IPFS Dave Gallagher

Necessary Evil

More About: Philosophy: Libertarianism

Pyramids, Liberty and letting the government "fix" stuff

Modern advances have led us to believe, justifiably so, that we of this age can improve on practically anything. With our contemporary knowledge of manufacturing, science, medicine and even the human mind we venture to improve all aspects of our lives. Sometimes however, things are better left un-improved. Not for the sake of posterity, but simply because the original is sometimes just fundamentally better than the new and improved.

Twenty two years ago today, an international panel overseeing the restoration of the Great Pyramids in Egypt said enough already! In attempting to restore the Great Pyramids at Giza, it was discovered that modern materials and techniques were actually inferior to the original construction techniques employed over four thousand years ago. As it turns out the modern mortars were causing the limestone blocks, which had lasted thousands of years, to split and fracture. Frustrated at the lack of progress, the restoration panel made a decision to return to the original interlocking block construction after which the project proceeded smoothly.

So, you ask, why am I talking about pyramids in a column dedicated to pointing out how big, stupid corrupt government is wrecking our country, our money and eroding our freedom? Good Question. I am after all no expert on Egyptian architecture, nor do I have any real interest in the restoration of antiquities. I am however a very visual thinker and quite fond of the "analogy". In addition I always wanted to write one of those "on this day so many years ago…such and such happened…and here’s why you should care" pieces. So I figure now is as good a time as any.

Pyramids have long been iconic. If you haven't sent all of your dollars in to the IRS yet, take a look at one. On the back is the "Great Seal". The "B side" of the seal contains the pyramid with the spooky "eye of providence" in place of the capstone. Above the eye is the phrase “Annuit Cœptis” which refers to a nodding approval or "has approved our beginnings". This suggests that the Creator gave us the thumbs up when we started our quasi-libertarian experiment that was formalized July 4th 1776. I know this because at the bottom of the pyramid are a bunch of letters, namely MDCCLXXVI, which, are Roman numerals for "1776". Below the pyramid is the phrase "Novus Ordo Seclorum" which means "new order of the ages" or in today’s vernacular a "paradigm shift".

The general idea of the seal then is that the creator blessed this new order formally established when the patriots broke from the crown with the declaration of independence. In fact, designing this seal was one of the first orders of business on July 4th 1776. In a classic foreshadowing of the ineptness of government, the continental congress assigned the task to a committee… then another committee, then another. Finally, without a completed seal design, the project was turned over to the secretary of the Continental Congress who completed it by merging the various designs of the defunct committees.

I feel compelled to pause here and make an important point. That is to distinguish between the meanings of the word "patriot" which apparently had a very different connotation in 1776 than it does today. I say this because today patriots are generally thought to be drones, unquestioningly accepting and obeying whatever the president says. In contrast, the patriots of 1776 were people who signed a letter that said "Screw You George we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more"...or something to that effect.

Anyway, in this new order the declaration claimed that the government is derived from the consent of the governed and that its purpose is to secure the unalienable rights of the individual including but not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Given the governments of the time, it was quite a paradigm shift to suggest that the government works for the people solely to protect their God given rights. Considering that half of my waking hours today are spent working and that way too much of that work is to support the big, stupid, corrupt government that is wrecking our country, our money and eroding our freedom, I believe a paradigm shift may be as necessary today as it was in MDCCLXXVI.

In essence then the great seal celebrates a group of individuals standing shoulder to shoulder, presumably with God’s blessing, for the cause of liberty. Central to the design of the seal is the pyramid. The triangle is considered to be the strongest two dimensional shape known. A pyramid of course is a three dimensional triangle. Its architectural qualities were known to the Egyptians and to this day it is a symbol of great strength. Thus we return to the original topic...namely how to ruin the strongest structure known to man by trying to "fix" it.

The Declaration of independence set forth the ideas which would form the foundation for a group of individuals, united for the purpose of preserving their liberty, to govern themselves. Over time, trial and error led to a federal government defined in our constitution. If the United States are represented by the pyramid, the "interlocking stones" that provide the structural integrity are the individuals...united for the purpose of preserving their liberty. Some view the government as the agent of unity and protector in all areas of life. If there is a problem, they suggest, government must solve it. As often happens, these solutions create their own problems which we are told need yet more solutions. Government then begins to take over the responsibility that belonged to the individual. Or seen another way the people forfeit this responsibility. Rather than the time tested strength of interlocking stones we begin to see fractured stones needing to be held together. But the modern "mortar" of big government doesn’t strengthen the bonds that join us in liberty. Instead it causes us to become weaker.

Many, politicians and citizens alike, still think we just need more mortar…or the right kind of mortar. Perhaps however, as those trying to repair the great pyramids discovered, we should just return to a simpler idea. A group of individuals held together not by need of government, but by love of liberty.

Unless you are in the cement business, it's worth considering.