What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: J. Stephen Conn
No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.
Today, the Utah legislature opened its 2011 general session, full of pomp, prayer, and procedural minutia. Once the tradition-saturated morning was out of the way, this body of elected officials got down to business.
And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The above quote rings true today more than ever, though its author has long since deceased. While Utah surely benefits from having a part-time legislature that convenes only for 45 days each year, politicians can do plenty of damage in a short amount of time. Brevity is not necessarily a strength, especially when that limited time is employed in suppressing, rather than securing, each individual’s liberty.
Fortunately, Utah does have several good bills for consideration this year, though they are ultimately a minority amongst the hundreds of bills being promoted. But the constant wave of new laws does not reflect a productive legislature which takes seriously the powers entrusted to it by the people. Rather, it reflects a messy patchwork of legislative “fixes” for a wide variety of ever-present problems that distract and emotionally captivate those who cry out “there ought to be a law!”
Our lives, liberties, and property will be more safe when the legislature reverses the tidal wave of governmental fiat flowing out of the Capitol. Rather than legislating, start repealing. Instead of focusing an inordinate amount of time on generally unimportant statutory tweaks, look for ways to restore lost liberty by removing entire chunks of the Utah Code.
In short, we need less laws, not more. Those new laws we do promote should explicitly be focused on restoring and securing our liberties—specifically, interposing the state legislature between the people and the federal government.
It’s time that liberty became more than a campaign buzzword, and rise out of the cloudy fog of public misunderstanding. The Utah legislature should view all of its actions through this fundamental paradigm, judging whether their actions will secure to each individual their inherent, inalienable rights. Anything short of that is a very real threat to each person’s life, liberty, and property.