We are beginning our library, starting out with the obvious entry, Tom Paine’s “Common Sense.” Right now we have this book available for you in HTML, on this website. Soon we will produce PDF and ePub editions as well. Happy reading!
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More important than which party controls the U.S. Senate, or which nine people don Supreme Court robes, or even who will be elected president of these United States come 2016, is something much more within our individual and collective control: what you and I do to protect and advance liberty.
From this date — Jan.1, 2015 — forward, let us never wait for a political savior to ride in on a white horse. We cannot wait.
And we don’t have to.
In fact, only through “We the People” taking the leadership role can a pro-liberty agenda be established. Politicians won’t do it for us, not consistently.
Yet, the few might follow our good lead.
And we can hopefully make all politicians respond to the issues that define the future of freedom.
Starting right now, as president of the Liberty Initiative Fund, I ask you: join me in placing a three-plank pro-liberty platform on state and local ballots and, thereby into law and government policy across the country, between now and November 8, 2016.
Hold government accountable. Pass term limits in more cities and states. Fix out-of-control public employee pensions. Enact ethics reforms.
Fight crony capitalism. Create a voter check on public subsidies. Protect citizens from eminent domain abuse. Open up business entry.
Protect our liberties. Clean up law enforcement with measures that stop the highway robbery known as civil asset forfeiture, require police to wear lapel cameras, and mandate independent prosecutors in fatal or violent incidents involving police.
We can create better government, a freer marketplace and a safer society.
Gandhi said: “We must become the changes we seek in the world.”
I say, “At least, let’s put our changes on the ballot and give them a fighting chance.”
There will never be a patronage army for liberty. But there is you and me. And since we agree . . . we might be able do something about it.
We’re strong enough to start.
These battles appeal to libertarians, conservatives, liberals, progressives.
I’m reminded of Patrick Henry’s 1775 “Give Me Liberty” speech:
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? . . .
Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.
Mr. Henry was talking about cataclysmic historical forces, the defeat of the world’s foremost empire. So are we, in a way.
This nation of shopkeepers, the common folks with common sense and common decency, must again battle the Empire of Big Government. And let me advance the notion that we are up to that awesome task.
Every New Year’s Day I reflect on the words of author and politician, Marianne Williamson, who in her book, Return to Love, wrote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Let’s work together to make 2015 the year we helped create an America more free. Call me (571-659-2320) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to take action in your city or state.
Or help by contributing funds to others working all across the country.
Oh, wait! Don’t call me today; I’m watching college football. But please call me (or email) tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. If I’m busy, or talking to someone who dialed me a minute earlier, leave a message (that’s just, ahem, common sense) — I’ll call you back.
Let’s take charge and usher in change together, at the grassroots, this year.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Emanuel Leutze’s famous 1851 painting, “Washington Crossing the Delaware” may be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
For two days my message has been about thankfulness. I’m going for the trifecta.
This may disappoint Sheldon, a commenter at ThisisCommonsense.com, who pooh-poohed my earlier expression of gratitude. “It sounds as though one of the guests invited to your Thanksgiving table will be your very distant relative Pollyanna,” he teased.
Countering my view that “the abundance on our Thanksgiving tables” comes from “the freedom to work and produce and trade with each other,” he argued that this abundance “decreases yearly as government-produced inflation eats away at our purchasing power. Every single aspect of our ‘freedom to work and produce and trade’ and even to eat, drink, travel and enjoy life is surveilled, controlled, obstructed and regulated by ‘our’ government.”
Though I certainly didn’t notice any diminution of the “abundance” at yesterday’s feast, Sheldon nonetheless has a point. Heck, it sounds like he’s been reading these commentaries word-for-word!
There is, indeed, a lot that’s wrong in this world — and the power and arrogance of government is right there in the middle of most of it.
But in necessarily focusing on the problem, on our eroding freedom and lack of control over our lives, let’s not lose hope. Instead, let’s be thankful for what we do have: the ability to do something about it.
There are solutions. Even with all the political corruption and rules rigged to favor the insiders, we still have meaningful freedom to stand up, to speak out, to help create and organize and agitate for desperately needed change.
I’m thankful for that much freedom. Let’s use it to make more.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Tomorrow will be a day of Thanksgiving, a wonderfully unpretentious holiday in a terribly pretentious time.
Thanksgiving is a national celebration about simply having enough food to eat and about eating it together . . . and recognizing, at least for a moment, how great that is.
The “dining together” part is so important that enormous controversy has erupted in recent years as retailers jump the next day’s usual start of the Christmas season, “Black Friday,” by daring to open up on Thanksgiving Day itself. Many complain that stores are frustrating the feast by “forcing” their workers to work.
Last year, I made the point that families truly committed to eating a meal together could find a way to do so, and that workers are not “forced to work,” but actually enjoy a meaningful degree of freedom in when they work. And I remember being very grateful for the opportunity to earn a living by working on a holiday.
In fact, the abundance on our Thanksgiving tables every year is only possible through the freedom to work and produce and trade with each other. This American holiday is also about giving thanks for that freedom.
Freedom has, like it or not, led to long lines of eager customers waiting for those retail doors to open. I’m no big fan of shopping, but more power to those who are.
Still, freedom has also led to a full-throated public discussion — and backlash. A New York Post article credits social media with mobilizing public sentiment against stores opening on the holiday and causing some stores to roll back their hours.
Brian Rich runs Boycott Black Thursday, a Facebook page with over 100,000 likes. “We are not anti-capitalism,” says the Idahoan, who suggests shoppers spend to their hearts’ content on Friday, but celebrate “a good old-fashioned holiday at home” on Thursday.
I’m thankful stores can open if they wish and that customers have money to trade for products they want. And I’m mighty glad that we don’t have to shop if we don’t want to and that we can speak out freely against stores opening and in favor of folks spending more time with loved ones.
On Thursday, I’m grateful for all those in my family and my wife’s with whom I’ll get to break bread. On Friday, well, my youngest daughter will get me up way too early to take her shopping.
And, doggone it, as painful as it is: I’m thankful for that, too.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
No one knows his name. Or whether, when he was whisked away by several people who suddenly appeared in the square, he was rushed to the safety of friends or into police custody.
He’s “Tank Man.” His claim to fame is largely symbolic, blocking a whole line of People’s Liberation Army tanks for several minutes as they were taking a victory lap through Tiananmen Square mere hours after crushing the encampment of protesters. Tank Man stood in front of these massive treaded war machines, moved with them when they maneuvered to go around him, and, once the tanks stopped, he climbed on top of the one in front, banging on it and yelling at the driver.
For seven weeks, protests had taken over much of Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital. Students began the demonstrations, which were then joined by working folks. They spoke truth to power and crowds swelled to hear calls for press freedom and individual liberty and basic democratic rights to control government.
But on this day 25 years ago, the Chinese communist leaders, the Butchers of Beijing, ended this Springtime burst of life and liberty by ordering the military to fire on civilians* and roll their tanks over people to clear the square. The Chinese government acknowledges that hundreds died; others put the death toll as high as 6,000.
Tank Man and the pro-freedom movement lost.
An obviously emotional ABC reporter told American viewers that “the voices of those who died calling for freedom and liberty are likely to be remembered long after the sound of the gunfire that attempted to silence them has faded away.”
Tragically, to this day, the Chinese government imprisons pro-democracy activists who speak out, blocks Internet searches for “Tiananmen Square protests,” and uses a massive police presence and arbitrary detention of “radicals” to prevent any commemoration of what happened a quarter century ago.
Still, the image of that lone Chinese worker, satchel in hand, serves as a symbol of the desire for freedom, for the defiance of tyranny. It is forever etched in the minds of liberty lovers everywhere.
We cannot bring freedom to the Chinese people. They will have to continue to struggle to achieve that on their own.
What can we do?
We can remain inspired by the bravery shown by Tank Man — and by bloggers and activists in prisons throughout the world. Working through non-governmental organizations, such as the Human Rights Foundation, we can assist the cause of individual freedom by bringing attention and pressure against tyrants trying to eliminate those who agitate for it.
The most important thing we can do is to make certain that our freedoms, the rule of law, and citizen control of government through constitutional limitations and democratic checks on power continue to be defended, protected and expanded.
That really begins when responsible, caring, freedom-loving individuals come together with their neighbors, online, in social networks, at the workplace, through civic groups, at church or school to stand up for our right to be free.
This is Common Sense … and helping to inspire, inform and organize for freedom is our mission. I’m Paul Jacob … and working together I believe we can make a difference.
If you’re moved to support our effort to block the advance of Big Government please give generously … keep the Common Sense coming (and growing).
On the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, why not contribute $25 today?