By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

One of the principles of our constitutional from of government has to do with the flow of power from the individual, to a group of individuals and then to our government which is permitted to govern us through powers granted it by that group of individuals and eventually the individual. There is a stipulation buried deep within this concept which transcends all governing principles, our government can do nothing save it has the express permission to do so from the governed; but I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ll explain later. Forgive my tendency to ramble as this runs a bit long.

Ezra Taft Benson explained these principles clearly and precisely in his talk, The Proper Role of Government.

“Leaving aside, for a moment, the question of the divine origin of rights, it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: “WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”’

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form?”

I’ll use the locksmith industry in Texas as an example of things that have turned backwards over the years. What’s the old fairy tale line, “Once upon a time…”? Well, once upon a time the locksmith industry was a free market enterprise; individuals applying their skills in order to provide an income to their individual businesses. Social and professional organizations formed as self governing bodies and as a means of establishing a presence when dealing with government; yet the final responsibility remained with the individual locksmith, his/her ability to make it in the free market system.

Eventually pressure was applied to locksmith organizations from other entities such as the Alarm and Security industries to the point where the survival of the locksmith industry was in question. Locksmiths compromised working in the free market, unencumbered, to a manipulated market wherein locksmiths would be licensed by the state. Power to license locksmiths was given to the state by elected officials and to establish rules and regulation governing the locksmith industry; presumably to ensure the safety and well being of society.

The legislature, once these laws were enacted, transferred authority to bureaucrats ( in Texas it’s the DPS/PSB) whose functions include creating rules and regulations governing individuals, licensed and unlicensed. The locksmith industry may offer suggestions to this board of bureaucrats either individually or via established groups such as the Associated Locksmiths of America and other local organizations; however, these suggestions are not binding and the board of bureaucrats have nearly unlimited discretion in writing rules and regulations which affect how each locksmith engages in his/her business.

Returning to Ezra Taft Benson’s explanation of the Proper Role of Government, he stated:

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

The idea wasn’t original to Benson; he having borrowed from John Locke nearly 300 years earlier.

“For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life of property of another.” (Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 135; P.P.N.S. p. 93)

If you want that boiled down into modern English it means no matter how many other individuals want to enforce a rule or regulation, a regulation authorized by legislation, which in turn was made by those elected by a majority of voters; that body does not have any authority save it belonged to those individuals to begin with. We live under a republican form of government, not a democracy; an important distinction. Individual rights cannot be voted out by a majority and two wolves can’t vote to have the lone sheep for dinner.

For example, if I have a locksmith business and you have a locksmith business it would sound pretty silly if I insisted you have specific size lettering on the side of your service truck, one which matched my expectations of reasonable. I have no more authority to tell you how to run your business than a farmer or carpet installer.

The same holds true for obtaining or maintaining a locksmith license. While the state has declared locksmiths must have a license and gone to great lengths to define and regulate the industry, where does the state obtain the authority to tell anyone he/she must have a locksmith license or how many hours of continuing education is sufficient in order to work in his/her chosen field of income production? The answer is, it doesn’t have that authority because those creating the legislation never had the authority, because the individuals who voted those legislators into positions of power never had the authority. No individual or group of individuals has the power or right to deprive another individual of a God given right to move about in society making a living.

Here’s the important part, are you ready? If individuals or group of individuals don’t have the authority to tell you how to run your business they can’t give that authority to their government (DPS/PSB). Government has no power save it is given them by the governed and only then when such power is in keeping with the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God; where did that come from, oh I know, Our Declaration of Independence. Read further as it had something to say regarding the consent of the governed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Here’s an excerpt from the August 2010 Greater Houston Locksmith Association publication, Locked – In. My local locksmith association was concerned the DPS/PSB might implement new or modified rules and regulations on the locksmith industry and wants to justify the expense of sending a representative to listen to those proceedings.

“Don Hiser (President of the Greater Houston Locksmith Association, GHLA) attended the July 8th DPS Meeting and gave a report. The top issue was the proposal to allow the substitution of a locksmith training course for the 2 yrs of experience required to apply for a business license (the motion was tabled). Second is the requirement to submit a new fingerprint card when renewing a license or registration card (sent to committee). Independent Reports were also circulated from Billy Garrett (TLA President) and Bonnie Brown Morse covering the same meeting.”

While it’s wonderful to have members of our professional/trade organizations represented at meetings to offer suggestions to a governing body (DPS/PSB) and return with information which has a bearing on how individual locksmiths are required to conduct business in the State of Texas; it must be emphasized, none of these individuals or groups of individuals has authority to speak for me when it comes to a government entity establishing rules or regulations which affect my individual business. They never had that authority; it violates a basic precept of our constitutional form of government. If you’ve been paying attention that means the DPS/PSB does not have the authority to regulate how I conduct business as a locksmith; such authority has been usurped and violates the foundations of our republic.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

Here’s a solution, one which would fit within the framework established by our Founding Fathers while at the same time placate the Nanny state mentality. In those professions/trades where governing bodies have established a desire/need to license practitioners; doctors, lawyers, engineers or even locksmiths, then make it known that the license is a symbol of that individual’s having achieved or met a standard set by his peers rather than an enforcement mechanism which would deprive or inhibit any individual from applying his/her God given right to move about in society applying specific skills; in short, Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

Historically there’s another meaning applied to Caveat emptor which goes back to ancient Egyptian times rather than Roman, suggesting it meant “to deal in good faith.” I find that remarkably important; the difference between “let the buyer beware” and “to deal in good faith.”

Such is the fate of America; do we work on the premise that most of our citizens go about their business dealing with their fellow citizens in good faith or have we sunk to a lower level wherein we assume the worst of our fellow citizens, believing that the only way to preserve stability is for the hand of government to step in and provide a modicum of fairness?

There is a tendency for the public to demand safety from “evil doers,” as if anyone, much less government, could guarantee safe passage. This is the basis for creating a Nanny State, the all powerful parent figure who will look both ways for you prior to crossing the street, read the ingredients of your food prior to your consuming too much saturated fat, prevent scammers from bilking old folks out of their life savings on home repairs which never get done after paying for these services in cash or any of life’s pitfalls. The responsibility for what life throws at you is ultimately yours.

When society requests or demands legislation to protect them from “evil doers” it is, at the same time, demanding “righteous doers” relinquish God given or natural rights; hardly an equitable trade and one never intended or permitted under our constitutional form of government. Is that why some would have us believe the constitution is a flexible document, to bring about changes to basic concepts of freedom so they could be distorted and perverted?

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

The war between those who desire to be free and those intent on enslaving us is a never ending battle. The image of soldiers falling under fire doesn’t do the concept of war justice. Each day we as citizens serving in our limited capacities; teachers, carpet salesmen, doctors, lawyers and even locksmiths must take up the cause of freedom. Each generation of Americans needs to understand the slim difference between citizenship and servitude.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution.”