Ponder meaning of freedom
To the editor:
As we celebrate the birth of this once great nation we should all take a moment to ponder the meaning of freedom and the principles our Founding Fathers risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to win for us and bequeath to us.
The founders believed every man was born with a set of inalienable natural rights. These rights are a function of our existence, not a contrivance of government and as such cannot legitimately be taken from us. The classical definition of natural rights is life, liberty, and property. These are rights of personhood, not citizenship, thus can only be understood in the context of the individual.
So what inspired these men to risk so much to attempt this here-to-fore unthinkable revolt from the most powerful nation on the planet? It is simple. They were tired of having the fruits of their labors confiscated by the British government.
Most of us are familiar with the passage from their Declaration of Independence: "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ... to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Less familiar, however, are these lines: "He (King George III) has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance .... imposing taxes on us without our consent." Sound familiar?
What, then, did the Founders consider to be the cornerstone of man's liberty and happiness? On what basic premise did they construct our Constitution? Let them speak for themselves:
John Adams: "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God ... anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist"
George Washington: "Private property and freedom are inseparable."
Samuel Adams: "The utopian schemes of leveling (redistribution of wealth) and a community of goods (communism) are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional."
James Madison: "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort nor is property secure under it [government], where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest."
Thomas Jefferson: "To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."
Supreme Court in 1795 wrote: "No man would become a member of a community in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property, then, is a primary of the social compact the legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold, and vesting it in another, without just compensation. It is inconsistent with the principles of reason justice, and moral rectitude; it is incompatible with the comfort, peace and happiness of mankind; it is contrary to the principles of social alliance in every free government; and lastly, it is contrary to the letter and spirit of the constitution."
The founders believed that government was a necessary evil to protect their rights to property, not to create an entity which would steal from one American only to give to another. They believed that what was wrong for the individual citizen to do was equally wrong for government to do. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
This means in part that taxation is only legitimate when the taxpayer receives something in return such as a road on which to travel, defense from enemies, or courts to instill order and settle disputes. When tax dollars are funneled through transfer payments such as
Obamacare, welfare, corporate bailouts, and subsides to programs and industries that cannot survive on their own merits; there is no just compensation for the majority of Americans and are thus, unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment.
The redistribution of wealth is the most egregious of the unconstitutional endeavors perpetrated by the federal government. Thomas Jefferson said it best, "For a politician to win power, all he needs to do is to promise to redistribute income from the haves to the have-nots and the democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Benjamin Franklin parroted Jefferson's sentiments: "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
Humanity has benefited from the economic progress brought about by personal property rights and free market capitalism. It was the engine that drove our ever increasing standard of living. Millions from around the world have aspired to participate in the miracle that is America.
This time of year, take a moment to contemplate the damage our government has done to these ideals. The redistribution of wealth is virtually all the federal government does these days. How can we sit by idly while the government destroys the very foundation our country is based upon?
Thomas Jefferson said: "Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them."
Samuel Adams: "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."
Do we want history to remember us as the generation who were too self-involved to maintain and pass along to future generations the liberties that have given us so much? Please take a moment as you are enjoying your barbeque and fireworks to consider what you want our legacy to be.