Pendulum Balance

Collected Thoughts and Quotes About The Constitution, Liberty, and the Proper Role of Government

  • As government expands, liberty contracts. President Ronald Reagan
    (Video and Longer Speech Segment)

  • You either believe in freedom or you don't. If you act to destroy it by taking it from another, you don't believe in it.

  • "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Fifth Amendment

  • Taking from one to give to the whole is socialism.

  • "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." Ayn Rand

  • There are two types of people in the world: Those who want to run their own lives, and those who want to run the lives of others.

  • Elected officials can be either the great protectors or the great destructors of freedom.

  • Is the purpose of zoning laws to protect neighbors and the Town or is it to give the town a tool to take things from property owners to satisfy the needs of the Town? It is the latter if you seek a socialistic government. However, if you want a Constitutional government that protects liberty, it is strictly limited to the former!

  • To elected officials who have been given the authority to tell others what they can and can't do with their property: The burden should be on you to prove your reason for saying no instead of on the property owner to prove why you should say yes. Furthermore, To say no to someone without exhaustively listening and thoroughly justifying your denial using a Constitutional foundation is immensely immoral.

  • Encoded in the Oath of Office at every level of government is the sworn commitment to defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. Why does that refer to "domestic" enemies? Because we have those among us who see the Constitution as a barrier to some other agenda, as a thing to be circumvented or even replaced. Those enemies of the Constitution may even see the liberty the Constitution is designed to defend as expendable in pursuit of other purposes. If you dilute or circumvent Constitutional liberties in your elected office, you have violated your sworn oath and are the enemy to the Constitution the rest have sworn to defend against.

  • Because of the sworn oath to defend the Constitution, the basic question all elected officials must constantly ask: What is the Constitutional and moral justification for your position?
    • To be elected, appointed, or hired as a public official with legal authority to control the rights, property, and lives of fellow citizens is first and foremost a sacred trust. No decision or act should ever be taken in that office without first considering with the deepest sense of study and respect both the moral and Constitutional basis from which you exercise control over other people's lives, liberty, and property. Just because something is legal, generally accepted, long standing in precedent, expected or even demanded by a segment of the public, does not necessarily mean it is either moral or Constitutional. When you exercise immoral or unconstitutional control or diminution of your fellow citizens rights, property, or lives, you ultimately diminish your own rights, property, and life as an equal citizen.
    • There is a moral and Constitutional line that is so very easy to cross without even knowing it. Decades of pattern and precedent, little by little blurring the line, have made crossing that line appear normal, justified, and even expected. We did not reach this state in one singular huge leap. Rather, little by little, generation by generation, rationalization by rationalization, the line has been blurred more and more both by the malicious enemies of Constitutional and moral governance and the well meaning misguided.

  • "In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property." The Communist Manifesto

  • Marxism and Property Rights

  • At it's best, zoning and land use policy are the means to build a smart, cohesive, quality, and sustainable community. As new things get built, neighbor's property is protected from harm and a healthy future for the community is sought. At its worst, it is a legalized means for the community to shackle and plunder the individual property owner either for the public good or worse, no good at all. In order for a community to build on a foundation of integrity and fairness, the only truly sustainable foundation, constant effort must be given to strive for the best and avoid the worst in dispensing the weighty authority to dictate the use of an individual's property.

  • If the desire of your heart is to shackle your neighbor, or to take from him for your own gain, government is the surest way. But be warned, by the same chains your forge for him, you too will be bound until you both are enslaved and impoverished. There will always be someone ready and willing to shackle and plunder you with the very tools you made yourself.

    • The chains with which we bind our neighbor will someday bind us.

  • A common and naive reason for an elected official say no to a land use request: "I wouldn't want to live there or have that kind of house, so I don't think anyone else would want to live there either." How does that have anything to do with the proper role of government? That is like saying "I don't like chocolate ice cream, so I think we should make the stores in our town sell vanilla ice cream instead."

  • In today's world if you own property and want to do something with it you have to prove to the government why you should be able to do that. That is not right. Instead, government should have to prove why you shouldn't. Sadly and unjustly, government can say no without justification and without explanation. Even if you do make a compelling case to prove why you should be able to do something, they are not required to methodically refute your logic and can simply ignore you and say no anyway.

  • Here is a fundamental problem with well-meaning but misplaced ideas to solve problems with government. The bureaucracy of an idea never fades without forcible and difficult action. The morality and wisdom of those who created the idea may not only be flawed and limited, but what morality, wisdom, and decent intent the idea started out with always fades as elected bodies and hired staff rotate out leaving nothing behind but the immoral and unwise bureaucratic shadow of the original idea. Like a cancer or virus, bad and ill-conceived ideas fester and grow generation after generation giving the false illusion that they are entirely meaningful and meant to be there, that they are based on a moral and wise premise which they are not. By the second generation, and for sure the third, everyone assumes that 'bureaucracy' was always there, is immeasurably important to their protection, and is entirely legitimate. Even ideas that start out with the most pure, noble, and justified of reasons are at great risk of being morphed into something harmful and an not representative of its original intent through this same process.

  • We live in a bizarre era where people who seek success are demonized when they succeed and heaven forbid, make a profit. The prosperity and quality of life we enjoy in this nation is built upon the success and failure of entrepreneurs trying to make a go and the risks and rewards of the market. As land developers, we unabashedly seek to make a profit in everything we do. Without that, the development community doesn't exist. In conjunction and partnership with the Town, a huge part of what ends up being identified as "community" gets built on the capital investment, risk taking, and profit seeking initiative of the development community. Parks. Shops. Restaurants. Trails. Offices. Streets. Amenities. Homes. Basic infrastructure. Profit is the engine that keeps the energy moving that builds our Town. If a developer thinks a project is going to lose money, he won't do the project. The development business is risky and mistakes can range from costly to financially catastrophic. There is a tendency to demonize the profit making motive. But without it, there is no community. Profit making should be cheered on so that the developer can live to build another day something of value for the community.

  • Zoning law used to protect is just. Zoning law used to take is theft.

  • The desire to have power over another goes back to the beginning of mankind.
    • Genesis 4:2,8: And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground….Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

  • Scriptures warn against the tyranny of man:
    • "For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!" Mosiah 29:17
    • "We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." D&C 121:39
    • "Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil." D&C 98:9-10
    • "I seek not for power but to pull it down." Captain Moroni

  • It is a sacred trust when we give our neighbors (and as proxy elected officials) authority over our lives and property. If the original purpose of that trust is lost, that authority can easily be abused whether by good or malicious intent. That theft is cloaked in many robes from common good to community vision to socialism to communism. In the end, theft is theft.

  • Beyond all the other noise, elections are a choice:
    • 1) Increase government control of our lives.
    • 2) Restrain government control of our lives.
    • You can measure any candidate, vote, tax, policy, agenda, attitude, speech or personality based on those two measures. Candidates either want to control our lives, or protect us from those who want to control our lives.
    • To "restrain" does not mean to dismantle or impede good, proper, and necessary government. We still need smart government that functions effectively, that protects public health and safety, that provides basic services and infrastructure, and that safeguards community and prosperity. But, this must be done with constant oversight and judicious restraint in order to prevent abuse of power, regulatory overreach, wasteful spending, improper or excessive taxation, peddling of influence, arbitrary or unfair decision making, and any other form of infringement on our Constitutional liberties. Good government seeks to serve, not control our lives

  • If the town needs to reserve land for some particular future need, it would seem the town as a whole should share that cost and burden. For example, currently, Towns do not request individual property to provide land for future public parks. The Town purchases property for that use at market rates and holds it for an extended period until it has the money to build it then maintain it. However, the Towns do ask property owners to reserve land for other uses such as employment or retail for decades on the premise that it is a future need of the Town. This is occurs even when there is not a verifiable market for the land use and more critically, without just compensation to the land owner for the cost of his property being rendered undevelopable for long periods of time or perhaps even permanently. Parks and employment/retail land are similar in that they both are set aside for the future, often a distant future. Both are for the benefit and need of the Town. But, the Town as a whole pays for one while shifting the cost of the other to just one or a few property owners.
    • Some would argue that there is future revenue associated with industrial and retail land. While that is true, if that opportunity is 20 years out, that 20 years come with a cost to the person being asked to wait. A basic principle of finance is the "time value of money." A dollar today is worth a dollar while the promise of a dollar in twenty years is worth next to nothing today. Meaning, industrial land that is many decades away from developing is worth little more than future park land and present day dollars. Some would also argue that pre-existing hard zoning represents some form of prior agreement between the land owner and Town. This is also true and each situation needs to be looked at on its own merits. But, as a general principle, both the reality of, and our understanding of markets changes over time. What we thought made sense ten or twenty years ago may not make sense today. Blindly holding a property owner to a zoning designation that is no longer viable based the hope for an unproven future renders that property to have little value, again based on the time value of money. Furthermore, zoning laws originated as a need for protecting Town and neighbors, not as a means for Towns to lever property to the ideal benefit of the Town.
    • Simply put, if a town believes it needs a particular land use (i.e. retail or employment) for the good of the town, it should pay for that need as a public investment just like it does for parks, not forcibly shift it to an individual property owner.
Pendulum Jail for Morrison

Graphic: The Balanced Pendulum of
Government Control
(PDF Version)

"Still Mine" Movie: The Proper and
Balanced Role of Government

 

Jason Barney | jason@jasonbarney.com | 480-818-2000 | Back to Home Page