Imagine if Microsoft had armed forces and was authorized to use them. Imagine if Starbucks had even one Stealth Bomber, and was allowed to use it however it sees fit.
This is what I think of when I hear a politician say “…we need to run government like a business!”
I understand and appreciate the intent. Nobody is more 100% Free Market than I am. But here’s the thing: Free Market and Government are opposites. Freedom and politicians are opposites. The free market, in order to be free, means free choices…no violence allowed. And government is, no matter what we prefer to think, violence.
Government is not pleasant words; it is policemen and jails and tanks and tasers and bombs. And these things, while always used against citizens to some degree here in America, are used against civilians more and more every single day.
Government, when it chooses to serve its proper role, uses its violence to keep Microsoft from using The Bomb on its competitors. More frequently, however, government becomes the arms dealer and power broker that decides who succeeds and who dies (literally as well as figuratively).
Politicians of course become intoxicated with this power. That’s why we have constitutions, to protect us from what politicians are all about (you know, power, corruption, slavery, genocide and war).
Of all our founders, George Mason is my favorite, with the other Antifederalists like Patrick Henry not far behind. But my favorites are not well known, and I’ll not bother to champion them so long after their death. And I’m not at all a fan of everything that Thomas Jefferson actually did. But as I do certainly and humbly tip my hat to what he’d said (and accomplished with his words), I’ll offer up some of what just this single “founding father” said about the Rule of Law versus the Rule of Tyrants:
“(To establish republican government, it is necessary to) effect a constitution in which the will of the nation shall have an organized control over the actions of its government, and its citizens a regular protection against its oppressions.” –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1816.
“Aware of the tendency of power to degenerate into abuse, the worthies of our country have secured its independence by the establishment of a Constitution and form of government for our nation, calculated to prevent as well as to correct abuse.” –Thomas Jefferson to Washington Tammany Society, 1809.
“I consider the foundation of the (Federal) Constitution as laid on this ground: That “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.” (10th Amendment) To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” –Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791.
“Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” –Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798.
“It (is) inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty, and contrary to the natural rights of the other members of the society, that any body of men therein should have authority to enlarge their own powers, prerogatives or emoluments without restraint.” –Thomas Jefferson: Virginia Allowance Bill, 1778. Papers 2:231
“To keep in all things within the pale of our constitutional powers… (is one of) the landmarks by which we are to guide ourselves in all our proceedings.” –Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Annual Message, 1802.
“Our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go… In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798.
“Let the honest advocate of confidence read the Alien and Sedition Acts and say if the Constitution has not been wise in fixing limits to the government it created, and whether we should be wise in destroying those limits.” –Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798.
“Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust. Whether our Constitution has hit on the exact degree of control necessary, is yet under experiment.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. van der Kemp, 1812.
“I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned, and never saw it till after it was established. On receiving it, I wrote strongly to Mr. Madison, urging the want of provision for… an express reservation to the States of all rights not specifically granted to the Union.” –Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 1802.
“Smaller objections (I have to the new Constitution) are (the omission of) the appeals on matters of fact as well as law, and the binding of all persons, Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary, by oath to maintain that constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.
All of our elected politicians do swear to maintain the constitutions. In Indiana, they swear to uphold both state and federal constitutions!
“Though written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, yet they furnish a text to which those who are watchful may again rally and recall the people. They fix, too, for the people the principles of their political creed.” –Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 1802.
Shouldn’t we read these texts again? Isn’t it time to rally around them?
“(The purpose of a written constitution is) to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights.” –Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIII, 1782.
Read that last quote again. In fact, read it two more times, and then after you do that, read it again.
Then tell others to do the same. And tell them again…