The Second Amendment is Under Siege

The White House has announced new plans on gun control. House Democrats are pushing another universal background check bill, and high-profile Republicans in both chambers of Congress are campaigning for a new federal grant program that would incentivize states to pass “red flag” laws. It is not overstating the case to say that there has never been a greater threat to due process and the Second Amendment.

“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when asked about last month’s shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Philadelphia.

Statements like this should infuriate the American people for multiple reasons. Never in American history have we seen our Second Amendment and due process rights under siege from so many different directions. In the midst of such a volatile and unprecedented situation, careless remarks like these from our nation’s leaders cannot be tolerated.

This is why, earlier this month, 40 of my colleagues in the South Carolina General Assembly joined me in a letter to President Trump and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott urging them to address the numerous factors that are being ignored on this issue, including the erosion of our civil liberties the dangers of gun-free zones.

Academic studies roundly demonstrate that more laws simply will not prevent mass shootings. On the contrary, the key to curtailing gun violence lies not in destroying our Constitutional liberties but in recognizing the sacred right of every law-abiding American to self-defense, both from violent crime and the threat of a tyrannical government.

Likewise, 94% of mass shootings actually occur in gun-free zones, according to research conducted by the Crime Prevention Center. Multiple studies elsewhere point to states and cities with the toughest anti-gun laws (such as Chicago and Washington, D.C.) as having the highest crime rates, rather than the other way around.

Our letter also points out the role the mainstream media holds in sensationalizing gun violence and setting a false narrative that violent crimes are on the rise. Just like the notion that gun-free zones make us safer, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, data gathered by the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that violent crime in the United States has steadily decreased since 1993.

I have taken an oath before God to defend the Constitution and am proud of my fellow legislators for joining me on this defining issue. Even with such a stirring display of unity, however, vigilance and courage will be demanded of us as the federal government’s crusade against our Constitutional rights continues.

To the elected officials across the U.S. who still believe in liberty: Now is not the time to stop fighting. President Calvin Coolidge warned that “it is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” The inevitable slippery slope that follows when government neglects due process is one that we cannot afford to fall down. I hope that this attempt to further destroy our liberties fails.

Originally appeared in Washington Examiner on September 26th, 2019

Fetal heartbeat will stand up in court

As state Rep. John McCravy has fought for the adoption of a stringent abortion ban in South Carolina, he’s called upon his Christian faith and conservative values to champion the cause.

But on Tuesday, at the start of a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee meeting that spent the day hearing public input on the Greenwood Republican’s H. 3020, which would effectively outlaw abortions after six weeks, the lawmaker adopted a different strategy.

“I’ve been an attorney for 35 years and I started out as a staff attorney for the Supreme Court of South Carolina, I’ve argued cases in every court in South Carolina, I’ve argued federal cases, and I’ve had a case go up to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, so I’ve had a chance to have some appellate experience,” McCravy said. “We believe that first of all, the informed consent provisions of this bill are clearly constitutional. No lawyer would argue that they are not.”

The “South Carolina Fetal Protection from Abortion Act,” which moved through the House last year, would make significant changes to existing law that would essentially bar abortions in the state.

Key provisions of the measure include:

• Requiring testing for a fetal heartbeat by ultrasound prior to an abortion being performed, and if one is detected, prohibiting the procedure

• Allowing a mother to see the ultrasound and notifying her if a heartbeat is detected — modifying existing informed consent law

• Advising a mother of the probability of a successful delivery once a heartbeat is detected; and

• Creating exceptions to the law in cases of an ectopic pregnancy or if a mother’s life is in danger or if a woman is the victim of rape or incest.

Because a heartbeat can be heart as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy, H. 3020 would drop the current threshold as to when an abortion can be performed to that level from its current 20-week ceiling.

“We believe that first of all, the informed consent provisions of this bill are clearly constitutional. No lawyer would argue that they are not,” McCravy said. “There’s also a consensus among medical experts, scientists, lawyers and ethicists that the standard of viability has changed, that we now know many more things about the unborn child that we did not know in the 1970s.”

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, asked McCravy how many other states have similar laws on the books.

“Do you know if any state that has passed a similar bill has gone into effect? Is it current law, or is it in current litigation,” Kimpson asked. Nine states have given approval to “fetal heartbeat” legislation, and all have been challenged in court.

McCravy said the issue is ripe for review by the United States Supreme Court.

“There’s a strong likelihood, we believe, that the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t overturn Roe v. Wade, they can change the viability standard to be measured by the heartbeat, which now has been proven by medical science to deliver a 90 to 95% probability of safe delivery,” McCravy said. “As we all know from a constitutional standpoint there are many, many cases decided in district court that are overturned by the Supreme Court, so until it gets to that point, we’re not going to have an absolute reading on it.”

McCravy wasn’t the only Lakelands-based witness to testify Tuesday.

“While not the beginning of life, the heart is a universally recognized indicator of life. In frantic elements and situations, we often hear, ‘can you find a pulse, is their heart still beating?’” said Greenwood pastor Tony Foster. “This is because science has already shown us a way to determine if someone is alive. The heartbeat bill stops discrimination against our preborn babies in the womb.”

Foster said he was particularly troubled by the more than 20 million black babies whose lives have been terminated since the early 1970s, drawing a question not only from Kimpson, but from state Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Columbia. Both are also black.

“When you mention that you’re in favor of this bill, you talked about the atrocities that would result, do you think it’s an atrocity for our legislature not to fund programs and support for the women and men who are giving birth? We talk a lot about heartbeats and life, and its interesting to me that we can be pro-life one day and pro-death the very next day,” McLeod said.

Foster said he is concerned with life at all stages and wasn’t able to testify in favor of the General Assembly passing landmark hate crime legislation last year because he was on a ministerial trip to England.

State Rep. Stewart Jones, R-Laurens, whose House District 14 includes a portion of Greenwood, said lawmakers have a moral imperative to adopt legislation such as H. 3020.

“It’s not about the state deciding, it’s not about the individual deciding, but it comes down to the issue that we as individuals in society have to stand for life. The basic premise of government is that we are going to protect and defend life,” Jones said. “I’m asking this body to stand for 3020, advance this cause Let’s protect and defend life. Give people the ability to have that self-determination.”

Red flag laws won’t stop mass shootings — ending gun-free zones will

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

True to that statement, many emotionally-charged politicians — including President Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas)— are now calling for so-called “red flag” laws. Also known as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (ERPOs), these laws allow for the confiscation of firearms without due process; this is unconstitutional and goes against the very fabric of our Republic, eroding both due process and a person’s natural right to self-defense.

Red flag laws have already been abused in various states and cases, having been passed in 17 states and Washington, D.C. since 1999. If passed at the federal level, it will be another blow toward our liberty, much like the indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA, warrantless wiretapping of the PATRIOT Act, metadata collection by the NSA, and the expansion of the unconstitutional FISA courts.

People should also be concerned that red flag laws will be used to target political adversaries and used against anyone that government officials may disagree with. President Trump, of all people, should know what it feels like to be wrongly targeted, as both the FBI and FISA courts were used against him when he ran for office.

That being said, it’s alarming to see him asking social media networks for help in targeting individuals that may pose a danger. Just think, if you’ve ever been in “Facebook jail” or banned from Twitter, you could be flagged.

And with a world more connected now more than ever before thanks to social media and instant news, it’s essential to realize the role that the mainstream media has played in sensationalizing mass shooting tragedies. According to data provided by the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crime rates have been in decline since the 1990s, despite rises in public perception of crime rates.

Among the many things ignored by the mainstream media are the countless incidents where a good person with a gun has prevented a tragedy, even though these positive incidents happen far more often than not.

This is why if elected officials truly want to help these situations, they must eliminate laws such as gun-free zones that restrict law-abiding gun owners from carrying in specific places. According to the Crime Prevention Center, since 1950, 94 percent of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones.

Similarly, the cities and states with the most extreme gun laws in the nation have some of the nation’s highest crime rates. These laws also led to dangerous situations that place both law enforcement and citizens in harm’s way.

The bottom line: Red flag laws are not just unconstitutional — they simply don’t work. We the people must realize that the government cannot be in all places to stop all crimes. Only a well-armed citizenry can act as a deterrent to both criminals and big government.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”

Government officials today should realize that they have no right to infringe upon an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. In fact, the Second Amendment does not give people any rights; these rights are already endowed by nature. The United States Constitution is unique because it bars the government from infringing on the pre-existing right to keep and bear arms.

As a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, I have had many conversations with constituents concerned about giving the government any more authority over our God-given right to keep and bear arms. With an alarming number of elected officials unable to see that the answer to the problem is more freedom, not less, we should never forget that the worst forms of genocide have always started with the erosion of due process and the confiscation of firearms.

Therefore, I’m calling on all elected officials to obey their Oath to the Constitution by defending the Bill of Rights and opposing any new attempts to pass red flag laws.

Stewart Jones is a state representative from South Carolina House District 14.

Originally appeared in The Hill.

Thumb’s Up for Stewart Jones in House District 14 Special Election

Republican Stewart Jones, as expected, won the special election in S.C. House District 14 and will succeed Mike Pitts, who served the district from 2012 until his retirement early this year.

Most of District 14 is in northern and western Laurens County. Unofficially, Jones received 1,932 votes to McDaniel’s 1,490, or, in terms of percentage, 56.41 to 43.50 percent.

Jones vowed to remain true to his north star of conservatism.

“My message is just like our founders,” Jones said. “Government at best is a necessary evil, and at worst, it’s intolerable. I will apply the same principles I applied on County Council. That means increasing transparency. We need greater accountability with our roads. Better schools that allow more choice. Limited government is efficient government.

“Government says it needs more money, more resources. Everybody needs more money, more resources. … I think, in a way, government has forgotten those principles. … Government spends money in some ways that I don’t agree with at all. If you make government more transparent, the vast majority of the population sees it, and then it pressures the state legislators to do the right thing.”

In a district of 20,271 registered voters, 3,444 cast ballots. Three were write-ins. The turnout was 16.99 percent.

Both candidates are members of Laurens County Council. McDaniel will remain. The next special election will be to succeed Jones, likely in late summer.

The race shifted from McDaniel to Jones as the votes coming in went from urban to suburban and rural. The Democrat won 126-27 in Laurens 1 and 156-15 in Laurens 4. GOP votes rolled in from Hickory Tavern, where Jones won by a 223-36 margin, and also in Maddens (156-70), Jones (19-2), Martins-Poplar Springs (49-11) and Greenpond (146-27).

Jones won Laurens 3, 5 and 6, but McDaniel won rural votes in Cross Hill and Waterloo.

The candidates met with their supporters afterward on opposite sides of the Laurens Square, with the victorious at Roma’s and the vanquished at the Witherspoon Building.

The electoral dynamics will change in 2020, when Jones will presumably be running in a general election. When asked if he might consider running again, McDaniel was a bit taken aback, amid the disappointment of defeat, that the question was posed.

“I don’t have any aspiration right now, but I haven’t ruled it out,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about it, to tell the truth.

“I have no regrets. I think we have a good message and that it has some resonance with the people.”

Speaking in behalf of the Laurens County Republican Party, chair Brenda Stewart said, “We are very excited about Stewart’s victory. The Democratic Party gave their best effort, even recruiting support from the national level, and they were still unable to flip this seat. This shows that, even with a well-organized campaign, the values of the Democratic Party are not consistent with the conservative values of Laurens County voters. We believe Stewart will be an excellent representative of those values in Columbia, and the voters have affirmed that this evening.”

Originally appeared in

Congressman Jeff Duncan Endorses Stewart Jones for House 14

Third District Congressman Jeff Duncan made a formal endorsement of Stewart Jones, the Republican nominee for the special election in S.C. House District 14.

Duncan, of Laurens, is also a Republican.

On April 23, Jones, a current member of County Council, is opposed by Democrat Garrett McDaniel in the election to succeed Rep. Mike Pitts, who retired.

District 14 mostly covers northern and western Laurens County, as well as part of Greenwood County.

Duncan spoke at a campaign dinner held on Saturday afternoon at The Clock of Laurens. Among other speakers were Pitts and Rep. Mark Willis, who represents sections of the county in District 16.

The speakers discussed the upcoming special election, voter participation and what issues the South Carolina Republican Party will focus on leading up to the 2020 election cycle.

Originally appeared in

Stewart Jones announces his candidacy for House District 14

Stewart Jones, who currently represents District 4 on Laurens County Council, has announced his candidacy for the S.C. House seat, District 14, being vacated by retiring Mike Pitts.

A lifelong Laurens resident, Jones is a graduate of Thornwell High School and Piedmont Technical College. He and wife Kelly, a Laurens District High School graduate, have two daughters, Lillie and Emma Grace.

“With the news of Rep. Mike Pitts announcing his retirement, I’d like to thank Mike and his family for their many years of service and sacrifice,” Jones said. “After much encouragement from the community and with the support of my family and friends, I’m excited to announce that I am seeking to serve House District 14 of South Carolina.

“Great strides have been made over the last four years in my first term on Laurens County Council. If elected to serve in the South Carolina House of Representatives, I will continue to stand for conservative values and apply the same proven methods for greater accountability of government that I have fought for in Laurens County.”

Jones founded his own company, Greenwood I.T., LLC, in 2010. He is an active member of the county Republican Party and Tea Party.

The special election to replace Pitts, who is retiring for health reasons, has been set for April 23, 2019. Filing opens on Dec. 28, and the primary has been scheduled for Feb. 19, with a runoff, if necessary, on March 5.

Originally appeared in

Why Indefinite Detention is Un-American

Governments throughout the vast majority of history have abused individual liberty and ignored basic safeguards like due process and habeas corpus.

June 15th, 2018, marked the 803 anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, a monumental moment for the advancement of liberty. Due process and trial by jury remain to be some of the most important safeguards for freedom against tyrannical government. The Magna Carta or “Great Charter” was signed on June 15th, 1215, when rebellious barons forced King John of England to agree to the most basic natural rights of the people. This included the first substantial guarantee of the writ habeas corpus, which “demands that a prisoner be taken before the court, and that the custodian present proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether the custodian has lawful authority to detain the prisoner.”

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.” -Habeas Corpus, Clause 39 of the Magna Carta, June 15, 1215

Of the 63 clauses in the Magna Carta, some of the most important are due process, trial by jury (or peers), and limits on the power of a king or government. The Magna Carta of 1215 was a monumental advancement in the struggle for human freedom and justice. American Revolutionaries would carry forth these ideas of liberty in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Patrick Henry once called trial by jury “the best appendage of freedom.”

Amendment V, U.S. Constitution—Due Process:  

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.                                                                                              

Amendment VI, U.S. Constitution—Speedy and Public Trial:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII, U.S. Constitution—Trial by Jury:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.        

Amendment VIII, U.S. Constitution—Prohibition of Cruel and Unusual Punishments:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison saying that

a bill of rights [should provide] clearly and without the aid of sophisms for… the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land and not by the law of nations.     

803 years after the signing of the Magna Carta and 242 years after the signing of the U.S Declaration of Independence, these cornerstones of liberty remain under attack from government officials that would gladly trade liberty for a false security.

On this anniversary of the Magna Carta, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina objected again (for the sixth year in a row) to even allowing a vote on the repeal or amendment to sections 1021 and 1022 in the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). These sections allow for the indefinite detention and the potential assassination of any person without any due process. The vaguely worded provisions use the war on terror to classify U.S. citizens and any suspected person as a potential “enemy combatant” under the “laws of war.” With no end in sight for the “war on terror,” these provisions allow for the abuse of any person’s right to due process.

While the NDAA is an annual defense appropriations bill, in recent times it has been used as an omnibus vehicle for unconstitutional usurpations with dangerous provisions similar to the (unpatriotic) PATRIOT ACT.

“If you’re lucky enough, clever enough to capture one of these bad guys, the last thing I want them to hear is that you have a right to a lawyer. You don’t. Under military law, no enemy prisoner has a right to a lawyer.” – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, June 12th, 2018

242 years ago, a member of the Virginia General Assembly and writer of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason wrote,

In all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers.

The unconstitutional indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA are based on authority granted for use of military force (AUMF) for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, sections 1021 and 1022 opened the door for the United States to be treated as a “battlefield” and allow the government to indefinitely detain and imprison any person by only accusations or suspicions of a crime without due process or trial by jury. This is dangerous to liberty.

“And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘shut up! You don’t get a lawyer.” –Senator Lindsey Graham on the indefinite detention provisions, December of 2011

In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson had a much different view and believed that “Freedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus” is one of the “essential principles of our government.”

Jefferson also wrote in 1798 to A. H. Rowen stating, “The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume.” This reaffirmed the idea of “unalienable rights” which applies to all people by the laws of nature.

Governments throughout the vast majority of history have abused individual liberty and ignored basic safeguards like due process and habeas corpus. In the grand scheme of history, liberty is still young.

Senator Graham’s blatant disregard for real justice is a continuance of an age-old tale of government neglecting individual liberty. Due process has been destroyed under the guise of “foreign danger” and war.  As a Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, James Madison said in June of 1787, 

The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

The indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA have the potential to be abused. These provisions essentially give government the ability to detain without trial or allowing for due process. This sets a very dangerous precedent of removing the burden of proof from the state.

When due process is ignored, it means that the government doesn’t have to prove anything. They simply have to accuse someone of a crime and secretly send them off to a prison or assassinate them. This goes against the very fibers of a civil and free society. We should never trade liberty for security, and we don’t have to!

“Trial by jury is part of a bright constellation which leads to peace, liberty, and safety.” – President Thomas Jefferson 

Originally appeared in FEE.

Will Tax Cuts Bring on Armageddon?

The hyperbole surrounding the inevitable effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ranges from lurid to outright laughable.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, “If this goes through, kiss life on earth goodbye. The debate on health care is life/death. This is Armageddon.” Senator Chuck Schumer said that “tax breaks don’t lead to job creation” and called the bill a “punch in the gut for the middle class.”

At least the left-leaning Tax Policy Center clarified that 80% of taxpayers are going to get a tax cut and on average would see a reduction of taxes by $1,600.

As Ludwig von Mises said, “Progressive taxation of income and profits means that precisely those parts of the income which people would have saved and invested are taxed away.”

The fact is that tax cuts and the lowering of tax rates are going to make a big difference in the lives of many people. Businesses are already announcing many positive plans to use that extra revenue productively.

Some of the announcements include:    

  • AT&T will see a tax reduction from a 32.7% rate down to a 21% rate. This prompted them to announce that all 200,000 employees will receive a $1,000 bonus.
  • Third Fifth Bankcorp announced that 13,500 employees will be receiving a bonus and minimum wage will be raised companywide to $15 per hour.
  • Wells Fargo also announced that they will be raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and that they will donate $400 million to charities and non-profits in the coming year.
  • Comcast announced it would be giving $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 employees and will be investing over $50 billion in broadband and network infrastructure.

And all of these announcements are only within hours of Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax reform package. It sure sounds like “Armageddon,” doesn’t it?

The market is already responding positively to the future tax cuts. The effects of these tax cuts are going to allow massive amounts of capital to foster new growth and investments and to create jobs. All of these announcements only reinforce the positive impact that reducing and even eliminating taxes can have.

Why does the government think that it owns or is entitled to the production and resources of businesses and individuals? Taxation of the fruits of one’s labor is by far the most egregious and morally wrong because it claims ownership of an individual’s time, productivity, and resources. In essence, income taxes of any type are a form of slavery.

Until the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world.

The income tax was first enacted in 1861 to fund the war between the states. By 1865, Congress had increased the tax from 3 percent to 10 percent. Congress finally allowed the income tax to expire in 1872. The first U.S. corporate income tax was then enacted in 1894 and rightfully deemed unconstitutional until the passing of the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913. Technically, it’s still unconstitutional, but that’s another matter.

The U.S. corporate income tax is at the root of why businesses and people have left the United States for a long time. This is just one of many taxes that businesses in the United States, and even abroad, face.

Until the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world. Lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent will undoubtedly help bring more capital and resources to the United States, and this will allow for the creation of new growth and wealth, not to mention the positive effects of lowering personal income tax brackets as well. 

One can only hope for the full repeal of the 16th Amendment eventually. Just imagine how much growth and new opportunities would occur if the corporate tax rate and income taxes were closer to, if not actually, 0 percent.

As Leonard Read pointed out, “Socialism takes and redistributes wealth, but is utterly incapable of creating wealth.” In other words, government is incapable of creating or actually producing anything. Everything government has was taken from someone else.

Why do some in government believe that they know how to grow the economy or even use an individual’s resources better than that individual or business? It really takes a certain level of arrogance for someone in government to tell the producers in an economy that they don’t know the best use of their own wealth or resources.

Lowering taxes and freeing the market is the greatest incentive for economic growth. When the government doesn’t confiscate their hard-earned money and property, people are more productive and happy. Economic growth, job creation, and real wage increases can only happen when government gets out of the way. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is definitely a step in the right direction towards lower taxes and less government. I hope that massive spending cuts are soon to follow.

UPDATE: The announcements continue to come in regards to lowering corporate tax rates.

Bank of America announced that they will be giving $1,000 bonuses to more than half of its employees; around 145,000 in total will receive the bonus said Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America.

Under the new tax plan, Apple Inc. will bring $252 billion of overseas money to the United States without a big tax hit.

Founder and CEO of GoDaddy Bob Parsons announced that he will be giving over $1.3 million in bonuses to employees as a result of the tax cuts and said, “On a massive scale, the lowered federal tax burden on businesses will increase investment, entrepreneurship, and corporate philanthropy.”

Originally appeared in FEE.

The World Isn’t Fiat Anymore

Just because Bitcoin is decentralized, that doesn’t mean it’s not regulated. It’s just not regulated by a central bank or government.

In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter that, “Paper is poverty. It is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.” Jefferson and the Founding Fathers understood the history and dangers of a government’s manipulation of money. They knew that kings and empires of the past had debased and devalued currencies, completely removing the accountability that precious metals enforced on governments.

While many items have served as mediums of exchange throughout history, governments and societies have consistently recognized gold and silver as legal tender. The problem is that governments and central banks have traditionally controlled currency in order to tax and control people. History shows that most governments had a gold and/or silver standard at its inception, but later deviated in order to impose complete tyranny on a society, the funding of war, and further taxation in general.

If Thomas Jefferson were here today, would he and other American revolutionaries support cryptocurrencies?

The Founders tried to hold government spending to sound money standards with Article 1, Sections 8 and 10 of the Constitution and the Coinage Act of 1792, which tied the dollar to a specific weight of gold and silver and recognized gold and silver as legal tender. However, these checks and balances were removed completely as time went on, which allowed for unprecedented levels of government debt and manipulation by the Federal Reserve.

If Thomas Jefferson were here today, would he and other American revolutionaries support digital cash and possibly even use cryptocurrencies?

In 1790, long before electronic computers were invented, Thomas Jefferson actually invented the first mechanical method to encode and decode secret messages, utilizing something called the Wheel Cipher. America’s third President understood and invented a secure way to utilize cryptography. Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Washington, Madison, and others used cryptography to code messages for secrecy against the British.

Cryptocurrency utilizes cryptography in order to securely alter data on the blockchain, known as the ledger. Cryptography is also used to encrypt and secure data in many different ways and applications today. Modern day encryption was influenced by Thomas Jefferson’s Wheel Cipher invention, an that invention was way ahead of its time.

In October of 2008, the white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto put the pieces together and built a new protocol, a peer-to-peer system for digital cash known as Bitcoin. While this technology is still very new, cryptocurrency actually has many of the same sound money characteristics as gold and silver.

In this exciting time, there are many use cases for various blockchain protocols that are being tested; however, cryptocurrency is the initial primary use of the blockchain. With over 1,000 cryptocurrencies competing at this time, Bitcoin is currently the best store of value, and others like LitecoinBitcoin Cash, and Dash are better for mediums of exchange. With this in mind, not all cryptocurrencies are the same.

We know that Thomas Jefferson and the Founders used cryptography to encode messages to keep the British from stealing the secrets of the American revolution. We also know that, for the most part, the Founders had a strict adherence to gold and silver standards. So, how do Bitcoin and top altcoins compare to the sound money properties of gold and silver?

“Specie is the most perfect medium, because it will preserve its own level; because having intrinsic and universal value, it can never die in our hands.” — Thomas Jefferson

Scarcity is a natural control on inflation and runaway government. Blockchain technology (which cryptocurrencies utilize) brings a new level of accountability to money and smart contracts, but also to many applications and processes that are in development. For example, the mathematical algorithm that calculates and verifies Bitcoin is hard-coded with controlled supply. This makes it impossible for central banks and/or governments to inflate it via quantitative easing.

Just because Bitcoin is decentralized doesn’t mean that it’s not regulated. It’s just not regulated by a central bank or government. It’s regulated by a mathematical algorithm which is computed and verified by mining computers.

For the first time in history, we have a decentralized system that isn’t susceptible to human emotion or the intentions of the state. Blockchain technology ensures that more money can’t be created out of thin air. Thomas Jefferson would definitely appreciate that cryptocurrency can “preserve its own level; because having intrinsic and universal value” of the blockchain and that “it can’t die in our hands.”

Fungibility is the property of a medium of exchange whose individual units are essentially interchangeable. In other words, how divisible the medium of exchange may be makes it easier to trade for specific amounts of value or goods and services. As an example, each Bitcoin can be divided into 100,000,000 satoshi, which is equivalent to .00000001 BTC.

Cryptocurrency is very fungible. I would argue that it’s even more fungible than gold because it’s much easier to divide units of Bitcoin for payments using a digital wallet than to divide physical units of gold or silver. It’s also never been easier, faster, or cheaper to send payments for goods and services around the world. It’s not easy, fast, or cheap to ship gold or silver.

Cryptocurrency is definitely still a very new technology. However, 2017 has been a monumental year with updates, forks, and overall improvements. Various competing cryptocurrencies are simplifying usability and working on making blockchain easier for everyone to use. This is leading to wider adoption. To put it in perspective, in January 2017 the total market capitalization for all combined cryptocurrencies was only $18 billion. As I’m writing this, it’s currently at $585 billion.

How durable is cryptocurrency? You may be thinking, but it’s just data! And you’re correct, it’s data that is not kept in just one location. The decentralized ledger that is maintained in the peer-to-peer network is extremely durable because it’s not housed in just one place.

Think about it like a single server running a network or website. If this server goes down then the website or network is out. Peer-to-peer networks have thousands of nodes (that act like a server) that ensure the integrity, security, and durability of a cryptocurrency. In this sense, it’s extremely reliable.

Scarcity, fungibility, and durability are some of the main characteristics that Bitcoin shares with gold and silver.

So, how can cryptocurrency be durable if you can’t physically hold it? Let’s compare 1 BTC to a digital document on a computer. What if the document is a deed signifying ownership of 1,000 acres of land? Is this an important, valuable document? Absolutely! Well, digital money can be thought of the same way.

There are also many different ways that you can store or use digital money. Hot wallets (like Exodus) can be downloaded to a computer, and they make it easy to send or receive digital money. Cold storage wallets (like Ledger) are great for added security and storing cryptocurrency for the long-term offline. Digital wallets are deterministic, which means they have a seed phrase that allows for easy backup and restoration in the event a computer or device crashes. It’s always a great idea to keep good backups. You can even print a paper wallet. So, not only is it durable but also versatile in how you can store it. There are many types of wallets that work great for using cryptocurrency. It’s best to always read reviews and see what’s working best for the needed cryptocurrency.

Scarcity, fungibility, and durability are some of the main characteristics that Bitcoin (and some other cryptocurrencies) shares with gold and silver, which have stood the test of time as solid standards of value and exchange.

“The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” — Thomas Jefferson

While the concept of digital money can be hard to comprehend, the technology that utilizes blockchain for money like BitcoinBitcoin CashLitecoinDash, and many others is essentially creating stable, fungible sources for economic value and mediums of exchange. This recent and new-found technology is gaining traction, and it aims to achieve a greater level of economic freedom than the world has ever known.

2017 has been a truly revolutionary year for both money and technology.

Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and technology that utilize blockchain are quickly revolutionizing not only how people can trade, but also who can trade. This money revolution will ultimately put greater freedom in the hands of consumers, removing the manipulation and coercion of governments and central banks. At the very heart of this matter, the market is solving an age-old problem of government controlling an individual’s property and resources.

Thomas Jefferson and the Founders did not have this blockchain technology and, therefore, tried to rely on strict standards of gold and silver as the basis for a medium of exchange and store of value. Nakamoto’s invention uses cryptography to ensure a secure, fast, universal, and decentralized medium of exchange that is also a store of value. Putting that in perspective really shows how magnificently important these new innovations with blockchain technology truly are.

While I can speculate about what Thomas Jefferson may have thought about cryptocurrency, one thing is for sure, and that is that 2017 has been a truly revolutionary year for both money and technology. I can’t help but think that, someday, people will look back and think of Satoshi Nakamoto and all the great innovators of the blockchain as the founders of this wonderful invention that allowed for a revolution of money and the advancement of the entire world.

Originally appeared in FEE.