No Deposit, No Return

     Does anyone else remember seeing that on the label on a soda bottle? I mean, I know I’m old, but still…!


     We tend to value things according to their costs. It’s a natural thing; we remember what we paid to acquire the item, and – perhaps more dimly – the work we had to put in to earn it. It doesn’t always involve a projected need to replace the item.

     Abstract possessions have the same character. Think about some of yours:

  • Love;
  • Faith;
  • Friends;
  • Skills;
  • Self-Respect.

     What did those things cost you? Can you remember clearly? (Don’t be too embarrassed if you can’t; it’s a common condition.) Consider also what would follow if you were to lose one of them. A couple of those possessions are things the great majority of men can’t live without.

     And there are others.


     Most Americans didn’t have to “pay” anything for the extraordinary gift of citizenship in these United States of America. Some did, of course, but the majority of us are “born here” citizens, for whom that state is automatic. One of the consequences is a relative unconsciousness of the gift…and of what securing it for its first crop of citizens cost them and their fellows.

     Being something of a fanatic about freedom, the original raison d’etre of this nation, I’ve watched it being sliced away with growing horror. Little has been done anywhere, by anyone, to resist the paring-away of Americans’ rights to life, liberty, and their honestly acquired property. Speaking out? A few have done so, and a few of them have suffered for it. Voting? When the choice is between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, the impact is dubious. What else has anyone ventured for the preservation of freedom? Donating to some right-of-center think tank?

     Today, Paula Bolyard enumerates some of the slices the Left has already achieved or is intent upon:

     The corruption of the Democrats—particularly those in the Biden administration—seems to know no bounds.
     Here are just a few things they have their hearts set on:

  • Remaking the Supreme Court
  • Jailing Donald Trump, keeping him off the ballot, and bankrupting him and his family
  • Spying on conservative Americans, treating them as terrorists
  • Banning voter ID
  • Using lawfare as their preferred political strategy
  • Importing millions of illegals
  • Censoring free speech
  • Getting rid of the Electoral College
  • Destroying conservative media.

     And those are just the ones we know about.

     It’s an interesting list, but mainly for what it omits. The majority of the items in Bolyard’s list pertain to political mechanisms and maneuverings rather than to Americans’ Constitutionally guaranteed rights. You have to squint a bit to see the connections.

     Bolyard goes on to ask:

     Are there enough Americans who will stand up and say “enough” in the voting booth this year?

     I maintain that this is the wrong question.


     Nearly two centuries ago, France’s foremost polemicist, Frederic Bastiat, called attention to the disconnect between voting and liberty:

     I wish merely to observe here that this controversy over universal suffrage (as well as most other political questions) which agitates, excites, and overthrows nations, would lose nearly all of its importance if the law had always been what it ought to be. In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual’s right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?
     Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely that those who had the right to vote would jealously defend their privilege? If the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone’s interest in the law would be the same. Is it not clear that, under these circumstances, those who voted could not inconvenience those who did not vote?

     Clarence Carson made the same point:

     [W]e are told that there is no need to fear the concentration of power in government so long as that power is checked by the electoral process. We are urged to believe that so long as we can express our disagreement in words, we have our full rights to disagree. Now both freedom of speech and the electoral process are important to liberty, but alone they are only the desiccated remains of liberty. However vigorously we may argue against foreign aid, our substance is still drained away in never-to-be-repaid loans. Quite often, there is not even a candidate to vote for who holds views remotely like my own. To vent one’s spleen against the graduated income tax may be healthy for the psyche, but one must still yield up his freedom of choice as to how his money will be spent when he pays it to the government. The voice of electors in government is not even proportioned to the tax contribution of individuals; thus, those who contribute more lose rather than gain by the “democratic process.” A majority of voters may decide that property cannot be used in such and such ways, but the liberty of the individual is diminished just as much as in that regard as if a dictator had decreed it. Those who believe in the redistribution of wealth should be free to redistribute their own, but they are undoubtedly limiting the freedom of others when they vote to redistribute theirs.
     Effective disagreement means not doing what one does not want to do as well as saying what he wants to say. What is from one angle the welfare state is from another the compulsory state. Let me submit a bill of particulars. Children are forced to go to school. Americans are forced to pay taxes to support foreign aid, forced to support the Peace Corps, forced to make loans to the United Nations, forced to contribute to the building of hospitals, forced to serve in the armed forces. Employers are forced to submit to arbitration with labor leaders. Laborers are forced to accept the majority decision. Employers are forced to pay minimum wages, or go out of business. But it is not even certain that they will be permitted by the courts to go out of business. Railroads are forced to charge established rates and to continue services which may have become uneconomical. Many Americans are forced to pay Social Security. Farmers are forced to operate according to the restrictions voted by a majority of those involved. The list could be extended, but surely the point has been made.

     Voting alone achieves nothing. This point must be pressed home upon today’s Americans.


     I could start to rant about the Deep State, whose insulation from electoral processes is a great part of the reason for the diminution of our freedom, but I’ve done it before, and I dislike to repeat myself. My actual purpose here is to remind my Gentle Readers of the essential truth about freedom:

Freedom is not granted.
It is taken:
Whether by you, or from you.

     Freedom’s price is always paid in advance. It’s usually denominated in blood. How, then, should we who have paid nothing expect to retain it?

     [See also A. E. Van Vogt’s classic story The Weapon Shop.]