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 as an important 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 noted 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 piece of legislation that has rendered the freedoms contemplated by the U.S. constitution (such as they are) meaningless.
In November of 2012, Nina Olson of Taxpayer Advocate made an allusion to the IRS terrorizing U.S. citizens in Canada. There is little doubt that this is true.
What does this suggest about freedom and human rights in the United States?
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 does not obey 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 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 somewhat of 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!
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 26, 2012
How the U.S. through agreements lowers the standard of human rights in the rest of the world
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 24, 2012
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 perspective). The complete presentation is well worth hearing. However, if you begin the video at the 13 minute mark, she begins an interesting 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, that Margarat 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 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.)
Human rights and basic freedoms are human achievements that were won over a very 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 clearly at turning point in history. Will Canada and the rest of the world follow the U.S. into making “human rights and freedoms” irrelevant?
The implementation of FATCA would accelerate the extinction of freedom within our generation.”
Say No to FATCA!