What’s happening in today’s America was predicted long ago by men who understood human nature and the potential problems of big government. Frederick Bastiat and Alexis de Tocqueville both lived during the first half of the nineteenth century, and here is what they had to say:
“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” – Frederick Bastiat, (1801-1850)
“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” – Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
And I recently noted this: Columnist George Will once addressed the question about “why do so many representatives and senators support so many spending programs?” Will cited the work of scholar James Payne, who studied U.S. House and Senate committee hearings. In one study, the views of 1,060 witnesses were tabulated regarding one spending plan:
7 people opposed,
39 people were neutral,
1,014 were in favor.
Clearly, the tax eaters showed up to testify.
A couple of years ago I wrote a piece titled “McKenna, Watson, and Cross versus the 10,000,” noting that our Republican leaders in Illinois seemed to ignore the taxeating horde that was gathering up to elect Barack Obama president and maintain the Democrat’s control over Illinois. It’s worse today. Thanks to Obama, that taxeating horde is well fed and hungry for even more tax dollar moolah.
Any Republican who thinks he can play footsie with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Illinois teacher unions, or groups like ACORN needs to have his head examined right after his immediate resignation from office.
Why would any Republican think there is any overlap between the GOP Platform calling for limited government and the mission of the public sector labor unions calling for massive government?
The obvious answer is that fear of holding onto their job is the primary driver of too many Republican office holders. Instead of building a Republican Party and a back-up force for them to do the right thing legislatively, they do incredibly stupid things like opposing SB600.
You can read about SB600 here – it’s a reform that would do the most to enable limited government Republicans to take back their party from the party bosses and doofuses that are currently in charge.
No small part of this current problem, of course, is that too many people make a career out of elective office. As George Will wrote a number of years ago,
“Republican careerists are indistinguishable from Democratic careerists.”
He also said this:
“A Congress whose members are cured of careerism will be less risk-averse and more vigorous.”
The same applies to state legislators.
Like Bastiat and de Tocqueville, Founding Father John Adams understood this entire dynamic and penned this advice:
“Public business, my son, must always be done by somebody. It will be done by somebody or other. If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it, others will not.
A young man should weigh well his plans. Integrity should be preserved in all events, as essential to his happiness, through every stage of his existence. His first maxim then should be to place his honor out of reach of all men.
In order to do this he must make it a rule never to become dependent on public employments for subsistence.
Let him have a trade, a profession, a farm, a shop, something where he can honestly live, and then he may engage in public affairs, if invited, upon independent principles.
My advice to my children is to maintain an independent character.”
If we want to return to limited government, that last sentence is the key.
©2009 John Francis Biver