Category Archives: liberty

Patrick Henry’s Legacy of Leadership

Patrick Henry’s voice rings out today as clearly as ever, reminding America that true leaders speak, act, and fight for the people’s liberty.  America faced a crisis of leadership in 1775. The colonies faced growing taxation from Great Britain. Across the colonies, leaders railed against taxation without representation. For years, the colonies had complained to Great Britain, but nothing was done. Parliament and the King refused to recognize the justice of the colonists’ grievances. Whispers of independence and revolution were in the air, but few were willing to make a public show of support for such a radical idea. Into the void stepped Patrick Henry. In his immortal speech before the Virginia Convention, he decried British policy as oppressive and tyrannical. With characteristic boldness, he wholeheartedly endorsed armed rebellion against the crown, crying “give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry became the leader the colonies had been looking for, changing the course of American history. More than that, however, he set an example of a leader who called others to action, led boldly in a time of crisis, and defended his ideals in the face of tremendous opposition.

Patrick Henry took an unusual path to influence. Many of the Founding Fathers began their careers early, attended prestigious universities or studied law at a young age. However, Patrick Henry did not take the easy road. He did not study law until later in life. But when he did, it became obvious very quickly that he had talent. Thomas Jefferson called him the greatest speaker he had ever heard. He became well-known for supporting controversial causes, speaking out against the much-reviled Stamp Act.  When America needed someone to speak out for independence, Patrick Henry was willing to do so. “The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry’s speech helped tip the scales in favor of revolution. Without his tremendous influence, American history might have been very different. Patrick Henry’s speech was more than just rhetoric. It demonstrated his willingness to publicly support the cause of freedom. When American independence was hanging in the balance, he spoke out. He not only changed the facts of American history, but he showed future generations that a true leader must speak boldly to gather others to his cause.

Most people’s knowledge of Patrick Henry begins and ends with his famous speech. However, his influence was just beginning. Some great orators are content to simply stir up the populace and then step back and let others do the dirty work. Patrick Henry acted. He joined the militia and became a colonel. He stirred up so much trouble that the royal governor issued a proclamation decrying his efforts. In 1776, he was elected governor, leading the critical state of Virginia through the early years of the war. During the dark days of the early revolution, George Washington faced internal threats from other leaders who doubted his ability. Patrick Henry defended him, and even exposed a plot to have Washington replaced. The fate of the Revolution in Virginia was in his hands, and he guided the state with a steady hand. His tremendous influence helped Virginia fuel the American Revolution, especially through his ceaseless efforts to supply George Washington with the encouragement and supplies he needed.

Perhaps Patrick Henry’s greatest legacy is the Bill of Rights, the list of freedoms he fought to secure. In the years after the American Revolution, the colonies were faced with a second task: building a new government to establish liberty for future generations. Not everyone agreed on the best way to do that. A Constitutional Convention was called to reform the government, and the leaders gathered there formed the document we know as the US Constitution. Patrick Henry was very worried by the new powers granted in the Constitution. He feared that a paper document would not be able to preserve liberty from potential tyrants. He was especially insistent on the inclusion of a bill of rights. “The rights of conscience, trial by jury, liberty of the press, all your immunities and franchises, all pretensions to human rights and privileges, are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this change… is this same relinquishment of rights worthy of freemen?” Thanks to Patrick Henry, America got its bill of rights. Without him, that great document ensuring liberty for future generations might never have been written. Patrick Henry has been proved right. The Bill of Rights has served as an indispensable support of American liberty, serving as a check on all who would abuse their power. Every time we read an uncensored newspaper, worship as we please, or voice our opinions in the public square, we are enjoying the legacy of freedom Patrick Henry established.

Patrick Henry has shaped the world we live in today. He ushered in the American Revolution in the South, stirring the citizens of the colonies. He led the state of Virginia through the turbulent revolution, and preserved liberty by demanding a bill of Rights. Even more importantly, he set an example of what a statesman should be, moving others to action, acting boldly himself, and defending his principles, even when it was unpopular. Patrick Henry shaped history, and we can judge our leaders by their ability to follow his example of words, action, and integrity. As Patrick Henry said, “I know no way of judging the future but by the past.”

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Government, History, liberty


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News: Brazilian City Government Tracks Schoolchildren with Microchips

Of course, it is all for a good cause: making sure they don’t skip school. School uniforms are embedded with microchips to notify parents when children do not attend school. The privacy problems associated with this program are mind-boggling. The government can track the students anywhere they go while in uniform. This type of intimate knowledge of children’s lives sets a dangerous precedent. A government that tracks people initially tracks them “for their own good.” Even then, the system is rife with the potential for abuse. How long before the program is expanded to prevent citizens from crossing a border, or going anywhere the government does not want them to go? I hope our schools do not get any bright ideas from the Brazilian program.

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Government, liberty, News


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Declaration of Grievances: Part 2

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

In the colonies, the king exercised tremendous control over the state legislatures and governments. This provision is mirrored in the present trend in our government toward centralization. Instead of allowing states to pass their own laws, the Federal Government takes over more and more, like education. An example of this is the immigration battle in Arizona. While I am a libertarian and an advocate of open immigration, I find it absurd that the federal government wants to prevent a state from enforcing a law unless the Justice Department consents.  No Child Left Behind enforces one-size-fits-all solutions, harming the educational opportunities of students in states across the nation, forcing states to change their standards. While I don’t favor public education, if we are going to fund it, we should recognize not everyone has the same abilities and localized and child-specific policies are better. The Patriot Act went against many state privacy laws dealing with credit card information and library confidentiality.

A grievance we should all have against our government is that the power is delegated away from the people more and more, symbolically and geographically. We elect leaders that we will send across the country to Washington D.C. where they will vote on laws that will affect everyone, instead of keeping them close where they are more accountable and can tailor specific “solutions” to problems. Federalism does not make the resulting laws any more justified, but it increases the accountability and decreases the power of our rulers. Federalism is not the means to achieve a free society, but rather a principle slowing the growth of large-scale government mandates. We may not have a king to dissolve state assemblies, but we have a federal government quietly drawing all power to itself.


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The Patriot Act at Your Library

This sign, posted at a library in Massachusetts, is a reminder of the violation of civil liberties under the PATRIOT Act. They can inspect the books you check out, and librarians cannot warn you that FBI agents are looking at you reading history. Not surprisingly, the American Library Association opposes these provisions. “The American Library Association (ALA) opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry…ALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users. Some courageous librarians stood up to this act. Legislative action against NSLs (national security letters demanding information about people) has been mixed. Librarians who receive NSLs are basically under a gag order. According to the ACLU 200,000 such letters have been issued (librarians are just one group who can receive these letters. Our nation is under attack by those who use scare tactics as an excuse to take away civil liberties. Thankfully, some courts still stand up for the Constitution. How long before even legal recourse becomes difficult or impossible?


Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Government, Justice, libertarianism, liberty


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Evil Uncle Sam vs. the Orphanage: a Fable of the Crowding-Out Effect

Let us suppose that the economy of the United States is in a recession (most likely due to a government-caused bubble, but that’s another story.) Benevolent Uncle Sam in Washington D.C. decides that he has to do something about it. After all, the people might start voting the congressmen out of office, and we couldn’t have that, could we? So he decides to go around randomly building bridges that no one needs in order to stimulate the economy and employ people. There is only one tiny problem with this policy: he has to pay for it. (If it wasn’t for this sad reality, think of how our economy would be flourishing thanks to our benevolent regulators!) He doesn’t want to pay for it with taxes because that would reduce aggregate demand (a fancy term his Keynesian advisers use to justify massive spending.) Also, raising taxes is bad for reelection campaigns. He decides to borrow the money on the loanable funds market. He then employs thousands of men to randomly build bridges across the nation. All is well. More people are employed. We have a couple of bridges that are good for… well, very little. Has the stimulus increased aggregate demand (and saved the campaigns of the congressmen)?

Uncle Sam says yes. He claims that thanks to his benevolent manipulation management of the economy, everyone is better off. Plus he inherited the problem from the previous administration. There is only one problem: an orphanage in inner city Detroit. The orphanage is having great success, taking care of over one hundred children. Their ministry is so successful that they are about the expand and build another orphanage next door. They can stimulate the economy and take care of more orphans at the same time. They have raised some money from their kind-hearted donors, and are planning to take out a loan for the rest. However, while they are on the way to the bank, Uncle Sam takes out his loan. This sudden huge increase in demand in the loanable funds market means that the price, in this case the interest rate, rises. Suddenly the interest rate goes from 5 to 10%. (OK so this couldn’t all happen while the orphanage administrators were on their way to the bank.) Suddenly, the administrators realize that new interest rate will dramatically increase the interest payments on their 1 million dollar loan, and that they can no longer afford to expand at this time. The administrators’ well-laid plans have been thwarted, aggregate demand goes down, and more orphans are out on the streets suffering. Multiply this by the thousands of businesses making decisions on whether to expand, the stimulus is not looking so good.

The financing for the government demand has crowded out the demand of private businesses. But no one notices. They think that Uncle Sam is doing his best. And they can see the bridges that he built. They can’t see the orphans that would be living in the orphanage that would have been built. So Uncle Sam is still in office, but the economy has not recovered. And don’t forget the orphans. (Did I mention that Uncle Sam seized the land on which the orphanage planned to build through eminent domain? But that’s another story.)

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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Economics, Government, libertarianism, liberty


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Edgar the Exploiter

This video explains the problem of minimum wage laws, showing how unregulated “evil” capitalists can benefit society.

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Economics, Government, Justice, libertarianism, liberty


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Santorum: Assassinating Scientists is a “Wonderful Thing”

Rick Santorum claims to be pro-life. I am extremely pleased that he puts value on the life of the unborn. However, apparently his respect for life does not extend past US borders. In this remarkable video, Santorum hopes we are behind the assassinations of Iranian scientists, says their deaths are wonderful, and says we have even assassinated US citizens. So there is no right to life or right to trial for non-combatant Iranian scientists in a so far peaceful nuclear program in a country we are not yet fighting. This is one reason I cannot support “prolife” politicians. They fail to see that human value knows no borders. Iranian scientists are created in the image of God. They are under the sovereignty of the Iranian government. They are innocent of any crime against the US or anyone else, for that matter. Whether under natural rights, Christian principles, or simply good foreign policy, this is irresponsible rhetoric.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Government, Justice, libertarianism, liberty, News


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