Government, Poverty and Self-Reliance: Wisdom From 19th Century PresidentsSubmitted by JeffD on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 12:23
A book by Lawrence W. Reed i stumbled across.A great read about the 18th century presidents vision of what government should be/do.
You can read it here http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=7434 or download it here http://www.mackinac.org/archives/2005/sp2005-02.pdf
Some passages -
The fact is, our leaders in the 1800s did mount a war on poverty — the most comprehensive and effective ever mounted by any central government in world history. It just didn’t have a gimmicky name like "Great Society," nor did it have a public relations office and elitist poverty conferences at expensive seaside resorts. If you could have pressed them then for a name for it, most if not all of those early chief executives might well have said their anti-poverty program was, in a word, liberty. This word meant things like self-reliance, hard work, entrepreneurship, the institutions of civil society, a strong and free economy, and government confined to its constitutional role as protector of liberty by keeping the peace.
Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government big enough to give the people everything they want is big enough to take away everything they’ve got.
Texas congressman Ron Paul is noted for blowing the whistle whenever a bill is proposed that violates the spirit or the letter of the Constitution, but quite often he does so all by himself. How are his appeals received by the great majority of other members of Congress? "Like water off a duck’s back," he once told me.
"(I)t will be my aim to inculcate by my official acts the necessity of exercising by the General Government those powers only that are clearly delegated; to encourage simplicity and economy in the expenditures of the government; to raise no more money from the people than may be requisite for these objects, and in a manner that will best promote the interests of all classes of the community and of all portions of the union." - Andrew Jackson second Inaugural Address
Indeed, this "art of associating together" in the 19th century produced the most remarkable flowering of private charitable assistance ever seen. This era saw the founding of many of America’s most notable, lasting private associations — from the Salvation Army to the Red Cross. For many reasons, such groups are far more effective in solving social problems — poverty, homelessness and illiteracy, for instance — than are government programs.
And if these groups don’t produce results, they usually wither; the parishioners or others who voluntarily support them will put their money elsewhere. In contrast, when a government program fails to perform, its lobbyists make a case for more funding. Worse, they usually get it.
...when government gets involved, there is good reason to believe that much of its effort simply displaces what private people and groups would do better and more cost effectively if government stayed home.
Grover Cleveland —
Indeed, frequent warnings against using the government to redistribute income were characteristic of Cleveland’s tenure. He regarded as a "serious danger" the notion that government should dispense favors and advantages to individuals or their businesses. This conviction led him to veto a wagonload of bills — 414 in his first term, and 170 in his second — far more than all the previous 21 presidents combined.
"I ought to have a monument over me when I die," he once said, "not for anything I have ever done, but for the foolishness I have put a stop to."
"No amount of state education will make a really intelligent nation; no amount of Poor Laws will place a nation above want; no amount of Factory Acts will make us better parents. … To have our wants supplied from without by a huge state machinery, to be regulated and inspected by great armies of officials, who are themselves slaves to the system which they administer, will in the long run teach us nothing, (and) will profit us nothing." - Auberon Herbert
"And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works." - Lawrence W. Reed
Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich. This essay was given as a speech by Mr. Reed at the inaugural conference of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in April 2005.