By Jason Herron, COS District Captain Windham-1
In my search for understanding about why it is improper for an elected representative to delegate responsibility, I was introduced to John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, said that John Locke was among “my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced.” In fact, signer of the Declaration Richard Henry Lee declared that the Declaration itself was “copied from Locke’s Treatise on Government.”
What does Mr. Locke have to say about the Legislative authority delegating their trust? These are not direct quotes from his Two Treatise. It’s a fictional conversation to simplify his more articulate and thorough explanations. However, his message is unchanged.
Hello Mr. Locke.
Do we need laws to be free?
Where there is no Law, there is no Freedom
So, laws are established to restrict Freedom?
Laws are not established to abolish or restrict, but to preserve and nurture Freedom
Can Free people do whatever they want?
Freedom is not a Liberty for anyone to do what they wish, for who could be Free when another person could impose their will on them at any given moment
What is Liberty?
Liberty is Freedom of restraint and violence from others
Then, what is Freedom?
Freedom is the ability to control your time, actions, and property and dispose of them as you choose. It is not subject to the random will of another
How is Freedom secured?
Governments are established to secure Freedom, and they need support to operate
How are governments supported?
Governments are supported with great effort and cost, all who enjoy the governments Protection should pay a portion of their estate for its security
Who decides what portion of their estate is appropriate for this security?
That must be established with Consent, i.e. the Consent of the Majority
How is consent established?
Consent can be given, either by individual citizens or the representatives Chosen by Them
Once consent is given, can it be delegated to anyone else?
Since it is a delegated Power from the People, they who have it cannot pass it on to any others
What happens if the chosen representatives were to delegate that trust, or some other entity took it?
Anyone who claims that power on the People, without their Consent, is violating the fundamental law of Property
What is the fundamental law of property?
If anyone shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the People, by their own authority, and without such consent of the People, they thereby invade the fundamental law of property, and subverts the end of government
Could you elaborate on that?
What can you consider Property if someone else, may by right, take it away whenever it pleases them? Governing Societies are created to secure life, liberty, and property
How do you create governing societies?
The way to create a Governing Society is when the People Constitute a Legislative authority and appoint those who will represent them
Can any single person or group of people, other than the Constituted Legislative authority, make laws?
Once the People agree to submit to be governed by the Laws and in such forms made by their Appointees, nothing else can make Laws for them
What other Laws are the people required to follow to be a part of the governing society?
The only Laws the People are bound to are the ones enacted by their Elected Representatives they have Chosen and Authorized to make Laws for them
Where does this power of the legislature come from?
The power of the Legislature is derived from the People by a Positive Voluntary Grant and Institution
Can the legislative authority delegate their trust to an agency of experts?
This Positive Grant is only to make Laws, not to make Law makers
So, the legislature cannot transfer this trust to any other?
What are the limits of this trust, that is granted by consent, to the legislative authority?
First, they are to govern by known, open and established laws, not to be varied in particular cases. There is one rule for rich and poor, for the favorite in congress and the farmer at plow
Secondly, these laws should be designed for no other purpose than the good of the people
Thirdly, they must not raise taxes on the Property of the People, without the Consent of the People, given by themselves, or their deputies
Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Locke.