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Topic: Government, Loss of Freedom, Matches 16 quotes.



Unrestrained Government

History books most often say the war was fought to free the slaves. But that idea is brought into serious question by Abraham Lincoln’s repeated disclaimer: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” The real causes had more to do with problems similar to those the nation faces today—a federal government that has escaped the limits of the Constitution.

John C. Calhoun expressed that concern in his famous Fort Hill Address of July 26, 1831, when he was Andrew Jackson’s vice president. Calhoun, who later became a senator from South Carolina, said, “Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.”

Calhoun, like Jefferson, feared Washington, D.C.‘s usurpation of powers constitutionally held by the people and the states (“consolidation”). For example, of the tariffs enacted to protect Northern manufacturers, Calhoun said that “an undue proportion of the burden of taxation has been imposed on the South, and an undue proportion of its proceeds appropriated to the North.”

Import duties extracted far more from the South than from the North, and Southerners complained of having to pay either high prices for northern-made goods or high tariffs on foreign-made goods. They also complained about federal laws not dissimilar to the Navigation Acts that helped bring on the War for Independence.

Source: Walter E. Williams
The Freeman, January 1999, pp. 63-64

Topics: Civil War; Government, Loss of Freedom; Slavery; Taxes



Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.

Source: Thomas Jefferson
Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:207

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom



Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”

Source: Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805.

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Responsibility



At a clear and extreme level, violations of inalienable rights by a government might excuse citizens from the performance of some obligations of citizenship. But the history of Latter-day Saints’ relations to their governments shows that any such exceptions would have to be far more extreme than anything we have experienced in this country.

Source: Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“Some Responsibilities of Citizenship”

Topics: Citizenship; Government, Loss of Freedom; Responsibility



The worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments. The state can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster.

Source: Ludwig von Mises

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Government, Power



There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Source: Ayn Rand

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Government, Power; Government, Tyranny



It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.

Source: H. L. Mencken

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Government, Power; Government, Tyranny



The concentrating [of powers] in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one.

Source: Thomas Jefferson

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Government, Power; Government, Tyranny



Shift from Individual to Governmental Responsibility

We have seen in the past quarter century a tremendous shift from individual to governmental responsibility in many phases of economic and social life. We have seen a rapid shift of responsibility from the states to the federal government.

Deep in their hearts, the American people instinctively know that great concentration of power is an evil and a dangerous thing.

What lies behind this conviction? Basically, it is an intuitive knowledge that, sooner or later, the accumulation of power in a central government leads to a loss of freedom. Once power is concentrated, even for helpful purposes, it is all there, in one package, where it can be grabbed by those who may not be helpful in its use.

If power is diffused, this cannot happen. This is why the founders of our country carefully divided power between the state and federal levels. Nothing has happened in the meantime to call in question the validity of this arrangement.

Our traditional federal-state relationship, we must never forget, starts with a general presumption in favor of state and individual rights. Under the constitutional concept, powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

Many forces work toward the concentration of power at federal level. It somehow seems easier to impose so-called “progress” on localities than to wait for them to bring it about themselves. Raids on the federal treasury can be all too readily accomplished by an organized few over the feeble protests of any apathetic majority. With more and more activity centered in the federal government, the relationship between the costs and the benefits of government programs becomes obcure. What follows is the voting of public money without having to accept direct local responsibility for higher taxes.

If this trend continues, the states may be left hollow shells, operating primarily as the field districts of federal departments and dependent upon the federal treasury for their support.

It has been truly said by President Eisenhower that, “The federal government did not create the states of this Republic. The states created the federal government . . .—if the states lose their meaning our entire system of government loses its meaning and the next step is the rise of the centralized national state in which the seeds of autocracy can take root and grow.”

Those are strong but true words.

The history of all mankind shows very clearly that if we would be free—and if we would stay free—we must stand eternal watch against the accumulation of too much power in government.

There is hardly a single instance in all of history where the dictatorial centralization of power has been compatible with individual freedoms—where it has not reduced the citizenry to the status of pawns and mere creatures of the state. God forbid that this should happen in America. Yet I am persuaded that the continuation of the trend of the past twenty-five years could make us pallbearers at the burial of the states as effective units of government.

The drift toward centralization of power is not inevitable. It can be slowed down, halted, reversed.

How? By state and local governments insisting that theirs is the responsibility for problems that are essentially local and state problems—insisting upon this, with the knowledge that responsibility and authority go hand in hand.

Inevitably, in centralized federal programs the money is not as wisely spent as if the states participated financially.

The people come to look to the federal government as the provider, at no cost to them, of whatever is needful.

The truth is that the federal government has no funds which it does not first, in some manner, take from the people. A dollar cannot make the round trip to Washington and back without shrinking in the process. As taxpayers we need to recognize these facts; programs which obscure them are contrary to public interest.

The thought that the federal government is wealthy and the states poverty-stricken is a dangerous illusion. The federal debt is now eight times as great as the combined debt of the forty-eight states. It is difficult for the states to make a strong case for assistance from the federal government when anything the federal government spends must come from the states.

The states not only have rights, they also have responsibilities, and they have opportunities.

In the last analysis, we are not trying to protect one government entity from another. We are trying to protect the rights of individual people. If we ever forget this, the whole process of government is pointless.

Source: Ezra Taft Benson
General Conference, October 1958

Topics: Government, Loss of Freedom; Government, Vertical Separation; Welfare

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