I believe in the enforcement of just laws. I believe in the punishment of criminals who break them.
But, as a child of the United States' revolutionary war, I take seriously the words in our nation's founding documents, that affirm that every one of us has an inalienable right to freedom.
Almost everybody pays lip service to freedom, but what does it really mean? To what extent is government intrusion legitimate? And what is the moral response to illegitimate laws?
To those (and there are many today) who say that it is wrong to break any law, simply because it is the law, I would ask, is that the advice you would give to people who hid Jews in wartime Germany? Is that the advice you would give to members of the Underground Railroad who helped slaves escape in the 19th Century? Is that the advice you would give to Martin Luther King Jr., if you could speak to him in the '60's? All of these people made a conscious decision to break the law in service of a greater morality. Many risked imprisonment or death to do so.
In the light of 20/20 hindsight, it takes neither effort nor courage to applaud those in the hallowed past who resisted unjust laws. What is not so easy is to stand in the present and oppose, with courage and conviction, the brutal encroachment of government at every level into every corner of private life.
Hardly a day goes by that the news isn't filled with stories of hooded, armed thugs smashing into sick people's homes looking for marijuana. The citizens within are "lucky" if they aren't murdered in the process! These agents are terrorists, and their actions do not deserve to be sugar-coated with any other label. It is not the legitimate role of government to intervene in the personal, private decisions of adult individuals, sick or not. It is the legitimate role of individuals to assert their natural rights in such matters, and to resist unwarranted coercion by whatever means are forced upon them by the criminal thugs of government.
To oppose thugs such as these by any necessary means is not merely a right: it is a sacred obligation for anyone who wishes a life of freedom for his children.
Seizure and forfeiture laws make a bad problem even worse. So-called "law-enforcement" agencies are given a financial incentive to steal from people, the majority of whom are never even charged with a crime. The citizens in question are forced to sue the government to get their own property back, after their assets are gone, and, guilty or not, usually have no viable means to do so (have you ever tried to hire a lawyer when you're broke?). Stories of horrible abuse of power abound. What else can we expect when thugs with guns are given a free reign and a financial incentive to act like felons?
Businesses large and small are hounded and wrecked by agencies demanding a certain racial mix of employees. I do not condone discriminatory hiring practices, but the knife cuts both ways: shall we force minority-owned businesses to hire 80% whites, or shall we allow them to hire whomever they please, perhaps predominantly minority? Shall we force the NBA to stop "discriminating" against whites, or shall we recognize that not all professions will have an equal mix of races at any given moment in time?
Along similar lines, shall we force gay-owned businesses to hire straights, and woman-owned businesses to hire men? I would let each make up its own mind.
If a group seems to be underrepresented in a desirable profession, the only proper remedy is for more people to undertake the training needed to enter that profession. Shortcuts based upon group membership do not treat people as equal individuals, and are, by their very nature, racist (/sexist, etc.). They are also, no matter how many of his supposed "followers" whine to the contrary, a betrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, a dream deserving of society's support.
Art is important, even vital. But when the government gets into the art business, art becomes politics, and the winners are those who spend their energies currying political favor rather than tending to their art. The results, ranging from the mediocre to the pointlessly offensive, are all around us. I will pursue the art that interests me; I do not need some government-appointed "expert" spending my money for me.
I happen to hate tobacco smoke, and will avoid any establishment that assaults my nostrils with it. But I have lived in a city that sends enforcers out looking to bust any establishment that makes the decision to be friendly to smokers. This is fascism, and it is wrong. Free humans have the right to congregate in a manner of their choosing, whether or not some "expert" or other busybody says their choices are good ones.
If the concern is that "society" will be responsible for picking up the bill for those who make poor choices, I would far rather that "society" leave people to experience the consequences of their own actions, rather than have the cost be used as an excuse for taking away our basic right to self-determination.
I oppose the government extracting tax dollars by force from my pocket and handing them over to wealthy corporations. I want corporations to earn their wealth, or go broke, in the free market.
I oppose the government extracting tax dollars by force from my pocket and using them to persecute Microsoft and other large companies. Bill Gates, for all his power, cannot force anyone to buy his products. If some of us choose to do so, that is not the government's affair.
I oppose the government extracting tax dollars by force from my pocket and handing them over to people who choose not to work. I want to pick my own charities, and I do not need anyone else doing it for me.
The idea that campaign finance reform can cure the rampant purchasing of political favors is naive in the extreme. One thing, and one thing alone, can effectively address the problem: pulling the teeth of legislators and restricting their activities to Constitutionally approved areas. The U.S. Supreme Court for decades has been completely derelict in its solemn duty to enforce such restrictions. Among other absurdities, the Court has upheld laws forbidding someone from growing food on his own land, for his own consumption, because it "could" be transported across state lines. Every Justice currently seated should be thrown out, and replaced by someone who takes the Constitution (and his/her sworn duties) seriously. A good case could be made for prosecuting every current Justice for treason, but I'd be content to throw the bums out.
There is a lot of talk about how countries such as China should have more "democracy". Democracy is important, but it is a bare beginning. There must also be a Bill of Rights to ensure basic freedoms. An unchecked democracy quickly degenerates into all manner of witch-hunts, as history has repeatedly shown. Pure democracy is mob rule, indistinguishable from anarchy (except that the enforcers wear "official" uniforms).
Licensing laws supposedly protect us from incompetent practitioners. In fact, they protect politically favored cartels from free and fair competition. Of course, no one should be allowed to claim false credentials, but neither should anyone be forbidden from practicing any art for which he/she can find willing buyers.
Everyone is horrified by violence carried out using firearms. But the idea that society would be improved by banning them among private citizens is a very foolish fantasy ("the road to hell is paved with good intentions"). The slaughter at Waco, and the countless other slaughters perpetrated by the government against underarmed citizens, must be kept alive in our memories to help prevent such nonsense.
Armed agents patrol our border, in a vain attempt to lock out those who would enter the country. I would open our borders to anyone who is willing to work, and would close them only to those who come looking for a handout.
The legitimate role of government is easily defined: to intervene only in matters of force or fraud. I would fill our jails with murderers, rapists, robbers, and con artists, and would release everyone who is "guilty" only of making a lifestyle choice unapproved by some pompous legislator. The savings to society would no doubt hurt the purveyors of the burgeoning prison/industrial complex (the U.S. locks up more people per capita than any other nation on earth, and the gap is rapidly widening), but would benefit all the rest of us.
The "Land of the Free and home of the Brave" has become the "Land of the Slaves and home of the Cowards." We have become a nation of hypocrites who have turned our backs on those who shed their blood, just a few short generations ago, to give birth to our country.
To where can a lover of freedom turn in the realm of politics? Certainly not to either major political party. The Democrats, exemplified by Al "Wooden Head" Gore, want to run our lives because they love us so much. The Republicans, exemplified by George W. "Empty Head" Bush (he's the one who proclaims, "if I used cocaine, that's nobody's business, but if you use cocaine, you're a felon."), want to run our lives because we're incompetent. There's not a dime's worth of difference between them; they are presumptuous Statists. Those who love freedom must look elsewhere. For the most part, the answer lies outside politics altogether.