Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Glenn's Book of Quotes Number Twenty-Six

". . . a wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government . . ." -- Thomas Jefferson, first inaugural address

From the very beginning, Americans have had a healthy distrust of power.  If that power is concentrated in the hands of the few, and if those few are insulated from the people, that distrust turns to outright hostility.  In 1801 the biggest, scariest power in the land was the still somewhat new federal government.  The Constitution, which created that government, was only twelve years old.  The Bill of Rights, which tempered its power, was only ten.  Would this new government usurp the power that rightly belonged to the people, or would it be a faithful steward of the power granted to it by the people?  

When policy is being debated today I often think of this quote.  Will this new action by our powerful government leave us more or less free to regulate our own pursuits?  Will they restrict or enhance the blessings of liberty? And is this proposed public good quite good enough to justify taking the bread which the people have earned?  

I'm not providing the answers on any particular questions.  I just think that the questions are worth considering.

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