Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The proper role of government

There's a lot of discussion today about whether or not the federal government 'should' do some of the things it is doing. Part of that discussion revolves around what would happen if the government didn't continue to do all sorts of things it was never intended by our Founders to address.

In light of those thoughts and topics, I'd like to share these three quotes from Liberty Tree.

The first is from President Franklin D. Roosevelt who, at a 1935 press conference, responded to a Supreme Court decision that defined the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution narrowly enough to interfere with his regulation of farm products. He said:

"Are we going to take the hands of the federal government completely off any effort to adjust the growing of national crops, and go right straight back to the old principle that every farmer is a lord of his own farm and can do anything he wants, raise anything, any old time, in any quantity, and sell any time he wants?" ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Can you imagine? The farmer being able to plant, grow and sell whatever he wanted in whatever quantity he might desire? What would the Founders say about this massive intrusion of the federal government in a person's right to liberty?

Then there is this contrasting position from President Franklin Pierce, who, in vetoing a bill in 1854, said:

"The constitutionality and propriety of the Federal Government assuming to enter into a novel and vast field of legislation, namely, that of providing for the care and support of all those … who by any form of calamity become fit objects of public philanthropy. ... I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States. To do so would, in my judgment, be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive of the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded." ~ Franklin Pierce

Apparently, the perspective of the proper role of government changed dramatically in only 100 years.

It was a tortured logic that FDR used to give us the New Deal and the semi-socialistic attitude that continues to permeate the federal government today. It was a belief by elitists that people couldn't take care of themselves and that their family, friends and neighbors - or even good Samaritans - were unreliable, that led to a large expansion of the federal government. And it hasn't stopped.

Even Rexford Tugwell, an American agricultural economist, who served in FDR's administration and was one of the chief intellectual contributors to the New Deal, recognized the error of their actions. He said:

"To the extent that these [New Deal policies] developed, they were tortured interpretations of a document [the Constitution] intended to prevent them." ~ Rexford Tugwell

I guess the question now is: what have we learned?

Is the growth of the tea party movement a reaction to the way the federal government has so strayed from the American path? I believe so.

I believe that the vast majority of Americans might like the sound of what President Barack Obama and his Democrat majority in the House and Senate promised. But when people actually see what the words are like in practice, Americans will reject it as contrary to the common tenets upon which this nation is based and which continue to draw immigrants from across the globe.

The vast majority of Americans do not want to be taken care of - they want to be left alone to run their own lives.

Yes, there are some who may find it easier to be wards of the government, but when you ask them if they actually 'like' being told where to live, what food they can purchase or what actions they must perform to continue to get their handouts, they will tell you it is not their preference.

Sadly, the welfare/entitlement system is designed to perpetuate itself, growing a dependency class that, as we were warned, will continue to vote for largesse.

How far we've come from the dream of liberty, independence, self-sufficiency of only 100 years ago...

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