Individual Rights and Individual Liberty vs the Police Power of Government

To understand the proper role of government in people’s personal lives you must first understand the concept of Individual sovereignty. Individual sovereignty, or Individual rights, is one of the things the Constitution, and by extension the government, is supposed to protect in lives of American citizens. These rights were referred to by the founders and western philosophers of that day as “Natural Law” or “natural rights.” If these statements are true, as this essay will address, then the government would have no authority-in most circumstances-to interfere in a person`s life regarding issues which are not criminal in nature, even if, they are morally questionable by the society as a whole.

The concept of Natural Law, in short, is the belief that all rights are God given—or natural—people are born with these rights intact and no government, no individual man, or, group of men can give them or take them away. Obviously, there are only a few societies in the world today who believe in, or respect, this philosophy; moreover, most believe quite the opposite in that they believe rights are granted by government, or, a ruling body of men.

The greatest, or perhaps easiest, example of this philosophy of natural rights would be found in the Gay and Lesbian community. Under the concept of ‘Natural Laws’ these men and women should be afforded the right to a “Civil Union” to protect themselves and their assets as any other married couple does; however, they should not use the police power of government to force others in society—who view their lifestyle to be immoral—to except their lifestyle choices. In short—“live and let live.”

Another example, in regard to the proper use of government, would be the issue of smoking in public. It has now been proven that second hand smoke is at the very least unhealthy to breathe even if it does not contribute to cancer-which still remains a legitimate concern.  The government is able to use its police powers to protect one citizen from another; meaning, it should be unlawful (and in some cities it is already unlawful) and enforceable by government to smoke in public as it impedes on the health of another citizen. This is a proper use of the government’s police powers; however, the people of the United Sates, under the Constitution, have all the rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution.

Now, the question of taxation is also a very real concern when one looks at the philosophy of natural rights. To what extent should government use its police power to-in essence-confiscate private wealth through the Internal Revenue Service? At what point does this police power become intrusive and immoral? What should be the limit, in terms of a percentage, that any citizen should pay into the system? At present, these questions remain unanswered but are just as relevant (and are absolutely akin to) as the question of personal interference at a non-criminal level. Government police powers should be held at bay at as many levels as possible, and, in as many areas as possible to protect the concept of individual liberty as a whole.

In conclusion, the citizens of any society which is free should refrain from electing politicians or leaders who use the police power of government to infringe upon the natural rights of another citizen. Government should not interfere in personal behavior which is non-criminal, or, does not pose a threat in any way to another citizen’s life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.