Modern Sense (Part IIIc)
(With absolutely no apologies to Thomas Paine)

by Edgar J. Steele

January 15, 2003

I make the sufferers' case my own, and I protest, that were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed, and my circumstances ruined, that as a man, sensible of injuries, I could never relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself bound thereby.
    ---Thomas Paine, "Common Sense" (Feb 1776)

Preface (to each of the four parts)

There are a remarkable number of parallels between pre-Revolutionary America and the America of today.  It is disquieting how, in the writings of that time, our founding fathers might have been speaking directly to this generation of Americans.  Then again, I do not believe in coincidence so perhaps, in a sense, they were.

How appropriate that those of us who advocate a return to the ideals of those days are called "patriots," a word which has taken on as derisive a meaning when mouthed by government agents today as those uttered about our forebears by King George's men during the first American revolution.  

Nor is it coincidence that those of us labeled as "patriots" wear the mark with respect and honor.  I count myself proudly among their number and pray only that my work be worthy of inclusion.

It takes some effort to update the founding fathers' works to modern forms of language and phrasing, but the result is nothing short of amazing, particularly when we replace "England" with "Federal Government" and "King George" with "The President."

I have presumed to do just that in this series with Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," a four-part work written and published in early 1776 as part of a broad effort to convince the American settlers to declare independence from England.  

In several places, I have retained Paine's wording intact, where it has particular impact in its original form.  In others, I have edited and rephrased mercilessly, while trying to hew to the apparent intent of his argument, though updated to apply to modern circumstances.  

I do not suggest that this is an improvement upon what Thomas Paine had to say.  I believe only that this is how he might have said it, were he alive today and speaking of the grotesquerie that our government has become.

As you read this section, you might find it useful to contrast it with its counterpart in the original "Common Sense."  One of many on-line sources for Thomas Paine's "Common Sense":  http://www.federalobserver.com/words.php?words=1299 .  I have maintained the original's organization and structure in this rewrite, in order to facilitate direct comparison.

To the Inhabitants of America
on the following interesting subjects

I. Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on the American Constitution. (released 12/26/02) 

II. Of the imperial presidency and hereditary succession. (released 12/28/02) 

III. Thoughts on the present state of American affairs. (subpart a released 1/2/03; subpart b released 1/8/03; subpart c released 1/15/03)

IV. Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections. (to be released)

---------------------------------

Part IIIc:  Thoughts on the present state of American affairs.

Thousands of Americans have been ruined by their government's invasive, intrusive and tyrannical behavior.  Thousands more, perhaps millions, will suffer a similar fate in the times ahead.  Their experience of reality is different from those of us who have suffered nothing.  They certainly have nothing to lose by refusing now to submit.

Many of us refuse to question our government's actions, fearful of a similar outcome.   We believe we have much to lose, but have already forfeited the most important of our rights in refusing to stand for the fundamental rights of our countrymen.  

A government that cannot protect us, that cannot preserve the peace, is no government at all.  Many have declined to foster confrontation, fearful that a civil war will result.  There is ten times more to fear from the government at the end of our current path, and a civil war thereby more certain, than from the consequences of choosing another path altogether.

I take the part of those maligned thus far.  If I were similarly situated, I could never support the government that has so blatantly torn asunder the lives of its own citizenry.

If there is any true cause of fear respecting independence from our imperialistic government, it is because no alternative yet is offered.  Men do not see their way out.  As an opening, I offer the following, while affirming that I have no desire of them myself, other than they might be the means of giving rise to something better.

Let us form a New America, forged from as much of the country as becomes desirous of change.  Let there be a parliamentary form of government, with the current Constitution modified only somewhat to serve as its charter, the modifications to ensure the limited scope and reach of the central government.  

Convene at first a Constitutional Congress for the purpose of amending and adopting the Constitution, with its membership chosen by popular vote, each member elected by a particular and equal portion of the general citizenry.  Upon adoption of the Constitution, this body to dissolve and legislators, governors and other elective officeholders to be selected by popular vote, as prescribed.

Let the States be more like sovereigns themselves, with no necessity for overriding statute or authority, save only as is necessary to allow the central government the performance of its limited duties of common defense.

Let the right of secession be absolute and evocable on the vote of 75% of the population of any definable geographic region.

Let the assemblies be annual, concern themselves solely with domestic affairs and their membership serve without pay or benefit of any sort.  Let there be no recurring occupancy by any member, not even of differing position.  These strictures are to apply to State and local elective office, as well.

Let the senate be of two houses:  the Senate composed solely of men, two from each state; the House of Representatives, comprised solely of women, will total the same as the Senate, with its membership elected by districts made equal on the basis of population.

Let the assemblies select the Executive, whose tenure will be for a single one-year term, unpaid and without benefit, other than living arrangements, whose function will be administrative and procedural, with no ability to negotiate with foreign entities or enter into treaties and no ability to originate or suggest legislation at any level.  All foreign entanglements, which will be constitutionally discouraged, must be individually entered into by the States.

A similar representative form of government is to be guaranteed to the states and local municipalities.

States' rights will be supreme, with the right to move between states absolute.  

States may hold no more than 5% of the land of a state in local or state name.  Central government landholdings are forbidden.

Government pensions, welfare and individual or corporate subsidy of every type to be abolished and forbidden at all levels of government.

All practicing lawyers will be disbarred.  All existing judges will be discharged.  All existing statutes and case law to be forgone.  Lawyers will read for their positions, in the time-honored manner of bygone eras.  Judges will be drawn from the ranks of lawyers, to serve in their area of specialization without pay or benefit each month, for that percentage of time necessary to satisfy the requirements of justice.  Juries will decide all questions of fact and law, with sentences and verdicts executed immediately.  Lawyers will be forbidden from holding elective office.  The right to a jury for any proceeding will be absolute, with secret proceedings forbidden.

Victimless crimes will not be prosecuted.  There will be no hate laws.  Prisons will be segregated racially.

English will be the official language, with all governmental proceedings conducted solely in English.

The existing school system will be abolished, to be replaced by community-based schools, with teachers compensated directly by student parents.

Civil rights will be absolute, with no preference to be shown by any government, at any level, to any individual for any reason.  Individual and private discrimination shall neither be illegal nor discouraged.

Immigration will be an issue for each State to resolve.  Illegal immigrants and their progeny to be ejected immediately upon adoption of the new Constitution.

The rights to assemble, freely associate or not, travel, be free of governmental intrusion, privacy, bear arms, free speech and the free practice of religion in any and all venues to be inviolate.

The income, sales and property taxes will be abolished, with governments required to exist upon the proceeds of tariff and import/export taxes alone.  A strictly balanced budget will be required of every government entity, especially the central government, every year.  Local use districts may be formed upon approval of 75% of the affected population.

No business monopolies are to be allowed.  Unions are forbidden.  Death sentences may be meted to corporations for grievous crimes.  Media enterprise, particularly, is to be dispersed, with no concentration of more than 1% total ownership of a particular medium in any single person, group or entity.

All able-bodied members of society are considered potentially to be part of the militia, with participation strictly voluntary.  A modest uniformed, all-volunteer military force will be maintained for the common defense only, and strictly prohibited for non-defensive use within the borders of the States.

The dollar will be repudiated, to be replaced by government-minted gold and silver coins.  Any and all currency will be produced by the central government and strictly backed by 100% value holdings in precious metals.  Central banking is prohibited.  Fractional-reserve banking is prohibited.

A government of our own is our natural right.  It is wiser and safer to separate the country now and peacefully select its governing charter, than to trust such to time and chance.  Else, one may hereafter arise who, laying hold of popular disquietude, may collect together the desperate and discontented and, by assuming to themselves the powers of government, may sweep away the remaining liberties of the continent like a deluge.  Should the government of all of America continue on its current path, there will be a temptation for some adventurer to try his fortune and effect a coup, taking the current structure of government as his own to use in a manner most oppressive.

Ye that oppose separation now, ye know not what ye do.  You open a door to eternal tyranny by keeping in the seat of power that faction which has stirred up the groups of this country, one against the other, whereby it deals brutally by one and treacherously by the other.

Every day wears out what little remains of kindred between us and our masters.  Can there be any reason to hope that, as the relationship expires, the affection will increase or that we will agree better, when we have ten times more and greater concerns over which to quarrel than before?

To those that urge harmony and reconciliation:  can you restore to us the time that is passed?  Can you give to prostitution its former innocence?  Neither can you reconcile America and New America.  The last straw has been tossed.  The government now prepares further to oppress us.  

There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did.  The Almighty has implanted in us these inextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes.  They are the guardians of His image in our hearts.  They distinguish us from the herd of common animals.  The robber and murderer would often escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain provoke us into justice.

O ye that love mankind!  Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!  Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression.  Freedom hath been hunted round the globe.  Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her.  Europe regards her like a stranger, and America hath given her warning to depart.  O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.

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Future installment to be released in this series:

Part IV:  Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections.

New America - an idea whose time has come.

-ed

"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright ©2003 Edgar J. Steele

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