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The natural inequality of individual freedom (Lessons from Jefferson)

By J.B. Williams
web posted April 28, 2008

America is politically divided down the center line between individual freedom and a so-called greater common good. Half of the country is trying desperately to protect and preserve a maximum level of individual freedom and liberty for themselves and future generations, while the other half is desperate to take from those according to their means in order to fill the perceived needs that they have failed to fill on their own.

Many American voters are struggling to escape the reality that freedom isn't free and never was. They try to hide from the fact that freedom to excel bears with it the freedom to fail, and run from the truth that although freedom is quite "fair," - equal freedom will never result in equal outcomes.

Thomas Jefferson"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." – Thomas Jefferson

Half of the nation still believes what the founding fathers believed, that the risk of individual failure while in pursuit of personal excellence, is a small price to pay for the right of self-determination, absolute individual freedom and liberty.

But over the last century, the other half have been trained to accept personal failure as a predisposed condition beyond their individual control, which can only be remedied by an increasingly intrusive central power equipped with the authority and means to strip one of his lawful earnings for the alleged benefit of another.

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." – Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal government of extremely limited power and means is exactly what our nation's Founders put in place over 230 years ago. Half of our nation now sees these ideas as out-dated, unfair and as some form of oppression wherein the "haves" (aka self-reliant achievers) run roughshod over the "have-nots" (aka under-achieving dependents).

America is the most generous nation on earth, always willing to help with bounty or blood, anyone unable to help themselves, here or abroad. But some seek a more progressive system by which economic equality, as defined and distributed by a central power, replaces a “greed” driven individual pursuit of happiness under capitalism, otherwise known as economic freedom.

For half of America, the enemy is “the rich” – the profit driven corporation – the self-reliant – the self-made American. For the other half, the enemy is anyone who seeks to take from them their lawful earnings, their right of self-determination, their private property and unalienable rights, in the name of some greater good.

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." – Thomas Jefferson

There is no greater power on earth than the power to hold the lives of others in one’s hands. The power to decide how much is enough for some and how much is too much for others is the greatest power available to man. But it is a power which is always temporary…

In any democratic society, the best way to secure personal long-term political power is to develop a class of voters permanently dependent upon that power for their own livelihood.

Throughout history, those who have acquired such powers have always lost themselves, once perverted by a revocable right to reign over others. Our Founders were right; all men were created to be free and thereby, unequal. The human spirit will not rest long under any form of tyranny, including that which is foolishly self-inflicted via democratic process.

Men of great power have always fallen prey to the irresistible pitfalls always present in the seductive and intoxicating arena of excessive personal power. It is the nature of ambitious men, particularly in politics, to seek power over others. When done in private enterprise or a free-market environment, it is a ship which will always right itself, under the pressure of open competition.

But when done by men accountable to no one, it degenerates into tyranny which will one day require the blood of patriots, to free the people once again.

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." – Thomas Jefferson

Few Americans support the idea of socialized medicine, having seen the concept bankrupt many third world nations while delivering substandard care, often too late for the patient. Americans have watched their government bankrupt both Social Security and Medicare.

But most Americans seem to support the idea of "universal health care," which is just another democratic sounding name for socialized medicine and they somehow believe that government can manage the entire wellness industry better than they managed Social Security and the national budget.

Less than one hundred years ago, there was no such thing as federal welfare or government entitlement programs. Today, these programs account for the vast majority of federal spending and they are directly responsible for federal deficits and debts as far as the eye can see.

Yet how many have actually been lifted out of poverty to become self-sufficient contributing productive members of society by these programs? Good luck finding a few you can count… No program on earth has failed more convincingly.

Our government has indeed been wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them for decades now, ever since FDR's New (raw) Deal. Still, we are accelerating down a path already proven a failure. Why?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." – Thomas Jefferson

As a government grows to serve the individual needs of its people, the people's rights, freedoms and liberties to serve themselves is diminished until they are completely extinguished. The co-existence of individual freedom and a central government require a very delicate balance almost impossible to manage long-term, as a direct result of political ambition.

The people's demand for government run services will always result in politicians seeking to exploit those demands for personal political gain. The end result is an ever increasing government power which must be given the authority to tyrannize one segment of the population in order to fund the many services being demanded by other segments.

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." – Thomas Jefferson

230 years later, this is where we find ourselves today. Almost every election is decided 51-49, one side or the other. Nearly every Supreme Court decision is decided 5-4, one side or the other.

Not long ago, the vast majority of Americans sought to protect and preserve the ideas of the Founders and defend individual freedom and liberty at any cost. But today, somewhere close to half of all Americans now seek to trade individual freedom and liberty for a perceived greater good. They call it progress…

And that's why Jefferson also reminds us that "Every generation needs a new revolution."

It's also why the Second Amendment was written, as Jefferson stated so well, "Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."

Contrary to conventional thinking, our guns are not just for hunting. They are for defending our lawful earnings and property, our individual freedom and liberty, against an increasingly intrusive power-hungry government which must take from our most productive citizens against their will, in order to deliver on the promises of expanding government powers.

Until all Americans are adequately reminded and respectful of the reality that there is no good greater than the good of individual freedom and liberty, they will continue to relinquish their freedom to those who seek the political power only available in a dependent society.

Unless all Americans come to terms with the fact that nothing on earth is more "fair" than "unequal" results for "unparalleled efforts," they will continue down the path of Democratic Socialism until they realize that they can not be made richer, but only poorer, by the punitive destruction of achievers.

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day." – Thomas Jefferson

I chose Jefferson for this piece not only because he is the most prolific of our Founders, but because he was also the best traveled and studied of the Founders.

Isn't it odd that he is also the Founder Democratic Socialists most often quote as one of their own? Those who seek a government mandated greater common good are followers of Marx, not Jefferson. ESR

© 2008 J.B. Williams

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