Our Founding Father(s) Believed in Limited Government & Low Taxes

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Our Founding Fathers believed in limited government and low taxes.  I personally believe that to be self-evident; especially the former (limited government).  What was the Constitution in not a limiting document after all?

 

But I think the two concepts go hand in hand; limited government is impossible without low taxes and the founding fathers were well aware of that... one, in particular.

 

First of all, our Founding Fathers did not trust government. They knew that it was at best “a necessary evil and in its worst state an intolerable one” as stated by Thomas Paine in Common Sense (1776). If government was a necessary evil to be constantly checked by the alert governed; it was also to be as limited as possible and still provide the security for which it was chosen over the evil of anarchy. So, if government is the lesser of evils, and is to be limited, then for what purpose would we need high taxes? To the contrary, excess money in the treasury would encourage the exact opposite of limited, checked government.

 

It has been many years since I've read Paine's work, but I remember that it impressed on me his sentiments about government and taxes.  These sentiments are as apt (if not more so) today than they were in the late 1700s.

 

In writing this post, I went back and dug up some of Mr. Paine's writing on the subject; to which I've added my observations.  Most of my excerpts are from Mr. Paine’s, The Rights of Man; a book concerning the French Revolution and the English policies against that struggle. In this writing, Mr. Paine often refers to the evils done by unfettered government made possible by high taxes.

 

I’ve always assumed that those on the left knew (at least subconsciously) that their beliefs were in direct conflict with those of the Founding Fathers. Perhaps they can indulge me with references where the Founding Fathers expressed a desire for big government solutions through money confiscated from the people. Failing that I guess they can inform us that the ideals of the dead white men are obsolete, and that new obscure ideal of "fairness" is the direction of the enlightened... so long as you don't look for details.

 

 

 

Thomas Payne on Government and Taxes:

 

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

— Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)

 

TexasLynn Observations:

♦ This beautifully captures the nature and purpose of government, evil but necessary.

♦ Notice the Judaeo-Christian reference to the Garden of Eden and God.

♦ Notice the importance of private property, a man “finds it necessary to surrender up part of his property (taxes) to furnish means for the protection of the rest. No other purpose of government is even mentioned here.

♦ Finally notice, that the form of government that we must tolerate is whatever form appears most likely to ensure security, with the least expense and greatest benefit.

 

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If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute.

— Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man, 1791)(Dedicated to George Washington)

 

TexasLynn Observations:

♦ Back to the nature of government and its greed for power and revenue. Mr. Paine is not thinking about all the good the government can do with that money. He knows better.

 

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I do not believe that the people of England have ever been fairly and candidly dealt by. They have been imposed upon by parties, and by men assuming the character of leaders. It is time that the nation should rise above those trifles. It is time to dismiss that inattention which has so long been the encouraging cause of stretching taxation to excess. It is time to dismiss all those songs and toasts which are calculated to enslave, and operate to suffocate reflection. On all such subjects men have but to think, and they will neither act wrong nor be misled. To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not. If such a case could be proved, it would equally prove that those who govern are not fit to govern them, for they are a part of the same national mass.

— Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man, 1791)

 

TexasLynn Observations:

♦ Mr. Paine here states that part of the problem is the English citizenry’s inattention to the excesses of their government; a dire dilemma we now face today.

 

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Excess and inequality of taxation, however disguised in the means, never fail to appear in their effects. As a great mass of the community are thrown thereby into poverty and discontent, they are constantly on the brink of commotion; and deprived, as they unfortunately are, of the means of information, are easily heated to outrage. Whatever the apparent cause of any riots may be, the real one is always want of happiness. It shows that something is wrong in the system of government that injures the felicity by which society is to be preserved.

 

But as a fact is superior to reasoning, the instance of America presents itself to confirm these observations. If there is a country in the world where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up as it is of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged. Industry is not mortified by the splendid extravagance of a court rioting at its expense. Their taxes are few, because their government is just: and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.

— Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man, 1791)

 

TexasLynn Observations:

♦ Comparing (1790s) England to the United States, Paine states that the U.S. is made up of people from different nations, speaking different languages, worshiping differently, etc. He says the union of such people seems impracticable; but good government based on the rights of man diffuses these differences. He then proceeds to discuss some of the characteristics of such a society; one of which is “Their taxes are few, because their government is just.” Now (2018) where does the U.S. fall in this description?  Have we not moved away from the design of the founding fathers and suffered the very consequences Paine notes aflicts the English?

 

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It is now very probable that the English Government (I do not mean the nation) is unfriendly to the French Revolution. Whatever serves to expose the intrigue and lessen the influence of courts, by lessening taxation, will be unwelcome to those who feed upon the spoil. Whilst the clamour of French intrigue, arbitrary power, popery, and wooden shoes could be kept up, the nation was easily allured and alarmed into taxes. Those days are now past: deception, it is to be hoped, has reaped its last harvest, and better times are in prospect for both countries, and for the world.

— Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man, 1791)

 

♦ Paine tells how the governments of Old Europe kept is citizenry easily allured and alarmed (through mistrust of other nations) into accepting high taxes. He hopes those days of deception are in the past; and he notes that those who feed upon the spoils of high taxes will not be happy.  Unfortunately, this practice continues today proving Solomon right "There is nothing new under the sun".  Mankind simply repeats the same mistakes over and over again throughout history.

 

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In Conclusion:

If you have made it this far thank you.  I hope it was worth it.  I would leave you with the following conclusions.

 

1) Government is a necessary evil.

 

2) Government should be limited and constantly checked by the governed.

 

3) Government should extract the least expense necessary to perform its limited function.

 

4) Government that extracts more than necessary is closer to being un-limited, un-checked, and now has the means to impose its true nature.

 

These universal truths observed by Thomas Paine are as relevant today as they were over 200 years ago. Maybe more so. These truths are not malleable living documents that change over time. They are as unchanging as the laws of physics; AND they are just plain common sense.

Comments

Ryan Messano Added Aug 28, 2018 - 11:34pm
Excellent, well written article, and 100% true and relevant to today!
Ken Added Aug 29, 2018 - 12:27am
damn man, you are stepping on my toes!  I am trying to give constitutional education here, and there you go!
 
Just kidding as you know, the more people get it, the more they understand how much they have been lied to.
 
There is a whole lot more to what Thomas Paine said and believe it or not, "Common Sense" was the 2nd most active book in America at the time to the bible.  And the only reason it was 2nd was many passed it around.  This was a book that was the first "best seller" and amost 3/4 of american households had a copy of it.  It may even have been higher, I am going from memory, and can't find the exact link that states how many had this treatise.  It was what rallied so many to realize what was going on was very wrong.  And well over 50% of people in the colonies had read it.
Johnny Fever Added Aug 29, 2018 - 4:15am
Thomas Paine is one Founding Father.  The Founding Fathers believed in a lot of different things, they also paid lip service to a lot of different things (much like politicians of today).  I would argue government is far more limited today and taxation is far lower today than they were during our nation’s founding.  Either way, what difference does it make what you or I think about our Founding Fathers or Thomas Paine…the year is 2018.    
Neil Lock Added Aug 29, 2018 - 5:19am
Nice article, Lynn. To assess how best to work towards the future, it's an important step to look back at the lessons of the past. And Tom Paine isn't at all a bad place to start.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 29, 2018 - 5:56am
Curious how you arrive at those conclusions, Gary Sandy. Care to support your assertion?
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 29, 2018 - 5:57am
Tex -  Thanks for sharing. Those who discount Paine do so at their own peril. 
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 29, 2018 - 6:00am
Neil -
 
Most Americans do not properly understand the founders, what they believed and most importantly how they arrived there. One needs to have a sound grasp of English history, especially the 300 or so years prior to the declaration
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 29, 2018 - 6:05am
England did not lose the revolutionary war. It was a pragmatic decision. I'm thinking it might have gone something like this.
 
Georgey Porgy was in one of his bat shit periods and so a group of heavyweight investors came in for a conference with the Privy Council. I imagine the investors' spokesperson being a bit like one of Monty Pythons Piranha Brothers ( Doug or Dinsdale, you choose ).....
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 29, 2018 - 6:11am
So, erm, yeah. Me an' the lads been lookin' at this 'ole American colony scheme, yeah? It's a.....well, it's a big fookin' place, innit? Takes a lo' o' muscle on that tin, donnit? So me an' the lads, we were thinkin' why not, er, just leave that lot? We're makin' a lo' more money in India. Maybe just make these colonists a subsidiary? Right?
FacePalm Added Aug 29, 2018 - 7:55am
Johnny Fever-
I would argue government is far more limited today and taxation is far lower today than they were during our nation’s founding.
 
"It should be thought a hard government that should tax it's people one tenth part."
-- Benjamin Franklin
 
At the founding of this country, the federal gov't was financed ENTIRELY by tariffs; there was no income tax(and those who research the issue say that the 16th was never ratified by 3/4's of the States extant in 1913, either).
 
Jefferson opined that the vast majority of Americans would NEVER SEE a tax collector.
 
So - do you still believe your argument holds water?  i have many more citations in support, if you like, but please consider that in addition to the federal, state, and local taxes, there are licenses, registrations, and plates required for motor vehicles, boats, trailers, and commercial trucks, not to mention marriages and business permits; there are fines in courts for "crimes" which have no victim; there are taxes on every utility, taxes on every transfer of real property, taxes on everything you "buy," taxes at the hospital where you're born, and even taxes when you die - add them all up, and the figure comes to well over 50% of the income of every adult in America.
 
Texas Lynn-
i love what Paine has to say; i have a large number of quotes on file of his, and one of my favorites is this:
 
"A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right.  All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning.  It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources.  All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation.  Time does not alter the nature and quality of either."
-- Thomas Paine(1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author
 
(the phrase "government withOUT a constitution" can also mean "outside the boundaries of power to which officeholders agreed by virtue of the oath of office," imo)
 
For me, the problem is quite akin to the agreement by the mice that the cat should have to wear a bell - who's gonna bell the cat?
 
All branches of the federal government - and most of the States, too - have assumed powers they were never delegated, which is that High Crime called "usurpation."  Americans once were far more diligent and watchful over their purported "governors," and much preferred SELF-governance - the principle this country was founded upon - to BEING governed - and let their purported governors know swiftly that they were arrogating powers to themselves that were NOT delegated.
 
George Washington put it like this:
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is FORCE;  like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
 
Jefferson put it:
"When the People fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the People, there is liberty."
 
I propose that all sworn public servants be carefully watched, and the first act they take which is outside the confines of the oath they swore, effect an arrest and trial for perjury, that is, Oath-breaking.  Do judges have the right, if not the duty, to prosecute sworn witnesses and litigants caught lying in courts?  Then who decided that the Oath is "purely ceremonial," without force or effect?  The F&F wisely REQUIRED oaths of office, and without taking one, none gets the damned JOB.
 
But if that Oath is not enforced as routinely as those in courts, public servants become our masters.  Start busting these Oath-breaking criminals, even as few as THREE well-publicized cases, and the rest'll sit up and take notice, i guarantee.  They do not fear us; they SHOULD.  They NEED to.
 
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 10:20am
Ryan, thanks for the compliment.  You are correct that much of what the founding fathers came to understand about the nature of man and government is true and relevant today.  No, they were not perfect men in that there has never and will never be such a man (save One).  BUT... they got it as few ever have, not even today.
 
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Ken, High praise.  Understanding the founding ideals of this nation is a lost art.  I weep for what this nation will become if we don't re-instill those ideals.
 
As for "Common Sense", thanks for the expansion of my knowledge concerning the publication.  I simply knew that it was generally instrumental in showing the colonists what was happening and moving them to the conclusion that action must be taken.
 
It was well over a decade ago that I went on a Thomas Paine binge.  His writing spoke to me since he was so passionate and (it seemed to me) had a healthy cynicism; common ground and all that... :)
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 10:20am
Johnny Fever >> Thomas Paine is one Founding Father.
 
He was indeed.
 
Johnny Fever >> The Founding Fathers believed in a lot of different things, they also paid lip service to a lot of different things (much like politicians of today).
 
They did indeed.  They were human.
 
Johnny Fever >> I would argue government is far more limited today and taxation is far lower today than they were during our nation’s founding. 
 
OK?  I'm kinda with TBH on this one... A little reasoning behind the argument might be helpful.  I would argue that assumption is ludicrous given the size, scope, and costs.
 
The U.S. government today fits the description of the tyrannical British government then... on steroids.
 
Johnny Fever >> Either way, what difference does it make what you or I think about our Founding Fathers or Thomas Paine…the year is 2018.
 
Because they (I would argue) understood truths that are timeless concerning the nature of man and government.
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 10:21am
Neil Lock, again thank you.  The old adage is true that those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.  We (humanity) rarely do that, but when we do the dividends are enormous.  There is a lot of wisdom and a lot of folly to learn from, and given the information age we live in... we have no excuse.  And like you said, Tom Paine is a great source of the wisdom side of that equation.
 
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TBH >> Those who discount Paine do so at their own peril.
 
Amen.  While some throughout history have more value than others, information can be gleaned from all... even the idiots and tyrants.
 
As my dad told me, some of us are smart enough to learn from the wisdom or mistakes of others; some of us just have to piss on that electric fence ourselves.  Being of the nature to whip it out and let'er rip... I'm trying to offer that there's a better way. :)
 
TBH >> Most Americans do not properly understand the founders,
 
Ugh... I consider myself nominally educated on the subject.  The fact that my level of understanding is well above average is a travesty of the education system.  Please note, this is not a boast, but rather an indictment.  It scares the crap out of me, what we (as a nation) do not know... and don't want to know (on many, many subjects).
 
TBH >> what they believed and most importantly how they arrived there. One needs to have a sound grasp of English history, especially the 300 or so years prior to the declaration.
 
True... and that may be one aspect where I'm lacking.  I'm reading a book now giving the English history that lead to the 2nd Amendment.  It's eye-opening.
 
I appreciate the history lesson with Georgey and the investors lot.  I have little doubt the conversation depicted was almost verbatim.  However, I must admit that this is the first time I've given the variable of India in all this much thought.  Which is a shame given that everyone knows the sun never set on that particular empire.
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 10:21am
FacePalm, thanks for supplementing my assertion on the beliefs of other founding fathers.  I don't have time to write a book on every founding father concerning the subject, so chose the one who had written on the subject the most.  Again, one need only look at the Constitution to see distrust of government.  And one need only look at the prevailing wisdom of an influential writer at the time to see that big government and high taxes were a part of that mistrust.
 
The additional references, again, are appreciated.
 
FP >> please consider that in addition to the federal, state, and local taxes, there are...
 
Exactly... which means the assertion Paine made concerning the evils of unfettered government have come true beyond even his worst imagined scenario.
 
"Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute." -- Thomas Paine
 
Great additional quote, by the way... I would encourage all to read more Paine.
 
FP >> All branches of the federal government - and most of the States, too - have assumed powers they were never delegated
 
Exactly, we have strayed way to far from the original intent.  It is our folly and will be our undoing if not reversed.
 
FP >> Americans once were far more diligent and watchful over their purported "governors,"
 
Again, correct.  That "eternal vigilance" is a necessary part of freedom.  Washington, and Jefferson, and Paine, and many other founding fathers knew that; and that knowledge made it possible for them to give us the Republic that stood for 200+ years.
 
It's now gone in the U.S... and I'm not optimistic about its return.
 
FP >> I propose that all sworn public servants be carefully watched
 
If only that desire were there...
 
FP >> They do not fear us; they SHOULD.  They NEED to.
 
Yes... but we're headed in the exact opposite direction and with the nature of mass and momentum being what it is...
 
Great comments and complimentary material, thank you.
Rusty Smith Added Aug 29, 2018 - 11:16am
TexasLynn Very nice article, and quite true, our founding fathers knew how much Government ruined ordinary people's lives in many parts of Europe and did all they could to prevent our government from every becoming powerful enough to successfully do the same here.
 
To a large degree they believed absolute power corrupts absolutely, and tried to make it impossible for the government to amass enough power for them to be able to do anything that the people considered oppressive.
Lindsay Wheeler Added Aug 29, 2018 - 11:24am
"Government is a necessary evil"?
 
Is that right?
 
Psalm 1:1 "Blessed is the man who has NOT listened to the ungodly". 
 
Thomas Paine was a raving atheist!
 
God governs the cosmos. God is the government of the cosmos. Therefore, God is evil. 
 
My brain and spinal cord governs my body. My brain and spinal cord is the government of my body. Therefore, My brain and spinal cord are evil. 
 
My parents governed my family. My parents were my government. Therefore, my parents are evil!
 
What inanity!  Has anyone thought that out?  Government is NOT a necessary evil!  What idiocy that runs Americanism!
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 12:30pm
Rusty, yes, they knew and tried to lay down checks and balances to mitigate the nature of men and their corruption.  Their efforts gave us a 200+ year republic.  I'm sorry we live in the last years of her life-cycle.
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 12:48pm
Lindsay, we may not agree on this matter, but I do appreciate your comments.  And it's always good (at least from my perspective) to look at this from a Christian/biblical perspective.  I hope others reading this thread will indulge that inclination.
 
LW >> Government is a necessary evil"?  Is that right?
 
Yes... I think that to be self-evident as do many.  In reference to my faith, I've found the bigger and more authoritative government is, the more likely it is to supplant itself as deity.  Smaller and limited knows it's place.  I think history proves that out.
 
LW >> What inanity! God governs... brain governs... parents govern... are evil.
 
You seem to be greatly expanding the definition of government beyond it's more focused definition for this post.
 
It's a straw-man.  Expand or exaggerate the original premise.  Disprove the exaggeration then apply the proof to the original.
 
Narrowly (relevant to this post), government here is meant as man-made authority (agreed upon or forced) over other men.
 
THAT is a necessary evil in my opinion.  From our Christian perspective, if all men were to submit to God... government (the above definition) would be unnecessary.  According to our faith, that will happen in the next world.
 
LW >> Psalm 1:1 "Blessed is the man who has NOT listened to the ungodly".
 
So, ANYTHING said by a non-Christian should be dismissed out of hand?  Surely the Lord wants us to use our God-given reason to differentiate when to apply such scripture.
 
If you're building a bridge and an "ungodly" man says 2+2 equals 4 concerning that beam; you don't say it's 3 to spite your face and let the bridge collapse.
 
Now, if an ungodly man says Christ was nothing more than a wise teacher; then blessed is he who has not listened; who instead divides the word and professes Christ as Lord and Savior. 
 
There’s a difference.  Pilate spoke much truth at the trial of our Lord and found no basis for charges against Him; but nobody listened.
 
LW >> Thomas Paine was a raving atheist!
 
If we are precise in our observations on Thomas Paine...
 
Christian?  No, he was not.  Atheists?  Also no.
 
As with several of the founding fathers, he was a deist (If I remember correctly).  I personally fell into that misconception briefly in my young life but was saved from myself by Christ.
 
That said, deism is not a reason to dismiss all ideas and thoughts a man may have; just those concerning God, and Christ... and even those we may discuss in hopes of finding common ground and understanding. 
 
We must walk through this world knowing we are not part of it.  We are not commanded to not interact or listen (at all) to those who are... but rather to divide the word of truth as we go; seeking opportunities to share the joy that is in our hearts.
 
LW >> Government is NOT a necessary evil!  What idiocy that runs Americanism!
 
Then, on this we must disagree.  I find it obvious that government is like a dangerous fire that must be continually watched lest is consume us.  Such a danger is by definition a necessary evil to keep anarchy (and worse) at bay... until the Lord returns.  Amen! :)
 
I think overall our founding fathers would agree... at least on the fire analogy, eternal vigilance, and necessary evil part.
Dino Manalis Added Aug 29, 2018 - 12:51pm
 Limited government and low taxes are the ideal we should continue to strive for.  States' rights ought to be prioritized, while low taxes are pro-growth and stem tax evasion.
Ken Added Aug 29, 2018 - 1:13pm
I would argue government is far more limited today and taxation is far lower today than they were during our nation’s founding.
 
You can argue that until you are blue in the fact, but there are no facts that back up your assertion.  In fact, all facts lead to exactly the opposite conclusion.
 
I won't even respond to LW's assertion I have disproven that multiple times that Paine was an atheist and he continues to assert his lie.
Ken Added Aug 29, 2018 - 1:25pm
An interesting side note on Thomas Paine.  While Common Sense rallied Americans to the cause, and it can be argued that treatise actually energized the populace enough and enraged them enough that it was the catalyst for the revolution.
 
Interestingly, Paine fell so heavily out of favor that He and Washington were no longer even on speaking terms later in life.  He actually went to France to help them with their revolution, and Washington continually warned him that their revolution was not the same as ours.  the French revolution was not about faith and justice but rather about revenge. 
 
Paine was actually thrown in the Bastille for an extended period and was actually sentenced to death.  When time for his execution came up they came to his cell and they passed him by because they looked in and thought he was already dead.  Eventually he was released but the damage had been done.
 
The reason the french revolution failed and the american revolution succeeded can be seen starkly today in the difference between capitalism and socialism (although the concept of socialism had not been created at that time)  The American revolution was about equality of opportunity and the french revolution was about equality of outcome.  The american revolution has led to 240 years of freedom and prosperity, the french revolution led to emperor after emperor and totalitarian rule until fairly recently
FacePalm Added Aug 29, 2018 - 2:51pm
Ken-
Thanks for that info about Paine; i had no idea that he'd gone to France, was imprisoned in the Bastille, and sentenced to be executed(by the aristocracy or the revolutionaries?).
 
i sortof agree about the differences between the American revolution and that of France; on the American side, the intelligentsia of the day had ordered more books on Law, per capita, than any other population on earth - and were well-versed in it, especially English Common Law/Magna Carta, the real basis of all law in America.   The American Revolution, therefore, was inarguably the most grounded and intellectually sound of any in the history of the planet, though less than 5% of the population actually fired any shot at the English or their Hessian mercenaries in order to secure that liberty.  The vast majority of revolutions are fought in order to replace the tyrannical government with one equally tyrannical (or worse) than the original one.  Only the victims change.
 
In France, their motto, "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood"(Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité) was quickly belied by the means used to achieve their end - and as an aside, equality and liberty are mortal enemies; they never exist in the real world, for when one holds sway, the other dies.
 
In America, there were many factors to be balanced, especially the twin tyrannies of religion and of government - so the F&F worked diligently to come up with a viable plan for lawfully restraining and balancing the powers delegated, counting on the WORST in human nature rather than imagining the best, and all toward the goal of securing liberty "for ourselves and our posterity," but Americans grew prosperous, lazy, and inattentive.
 
James Madison, later in his life, wrote a book entitled "A Memorial and Remonstrance," which i confess to not having read.  i do have several citations from it, one of which which is perhaps relevant to this thread:
 
"It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.  We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution.  The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents.  They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle."
-- James Madison(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Source: "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785: Works 1:163
 
Now, of course, US "law" are virtually DICTATED by precedent, instead of each unique case being decided upon it's merits.  Funny, i've never seen the 'precedent' exception in the Constitution SCOTUS benchwarmers swore to abide by...
 
If anyone wished to restore the Republic, i suspect Madison's book'd be one of many places worthy of starting.  But then, there's this:
 
"Can the real Constitution be restored? Probably not.  Too many Americans depend on government money under programs the Constitution doesn't authorize, and money talks with an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy.  Ignorant people don't understand The Federalist Papers, but they understand government checks with their names on them."
-- Joseph Sobran(1946- ) Columnist
 
But as the welfare state is unsustainable, there may indeed come a day when the bennies end - THEN, there's a chance of restoring the Republic - but will there be enough people with intelligence remaining to do so?  Hard to say; i suspect that had The Liar been elevated to her throne, various algorithms used to determine one's philosophical bent and intelligence would have already been used to round up anyone who thinks similarly to me.  The intelligence agencies have already built the files on everyone who posts online, you know.
 
With the surveillance equipment available today - as well as the obedient agents of the Deep State - it is very unlikely that any such revolution could occur again on this planet unless there's a solar flare reset of every country's tech - or similar planet-wide catastrophe - as has apparently happened many times in this history of this mud-ball...otherwise, marine fossils would not be found near mountaintops, and etc.
 
Bill Added Aug 29, 2018 - 3:41pm
This is a very good article! However, as you know, things have changed in the (roughly) 250 years since our founding: the main point being that back then we were a small agricultural nation, trying to separate from the world's biggest empire. Now we're that empire, so things have, in a sense reversed..... 
Rick W. Added Aug 29, 2018 - 3:51pm
Thomas Paine was an interesting cat. He also supported guaranteed minimum income, and was no fan of the church. So, both sides can claim the parts of him that suit them.
TexasLynn Added Aug 29, 2018 - 6:10pm
Ken and FP... thanks for the expansion of our understanding of the man, Thomas Paine and the French Revolution.  I knew Paine was big on the French Revolution, that being the point of "The Rights of Man".  George Washington was right though; it wasn't the same... the French got it wrong.
 
FP, I think we're in agreement concerning the likelihood of righting this ship.  Anybody who has read me for long, knows I'm not very optimistic of our chances.  Thank God... I'm not putting my faith or any of my proverbial eggs in this world. :)
 
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
 
Bill, Thanks for your approval of the article.  While I agree that "things" have change in the last (roughly) 250 years, my premise is that the nature of man and government have not changed.  Further their nature will never change, and the truths discovered by the founding fathers (like Paine) concerning them are as valid today as they were 250 years ago and will be just as valid 250 years from now.  There are timeless universal truths after all.
 
Yes, society, and technology, and a lot of things have changed.  We are now the empire we despised because we let our guard down.  We now commit many of the sins England did towards our citizens. Can that be reversed?  Can we get back the integrity and virtue we lost?  I don't think so.
 
Thanks for the comment.  Very valid points concerning change.
 
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
 
Rick W >> Thomas Paine was an interesting cat.
 
Not you again? :)
 
Rick W >> He also supported guaranteed minimum income
 
Ugh... what left wing rag did you pull this from? 
 
I read "The Rights of Man" (granted well over a decade ago).  Funny how I get the distrust of government and low taxes out of it... but not that?  You'd think my reading or memory was selective... if you didn't know how objective and attentive I am. :)
 
Rick W >> and was no fan of the church.
 
That, I got.  I never said the man was perfect.
 
Ayn Rand got sooooo much right too; but dropped the ball on religion as well.  Despite rejecting EVERYTHING else from her native, communist, homeland; she embraced atheism.
 
Rick W >> So, both sides can claim the parts of him that suit them.
 
Thank God for that... and quit trying to smear and tear down my heroes with inconvenient truths. :)
Rick W. Added Aug 29, 2018 - 6:25pm
In fairness, I was being a bit snarky. You had a well thought out and thorough essay, and I just sniped it.
 
Here's something with more meat to it. And it shows how our perspectives are different, which shapes what we see.
 
In 2018, we live in an America which is dominated by predatory capitalists, of both liberal and conservative persuasions. The government may do lots of things that annoy the elites, especially market fundamentalists, but in most Americans' lives, the government is not the problem. The puppet masters are the problem.
 
My feeling is, we need to elect people who will quit servicing the donor class, and start actually making decisions that help the average American. And no, that's not you. It's not even me. And weakening that government further will only give more power to the elites who are already wrecking it.
 
Today, the majority of republicans and democrats support single payer health insurance (52% GOP, 85% dem, 70% total average). Did everyone just turn socialist? No. Everyone's broke, and we're having to chose between bankruptcy and dying. 
 
Reviewing the founders can be interesting, but they didn't live in 2018, in a global economy, in a multi-cultural technocrat America, bogged down in decades of war, currently run by an idiot and the clown car he drove into the White House.
 
Thankfully, the founders created a system that is (theoretically) capable of adapting to the needs of the people... but only when the people vote and are heard, and only when the institutions that have helped make us the greatest nation on Earth are allowed to do their jobs. That's still not happening. (Plenty of blame to go around, both to the left and the right.)
 
The answer is not less government. It's better government. The current incarnation of the GOP deserves to be burned to the ground. Hopefully, something smarter will rise from the ashes. I believe in opposition parties, in real debate, in an all-inclusive America. Trump and his sycophants are ruining that. Fire them, replace them with better people, and do what government is supposed to do -- protect the people from abuse, maintain a fair playing field, and let us invent our way out of our troubles, as we always have.
Ken Added Aug 29, 2018 - 6:28pm
, though less than 5% of the population actually fired any shot at the English or their Hessian mercenaries
 
And the scary thing is that only 30% of the population even supported the revolution.  That is the scary thing about how a minority can aggressively change  something.  We must always be wary and watchful, especially when you consider the current climate.
 
I am not particularly hopeful about regaining our liberty either.  It took 100 years to lose it, and most people don't even understand what they have lost or never even had that they were guaranteed.  They aren't even taught basic civics any longer.  Many will graduate college without ever even taken a single class in US history - and what the few do take is watered down and rewritten leftist revision of it.
 
As Ronald Reagan said "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again."  We are watching that right now.
Lindsay Wheeler Added Aug 29, 2018 - 7:40pm
"Freedom" == Anarchism!!!!
Stephen Hunter Added Aug 29, 2018 - 7:59pm
Texas, I agree with your observations and that government is a necessary evil. Those in power will become corrupt, whether left or right. But why do they become corrupt? They are paid off by people and corporations. Imo this is why Paine had such a mistrust of government; the basic human trait, inherent in all, to rig the system for personal and family advantage. 
FacePalm Added Aug 29, 2018 - 9:13pm
LW-
"Freedom" == Anarchism!!!!
 
Holy crap!  What does "Slavery" equal in your world, and what color is the sky there?
FacePalm Added Aug 29, 2018 - 9:26pm
TL-
Thanks for your acknowledgement. 
While i had ZERO hope during the last 5 presidential ensconcements, now, during the Trump admin, i have more hope that i've ever had.
 
A lot will depend on the accuracy of Mark Taylor's prophesies, for me; if they come to pass, too, there WILL be major casualties on the side of the globalists, at which time there's at least a POSSIBILITY that a world-wide renunciation of the mostly-imaginary "debts" enforced upon everyone in the world can be overcome, and we can end our slavery.  The financial system we're currently suffering under is the true key to liberty, IMO, but only once it's overcome.
 
Ken-
Thanks for your continued verification of what i've believed for a long time, too.  Here's what one of the F&F had to say about a "majority":
 
"It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
-Samuel Adams
 
...but you've probably already heard this before.  Unfortunately, it works just as well for evil.  Ever see Brigitte Gabriel's interesting rebuttal to a Muslim law student?
 
 
Ryan Messano Added Aug 29, 2018 - 10:51pm
Some brilliant comments.  It’s amazing when the light of knowledge and virtue shines, the darkness of liberalism fades away and is silent.
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:00am
Rick W,
While we may have an issue with "predatory capitalists", I don't agree that government is what is keeping then in check at all.  Government, as far as I can see, is an enabler and co-conspirator.  The puppet masters are the problem, but the government is one of their puppets.
 
We may need to elect better people but were past that point.  We need a check that will hamstring those elected to do what they should have done in the first place.  Hobble the damage the government can do, by starving it for cash.
 
We support single payer health care as a nation because we've allowed the government to destroy the system... again something it couldn’t have done had it been properly watched and controlled.  Everybody approaches this from an insurance perspective when it should be addressed from a supply demand perspective.
 
Again, I understand we live in a very different world than the founders, but I still stand by the assertion that the ideals are timeless.  Man is flawed, government is a necessary evil, so limit government, keep it small and make sure it does not have the means to be abusive.
 
So, yes, we fundamentally disagree.  The answer is almost always less government.  It should be half the size it is now, just to kick things off.  If a little fish like me is being taxes (overall) 30-40% of my income, I’m directly affected.  This #$@$ needs to end… NOW.
 
Again, I'm no fan of Trump, BUT those who are bending the rules to get him are worse.  A pox on all their houses.  When I see the likes of Lois Lerner and Hillary Clinton are never held accountable… worse, protected and rewarded by the deep state?  No… government is NOT the solution.  It’s the problem or a part of it that needs torn down, drained and rebuilt.
 
Yes, we disagree... but I am convinced we want what is best... we just don't see the problems as the same.  One of us is likely right… the other is blind to the problem.
 
Thanks for the discussion.
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:01am
You know guys, I've learned quite a bit about the American revolution in just this post.  Only 5% fired a shot, only 30% supported the revolution?  Amazing!
 
But that does bring up my observation about Islam today.  A very small percentage of the population is "radical”, yet THEY are the ones driving the agenda... all those "moderates" are inconsequential to the direction Islam is going.  Why do I suspect the same thing happened in Germany when the NAZIs were coming into power?
 
So much for "moderates" being a driving force in history... :)  Eh, Rich W? :)
 
Ken, sorry you're as pessimistic as I am concerning our chances.
 
Unfortunately, I fear King Solomon to be correct...
 
"So I set my mind to know wisdom and madness and folly; I learned that this, too, is a pursuit of the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow, and as knowledge grows, grief increases." -- Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
 
We are indeed watching the end days of the Republic.  I don't really blame any particular generation.  We as a nation have been degrading for a while now.  We deserve what happens.
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:01am
LW >> "Freedom" == Anarchism!!!!
 
Okey Dokey! :)  I can't really respond to that...
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:02am
Stephen, thank you for joining the discussion.  I'm glad we found agreement again!  That's twice in one week! 
 
A basic law of human nature says power corrupts.  Why, you say, is the existence of those willing to buy those in power... but I assert someone will always exist to offer that path.  So YES!  I agree. 
 
Paine and the founding fathers figured out the basic fundamental law of human fallibility.  It's no less a discovery than having a revelation in mathematics or physics.  Once understood mitigation can be applied to lower the risks.  BUT nothing will ever reduce it to zero... and other factors of nature will always bombard the mitigation trying to return things to their natural state.
 
Nature hates a vacuum.  Human nature hates not taking advantage...
 
Man-made utopia is like a perpetual motion machine... it neat in theory... impossible in practice. :)
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:02am
FP >> While i had ZERO hope during the last 5 presidential ensconcements, now, during the Trump admin, i have more hope that i've ever had.
 
Then that makes one of us.  Don't take that personally... I've been a curmudgeon for way too long to change my ways so quickly.  If anything, the volume of TDS tells me too much of the country has lost the rationality required to come back from the brink.
 
I'm only vaguely familiar with Taylor; and remain the skeptic.  As with many, many things I hope I am wrong.
 
And you're right on the money concerning a motivated minority driving history.  It works both ways (good and evil).  My comment above concerning Islam and NAZI Germany was influenced by the Brigitte Gabriel's observation.
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:03am
Ryan M >> Some brilliant comments... 
 
Agreed.  Thanks all.
Ken Added Aug 30, 2018 - 12:48am
You know guys, I've learned quite a bit about the American revolution in just this post.  Only 5% fired a shot, only 30% supported the revolution?  Amazing!
 
Pretty amazing what folks can learn when they are actually willing to read facts rather than find whatever supports their ideology and build on it, eh?
 
But that does bring up my observation about Islam today.  A very small percentage of the population is "radical”, yet THEY are the ones driving the agenda..
 
actually, that is our perception, not theirs.  What we consider the "moderate" muslims are to many muslims around the world the radicals.  They never went through a reformation so they still live in the 7th century.
 
You talk about Nazis - Did you know that Iran was once called Persia?  Iran renamed itself as an ally of Hitler.  Iran is the Arabic version of "Aryan"  They renamed the country to show their alliance with Germany.
 
John Minehan Added Aug 30, 2018 - 8:51am
"Limited government" and "low taxed" are both relative and amorphous terms. 
 
They clearly wanted a less "limited government" under the Constitution than what was possible under the Articles of Confederation and specifically wanted the Federal Government to have a way to raise its own revenue, which had been a recurring issue before the Ratification of the Constitution.
John Minehan Added Aug 30, 2018 - 9:12am
"They never went through a reformation so they still live in the 7th century."
 
You hear this surprisingly often, even from people who should know better.
 
Actually, Islam has been through several "Reformations" (defined as a return to the Primary Source Documents of the Faith and an attempt to peel away customs that had grown around the Faith unrelated to the texts).
 
The Almoravid Berbers in the 11th Century of the Common Era, for example, brought a purified faith to Spain that made life a bit more difficult for a mosarab named Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar.
 
Arguably, what Islam has not yet experienced is something comparable to the Christian Enlightenment, but that may be a function of not having undergone an intermural bloodletting as extreme as the 30 Years' War.  Possibly, this is what the, to use a common phrase, The Global war on terrorism" is about. 
 
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 9:55am
John Minehan >> "Limited government" and "low taxed" are both relative and amorphous terms.
 
As can be said of any adjective.  Limited, low, fast, slow, hot, cold...
 
That does not preclude us from looking at original intent in application of such adjective.  How close or far off are we?
 
John Minehan >> They clearly wanted a less "limited government" under the Constitution than what was possible under the Articles of Confederation...
 
Granted... I'm not saying they wanted NO Federal Government (quite the contrary), nor am I saying they wanted no means to generate revenue.
 
But I stand by my assertion and documentation that they did not want the government (at any level) to be as big and intrusive as it has become.  They would be appalled at what we have let happen.  They also did not want government to even have the means (financially) to reach this state.
 
John Minehan >> Arguably, what Islam has not yet experienced is something comparable to the Christian Enlightenment...
 
Nor will they.  Reform Christianity and return to the teachings of her Founder and you get "Love thy neighbor".  Reform Islam and return to the teachings of it's founder and you get "Subjugate thy neighbor".  The key problem with Islam is the teachings of the war lord, Muhammad.  Those most closely following him as he intended are what we call the "terrorists".
 
My opinion, based on my reading of the Koran...
 
JM... thanks for the joining the thread...
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 10:00am
Ken >> You talk about Nazis - Did you know that Iran was once called Persia?  Iran renamed itself as an ally of Hitler.  Iran is the Arabic version of "Aryan"  They renamed the country to show their alliance with Germany.
 
I think I had heard/read they had aligned with Germany, but not that detail.  It does not surprise me.  What was the overall Arab response to fascism during that time period?  I would expect the German hatred and persecution of the Jews to have influenced that response.
 
Islam in my opinion is very authoritarian and fascist by it's nature (when practiced as Muhammad intended).
John Minehan Added Aug 30, 2018 - 10:20am
"Islam in my opinion is very authoritarian and fascist by it's nature (when practiced as Muhammad intended).'
 
Islam does not separate society, as Augustine did, into the City of G-d and the City of Man.  (Put another way, there is no separation of Mosque and State.)  Part of this goes back to Mohamed (PBUH) being both a religious and a secular leader but part of it probably comes from their interactions with the notoriously caesaropapist Romaioi.
 
While I don't see Islam as fascistic, I think you can make an argument for "totalitarian."  Islam provides both a system of religious belief, a system of governance and a practical legal system.
 
It also isn't fundamentally anti-democratic with prevailing systems like Majaleis, Shura and Jirga being not-dissimilar to the kinds of things that lead to the rise of legislatures in Europe.   
George N Romey Added Aug 30, 2018 - 1:04pm
Our founding fathers understood government in a late 18th century framework.  They could not have imagined a 1900 setting let alone a post 2000 society.  Its like saying they would have had a favorite car.
 
Now in general they seem to have been wary of "big things" and that included corporations.  I would assume if they would shake their heads at the size of today's government they'd also shake their heads at corporations like GE, Wal Mart, Facebook, etc.  Big government is a function of big business.  Ultimately big business and the pursuit of business has created the population explosion and its dynamics we have today.  The result is that someone has to coordinate, control and monitor an ever growing complex structure. 
George N Romey Added Aug 30, 2018 - 1:06pm
And what amazes me are the people that scream for small government yet support Trump.  Trump is as big government as you get (including the spending).  He ran on the idea that he (and he being government) would solve our many problems.  
William Stockton Added Aug 30, 2018 - 1:19pm
My opinion is that massively large, free societies inevitably become untenable.
When people have more freedom, they become more tribal in their values (see the internet as an example). 
The corollary is that when people have less freedom, larger societies, under a single government are only possible.  (see China)
 
These are truths which Thomas Paine or founders of the Republic never anticipated (huge societies).  The USA either goes one of two paths:  More massive federal government to keep the states unified.  Or . . . less federal government and the states become increasingly segregated and politically hostile.  I think we are seeing the latter today.  In the end, people will vote with their feet (rather than their hands) and move to states which support their values.
 
TexasLynn Added Aug 30, 2018 - 2:18pm
George >> Our founding fathers understood government in a late 18th century framework. 
 
They did.
 
George >> They could not have imagined a 1900 setting let alone a post 2000 society.  Its like saying they would have had a favorite car.
 
The could not.
 
BUT the premise of the article is that THEY understood a few fundamental and timeless laws that few did then, and few do now.  Those laws being 1) the fallibility of man and 2) the dangers/evil of government.
 
It's like figuring out a law of physics... 242 years later the law of physics still applies.  242 years later man is still fallible and big government is still evil/dangerous/corrupt. 
 
George >> Now in general they seem to have been wary of "big things" and that included corporations. 
 
OK, playing devil's advocate, I don't necessarily refute or doubt that, but is this conjecture or do you have some source for this belief?  If I'm not mistaken wouldn't they have been considered in the top percentile of wealthy?
 
George >> Big government is a function of big business.  Ultimately big business and the pursuit of business has created the population explosion and its dynamics we have today. 
 
Are you saying big government is created by big business?  I might agree in that the two are generally co-conspirators.
 
George >> The result is that someone has to coordinate, control and monitor an ever growing complex structure.
 
On this we disagree.  The bulk of what our government does is not business oversight.  This could be accomplished (as with a lot of things) without the abuse of power and taxes.  The point being government shouldn’t be doing well over half what it has chosen to do.
 
George >> And what amazes me are the people that scream for small government yet support Trump. 
 
I'm going to cut you a bit of slack on bringing Trump into the equation.  I can't agree with you on this given one simple fact.  Nobody and I mean NOBODY ran against him (in the general election) who would have been any more fiscally responsible.  Had that choice been there... you might have had a point.
 
George >> Trump is as big government as you get (including the spending).
 
Trump is no more or less big government than any other candidate or President in the last half century.  Again, you're giving him grief for being like all the rest.  It's not fair or intellectually honest.
 
Don't get me wrong.  Trump is not solving the spending issue, but giving him grief over it after the last eight years is the pot calling the kettle black.
 
George >> He ran on the idea that he (and he being government) would solve our many problems. 
 
I call bullshit on this one.  Running on "Drain the Swamp" alone is the exact opposite of running on that premise.  I'm not saying he is succeeding or doing what he promised.  I'm just saying he did not run on such a promise/idea.
 
Don't just make this stuff up George.  There is plenty of legitimate stuff to hit Trump on; why dilute your message with this stuff that didn't happen?
 
But, feel free to prove me wrong.  Give me a quote where Trump said, "I am government" and/or "Government will solve this or that problem".
 
You have given us a bit to think about... so I do appreciate the comment, despite the minor differences.
 
FacePalm Added Aug 30, 2018 - 3:03pm
Rick W.-
currently run by an idiot and the clown car he drove into the White House
 
For an idiot, his promises kept and the policies he's put in place seem to be having the most remarkably salutary effect on the business world and the stock market(despite the "experts" cited in multiple MSM appearance in re: the markets tanking), as well as uplifting the gen pop by more jobs AND bonuses.  When first read the cited sentence, i was poised to completely agree, for i thought you were referring to the Cheney-puppet and the Neocon knuckleheads who deliberately started 2 wars and drove the economy deep into debt...but hey, despising the hand that feeds ya and turning on it is pretty-much SOP in this world; too damn little gratitude, IMO.  Dogs have more gratitude than most people.
 
The answer is not less government. It's better government.
 
Here, i think you're half-right; less government is already happening, by virtue of the thousands of business-stifling-and-destroying regs already renounced.  In addition, there are quite a large number of current alphabet agencies and even Departments that can point to no portion of the Constitution which would authorize their existence, which would make them Unconstitutional, right?  So if at least some of these go, so would a good deal of the ever-increasing and currently unpayable debt which keeps us enslaved.  According to a fella from Alaska whose name i can't remember offhand - his dad was an Alaskan Congressman killed in a mysterious plane crash - opening up the ANWAR to industry would also be a solution to terminate the crushing debt, as well, for he claims that the resources available there ALONE would easily be able to discharge every bit of it, and then some.
 
As to the "better government" part, i wholeheartedly agree.  If you've not yet read "The Law" by Frederick Bastiat or "Our Enemy, the State," by Albert Nock, the two combined may well serve to illustrate the differences between GOOD governance and the State; the latter is an imaginary construct usually elevated to semi-deity status, one that all collectivists resort to when they claim that "the Party" or "the State" is of far more importance than any individual rights...when the truth is, unless individual rights first existed, "collective rights" could not even be imagined, and of course, without individuals, no collective could exist, either.
 
"In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every law and usage was a man's expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882)
Source: Essays, Second Series (1844)
 
"Communism(socialism) and fascism or Nazism, although poles apart in their intellectual content, are similar in this, that both have emotional appeal to the type of personality that takes pleasure in being submerged in a mass movement and submitting to superior authority."
-- James A. C. Brown(1911-1964)
Source: Techniques of Persuasion, 1963
 
"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly."
-- Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862) American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and transcendentalist
Source: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849 (original title: Resistance to Civil Government)
http://www.jj-johnson.com/resistan.htm
 
Rick W. Added Aug 30, 2018 - 4:45pm
TL>Yes, we disagree... but I am convinced we want what is best... we just don't see the problems as the same.  One of us is likely right… the other is blind to the problem.
 
That may indeed be true. I think sometimes we see the same results, but assign blame to different culprits. As always, I am ready to admit I'm wrong when I get a better grip on the facts. And that's harder today than ever. The world of social media (such as this site) and news have merged, and are fed by the addiction model, where crazy crap gets more attention than reason and sober thinking. I blame the whole "information should be free" thing that started in the 90s. When nobody's paying for media, this is what you get, a generation later.
 
I hope the next generation does a better job with the country. Whether the magic bullet to our woes is libertarianism or socialism or an ongoing, uncomfortable hybrid... we'll see.
 
It's not Trumpism. Of that, I'm confident. :)
John Minehan Added Aug 30, 2018 - 4:52pm
"I'm going to cut you a bit of slack on bringing Trump into the equation.  I can't agree with you on this given one simple fact.  Nobody and I mean NOBODY ran against him (in the general election) who would have been any more fiscally responsible.  Had that choice been there... you might have had a point."
 
I would say Johnson/Weld did in the General and possibly other minor party candidates.
Cullen Kehoe Added Aug 31, 2018 - 2:39am
Points made are fair, however....
 
The U.S. of 1790 (and for the next century and a bit) was so wealthy they sold land to raise revenues (or sometimes just gave it away). That's a nice situation to find your country. So that, tariffs, and a bit of excise (luxury) taxes were all that was necessary to fund the (federal) government. 
 
Eventually there wasn't anymore land to sell. And for the first hundred years and a bit, most people were involved in either farming or extracting resources from an untouched continent. People could always "go west" for opportunities that existed in gold mines, fur trapping, cheap or free land, etc...
 
And during the 1800's a situation developed in Britain that should be considered: The Victorian Era.
 
A lot of human suffering happened under the Laissez Faire policies of the Victorian age, including the Irish Potato famine during which a million Irish starved to death and the British government (officially) did nothing. 

Some wealthy people like Queen Victoria herself willingly donated monies and food to help the situation. Others paid for ships to transport any Irish who wanted to go to America and/or Australia. (This is how my Irish ancestors from whom I get my surname came to the U.S.A.) 
 
Human suffering was pretty bad as I understand it in England, Scotland, Ireland during the 19th century and the U.S. (generally speaking) never saw the worst aspects of this age. People worked to death in workhouses, mines, being killed on the job, dying in the street.

Why do I mention this? Because in the 20th century, you began to see policies to offer a safety net. (And because there was no longer a country like the U.S., Canada, or Australia that was willing to take anyone who wanted to come.) 
 
Many of the entitlement programs the author implicitly criticizes here are a reaction against the worst elements of the Victorian Era. And if they were to be removed overnight, one could expect a return to those terrible things. 
 
Just talking about low taxes and limited government does nothing to address this elephant in the room I'd argue. 
 
What about American young women who are dying in childbirth increasing numbers right now? Numbers in the U.S. are ticking upward because many poor women don't see the doctor until they're in labor to realize they have gestational diabetes and other complications that can't be addressed or made arrangements for now that they're in labor? Too bad for them? The same fate Tiny Tim was headed for in A Christmas Carol?
Ken Added Aug 31, 2018 - 1:48pm

"Islam in my opinion is very authoritarian and fascist by it's nature (when practiced as Muhammad intended).'
 
This is were islam gets complicated.  The first half of his travels Mohammed was relatively peaceful and the Koran reflects this.  Over 40 years of travelling, he converted many to Islam, but he could never convert the Jews.  Their very core was their faith.  He became more and more bitter about this over time and that is when the slaughter of those who would not convert began.
 
This is the very core of why Jews are so hated by muslims today and must be eradicated.
 
It is also interesting that Sura 9 is the only Sura that doesn't start with "In the name of Allah the merciful and compassionate", and this is the Sura that the fundamentalists most draw their hate  and provocation from.  Yes, there are other passages throughout that they hit on, but that Sura in particular is heavily versed by the radical mullahs for purposes of Jihad or other violent actions.
Ken Added Aug 31, 2018 - 1:59pm
Our founding fathers understood government in a late 18th century framework.  They could not have imagined a 1900 setting let alone a post 2000 society.
 
You give them too little credit.  While they don't know specific inventions that would come, they clearly deeply researched history and were well aware of technological changes and how they had shaped various societies and they not only wrote in very well thought out ways to cover much of this, but they also incorporated 2 separate ways to amend it.  The problem is that those on the left don't believe in going through the process of amending it - they know they would never get enough support to do that, so they try to pretend it is a "living" document and frequently uses judicial activism (and creation of precedents which is why I argue against blindly following precedent, especially in the supreme court) to change it on the fly without going through the actual process.  We have been rewriting the constitution for a century through the courts making ideological rulings rather than constitutional ones.  That is also the battle going on in congress right now, whether we get a supreme court justice that interprets the constitution or whether we get one that molds the constitution to fit their ideology.  The left considers Trump nominees unqualified if they don't follow their ideology.  The right has no problem voting for a presidential nominee as long as they believe they are qualified.  does anyone really think 96 senators believed Ruth Bader Ginsburg was ever going to rule most of the time they way they would have preferred?  However they believed she was qualified.  As it turns out, she is one of the biggest ideologues in the past 100 years
opher goodwin Added Aug 31, 2018 - 2:21pm
Tex - the founding fathers were a bunch of rich people living in a world that was totally different to the modern world. It is no wonder to me that they decided to vote for a system of low taxation and little interference. That is precisely what favoured them and not the rest of the population. They were creating a system to benefit the wealthy elite that they represented.
John Minehan Added Aug 31, 2018 - 3:03pm
"Tex - the founding fathers were a bunch of rich people living in a world that was totally different to the modern world. It is no wonder to me that they decided to vote for a system of low taxation and little interference. That is precisely what favoured them and not the rest of the population. They were creating a system to benefit the wealthy elite that they represented."
 
Actually, what they favored brought about more interference and some level of fund raising at the Federal level that did not exist under the Articles. 
Ken Added Aug 31, 2018 - 3:52pm
Opher - it is astounding not only how little you understand American history, but how little interest you have in getting it right.  While many of the founding fathers started well off, not all were, and those who signed the declaration of independence were particularly hunted and most of them ended poor and broke as the british targeted them with extreme malevolence.  Implying that the DOI (You know, All Men are create equal blah blah blah) and constitution (The codification of the inalienable rights defined in the DOI).
 
Your constant war against anyone succeeding and doing well seeps into everything you post and you are so busy thinking that everyone wealthy is automatically corrupt, you don't even take the time to learn about what you are ranting about.
George N Romey Added Aug 31, 2018 - 4:16pm
If the government is an enabler of the plutocracy than how is eliminating and reducing government the entire solution.  If you have a police force hanging out and being paid off by mafia dons firing all of the cops won't stop the Mafia.  Cops that are not paid off by the mafia are what you need, not more or less of the ones cozying up to the mob.
 
Now getting that type of government has been the issue since this country was formed.  This is nothing new although many of you guys think so.  Go back and look at newspaper clippings in the early 20th century, decrying all of the government stooges of the rich and powerful.  Its just that for a 30 year period following WW2 the middle class in this country was really something "exceptional" and the elites were somewhat tempered not to destroy it.
 
It was the dire experience of the Great Depression that sowed the seeds of a wide spread and prosperous middle class.  Add to that the PR side of the Cold War when showing the world we by far had the supreme form of government was paramount.  Ultimately the experience of the Great Depression died out as well as the Soviet Union.  No surprise the Middle Class began to be deconstructed.
 
One day in the not too distant future there will be another economic meltdown.  This time around the central bankers and government slacks won't be able to paper their way out of it.  Maybe what comes out of it is a return to the belief that making the .01% rich beyond imagination won't make the remaining 99.99% rich beyond imagination.
Leroy Added Aug 31, 2018 - 6:24pm
Great article and excellent comments that followed.  Very educational.
 
Paine is one of my favorites.  It may be an urban legend but there is one story out there that endeared Paine to me.  It is consistent with his nature.  It is said that Paine and Franklin were at a ball one night.  Franklin--pontificating as usual--exclaimed, "Where there is liberty, there is my country!" Paine gravely turned towards Franklin and replied, "Where there is not, THERE is mine."  He lived his words.  He went to France to participate in its revolution and darn near got his head lopped off.  Franklin saved his butt...er...head.
FacePalm Added Sep 1, 2018 - 7:38am
Ken-
"Islam in my opinion is very authoritarian and fascist by it's nature (when practiced as Muhammad intended).'
 
This is were islam gets complicated.  The first half of his travels Mohammed was relatively peaceful and the Koran reflects this.  Over 40 years of travelling, he converted many to Islam, but he could never convert the Jews.  Their very core was their faith.  He became more and more bitter about this over time and that is when the slaughter of those who would not convert began.  

 
It is my understanding that Islamic scholars always give more weight to what was written LAST in the Qu'ran, rather than what was first - so while they can point to a LOT of writing in it which proclaims Islam a "religion of peace," they fail to inform that they consider the more bloodthirsty passages as being most authoritative...which exposes their "peace" lies.
 
So, have your "draw Mohammed" contests in every city, just as a test of just how "peaceful" the liars of the "religion of peace" are in truth.