Debate: A Charter for Government

mckeever's picture
Submitted by mckeever on Sun, 2009-01-18 18:29

The following is a work-in-progress. I am not at liberty to say, at this point, the use to which the following document might be put, so I name it, provisionally, “A Charter for Government”.

I am interested in any meaningful comments, criticisms, or suggestions you may have. No matter what may be your personal philosophy, and no matter what might be your personal beliefs, I would like to hear from you. Please submit your comments in the comments section:

http://blog.paulmckeever.ca/20...

Insults and flame-bait will be discarded: please avoid ad hominem attacks toward me or toward other commenters, but do not be afraid to express a judgment that something in the document is true/false, good/evil, virtuous/vicious.

A Charter for Government
- FIRST DRAFT -

Definitions

1. In this Charter:

Reality means: that which exists.

Fact of Reality means: something that is true about Reality.

True belief or claim means: one consistent with the Facts of Reality, as identified by a strictly logical process of thought about that for which there ultimately exists physical evidence that has been perceived by a human being.

Arbitrary belief or claim means: one for which no physical evidence has been perceived by a human being.

False belief or claim means: one that is contrary to the Facts of Reality because it is illogical, or because it is contrary to physical evidence as a determined by a strictly logical process of thought.

Government means: a number of governed individuals who, jointly or severally, have and rationally exercise the authority to make, interpret, and enforce objective laws.

Reality

2. The conclusions, decisions, actions, words, deeds, policies, proposals, laws and regulations of government always must be founded solely upon, and always must be consistent with, True beliefs and claims.

3. Government must never express or imply any False or Arbitrary belief or claim.

4. Government must never expressly or implicitly sanction, and must never cause or allow itself appear to sanction, in any way, any False or Arbitrary belief or claim.

Reason

5. Government must never attempt to discourage or prevent any individual from thinking or acting rationally and must never condemn or punish any individual for thinking or acting rationally.

6. Government must never attempt to persuade or coerce any individual to think or act irrationally, and must never praise or reward any individual for thinking or acting irrationally.

7. Government must never condemn or punish any individual for his rational thoughts, words or deeds.

8. Government must never praise or reward any individual for his irrational thoughts, words or deeds.

Self

9. Government must never attempt to persuade or coerce any individual to make other individuals’ survival, relief, or happiness a higher value or priority than his own survival, relief and happiness.

10. Government must never in any way attempt to condemn or punish any individual for making his own survival, relief and happiness his highest purpose or priority.

11. Government must never attempt to praise or reward any individual for making other individuals’ survival, relief, or happiness a higher purpose or priority than his own survival, relief and happiness.

Consent

LIFE

12. Government must use force to ensure that no individual does anything to another individual’s body without the latter individual’s consent (i.e., that no individual violates another individual’s life).

13. Government must not violate any individual’s life.

14. Government must not use force to penalize in any way an individual’s rational attempt to defend against another individual’s attempt to violate the former individual’s life.

15. Government must, and only government may, use force in a retaliatory manner to ensure justice prevails when an individual has done something to another individual’s body without the latter individual’s consent.

LIBERTY

16. Government must use force to ensure that no individual restricts or directs another individual’s actions without the latter individual’s consent (i.e., that no individual violates another individual’s liberty).

17. Government must not violate any individual’s liberty.

18. Government must not use force to penalize in any way an individual’s rational attempt to defend against another individual’s attempt to violate the former individual’s liberty.

19. Government must, and only government may, use force in a retaliatory manner to ensure justice prevails when an individual has violated another individual’s liberty.

PROPERTY

20. Government must use force to ensure that no person does with a thing that which a property right allows only another person to do with the thing, unless the former person has the latter person’s consent so to do it (i.e., that no person violates another person’s property).

21. Government must not violate any person’s property.

22. Government must not use force to penalize in any way a person’s rational attempt to defend against another person’s attempt to violate the former person’s property.

23. Government must, and only government may, use force in a retaliatory manner to ensure justice prevails when a person has violated another person’s property.

Justice

24. To ensure justice prevails, when a person has violated another person’s life, liberty or property, Government shall impose a negative consequence of no greater or lesser magnitude than that which resulted from the violation.

Law

25. All laws must be objective and objectively justifiable so that individuals know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law requires or forbids persons to do and why; what constitutes a wrong, an offence, or a crime; and how force will be used against a person who commits a wrong, offence or crime.


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Reed wrote: "Item 11 is

mckeever's picture

Reed wrote: "Item 11 is contrary to the sentiment expressed by this thread."

There might be situations in which lying on a hand grenade (i.e., committing suicide) to protect those about you might be consistent with Objectivism. As a direct example, if one did so to prevent ones beloved spouse or children from dying, that could be rational and moral if happiness would be impossible for one after the death of the spouse/children.

The case of lying on a grenade to protect two fellow soldiers who are not ones highest values is a bit more iffy. If keeping those soldiers alive will keep ones beloved spouse/children alive (for example), then I could see it. But for a man to try to save a stranger's life when the man is more likely than not to die in the process of saving the stranger (or trying to do so) is not consistent with Objectivism.

Hi Reed: If government

mckeever's picture

Hi Reed:

If government officials want to pray together, they should do it on their own time, in their own building. Members of Parliament/Provincial Parliament are being paid by all of us when they are in the legislature we all own and pay for, doing the job they are elected to do for all of us: all of us, whether mystical or rational. If some MPP wants to pray to himself at the same time that others are doing so, while they happen to be sitting in the legislature, or in a courthouse, or what have you, that's fine. But for the government officially to hold or officially to recognize the holding of a prayer session is out of bounds. Nor should the government be setting up crosses, menorahs, Islamic crescents and the like in the lobbies of its buildings (as they do in the Ontario legislature). Support for such public displays is obviously an attempt to say that mysticism is a part of governance.

Still busy.

reed's picture

Paul -
If Government officials want to pray together why do you want to prevent them from doing so?
How would you justify to preventing them from praying when the act of praying is not violating the NIOF principle nor is it causing any injustice?

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Item 11 is contrary to the

reed's picture

Item 11 is contrary to the sentiment expressed by this thread.

I have more to say but I'm busy doing my tax.

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mvardoulis

mckeever's picture

You're too kind. Thanks for your encouragement.

Cheers,

Paul

Paul,

mvardoulis's picture

Please do continue your valuable work - the reason I am no longer a Libertarian in the USPS is due to their abandonment of the "Objectivish" platfrom shortly after the 2004 election. Again, keep up the good work! Libertarians, if they *truly* want liberty but may not fully understand the importance of philosophy/Objectivism, need to have the kind of example you are putting together in this charter in order to "get it" ....!

Particular policies

mckeever's picture

Hi Sandi:

Thank-you for making the compliment.

I am hoping to use this document more as a sort of litmus test for people who seek to assume an Officer's role in a political party. In other words: it's a charter about government, but not a Charter the function of which is to impose any limits or mandates on a government.

My idea for this Charter arose from a recent development in the Ontario Libertarian Party: the nut of it is that the outgoing chair of the party wanted to ensure that one did not have to support Objectivist things - like Objective law, the existence of a government, absolute rights, etc. - to be a member and to have have constitution-amending or policy-making power. They did this by changing the membership oath: from one requiring members to support the party's somewhat "Objectivish" Statement of Principles, to one requiring would-be members to agree that they are "for liberty" (whatever that means).

I am writing an article on that development, and what it means in terms of the libertarianism vs. Objectivism disagreement. As a result of thinking through that article, I am thinking that agreement with the contents of a document like the Charter would help avoid the likelihood that Freedom Party - Ontario's party of reason - might be hijacked an anti-reason agenda a la the Ontario Libertarians.

I say all this as an explanation that, given the purpose, I am trying to avoid the inclusion of any particular policies. Those, I think, are best left in the Policy document of the party, and in its election platforms.

Re: Punishing Irrationality

mckeever's picture

Hi Scott:

Re: punishing irrationality: that's all a legitimate government does. That is to say: all legitimate legal penalties are punishments of irrationality (e.g., theft, rape, breach of contract, etc.), but it is not legitimate to penalize all irrationality (e.g., getting so drunk that your productivity declines and you risk losing your accommodation). That is why, in the Charter, there is no requirement to punish irrationality: such a requirement, if not qualified, would require the government to punish people for all sorts of irrational things for which it has no business punishing them.

Wonderful work Paul

Sandi's picture

I can not criticise your draft thus far. There will obviously be many tweaks along the way. I do presume you will cover the right to bear arms, freedom of speech and deal with censorship.

Now I have a question, should censorship be completely ruled out (as I consider it should be), including censorship during a real war ie: not a war on terror?

I get you

atlascott's picture

But as I read it, the government may not discourage rational thought nor reward irrational thought. Which means it MAY reward rationality and punish or withhold from irrationality.

The problem is that this brings government into the rationality business--and that is an individual's job and none of the government's business. In other words, the government should be basing its policy on rationality and the facts of reality, not religion, but that is a separation of Church and State issue.

The paragraphs I cite REQUIRE government to decide whether what you and I are thinking is rational or not, rewarding and punishing based on their judgments.

Being from Cook County, Illinois, I DO NOT want an illiterate son of a crooked politician granted his government position to decide that I am irrational and therefore, must pay a premium tax rate, whilst Baptists and his political cronies get a lower tax rate.

I can bet you that some of the legislators who seek divine guidance will decide that you are being IRRATIONAL in your continued refusal to accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, and that, having heard the Word of God, they doing the only rational thing--heeding God's word.

The government should have no part in this--it should allow people to be free to do as they will, so long as it does not interfere with your right to do as you will.

Government doesn't have to reward rationality and punish irrationality--and shouldn't. Reality will do that just fine.

And--what looks utterly irrational can be the work of a genius. We must be free to pursue our lives as we see fit, based on individual judgment, and unimpeded by government.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Bad Indeed

mckeever's picture

Indeed we do have it bad in Ontario Linz. I've only mentioned a few choice bits. Lately, it seems things here are degenerating faster than ever before.

Jesus Christ, Paul!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You've got it bad in Canada! Way worse than we have it in NZ.

Reed, of course, is an apologist for irrationality. He thinks there was a virgin birth and the earth was created in 6 days a few hundred years ago. And that government may dictate what a woman may do with her body and jail her for disobeying. "They who believe absurdities commit atrocities."

He doesn't get it that in an Objectivist society folk would be perfectly free to believe the kind of garbage he believes, as long as they didn't impose it on anyone else. That's the difference between his philosophy and Objectivism - the former demands things of folk by force; the latter just asks folk to let other folk alone, even as it judges stupidity for what it is.

Scott writes: "Be careful of

mckeever's picture

To both Scott and Reed:

Scott writes: "Be careful of getting the government involved in the "policing thoughts" business. It sounds like your government is going to encourage what "it" considers "good" thought and punish "bad" thought."

Hi Scott. Every paragraph you quote commences with the words "Government must never". Each paragraph relates not to an action by a government, but to inaction.

In Ontario (the province in Canada where I reside) the government does the opposite: it expressly or implicitly praises, rewards, or acts upon the irrational. As an example, the government acted upon a "tip" from a "psychic" that a girl (who is autistic) was being sexually abused by some man. It was entirely false, but the state came to the girl's house and investigated. The mother was horrified, naturally, that the government would commence an investigation on the basis of an alleged mystic observation.

In the same province, the legislature opened its daily proceedings with The Lords Prayer, asking for "god's" wisdom to guide the legislators. The government announced it was going to ditch the Lord's Prayer. The end result was that the Lord's Prayer continues to be said daily, but now, another prayer is said daily (one of eight): Islamic, Buddhist, etc.

In the same province, the government directed tax revenues to the funding of a Christian program to encourage youth to be religious so that they would not engage in criminal activity.

In the same province, the government instituted a multi-ministry directive to embed the "precautionary principle", pursuant to which innovations are considered harmful until proven otherwise.

I agree that the government "...should allow people to believe whatever they want", but I do not agree that the government should engage in irrational conduct or beliefs, that it should praise or reward irrational conduct or beliefs, etc.

I am reminded of Lord Acton's speech ("The History of Freedom in Antiquity", if I recall correctly) in which he said that freedom in the west was assisted by Jesus' words "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and render unto God that which is God's". Government ought not even to pretend that it is guided, informed, restricted, or in any way connected with anything that allegedly is supernatural. In my view, freedom is threatened, not facilitated, by a government that bases policy, law, regulation, interpretation, or enforcement with the false or the arbitrary.

The Department of Rationality.

reed's picture

On points 5 to 8
Would you really want government to pass judgement on what is rational?
Would you really want government to treat people differently based on whether it considered them to be acting rationally or not?

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"5. Government must never

atlascott's picture

"5. Government must never attempt to discourage or prevent any individual from thinking or acting rationally and must never condemn or punish any individual for thinking or acting rationally.

6. Government must never attempt to persuade or coerce any individual to think or act irrationally, and must never praise or reward any individual for thinking or acting irrationally.

7. Government must never condemn or punish any individual for his rational thoughts, words or deeds.

8. Government must never praise or reward any individual for his irrational thoughts, words or deeds."

Be careful of getting the government involved in the "policing thoughts" business. It sounds like your government is going to encourage what "it" considers "good" thought and punish "bad" thought.

It's acts the government must be involved with, not thoughts. The government should not be involved in judging or catgorizing thoughts and should allow people to believe whatever they want consistent with freedom.

It is no business of the government whether I act irrationally, per the judgment of a bureaucrat--he doesn't know what I know and what I am doing. As long as it doesn't interfere with the freedom of others.

The bureaucrat, as a part of government, should stay out of my thoughts.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Hasn't this job been done

Mark Hubbard's picture

Hasn't this job been done well enough in  a Constitution for New Freeland?

Ah, now I see what you're driving at. Thank-you.

mckeever's picture

Reed: Ah, now I see what you're driving at. Thank-you. It appears a definition for "individual" is indeed warranted. My initial thought is to define individual as a human being who has reached the "age of reason" (aka, the "age of majority"). However, that - which is the typical line of division in most western states - seems a bit vague. Would you suggest something other?

You *are* in trouble.

reed's picture

The abortion debate boils down to this. It also affects involuntary euthanasia.

12. Government must use force to ensure that no individual does anything to another individual’s body without the latter individual’s consent (i.e., that no individual violates another individual’s life).

In the context of the above, if "individual" includes children you would be requiring government involvement in any discipline the child disagrees with.

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We're really in trouble if we don't know the defn 4 "individual"

mckeever's picture

reed: Ha! Now, is that a joke, or are you being serious?

This is an excellent piece of work

mvardoulis's picture

You're off to a good start, Mr. McKeever!

You need a definition for

reed's picture

You need a definition for "individual".

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