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  • High Street Beat is the personal weblog of John Landwehr, a partner at Cook Vetter Doerhoff & Landwehr and a former Mayor of Jefferson City. Your comments, feedback and suggestions are welcome.

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March 24, 2009


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John Landwehr

What a great way to phrase the question! Many citizens, including elected officials, do not realize (except occasionally when challenged) that the authority to govern is derived from the governed.

That is why every citizen deserves, among other things, respect.

Lincoln thought about this a lot. I find the Gettysburg Address a good place to go when I get confused about these things.

Under His Wing

Thanks for your answer, Mayor, I appreciate it.

You said:
But I think your question is deeper. The "problem" is that once you choose to live in geographic area and benefit from that society for very long, most societies require you to "join the club."

End of quote.

And you're right, it does become a problem, because at that point, citizenship in no longer voluntary.

I really like the idea of renouncing citizenship, but realize that local/state/federal governments and its employees are unfamiliar with the idea or process.

Even if a person has successfully opted out of citizenship and is lawfully under the rule of another government, try to explain that to a law enforcement officer who thinks the laws he is enforcing are the only laws by which people MUST live under.

They're not. And (I believe that) he therefore has no rule or authority to force someone to obey rules of a foreign government.

As a non-citizen, why would I pay taxes to England, or Germany. As a non-citizen of the united states, why would I be expected to pay their so-called taxes? I wouldnt if I'm not one of their citizens.

But as I say, law enforcement doesnt see it that way and criminalizes non-citizens as they would a tax dissenter, or tax evader.

Not paying taxes you dont owe isn't avoiding or evading.

You dont spank the neighbors kid when he does wrong, neither do I. It's up to the parents.

But the problem I see, is that government thinks they are everyone's parents, whether they are or not.

I agree, it's mutli-faceted and complex. But there has got to be a clear line for the exisitng government of man to know where its boundaries are and not cross them.
That is not the present situation.

It was wrongly announced (imho)in the u.s. constitution that its law was the sureme law of the land.

You're correct, it should rightly be voluntary as the constitution itself states that those that allow themselves to be governed by the constitution's law, agree to do so willingly of their own accord (conscience will).

Do the citizens of this country realize that? What do you think?

John Landwehr

Great question, and multi-faceted. I'll take a shot without creating a treatise.
The short answer is that citizenship is voluntary. Most governments say that if you're born in the country you're automatically a citizen. That's practical. 99.9% of people born here want citizenship, so instead of opting in, the system lets
you opt out. You can pick your government by just moving and applying for citizenship. You can renounce your existing citizenship.
But I think your question is deeper. The "problem" is that once you choose to live in geographic area and benefit from that society for very long, most societies require you to "join the club."
Finally, I thought a little about who "has rule and authority" over you -- in a very concrete way. That's geographic too - mainly for security and citizen protection. When you get off the plane in Munich, you're may not be a German citizen, but you are certainly under the rule and authority of the German government. This too has geographic ties.
Thanks for the thoughtful question.

Under His Wing

I also like the idea of having a forum where I can step and ask a question of "so-called' leaders. So what are we waiting for?

Here's a question for you Mayor:

"Is State (or Federal) citizenship mandatory or voluntary?" If so, why?

In other words, can I pick the government that I want to have rule and authority over me? If not, why not?

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