If you ever instigate a lawsuit, one of the first things that you will likely file with the court, as part of your initial complaint, is a statement of jurisdiction. I am not a lawyer, but I gather that this is routine: a complainant acknowledging that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case. To my extremely limited knowledge, this claim of jurisdiction is rarely successfully challenged.
The legal dictionary gives “power” as a synonym for “jurisdiction,” and states that there are three kinds of jurisdiction: over person, over property, and over the matter in question. In other words, the court has power over you, your property, and the suit that has been filed. This is what is claimed, and if you are the individual over whom the court has this power, mightn’t you wonder how it all came about?
It’s a particularly good question if the state itself is suing you. The prosecutor, who works for the state, or a political subdivision thereof, will tell the court that, according to the law, it has power over you and your goods, and the power to bind you to its decision. Of course, the law that gives the state court power over you was written by the state! The same state wrote the law that makes it a crime to do what you are accused of doing, or a crime to fail to do something the state ordered you to do. Ultimately, then, the state is declaring that a certain act or omission is wrong, perhaps even criminal, because it says so. It is the “law” because what the state wants is called “law.”
The state employee who dons a black robe and assumes the bench has the power to control you and your property because the state says he does-pursuant to “law,” of course. And you must obey his orders because it’s – you guessed it – the “law!”
It’s quite remarkable, isn’t it? You may refer to “your” property in that way – as yours. But obviously, that is not so, if a court has jurisdiction over it, and over you as well. You may think that your life is yours to live in a proper, decent, lawful fashion (and here I mean Law – which is written on our hearts by God, not “laws” in books by some men) but you would be wrong. Ask yourself, “If it is truly MY property, how can it become theirs without my consent?” Or “If I am sovereign over my own life, how can I be forced to do their will absent my agreement to do so?”
The government wants your money, for instance. You can demur, claiming that you need it for yourself. Your house, for example, may need expensive repairs. You would like to use the money demanded by the state to repair your home. Will the state agree to that? Of course not. Do you suppose it is rare for a person, or a family, to have to settle for a reduced standard of living because of high taxes? Or to be driven to borrow to pay for needful services or goods? Hardly. Yet when it comes to your (?!) property, what you want takes a back seat to what the strangers in the statehouse want. Those strangers have jurisdiction!
Is there any other organization that can seize your property, or command a certain behavior, without some sort of contract between it and you? And why would you sign such a contract if it were offered? Perhaps the organization would offer some inducement, such as the opportunity to use its parks, or swim in a pool that it built somewhere. If you are not interested in these “benefits,” however, can the organization compel your agreement anyway, claiming that the benefits are there for you to use, and that you must therefore subject yourself? Yes, if the organization calls itself “government.”
This is the “social contract” theory of government: simply by living in a place, (perhaps where you were born, so the location was not even one you picked) you subject yourself to the will of strangers called “government,” and give them the money they demand so that they can, in return, provide you with “benefits” that you may not use or want, and hire policemen to see that you obey their wishes, i.e., “laws.” An idiotic theory!
People precede government. The people came first, the government website was their creation – and, I fear, their mistake. It was intended to protect their rights, such as the right to property, but it cannot operate without making a claim upon that property which exceeds even your own. Because the government exists, in theory, to serve the people, government workers are called – and refer to themselves as – public servants. They seem oblivious to the irony of public servants giving orders to, and seizing property from, their masters.
If the social contract theory is too preposterous to take seriously, the question remains: how did these strangers gain jurisdiction over us? The answer has to do with human nature: theirs and ours. They – those who work in government – realized, at some point, that they had power. Power is more intoxicating than heroin or cocaine, and socially, far more dangerous. Little by little they increased that power, and as their power grew, ours, their “subjects,” diminished. After all, their demands were, at first, rather minimal, and it was easier to humor them, so to speak, than resist. Besides, our fathers and grandfathers had done the same thing, and we were taught at school that disobedience to government was a crime, even treason. Over time, the concept of our own personal sovereignty became preposterous, even to us. We served the state, and took glory in it. (Well, not ALL of us!) “My Country, Right or Wrong!!”
Well, it’s WRONG. The Founding Fathers had a unique idea: a government in which sovereignty resided in the people, so that there were no “subjects,” or, rather, the people were “subject” to themselves, not strangers claiming jurisdiction over them. Of course that’s impossible, because despite their best efforts to keep government chained, it grew until today there are hardly any restraints upon government whatever. Even when government illegality is egregious, such as a war launched by a president with no congressional declaration, it is accepted by a supine people. Likewise, when an economy is brought to its knees by unlawful issuance of fiat currency, the people shrug and accept it as well. “Don’t tread on me” has been replaced with “You can’t fight City Hall.”
Except, of course, you can. The thing is, you can’t do it alone. Divide and conquer remains true: physicians may march on the state capitol and demand reform of malpractice laws; truckers may demonstrate against high fuel taxes, businessmen inveigh against burdensome rules, etc. Each group is preoccupied with licking its own particular wounds, oblivious to the fact that the way to avoid the wounds is to kill the beast!
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Paul Hein is a semi-retired physician, specializing in ophthalmology. He has been interested in the subject of money, particularly its nature and role in society, for almost thirty years, and his book on the subject, All Work and No Pay, will shortly be re-published on Amazon.com. He has recently realized that governments inevitably decay in tyranny, and become an anarchist.