Today's comment is by our Chairman, John Pugsley. In addition to being a best-selling author and long-time hard money advocate, John helped found The Sovereign Society back in 1997.
Dear A-Letter Reader,
As 2007 rings in, individuals everywhere hope this year will finally bring a more peaceful and prosperous world to us all.
In many places, including such countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur, peace and prosperity seem further away than ever. And for those in the developed countries, we face the specter of terrorism, inflation, recession, and assortment of other economic and social calamities. But the question remains: will 2007 bring solutions to such problems?
My own thoughts reflect back on history, and life’s lessons only learned through history.
Consider, for example, what lessons we might learn from the 14th century. Specifically, that was the time when the black plague swept through Europe. Accounts vary, but somewhere between half and three-quarters of the population died as a result of this dreadful disease. The people lived in terror of succumbing to it. And the major preoccupation was to find a cure.
As we look back we are aghast at their ignorance. Some thought certain odors prevented the plague, so the carried smelling apples on strings around their necks. Some believed the plague was God’s method of punishing sinners, so they flagellated themselves with sticks and chains to atone for their sins. Some thought the plague was carried on the night air, so they closed up their houses and refused to go outside after dark.
Some thought the devil brought the plague, so the killed the agents of the devil, witches, and black cats. In fact, they eventually killed almost all the cats.
Their problem, so clear to us now, was ignorance. The only effective remedy for any disease, of course, is to first determine the cause. But they were ignorant of the cause. No one knew of bacillus pestis, the microbe carried in rodent’s blood that was transferring the disease to humans through fleas. We now see clearly that their “remedies” achieved just the opposite of what they hoped. Flagellants subjected themselves to intense pain, and often died. Innocent men, women and children were accused of being witches and were hanged, drowned, or burned at the stake. Killing the cats left the rodents free to multiply, vastly adding to the spread of the plague.
Today we look back in disbelief at their destructive “solutions.” And yet in our supposed enlightened world, the vast majority of individuals everywhere are suffering from a plague equally as fearsome, and equally as misunderstood. Most individuals, are, in effect, burning witches and killing cats, in their own well-intentioned determination to solve the panoply of social ills, from inflation, to depression, to war.
Like the citizens of 14th century Europe, most individuals fail to understand the cause of conflict, and fail to identify their adversary. Like people in the 14th century who killed the cats, most people today believe that government is the cure. Here at The Sovereign Society, we believe the opposite: the central cause of the world’s economic woes is government itself.
In 1997, ten years ago, The Sovereign Society was conceived by a group of individuals who shared the conviction that peace and prosperity would be optimized when every individual’s property is rightfully his or hers to keep, control, and dispose of.
Having witnessed over our lifetimes the relentless expansion of government and the concomitant erosion of individual liberties, it was clear to us that the preponderance of aggression against private property did not come from criminals or from foreign nations, but from citizens’ own governments and judicial systems.
As Voltaire summed up the process 240 years ago: “The art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”
Most still believe government is a protector, and it grows because people believe it will cure the social ills that plague us. In fact, it is the source of our problems. By restricting individual liberty, by preventing individuals from freely producing and exchanging goods and services, and by taxing and inflating, government has become the source of social conflict.
Now in its tenth year, The Sovereign Society has members in two dozen countries around the world. The principles around which the Society was conceived are built into its Credo:
THAT individual liberty is the highest good in any society
THAT every individual has the natural right to keep, control, and dispose of his or her justly acquired property
THAT individuals are not the property of the government of the political jurisdiction in which they are born or reside
THAT individuals are sovereign unto themselves
THAT to whatever extent government interferes with the free exchange of goods or confiscates the property of citizens, it reduces the wealth of the nation
THAT when government takes from one to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral authority of government
THAT it is the right and responsibility every individual to defend his or her justly-acquired property from unjust and arbitrary seizure, expropriation, and taxation
THAT the goal of The Sovereign Society is to encourage and help individuals achieve and maintain individual sovereignty over their own lives and assetsIf individuals can successfully defend themselves and their assets from being plundered, they expand the pool of investment capital on which a society depends for progress, encourage production, stimulate saving, and increase the standard of living for all.
Simultaneously, by depriving governments and legal predators of resources, some who might be attracted to plunder are attracted instead to productive enterprises, increasing the standard of living for all.
This new year is just one more chance for you to fight this oppression and show others the way to a freer, more moral society.
JOHN PUGSLEY, ChairmanOn behalf of The Sovereign Society