You are invited to a legislative update and a question and answer session!

When: Thu Jul 14, 7pm – 8pm Central Time
Where: Pacific Eagles Club, Pacific, MO

When: Tue Jul 19, 7pm – 8pm Central Time
Where: House Springs Lions Club, House Springs, MO

Jefferson City - An interim House committee will spend the next several months studying ways to update and improve the state’s aging 911 emergency services system. Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, said he created the Interim Committee on 911 Access to find ways to bring uniformity to what some have called a patchwork of systems.

“Technology has improved at a rapid pace but the systems our municipalities use to provide emergency services have not kept up with the advances,” said Tilley. “One of the biggest issues we see is that our 911 call centers are funded by a surcharge on landlines but the majority of users have moved away from landlines to cell phones. The result is a lack of funding that has prevented call centers from upgrading equipment to provide a reliable system that is compatible with current technology.”

Tilley said he expects the committee to look at ways to provide the funding necessary to improve 911 emergency service systems across the state. The legislature has seen bills filed in recent years to allow local governments to add a charge to cell phone users’ monthly bills to fund 911 call centers. Tilley said that a statewide user fee is another option that has been looked at in the past, but pointed to two rejected ballot measures as an indication that voters do not support a fee increase to pay for 911 service. Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide fee for wireless 911 service.

“During a time when so many Missourians are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we want to do is burden them with a fee increase,” said Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis, who will serve as chairman of the committee. “But if we’re going to improve a system that is in desperate need of help we have to look at the fact that more and more households have switched to wireless service and no longer pay fees for 911, but still use the service.”

Gatschenberger said the lack of funding has created a dangerous situation as the ability of Missouri’s 911 call centers to effectively respond to callers has lagged behind that of centers in other states. Currently, 911 centers in more than 30 Missouri counties do not have the technology necessary to locate a person calling on a cell phone. Call centers in 17 counties do not have the technology necessary to locate an individual calling on a landline.

“It’s a dangerous situation and something that deserves our immediate attention,” said Gatschenberger. “We take for granted that dialing 911 will bring us immediate help, but that simply isn’t the case in all parts of the state.”

Gatschenberger said the committee will hold four meetings in Jefferson City in the coming weeks. They will work to submit a report with recommendations to the Speaker by December 31.
Jefferson City – During the final week of the 2011 legislative session members of the Missouri House approved legislation that will lower the minimum age requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Jonathan Lorenz reports from the state Capitol. See the video on my home page.
Have you ever wondered which single principle you could use to determine whether or not the government’s actions are good or bad? I believe that the proper role of government can be easily identified if I were to help you answer one simple question: Who owns you? 

So, really, who does own you?  There really only are two answers to this question because either (A) you own yourself in which case you make decisions and have control or (B) someone else or a group of people own and have control of  you. I would argue that only you own  yourself.

The concept of self ownership says that a person, by virtue of being human, naturally has the right to control his or her own body and remain free from the coercion of others. The particular founding of the United States of America relied heavily on the principle of self ownership as a self-evident truth. In fact, if it we not for the principle of self ownership then the colonies would have had no legal basis for separating from Great Brittan. The political theory of the Divine Right of Kings asserted that self ownership was not a right of the people. Under the Divine Right of Kings the monarch had the legal right to the ownership of his or her subjects an thus could control every aspect of their lives if he or she so choose. The Declaration of Independence replaced the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings with the principle of self ownership because it stated that “all men are created equal” and "all men" obviously included the British monarch, King George, thus depriving him of his "right" to any authoritarian contol. 

The easiest way to illustrate the principle of self ownership is to give you the example of a man who owns a piece of land that sits next to your land. If you want to walk across his land you will have to ask his permission. He does not have to give you permission, but if he does, you will be allowed to use his land. You must ask permission only because the land you want to use does not belong to you; you do not own it and you have no right to it. Let’s say that after three weeks your neighbor decides he does not want you on his property anymore and he tells you to leave and never step foot on his land again. As the owner of the property, he can do this without any reason because he is the owner of the land; he is the supreme authority and he is sovereign over his property. You, however, can walk across, build fences on, dig holes in and burn your land if you choose to because you own it and you have the rights to it.

You do not need to ask permission to exercise your rights to your own property because you have a claim of ownership over it. So here is the main point: You only need to ask permission to use something you don’t own. If you find yourself asking permission to exercise what you're told is a right, then the reality of the matter is that it isn't really a right at all and ownership has been attributed to another person, a group of people or an organization. This principle led our founding fathers to acknowledge and proclaim that as the natural owners of ourselves, we all have a natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In 1689, a writer named John Locke wrote on this issue “Every man has a property in his own person. This no one has a right to but himself.” Locke, like our founding fathers, believed that as the owners of ourselves, we also the own of the fruits of our labor. In nature we find the raw materials that, in their natural state, have no real value to us. Value comes when we introduce creativity and labor to convert those raw materials into goods that we use to satisfy the necessities of life or pursuit happiness. For example, in the natural world we find apples that will satisfy our hunger or we might find the stones we need to build a house and satisfy our need for shelter. We may say that a stone house would make us happier than a wood house due to the attributes that stone may have over other raw materials such as wood.

The bottom line is that when it comes to physical resources, someone must own them and control them in order to put them to any use. That brings us to the question: Who owns these resources? Since we have determined that each individual owns himself or herself then the individual must rely on their freedom to extract raw materials from nature and that individual is then responsible for using labor and creativity to produce. The other option is that the right of ownership over resources belong to another individual like a king or to a group of people like congress, the IRS or the United Nations. I suppose that these resources could belong to everybody in the world and everybody in the entire human race could be given an equal share of them but I think we can all agree that that is not a reasonable plan, besides, who decides whether or not you get the one/six billionth piece of land on the beachfront in Florida or the one/six billionth piece of land in the middle of the Sahara dessert? In order to make that decision for you someone would basically have to make a claim of ownership over you in order to have the authority to tell you what you can and cannot have thus defeating the purpose of equality of ownership? That is why communistic ideas are bad for property rights and liberty in general. A communist government has nothing in common with the people and the resources and means of production are kept form the people and placed in the hands of another individual, a group of people.

The logical end is that individual ownership and control of property is the natural solution to ensure that our natural resources achieve their highest potential. Frederic Bastiat once said, “Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed before hand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”  What Bastiat is saying is that the purpose of government is to protect our individual right to own property from anyone who would attempt to deprive us of property. It is important to note that are own bill of rights is entirely based on the principles of ownership. For example, it is the principle of self ownership from which we derive our natural right to free speech. Simply because we can speak, it is self evident that we have a natural right to speak. All of our natural rights can be attributed to the right to own property and therefore property rights must be protected first and foremost. So here is the question we can ask about each piece of legislation to determine if our government is protecting our property and our liberty: “Is this law going to strengthen the principle of self-ownership and protect my liberty or does this law claim any ownership over me and infringe upon my liberty?”

To further note, the definition of freedom is simply the absence of coercion. In order to protect the people from foriegn coercion we have a military. In order to protect people from the domestic coercion of government, we have a system of laws under which everyone is equally accountable. The individual rights of the people to speak freely, own property and be free to pursuit happiness from the intrusive devices of government is the chief design of our form of government according to both the US Constitution and our Missouri Constitution. If the motivation to hold public office is any other reason that to fulfill the legitimate role of our government, then the motivation is misguided and and dangerous to the security of our freedom.