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Topic: Government, Matches 21 quotes.



The problem was not new. It was as old as history, but no one had ever found the answer. The Greeks had been unable to solve it. The Romans had been unable to solve it. Various experiments had been tried, and all had failed.

No one had ever found the solution. But it is doubtful that, in the entire history of mankind, so unusual a group had ever come together for so important a purpose—realistic frontiersmen, practical builders, jurists, statesmen, students of history, analysts of Old World government from the perspective of a New World in the making. Their counterparts are rare in this modern age of specialization and so-called “progressive” education.

Democracy was not the answer. The word democracy means rule by the masses, and mass rule means mob rule. As James Madison pointed out in The Federalist:

A pure democracy . . . can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will . . . be felt by a majority . . . and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party . . . . Hence it is that such democracies have ever been . . . found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.

Obviously, there can be no individual freedom unless the rights of the minority are protected; and in an unrestrained democracy, it’s too easy for the organized pressure groups to infringe on the rights of others.

A Republic

America was to be set up as a republic—which means that the laws would be made and administered by representatives chosen, directly or indirectly, by the people to protect the interests of all the people.

The word republic means rule for the people, and as Isabel Paterson points out:

A Republic signifies an organization dealing with affairs which concern the public, thus implying that there are also private affairs, a sphere of social and personal life, with which government is not and should not be concerned; it sets a limit to the political power.

In the last analysis, any government, regardless of what it may be called, must be one man or a small group of men in power over many men. That being the case, how is it possible to transfer the power of the ruler to each man in the multitude?

The answer is that it is not possible. The only solution lies in the direction of destroying power itself. The only way in which men can remain free and be left in control of their individual energies is to cut the power of government to an irreducible minimum.

But how can that be done without the danger of out-and-out anarchy? The answer is quite simple—once it is found. But until the time of the American Revolution, no one had found it.

The head of a state is a human being; and a human being’s thinking, deciding, acting, and judging are inseparable. But in this new American republic, no top official would ever be permitted to act as a whole human being. The functions of government would be divided into three parts:

1. The first part was to think and decide. It would be called the Congress.

2. The second part was to be responsible for getting action. It would be headed by the chief executive—the President.

3. The third part was to serve as judge or referee and would be known as the Supreme Court.

Each of these three parts was to act as a check on the other two; and over the three was set a written statement of political principles, intended to be the strongest check on them all. There was to be government by law—with clearly defined rules of the game—rather than government by whim. Thus, the Constitution was to serve as an impersonal restraint upon the fallible human beings who must be allowed to use their fragments of authority over the multitudes of free individuals.

The dangers of dictatorship must be avoided for all time to come. No one person nor small group of persons must ever be permitted to get too much power; and the minority—even down to the last individual citizen—must be protected against oppression by the majority or by any organized pressure group.

Source: Henry Grady Weaver
The Mainspring of Human Progress
Chapter 15 - The New Model

Topics: Checks and Balances; Government; Republic



Blue Eagles and Déjà Vu

If the proponents of central planning came right out and said they wanted to create an economic police state, their cause would never get off the ground. So, they resort to “doublespeak,” as Mario Pei so aptly called it, the usual camouflage for the ultimate use of force against the individual. Ludwig von Mises summed it up when he wrote: “All this talk: the state should do this or that ultimately means: the police should force consumers to behave otherwise than they would behave spontaneously. In such proposals as: let us raise farm prices, let us raise wage rates, let us lower profits . . . the us ultimately refers to the police. Yet, the authors of these projects protest that they are planning for freedom and industrial democracy.”

Perhaps the oldest lesson of history is that an assault on one aspect of freedom is an attack on the whole, as the framers of the Constitution were well aware. To think that the bell that tolls for economic freedom does not toll for academic freedom or for freedom of the press is a delusion, and a dangerous one . . . .

All current proposals for a managed economy rest on an underestimation of the intelligence of the American people. They assume that you and I are just not smart enough to decide how to spend the money we earn.

Source: Walter Wriston
The Freeman, September 1975

Topics: Free Agency; Government



Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.

Source: Justice Louis D. Brandeis
Dissenting in Olmstead v. United States
277 U.S. 438 (1928)

Topics: Government



It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of the people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that those who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it, on all occasions, their effectual support.

Source: George Washington
on Religious Toleration
A letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue
Newport, Rhode Island, 1790

Topics: Government



“And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Source: Mark 3:24

Topics: Government



The Meaning of the Term Government

There are, though, reasons for regretting that we in America ever adopted the word “government.” We borrowed an old-world term with all its connotations of “to govern,” “to rule,” in an overriding sense. Government with the aim of directing, controlling, steering is not what we really intended. We didn’t mean that our agency of common defense should “govern” us any more than we intend the factory guard to be the company’s general manager.

Actually, in spite of the original intent, government in the old-world sense is what we now have. Our federal agency and many of the state, district, and community agencies have far exceeded the bounds of protecting the life and property of all citizens equally, and invoking a common justice under law. They do far more than merely suppress and penalize fraud, violence, misrepresentation, and predatory practices. Today our federal agency and many of the others are the citizens’ general managers-and autocratic ones at that!

It is not government as general manager of America’s citizenry that is here defended. Rather, the aim is to present and defend an agency of limited scope, not unlike what the Founding Fathers originally intended—except for the slavery and tariff features, they being infractions or compromises of the original intentions.

Source: Leonard E. Read
Government—An Ideal Concept, pp. 13-14.

Topics: Government; Government, Limited



Direction through Aggression

This growing belief in the use of aggressive police action as a means to direct the creative activities of a people in society, and the consequent and corresponding loss in the belief that free men can direct their own creative activities, are understandable. The reason is this: When the state preempts any activity—that is, makes of it a state monopoly, such as carrying the mails—citizens cease their thinking on how the activity could be carried on as a private venture. Why waste time thinking about the impossible? With this absence of ideas as to how an affair could be conducted privately, there soon follows the belief that the activity cannot be conducted unless the state conducts it.

If, for example, the federal government had decreed at its inception that all boys and girls should be provided with shoes and stockings from birth to adulthood, and the practice of this subsidy had been going on for the last 165 years, one who challenged it today would be asked: “Oh! So you favor forcing boys and girls to go barefooted in the winter?”

Source: Leonard E. Read

Topics: Government; Government, Limited



Enemy Or Servant?

Government as an agency of society—if well-conceived, properly limited, and soundly organized—is a cooperative arm of society. It is but another item in the division of labor. Its true interest lies in protecting the society that created it.

Government is composed of persons, as is society. Organize the persons in government in such a manner that they can readily realize that they will fare ill if the society which hires them disintegrates or that they will fare well if the society prospers, and society will have a good and faithful servant. But organize the persons in government in such a manner that they get the idea that society is only a host to be exploited, and society will have a bad and parasitical servant.

One of the requirements for promoting cooperation between two or more persons—or between society and government—is that their interests in the project in question be recognized as in accord; that the self-interests of all parties be understood by the parties themselves to be in harmony. But let the idea prevail that the self-interest of one is served at the expense of the other, and the two will not cooperate; instead, each will work against the true interest of the other.

Source: Leonard E. Read

Topics: Cooperation; Government



Government of the People

In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and weakness insensibly open, cultivate and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are it’s only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe.

Source: Thomas Jefferson

Topics: Government

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