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The True State of the Union: We Have No Rights Whatsoever

It has been almost a week since President Obama gave his first State of the Union address, and it has been analyzed from the left, right, center, front, and back. Of course, the speech is really about the performance of the federal government, particularly its wonderful accomplishments under the leadership of the sitting president. This is not peculiar to the Obama presidency. As far back as Jefferson, presidents have used the Constitutionally-mandated stump speech to do a little self-promotion, although what they promote has certainly changed quite dramatically.

However, if the speech is supposed to reflect the accomplishments of the federal government, then we should expect that it will contain specifics about how that government has fulfilled its purpose, which is, as we all know, to secure our rights. At least that’s what our founding document tells us. Therefore, if a president is going to do a little bragging about what a great job he has done, it would be logical to assume that we would hear particulars about the way in which he has secured our rights. Logic, however, has little to do with the machinations of leviathan.

In fairness, President Obama did begin his speech with a few remarks about the actual state of our country - a state of economic devastation and unending war. The fact that both of these afflictions have been caused wholly by our federal government is something that seems to have gone right by him, although he is not unique in that respect, either. Having reminded us about how bad things are, he dutifully lays as much blame as possible on the president that preceded him (another time-honored tradition when succeeding a president of the opposing party). He then moves right into trumpeting his accomplishments.

The president explains how he hit the ground running after taking over during the financial crisis, which began during the last year of the Bush administration. He takes pride in the fact that he supported the bank bailouts over the wishes of the American people, because when he ran for president, he “promised he wouldn’t just do what was popular,” he would do “what was necessary.” I don’t remember that particular campaign promise, although I do remember him promising to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” or something to that effect. I suppose you can’t expect him to keep them all.

President Obama justifies his first initiative as president as follows:

“And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.”

Perhaps the president is correct on this. Perhaps he is not. However, there is one consideration that seems wholly missing from his thought process. Do the people whose money was taken to “stabilize the financial system” have any rights? By what authority was their money confiscated, even if it were for “the good of all?” Majority vote?

The president next goes on to extol the virtues of the first policy that was wholly his own. He says that his administration “extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts... As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime.”

This seems to be a mixed message. The part about extending unemployment benefits and making health insurance cheaper seems like more wealth redistribution. However, he also mentions tax cuts that saved jobs and let people keep more of their own money. One might have been led to believe that he actually secured the right to property here, at least for some of his constituents. Then came the punch line.

“The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. That's right -– the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill. Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster. But you don't have to take their word for it. Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act. Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created. Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn't be laid off after all.”

It is ironic that one of the examples that the president cites is a window manufacturer. Those few lucid economists who are not among those “on the left and the right” who agree wholeheartedly with the stimulus bill certainly would have been unable to avoid recalling Frederic Bastiat’s “broken window fallacy.” It is the absurd reasoning that Bastiat exposes in his famous essay, “What is Seen and What is Not Seen,” that underlies the entire “stimulus” strategy. Occasionally, this has been pointed out in public debates over these programs. However, there is one question that has not even been asked by President Obama’s most vitriolic Republican opponents. Do the people who were forced to fund the Recovery Act have rights?

President Obama implies that his wonderful largesse was accomplished without taxing anyone, but this is absurd. It may be true that he has not had a tax increase passed in the Congress, but the funding for the Recovery Act can only come from one place. For the portion that was borrowed by the U.S. government from other nations, that money will eventually have to be paid back. The government only has one official source of revenue – taxation. The fact that those who will pay the taxes to underwrite the Recovery Act may not be born yet (although I don’t personally believe that Washington has that much time left) doesn’t change the fact that they will be forced to pay it back.

There is also an “unofficial” source of revenue for the government, and that is inflation. For the portion of the Recovery Act debt that the Federal Reserve merely monetizes, it is no less taxation than is an appropriation from the Treasury. It is merely a more insidious form of taxation, one that does not look its victim in the eye, but rather steals from him silently through depreciation of a currency that he is forced to use by the government. Whether by official or unofficial means, there are individuals whose money will be confiscated by the government so that others may keep their jobs. Again, I ask, do those individuals have rights?

It should not go without mention exactly who these people are whose jobs have been saved by the Recovery Act. According to the president, “there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.”

Is there anyone among these two million that are not government employees? Perhaps the construction workers, although I’d bet they are working solely on government contracts. In any case, they are all on the receiving end of the taxation, necessitating that others must be taken from in order for them to receive.

The whole concept of the government “saving or creating jobs” is one whose injustice seems to elude everyone. That is probably because a century of “progressive” ideas has completely befuddled us about what a job really is. A job is a contract between a buyer and a seller. The employee is the seller, who sells his services to an employer for a mutually agreed upon price – his wages. This contract is one that both parties enter into voluntarily. The employer purchases the services because he is willing and able to do so. The employee sells for precisely the same reasons. Each has a right not enter into the agreement, or to terminate it anytime he wishes.

However, when the government “saves or creates jobs,” it completely overrides the voluntary nature of this arrangement. If an employer is no longer willing or able to continue to purchase the services of an employee, the government has only one means at its disposal to change that outcome: brute force. It uses this force to confiscate the property of other people and thereby force them to purchase the services of the employee, since the employer is no longer willing or able to do so himself. The government claims it has saved a job, but it certainly has not secured any rights. In fact, it has acted counter to its purpose. It has destroyed the rights that it exists to protect.

It is the same evil at work in the president’s call for “health care reform.” As part of his plans to “improve the system,” the government will not only annihilate the right of property but liberty as well. While taxing some in order to pay the doctor bills of others, the federal government will ensure that no one can even conscientiously object. Every American will be required to purchase insurance from one of the government’s pet corporations, regardless of whether they want to or not. This amounts to a mandatory fee paid to the government merely for the privilege of being alive. Once the right to property is destroyed, the rights to liberty and even to life are destroyed with them.

Without repeating the analysis for every program that the president described, they all rest upon the same logic. There is some mysterious entity called “society” whose needs outweigh the rights of every individual that comprises it. In fact, it is apparent from the president’s speech (and those of most of his predecessors) that the federal government recognizes no rights of any individual whatsoever. Sadly, there are not many among the citizenry who think any differently. So long as representatives have been democratically elected, their power knows no bounds and recognizes no rights.

America was founded upon exactly the opposite idea. The reason that the U.S Constitution guarantees every American “a Republican form of government,” rather than a democratic one, is precisely because its framers believed that individual rights cannot be voted away. We cannot vote ourselves a right to other people’s property, not even to save millions of jobs (although it is really not possible to do so anyway). We cannot vote away another’s liberty, not even to lower health care costs for those who cannot afford it (although this will not work either). This was the central principle upon which our nation was founded – that we are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights. A pure democracy does not recognize these rights.

Progressives promote the idea that “taxation without representation” was the chief injustice that led to the American Revolution. This is convenient to their agenda, because they go on to justify any tax levied by a democratically-elected body on the grounds that those being taxed were represented in that body.

Of course, this begs the question, "Why did the founders specifically instruct Benjamin Franklin not to under any circumstances accept an offer of representation for the colonies in the British parliament?” Perhaps we should be so wise. Secession anyone?

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!


© Thomas Mullen 2010

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He who fails to assert his right

has none

Rights are not given and they

Rights are not given and they cannot be taken away, unless we allow it.

I WISH the State of the Union was "Zero Rights for All"

That way we could all live as a "Free" people.

It's the attempt to "even-out" the Right Dichotomy between Workers and Owners that moves you from small gov't to big gov't to imperialism.

If I had three buttons I could push to get us into liberty the fastest it would be: The Zero Lobbying/Voting Button, The Eliminate all Laws Button (which eliminates all courts and prisons), and The 100% Self-Defense or Bust Button.

Of course pushing those buttons violates "rights" -- hahahahaha.

There must be force-agents to up-hold rights (period) and a force-agent is the right arm of Gov't and Gov't must grow by definition or be populated by "saints" (perfected, self-sacrificing, beings).

I also believe that only a "saint" can recognize another saint -- therefore "we" (the non-saints) should never be allowed to "elect;" this is mathematically sound.

In fact even that system would fail because God or Universal Law (the One-Time Original Production Law) does not seem to allow abdication of self-rule, self-defense, or "Godliness" for a perfect system of control.

I've yet to see ANY long standing "organization" function without imperfection. Every single Church Group has had leaders who were sodomites or tolerant of sodomites. Every college or university has had rape charges brought against faculty; or racism; or partialism.

I'd dare anyone to show one organization that lives without sin, smile on the pun.

An organization is Perfect and Prestine as long as it disolves fast enough before people can investigate it or before it needs to shed it's first skin (grow).

It's nice to know that the

It's nice to know that the government is exploring avenue to increase job creation programs. The amount of job creation has been stagnant, with the most jobs created within the service sector for the holidays. Since then, the rate of unemployment, or at least the rate at which it is increasing has drastically slowed, but it's still going up. It's anticipated that the unemployment rate will drop to under 10% by the end of the year (our government is getting payday loans from the Chinese to see it happen, but it isn't working so far) but it remains to be seen if he will be successful.

You got me thinking!

You made a comment that got my attention when you said, Obama took pride in supporting the bank bail-outs over the objections of the American people. That got me to thinking about the Tea Party Movement and how it is largely an outcry from the people who were opposed to the flagrant violations of their eleceted representatives for the bail-outs.

I then realized Sarah Palin is not a true representative of the Tea Pary Movement because she ran with McCain who with his party leader, George Bush, supported the bail-outs. My conclusion is the Republicans are trying to infiltrate the Tea Party Movement and head it into another direction, away from what it really started out to be. And, yes I know there are 2 Tea Parties.

Also, I saw people attending my town's first Tea Party with McCain/Palin bumper stickers who I think were dis-illusioned with their choice and not all that informed. But, they knew something just wasn't right. People are beginning to wake up.

Tom, what is your take on the Articles of Freedom.

Do you think this is a viable and legal means of restoring our Constitution?

Nice but,

You have the rights THEY say you have until further notice..
UNFORTUNATELY, they are not the last word on the subject.
Their technique is what is known as anti-Christ..
Anyone or anything between you & your Creator is (anti)-Christ...( IN PLACE OF )
This also includes self rightiousness.( WORKS )
Otherwise HE sacrificed HIS SON for no good reason.
Your rights come from your Creator who offers everyone a way of escape...AND to keep your rights which HE will see to it.
You're in a battle not wanted, but your in it just the same.

Unfortunately, the Federalists are now running the show.

We, since 1913, continue with a central bank still in place and doing what it does best -- the perpetual monetizing of debt. Alexander Hamilton would have loved it. Actually, even he would be disturbed if he were to see what has become of our nation, for he was considered one of our Founding Fathers.

Tom, you're missing the whole point of individual rights.

The political establishment would counter that they have and continue to work to secure many of the "rights" of individuals.

What about the "right" of a mother to abort her unborn child?
What about the "right" of an illegal alien to free health care and education?
What about the "right" of a black medical school applicant to an education over a white applicant with higher scores?
What about the "right" of anybody to sue anyone over anything at anytime?
What about the "right" of a citizen of Iraq to have his country's bridges rebuilt after "we" blew them up?
What about the "right" of a homosexual to redefine the meaning of marriage?
What about the "right" of a school child to not be "left behind", even if his IQ is twenty points lower than his peers?
What about the "right" of a minority family to a home of their own, even if they have no money for a down payment and can't even come close to making the mortgage payments?

Obama/Bush Republicrats have been working tirelessly to secure these "rights" for years.
They are all to willing to fight for "rights", as long as they don't interfere with their agenda to destroy the American middle class.

You just haven't been paying attention.

The Virtual Conspiracy

What is a Right?

What is a right? Most people have no clue that's why the state can claim whatever they want regarding "rights". You cannot have a "right" to someone else's life, property or labor so you can cross a bunch of these off the list. Marriage is no business of the state, but a compact between individuals and possibly a church, so immaterial as to whom are the private parties involved.

Screw the politics and begin educating people on property and rights, and people will start to listen.

Benjamin Franklin owned slaves and made a lot of profit from

ads he ran in his paper regarding the sale of slaves.

That being said -- You don't have any "rights" save those you are granted by Gov't.

God does not "back" the rights he gives you
----Not in prayer
----Not in action
----Save miracles: People gave up long ago relying solely on prayer and miracles (they vote and lobby now)

So, Obama was not stealing your rights, just letting you know who your Daddy is (so to speak).

Personally, in a free-society, you do not have any rights -- a conversation on rights in a free-society would be a waste of good entrepreneurial space, smile.

Rights must be protected by Might

Zero Rights for Owners
Zero Rights for Workers
Zero Rights for Consumers
.....that covers everyone!!!
.....that is freedom!!!

You have the "rights"

your willing to fight for.

Just one last kick in the nuts, then a final deathblow



Ventura 2012

I didn't know that Ben Franklin was instructed to do so

Kudos to whomever gave those instructions. I've always thought that the mantra "no taxation without representation" was really stupid.

The proper libertarian perspective is "no taxation with or without representation"!

Thats the Anarchist

Thats the Anarchist perspective. Stop trying to hijack an old and venerable ideology.

Ventura 2012

Bmore: Hahahaha -- You wonder why you can't bridge the gap

between Minarchism and Anarchism?

You are like the kid brother who keeps poking his elder brother in the rib, just egging him on.


Keep on Keeping on!

Taxation is a violation of liberty

and thus isn't compatible with libertarianism (which is the philosophy of liberty).

Most libertarians are more

Most libertarians are more interested in practical real world applications of their philosophy than hard-line dogmatism suited for academia. In other words, you have more in common with the Islamic fundamentalists than the peaceful Muslims actually trying to build a tolerable living environment in the Middle East.

Ventura 2012


The two most people that I seem to get into differences of opinion with are you and Devon_Saunders. At least you are not scared to debate and can think...I appreciate that.

Most libertarians are more interested in practical real world applications of their philosophy than hard-line dogmatism suited for academia.

Hey, I want a free-society just as much as you, if not more. If this was for academia, I would not be interested.

I think it may seem that because I focus on the long-term...the philosophical battle, the war of ideas. You see, I believe in specialization and division of labor. My expertise is the philosophical domain.

Most people, on the other hand, focus on the short-term (ex. political candidates). And I'm glad that you and others are focusing on it. It's a task that needs to be done.

So, I can see why somebody would the think the philosophical educational approach has less "real world applications". The results from this are immediately less visible than short-terms actions (ex. running a candidate, we can know in short time whether they get elected or not). I try and plant seeds that will come into effect later on.

So to sum up, tho it may seem like there is less "real world applications", I think it's an illusion. It's just a difference of time...mine will bear fruit in a more long-term picture. Yours more short to mid-term.

In other words, you have more in common with the Islamic fundamentalists than the peaceful Muslims actually trying to build a tolerable living environment in the Middle East.

Yes, in that respect (very strict adherence to principle) we definitely do.

I can argue the issue because

I can argue the issue because I have read as much if not more an-cap material than most an-caps here.

You simply should realize that anarchism is a stumbling block for prospective members of our movement and disincentive to political action for those within it. You might need to bite your tongue.

Ventura 2012


You simply should realize that anarchism is a stumbling block for prospective members of our movement

For a lot of people if you introduced them to the philosophy of liberty thru anarchism, ya it's possible that they might be turned off. So for those people why not just talk about reducing government? That's what I do. Skillful means man...not everyone has to be let in right away on what you think the full picture of liberty entails.

and disincentive to political action for those within it.

Why is it a disencentive to political action? Yes there are a lot of people who don't vote...but that has nothing intrinsic to do with rejecting statism. It's just that people think that voting isn't effective. I think they're being foolish. Voting and running candidates is very effective. RP's run in 2008 is prime evidence.

You're agreeing with me.

You're agreeing with me. Limit discussions of anarchism to the back rooms and private discussions. I consider Dailypaul a highly visible outlet for our movement, and therefore do not think that it is prudent for anarchists to push their agenda and consistently incite debates and arguments here.

The Mises Institute, LRC, and Freedomain Radio all discourage politics and voting. Where do you think your new-found converts will go to once they see the "light"?

Ventura 2012


You're agreeing with me.

Partly. I agree that not "turning away" people by refraining from using principled arguments is sometimes good. But I definitely don't think it's the be all and end all.

I consider Dailypaul a highly visible outlet for our movement, and therefore do not think that it is prudent for anarchists to push their agenda and consistently incite debates and arguments here.

I disagree here. This place is filled with people who have done most of their homework on libertarianism, and thus I think it's valuable for there to be people on here who can help them get the last remaining cobwebs out of their minds.

Where do you think your new-found converts will go to once they see the "light"?

I'm not sure. I'd be fine if they stayed here or went elsewhere. Why do you ask?

There are some people here

There are some people here that have done the homework required to debate anarchism. The vast majority have not. I guess that makes them a great target for intellectual bullying. However, as an activist site, we need to be trying to reach out to new members and not pressing a fringe ideology that will scare people away. Any sane anarchist should understand that there has to be a minarchist transition, because unless a vast majority are somehow educated and conditioned into adopting anarchist principles, you can never succeed. This is something Rothbard understood. There is no way that you do not understand this.

That question was rhetorical. The obvious answer is that they will go to websites that will discourage them from political participation.

Ventura 2012


However, as an activist site, we need to be trying to reach out to new members and not pressing a fringe ideology that will scare people away.

I think you're missing the other half of the picture. Yes, some people are turned off...but there are other people who are very attracted by the idea of having no rulers. From my observations, it tends to be older people who are scared at the notion, and younger people who are attracted to it.

Any sane anarchist should understand that there has to be a minarchist transition, because unless a vast majority are somehow educated and conditioned into adopting anarchist principles, you can never succeed.

Of course.

The obvious answer is that they will go to websites that will discourage them from political participation.

How do you know that with certainty? I know plenty of people who have rejected the concept of statism, but still support candidates as a way to increase freedom.

I think that you're dead

I think that you're dead wrong on all counts. Maybe you haven't noticed, but the MSM has painted every anti-bankster rally of the last 30 years as "a bunch of anarchists". Are they doing that to give the rallies credibility and popularity?

Will you stop with that "statism" nonsense? If someone supports peace, do we call them a supporter of pacifism? Statism is the ideology/tendency that all of life's problems should be addressed by the state.
And no, I will not get into a time wasting definition war with you. You gave your definition, which includes Mises, Hayek, Paul, Friedman, Buchanan, Nozick etc etc as statists, I gave mine.

Ventura 2012

having an illusion of rights is correct

What You Didn't Know
About Taxes & The 'Crown'

Eternal vigilance!

5 stars

another great article from Tom.

LL on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LibertyPoet
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15