There is a definite, unique, American belief that translates into specific principles for the establishment and workings of our government. This completes a discussion of immortal principles central to liberty and American greatness as found in the Declaration of Independence. Compromise of any of the following principles leads to harmful consequences.
American Principle Twelve: Vital to American Work Ethic, Property Ownership Must Be Secure—
“… are entitled to life, liberty and property…” ~ Declaration, First Continental Congress, 1774
“That all men … have certain inherent rights … namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property.” ~ Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
Our “wish is that… [there be maintained] … the state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry, or that of his fathers.” ~ President Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805
The emotionally charged appeal for the redistribution of the fruits of man’s labor was attempted in Plymouth Colony. Following extensive food shortages, Governor Bradford turned to the Bible for wisdom and then announced that settlers would have a plot of land, and thereafter be entitled to the fruits of their own labor (April, 1623). Entire families went to work, and hard times changed to a plentiful supply of food. It was later identified and popularized by Karl Marx (1818-1883) as “each according to his ability, to each according to need.”
Linking the work ethic to property ownership is a monumental break from the world’s political history. The incentive of property ownership is the engine that makes an economy flourish. It is the value created in the usefulness of products provided by the suppliers that leads the buyer to spend his money to own the product.
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11).
American Principle Thirteen: Government Power and Taxes Limited for Liberty’s Sake—
“… imposing Taxes on us without our Consent …” ~ Declaration of Independence
“Liberty and security in government depend not on the limits, which the rulers may please to assign to the exercise their own powers, but on the boundaries, within which their powers are circumscribed by the Constitution.” ~ James Wilson Lectures, p. 179
James Madison condemned taxing the thrifty and financially independent citizens for purposes of leveling. He condemned this practice, advanced by old European secular philosophy, as “improper” and “wicked” (The Federalist No. 10). Low taxes and limited government are indispensable supports for property ownership and liberty. “He [the King] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance” (Declaration of Independence).
Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist No. 17, emphasizes that taxes should not be imposed at the federal level that enable the federal government to do things that go beyond their enumerated powers. That would take money from the people that should be available for state and local government needs (in effect, enabling federal usurpers to prevent the function of government that is closest to the people).
Government debt that exceeds income cripples nations in the same devastating way that it cripples individuals, families and corporations. “Indeed, we cannot too often inculcate upon you our desires, that all extraordinary grants and expensive measures may, upon all occasions, as much as possible, be avoided. The public money of this country is the toil and labor of the people …” (written by representatives of the town of Braintree, Massachusetts, to their legislative representative, Braintree Records, 1765-66).
~ David Norris