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The Examined Life

  • What I Find Very Disturbing About Americans and the Connecticut Shootings

    By now, everyone has heard of the atrocious and deplorable elementary school shootings that occurred in Newtown, Conn, that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children, 6 teachers, and the shooter – Adam Lanza.

    In the wake of this horrible and inexcusable tragedy comes another tragedy no less severe: the American people’s complete indifference to the same wholesale slaughter committed upon other groups of children by a faction of our own military. Said one meme circulating on Facebook,

     What I find most disturbing about the Connecticut shooting is that it reveals an essential truth about this county: people are only outraged because it was a massacre that was not sanctioned by the state.

  • Liberty, Not Legislated Morality, Leads to Human Excellence

    Originally published on Libertas Institute, December 4, 2012.


    “The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be” (Lao-Tzu). 

    “The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government” (Tacitus).

    Everyone has a philosophy. The question is whether it is a good philosophy that leads to a consistent, objective, and systematic way of thinking, or a bad philosophy that leads to subjective thinking and cognitive dissonance. In a recent article published by the Sutherland Institute on the supposed evils of marijuana decriminalization, the Institute’s president, Paul Mero, demonstrates a clear case of bad philosophy, and exemplifies what is currently wrong with Utah political thinking in general.

  • Locke, Benson, and Bastiat

    Originally posted with an audio recording on LDS Liberty here on August 19, 2010.


    Many people have wondered what correlation there is, if any, between John Locke’s and Ezra Taft Benson’s principle concerning the proper role of government. Locke asserts a primary state of nature wherein all men are at perfect liberty to act according to the laws of nature, and that it is government’s responsibility outside the state of nature to maintain the natural principles of life, liberty, and property. Benson agrees with Locke and promotes the ideals of Frederic Bastiat that explicate the necessary principle of individual rights and duties wherein all government power originates.

  • Congressman Ron Paul: Farewell to Congress

    On November 14, 2012, Congressman Ron Paul concluded his public service in Washington D.C. that spanned over 36 years (23 years of which were spent in public service) with his final speech given on the House floor. While speaking of government, Congressman Ron Paul’s message is not one of politics — but of “the plain truth of things”.

    This man’s consistent example, message, and address will go down in the annals of history as one of the most important testaments to the name of liberty that has ever been known. Read his final address below. 

  • What Good is a Petition?

    As of my writing this, there are approximately 675,000 Americans from every state in the Union who have digitally petitioned the White House to allow their state to secede from the United States of America. In other words, there are the beginnings of a movement that seekito break up the United States as we know it.

    On its face, I support secession as a principle of individual liberty and sound Constitutional government. If government goes beyond its authority, it is the right of the people to either remove themselves from the association of that government or to abolish it altogether.

    That said, the current movement to secede is an endeavor in fruitlessness.

  • The Twelfth Article of Faith and Obedience to the Law

    Originally posted on LDS Liberty here.

    [A podcast of our interview with the author on this topic can be found here.]


    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying honoring, and sustaining the law.

    The Twelfth Article of Faith is a standard of religious compliance and belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically regarding every member’s obligation to be subject to the laws of their country and to their leaders. Many interpret this Article of Faith to mean absolute compliance to all laws enacted within a political mechanism, while others have used this article to justify a higher principle of natural rights, justice, and morality.

    Grammar of the Twelfth Article of Faith

    This particular Article of Faith is commonly misread to include a coordinating conjunction that is not actually found and which dramatically changes its meaning when added. Most quote theTwelfth Article of Faith to read, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents rulers, and magistrates, [and] in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” The coordinating conjunction “and,” however, does not exist in the actual text. This is important because, grammatically, the coordinating conjunction changes the meaning of this passage.

  • Flaxen Cord Dependency

    This article was published on on October 25, 2012, and an audio recording is available here.


    Recently, a very accommodating and encouraging Lieutenant from the Provo Police Department showed up at our neighborhood’s first Neighborhood Watch in years. We have recently experienced a small crime wave in our neighborhood, as mostly unlocked cars were robbed and a few neighbors experienced backyard trespassers. Present at the gathering were several of us who wanted to take personal responsibility to patrol our own neighborhood at night. I live in a very good close-knit neighborhood, and my neighbors and I are all both shocked at the recent criminal activity and concerned for our neighbors’ well-being.

    There are several concealed-weapon-permit holders in my neighborhood and others who sometimes open carry, all of whom carry on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. I say this to illustrate the fact that my neighborhood is very conscientious in taking personal responsibility for its own problems.

  • Realizing True Personal Responsibility and Individual Accountability

    This article was published on, on August 2, 2012, and an audio recording is viable here.


    Both sides of the political aisle claim a near monopoly on accountability and responsibility while demonizing the “other side” for its irresponsible behavior. These ideals, however, have changed meaning throughout the years. Whereas individual accountability and personal responsibility meant taking care of one’s own business, and accepting the consequences and effects of one’s own actions, these concepts now come in the form of more legislation, stricter regulations, and more government involvement in the lives of the individual. True responsibility and accountability enhance individual liberty, yet in our current society, social and political accountability and responsibility are unnecessarily (and improperly) enforced at the expense of individual liberty.

  • Why Utahns, and Everyone Else, Should Vote 3rd Party


    In a previous post, I argued for the need to “shift Overton’s Window” by voting 3rd party, as a significant and realistic way of pulling the window of social acceptance back to a discussion of liberty and freedom.

    Today, America is staring down the barrel of a loaded double-barrel shotgun and is asking herself which single barrel she should look down to injure her less when it inevitably goes off. It is time to stop looking down the barrel of this shotgun and actually vote – for those who so choose—to change America. It is time to vote 3rd Party.

    Voting 3rd Party in Utah

    There is a realistic strategy to voting 3rd Party in Utah. Utah, like most states, doesn’t count write-in votes. This is to say that Utah only counts names on the ballot in its tally of the 100% voting. If those who wish to show a statistical significance in their 3rd Party vote, they must needs cast a vote for someone on the ballot. A vote for Ron Paul, for instance, will not be counted – period. However, a vote for Gary Johnson or Virgil Goode, because they are actually on the ballot as candidates from their respective parties, will be counted.

  • The Importance of Philosophy to Individual Liberty

    This article was published on, on July 3, 2012, and an audio recording is viable here.


    I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in philosophy. I consider myself a philosopher. As a student I learned that philosophy is of two types: (1) good philosophy, and (2) bad philosophy. Bad philosophy is, sadly, far more prevalent than good philosophy, and when most people think of philosophy in general (synonymous to “ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth”) they think of bad philosophy.

    Good philosophy’s purpose is to present a consistent worldview, as we find the proper relationships and balances of man’s place in this world. Whereas bad philosophy results in cognitive dissonance, good philosophy leads to consistency in thought. Whether we admit it or not, we all have a philosophy (i.e. a view of the world, a justification for how we know that world, and what ethical relationships we accept from that discovery). The endeavor of knowledge is to have a good philosophy that leads to a discovery of truth.