Assumptions

Column by Paul Hein.

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Our lives are, to a large extent, based upon assumptions. Many of them are obvious: the assumption that the sun will rise in the morning, or that the car will start when you turn the key. The validity of these assumptions has been shown hundreds of thousands—millions—of times. They have become less assumptions and more statements of fact.

Other assumptions are less general, more personal. For instance, I assume when I head west on Interstate 70 to visit my sister in Denver, that she—and Denver—will be there, because I have personally verified this many times.

Of course, not all assumptions are valid. A visitor to my house might think, on seeing the piano, that I can play it. I can give ample evidence of the invalidity of his assumption by a few moments at the keyboard. Similarly, if I were found, gun in hand, standing over the corpse of a person recently shot to death, a reasonable assumption might be that I shot him. However, I could point out that my gun had not been fired, that there was no gunpowder residue on my hand, and that the caliber of my gun did not match the bullets removed from the deceased, thereby giving proof--evidence--that the assumption was false.

In other words, assumptions are not automatically correct, even if seemingly reasonable, and made by authoritative figures. It is important to realize this, because the most formidable and dangerous organization we have to deal with--the group of individuals calling themselves government--operates almost entirely upon assumptions.

A fundamental assumption of these people is that, because they were elected, they have jurisdiction over you and your property which exceeds your own! As a result, they write down their desires--usually involving projects they would like to see in operation, funded by others--and call them “laws.” There is not the slightest doubt in their minds that they have the authority to do this, because it is written down in their “laws.” And the laws are certainly valid because they say so, and the “laws” say that they have to be obeyed. All assumptions! A similar assumption, this time on the part of the people, is that they are, somehow, subject to the jurisdiction of these strangers.

Here in the suburb of St. Louis where I live, state “laws” are created by 167 strangers about 110 miles away in Jefferson City. (Of course, there are also municipal and county “laws.”) I have no idea what written wishes they put on paper today (i.e., “laws”) but whatever they were, it is fully expected that I obey them. Indeed, it is expected that I will have great respect for them, and never, ever, take them into my own hands, although that would seem a perfect place for them. They are, so to speak, sacred, and to be accepted as such by us lowly non-legislators. This is the great assumption upon which government is based. And, indeed, it is an assumption taken to be valid by many, including, for many years, myself. I am embarrassed to admit that it is only in my dotage that I suddenly had an epiphany: Why should I concern myself with what this bunch of strangers want? What are their desires, written or not, to me? Am I to believe that the wishes of these strangers regarding my person and property should carry greater weight than my own wishes regarding them? Why in the world would I believe that?

Like all assumptions, the assumption that officious strangers have jurisdiction over us should be verifiable through some proof, some evidence. A person may assume he could beat me at arm-wrestling, but if that assumption were challenged, he would have to prove it--which, I suspect, he could do easily.

In the fall, we will receive the annual demand from the property tax collector for thousands of dollars. I calculate that since we moved into this house, we’ve paid the property tax man more than we paid the builder who built the house for us. This parasite obviously assumes that he is entitled to whatever he demands. That assumption is understandable, because he almost always get it! I’ve asked him if he has any evidence—any proof--that we have somehow become subject to him and his demands. No answer so far, but it’s only been a few weeks. We both know, of course, that his demand is backed by force, but I doubt that he will admit it. Indeed, the use of force, or the threat of it, is an acknowledgement of the emptiness of his demands; an admission that he differs from an ordinary thief only by virtue of the fact that his gang has authorized him to steal via the “law” which they have written, and which they assume--sadly, with justification--that the people will take seriously.

What most people assume probably means little to you. What the Rulers assume, however, affects every aspect of your life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they had to verify, with some evidence or proof, that they were entitled to what they want by something more than their insistence? Would it hurt to ask? Is is somehow preposterous to demand of strangers demanding your property that they prove, not simply claim, that they are entitled to it?

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Columns on STR: 107