Thursday, June 3, 2010
Life, Liberty, and Property
The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that security of life and liberty depends on the right to own property. In the eyes of our Founding Fathers, the protection of property was a primary purpose for government. They considered private property to be a foundation stone that protected life and liberty. John Adams said, "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist." (Charles Francis Adams.) We live in an age of government entitlement programs that take property from the "halves" and give it to the "have nots." Our current leaders seem to believe that they have the right to redistribute the wealth of some citizens to other citizens as well as to other countries. It appears that James Madison looked through the ages and saw our day when he said, "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…. This being the end of government, that alone is not a just government, … nor is property secure under it, 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." (Saul Padover, ed, The Complete Madison, p 267.) Redistribution of wealth is unconstitutional. It is unlawful to take property from one person to give it to another person, whether by an individual or a government. A society is corrupted when the government violates the principle of property rights. For this reason, all entitlement programs should be phased out. Many people worry about what would happen to the elderly, the poor, the sick and the needy if there were no more Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, etc. President Grover Cleveland said the following after vetoing legislation designed to charge taxes to pay for private welfare problems: "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the government the Government should not support the people. "The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fell citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood." ("Why the President said No," in Essays on Liberty, 12 Vols., 3:255; my emphasis.) President Cleveland understood that family, friends and neighbors helping each other would bring more common good than handouts by the government. He understood the "general welfare" phrase in the Preamble means exactly what it says. Government is responsible for the welfare of Americans as a whole but not as individuals. It is sad that we don't have some Grover Cleveland's in Washington, D.C. today! Ideas and quotes for this post came from The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen, pp 123-129.