It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong
The Case for Personal Freedom
by Andrew P. Napolitano
Where Do Our Rights Come From?
After a trip to the American Midwest in 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, then the ruler of the Soviet Union, became convinced that corn could solve many of the USSR’s economic woes. Russia had long struggled with miserably inadequate food supplies, the result of years of inept Communist agricultural policies. Having witnessed the wild success of corn production in America, Khrushchev reasoned that the grain could be equally successful in Russia, and thus support increased meat and dairy production necessary to feed the population. He therefore commanded that vast swaths of land, including the frigid tundra of Siberia, be converted to corn crops. As it turned out, corn was entirely unsuitable to the Russian climate, and the plan was a complete disaster.
The reason, of course, that the policy failed was Khrushchev’s ignorance of the immutable fact – the self-evident truth – that corn can only be grown under certain conditions, and Russia’s climate did not provide them. The cost of this misjudgment was wasted resources and prolonged hunger. It is obvious that politicians must enact laws which are in accord with such “truths.” If they do not, then the inevitable consequence is human suffering. There are some things which humans and their constructed governments simply cannot change; that is to say, those things transcend our human capacities and cannot be the object of our will. Individuals and governments are thus always secondary and subject to these truths.
What are these truths, but “natural laws”? What other laws are there, with which human commands must accord? As we shall see, there are natural rights every human possesses by virtue of being human which protect our essential “yearnings” from government interference. And as we shall also see, manmade laws are only valid to the extent that they comport with and are subject to these natural rights. This is all known as the Natural Law.