Did you lose the right to choose a government in 1788?

August 2, 2008

When New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America on June 21, 1788, did you lose the right to choose your government? Did the people of those times decide what type of government must prevail from that time forward in America?

Consider these famous words from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

No, the right to abolish and establish governments continues. But how does it work. We are a bit rusty, having used the same form of government for the last 220 years (or, as Abe might have said, eleven score years). The people messing up things for us are not an ocean’s journey away, but right here, in our faces. We have gotten into the habit of cheering every politician that promises change, but managing only to get more of the same, only worse.

The big question in my mind is: are we required to work within the current political framework (elect “better” leaders, have “better” laws passed, make “better” amendments to the constitution)? Or is it our human right to say no to the framework itself? To say to those who claim the right to govern us, “thanks, but no thanks”.

Let’s ponder what that might look like. A group of people decide they want to detach themselves from all levels of government, yet remain Americans. They establish treaties with the various governments, local, county, state, federal, saying, “we’ll pay the sales taxes, pay the bridge tolls, and every other use tax you’ve come up with. We’ll pay the social security tax, as long as we have some expectation of getting something in return from it. But we won’t pay income taxes, and we won’t be subject to any laws except those published in plain sight for all to see, like speed limits. We’ll make our own arrangements with fire departments, police departments, and school districts. If we kill someone who is subject to your government, we will be tried by your laws, in your courts. Otherwise, we will be tried for offenses in our common law system within our own courts.”

Now, some taxpayers might feel like we would be getting a “free ride” by not paying income taxes. But think about it. That money would be going directly into the economy, creating demand for goods and services, providing more jobs, even creating higher corporate tax returns.

Would that be so horrible?

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2 Responses to “Did you lose the right to choose a government in 1788?”

  1. jc Says:

    This is a great blog. However, why would anyone incorporate a business? Why even have corporations? Also, why you allow any involuntary taxation? ie. Sales Tax.

    You’re purposing that you allow the government to still legislate as long as the laws are posted? That’s what happens now.

    Kritarchy is no legislation. Kritarchy is the protection of natural rights by private resolutions with private judges. No speed limits. Only my right not to be put in danger by your driving.

    If we do have to compromise with the government, allow it to protect us from foreign invaders for a head tax, or a monopoly on legal tender.

    Social Security Tax?! You have to be kidding!

  2. kritarchist Says:

    Please excuse me for taking so long to respond. I have been neglecting this blog in favor of another about panarchy (panarchists.org), and I’ve been ignoring that one too because of other things going on in my life. But you raised some interesting points and deserve a response.

    My over-riding point in the entry was to show that, if one has the freedom to choose one’s government (the premise of panarchy, but a necessary requirement for kritarchy), those things that are now involuntary taxes become voluntary use fees. Hence, it would be *possible* for the chosen government to have something like social security, etc, but the “taxes” would be voluntary because membership in the government itself is voluntary. I am NOT, in this example, portraying an IDEAL government, but merely a POSSIBLE government. The ultimate form of any such government, given that a person has the right to choose their government, would be determined by its members. The description of the possible government was entirely secondary to my point.

    As for speed limits: assuming that someone “owns” the roadways, whether it is a government or a corporation or an individual, owners have the right to set rules governing use of their property. You cannot assume that either you own all roads (hence, no rules, no limits), or that “everyone” owns the roads (but who would maintain them?). The ideal situation is that someone owns and maintains them, and, as owners, can set the rules of use.

    Regarding your question “why incorporate”, my understanding of such legal structures is that they provide limits to liability, something that might still be of some use.


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