I am mine and you are yours 2

Walter Williams writes a short, perfect essay titled “Who owns us?” Here’s a substantial part of it:

I am my private property and you are yours. If we accept the notion that people own themselves, then it’s easy to discover what forms of conduct are moral and immoral.

Immoral acts are those that violate self-ownership. Murder, rape, assault and slavery are immoral because those acts violate private property. So is theft, broadly defined as taking the rightful property of one person and giving it to another.

If it is your belief that people do not belong to themselves, they are in whole or in part the property of the U.S. Congress, or people are owned by God, who has placed the U.S. Congress in charge of managing them, then all of my observations are simply nonsense.

Let’s look at some congressional actions in light of self-ownership. Do farmers and businessmen have a right to congressional handouts? Does a person have a right to congressional handouts for housing, food and medical care?

First, let’s ask: Where does Congress get handout money? …

The only way for Congress to give one American one dollar is to first, through the tax code, take that dollar from some other American. It must forcibly use one American to serve another American.

Forcibly using one person to serve another is one way to describe slavery. As such, it violates self-ownership.

Government immorality isn’t restricted only to forcing one person to serve another. Some regulations such as forcing motorists to wear seat belts violate self-ownership. If one owns himself, he has the right to take chances with his own life.

Some people argue that if you’re not wearing a seat belt, have an accident and become a vegetable, you’ll become a burden on society. That’s not a problem of liberty and self-ownership. It’s a problem of socialism, where through the tax code one person is forcibly used to care for another.

These examples are among thousands of government actions that violate the principles of self-ownership. Some might argue that Congress forcing us to help one another and forcing us to take care of ourselves are good ideas.

But my question to you is: When congressmen and presidents take their oaths of office, is that oath to uphold and defend good ideas or the U.S. Constitution?

When the principles of self-ownership are taken into account, two-thirds to three-quarters of what Congress does violate those principles to one degree or another as well as the Constitution to which they’ve sworn to uphold and defend. …

If we accept the value of self-ownership, it is clear that most of what Congress does is clearly immoral.

Read all of it here,

It’s simply true.

It’s a libertarian conservative’s delight.

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, Economics, Ethics, Miscellaneous, Philosophy by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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This post has 2 comments.

  • I always enjoy reading Professor Williams’ articles; he does such a wonderful job defending basic human freedoms such as the right to self-ownership.

    Regarding MrFace’s comment, I couldn’t agree more. In practice the US government operates on the assumption that citizens are the property of the state, even if it pays lip service to the idea that this isn’t the case. Here in Canada, we are explicitly subjects of Her Majesty, ie her property. North America could use more writers like Walter Williams to remind us that fundamentally we each own ourselves.

  • MrFace

    Thank you for this read, what an EXCELLENT article. For religious zealots, the belief that “God” owns you and you must do what he says or else is completely sanctimonious and hypocritical. Those radicals automatically contradict themselves by saying this, IE. God owns you so you must obey, that is why you have free choice. Ugh. Evenso, our own government(as it is now) is exactly the same way; you must obey our laws because as citizens, we own you and you owe allegiance to us(note: not the constitution or the USofA.); however, you are free to do what you want…

    Hypocrisy at its finest.