Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Had Enough Yet? - THE MORATORIUM

L. Neil Smith has a great idea! Let's do it!

L. Neil Smith's
For each of us who demands nothing more from the civilization we live in — and contribute our efforts to — than absolute ownership and control of our own lives (and, as Ayn Rand noted, the products of our lives) there has been nothing but increasingly bad news for as long as most of us can remember.

Since the turn of the 20th century, collectivism — referred to by every conceivable euphemism: communism, progressivism, socialism, fascism, liberalism, environmentalism — has taken more and more and more away from us. It is insatiable. It wants everything we earn, everything we own, everything we ever hope to own. It wants our homes, our land, and our children. It wants our cars and our weapons. It wants our very lives and it strives for the means to observe and control them every minute, every step, and every breath.

Any ally we ever hoped we might rely on, every organization we turned to — or created ourselves — to put a stop to this horror, betrays us sooner or later. The Republican Party, the Democatic Party, unions, the Libertarian Party, the National Rifle Association, even the Boy Scouts of America are run by idiots, lunatics, crooks, and outright traitors. Most of these people are simply weak-willed sponges chosen for their abject compliance to whatever is considered politically correct at the moment. There isn’t a university in this country worth the sewage it generates.

Those who know me best understand that I’m no conservative. Basically, I’m a radical libertarian on my way to the stars, possibly by way of Ceres. But before that happens, I want America back the way I remember it. No, I’m not being blindly nostalgic. It wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot. But it was a hell of a lot better when I was a little kid than it is now.

I want an America with no more grand utopian schemes to save an environment that doesn’t need saving, to prevent global warming that isn’t happening, or to force people to participate in a collectivized medical system that is a hollow farce and little more than a justification for snoopery, robbery, and tyranny.

I want an America where the few, pitiful, starving, underpaid bureaucrats that remain — eking out their final days before their positions are abolished forever, along with their pensions — have nothing to say about what I eat, what I drink, what I drive, what I keep in my gun cabinet, who I love, how I do it, and even what, in the immortal words of the great George Carlin, I shoot, snort, smoke, or rub into my belly. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time, giving these creatures the power to interfere in all of those things. Now we know it was a mistake and we must correct it.

I want an America where there are no more hidden agendas — or at least no money to encourage them — like rounding up the population and forcing us to live in gigantic hundred-story tenements (the United Nations calls this “Agenda 21″) while the nomenklatura ride to hounds in the empty countryside and shoot peasants. I want an America where the eternally smoldering ruins of the United Nations building in New York stand as a monument to freedom and a warning to collectivists no matter what rock they choose to hide under.

It is time to forge a mechanism for restoring individual liberty to America and utterly destroying collectivism — both tasks are vital — a mechanism that can’t be compromised, broken, or betrayed. I have a pretty good idea what that mechanism should look like, and that’s what this blogsite is all about.


In 1972, when I was 26 years old and had been a libertarian for a full decade already, I attended a week-long seminar in Wichita, Kansas hosted by the local 7-Up bottlers and the Love Box Company. It was conducted by perhaps the freedom movement’s greatest educator, Robert LeFevre.

If you’re a Heinlein fan, you know him as Professor Bernardo de la Paz. He wanted everyone to call him “Bob.”

Bob said a great many things during those almost magical 40 hours, and I remember a surprising amount of what he said verbatim, even today, 37 years later. (At my age, I’ve discovered, time flies whether you’re having fun or not.) One of the things he said is that there were “on the books” at that point in time, an estimated 15,000,000 federal laws.

Fifteen million.

I have had a number of individuals argue with me about that figure since then, but none of them has ever offered me a credible counter-estimate, and I have seen the endless rows of lawbooks myself, in libraries and lawyers’ offices. If the true number were only a third, or even a tenth of that estimate, clearly we’d still have far too many laws. And, as Bob reminded all of us, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Some of those millions of laws represent legislation “properly” introduced, shuffled through committees, and voted for on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate. But a great many more of them — possibly as many as 99 percent — consist of various rules and regulations voted on by nobody, but simply promulgated and shoved down our throats by various agencies full of appointees and bureaucrats, often in direct contradiction to what the legislators originally intended.

And of course, a number of those laws consist of nothing more than judicial reinterpretation that many complain actually constitutes the passage of new legislation by judges. Even worse, as America continues to slide down the slimy slope into fascist dictatorship, there is an increasing tendency of “law enforcement” agents to make up the law as they go along, out in the field. With so much legislation already on the books, and its precise meaning perfectly unclear even to those who wrote it, the law becomes whatever minions of the police state say it is.

The vast majority of the existing body of law, and of new law passed every year is, of course, thoroughly unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lists those functions of government that are legally permissible. Anything the government does that is not on that list (probably 95 percent of its current activities) is a clear and open violation of the law. The individuals who perform those functions for the government — politicians, bureaucrats, and cops of various kinds — are criminals.

When I was a kid, I often heard newspaper and radio editorialists whimpering about the “do-nothing congress” that was failing to crank out enough new legislation to satisfy whatever statist crackpots — they were usually left-wing socialists in those days — were doing the editorializing.

These were the Eisenhower years, I confess, and even as a fairly naive youngster, I had an intuitive sense that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe when the legislature’s in session,” and that a “do-nothing congress” is a good thing. Also, it occurred to me that, after almost two centuries, the Powers That Be ought to have passed more than enough laws by now. At that point, you understand, I’d spent my entire life — exactly like any other little kid — being told what to do and what not to do. It seemed to me there was enough of that crap already going around to last us for at least a hundred years.

The more I’ve thought about that idea over the years, the clearer it has become to me that the indispensable first step toward restoring our freedom in this country, as well as preventing any future threats to it — and this should be the principal goal of any organization that claims to advocate freedom — ought to be a constitutional amendment forbidding any new legislation for at least that hundred years.

Let’s just call it “THE MORATORIUM.”

(For some time, now, being primarily a teller of fictional tales, I’ve intended to write a series of stories about the period in future history following ratification of this amendment. The first of these, TimePeeper, can currently be seen at Big Head Press and I’ve just begun planning a dozen more.)

At minimum, such an amendment would provide that, from the date of its passage forward, for a full century, no new legislation may be passed at any level of government — be it federal, state, county, municipal, or any other level — especially including rulings by the court system that, in effect, constitute new law, and treaties of any kind.

Nor may any new regulation be promulgated by any agency of the government.

The only exceptions would be bills of repeal, initiated referenda getting rid of old laws, rulings that declare existing legislation to be null and void, and the official disbandment, dissolution, or abolition of various arms, wings, legs, or other appendages of the government.

Perhaps I should have said, “amputation.”

And because nothing political occurs in a vacuum and the opponents of this concept would be inclined to see the handwriting on the wall and attempt to make the most of whatever time they believed they had left, the amendment would automatically repeal any and all legislation rammed through in the final year (or two, or five, or ten) before its ratification.

Or perhaps just since this article first appeared in a public place.

Naturally, there would be Draconian penalties for any violation of this new “highest law of the land.” For a long while now, I’ve been interested in seeing the ancient federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay fully rejuvenated and dedicated exclusively to the incarceration of government lawbreakers. I’m more than confident that tourists on excursion cruises would pay a reasonable amount for small packages of meat, maybe with expired sell-by dates, with which to keep the bay’s famous sharks interested in hanging around the prison island.

In the meantime, having nothing better to do with themselves (nothing that would show above their newsdesks, that is), the broadcast media might begin to measure the accomplishments of the nation’s legislatures, not by the number of laws they pass, but by the number of laws they repeal.

Yeah, let’s call it “THE MORATORIUM.”

And when the blessed century of unprecedented peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity draws to a close, we’ll make the Moratorium permanent. Perhaps ultimately there may only be one law, the Zero Aggression Principle, forbidding the initiation of physical force by anyone — especially government — against anyone else, for any reason whatever.

We might then begin to count ourselves as civilized again.