Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction
“The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. … I do not believe in a fate that will fall us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”
“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
“When people fear their government, there is tyranny. When government fears the people there is liberty.”
Freedom – The forgotten value
Approximately one year ago I wrote a post describing the damage to U.S. citizens abroad and questioning whether the “end” (whatever it is) could possibly justify the means. I suggested that the U.S. has morphed into a nation where “freedom” is no longer valued. The Patriot Act is the most visible and well known legislation that has rendered the freedoms in the U.S. constitution (such as they are) meaningless. As President Madison noted, “Liberty is the true casualty of war“. The United States has been at war since 2001.
In November of 2012, Nina Olson of Taxpayer Advocate made an allusion to the IRS terrorizing U.S. citizens in Canada. This is evidence of the kind of tyranny that Jefferson warned against.
What does this suggest about freedom and human rights in the United States?
An invidious comparison: that between “freedom and democracy” – Democracy is NOT the same as freedom!
To the extent that the U.S. is a democracy, it is NOT a democracy that values freedom. What? Isn’t democracy the same thing as “freedom”? No. All government action is force. All governments exercise coercion. In a democracy it is the voting public (or some fiction thereof) that exercises the coercive power of government. Democracies can and do both constrain and expand “human rights and freedoms”. (See this interesting article: “You’ve been lied to: Freedom and democracy don’t mean the same things”.)
On June 26, 1963, President John Kennedy, speaking at the Berlin wall, acknowledged the difference between “freedom” and “democracy”, by remarking that:
“Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to a wall up to to keep our people in and prevent them from leaving.”
FATCA has been compared to the Berlin Wall. IT is is a method of controlling the flow of people and the flow of capital.
Rule of Law, Misrule of Men – Government is private and people are public
In her book: Rule of law misrule of men Harvard Professor Elaine Scarry argues that the U.S. government “pays no heed to” the constitution. She argues that in a democracy that valued freedom, the government would be public and transparent and the people would have privacy. The United States of today is the opposite. Government is private and the people are public.
David Gordon of the Mises Institute quotes Ms. Scarry as saying:
The Patriot Act inverts the Constitutional requirement that people’s lives be private and the work of the government officials be public; it instead crafts a set of conditions in which our inner lives become transparent, and the workings of the government become opaque. (pp. 9–10)
“We the people” don’t know what the IRS will do next. The IRS is able to terrorize U.S. citizens abroad because they don’t know what the IRS will do. (The IRS has yet to provide a way for most U.S. citizens to come into compliance.) On the other hand, the IRS wants full disclosure of all citizens’ private information (or what used to be private). The Scarry book is short, well written and I would recommend it. It makes a convincing argument (if you need one) that the U.S. values neither privacy nor freedom.
FATCA and Human Freedom
On December 15, 2012 a FATCA Fact Finding Forum (love the alliteration) was held in Toronto, Canada. The FATCA videos have been posted and they are interesting. The first speaker was the Honourable Sinclair Stevens of the Progressive Canadian Party. He began with a suggestion that if the Government of Canada signed a FATCA IGA that it would violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitution of Canada values “freedom”. If a FATCA IGA violates the Canadian Charter of Rights it is an assault on freedom.
The low standard of human rights and freedom in the United States
Americans are used to thinking of their constitution as the “Gold Standard” in human rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Adam Liptak writing in the New York Times notes that:
The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.
The old grey mare just ain’t what she used to be!
How the U.S. through agreements lowers the standard of human rights and freedom in the rest of the world
Although many dimensions to FATCA were considered, I found the speaker from the Canadian Civil Liberties Organization extremely interesting (or maybe I had never considered FATCA from a human rights and freedom perspective). The complete presentation is well worth hearing. However, if you begin the video at the 13 minute mark, Ms. Deshman begins a discussion of how human rights have eroded in the U.S. and how a FATCA IGA will lower the standard of human rights in Canada (and presumably the rest of the world).
In other words the United States of America, what Margerat Thatcher called “that great citadel of freedom and justice”:
– now lags many countries of the world in guaranteeing human rights and freedoms;
– is actually lowering the standard of human rights and freedom the world over.
There are many areas where the U.S. lags the world in “human rights”. One could write a long book on this subject. But, let’s focus on “privacy rights”.
In its most simple terms, Canada guarantees “privacy rights” to its residents. In the U.S. there is little privacy in general and no financial privacy at all. If Canada enters into a FATCA IGA, Canada has agreed to lower its standards of “privacy” to the U.S. level – which is no privacy at all. (If you watch the video you will see that Ms. Deshman argues that there are many areas where the U.S. is attempting to impose the U.S. standard of human rights on the rest of the world.) On the most basic level, “freedom” includes the right to access the necessary incidents of life. This includes a bank account (try living without one).
The U.S. would like to “Teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”
The United States of America, is now exporting a low standard of freedom and human rights to the rest of the world. In the same way that the U.S. dislikes competition from “law tax jurisdictions”, the U.S. dislikes competition from “high freedom jurisdictions”. The U.S. is effectively saying that no country is permitted to have a higher standard of human rights and freedom than the U.S. allows. When it comes to human rights and freedoms, the U.S. would “Like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony“. World wide capitulation to FATCA would give the U.S. “De-FATCA Control over the rest of the world“.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! (Vladimir Putin, in connection with banning U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children, recently suggested that the U.S. does NOT have the moral authority to lecture the world on human rights – a position reinforced by Ron Paul.) Through the implementation of FATCA IGAs, the U.S. is telling other countries that their standards of freedom and human rights are too high. They MUST lower them to U.S. levels.
To support FATCA is to support a low standard of freedom and human rights!
The Irony is that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms MIGHT be used to protect the freedom of Canada and Canadians from the U.S. “FATCA Attack”
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians from government practices. This includes protecting Canadians from the effect of their government entering into a FATCA IGA. Pierre Trudeau would never have imagined that, on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, that the Charter would be used to protect Canada from the United States.
Freedom is now LESS than one generation away from extinction
Human rights and basic freedoms are achievements that were won over a long period of time. Is it worth throwing away the human rights that define our society to catch a few tax evaders?
FATCA is a serious threat to those rights! We are at a turning point in history – a fork in the road. A decision must be made. The precise decision is decide – to use the words of Robert Frost – which is to be “The Road Not Taken“*.
FATCA has placed Canada and the rest of the world at a “Fork” where two roads are diverging into an uncertain future. One road leads to FATCA and one road preserves freedom.
Will Canada and the rest of the world follow the U.S. down the FATCA Road or down the Freedom road? What will future generations say?
The implementation of FATCA would accelerate the extinction of freedom within our generation.”
Say No to FATCA!
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.