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John Adams warned of this

February 25, 2013

To the editor: In 1787 John Adams, one of our country’s founding fathers, wrote a treatise called “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States....

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Feb-25-13 1:30 PM

Thomas Paine said, “Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man's own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came…the accumulation of personal property is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it; the consequence of which is that the working hand perishes in old age, and the employer abounds in affluence.” Seems our current difference have a long history. That history is filled with government based on compromises between different views like these, and we’ve done pretty well.

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Feb-25-13 1:31 PM

(cont.) Adams wanted to protect the system that allowed only property owners the right to vote. But most people understand that not all of those without land and wealth are “idle, vicious, and intemperate”; and some of those with land and wealth are.

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Feb-25-13 3:20 PM

It's good to see MT has moved on to something different from his anti-gay agenda.

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Feb-25-13 5:30 PM

And, what would good ol' John Adams think of the billion dollar lobbyist industry of today? Who do they work for? And how long have they been working for them? And what happens when Congress can be bought by the ultra-wealthy?

In an ideal world, we should honor the brilliance of the Founding Fathers. However, in 1787 they had no idea what 10,000 greedy fixers and peddlers and sleeze-bags in 2013 would do to the purity of their thinking.

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Feb-25-13 5:55 PM

Auntydem: It is true that wherever society is present, a single person may accumulate greater riches than where there is no civilized society.

But it is a leap of logic to say that because a person lives in a society and has become rich, that it is society that has made him rich.

It is not LIVING IN a society that makes one rich, but the ACTIONS and DECISIONS that a person makes that enriches him. Apart from his own efforts, he would have nothing more living in society than he would have while living on a deserted island.

It is not the mere existence of society, but the efforts of the individual, that determine whether or not an individual becomes rich.

So the rich person who acted and decided profitably owes society no more and no less than the poor person who acted and decided poorly.

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Feb-25-13 7:16 PM

MT: Acting and deciding profitably does not automatically mean acting morally or wisely, nor does being poor mean one is not a good person or wise. It is politically convenient to make judging people so simplistic, but life is not so simple.

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Feb-25-13 11:38 PM

(Trumpets sounding: bop-boppa-bahhh!)

And, the winner of a leather-bound set of the complete works of Ayn Rand, is my new best friend, MIT.

Did I mention the books are inscribed by Paul Ryan?

"To MIT: May we all go back 200 years. Keep up the good work. Deepest appreciation, P.R."

Just gives me goosebumps!

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Feb-26-13 12:57 AM

Auntydem: Are you saying, then, that it is the role of government to decide what is and is not moral, and then to enforce that morality in society at large?

What is it that qualifies government to be a better judge of what is moral than private individuals? Is not the government comprised of individuals who are no more and no less fallible than the rest of us? What, then, would be the basis for this idea that government should be the arbiter and enforcer of moral justice between rich and poor?

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Feb-26-13 8:20 AM

And vice versa, Auntydem.

The poor and/or down trodden don't hold a monopoly on being moral or wise. And being a person of great means doesn't mean that person doesn't have deep empathy for those truely in need.

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Feb-26-13 8:39 AM

“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less?” President Ronald Reagan June 6, 1985 The rich should not pay substantially higher rates but they should also not pay substantially lower rates. If someone making 5 Million Dollars a year through investments pays 15% (the current rate) and someone who makes 50 thousand a year pays 20-25% that is a problem. I am not sure if the answer is a flat tax or a national sales tax in place of income tax. What I do know is I see many letters to the journal about morality; well in my opinion when the rich pay less in tax than the middle class that truly is immoral.

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Feb-26-13 9:41 AM

Michael- Are you saying that government should NOT be responsible for deciding what is and is not moral? And you want us to take you seriously? You were all for government being the arbiter/enforcer when it came to gay marriage. Holy 180 Batman.

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Feb-26-13 10:18 AM

MT: Government exists for the common good. Food, water, shelter, health, education, safety are basic human needs that our government has always had some role in providing - ideally through our economic system and employment. But is not perfect. Some tax money goes directly to people for those basic needs, and more goes to business and banks to support the system. Both are necessary. There have and always should be rich people. No one has or is saying throw it all in the pot and hand out equal shares.

Your question - What is it that qualifies government to be a better judge of what is moral than private individuals?- is perhaps best answered by those who believe government should make marriage and reproductive decisions, yet oppose it supporting basic human needs.

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Feb-26-13 10:34 AM

It saddens me as a Christian to observe God's will spoiled by politics. It is God who places government (in it's various forms)over people to carry out functions that are beyond the scale of the church. If we had a unified Christian church that was not splintered by hundreds of denominations then maybe it could face the challeges that it's members face. I Peter 5:2 says "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers -- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;". Our money and property are tools God has given us to help those in His kingdom and to carry out His ministry. Government is also controlled by God and is also a tool to carry out His Will. As a Christian focus on the caring, not the accumulating.

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Feb-26-13 12:01 PM

Auntydem: While it may sound good and logical to say that the government exists for the common good, that statement is not (strictly speaking) accurate when it comes to our federal government. The federal government exists to preserve and protect our freedoms.

Saying that the government exists for the common good is actually the first step on a slippery slope. If the gov't exists for the common good, it would seem to follow that gov't should be involved in anything and everything that would be helpful to individual citizens. There would be no limit to the size of gov't or its involvement in your life and mine or its claims on your property and mine.

We need to preserve the distinction between the gov't and the civil society. The gov't exists to preserve our freedoms. The civil society exists to use those freedoms. Society benefits most when individual citizens have and use their freedoms.

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Feb-26-13 12:59 PM

MT-do you mean freedoms like the freedom to marry who you wish? Or the freedom of a woman to decide what is best for her body? Are those the freedoms of which you speak?

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Feb-26-13 2:12 PM

MT, please read the Preamble to the Constitution. It starts, "We the People of the United States..." not "We the Property Owners."And among the purposes for establishing the government is "promote the general Welfare," as well as to "secure the Blessings of Liberty..."

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Feb-26-13 2:22 PM

ZM: I could respond, but prefer to stick with the topic at hand, namely, the right of the individual to own and accumulate personal wealth and property without fear that his neighbors will use the mechanism of government to rob him of the fruits of his labors.

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Feb-26-13 2:35 PM

notsonuts: The government was indeed established "for the general welfare," but not in the way that many today understand that phrase.

When people today hear "general welfare," their minds focus on the word "welfare." They think the federal government was established to do anything and everything that would serve for to benefit U.S. citizens.

But that was definitely not what the Founders had in mind. If they had intended that, they would not have limited the federal government to certain powers enumerated in the Constitution, reserving the rest to the people and the states (10th amendment).

When the Founders heard "general welfare," they emphasized the word "general." In other words, whatever the federal government did, it should not benefit one state or one individual more than the others. It should be done for the GENERAL welfare.

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Feb-26-13 2:35 PM

Romans 13 verses 8-10 states: "Let no debt outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery,""Do not murder,""Do not steal,""Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Government is a servant of God, government is divinely established by God. God does use government (both good and bad) for the common good of His people. There is no slippery slope when love for our fellowman compels us to use government as a tool for compassion.

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Feb-26-13 2:53 PM

You might also enjoy this quote from Andrew Carnegie, who had a firm belief in the right of the millionaire to his millions: "Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community." He also said, "the man who dies... rich dies disgraced."

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Feb-26-13 3:00 PM

MT: The topic widened when you asked about the role of government to enforce morality, and your statement that government exists to enforce freedoms. ZM's questions are fair and on topic.

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Feb-26-13 3:05 PM

MNcommonsense: Love for God should move us to use the blessings He has given to us as a blessing to ourselves and others in society. It is totally unnecessary to involve the government in the good that we do for society. The involvement of government introduces fraud, waste, corruption, and ineffectiveness into the process.

For example, when JFK and LBJ expanded the welfare state, they did so by telling the people that their program would reduce the number of people dependent on the public dole. Considering the huge sums of money that the government has put into welfare programs for a half century now, one would expect that we would have significantly reduced the number of those who are dependent on public aid. But it hasn't happened. In fact, the effect of this government-funded program has been the reverse of its stated goal.

Just because something is worthwhile, that doesn't mean it must be done by the gov't.

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Feb-26-13 3:13 PM

The wealthy fear their neighbors will use government to rob them of their wealth? Goodness, with all the oppressive taxes they paid while moving up, however did they manage to accumulate wealth? Remember when all the wealthy were made poor by taxation? When was that again? Or is this robbing thing new because of the newness of this particular president? Do they fear the government when they take tax breaks, grants, contracts, etc. from it? That guy with wealth who lives in fear that his neighbors will use the mechanism of government to rob him of the fruits of his labors sounds bit paranoid given the reality of our history and the actual tax proposals made.

Gee, thanks for explaining that “welfare” means more that handouts. I believe the GENERAL welfare of a nation is well-served when all its citizens have basic needs met and opportunity to better their lives. There will be rich, poor, and in-between; but none will be suffering.

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Feb-26-13 3:16 PM

Just because something is worthwhile, that doesn't mean it must be done by the gov't.....except for keeping the gays and the ladies on the "right path"?

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Feb-26-13 3:23 PM

Auntydem: Based on your comments, I would classify your political views as socialist. Would that be a fair assessment?

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