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Topic: Government, Spending, Matches 14 quotes.



“Not Yours to Give”: The Real Davy Crockett Story (Part I)

When Colonel Davy Crockett (1786-1836) was a member of the House of Representatives, he voted for a bill to relieve the victims of a fire in Georgetown. While Crockett was campaigning for the next election, a backwoods farmer came to him and chastised him for his vote, with these words:

“It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he.

If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose . . . .

There are about 240 members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money . . . The people about Washington no doubt applauded you for relieving them of the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else.

Everything beyond this is a usurpation.”

Source: The Life of Colonel David Crockett, ed. Edward S. Ellis
(Philadelphia: Potter & Coates, 1884). Reprinted in Lawrence W. Reed
and Dale M. Haywood, eds., When We Are Free (Midland, Michigan:
Northwood Institute Press, 1981), p. 185.

Topics: Government, Spending; Rights



Much of the problem with the Federal budget has arisen out of the mistaken concept of a “right” to basic goods and services, and I am disturbed by your promotion of this concept in the headline from your newsletter: “Health Care: An American Right.” This idea has all but destroyed an understanding among the public of the true concept of rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, where rights refer to areas where governments are proscribed from interfering with the individual, not to things which individuals can feel justified in having the government provide by stealing from others.

In this regard I would ask you to ponder the following words of Davy Crockett, spoken to the U.S. House of Representatives in regard to a bill to appropriate money for a “worthy cause” when he was a Congressman from Tennessee:

. . . we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of public money . . . .

. . . I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.

The bill failed. Of course today it would be impossible for Congressmen to fund any but the tiniest of the programs they debate out of their own pockets, and it is extremely rare for a Congressman to consider the question of whether it is in his delegated authority under the Constitution to make budgetary commitments to all of today’s massive programs.”

Source: Davy Crockett Story (Part II)
The Freeman, 1992, September, p. 364.

Topics: Government, Spending; Rights



People are beginning to realize that the apparatus of government is costly. But what they do not know is that the burden falls inevitably on them.

Source: Frederic Bastiat

Topics: Government, Spending; Taxes



On this point may I quote Robert Ingersoll. I do not agree with him on many things, but on this point, he is right. Said he:

In the first place the government does not support the people, the people support the government. The government is a perpetual pauper. It passes ‘round the hat and solicits contributions; but then you must remember that the government has a musket behind the hat. The government produces nothing. It does not plow the land, it does not sow corn, it does not grow trees. The government is a perpetual consumer. We support the government. Now, the idea that the government can make money for you and me to live on—it is the same as though my hired man should issue certificates of my indebtedness to him for me to live on. Some people tell us that the government can impress its sovereignty on a piece of paper, and that is money. Well, if it is, what is the use of wasting it making one dollar bills? It takes no more ink and no more paper—why not make one thousand dollar bills? Why not make a hundred million dollar bills and all be billionaires? How do you get your money? By work. You have to dig it out of the ground.That is where it comes from. Men have always had a kind of hope that something could be made out of nothing.

Source: Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin
General Conference, October 1944

Topics: Economics; Government, Spending



We are saying that we face a great crisis, that the very existence of our nation is at stake. And yet one class of people is being told and is telling itself that it will not give up one whit of certain alleged gains it has made. It is willing to prepare for the emergency provided that it is not called upon to sacrifice anything. Another Class is demanding assurance against loss, and still another as a matter of self interest and expediency is willing to let vital things wait. By sections and communities we are joining in the mad scramble. I read that the defense commission is being harassed and hampered by the clamors of localities, chambers of commerce, pressure groups, and politicians for the location of this or that industry in this or that place without regard for military requirement or efficiency of the whole program. We want to save our country if we can conveniently, but if it goes down we want to be able to say that our congressman got us a liberal part of the public funds and be sure that we hand ourselves over to the conqueror with plenty of public works on hand and our local vanity satisfied.

Source: Elder Albert E. Bowen
General Conference, October 1940

Topics: Government, Spending; Responsibility



. . . civil administration, which is primarily dependent upon taxes that can be accurately forecast, except for income and other like special taxes which are in the nature of extra or surplus revenues. Therefore there are in governmental activities few occasions when an unbalanced budget—that is, when more is spent than is taken in—is not created by some deliberate act.

Furthermore, governmental agencies, knowing their fixed income, can plan their expenditures with certainty, they can so fix their expenditures as to fall within their income.

Source: President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
General Conference, April 1940

Topics: Government, Spending; Taxes



The situation is clear. The Federal Government has before it two issues: first, as to whether or not it is able to carry the relief burden, or is the Federal income adequate to cover the huge expenditures of the past, present, and future. The present condition of the National Treasury indicates that disbursements are far in excess of receipts, which brings back to mind the truth expressed by President Clark, wherein he declared that no individual, nor private enterprise, nor even government can long exist on a sound financial basis when disbursements are greater than receipts. This local problem of relief which has and is being expanded into tremendous proportions by government agencies will come back to local units of government where it rightly belongs, or the nation faces bankruptcy.

Secondly, the Federal Government in turning the problem of relief back to states, counties, cities, communities, and churches should set in motion through these local units preparation for the caring of those in distress. Where preparation is being made to meet this problem, there will be but little difficulty. But where no preparation has been made, suffering, difficulties, and bloodshed are not remote possibilities.

Source: Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin
General Conference, April 1940

Topics: Government, Spending; Welfare



“Sponging” On The Government

Now without mitigation in the least of our sympathies toward those unfortunate ones actually in need, the observing cannot help but note that there is an ever-growing and deeply regrettable tendency to “sponge” on the government and take every gratuity possible to obtain and this too, sometimes by representation and connivance which will not bear the light of truth. It is true also that this disposition to “sponge” on the government is not confined to those only who are on the relief rolls.

In the obtaining of benefit loans and crop allocations with other concessions so lavishly bestowed it has been manifest in such degree and in such people as to be greatly astonishing to those who have the inside information. Not infrequently does one hear in pseudo justification of these regrettable actions, expressions such as these—“Well everybody’s getting it, I might as well get my share”—or “The government brought on these conditions they should get us out.” I have been informed of men making application for home loans under representations of distress whose regular income for one month would be regarded by many families as ample support for an entire year.

Source: Elder Stephen L. Richards
General Conference, October 1934

Topics: Government, Spending; Welfare



Far-reaching Results

I am not willing to take it for granted that these abuses must be. They are too serious and their results too far reaching to go unchallenged. I fear them, not only because they are costly to the public treasury, the drain on which is a matter of deep concern to every American, but for the more important reason which I have heretofore indicated, that the practice of “sponging” on the government is perverting the finest virtues of American citizenship—self-respect, self-reliance and integrity. Furthermore, I cannot but conclude that this distortion to the morale of our people makes fertile ground for the seeds of disloyalty and anarchy which those inimical to our form of government are ever seeking to sow.

Source: Elder Stephen L. Richards
General Conference, October 1934

Topics: Government, Spending; Morality; Welfare

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