Author: Teagan Fair

Government Surveillance Is Terribly Threatening

By Teagan Fair | United States

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This is a notorious quote by Benjamin Franklin, useful in many arguments advocating for liberty. Commonly, gun advocates use it to oppose gun control However, there are many other situations where this quote is appropriate. For example, it is also pertinent while advocating against government surveillance. Supposedly, surveillance is “purchasing” a little bit of temporary safety: a very small amount, in trade for our liberty.

An Insignificant Statistic

A common argument in favor of government surveillance is that it supposedly protects us from terrorists. But according to Business Insider, since 9/11, only six Americans have died per year from Islamic terrorists, both foreign and domestic. The article also provides a handy chart comparing the probability of this to other causes of death.

BI Graphics_Odds of Dying

As you can see, there are many obscure causes of death that are far more probable. So no, this should not be a concern of the general public in the first place. In any other situation, such an insignificant number would be laughable.

UN: U.S. Government Surveillance Is Symbolic

While talking about the practicality of surveillance, even the UN has stated that it is essentially a show of gesture-politics, rather than result-oriented. Or in other words, the UN states that government surveillance is based more on symbolism and symbolic gestures rather than a good outcome. And as for the ‘results’ surveillance does come with:

“[The FBI general counsel] defined as useful those [leads] that made a substantive contribution to identifying a terrorist, or identifying a potential confidential informant. Just 1.2 percent of them fit that category.”

Thus, surveillance does not protect us from terrorists nearly as much as supporters would like you to believe. Yet, there are still some clear detriments that surveillance allows for.

Authoritarian Regimes

For example, many oppressive regimes use mass surveillance on their citizens, much like in the U.S. In many cases, they claim to care for security and the good of the people. But some countries that practice this include North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba. Clearly, the good of the people can be a lie.

In the modern day, in fact, mass surveillance systems are quite popular among authoritarian regimes. Regardless of whether you would classify the U.S. as authoritarian, its government has certainly increased intervention in the lives of citizens. Surely, this in itself is a concerning realization.

Going beyond simple ineffectiveness and harmful effects, it is also worth examining the morals of government surveillance. Although we hear surveillance is for our own good, many Americans would disagree. In fact, 57% say it is wrong for the government to monitor its own citizens.

A common argument for surveillance is ‘if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.’

Funny. This quote sounds awfully familiar. It’s almost like it was propaganda for another authoritarian regime. Yes, that’s right: Nazi Minister Joseph Goebbels used the line to pacify Germans in 1933.

Similar Situations

Edward Snowden, a man notorious for exposing NSA records, also has an intriguing quote against government surveillance. He states the following: “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

He is spot on with this quote; the ‘nothing to hide’ argument is deeply flawed.

Protecting your information from the government has a number of parallels. Would you want your private texts, emails and phone calls to be available to co-workers you don’t know? No, of course not. The majority of people would agree that this is an invasion of privacy.

Government action is hardly different. One of the only things dissimilar, in fact, is that the government can act upon what you do and say, potentially harming you for nonviolent action. This is far more dangerous. Obviously, many of us get weirded out when somebody leans over our shoulder to view our texts. This is what is happening in our government, but at mass levels.

The Right to Privacy

You also do not need a reason to exercise a right in order for it to exist. For example, the 1st Amendment protects the right to assemble, even if you do not feel you need it. Perhaps you will never feel the need to assemble publicly. However, this does not give the state the right to take that ability away from you. The same goes for privacy. Whether or not you ‘need’ privacy is irrelevant: it is always wrong to take it away.

Our government is stripping our liberties, especially privacy. For what? Essentially nothing. If anything, government surveillance allows the state to take further control over our lives. Perhaps it’s time to get more serious about our right to privacy and take a stand.

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Private Healthcare is a Moral and Pragmatic Necessity

Teagan Fair | United States

The debate about healthcare in America is huge, and both sides have many compelling arguments. However, privatizing as many services as possible appears to be the morally correct choice.

The Moral Argument

The government should not be the ones to provide healthcare for the Amerian people. To understand my ethical side of the argument, we must look at just how this would occur.

The answer to this question is obvious. The government would fund these services using taxpayer money. Of course, taxation in itself is unethical and no more than organized theft. If I were to take your money at gunpoint but use it productively, I still would be a thief. That is the definition of theft: taking somebody’s belongings without their consent.

This makes government, in itself, the biggest and most successful thief in history. They are doing the exact same thing as the previous scenario explains. If you do not give them the money that you rightfully earned, then they will take it by force. Ultimately, they will resort to sending men with guns to collect it or collect you, if you do not comply. Of course, many citizens do not even question this or think twice because society raises us to believe things like ‘taxation is the price you pay to live in a civilized society.’

This is invalid for multiple reasons. First off, the citizens do not consent to money being taken, nor did they sign any ‘social contract’. Sure, the Constitution does mention taxation, but men 250 years ago agreeing upon it does not justify an act of aggression today. Agreement of the founders is not consent.

Second off, government services through taxation might be moral if it was only paid for by those who voluntarily used those services, or personally agreed to pay. However, this is not the case. We are all required to pay these taxes, regardless of whether or not we choose to use them and/or agreed to pay.

Even if I were to take your money and give you something valuable that you may or may not need or want, like medicine, for example, I would still be a thief. This should be no different with government. If the government takes the money of its citizens through coercion and gives them healthcare that they may not even want in exchange, it is still a mass theft. It may be theft that benefits a certain group of people, but this is regardless. Using violence against peaceful people in order to improve the lives of a certain group is wrong. The same moral argument exists for any government service.

The Practical Argument

Now that we have concluded the fact that healthcare through government is unethical, we must ask ourselves whether or not the government’s absence in this field would work as well as its presence. Without a doubt, the absence of the government in healthcare is practically correct and more efficient.

First of all, the private sector provides a greater incentive to work. Government employees tend to receive the same salary regardless of their work input. Those working in the private sector, however, often receive monetary compensation for working harder and more efficiently. When companies directly tie in one’s quality of work with their pay, it gives them an incentive to work harder, helping everyone by accomplishing more.

This general rule holds true for almost all services: the private sector gets the job done better. We see this in many places, including – like our failing public school system or our high number of roads and bridges in poor condition. In many areas, people can widely accept that the private sector ends up being higher quality. The same will apply to healthcare.

Private healthcare also grants patients the luxury of choice. It gives patients the option to choose the doctor they want treating them or the hospital they want to go to. They can choose these things based on the quality of the service provided. The more companies exist, the more options will follow. If one particular company is flawed in some way, perhaps in prices or quality, then they will go out of business. The only options for that company, thus, are changing their ways or closing up. If they fail to change, then perhaps they will lose money or even the building. In its place will come a better company that is more capable to suit the needs of the customers.

Without a doubt, private healthcare is a morally correct idea and also seems to be more efficient This way, we can further attempt to get the government out of the lives of the people while maintaining fairness and quality medical care.

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Democracy Is a Threat to Individual Liberty

By Teagan Fair | United States

When most people hear the term ‘democracy’, they think about a fair system where the citizens might collectively vote upon what is best for the nation. Morally, this sounds good on paper, as it seems like it is trying to advocate for a system where the people have more power over the government. However, similar cases can be made for other harmful ideologies.

For example, a number of people would argue that communism sounds good on paper, advocating for equality and fairness – however, in reality, communism is based on coercion and force, extorting its citizens and getting rid of economic opportunity – not to mention having a consistent result of failure. Communism is one of many ideas that are better on paper than in reality. Although democracy is much less frowned upon in our society, I still believe it to be oppression.

How Does It Threaten Liberty?

Democracy is no more than oppression by the masses and by your fellow citizens. It is your neighbor hiring the government to force his values upon you with violence. If you were to ask most people, they would agree with you that the use of force is frowned upon in a civilized society. They would also agree with you that hiring a gang to use force against your neighbors is unethical, however, do they truly care if this happens? Because we see this happen in our everyday lives. The biggest gang in our community is the United States government, and this glorified idea called democracy says that they can be hired to use force or violence against certain groups if enough people ask them to.

If you truly care about the rights and liberties of minorities, then don’t consider democracy a ‘fair system.’ Democracy and minority rights contradict each other. As Ayn Rand once said, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” This statement is spot on. Every single person reading this is a minority in the eyes of the rest of their nation and therefore can be oppressed by the mob rule that we call democracy. As another quote of Ayn Rand’s says, “Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities.” She describes this perfectly. The individual liberties of the 49%, no matter what they may be, are not to be taken away simply because 51% of citizens decided that their set of values was more important than that of the 49%, which cannot possibly be ethical, for no set of values can possibly be more important than another, no matter how extreme. The same rule goes if it is a two-thirds majority or an 80% majority, or if it all comes down to the opposition of one last person. It is unethical to strip the individual liberties of one person, simply because millions of other people made a decision that they were superior to this one person.

What Is The Solution?

Obviously, I would not advocate for simply totalitarianism, for the very existence of the state is immoral in the first place and is based on coercion and the use of unethical force, and the absence of every liberty taken away worsens the situation. Rather than democracy, which is still oppression by government, hired by your fellow citizens, there is the option of a truly free and pro-choice, individualistic society. By this, I mean that, in order to secure the blessings of liberty, in the future, if any state is to exist, then its lone duty is to protect the rights of the individual, rather than interfere and restrict the actions of that individual.

In a true pro-choice society, everything is permitted, until the action defies the rights of a fellow individual, or directly interferes with their life. You don’t like it when people smoke weed? Then don’t smoke weed, and demote the idea of it, but to hire a higher power to strip people of that idiotic, but important right is excruciatingly immoral. You don’t like the idea of other sides of the political spectrum assembling? Then don’t assemble with them. But as I have stated, it is morally incorrect to physically enforce your values upon anyone in any way. Hence why democracy is an unethical, but fancy way for the government to seize power.

This way, the government can put it in a gift bag and call it freedom because a certain group of people was convinced that they had more value than that of others, rather than directly stripping the people of their rights. It is a win for both the government and for the statists that wish their ideologies forced upon the individual minority using mob rule and force.

This aspect of our society, what we call freedom, is the exact opposite, and treads on the rights of the individual, and therefore is a threat to liberty.

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Calvin Coolidge – One of Our Great Forgotten Presidents

By Teagan Fair | United States

When Americans talk of past presidents, they likely will mention a variety of popular names. These notably include Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, or even founders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But in the string of 45 presidents, Americans often forget some of them, even if they were good leaders. Specifically, many people overlook the great success of Calvin Coolidge.

Who is Calvin Coolidge?

Many Americans may be able to say Calvin Coolidge was a president, but not give much more information. A strong advocate for limited government, he was one of our country’s greatest figures of liberty. Unfortunately, though, his name often does not stand out in the history books.

To give some background, John Calvin Coolidge Jr. was born on Independence Day: July 4th, 1872, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. His parents were John Calvin Coolidge Sr. and Victoria Josephine Moor Coolidge. Sadly, his mother died tragically when he was just 12 years old. Coolidge attended Black River Academy and graduated in 1890 before attending Amherst College in Massachusetts. There, he studied law and graduated in 1895. Then, in 1898, he was elected to the city council in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was later a mayor, a congressman, a senator, and a lieutenant governor.

Coolidge became the governor of Massachusetts in 1918, and during the 1920 presidential elections, Coolidge was the vice presidential candidate to Warren G. Harding. The pair won the election and took office in March of 1921. However, events quickly took a turn when Harding died of a heart attack in 1923. This put Coolidge into the position of president. During his time as president, many knew him for his honesty, integrity, and his quiet, mellow demeanor. Because of this, he earned the nickname, “Silent Cal”. He ran for president again in 1924 and won.

What Made Him Stand Out?

Calvin Coolidge was a fiscal conservative and often receives credit for the prosperity in the Roaring ’20s. He was strongly against government intervention. As a matter of fact, some critics labeled him as a “do-nothing president.” This means that he tried to keep the government out of the economy as much as possible. Instead, he was an advocate of the free market.

Coolidge also despised taxes. A famous quote from him says, “Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” It appeared that Coolidge truly lived up to this quote and saw it as a key duty to keep taxes to a bare minimum. In 1924, he signed the Revenue Act, which reduced the number of citizens paying tax and lowered tax rates.

An Early Voice for Equality

Moreover, Coolidge was a Civil Rights activist. For example, he was a strong advocate for laws against lynchings. Unfortunately, Southern Democrats blocked his bills in this area. However, Coolidge was sure not to appoint any members of the Ku Klux Klan to federal positions. In fact, the domestic terror group lost most of its influence during his presidency.

Additionally, in his 1924 commencement address at Howard University, Calvin references the African-American soldiers that fought in World War One, which had ended just six years earlier. His speech includes the following:

“The colored people have repeatedly proved their devotion to the high ideals of our country. They gave their services in the war with the same patriotism and readiness that other citizens did. The propaganda of prejudice and hatred which sought to keep the colored men from supporting the national cause completely failed. The black man showed himself the same kind of citizen, moved by the same kind of patriotism, as the white man.”

He also signed into law the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted American citizenship to all people of native origin who were born in the United States. It was an attempt to help Native Americans assimilate into American culture while still being able to retain some of their native traditions. The legislation furthermore stated that the granting of such citizenship shall not in any way prohibit the right of any Indian to property. In 1925, Calvin invited a group from the Sioux tribe, specifically from the Rosebud Reservation, to the White House. In 1927, he accepted tribal membership from Sioux Tribe Chief Henry Standing Bear.

A Figure of Liberty

“Keep Cool And Keep Coolidge” was the motto for freedom-loving Calvin Coolidge. To sum it up, Coolidge protected and fought for both economic and social liberties. Coolidge didn’t want the government to mess with the lives of citizens, believing it should leave people alone. Advocating both fiscal and social liberties is quite similar, in fact, to modern libertarianism.

Coolidge ran Republican, but clearly, parties have changed drastically since the ’20s. Regardless of this man’s label, he brought liberty and prosperity to the early years of the American 20th Century. A symbol of American liberty, Silent Cal will live on in the history books as President during a prosperous time in our history.

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Free Hot Soup Kansas City Barred from Feeding the Homeless

Teagan Fair | United States

Local citizens became angry recently after the state stopped workers from Free Hot Soup Kansas City from handing out food to the homeless in four locations. Why did this occur? Officials from the Kansas City Health Department claimed that nobody had inspected the food. They also stated that they had told the group that they needed a permit to give out this charity. “They were notified back in a meeting in September that they needed to get a permit, and they just outright said they refused to do that,” claimed Rex Archer, KCMO’s Director Of Health, according to KSHB, a local Kansas City outlet.

On the other hand, Nellie McCool, who has been involved in charity for years, opposes the Health Department’s actions. She claimed the following: “Officers and health inspectors demanded we destroy our food and we were violating health code violations by sharing meals with our friends”. She also denied the claim that anyone told her group that they needed a permit to feed the homeless. “We never had any kind of government official ever come and speak with anybody at any of the public parks”, she insisted.

They used bleach to destroy the food that Free Hot Soup Kansas City gave to the homeless, Archer solidified. He moreover claimed that that is standard procedure in this situation. “This operation claims to care about folks, but if you care about folks, you want to prepare food safely”, he also said.

Officials later went as far as to claim that they stopped the charity because supposedly, their events are “open to the general public”, using this as a negative. They also claimed the food is not at the right temperature for “food safety” in transit to the locations.

The Fight for Free Hot Soup Kansas City

Nellie McCool says that Free Hot Soup Kansas City should be immune to the regulations. First of all, she claims that they are not an official organization and simply shared food with their friends. “As far as I know, picnics are not regulated by the same laws as organizations and vendors, so by using our public parks to have a picnic with our friends, I don’t believe we were breaking any rules,” she said.

Arthur, however, took a different approach. He argued: “If it’s a family picnic, it’s for the family, and it’s at one location. So it was pretty clear that this was an operation that was operating illegally”.

Essentially, officials at the Kansas City Health Department believe the food could possibly be ‘unsafe’ and ‘open to the general public.’ Despite this, the homeless people were choosing to participate in the picnic, and without it, may have been in even greater danger. Though not a legal system, it nonetheless provided food for those who may not have had any.

Many locals involved believed that this was a case of the government’s inadequacy. Thus, they stepped forward in the private sector, performing generous acts in a more direct, streamlined way. The effects were the same. However, Free Hot Soup Kansas City broke the law of feeding the homeless without a permit.

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