I was reading a booklet by Ezra Taft Benson called “The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner”, and i came across the following passage:
Governments Should have Limited Powers.
The final principle that is basic to our understanding of the Constitution is that governments should have only limited powers.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So the question boils down to this: What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized form of government?
In a primitive state, there is no doubt that every individual would be justified in using force, if necessary, for defense against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement by another.
Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was spent defending all three – defending themselves, their property, and their liberty – in what properly was called the ‘lawless West.’ In order for the people to prosper, they cannot afford to spend their time constantly gaurding family, fields, and property against attack and theft, so they join together with their neighbors and hire a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born.
The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more. Quoting from Bastiat:
“If every person has the right to defend – even by force – his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right -its reason for existing, its lawfulness – is based on individual right.”
The proper function of government, then, is limited to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by the people. No individual posesses the power to take another’s wealth or to force others to do good, so no government has the right to do such things either. The creature cannot exceed the creator.
My attitude toward government is succinctly expressed by the following provision taken from the Alabama Constitution:
“The sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.”
– Article 1, Section 35
He’s right …
The Constitution is mostly set up to limit government, because the architects of the Constitution recognized the importance of the individual’s freedom, and sought to protect it. The government set up by the Constitution was to be by the people and for the people, not a creation to be built by some people and to later take on a life of its own.
Something interesting he said … and something that is a truth, regardless of how hard it might bite some, is that an individual person does not have the right to force another individual to ‘give to charity’ – indeed, if one is forced to ‘donate’, it is no longer a ‘donation’, it is now ‘plunder’ – and because an individual does not have the right to take someone else’s property (or a portion of it) to “give to the poor” (regardless how nice such a gesture might seem), the government – who gets their authority from the people – does not have a right to do so either.
When the government steps in and forces you to ‘contribute to the betterment of the less fortunate’, several new problems arise. what if there are other less fortunates in need who the government is not aware of, or it decides not to aid? what if they miscalculate and take too much to allow you to live comfortably? what if you were taking care of your elderly mother in another area (country) outside the jurisdiction of your government? They’re taking your ‘extra’ money or property and giving it to someone else in need, robbing your mother of her support. what is some people see ways to defraud the government, and collect what is intended for those who are ‘less fortunate’?
Something to think about … many who cry out against the government saying what foreign groups may or may not receive money and donations from U.S. Citizens suddenly do a 360 and demand that the government force everyone to ‘donate’ to domestic groups and organizations. Sorry to say it, but either both are right or both are wrong – you can’t pick and choose because they are the same.
When the government decides to whom you will and will not be “charitable”, they are robbing the individual of the freedom to choose as well as the freedom of property.
So … lets say a politician says he’s going to tax the ‘upper class’ and give the money to the lower class. Is this a good thing? To those of us (myself included) who have lived in the lower class most of our lives, it sounds at first like a great idea …
but it is not. It is employing prejudice against one group of people, based on economic status, to deprive them of their property, and essentially forcing them to donate to another group. It is just like forcing blacks to pay 12% or 35% of their income to whites need more suntan lotion. (ignorance and ‘racism’ intended, to make the point). IT IS NOT RIGHT. The thrill of this possibility … of robbing the ‘rich’ to “equalize’ the poor is based on a strong prejudice the “lower’ class has against the “higher” class. We all feel their snotty kids are too ‘privileged’ and all feel they’re above the law … they drive nice cars and live in houses big enough to house an entire 3rd world country … they fly in their own private jets, vacation worldwide, eat wonderful meals three times a day, pay their way through college, etc.
Maybe those assumptions are right … but to have a truly open mind, maybe those assumptions are not. Maybe their ‘spoiled’ kids live on a $10 a week allowance – or $0 if they are grounded – like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were. Maybe they ‘did their time’ on the streets, living through hardships like that guy from “Pursuit of Happyness” – Chris Gardner. Maybe their wealth was inherited when both parents died in a horrific car accident (Mariska Hargitay) … the thing is, you just don’t know. In an effort to ‘help’ people, you’re going to hurt a lot of people too. (Isn’t this the driving force behind the anti-war movement?)
I’ve spoken out about this before … there are some people who need that extra financial help. I’ve got some disabled friends and family. Most of them need the help. A couple of them need a kick in the pants. I also have known throughout my life a lot of people who were ‘living on welfare’ who should have gone to jail or something … the friend who cheated on her husband and so became divorced with two kids. He paid all the money he could – even living on people’s couches to have the money to support his kids, while she went on vacations and wasted food bought with food stamps. I’ve known people who quit their jobs because they weren’t making as much money as they were on the ‘dole’. I knew people who were getting paid ‘under the table’ by political action groups, and using that money to buy weed and coke while collecting money from the government to pay their bills. I’ve known people AROUND THE COUNTRY who refuse to marry, but work hard on having a lot of kids because they are able to collect more $ from the government. They stink up their low-income housing and let drug dealers and thieves sleep on their sofa. Their kids have all the newest toys, and are ‘educated’ to disrespect authority and to be paranoid. Their teenage daughters have more abortions than most couples have kids, and some of the girls (2) have died from infections after having their babies killed.
I grew up poor. My wife grew up poor. My best friend grew up poor.
We had pancakes or oatmeal every morning. we rarely had cereal because it was expensive and so was milk. When we had ‘hot cocoa’, it was something my mom mixed up with cocoa, a little sugar, and some powdered milk. For dinner we either had greasy spaghetti (tomato sauce was expensive), or we had dry powdery biscuits with white gravy (flour, water, pepper), or sometimes rice. Once a month, on dad’s pay day, we had ‘pizza’ – two small frozen ‘generic brand’ pizzas from the local grocery store. they tasted like cardboard with cheese, and though it was fun to be having ‘pizza’, it rarely went very far in our family of eight. I saw one movie in the movie theatre with my family growing up. it was a double feature of ‘disney’s robin hood’ and some film about a guy rock climbing. we went to a few drive-ins, though … we kids would hide under blankets on the floor of the old truck, and then crawl out when the movie began. every car i have ever owned, even now, was used … but until my current car, they were all about 15 years old when i got them. My dad worked two jobs most of his life, sometimes it went up to 4, including when he had to go into the army reserves. Our house was always cold … we had a wood stove in the kitchen, and when it was below 0 outside, it was usually in the 40’s in my room. i had a lot of old blankets, and even now a house with heating feels ‘too hot’.
We never took money from the government … i take that back. at one point we caved in and accepted the ‘free lunch’ program at the school, and my first year of college was paid for with “Pell grant” money … but we never went on ‘welfare’ or took any other kind of assistance. we were insured, we didn’t starve to death, and sometimes a friend might give us some ‘extra’ food they had. We definitely would have qualified …
I lived in two major metro areas (one on each coast) before moving to where i am now. I can say without hesitation that people in urban areas barely work, yet tend to take all the government money they can get their hands on, and are still left wanting, while people in rural areas would rather be close to death, pushing their own plow before receiving the occasional ‘handout’. If you look at statistical distribution of government handout money, you’ll see this claim backed up by the numbers. Most of this has to do with pride … these old farmers want to stand tall and show they’re working hard … but some of it has to do with greed: you live in the city, you see more fashion, you see more toys, you see more things to covet and you want to keep up. With these extremes, you see extremes in crime: in rural areas, virtually no crime, in urban areas, an excess. I personally do not believe this has to do with race … indeed, all races are represented … but i do feel it has everything to do with ‘culture’, as evidenced by cultural trends across ethnicities – in clothing, grooming, music, pasttimes, etc.
Playing ‘robin hood’ with the tax system is not going to help anyone. As great as it looks on the surface, it is simply a way of further undermining our society … both in subverting the Constitutional intentions of our founders and in further reinforcing bad habits in personal accountability. The ‘rich’ are going to keep working hard, regardless how much you tax them, while the leeches on welfare are going to contunie to suck and breed. Some of the middle class will work hard and eventually hook up to the rich, while others are going to succumb to the societal erosion and fall into the ‘lower class’. The gap will continue to become wider, partly a result of the very movements which claim to be trying to narrow the divide. (ever notice who benefits the most when there are a lot of poor and angry people ready to fling blame? The socialist/liberal/’progressives’ and their “programs”. They get the people to overthrow the wise leadership, and their little companies thrive when there continues to be a steady stream of impoverished customers).