Don’t Panic! . . . Read.

2017 Reading – 1

Reading ranks as one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I do. I enjoy learning new things, so I read non fiction. I get a thrill out of good fiction, so I read fiction. And to be completely honest, I think I enjoy being able to mentally pat myself on the back for reading difficult things, so that’s an added benefit to much of what I read. For instance, last year, I read Dostoevsky’s Brother’s Karamazov. Actually, I finished that by a combination of reading and listening. It was a difficult read, yes, and I didn’t get out of it as much as I could or should have. But, oh yeah; I read it.

This year, I’ve set a goal of reading approximately 30 books at the rate of 30 pages a day. This doesn’t include any audiobooks I listen to. This includes reading a book during breaks at work and about three books at any given time at home: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction, and 1 of either with Tracy. The current book at work is Ron Paul’s Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom. I read a few chapters in 2016, but it’s high time I finished it, so it’s first on the list for completion this year.

At home, I’m starting to read several books on Russian History. Tracy and I are reading a biography of Catherine the Great together while I am reading a general, concise history of Russia. Several more Russian history books are lined up for after that. For fun, I’m reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I read most in 2016 and so am just wrapping it up. Several other fiction books will follow that. I’m dividing my reading fairly evenly between fiction and non-fiction.

30 books is a pretty ambitious goal for me. I keep myself pretty busy, so most years, I read less than 30. I’m only 5 days into the new year, but so far, I’m on track.

Wish me luck. More importantly, find some books that will help you expand your knowledge and horizons.

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Posted in education, Liberty, update

Happy New Year!

My blogging self must be convinced it’s only 2016. I cannot believe I have not blogged since June of 2016, but time-stamping technology is pretty basic, so I guess my last blog’s stated date is accurate, not my memory.

A lot has happened in the last year and a half as I sit here welcoming 2017.

 I hired a full time secretary shortly after my last blog post, but after a year she moved back to her home town north of Kansas City due to changes in her personal life. So at the moment, I’m operating with two part time helpers. You won’t see the second, my wife, around at the office. She operates behind the scene managing the accounting and invoicing and other office management work.

 The Law Offices of Jaired B. Hall, LLC had a great year. We have been extremely busy. The challenge for 2017 is to try to operate at an optimal level of busyness. This is because, as a business, it’s great to be busy, right? The more business the better, right? Not always, because on the other hand, as a professional helping people with very serious and important issues in their lives, I want to be sure to have the time and energy to devote to each person the care and attention he or she deserves. Each client comes to me and does three things (1) relies on me to help them with an important issues they are facing in their life, (2) tells me confidential information that they don’t tell just anyone, and (3) hands me their hard earned money. I take very seriously the trust that each of my clients places in me, and I strive to help them to the best of my abilities – diligently, professionally, and skillfully.

 The State of Missouri has had a lot of changes in its law. This month, many new criminal law changes go into effect. A few months ago, a new law came into effect that should (it’s hard to tell yet) make joint physical custody arrangements to be more common. Sparked by this new law, several appeals court cases have come out describing in detail how trial courts should determine how to enter modifications of old custody decrees. It is too early to tell yet if these new court decisions and laws will make much of a practical impact on the day to day family law decisions of judges here in south-central Missouri.

 We have a new president elect who takes office in just a few days. This orange haired guy named Donald Trump put his hat in the ring, and throughout the entire primary season, all the pundits said, “He’s a joke, and he can’t win.” I have to admit, on my personal Facebook page, I was pretty vocal with criticisms of Donald Trump. He proved all the pundits wrong. Then came the general election. All the pundits continued to say, “There’s no way he can beat Hillary Clinton.” Even the polls suggested his chances were small. Well, surprise, surprise, he won. I wish him and our Country all the best, and it will be interesting how the next four to eight years pan out.

 When I’m not wearing my attorney hat, I spend most of my time with my family. My six wonderful children are growing by leaps and bounds, and my wife is doing a great job homeschooling them. I also try to write and draw as much as possible. Writing, drawing, and reading are my three main hobbies. I actually did more drawing in 2016 than I have for several years. Unfortunately, 2016 was a bad year for writing.

One thing hasn’t changed. Our freedoms in the U.S. are still broad enough that it is our day to day choices that play the biggest role in determining our success in life. It’s a new year. Don’t let the mistakes of last year drag you down. Commit each day to making positive choices to move you in the right direction.

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Posted in criminal law, divorce, politics, update

Fundamentals of Liberty: The Non Aggression Principle and the Bible

Fundamentals of Liberty: The Non Aggression Principle and the Bible
Previous posts in this series:
(1) Introduction
(2) Government v. Private Sector Work
(3) The Non Aggression Principle

The Christian worldview is a belief system that provides structure and relevance to every area of a person’s life. The structure rests on a foundation comprised of God and the objective morality that is a part of God’s eternal natural. The Christian believes in God and this moral framework. Further, the Christian relies on the Bible as the revealed word of God to humans. Based on Christian (or biblical) views of morality and right living, we know that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; worship of false god’s is evil; things like pornography, abortion, prostitution, and drug addiction are self-destructive sins.

Where, in the Christian worldview, does the idea of liberty fit in? Is it important at all? The topic of this post addresses where, if at all, do we find the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) in the Bible. After all, aren’t Libertarians (Capital “L” Libertarians are members of the Libertarian Party in the United States) thought of as pro abortion, prostitution, legalization of drugs, etc.? If Libertarians are pro liberty, as their name suggests, then aren’t the Bible and liberty at odds?

In the current liberty movement are many atheists and non Christians. In fact, a tremendously influential writer and philosopher who has moved many towards the cause of liberty and the struggle against State overreach is Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a strident atheist. Not only did she believe adamantly that there was no God and no risen Christ, she believed that one of the ultimate evils in the world is people trying to be altruistic or self-sacrificing. To her, one of the (or maybe the) greatest good in the world is selfishness.

There are, in the Libertarian Party, many who argue that abortion is fine and should be legal. There are many in the Libertarian Party who go farther than just saying “prostitution should be legal” but think there’s nothing really wrong with it. Same for pornography, drug use, abortion, and other clearly immoral sins. Of course, for an atheist, with no transcendent God whose existence enables an objective moral basis to reality, there is little ground to argue that anything is good or bad. Good and evil have little meaning other than personal preference.

Where in all this mix do Liberty and Christianity meet? The easiest place to start is the Ten Commandments. I will limit my comments here to two, although more could be discussed at greater length: (a) Do not steal and (b) Do not murder.

Any cogent Christian philosophy recognizes the essential Oneness and Unchangeableness of God’s nature spanning from the Old Testament through to the New Testament. In other words, the moral principles found in the Old Testament remain just as fundamental to reality now after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as they did before. In other words, God’s word for humankind today still remains: (a) Do not steal and (b) Do not murder.

Do not take from another that which is his, and do not kill another person. Theft and murder are the primary acts of aggression. As defined in the previous post: Aggression is the initiation of force against another.

When we are told “do not steal” we are not being told “do not take a thing away from another person.” Instead, we are told “do not wrongfully take things from another.” You cannot take what is not yours away from another person and acquire it of yourself. That is theft. So if you aggress against me and take my watch, the command that I “do not steal” does not bar me from getting my watch back away from you. If you try to kill me, you are trying to murder me, and that is forbidden by the commandment. I am not murdering you if, in an effort to save my own life, I take yours.

In other words, the commands “Do not steal” and “Do not murder” encapsulate the Non Aggression Principle.

This is important because many Conservative Christian Republicans pooh-pooh the NAP. That’s just secular Libertarian mumbo-jumbo, they say. Not so. The pro-liberty movement may be filled with non-Christians, but Christians ought to be strong proponents of Liberty. Principles of liberty, particularly the centerpiece, the Non Aggression Principle, is actually a practical outworking and application of fundamental morality taught by the Bible in the ten commandments.

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Posted in education, God's Law, Liberty, politics

Fundamentals of Liberty: The Non Aggression Principle

If you haven’t seen them already, please read my first two Fundamentals of Liberty posts:
(1) Introduction
(2) Government v. Private Sector Work

Have you ever heard of the NAP? No, it’s not a pleasant snooze on the weekend after a busy day of work. I’m talking about the Non Aggression Principle.

The Non Aggression Principle is a central principle of pro-liberty minded people. And the pro-liberty minded people are growing in numbers.

The Non Aggression Principle is the idea that “aggression” is immoral. Some people, the pure voluntarist or “anarchist” or “Anarcho-capitalist,” hold consistently to this view and say that aggression is never justified.
Some people hold a less strict view and argue that the NAP has some exceptions or combines with other central principles to help form a philosophy of right action. The NAP and other principles combine to guide a person on issues like liberty, the State, the government, and related topics. The “small government libertarian” uses the NAP and other guiding principles without making the NAP a rigid rule that applies one hundred percent of the time without exceptions.

Defining aggression becomes central: Aggression is the initiation of force by someone against another. Aggression is not just force. Rather, it is the force of the first person—the instigator—the person who takes a peaceful, voluntary situation into a forceful struggle.

When someone aggresses against another—such as to steal the person’s wallet—the wallet-owner is not an “aggressor” when he responds with force. Responsive force is a justified response to aggression. Aggression itself is not justified. If someone does not harm you, you have no moral basis for harming another. One only has the moral right to harm another as a way to protect against and recover from force exerted on them.

John Locke in his famous Second Treatise of Government never talks about the Non Aggression Principle in those
precise terms, but much of what he writes is consistent with the principle. For instance, John Locke sets forth a theory of government that starts with humans outside of any government (what he calls the “State of Nature”), and coming together and unanimously agreeing that they need a “civil government” so they can all live in peace and order among each other.

John Locke and the Western political philosophers that built off of his writings and other similar thinkers of his era gave rise to the current theories of democracies and republics which are said to be forms of government ultimately arising from the consent of the governed. The consent of the governed is seen as a necessary precursor to government because as discussed in the post about government versus private action, the government uses force to do what it does. The initiation of force against others is unjustified. It is aggression. The only way to turn government force into something other than improper aggression is to try to justify it by trying to build a strong foundation of “consent” as the basis of government.

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Posted in education, God's Law, Liberty

Unjust Regulations Drive Up Dentistry Costs

Regulations like these harm people.

If this Orthodontist “illegally” doing “Dentistry” is harming people, then he should be made to pay fully for the harm he is causing.

The laws forcing him to stop cleaning teeth are tyrannical and should be abolished, and I fully support legally challenging the law’s validity from every possible angle.

It is dangerous business choosing civil disobedience, so I would be supportive of anyone who opted to quit doing the “illegal” act, but on the other hand, I would also fully support anyone who chose to plow ahead in spite of the tyrannical state’s ultimatums.

So long as this orthodontist is not harming anyone, he should be permitted to help people by trading his services for their money—in other words, voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange. What’s more, he’s actually able to give people a much better deal than they can get elsewhere—providing them a benefit not commonly found.

The only people not benefiting from this situation is the other dentists who want to charge more for their work.

The truth is, NO ONE has the right to receive high fees for their work. The cost of something should be high or low based on the negotiated price between the parties. Government regulations and laws are artificial and unjust methods to drive up or down the costs of goods or services.

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Posted in Constitutional Law, Liberty

Fundamentals of Liberty: Introduction

On May 2, 2015, I posted Foundational Principles of Liberty: Government versus private sector.

That is the first post in a series of posts I will be working over the next several months. Here is the official introduction to this series even though it is the second post:

I am trying, in a very small and incomplete way, to lend my voice to the project of explaining the fundamental principles, values, and benefits of liberty which I believe are of vital importance to everyone in the world today. And by “important today” I mean that I speak to people today, but these principles are timeless and always have been and always will be important. I am particularly urgent in applying my arguments to my most immediate neighbors, the people of Missouri and the United State of America. I want everyone to educate themselves, and hopefully become persuaded, regarding these vital ideas. We have strayed far from an achievement that was never quite reached in our founding era.

As a lawyer who practices a wide range of civil and criminal law in beautiful, rural, south-central Missouri, my time and energy are primarily spent helping my clients navigate the “positive law.” Positive law is the black and white letter of the law established by the ruling authority. I deal primarily in Missouri State Law but Federal Laws impact my practice as well.

One of my interests lies in the important philosophical and moral principles that underlie the law itself. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get any traction in front of a judge by arguing that many of our laws are oppressive, invasive, and morally indefensible. So while “liberty” is a very important and interesting topic for me, and I want to write about it, it is only tangentially related to my daily lawyer-work.

So while many of my blogs here are explorations of my “outside of work” personal interests, I think it is vital to society at large to educate itself regarding the fundamental principles, values, and benefits of liberty.

My previous post, “Government versus private sector” is therefore the first post in this series of posts.

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Posted in education, God's Law, Liberty

Can Police Arrest you for legal open carry?

A Federal Court of Appeals just (on May 13) came out with a decision holding that a law enforcement office can be held liable for illegally stopping and arresting a private citizen who is doing nothing wrong.

See the Huffington Post Article here.

Here’s the actual court opinion.

In this case, a Mr. Shawn Northrup sued the two officers involved in arresting him for legally open carrying a gun.

The Court made the right decision in holding that the first officer who arrived on the scene and arrested the Northrup could be held liable for illegally detaining and arresting him.
The Court threw out the claim against the officer who showed up on the scene after Northrup had already been arrested and was in cuffs. The Court relied on a doctrine of law that says and officer is permitted to rely on the information given to him by other officers. Thus, Ray, the second officer, could not be held liable for his involvement in the illegal arrest because he was entitled by law to believe that his fellow officer, Bright, was acting properly.

Missouri has a state-wide open carry law that forbids cities or ordinance-making municipalities from banning open carry. Most states allow local governments to regulate open carry. Not Missouri.

Missouri state case-law describes qualified immunity very similarly to the way the Federal 6th Circuit. In a 2012 case, France v. Hunter, which can you find here “A Government official’s conduct violates clearly established law when, at the time of the challenged conduct, the contours of a right are sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right.” (quoting a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court Case). Basically, an officer has some wiggle room when dealing with “an open legal question. When properly applied, it protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” (France quoting Ashcroft).

Missouri open carry law is pretty clear. Read up on it here and here.

Hopefully, Missouri courts would be sensible enough in a situation like this to reach the same decision as the Federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Posted in Constitutional Law, criminal defense, criminal law, Liberty

Foundational Principles of Liberty: Government versus private sector.

A fundamental difference between government action and private action is that the government gets to use force to help it accomplish its ends while private people get what they want by cooperating with others. It is illegal for private people to accomplish their ends by force unless the force is responsive force to aggression. An example would be self defense.

The farmer sells you food for the money the farmer wants.

The farmer gives his money to the computer store for the computer the farmer wants.

The computer store sells the farmer a computer for the money the computer store wants.

The computer store owner gives her money to the furniture store for the dining rooms set she wants.

The farmer can’t force his buyers to buy. The buyer can’t force the farmer to sell. And so on through all these examples. Each party to each transaction must benefit the other. Without mutuality of benefit, one or both parties will call off the negotiation and go find someone else to deal with. There is mutuality of benefit in each example. Even when one “drives a hard bargain” both sides still benefit.

This is not so with government action. The government has a near monopoly on the “legitimate” use of force. Of course, the “legitimacy” is declared by the government. The government self declares its own legitimacy. Since it is too powerful to thwart, it’s will stands. I say “near monopoly” because private citizens have very narrowly defined areas where the use of force is permitted–primarily self defense, defense of property, and defense of others. The circumstances in which the government can use force to achieve its are universal. There is nothing the government does that is not foundationally based on force (all government action starts by funding via taxation).

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Posted in education, God's Law, Liberty, politics, Uncategorized

Tricky Salesman

Trickery? Fraud? Legitimate business practices?

I’ve been getting calls purporting to be from GOOGLE fairly frequently over the last few weeks, and I’ve always just hung up on the recording.

The number on my caller ID today was 417.952.1375. It was that GOOGLE call again, and I stayed on the line to hear: your GOOGLE business listing is about to be deleted. Press *1* if you want to keep that from happening.

A “technician” was instantly available. Opening statement: we’re calling to be sure you get your 5 digit pin. Next statement: A lot of business listings are old and defunct and will be deleted, so we’re verifying that you are an existing business.

I’ve had discussions like this with Google before (back when I originally verified my business), so I had no problem giving my address, phone number, and email address. Then he started talking about how he put “Family Law Attorney Houston Missouri” into GOOGLE and found that I was listed #10. He started talking about how I needed to list additional areas of practice, a mile-radius for the geographic area that I served, get photos uploaded, etc.

The more he talked, the more it sounded like he wanted to do a bunch of work for me, so it dawned on me that this was not just a verification process but a pitch for a service, so I interrupted him: How much does this cost? $359 or for an additional $40 I could be listed on all the other search engines as well (Yahoo, Bing, etc.).

I searched Family Law Attorney Houston Mo in my own GOOGLE search bar and saw that I was listed somewhere in the 1-3 range. So I asked him what in the world he was doing, and he said he was on Maps. I searched there, too, and discovered that I was listed in the 1-3 range there as well.

At this point, I challenged him: Are you saying that if I do not buy your $350 product, my business listing is going to be deleted? He replied, “Yes, within 1-30 days.” He claimed to be from the business called “Local Listings.”

I wrapped up the conversation, hung up, did some of my own searching, and discovered that some people who get calls like this really are getting called from GOOGLE but many are just be solicited for business. Instead of calling the first man back on the 800 number that he gave me, I dialed the number that had come up on my caller id. This gave me the original message, and when I hit *1* it took me to a new technician.

This new guy was from a business called “Local Verification.” He too opened by saying (1) I needed to get my PIN and (2) they were deleted old businesses that weren’t verified. He too looked on GOOGLE Maps and said I was listed 10th. This conversation was going in the same direction as the other one until I interrupted him and said, “I need to know how to get my PIN. You opened this conversation saying I needed to get my PIN. How do I get it?” Well, it only took him a few seconds after that to discover that (1) I already had been sent my PIN and (2) I had already verified my business listing.

He also wanted to sell me a $350 product to spiffy up my listing and he also claimed that my listing would be deleted if it wasn’t properly spiffied up.

Well, needless to say, I don’t think GOOGLE is out there deleting business listings that are not up to the right level of spiffyness. I did go ahead and get into my own listing and add a photo so that the process said my listing was 100% complete.

Watch out for people trying to sell you things you don’t need.

Examples of other things people try to sell you:

(1) have you pay for them to get you your employer identification or business tax id number. Don’t pay for this. Go directly to the IRS website and enter the application yourself. It’s just as easy to apply and get your own then it is to apply to another company to apply to the IRS to get it for you, not to mention the cost savings.

(2) have you pay for them to get you a free credit report. The truth is, the major credit reporting agencies are required by law to provide you a free credit report (I believe it’s one free one per year) at your request. Just get online and find the major credit reporting agencies and figure out how to mail or email them a request for your credit report, and you can get it. (an interesting side note: credit reports are odd ducks. A loan officer at a bank recently told me that the credit report you get when you ask for it, the credit score the home-loan-bank gets when they ask for it, and the credit report the car-loan-bank gets when they ask for it are all different.)

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Posted in education, technology, Uncategorized

Peacemaker

Ah. Monday of Christmas week. Here at the Law Offices of Jaired B. Hall, LLC, we are closed. I have made it a practice to always close for a full week around Christmas. The nine days of uninterrupted time away from the office to spend time with my wife and children is always a joy.

Sure, we have our arguments and fights, and with six children now (our youngest daughter was born this past July), there’s rarely a dull or quiet moment at home.

If you are in the unfortunate position of contemplating divorce this holiday season, I recommend that you seriously and prayerfully consider peaceful ways to bring reconciliation to your family. Seek out marital counseling. Talk to your pastor if you go to church.

Maybe there are other serious struggles in your life, not necessarily divorce or even marital in nature. Are you contemplating a lawsuit?

Our legal system is called an “adversarial systems.” Unfortunately, the adversary, or enemy, is often someone who should be close you to you: a wife, a neighbor, a friend, another family or loved one.

Consider reading Peacemaker by Ken Sande.

If you’re interested in peacefully resolving difficulties, check out the Peacemaker website for more information:

Posted in Uncategorized