George S. Liberty recently wrote a rant about government on his blogsite after he watched a news clip about Jonathan Gruber, the controversial architect of Obamacare. His theme was how audacious and contemptible the government has become regarding the American people. Clearly, the government has little respect for the people. It feigns loyalty to them only when it comes to election time or when it serves its purposes in enlarging the federal institution. As George wrote: “It’s clear that government feels it must oversee us rather than represent us. It knows best.”
The federal government is steadily becoming more antagonistic and repugnant to the People. Its interests are not the interests of the American people. In fact, too many times, its interests are exactly opposed to their interests. Look at the immigration issue, look at the erosion of race relations at the direct hands of the current administration, and look at the soft stance the current administration is taking with respect with the greatest evil the world has encountered since Nazi Germany and its designs for genocide of the Jews and world domination. When has America ever stood by and watched its citizens being brutally beheaded? The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, for example, which violates so many precious American liberties that this article dares not even go into them, was passed with a level of deception and duplicity that hasn’t been seen in this country since the days of the Civil War and Reconstruction. As if the backdoor deals, threats, and political promises make by the President weren’t enough, as if his promise to the American people, through an interview with George Stephanopolous, that the mandate was not a tax only to have the mandate officially classified as a tax (and supported and justified by the government’s taxing power) wasn’t enough, and as if the promises of lower healthcare costs (and retention of one’s doctor) only to see costs skyrocket, doctors lost, and businesses suffer wasn’t enough, we now learn that the architect of the healthcare bill “counted on the stupidity of the American people” in getting the bill passed in the court of public opinion. He said that if more people knew what was written in the bill, it would have never passed. “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish we could have made it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
This government – OUR government – a government supposedly of the people, by the people and for the people – purposely set out to deceive We the People. Wow. I mean, WOW! Can you believe the audacity of our government? King George III of England seemed audacious at one time. He and the British Parliament took the liberty of taxing the American colonies to cover the costs incurred by the British in fighting the French in the French & Indian War (to clear claim to the New World territories) and the costs to protect them. Yes, the tax was ultimately being used to serve and benefit the colonies, but it was the fact that the King didn’t first provide them with a seat in Parliament to give them representation with respect to legislation that affected them which set them off. This failure of the King to safeguard their rights as Englishmen (as laid out in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, among other charters) is what gave birth to the Sons of Liberty, led to the Boston Tea Party, the shots at Concord & Lexington, the Declaration of Independence, and ultimately to our secession from Great Britain. The lack of transparency, the duplicity, the contempt, etc….. King Obama and his Congress of rats and weasels all of a sudden don’t seem much different from King George.
As I hear news story after news story showing just what a leviathan that our government has become – in both size and attitude – I can’t help but reflect upon the genius of our Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson repeatedly explained how government would work best. In 1816, he wrote to his friend Joseph Cabell: “”The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the function he is competent to. Let the National Government be entrusted with the defense of the nation and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.” The federal government was never intended to have such concentrated power and authority over the states and over the lives and property of the people. Whatever happened to these documents: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…..” And “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The highly intuitive and intellectual geniuses that debated and drafted our Constitution knew very well what could happen if the populace became complacent and tacitly surrendered their freedom to the designs of government. Thomas Jefferson and others warned that government would tend to grow itself and put its own interests above those of the people. The delegates to the Philadelphia Convention thought they addressed this problem by creating separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches and by building into government various levels of checks and balances. Madison’s essays – Federalist No 47 and No. 51 – addressed these important design features. Aside from the separation of powers and the systems of checks and balances, our Founders believed the two most powerful checks on government would be the States (federalism; Tenth Amendment) and the People themselves (ever vigilante of their liberties).
The question is this: Once government becomes self-serving rather than freedom-serving, are we stuck with it? The answer is no. Lucky for us, the sheer brilliance of our Founders can be seen in the plain words of our country’s charter of freedom – the Declaration of Independence:
“…….That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
But the obvious follow-up question is this: At what point do we “alter or abolish” our government? Jefferson addresses that question in that second paragraph:
“…… Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.“
At this point, so many of our precious liberties – certainly our rights to property and now our rights to make basic choices regarding our lives, our associations, our conscience, and our health – are not secured by our government. In fact, government is assaulting and eroding them. Our right to bear arms, the one right that helps us secure all others, has become ever so tenuous. Is now the time to “alter or abolish” our government?
Judging by the sheer volume of Americans that the government has managed to shackle to its existence and its programs, individual liberty may no longer be that “precious gem” (as James Madison once called it at the Virginia Ratifying Convention) that should be placed above all else. There was a time when it was.
And government knows this. Perhaps that was the very intent of government when it set on its path to become the great leviathan that it currently is. Maybe it knew that the people had to be coerced into surrendering their liberties – by promising them stuff and taking care of them from cradle to grave and by convincing them that the promise of guaranteed freedom isn’t the same as a guaranteed paycheck or guaranteed housing or guaranteed healthcare.
Maybe those government officials who have sought over the years to use the full power of the government to divest it of its constitutional moorings studied Federalist No 51. In that essay, James Madison wrote: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
People can’t control government like they are supposed to if government controls them. And make no mistake about it…. Government today DOES control the American people.
Combine the complacency that people have on account of the emphasis that the leviathan places on social and welfare programs with the “experience that hath been shown” of human nature to be “disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” This looks like a perfect recipe for government longevity and acceptance of tyranny. And so, in one of his arguments, George S. Liberty writes: “The government will continue to take, and take, and take. And it will push, push, and push – all in the design to sustain itself at the expense of the populace because it knows that people are more inclined to suffer the consequences than to right themselves. The government banks on the fact that we are timid.”
It cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals — that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government — that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government.
In other words, in this country, it is freedom that is enlarged.…. NOT the government. Freedom must endure at all costs; NOT government. Government must not be perpetual, if it be at the expense of individual freedom. But individual freedom MUST be perpetual, even and perhaps especially at the expense of government.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust. Whether our Constitution has hit on the exact degree of control necessary, is yet under experiment.” (in a letter to M. van der Kemp, 1812) Maybe our future generations of Americans are better served in our public schools by spending a month every year learning what our Founding Fathers had to say about civic duty instead of constantly re-learning about slavery and Jim Crow (the wounds that no one seems to want to let heal).
So, where are today’s Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Sam Adams, and George Washington?
If ever we needed these men – or their spirits – it is now.