Usurpations, tyranny, and corrupt California politicians
The following is the political philosophy justifying the Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act. Dive into the writings of John Locke and the founding fathers as applied to today's politics by John Cox.
In the Declaration of Independence, we encounter two words that are not in wide usage today, but were fundamental to the contemporary argument regarding the right of revolution. Those two words are “usurpation” and “tyranny”. The definitive sentence is this one, which was critical to the Americans’ case for the right to break away from government by King George III:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
The two words would have been well known to readers of the text of the Declaration, because they were frequently used in the political philosophy and the political debates of the day. In fact, they were in wide usage among educated participants in the discussions, both in Congress and in the coffeehouse, ale-houses, and on the streets. The specific definitions that contemporary usage imputed to these words came from John Locke’s Second Treatise On Government.
In Chapter XVIII, Sec 199, Locke defines usurpation as “the exercise of power, which another hath a right to”. In other words, a usurpation is a violation of an individual’s or a group of individuals’ rights. In Locke’s world, as in Jefferson’s as the author of the Declaration of Independence, the rights in question were “alienable” rights. An “alienable” right is one that an individual may voluntarily trade. If I have a property right in my house, I am free to trade that right to another individual in a voluntary market exchange for some appropriate consideration. It is an alienable right – I am free to trade it. But if the government decides to coercively exercise a taking of my right for what they decide is the public good – to bulldoze it and build a road in its place, for example – a usurpation has been committed. They have exercised their power to take away my property right without my permission.
Accusing King George III of a history of repeated usurpations would have been perceived, at the time, grounds for vigorous complaint, but not for revolution. To establish grounds for Revolution, it was necessary to establish that George III was deliberately and actively engaged in tyranny. Tyranny, wrote Locke, is “the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to”. Now we are in the domain of inalienable rights. Inalienable rights are those rights that one can not give away, and another can not take, because they are inherent in us as individuals. The inalienable rights cited in the declaration are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. John Locke was more wont to use the phrase “life, liberty and property”. These rights are inalienable (when “property” is intended by Locke to mean one’s rights in one’s own body and one’s own person) – they can not be given or traded away, and it is tyranny for a government to violate these rights.
Today in California, we can point to a history of usurpations by our state government. We can point to their egregious cap-and-trade schemes, which steal citizens’ property to redistribute it to crony capitalists. We can identify state water management, which takes away water rights from farmers who grow food so that bureaucrats can pour it back into the ocean and rivers to favor fish that feed no-one. We can accuse them of unwarranted takings of land and funds to pay for the building of their high-speed rail line from nowhere to nowhere. We can finger their un-keepable and under-funded promises to favored public unions to take money from private citizens for excessive and unfair pension and healthcare entitlements for the favored few. We can point to their excessive borrowings and debt, their failure to educate our kids in state schools while refusing us the right to educate them privately.
These are all usurpations. They have gone too far. They have violated our rights.
But in the visible corruption of our elected legislators, in their selling of government and legislative favors to the highest bidders, they have crossed the line into tyranny. They have gone beyond right, to commit acts that “no body can have a right to”, as Locke put it. They have undermined our democratic rights, violating the social compact by which we elect legislators in return for their representation of our hopes, concerns and needs in Assembly. Our legislators do not represent us, as they promised to do. Instead, they accept money from narrow, well-funded special interests, large corporations, NGO’s, unions and rich individuals to pay for their expensive election campaigns. And, in return, they represent the agendas of those funders, agendas that are specifically designed to disfavor the average voter. Our inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness through representative democracy in our republic has been violated.
This calls for revolution. In modern language, we would call it disruption. I am supporting a disruptive change in the system to terminate this violation, The Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act. You can read about it at our website, www,neighborhoodlegislature.com, or at fixcal.org, a website run by California patriot and VC Tim Draper to explore all the best disruptive ideas for California politics, You’ll see that Neighborhood Legislature is currently in the “Final Four” of this prestigious forum of political disruption.
In 2016, we intend to re-establish the inalienable rights that Jefferson originally championed 240 years prior.