In the winter of 1773, an obscure civil servant in London was introduced by a mutual friend to one of the most prolific intellectuals of their day.
That meeting would forever alter the courses of their lives… and the course of human history.
The civil servant’s name was Thomas Paine, who by all accounts was a complete failure in life up to that point.
Paine had tried and failed multiple times at business; he even managed to drive his father-in-law’s business into the ground.
He was in debt up to his eyeballs and had to sell all of his worldly possessions just to barely avoid being sent to debtor’s prison.
And he was even fired… not once, but TWICE… as a tax collector for the British crown. That’s a pretty epic level of incompetence.
The man that Thomas Paine met in 1773 was none other than Benjamin Franklin, who was living in London at the time representing colonial interests.
Franklin recognized Paine’s intellect and untapped potential, and he recommended that Paine head to the American colonies to start a new life.
Penniless and recently divorced, the 37-year old Paine had nothing to lose, and he arrived in Philadelphia on November 30, 1774.
The first hostilities of the American Revolution broke out less than five months later at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in present-day Massachusetts.
And Paine became so inspired by the colonists’ independence movement that he quickly wrote a short, 47-page pamphlet entitled Common Sense that made a clear argument for revolution.
Even by today’s standards, Common Sense is still hilarious. Paine’s style is acerbic and witty, like when he says of King George III, “The Royal Brute of Great Britain”:
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of the monarchy. . . The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly.”
Paine reserved special venom for the King’s status of being above the law– to decree any law he likes, to interpret the law in any way he sees fit, and to never be held accountable to his own laws.
Conversely, wrote Paine, “in America THE LAW IS KING.” (And yes, he actually did capitalize the text exactly like that).
In legal parlance this is known as the Rule of Law– the concept that laws, not men, reign supreme.
More importantly, a strong Rule of Law means that all laws apply equally, to everyone… including the highest ranking politicians, and even the government itself.
Ancient civilizations understood the importance of Rule of Law very well.
Aristotle wrote extensively about it in his work Politics. And the early Roman Republic was obsessed with developing a strong Rule of Law.
Throughout history, in fact, we can see countless examples of societies that flourished because of their strong Rule of Law– like medieval Venice, which developed the world’s most advanced courts, and a legal system that was applied equally to everyone.
We also see countless examples of societies that decay when they allow their Rule of Law to be replaced by corruption, cronyism, and authoritarianism.
We’re witnessing this in the United States, right now, in front of our very eyes.
Last year’s COVID lockdowns were an obvious example; state and local governments violated their own laws, not to mention the US Constitution, in preventing people from leaving their homes and living their lives.
There were even counties who told non-resident property owners to leave town immediately. In other words, because of a virus, your private property rights were terminated.
But Covid insanity only scratches the surface.
Last week, for instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unilaterally extended a moratorium on rental evictions in the United States.
This order essentially means that the vast majority of tenants in America* can stop paying their rent… and there will be no consequences whatsoever. Your landlord cannot evict you.
* It’s notable that, in order to qualify for the CDC’s “Eviction Protection”, you must have earned less than $99,000 in 2020 (or $198,000 as a married couple). Right off the bat that already covers most people.
But wait! There’s more! Because the order also says that if you EXPECT to earn less than $99,000 (or $198,000 as a married couple) in 2021, then you also qualify.
So basically they have created an incentive for someone to quit their job, stay home, STOP paying rent, and be protected from eviction by the CDC.
Hang on, isn’t the CDC supposed to focus on… you know… disease control and prevention? Why do these people have any authority over regulating the ENTIRE US HOUSING MARKET????
That’s one of the most remarkable things about this too; the CDC is, frankly, a rather small agency within the US federal government. It’s parent agency is the Department of Health and Human Services, which itself falls under the authority of the President.
So note that this order didn’t come from the President. Or the Department of Health and Human Services.
The order… which regulates the entire US housing market… came from a small sub-agency that has absolutely nothing to do with housing.
It would be as if the US Patent Office decided to ban the sale of firearms in America. Honestly, that’s how ridiculous this is.
But the most astonishing part is that it’s 100% illegal. Even the President of the United States acknowledged that the order is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court already ruled that the CDC “exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium.”
And yet the CDC issued the order anyhow… demonstrating zero regard for the Rule of Law.
Not to be outdone by the CDC, however, the Securities and Exchange Commission decreed this past Friday that public companies in the United States (i.e. those traded on stock exchanges) could be required to have ‘diversity requirements’ for their Boards of Directors.
This decree takes the power away from shareholders, i.e. the actual owners of the company, and forces them to choose their companies’ elected leaders based on someone else’s criteria.
Again, zero regard for the Rule of Law. The SEC is telling people what they can/cannot do with their own private property, which itself violates the core principles of any civilized society.
This is banana republic stuff. Except that in banana republics, the dictators are at least smart enough to pretend that whatever they’re doing is Constitutional.
But not in this case; the US government is now brazenly violating its most sacred legal principles.
As Paine wrote in Common Sense, “The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is capable of reflection.”