2nd Draft: A Charter for Government (feedback requested)
February 28, 2009 by Paul McKeever
I begin this entry with an expression of thanks to all who took the time to read, think about, and comment upon, the first draft of the Charter for Government. In particular, I would like to thank David Odden over at ObjectivismOnline.net (in the discussion forum). He was looking for a better integration/explanation of the interaction of rights of life, liberty, and property. Most of what has been changed in the second draft (below) was inspired by his critique.
You will see that one definition, “injustice”, has been added. It is a definition which I propose is applicable to a government, rather than to an individual (in my view, one can do an injustice to oneself, and this definition does not serve that purpose).
The other major change was to the politics section. Gone is any mention of rights, not because of any objection to the concept, but because I think a more fundamental political issue deals with rights implicitly: consent. Accordingly, the politics section now focuses on government’s role in ensuring that relations among individuals are consensual. The new politics section uses “consent”, instead of something like banning “the initiation of coercive physical force”, because the latter is not sufficient to explain why there ought to be laws against defamation, why pre-emptive strikes are morally right, etc….at least, not without straining the concept of “force” to include things that involve nothing physical (like fraud, defamation, etc.)…I’ve never been a fan of such straining.
I think, with this second draft, we’re getting closer to something that more robustly represents a set of rules for rational governance. I sincerely hope that you will give it a read and provide any feedback you think is appropriate (save flames and ad hominems, of course).
Having brought up the first draft of A Charter for Government at last Sunday’s meeting of the Freedom Party of Ontario executive, I can now disclose to you the intended purpose of the Charter for Government (which title will probably be changed to something like “Statement of Principles”): the idea is to guide those who interpret Freedom Party of Ontario’s founding principle, and who make policies for the party (which policies must, according to the party constitution, be consistent with the founding principle). The party’s founding principle is: “Every individual, in the peaceful pursuit of personal fulfillment, has an absolute right to his or her own life, liberty and property”. The purpose of the Charter/Statement of Principles is to ensure that that founding principle is not treated as a floating abstraction (as might be done by libertarians). The idea would be to require anyone who wants to be on the policy-making executive of the party to agree with, and to agree to support, the Charter/Statement of Principles.
And now, without further delay, I present to you the 2nd Draft of A Charter for Government:
– SECOND DRAFT –
1. In this Charter:
Reality is that which exists.
A Fact of Reality is something that is true about Reality.
A True belief or claim is: one consistent with the Facts of Reality, as identified by a strictly logical process of thought about that for which there ultimately exists physical evidence that has been perceived by a human being.
An Arbitrary belief or claim is: one for which no physical evidence has been perceived by a human being.
A False belief or claim is: one that is contrary to the Facts of Reality because it is illogical, or because it is contrary to physical evidence as a determined by a strictly logical process of thought.
Government is a number of governed individuals who, jointly or severally, have and rationally exercise the authority to make, interpret, and enforce objective laws.
Injustice means: obtaining or controlling the use of any material or spiritual value without creating the value or obtaining the value from another person with that other person’s consent.
2. The conclusions, decisions, actions, words, deeds, policies, proposals, laws and regulations of government must always be founded solely upon, and must always be consistent with, True beliefs and claims.
3. Government must never express or imply any False or Arbitrary belief or claim.
4. Government must never expressly or implicitly sanction, and must never cause or allow itself appear to sanction, in any way, any False or Arbitrary belief or claim.
5. Government must never attempt to discourage or prevent any individual from thinking or acting rationally and must never condemn or punish any individual for thinking or acting rationally.
6. Government must never attempt to persuade or coerce any individual to think or act irrationally, and must never praise or reward any individual for thinking or acting irrationally.
7. Government must never condemn or punish any individual for his rational thoughts, words or deeds.
8. Government must never praise or reward any individual for his irrational thoughts, words or deeds.
9. Government must never attempt to persuade or coerce any individual to make other individuals’ survival, relief, or happiness a higher value or priority than his own survival, relief and happiness.
10. Government must never in any way attempt to condemn or punish any individual for making his own survival, relief and happiness his highest purpose or priority.
11. Government must never attempt to praise or reward any individual for making other individuals’ survival, relief, or happiness a higher purpose or priority than his own survival, relief and happiness.
12. Government must commit no Injustices.
13. Government must use force to prevent persons from committing Injustices.
14. Government must not use force to prevent or penalize in any way a person’s rational attempt to use force to prevent a person from committing an Injustice.
15. Government must, and only government may, use force against a person to ensure that justice prevails when the person has committed an Injustice.
16. To ensure justice prevails, Government shall impose a negative consequence of no greater or lesser magnitude than that which resulted from the Injustice.
17. All laws must be objective and objectively justifiable so that individuals know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law requires or forbids persons to do and why; what constitutes a wrong, an offence, or a crime; and how force will be used against a person who commits a wrong, offence or crime.