondary consideration.

One thing the people of that time were not lacking, was a concern for their individual rights, as can be witnessed by the fact that prior to the constitution drafted by John Adams being taken up, another constitution had been proposed and was quickly rejected outright, largely because it lacked security for the individual rights of the people. Adam's version remedied that deficiency right off the bat with its first Article, a "...A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants...", which, stated:
Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."
Yet as mindful as they were of their rights, there were measures that were written in law, ranging from the sorts of local blue laws noted above, on up to their state constitutions requiring that all citizens residing in a town, be members of their parish church. There were citizens who disagreed with those laws, yet they all abided by them, not because they were either 'sheep' or tyrants who took their hard-fought liberty lightly, but because they took Liberty seriously, they understood that living in liberty meant governing themselves through a system of laws which respected their individual rights and were reasonably made and administered. If you want to argue against that, you also have to argue against the fact that their idea of individual rights and liberty were solid enough for slaves to begin suing for, and winning, their liberty under it (leading to slavery being effectively ended in Massachusetts, soon after their constitution's adoption). Those who might have chaffed at the dry Sunday laws didn't grab their muskets and say "F'you, I'm having a drink!", because they weren't little children who put more value in stomping their feet over losing an argument, than in living in liberty with their fellow citizens. That also didn't mean 'It's the law! It's settled!', as is evident by the fact that most of those measures were repealed by the 1820's - reasonable discussion continued, according to laws that were respectful of their inhabitants rights, and by that means the Liberty of all was enjoyed and maintained.

No serious person believed that Liberty was, or could be had, either under a system in which you did whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, without restraint, or a place where order was arbitrarily imposed upon the people by governmental decree.

And yet they were also fully capable of recognizing and handling emergencies throughout the 1790's, when diseases like small pox and cholera, repeatedly put the question of what was reasonable and what was tyrannical, to the test, and by civil discussion of disagreements over what was best, they understood their issues and implemented laws at the federal, state and local level of governments, for the quarantining & confinements of those who were sick, or who might reasonably be suspected of having been exposed to that sickness.

So there again, what was meant by Individual Rights in our Founder's era, is entirely incompatible with the popular notions of stompy footed zealots declaring that 'I do whatever I want!' today, and it is just as incompatible with 'You will obey for safety's sake!', so once again, is your idea of 'rights!', liberty and government, compatible with the concept of Liberty that this nation was founded upon?

'What are these 'rights!'of which you speak?'
And in answering that question, it's worth recapping a bit about what is (should be) understood, by 'our rights'. Your individual rights are inalienable, because they are inherent in your nature as a human being who must think (well or poorly) and act, and interact, etc., in order to live as a human being. Those rights are innumerable (see the 9th Amdt), as are our powers in exercising them (see 10th Amdt), but that does not give you unrestrained right and power to exercise them as you see fit.

Identifying the fact that you have unalienable rights and powers to act upon them, is not the same thing as saying that you have the liberty to act on them however you might choose to. Why? Because although the individual right to think & act, is inherent in your nature as a human being, it's also unfortunately inherent in your nature as a human being, to act upon irrational thoughts, and even to act abusively and violently towards others - those too are self-evident truths about human nature, but those are Not what our Founder's had in mind when they spoke of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. Why? What were they aiming at? They - unlike seemingly most people today - understood that doing what you want because you want it, wasn't an example of human liberty, but only of the freedom enjoyed by the animals. Having a thought come into your head, and choosing to act on it, was not seen by our Founders as a self-evident blank check which society had to stand by and watch you cash.

Nowhere in either our Constitution or our Declaration of Independence, does it presume or imply that you have the unquestionable power to exercise your rights however you want to, whenever you want to, and in any way that you want to, free from any reasonable regard for the lives, rights and property of others in the community, or to act without regard for the reasonable requirements needed for government to uphold and defend the rights and powers of the governed (without which those rights and powers become powerless in the face of anarchic force).

No, stop it, not even in the Bill of Rights! If you read how they were first proposed and reasonably reduced in number during their ratification (let alone the debates in their being introduced to congress), our Bill of Rights is full of the sorts of words ('respecting ','peaceably','being necessary to','consent of','against unreasonable', etc., etc., etc.,) that injected the 'reasonable' context into their declarations and meanings. To claim that your individual rights give you license to ignore the laws which your community has (or at least should have) reasonably written and designed to uphold and defend everyone's individual rights, is to seek loudly to be the most pettiest of tyrants (as noted above: "...tyranny is any self-interested rule (where self is any number, not concerned with the common good but with their own interests).").

Surely you've heard the phrase:
"Your right to swing your fist stops at my nose."
, right? If you've never paid attention to the implications of those words, there's no time like the present to remedy that. Your thoughts & actions do need to be exercised within some scope of what is reasonable for that context, and they need to be undertaken with a reasonable regard to the lives, property & rights of your fellow citizens.

Is your idea of 'rights!', compatible with that understanding of which our founders era formed their idea of Rights from? What led them to their conclusions, and what shaped their understanding of our unalienable rights, and of what they understood 'reasonable' to mean, came to us through what Thomas Jefferson referred to in his writing of the Declaration of Independence, as those 'harmonizing sentiments of the day', which were derived from the '...elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c...'. If you are unfamiliar with those works (not just their names, mind you, but their works), how likely is it that your idea of 'rights!', is compatible with theirs?

It was, and is, only within that framework of Western thought which Jefferson spoke of back then, and within which our Constitution was framed, and in respect to which We The People demanded that the proposed Constitution be amended with a few essential Individual Rights. That is where the revolutionary concept of restraining government from abusing and infringing upon those few essential rights (freedom of speech, assembly, religion, press; of security of property & compensation for reasonable govt takings, freedom from unreasonable search & seizure, trial of peers, and of unreasonably cruel & unusual punishment), came from - did your understanding of what you mean by 'your rights' pass through those same 'harmonizing sentiments', or did they just... 'mean' what you feel they should 'mean'?

Is your idea of 'rights!' compatible with what the Minutemen fought for? You cannot simply reach out and pluck those prized fruits from the tree of liberty that you most desire, while at the same time denying the nature and existence of the very tree that bore them!

I'm sorry for the merciless drumbeat here, but the common thread in the formation of our laws, and the common thread in what govt actions are permitted in times of calm or peril, is that the required measures and actions be reasonable, and that central to their being considered reasonable, was, and is, the people and their representatives reasoning over the proper context which they are to be applied to. Any laws and measures which do not abide by that, should be thrown out, those which do, may be upheld. Without that, no reasonable actions, or state of liberty, could be enjoyed, aided or maintained, by either you or me.

IOW, your individual rights DO NOT simply amount to your saying "F'You! I do what I want!", and it is disheartening, and more than a little despicable, that supposedly 'liberty!' loving people would promote memes that reduce the patriotic Minutemen's revolutionary concepts and the noble struggles which they put into motion at Lexington & Concord, to that of costumed fools who'd risk their own lives, and shed the blood of others, over such a triviality as "Kiss our ass, I'm not wearing a mask!"

On so many different levels, such notions as that diminishes, degrades, and insults, the ideals that our Founding Fathers risked their lives and comforts for, in order to secure an infinitely deeper ideal of liberty for themselves, and for their posterity (you & me).

The moving target of emergencies
That same understanding applies in emergencies, though the means of implementing them, necessarily changes, according to the context of the Emergency. Keep in mind that an emergency is "an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action", while Laws are a codification of rules that a reasonable person can in normal circumstances be expected to consider across time, or as Aristotle put it: "the law is reason unaffected by desire". But the very nature of an emergency means that normal circumstances do not apply, and pretending that they do would make following those rules contrary to the purposes which those same rules were meant to apply to. Emergencies require and permit governments to take actions that they would not be permitted to take in normal circumstances. In an emergency, they are permitted to take unusual actions, not in order to violate your rights, but in order for government to fulfill its responsibility of performing its function of acting to preserve the lives, rights & property of the citizenry. For example:
Police, Firemen & other state officials in normal circumstances cannot enter your home without a warrant, and to do so would violate several of your essential rights, but if your house is on fire, they can not only break into your home, but carry you out of it without your permission, without violating your rights or the laws that were written to uphold and protect them.
Note: Is it necessary for government to have that power? Yes! Is it dangerous for that power to be in the hands of government? Yes! Is it important for the citizenry to keep a careful eye upon government's us of that power? Oh Hell Yes! And it's important that their emergency powers stop when the emergency ceases to be an emergency! An emergency needs a start and an end date. Yet is is still true that the nature of an emergency requires action to be taken within the context of the moment, it requires that government has an ability to act upon what seems to be known, then and there, yet that same space of time for acting on the moment, requires a continual re-evaluation of the nature of what is known, and how to respond to it. When the Coronavirus appeared to be a highly communicable and extraordinarily deadly new disease, officials had good cause and a responsibility, to declare lockdowns and quarantines (though I believe they failed to respect the context and subsidiarity necessary for respecting our individual rights).

Given the worst case scenarios assumed at the opening of this mess just a few weeks ago - that the Wuhan Flu was highly contagious, that it appeared to have an alarmingly high death rate, that people could become infected and be contagious for days, even over a week, before feeling any symptoms of infection, and being mindful that we didn't yet have the means, supplies, or facilities for coping with the scale of infection exhibited in Italy, and suspected to have occurred in communist china - then in that context, in those places that showed evidence of being emerging 'hot spots' of infection, some measure of lockdowns were warranted, and especially for the protection of those persons willing to risk becoming infected in order to do jobs that their community depended upon for the daily necessities of life - everything from working at the supermarket, to gas station workers, to truck drivers, police, fire, medical and hospital workers - the fact that they were willing to run the risk of getting infected, in order to provide what their community depended upon, should be welcomed, not taken for granted, or put at heightened risk by other residents, for trivial reasons - for a reasonable period of emergency (I begin to max out at 30 days on that, but that requires a detailed discussion of the actual circumstances by those in a position to know).

For someone who lives in a 'hot spot' area of infections, knowing that there's a heightened likelihood that they could unknowingly be carrying the virus and have no way of testing to find out, for them to circulate in public for no better reason than having the whim to do it, that is not an example of their exercising 'their' liberty, but a pathetic display of having a petulant disregard for the well being of others. Far from being exemplars of 'liberty!', they are examples of the pettiest of self absorbed tyrants. By the same note, those claiming to be 'responsible', who demand that people abandon their livelihoods, for periods that extend beyond their ability to sustain their (and our) lives, are also examples of petty tyrants (more on that in a coming post).

As more information is developed, some of the information, and assumptions of their severity, will necessarily be revised, and as we become more prepared to meet those conditions, and to handle the expected severity of them, those actions also must be re-examined, as does whether or not we are still operating within the context of an emergency. Those are the given moving targets of working through an emergency, it is inappropriate to look back on the little that was known at the start, from the context of what becomes known later, in order to condemn decision makers on the basis of what was not yet known. It is unreasonable to do or say so, and will very likely put your society in a position where people will be unwilling to help out in such situations in the future. But it is also inappropriate to fail to re-examine your situation in the now, in light of any new information available, to determine the best course for the immediate future.

Whether we are referring to times of calm or emergency, to meet them justly and in respects to liberty, requires our being reasonable. Coincidentally, being reasonable is also required in the writing, administering and obeying, of those laws. Also coincidentally (not), exercising your rights requires your behaving reasonably within the range of that context.

So I'll ask again, is your idea of 'rights!' compatible with the understanding of liberty that this nation was founded upon? Answering that is the real emergency that we are facing here in the year 2020. What needs to be protected and debated is not the government's powers, but how reasonably those powers are being exercised, and that requires not only your having given some serious thought to what your rights and powers are, but also giving considerable active attention to who you elect to government, and to what you and your children are taught, and to how aware those in power are aware of your knowing it.

Liberty depends upon you, and it is up to you reasonably involving yourself and your neighbors in self government.

If you shrug, if you prefer the ease of spouting the appealing positions given to you by your favorite ideology; if they leave it to you... you will be left to them.

Good luck with that. And may there be a posterity that can forget that we were once fellows.

Pay attention, learn what you should know, and ... be reasonable.