Our Fuzzy Social Contract

A social contract is an agreement between citizens and their ruler. It defines the rights and duties of both the ruler and their citizens. Social contract theory is a notion that denotes an implicit agreement within a state regarding the rights and responsibilities of the state and its citizens. All members within a society are assumed to agree to the terms of the social contract by their choice to stay within the society without violating the contract. A violation would mean an attempt to return to the state of nature.

Of many social contract theorists, the United States closely follows John Locke, which affects the United States citizens. The U. S. Constitution is a social contract and the founders used John Locke’s social contract theory to base their Constitution on. Most people support the U. S. Constitution and social contract theorist, John Locke; they feel there are positive effects of borrowing John Locke’s ideas in the U. S. Constitution. Robert Alexander discusses the negative effects of the U. S. Constitution on the United States citizens.

Robert Alexander’s article ” fuzzy social contract,” is featured in Bart Kosko’s book Fuzzy Thinking. By following Locke’s theories and ideas, there has been an overall negative effect on the United States citizens. The U. S. Constitution picked up on John Locke’s idea of private property. “Locke proposed a labour theory of property that built on the idea of natural law. By mixing his labor with an object, a person then owns that object. However, labor also set the bounds of private property because, under the labor idea, a person could only own that which could be enjoyed and used.

By these bounds, the economy should run efficiently because property will not be wasted, spoiled, or hoarded. ” Private property means people own their land over the state, which is essential to capitalism. Capitalism is an economic and political system in which private owners control a country’s trade and industry for profit, rather than by the state. Many people feel that the U. S. government cannot take private property away or have any control of its citizen’s property. According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution infers “I will surrender to the Government a percentage of my property.

The actual percentage will be determined by the Government and will be subject to change at any time. The amount to be surrendered may be based on my income, the value of my property, the value of my purchases, or any other criteria the Government chooses. To aid the Government in determining the percentage, I will apply for a Government identification number that I will use in all my financial transactions” (Mitchell 353). Also, according to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution infers “The Government may hold me fully liable if I fail to abide by the above terms.

In that event, the Government may confiscate any and all property that I have not previously surrendered to it, and may imprison me for a period of time to be determined by the Government. “(Mitchell 353). The U. S. Government can seize property of criminals or people in debt. Also, the government enforces property taxes. U. S. founders borrowed John Locke’s idea of giving up rights for others. The Draft is the U. S. compulsory recruitment for military service and conscript for military service during a war. In the 1970’s, we banned the draft.

Many people feel that the United States government cannot reinstate or have the power to have a draft. “should the Government demand it, I will surrender my liberty for a period of time determined by the Government and typically no shorter than two years. During that time I will serve the Government in any way it chooses, including military service in which I may be called upon to sacrifice my life” (Mitchell 353). So although the draft is banned today, the government can order a draft tomorrow. U. S. founders borrowed John Locke’s idea on natural rights in the Constitution.

Many people feel the U. S. offers many freedoms regarding speech. According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution implies ” Also, the Government will permit me to speak freely, subject to the limits of the Government’s Congress and Supreme Court” (Mitchell 353). The US Supreme Court has spoken of the ability to criticize government and government officials as “the central meaning of the First Amendment. ” New York Times v. Sullivan. But “guarantees for speech and press are not the preserve of political expression or comment upon public affairs, essential as those are to healthy government.

” in Time, Inc. v. Hill. Basically, you can’t criticize the government or government officials. Dr. Elsebeth Baumgartner currently faces up to 109 years in prison in the U. S. state of Ohio for her criticism of, and accusations of corruption against, government officials in Ohio. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates “indecent” free-to-air broadcasting. It can issue fines if, for example, the broadcaster employs certain swear words. Radio personality Howard Stern has been a frequent target of fines.

The Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy increased the political pressure on the FCC to vigorously police the airwaves. In addition, Congress increased the maximum fine the FCC may levy from US$268,500 per incident to US$375,000. US courts have ruled that the First Amendment protects “indecent” porn from regulation, but not “obscene” porn. Obsene porn includes hard-core porn and child porn, which is illegal. Hardcore material is legal at the Federal level unless it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which is rare. Under the George W.

Bush, enforcement of federal obscenity laws has increased. People convicted of distributing obscene porn face long prison terms and asset forfeiture. In 1996, Congress passed Communications Decency Act, with the aim of restricting porn, but Supreme Court rulings have struck down much of the law. Although many people feel we have freedom of speech, there is censorship. “John Locke believed in a right of rebellion against tyranny, believing that people contracted with one another for a particular kind of government, and that they could modify or even abolish the government.

” Citizens voluntarily create a state to safeguard their rights, but if the state is tyrannical, people can rebel. According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution implies “the Government will attempt to protect my life and my claim to the property it has allowed me to keep. I agree not to hold the Government liable if it fails to protect me or my property” (Mitchell 353). In the , the government banned rebellion citing it as treason. The ideas of John Locke led to an elected, representative democracy in the United States.

John Locke believed a government should although, most people feel our society is purely democratic, but it is not. Pure democracy is comprises a form of democracy where sovereignty is in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. The assembly can pass decrees, make laws, elect and dismiss officials, and conduct trials, depending on the system. The U. S. is a republic, which has a representative democracy. In a representative democracy the people do not vote on most government decisions directly, but select representatives to a governing body or assembly.

The sovereignty is held by a subset of the people, elected periodically, but otherwise free to advance their own agendas. According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution implies “The Government will determine whether I may vote for certain Government officials. The influence of my vote will vary inversely with the number of voters, and I understand that it typically will be minuscule. I agree not to hold liable any elected Government officials for acting against my best interests and/or for breaking promises, even if those promises motivated me to vote for them.

“(Mitchell 353). Although many people feel comfortable with our current voting situation, there are problems they have over looked. The founder of the U. S. did not trust the common citizens or the masses. The founders created the Electoral College, which is over the popular vote. There are only four times in United States history that a candidate had won the Presidency because of electorial college, while losing the nationwide popular vote: Andrew Jackson, George W. Bush, Rutherford Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison. Because of the electoral college, presidents are elected by Congress.

A president needs 270 votes from the , as stipulated in the Constitution. In the Twelfth amendment, if no candidate hit 270, the election would go to the House of Representatives. The Constitution provides the House of Representatives, one vote for President, regardless of population in the state. In the 2000 election, New Hampshire’s voters gave voted 48% for Bush, and 47% for Gore. All of New Hampshire’s electoral votes, however, went to Bush. The U. S. has a two-party system, which causes other parties to not be able to get enough electoral votes. The social contract is renegotiable.

According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution implies “I also agree that the Government may alter the terms of this Contract at any time at its own whim”(Mitchell 353). The government has created bills or laws that are against the people’s will. U. S. founders borrowed John Locke’s idea on natural rights in the Constitution. Many people feel the U. S. offers many freedoms regarding behaviors, drugs, and sexuality. According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution implies “I will limit my behavior as demanded by the Government. I will consume only those drugs permitted by the Government.

I will limit my sexual activities to those permitted by the Government’s definition of propriety. More limits may be imposed at any time”(Mitchell 353). U. S. founders borrowed John Locke’s idea on natural rights in the Constitution. Many people feel the U. S. offers many freedoms concerning employment. According to Robert Alexander, the U. S. Constitution implies “in consideration for the above, the Government will permit me to find employment, subject to limits that will be determined by the Government. These limits may restrict my choice of career or the wages I may accept” (Mitchell 353).