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Life, Liberty, and Property Are Inseparable

The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a legislative, is, that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power, and moderate the dominion, of every part and member of the society: for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making; whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence.

- John Locke[1]

Life, liberty, and property were the central, inalienable rights that formed the foundation of the great experiment in self government called the United States of America. The founders of our country never broke apart this sacred triumvirate, because each one of these rights is inextricably bound to the other. No one of these three can exist without the other. Moreover, when all three are secured, it is almost impossible for injustice to exist. Wherever one does find injustice, one invariably finds a violation of one of these three basic rights at its root.

While it is certainly true that today the rights to life and liberty are grossly violated in innumerable ways, they are nevertheless at least spoken of by our politicians. However hypocritically, they at least say that they value life and liberty, even as they pervert those sacred rights as justification for their wars and plunder.

Yet, they never even hypocritically evoke the right to property. No journalist ever challenges them based upon it, and honestly, most average Americans don’t talk about it either. As a principle, property has vanished from our consciousness. However, as all of the great philosophers throughout history have understood, there is no right to life or liberty without property. In fact, property is part and parcel of life itself.

What is property? It is that which an individual rightfully owns. Included among every human being’s property are his mind, his body, his conscience, and his actions. Every act of mind and body undeniably belongs to the actor, including that act which he engages in more than any other: his labor. To deny someone’s right to ownership of his mind, body, or labor is to make him a slave.

It is labor that allows each individual to sustain his existence and pursue his happiness. All consumption must be preceded by production. Production can only be achieved through human labor. In fact, there is no way for an individual to pursue any goal, whether material, intellectual, or spiritual, without exertion. Even the search for God requires an intellectual and spiritual effort – it cannot commence without labor.

For most of us, the bulk of our labor is devoted to providing the basic necessities of life for ourselves and our children. Some portion of it also provides the extras – the toys, the vacations, or the dining out that enriches our lives and adds to our happiness. A further portion is devoted to study, prayer, or just simple reflection – the quest for meaning and purpose in our lives. None of these things are possible without labor; our labor provides them all. Every item in every store is the product of someone’s labor. Every phone call you make is made possible by someone’s labor. Healthcare is someone’s labor, as is education.

However, the actual effort of mind and body is not the most precious aspect of labor. If human beings were immortal, we could afford to spend our labor and its fruits indiscriminately, consuming as much as we wished and providing anything to anyone who asked it of us. If a shoemaker were able to make shoes for the rest of eternity, then certainly there would not be a bare foot on the face of the earth. If the land developer were immortal, we would all live in a mansion.

However, we are not immortal, and it is this fact that places such a premium on our labor. Our labor is not just composed of the exertion of mind and body that is necessary to produce some good or service. That exertion happens over time, the hours or days of the laborer’s life. Every hour of our labor is an hour of our life from a limited supply which cannot be replenished. Whatever we have produced with our labor now contains that portion of our life which we have sacrificed to produce it.

So, when human beings trade their goods or services with one another, they are really trading pieces of their lives. If they have exchanged their labor for money with an employer or customer, that money now contains some part of their lives – a part that can never be reclaimed. That is why the same verb is used for both money and time – both are “spent” in exchange for some benefit. Both also represent each individual’s means of self determination.

Therefore, it is impossible to call a person free if he does not own his labor and all the product of his labor. It is only through his labor that he can provide better food, clothing and shelter for himself and his family, send his children to better schools, or realize the leisure time necessary to grow intellectually and spiritually. His labor is his means to determine the course of his life. Without self determination, there is no liberty.

Furthermore, to deny a human being ownership of his labor is also to deny his right to life itself. Since his labor is his means of sustaining his existence, once his right to ownership of his labor is denied he lives only at the arbitrary whim of whoever has claimed ownership of it. For such a person, life is now a privilege granted by someone else, rather than a right.

To the founders of the United States of America, all of this was self evident. When one reads the writings of Samuel and John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, or Locke, one finds one word that is used many times more often even than liberty: property. Recognizing property as nothing more than the individual’s labor and/or the product of his labor, the founders placed the protection of property as the very highest priority of government. In fact, they often stated that it was the only priority of government. While no high school history book or Hollywood biopic even hints at this fact, merely reading the words of the founders for oneself puts any debate on this point to rest.

Let us apply this concept to a contemporary issue. The unambiguous statements in the Declaration of Independence that all human beings have unalienable rights and that government’s sole purpose is to secure them should absolutely beg at least one timely question from most Americans today. Why did the founders not provide for the right to health care? Why did they not establish Medicare or Medicaid? Given a whole system of government whose purpose was to secure individual rights, why was this right so glaringly overlooked?

Of course, the answer to that question is that the founders recognized that health care was not a right. Health care, like every other good or service, is someone’s labor. No one but the laborer can have a right to it. To say that people have a right to health care is really to deny the health care provider a right to his own life, for it is impossible for both he and his patient to have a right to ownership of his labor. It is no less a crime to forcefully rob the health care provider’s fee from a third party (the taxpayer), for that simply denies the taxpayer’s right to his own life. In either case – whether the health care provider is forced to treat the patient for free or a third party is forced to pay the bill – someone’s labor, some part of someone’s life, is being stolen from him. This is the specific crime that government exists to defend its citizens against. By instead committing this crime, government becomes the most grotesque absurdity imaginable.

This is not to imply that we are at some sort of crossroads because President Obama and his pet Congress are closing in on expanding government healthcare. We came to that crossroads decades ago and quite undeniably took the wrong road. Until our philosophy changes and we recognize that retirement benefits, health care, research grants, corporate subsidies, investment in alternative energy – all money, goods, and services – are really pieces of someone’s life that cannot be seized from them without their consent (not even by majority vote), we will never restore the liberty that we have lost. Instead, we will continue to be the most pitiable form of slave, not bound to one master, but to everyone.

When a fellow human being offers to buy your product or hire you for your services, he has paid you the highest compliment imaginable. That person has offered a piece of his life to you in exchange for something that you have to offer, which is itself a piece of your own life. He is saying that you have value and that what you offer is worth hours or days of his life that he can never reclaim. This consensual interaction between free people is the most beautiful aspect of civil society and has been responsible for every improvement in the quality of human life that has ever occurred throughout history.

Conversely, when a fellow human being points a gun at you and demands that you provide him with some good or service, he commits the most egregious crime imaginable, short of pulling the trigger and ending your life at that moment. For in reality, he is really stealing a piece of your life that you can likewise never reclaim. He may be committing this crime because he wishes to increase his wealth without earning it, or he may desperately need whatever he takes from you, but it is the same crime nonetheless. This interaction is the most evil aspect of civil society and has been responsible for every war and human misery that has ever occurred throughout history.

Government can only be organized to fulfill one of two purposes: to protect your property or to take it from you - for whatever purpose government or its constituents deem fit. There is no third choice. To organize society around competing groups stealing from one another is to create a society whose citizens exist in a perpetual state of war with one another – for the use of force to obtain another’s property without his consent is the definition of the state of war.

Such a society cannot endure indefinitely. Ours has come to the beginning of its inevitable end. Countless empires throughout history – some much more preeminent in their worlds than we are in ours – have disintegrated for exactly the same reason. We can still choose justice over injustice but our philosophy must change. We must again institute a government that secures our rights, rather than annihilates them in the attempt to provide us with the property of others.

This will not happen by any act of government itself. Whether we elect a liberal or a conservative, we will never achieve different results by continually electing different people or parties but asking them to do the same thing – provide us with the property of others. It must be the people who change their philosophy and then demand that government assume its appropriate role according to that philosophy. Our government ultimately gives us what we ask for. For the past century, we have increasingly asked it to make us slaves, seduced by the siren’s song of comfort and security without responsibility. This can only be provided to each of us at another’s expense and can only be provided to others at ours. Once we reject the idea that we can claim a right to another human being’s life, the chains that bind us will be broken. Then, it will matter not who makes our laws.

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


[1] Locke, John Second Treatise of Government Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Indianapolis, IN (1980) Pg. 111

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Yes, everything in our world

Yes, everything in our world is interrelated. And that's why there's something call karma.



"right to health care," "right to home ownership," "right to affordable insurance,"…

Rights & Responsibilities

Fewer words in our political vernacular have become as distorted as the word "right."

Today, politicians and ordinary people alike regularly mention a "right to health care," "right to home ownership," "right to affordable insurance," and a litany of other supposed "rights" to which all Americans are somehow entitled.

Absent any philosophical reasoning explaining why these things are indeed rights, the superficial references become, through constant repetition, an accepted truism that only the unpatriotic and selfish would dare oppose (or so we are told).

The looseness of our collective definition regarding just what a right is has permeated our society with an entitlement mentality, where what one receives is often not what one has earned. To speak of individual rights has become an initiative clouded by common communitarian arguments ingrained into people's minds.

To better understand the nature of our rights, it is imperative that we are aware of their associated elements. Taken out of context and exalted above anything related, one can see how easy it is to so neuter the word that it can apply to just about anything.

So, just what is a right?

Despite the abundant confusion, it is rather simple to define. A right is that thing for which a corresponding responsibility naturally exists and is enforced.

An example of this is life itself: You have the right to your own life, and everyone else has the responsibility to respect that right by not causing you harm or death.

Your right to defend yourself from a would-be aggressor implies a responsibility to learn how best to fulfill that obligation and pursue the necessary training to become proficient. Your right to property demands that others fulfill their responsibility of refraining from trespassing on or damaging what belongs to you.

Due to continually creeping socialism and the ever-expanding welfare state, American citizens are now being raised with an entitlement mentality. Rather than being instilled with a desire to work hard and follow the law of the harvest, children are ingrained with the errant notion that they will be able to depend on government for their social well being (often termed “security“).

The Moral Basis of a Free Society

Referring to responsibilities as duties, H. Verlan Andersen wrote of what our rights require of others:

By very definition a right cannot exist in one person unless there is a corresponding duty in another. Unless there is someone who can be compelled to do or refrain from doing something to give the right meaning, it has no substance.

...The substance of a right consists of the power to compel the wrongdoer to make restitution and the substance of a duty consists of being compelled to perform it. Unless the performance of the duty is enforced, the right is without a remedy and the failure to perform the duty without a penalty. It is the enforcement which brings both into existence and gives them substance.

Summarizing this collection of fallacious rights, H. Verlan Anderson wrote the following:

Is it not apparent that it is impossible for government to "create" rights in one person or group without destroying the rights of another? When it gives special privileges to one it must deny them to someone else. This result is unavoidable because when government creates a "right" in one person, it must at the same time create a "duty" in someone else.

A right is without any substance unless there is someone against whom it can be enforced. But the one against whom it is enforced is saddled with a duty he did not formerly owe. The law compels him to do something or refrain from doing something and punishes him if he refuses.

But you cannot compel a person against his will, nor can you punish him, without taking from him either his right to life, his right to liberty or his right to property. Thus the law has destroyed his rights in attempting to create "rights" in someone else.

Truth be told, we have very few rights at all outside the limited set delineated in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thus, anytime you hear somebody talking about "our right to _____", you can use the above analysis to determine what the corresponding responsibility/duty is, and thus see if society as a whole can legitimately be compelled to discharge that duty.

Not being able to meet that restrictive standard, all other psuedo-rights should be exposed for the deceitful counterfeits that they really are.

Entitlement Mentality

The Moral Basis of a Free Society

The Moral Basis of a Free Society http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157636027X?ie=UTF8





We want the truth....

And "YOU KNOW WHAT" can't handle the truth....

Our rights were taken away by large behemoth sized corporations, thieves, and industrial mafia and they've been trying to eliminate it ever since.

How well Tom Mullen expressed the nature of property

I don't think I've ever fully appreciated how essential it is to the pursuit of happiness or even as a means of maintaining life itself. How very much more sinister does the confiscation of our property now appear - it is the same as murder. It is the theft of life, and how sad that so many people approve of this.

Problem Is

That Jefferson's "Life, liberty and property" was changed to "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Sheldon Waxman


...Because those things you aquire in your pursuit of happiness ARE your property, whether that is real estate, personal belongings OR the actual MONEY you earned by trading your time for it.

That MONEY represents your TIME (Your very life as the above article states) which is why it is really NOT INCOME.

And THAT is why the "INCOME" tax is totally IMMORAL.

There is a book called "The Law That Never Was" regarding this.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

This is a most excellent posting...

It sounds influenced by Ayn Rand as well.

She explained what are rights and what are not based on the founders' words in the Declaration of Independence.

Ninty nine percent of our problems with the federal government intrusion into our lives can be explained in ONE sentence:

People are confused as to what constitutes a "Right" and what does not.

Before Wilson and FDR socialized our country it was understood that there was no such thing as a "RIGHT" to health care, a home, a job, an education, food, elderly rights, women's rights, disability rights, gay rights, monorities rights etc.

Only INDIVIDUAL right to PURSUE those things and your right to life and liberty.


There is a WORLD of difference between the two and since 1913 we have been taught that they are one and the same.

THAT is the root cause of what goes on in government today where every one tramples the TRUE RIGHTS of everyone else while demanding their "FALSE RIGHTS."

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

Yes but the FOUNDERS believed in personal property rights..

They believed we own our own property, why I carry a weapon and defend my own property.

It's because I own it, I earned it rightfully. That's what the founders believed.

The Fed, the Federal Reserve Banking disease they never believed anything of the sort. They believed that the Fed owns all of it, everything, even you.....


Didn't care about rights! For crying out loud, they PUT taxation in the document!


They cared about all rights being all men are created equal.

When are you going to admit you interpreted the constitution wrong?

Everyone back then accepted things which were not popular like having a few slaves, taxing dairy farms, and other issues. But they didn't accept them to start a class war.
They accepted them because everyone else saw them as 'good'.

Without an immutable God, no philosophy works for very long

The First Amendment to the Constitution relegated God's morality to "believe whatever you want to believe, or don't believe anything at all. When push comes to shove, the state has final say over what is true." The fact that most of the citizens of the "new" country were Christian and God-fearing, made the system appear to work ... at first, anyway.

However, freedom of religion was one of the built in booby traps that would swiftly destroy the US Constitution by making the state more powerful than God. Despite all the lovely words of Locke, Jefferson, etc. (who, by the way, came out of a very Christian environment and could, therefore, see self-evident truths a lot more clearly than we can today), they were pouring untested "Enlightenment" ideas into a mix with Christian morality to come up with a new system of government. They thought the Christian morality would keep enlightenment excesses in check. Obviously, they were wrong. Without the force of true religion, human nature, being prone to evil (Original Sin), guaranteed that the wrong principles would win out. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine would have been able to predict our future and our end from the start. It doesn't take rocket science, it simply takes a real understanding of the weaknesses, strengths and desires of human nature.

While it's true that a few men can hold very moral social and political positions without belief in God, they are far and few between. Most men will do what comes naturally ... take what they can.

The unabashed force feeding of evolution to everyone ... through government schools, government grants, media, etc. ... pretty much makes for an "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die" mentality among our monkey-brained politicians and people. True religion has no way to compete against a government that holds the upper hand.

As many a social commentator has noted, we now live in a post-Christian world. We left the true God behind a long time ago. We have sown the wind, and now we reap the whirlwind.

reedr3v's picture

4godinva's comment, and the granger's below

come from a view that people cannot be trusted, are basically evil and will grab the chance to cheat. I'ts an understandable view since cheating is so rampant in our world.
But freedom as many DPr's envision it would rise out of a culture which has an intrinsically positive view of people, essentially trusting while not being stupidly naive. "laissez faire" is a wise caution, and I don't agree we need some supernatural or governmental force to keep humanity in line.

What we do need is a culture that nurtures self-respect and responsibility and tolerance for all peaceful and respectful philosophies and lifestyles.

Let me get this straight

You say that "cheating is ... rampant in our world," but that people should "be trusted," that we should have an "intrinsically positive view of people ... while not being stupidly naive." Sorry, but that sounds like double-talk! Explain how you would trust cheating people, please.

Putting pretty (touchy-feely) words together (your last paragraph) doesn't solve the problem because it doesn't even begin to address it. Self-respect doesn't come out of a tin can or grow on trees (as the self-esteem crowd would have you believe). You can't make it up as you go along either. Self-respect comes from understanding who you are and your purpose in life. Anything else is empty bravado.

People who think their early relatives swung on trees can't come to grips with purpose in life. They're here today, gone tomorrow! When you have no purpose, you can't have self-respect ... so you get a few (or many) tattoos, pierce your body, and think about nirvana ... deep! meaningful! Yeah, right!

"laissez faire" is a wise caution" ... the meaning of this escapes me. Could you explain what you mean please?

Well Tom,

How about I offer you a job, not because of your talent, but your ignorance? I can make your ignorance work to my advantage. You see, I hire you for being a great artist, and a pay you enough to make you think you are, and I give you a budget, which I embezzle in your name... yeah, I gambol a bit, and when I lose... well, YOU go to prison. I hired you not just for your talent, but most because, you'll not know what happened until you are in prison, and I've got the money, and you got my compliments, and this is the way America operates, with judges serving the state or feds, there is no justice Tom.

Great post.


The one and only mission of government should indeed be to:

protect the life, liberty, property of each individual.

Bumpity, Bump, Bump!

Bumpin Pumpin...

Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

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How can we reverse this?

"Government can only be organized to fulfill one of two purposes: to protect your property or to take it from you - for whatever purpose government or its constituents deem fit. There is no third choice."
Our elected officials are definitely ignoring this truth.

Thank you , Tom

For solidifying the case against the so-called 'income tax' which has become for most a tax on work for pay.
(btw, do you have the Thomas Jefferson quote on this?)
Libera me, let the truth break, what my fears make..
Libera me......from this dark dream, to the life-stream! --Leslie Phillips
What's next after End the Fed? Repeal the XVI and XVII Amendments!

But that man should play the tyrant over God, and find Him a better man than himself, is astonishing drama indeed!~~D. Sayers
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15


How about this one? "With

How about this one?

"With all [our] blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?
Still one thing more, fellow citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801

And this one explains our predicament today -

"To constrain the brute force of the people, [the European governments] deem it necessary to keep them down by hard labor, poverty and ignorance, and to take from them, as from bees, so much of their earnings, as that unremitting labor shall be necessary to obtain a sufficient surplus to sustain a scanty and miserable life." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823

"All human constitutions are subject to corruption and must perish unless they are timely renewed and reduced to their first principles.'" --Thomas Jefferson

13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he shall hate the one, and love the other, or else he shall lean to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and riches. - Luke 16