The guiding principle that binds a free society together is not morality, it's laws that prevent the initiation of force, fraud, and coercion. If the laws are applied consistently to all individuals, then the laws are moral and both justice and morality will be served.

In a free society, where there's freedom of religion, diversity of cultures and lifestyles, and hundreds of opinions where issues of right and wrong differ, there must be a guiding principle that allows the greatest amount of freedom for the greatest amount of people. We all want a moral society and a moral government. The problem is who decides what is moral?

Most believe that morality comes from God. The problem then becomes, which God? Since there are dozens of different religions all with varying moral codes and beliefs, how do you select one that applies to all people? Answer: you can't.

In America, the Founding Fathers wrestled with this problem of diverse moralities as they were contemplating the rules of this new society based on freedom. After long debate, they concluded that in a free society you can't legislate morality. What then is the guiding principle of a free society if not a society based on "morality"?

The principle is one of banning the use of force to accomplish goals no matter how noble they are. Specifically the line is drawn at the initiation of force. Force in the defense of one’s person and property is legitimate, but force used to physically harm, steal, coerce, enslave, or impose one's opinion on others is not.

That means that the only legitimate function of the Federal Government is to defend this country from invasion by raising an army, to set up courts to resolve disputes, and appoint judges to establish laws as needed to resolve differences of opinion and punish those that initiate force against others. It's the state’s job to provide a police force to catch and punish those that murder, rape, kidnap, beat-up, steal, blackmail, defraud or use any other form of force to injure innocent victims.

It is not the job of government to take other people’s money and use it for what they deem "best". What is best for individuals is the freedom to make one's own decisions, decisions not dictated by others. That's why the Founding Fathers gave us a constitutional republic rather than a democracy.

In an unrestricted democracy where the majority rules, force can be used, right or wrong as a means of accomplishing goals. Back in the days before the Civil War many states voted that Negroes could be enslaved. It became the unwritten law of the land. It was a glaring contradiction within the Constitution and the nation fought one of the most brutal civil wars to make the principle of freedom from force the law of the land applying to all people.

It is not enough to say that it is immoral to murder or steal or blackmail or enslave people; it must be the law of the land that the initiation of force is barred within a society. Let's face the fact that we will never get rid of force, or racism, or ignorance or injustice in this country. And we will never get rid of crime. But we can get rid of all the laws that force people to take actions that harm no one, and get rid of all laws that do harm people.

This means geting rid of all the laws that confiscate money and property of individuals in the name of "justice", as well as all victimless crimes where consenting adults egage in activities that are deemed "immoral". A crime whether economic or social must involve the use of force to be a crime.

The beauty of our Constitution is that it is based on the nature of man, not morality. It happens to be the most moral constitution a government has ever laid out for itself and its people, but that's a consequence of its correctly identifying what man needs in order to survive and prosper, and why. Because man, unlike any other species on earth, must think and make choices to survive, he needs freedom to do so.

It is the freedom to make choices, act, produce, control and keep the product of one’s labor that leads to prosperity. Examples of this fact, and its violation, are abundant throughout history: East Germany, a controlled society that stagnated from the time it was separated from West Germany – a nation that prospered almost immediately from it's freedom; old Communist China where individuals were controlled versus the new more free market-oriented and prosperous China. And then there is Cuba where income inequality, free healthcare and education are provided to all, and where economic progress has stopped since 1950. Free market capitalism is the economic expression of freedom. Wherever individuals are controlled, regulated, and told what they can and can't do, you will find stagnation. Wherever they are left free to make their own decisions, free of force and allowed to keep the fruits of their labor, you will find prosperity.

One of the greatest examples of this is the American 60's and 70's years of government intervention and resulting stagflation, compared to the 80's and 90's. Ronald Reagan did much to free Americans and the economy, but one of his boldest moves was one of his first. Shortly after becoming President he rescinded the law that prevented individuals from having businesses in their homes. From that point on, home-based businesses sprang up.

From out of the garages and homes of America came what we know today as the technological revolution. Kids like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates transformed America, created new industries and hired thousands of unemployed workers, retrained them, and created a new, more dynamic economy than ever in history.

Reaganomics, lowered the tax rates on individuals and companies that punished success, and reduced regulations and controls that stifled innovation, and it led to a period of prosperity and employment that rivaled the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. The result was that the American standard of living climbed, to the point that the term "poor" actually disappeared for a while. Our poor were going out buying cell phones, and all the new music and video electronic devices and computers that came down so much in price that almost anyone could afford them. The standard of living for everyone went up. Our poor were living better than Europes middle class.

A government that tells its citizens, what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and how much they can keep of what they earn is not a moral government -- even though they pass such legislation in the name of morality. In the last analysis, such a government controlled society is a society based on force and the dictates of politicians that cannot achieve their objectives without the use of force. The more freedom the government takes from individuals, the less responsibility that is given to individuals; and the more the dictates of government replaces individual thought, choices and free actions, the more a society stagnates.

America is stagnating today and has been since 2008. Last years growth rate was 1.9%, about what it has been for 6 years -- the most stagnant period in America since the Great Depression.

This year we have an election coming up and at the end of the day each of us will vote. We will choose either the candidates that propose greater freedom, less control and regulation over the individual; or we'll vote for those who will promise gifts at other people’s expense and propose social programs "because it’s the right thing to do" which will amount to blatant confiscation in the name of "morality". In either case it will be a choice to move toward greater freedom and independence or toward greater government controls and dependence.

The choice will be ours.

For a masterful article that furthers the fight for a return to freedom, I highly recommend http://afr.org/welfare-without-the-state/    by Nelson Hultberg.

Paul Nathan

Paulnathan.biz