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YC Magazine, Libertarian Commentary, December 2011

Your Bill of Rights

The South Carolina Libertarian Party recently added the non-aggression principle to its stateparty platform: “The SCLP opposes the initiation of force by any individual, group or government against any other individual, group, or government.”

This is the core belief of Libertarians. No one has the right to take by force your life, liberty and property. Freedom with the responsibility to do no harm to others is what our country was founded upon. The only legitimate role of government is to protect the natural rights of citizens.

The way our government operates reminds me of the quote, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting onwhat to have for dinner. Liberty is an armed lamb contesting the vote.” -Unknown

In our Constitutional Republic, drug dealers, Klan members, and suspected terrorists all must be presumed innocent of a charge until proven guilty in a court of law; otherwise we might as well admit we are like those in Salem who wanted “witches” to burn at the stake. Mistakes happen, false confessions can be coerced, trials denied, and then we all have blood on our hands. I find it quite ironic that pro-lifers and other Demopublicans easily support the death penalty and pre-emptive war; because they somehow think that a government who can’t be upfront about weapons of mass destruction, Solyndra, and Pat Tillman is going to be accurate in all cases.

Libertarians agree with the Occupy protesters and Tea Partiers that politicians should not be above the laws they make. We believe that micro-managing the country and its citizens cause low morale and productivity. There are more than enough laws on the books. In fact, it’s very easy for the average Joe to run afoul of some law, and only those privileged and politically connected get away with violating said laws if persecuted. Lawyers, bankers, and other elites write all the rules to enrich themselves and limit competition. This again, is why we need to limit the power of government, andreturn power to the people.

Power must be reduced or some perks refused before any politician can claim that they are looking out for anyonebut themselves. Presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has done this by refusing to participate in the lucrative taxpayer-funded congressionalpension system, has not taken taxpayer-funded trips, and has never voted for a pay raise. We need more leaders willing do things like this.

Limiting power from the federal level and shifting power to local communities will help us keep a better watchover political shenanigans. It will also create a more competitive atmosphere between areas who are seeking to attract taxpayers.

So who can make it happen? Onlyyou can enforce your rights and demand smaller government. It’s up to you to tell the leaders how you would like to be treated by your actions and your words. So in celebration of the Bill of Rights ratification day, December 15th, we dedicate the rest of our commentary to the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; orabridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Second Amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Third Amendment says, “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

The Fourth Amendment says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, andthe persons or things to be seized.”

The Fifth Amendment says, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwiseinfamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, exceptin cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actualservice in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject forthe same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall becompelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprivedof life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall privateproperty be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The Sixth Amendment says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accusedshall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of theState and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which districtshall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the natureand cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him;to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to havethe Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

The Seventh Amendment says, “In suits at commonlaw, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right oftrial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall beotherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

The Eighth Amendment says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, norexcessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

The Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained bythe people.”

The Tenth Amendment says, “The powers notdelegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to theStates, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We take these rights literally and absolute as they are written. Please remember your public servants and send them a copy of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Many seem to have forgotten their oath. Also, don’t forgetthat the next session of the SC Legislature starts in January. There is so much to do.

Jen is the chair of the York County Libertarian Party. For more information, please go to: www.yclp.org

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