Propagated Error - 1776 to 2008 (and Beyond?)
By Henry Nicolle
Exclusive first publishing granted to The Seattle Sinner February, 2008
Government grants our rights. Government actors are always right. You can't fight city hall. Justice will prevail; that's why we have the appeals courts. Presumptions.
Over the last half year, I have been ragging without apparent direction over my arrest, jailing, naked in the Penalty-Box, enduring a kangaroo prosecution and a meaningless appeal. From time to time, I have nudged my story in the direction of why my petty complaint is actually an incredibly huge accusation against nearly all of us, in government or not in government. As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Presumption has come to bite us in the butt.
In 1775, the presumption (in error) of our revolting forefathers was that we would throw a fit with our government and they would recognize that it was more profitable to throw in with our ambitions than to force us to remain on bended knee to our "betters". When that didn't look like it would work out, we abandoned those mistaken presumptions and fought for radical change and individual Liberty. For the majority of our inhabitants at the time, the new (erroneous) presumption was that the revolutionaries would lose, things would go back to the "normal" state of society in the world of that period.. Everyone thought they would have a couple stiff drinks (I think all drinks in those days were pretty "stiff". Men, women and booze were all pretty raw.) and get back to the business of life without men with guns and attitudes running around causing trouble.
Well, that presumption didn't work out very well, either. We wound up winning a revolution, changing the governing rules and of course, abandoning the presumptions which had been crushed. We had to find new ones.
Frankly, this was magical social progress, (not to be confused with modern social progressives). It was a change from "Know and keep your place." to "Know your place is where it pleases you, so long as you're not standing on someone else." We, in the Great American Experiment, were to be the Captains of our own fate, etc. and we were left to figure out some new presumptions.
What we did though, was to retread some of the old presumptions, and reinstall them in practice. We were just too accustomed to the old presumptions, we understood them and we were lazy. The presumptions we restored were the ones that suppose Government and Society can manage individual lives and be unaccountable for the results.
When it came to the moment to agree on the rules for government conduct in our desire for communal powers to preserve our inherent rights and liberty, we adopted a viable set of rules which could be read two ways (probably more), depending upon whether the reader's world view was bottom up or top down. This problem was not a secret.
It boiled down to Jefferson asserting that the Constitution granted extremely limited powers to the federal government and that the purpose of those powers was to preserve the inherent rights of individuals and to protect the autonomy of self-determination necessary for the free exercise of our rights. The resulting society of free men and women would set a new standard of prosperity and achievement or fail miserably through their own common industry or neglect. Liberty has no guarantees.
Jefferson was contradicted in purpose by Hamilton. Hamilton intended that the Constitution enable a powerful central government, ruling the People, establishing the policies of the society and goals of industry, coercing labor to create the wealth necessary to pay the taxes which would be imposed to pay the national debt which would be borrowed to improve the power and prestige of the government. Central Plans remove the uncertainty of Liberty.
After 220 years, Hamilton, aided by Lincoln, has prevailed. We have a national, centrally managed society wherein we presume that we are self-governed and free, that justice is likely, that our rights are respected and our Liberty preserved. All are presumptions of the erroneous sort. We presume that we are U.S. citizens. We are, but are we the citizens presumed by our rulers or the Citizens we ourselves presume? We presume that our currency is money and that we can pay our debts with our cash. We cannot, because it is not money, it is currency for legal tender. We presume that we need licenses and permits to do the various things that people around the world all do. We do not need the great variety of licences and permits as Citizens, because they are for activities which would ordinarily be criminal, unlawful conduct. Have you ever thought about any of this?
Think about them for a while, because I will tie these in a nice little Gordian Knot.
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