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Letter to the Editor

As I recall it was Ronald Reagan who once quipped, “The nine scariest words in the English language are – I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Well, here we go again. The government finds a problem, blows it up into a panic, then offers a solution as only a government can: More deficit spending and draconian policies that give government more power and the people less FREEDOM. (I have decided that use of the word FREEDOM is becoming so scarce it should be presented in all capitals to jog our memories of its importance). And when will we learn that marching in lock step to government edicts like good little Hitler youth is not the same as being a patriotic American. Soon they will have us standing in front of the television set each morning and reciting the pledge of allegiance along with Siri, perhaps standing inside a little blue tape box that we are ordered to place on the floor by the CDC or a state governor. And whatever happens, no matter how much fiat money the FED prints or how much of your retirement savings they inflate away, everything will be fine – so long as you get your mandatory vaccine full of toxins, a tracking micro-chip provided by a billionaire computer salesman, and promise to be afraid of all of your neighbors and friends, because they might have the next pandemic germ. Sorry, no more handshakes and hugs allowed, or it’s off to the slammer for you. Really??

As a Cadet at West Point back in the 1970s, I had the privilege of performing in the first amateur stage production of the Broadway musical “1776”, playing the role of John Adams. That experience led me to a keen interest in the lives and times of our founders, and the products of their service and genius, our Declaration and Constitution. Researching the values of the American Revolution became a hobby which lasted many years throughout my military service. And what was the overarching principle that impressed me most – to secure individual FREEDOMs for the people (no matter how challenging and imperfect the implementation turned out to be).

As an Army Officer during the next few decades, I was always aware of the solemn oath which I swore to uphold as a condition of my commission. Most of us have heard it many times: “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” meaning, among other things, defend the organization of our society and secure the FREEDOMs enumerated in the Bill of Rights. From the federal military to the local cop on the beat, versions of the same oath are sworn – “Protect and defend”. 

Then there was Law School in the 1990s. Since graduating I have always kept a pocket copy of the US Constitution on my desk at home. In school my favorite subject was Constitutional Law. It’s pretty much the main thing that makes America uniquely great, a nation of unique FREEDOMs. So let me take a stab at what I was taught. Local government, state government and federal government….are not one monolithic enterprise. It is not a chain of command, like in the units of our military. And they are not separate from society – elected servants in government are also civilians. Each link is a separate entity, which may cooperate with the others, but have no obligation to one another, except that they all are subordinate to our Constitution, our ‘Supreme’ Law of the Land. And each is, at least in theory, a government of, by and for the people – which is why key officials in each government are hired by the people via elections. They are hired by the people. So the people are the boss and the public servants are the hired employees.

And so you see – local elected ‘public servants’ are not subordinate to other ‘public servants’ at the state or federal level. A Mayor does not work for the Governor or the President. A Mayor works for the people who hired him. The people are his ‘boss.’ A Sheriff does not work for the State Police or the FBI…he works for his only boss – the people who elect him.

Therefore, Presidents don’t order Governors about. And Governors don’t order Mayors about. Only the people can do that. And only legislated laws which comport with the limits of the Constitution can be imposed at any level. In fact, as I see it, local public servants really have only two main purposes – to manage common infrastructure for the people (this includes supervising subordinate employees – like a business manager who runs the business for the owner); and for those in the public safety arena, to protect the public’s rights under our highest law (the Constitution) from others in or out of government who would violate those rights (Now that’s what I call ‘Law Enforcement’ – protecting and serving). Their job is not to tell us how to live. Not even if it’s for our own good. Not to paternalistically force us to be healthy or safe. We, the bosses, the OWNERS of the county, can make those decisions for ourselves thank you. 

Ah, but what to do when the state or the federal servants call our mayor and attempt to persuade him to ‘go along’ with their agenda, perhaps by threatening to withhold funding from this or that grant? Easy. The mayor need only remind them that our rights are not for sale or lease. Might that be inconvenient? Perhaps, but not nearly as inconvenient as having our economy forced to close down and our people put under an “unconstitutional house arrest” or “medical martial law.”  This is where Mr. Rogers would ask “Can you say tyranny. Sure you can.” 

With this in mind, as one of the thousands of owners/bosses in Douglas County, I commend our County and Town ‘public servants’ for the restraint which they have exercised during the currently alleged Covid-1984 pandemic. While the Mayor, the Sheriff, the police chief, the Aldermen and the Commissioners have not exactly challenged the mandates of the state and federal ‘public servants,’ at least they have so far mostly avoided adding to those mandates. I sincerely hope that this restraint on their part will endure. They are clearly in a difficult position, as they must feel like they have to ‘do something’ even though the only thing to do is to remain calm and encourage others to stay calm as well. While I do not know them all personally, I have a strong impression that they are all good men, who care deeply about Ava and Douglas County – so I have faith that they will all try their best to do the right thing and honor their oaths as servants of the public and above all else, protectors of our FREEDOMs. 

This, after all, is why our family moved to Douglas County a decade ago – to get away from the cities for the good life here in the Ozarks, and to be left alone, especially by ‘public servants’ at all levels. So far, it has turned out to be a good decision. 

We believe that this virus will run its course through the population just like the thousands of previous viruses, including the ones that have been lied about and exaggerated in the recent past by the same folks on our TV sets who are whipping up the panic again. Business closures, home confinement for all but the sickly, and masks and ‘social distancing’ will only slow it down. There is another way to look at that – this will make the panic and its harmful effects on our economy and our FREEDOMs last much longer. My guess is that in the end, the countries with ‘lockdown’ fever will have the greatest percent of deaths, and those that exercised restraint will do much better. (We’re keeping an eye on Sweden?)

In my working life I have been an employee and I have been a boss. I always had this crazy idea that in a free market society, the boss tells the employees what to do. And the employees don’t tell the bosses what to do. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we, the citizens, the taxpayers, the owners of Douglas County, of Missouri, of America, are still the bosses? Or did I miss something? Because it sure seems that our state and federal level ‘public servants’ think that they are now the bosses. According to my pocket copy of the Constitution, they are incorrect. There is no clause anywhere in the Constitution that says that in a time of emergency or war or panic (as declared by the servants in government) the Bill of Rights can be disregarded. Nope. No exceptions. And I might even suggest that during emergencies is when we need to exercise those rights the most!

I hope this letter clears a few things up. 

Yes, those persons who are at extreme risk, the aged and infirm, should exercise common sense, as we all do every flu season without government assistance. And while I respect everyone’s right to handle this year’s flu season with whatever methods you choose, such as masking or distancing, if you see me around town, please feel free to come closer to me than six feet and shake my hand. Howdy neighbor. I do not and will not live in fear.

I started with a quote, so I’ll close with one. I believe it was Voltaire who said: “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere”.

LIVE FREE and open carry often.

Bob Urban 

Owner of a tiny piece of Douglas County.

PS:  I wonder how many pocket Constitutions you can buy with a $1,200 federal government handout. 

PPS: If I don’t have the legal or moral authority to make my neighbor stay home or wear a mask or not use the kiddy playground in the public park, and since in America, all government powers are supposedly derived from the people, how can the people delegate a power to government that they themselves do not possess? 

From: Bob Urban, RR6 Box 6738 Ava, 417-683-0272