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As Long as We Remember...

June 21, 2011

Golden Words on Government

Shawn Burns

Our government! What exactly is it? What do we want it to be? How has it grown and adapted to meet our needs? How has it grown for better or worse?


Has it become government for government’s sake? Or has it held true to the ideals of a government of the people, by the people and for the people?


As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”


To those in our society who believe that the role of government is to care for citizens much in the way a parent cares for a child, consider what Thomas Jefferson had to say on the subject. “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.” Jefferson also warned of the dangers of government over reaching into society when he said, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”


Helping those in need in our society is and should be a moral obligation. But that help must have limitations that encourage personal responsibility and accountability. As it’s been said many times by many people, it must be a helping hand but not a hand-out. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”


Why have some people come to believe and feel comfortable with the idea of giving more and more control over their lives to the whims of government?


Many – if not most – of all of our pressing social issues would be resolved if we the people took back the burden of responsibility that we have so easily handed over to government bureaucrats.


And let’s face it; bureaucrats don’t want to solve problems. If they actually solved problems, they’d be out of work.


Thomas Jefferson said, “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 the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”


Do we want our government to be like that of our forefathers? A government in which rugged individualism, ingenuity, personal responsibility and a pioneering spirit dominated their ideology? Or do we want something else, or something less in which government calls all of the shots?


In a final word of warning from Thomas Jefferson, he wrote, “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government,” also adding, “The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”


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