Tag Archives: walter williams

Self-Ownership Is the Foundation of Freedom

A Superior Vision

Last month, I celebrated the beginning of my 81st year of life. For nearly half that time, I have been writing a nationally syndicated column on many topics generating reader responses that go from supportive to quite ugly. So I thought a column making my vision, values and views explicit might settle some of the controversy.

My initial premise, when looking at all human issues, is that each of us owns himself. I am my private property, and you are your private property. If you agree with that premise, then certain human actions are moral and others immoral. The reason murder is immoral is that it violates private property. Similarly, rape and theft are immoral, for them, too, violate private property. Most Americans will agree that murder and rape violate people’s property rights and are hence immoral. But there may not be so much agreement about theft. Let’s look at it

Theft is when a person’s property is taken from him — through stealth, force, intimidation, threats or coercion — and given to another to whom it does not belong. If a person took your property — even to help another person who is in need — it would be called theft. Suppose three people agreed to that taking. Would it be deemed theft? What if 100,000 or several hundred million people agreed to do so? Would that be deemed theft? Another way to ask these questions is: Does a consensus establish morality?

Self-ownership can offer solutions to many seemingly moral/ethical dilemmas. One is the sale of human organs. There is a severe shortage of organs for transplantation. Most people in need of an organdie or become very ill while they await an organ donation. Many more organs would become available if there were a market for them. Through the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, Congress has made organ sales illegal. Congress clearly has the power to prevent organ sales, but does it have a right? The answer to that question comes by asking: Who owns your organs? One test of ownership is whether you have the right to sell something. In the case of organs, if it is Congress that owns our organs, then we have no right to sell them. That would be stealing from Congress.

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Attacking Our Nation’s Founders

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During Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign visit to Liberty University, he told the students that our nation was created on racist principles. Students at a Christian-based university, such as Liberty, do not often hear the founders-as-racists argument. But it is featured at many other universities, as well as primary and secondary schools. Most often, the hate-America teachings are centered on the fact that slavery is a part of our history. What is left untaught is: Slavery was a routine part of human history. Blacks were the last people to be enslaved. Plus, our Founding Fathers struggled mightily over the issue of slavery. Let us look at some of that struggle.

George Washington said, “I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.” Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Patrick Henry and others were highly critical of slavery, describing it as a “disease of ignorance,” “an inconsistency not to be excused” and a “lamentable evil.” George Mason said, “The augmentation of slaves weakens the states, and such a trade is diabolical in itself and disgraceful to mankind.” James Madison, in a speech at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, declared, “We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.” Benjamin Rush said: “Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity. … It is a rebellion against the authority of a common Father.”

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Don’t Blame Guns

Isn’t It Strange?

 

There is a letter titled “Isn’t It Strange?” making the rounds in email boxes. It asks questions to which our fellow Americans should know the answers, save for those caught up in modernity.

It starts off asking, “Isn’t it strange that after a bombing, everyone blames the bomber, his upbringing, his environment, his culture but … after a shooting, the problem is the gun?” In other words, after a shooting, it is the gun, an inanimate object, that is the culprit, but after a bombing, it is not the bomb that receives the blame but the evil individual. In both cases it is the evil individual who is to blame.

Ronald Reagan had it right when he said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Speaking of guns, the letter has a 1950s photo of high school girls at an indoor shooting range. The photo caption states: “Back in the 1950s and even later, many high schools had shooting ranges. Students even brought their own rifles to school.” It asks, “What changed in society that we could trust such activities then, but not now?”

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