2nd Draft: A Charter for Government (feedback requested)

mckeever's picture
Submitted by mckeever on Sat, 2009-02-28 18:44

I begin this entry with an expression of thanks to all who took the time to read, think about, and comment upon, the first draft of the Charter for Government. In particular, I would like to thank David Odden over at ObjectivismOnline.net (in the discussion forum). He was looking for a better integration/explanation of the interaction of rights of life, liberty, and property. Most of what has been changed in the second draft (below) was inspired by his critique.

You will see that one definition, “injustice”, has been added. It is a definition which I propose is applicable to a government, rather than to an individual (in my view, one can do an injustice to oneself, and this definition does not serve that purpose).

The other major change was to the politics section. Gone is any mention of rights, not because of any objection to the concept, but because I think a more fundamental political issue deals with rights implicitly: consent. Accordingly, the politics section now focuses on government’s role in ensuring that relations among individuals are consensual. The new politics section uses “consent”, instead of something like banning “the initiation of coercive physical force”, because the latter is not sufficient to explain why there ought to be laws against defamation, why pre-emptive strikes are morally right, etc….at least, not without straining the concept of “force” to include things that involve nothing physical (like fraud, defamation, etc.)…I’ve never been a fan of such straining.

I think, with this second draft, we’re getting closer to something that more robustly represents a set of rules for rational governance. I sincerely hope that you will give it a read and provide any feedback you think is appropriate (save flames and ad hominems, of course).

Having brought up the first draft of A Charter for Government at last Sunday’s meeting of the Freedom Party of Ontario executive, I can now disclose to you the intended purpose of the Charter for Government (which title will probably be changed to something like “Statement of Principles”): the idea is to guide those who interpret Freedom Party of Ontario’s founding principle, and who make policies for the party (which policies must, according to the party constitution, be consistent with the founding principle). The party’s founding principle is: “Every individual, in the peaceful pursuit of personal fulfillment, has an absolute right to his or her own life, liberty and property”. The purpose of the Charter/Statement of Principles is to ensure that that founding principle is not treated as a floating abstraction (as might be done by libertarians). The idea would be to require anyone who wants to be on the policy-making executive of the party to agree with, and to agree to support, the Charter/Statement of Principles.

And now, without further delay, I present to you the 2nd Draft of A Charter for Government:

A Charter for Government


1. In this Charter:

Reality is that which exists.

A Fact of Reality is something that is true about Reality.

A True belief or claim is: 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.

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

A False belief or claim is: 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 is a number of governed individuals who, jointly or severally, have and rationally exercise the authority to make, interpret, and enforce objective laws.

Injustice means: obtaining or controlling the use of any material or spiritual value without creating the value or obtaining the value from another person with that other person’s consent.


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


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.


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.


12. Government must commit no Injustices.

13. Government must use force to prevent persons from committing Injustices.

14. Government must not use force to prevent or penalize in any way a person’s rational attempt to use force to prevent a person from committing an Injustice.

15. Government must, and only government may, use force against a person to ensure that justice prevails when the person has committed an Injustice.

16. To ensure justice prevails, Government shall impose a negative consequence of no greater or lesser magnitude than that which resulted from the Injustice.


17. 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.

( categories: )

Hi Linz: Oh, I agree: it is

mckeever's picture

Hi Linz:

Oh, I agree: it is not the role of government to force people to be rational. However, nor should it be the role of government to sanction, praise, or reward the irrational; nor should it make decisions in an irrational fashion - yet that is - increasingly, in my country - what the government is doing.

I was listening to some 24 year old Freedom Party audio today: an all-candidates debate. The Liberals and Conservatives are arguing (in 1985) that the distribution of alcohol should be a public monopoly IF that is what the governed want. In my view, that is irrational: whim as a basis for law.

Keeping in mind that the purpose of the "Charter for Government" is one really intended only for use by Freedom Party's executive, I think we're on safe ground. The main goal is to ensure that those who end up making policy for the party do not make party policy on the basis of such things as majority whim.

All properly-criminal law punishes irrational conduct, so it is not strictly correct to say that the government should not involve itself in ethics. The law presumes innocence until there is evidence of guilt, so it is not strictly correct to say that the government should not involve itself in epistemology. The commonly held belief that government should not involve itself in matters of ethics is false. The accurate statement is that the government, on the basis of a defence of reason, involves itself in punishing/preventing only those instances of evil that obviate or negate the role of consent: all such obviations are evil, irrational, and anti-reality, but not all evil, irrational, or anti-reality acts obviate or negate the role of consent; not all such acts warrant the intervention of government.

Where consent is obviated or negated, good, reason, and reality are obviated and the government ought rightly to intervene. Where consent is not obviated or negated, the government ought not to intervene even if good, reason, or reality are obviated.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

My only comment would be an over-arching one. Aside from noting that rights are rooted in man's rational faculty and the fact that it is volitional, as I think you ought to do in a Preamble (see Libz constitution), I think any charter should not concern itself with "rational" and "irrational." The fact is, a charter for government is a political document; politically speaking, individual autonomy is the bottom line, and every individual is free to be as rational or irrational as he goddam pleases so long as he doesn't impinge on anyone else's freedom. Contrary to my critics, I think folk should even be free to listen to headbanging caterwauling, and it doesn't get any more irrational than that! Eye

Mr. McKeever

sharon's picture



I absolutely agree with objective law, and all else, but why a monopoly?


Jeffrey's Questions

mckeever's picture

Hi Jeffrey:

Re: 1) - I agree with Scott. One needs Objective law which, to be administered objectively, must be administered by a number of individuals having a monopoly on the enforcement, interpretation, and creation of the law. Worse than (a) having a government drafting bad law and enforcing it consistently, is (b) government not telling people what to expect in terms of what it will consider wrongful. Chaotic, ad hoc law is worse than vicious law.

Re: 2) - At this point, I agree. By adding in "rational pursuit of" as a qualifier, those attempting to pursue their own survival or happiness by irrational means could not hide behind para. 10.

Re: 3) - At this point, I agree. Perhaps it should say something like "Government must prevent persons from committing Injustices, using force if necessary".

Re: 4) - I've tried to leave that implicit, by defining government as "...a number of governed individuals...". In other words, it is a matter of identity. The Charter talks about government, not gangs. If ones government becomes a number of not-governed individuals, it ceases to be a government. So it is not the case that the governed ever have to deal with opposing government. They only have to deal with opposing gangs.

Re: 5) - See my response to Sharon.

Hi Sharon: 9 is about not

mckeever's picture

Hi Sharon:

9 is about not engaging in vice.

11 is about not sanctioning vice.

Government Finance

mckeever's picture

Hi Sharon:

I've never read an Objectivist answer to that question that was both authoritative and complete enough to apply. Lotteries etc. are the usual proposal for voluntary systems. The Freedom Party policies specify ports of call along a journey to freedom. They do not specify all solutions, but the ones that, at this point in time, should be made a priority. To that end, at present, the policies oppose a wide variety of taxes: income taxes, property taxes, surtaxes, etc. The government already has in place a number of lotteries that it uses to generate government revenues, so that is not something that needs to be proposed.


atlascott's picture

If the government or some "neutral" agent is not going to arbitrate what is right, wrong, rational or irrational, then how will there ever be a determination or standard by which to make a determination?

Obviously, individuals are to decide what is rational or right on their own. That's where conflicts come from.

MOST disputes occur between men when 2 each think THEY are being rational and the OTHER is not.

These two fictional men will never agree on a rational way to settle their dispute, much less the standards, venue, or Judge to decide their dispute.

Many men would not have the intellectual wherewithal to even begin to answer these questions. This is also an example of where, in Anarchy or Minarchy, a sophisticated claimant would dust a lone, unschooled litigant, not based on equity, but because he can talk rings around the unschooled, and get the unschooled to agree to an arbitration agreement that is one-sided to say the least.

The casual use of violence to settle disputes must be eliminated or minimized to ensure a society based upon reason and justice.

What Anarchists and Minarchists do not get is: what our current government does is not what it is supposed to be doing, but that does not invalidate the design of the Constitution. We have allowed the ideas being taught in this country to be subverted. So now, our citizenry is comprised of moral relativists, who catch cheating politicians and just shrug their shoulders, rather than lynching them.

With no government, no harsh anti-corruption laws, being enforced by law-abiding, moral men, independent agents of force would side with the highest bidder.

An important part of any legal system is ensuring that, to the extent possible, even a poor guy, who is RIGHT, can fight on a relatively level playing field against a billionaire company. There is no answer for this from an anarchist or minarchist.

Accepting a public post and then betraying that trust should be a capital offense, treason. Governor Blago here in Illinois should be on trial for his LIFE, not his political life. Roland Burris should be in a stockade right now, not walking around as a Senator, after LYING UNDER OATH to our national legislature.

While these cheating politicians are brazen, they are also a cowardly lot. Threaten their lives and they will clean up their act.

What would also help here in Chicago is--commit a felony, and never be allowed to serve in any public office, ever. Commit a fraud, even a misdemeanor, like passing bad checks, etc.--never serve in any public office, ever. A good rule, period.

This would clear out about 1/4 of the City Counsel.

We have a convicted BANK ROBBER who served time in the Federal Pen on the Chicago City Counsel, did you know?

Voluntary or even a flat funding which is Constitutionally mandated would be an elegant way to limit the power of government and to keep it from growing.

How about a provision denying the government the authority to collect more than a flat 2% income tax? And prohibiting the government from accepting any further tax revenue that is not voluntary and the payment of which does not confer any benefit or preferred status to the payor, nor the refusal to pay such voluntary tax prejudice or disadvantage the non-payor in any way? In other words, if there is a war, no additional tax laws can be passed, no "Emergency Measures" provisions and the government must use its reserves and donations from its citizens and businesses to fight the war.

Scott DeSalvo

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

 I also doubt that Mr.

sharon's picture


Is it just me, or is 9 and 11 the same thing?

I also doubt that Mr. Mckeever had voluntary funding in mind when he wrote either one. But if that is his position, I would be most curious as to what his methods would be.


who gets to decide

jeffrey smith's picture

1) I think you need to address the issue of who gets to decide what is True and what is False; what is Rational; and I would suggest you make it clear that deciding those points is not something the Government is authorized to make.

2) I think point 10 should make it clear that people are entitled to pursue their own survival, etc. in a rational manner; otherwise you might have a problem with people who make claims in an irrational manner, and take refuge in this point to avoid the consequences.  On the other hand, I'd leave points 9 and 11 as they stand because there the ambiguity will serve to further limit the power of government.

3) On Points 13 and 15 (but not the other points in that section), I think "Government must" should be replaced by "Government may"--to my ears, it sounds a bit peremptory.  You want to give authorization for Government to use only force, not make the use of force obligatory.  (There are, after all, times when persusasion is preferable, or at least should be tried first before you resort to force.)

4) I would suggest a section outlining what options are available to the citizenry in the event the Government tries to do something that it is prohibited from doing.

5) As to Sharon's question: I think Points 9-11 would logically require a system of voluntary funding, but it probably wouldn't hurt to state that clearly.

Mr. McKeever

sharon's picture


Your concern that individual rights be protected comes out loud and clear. Question: how would this government be funded?



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