he Minute Man, a statue by Daniel Chester French erected in 1875 in Concord, Massachusetts. (from here)
The Minute Man, a statue by Daniel Chester French erected in 1875 in Concord, Massachusetts. (from here)

Because the framers of the Constitution intended a limited government, there is nothing in the Constitution that grants Congress the power to set up health, education, or welfare programs. Hence none of these programs have any right to exist. Yet they do exist. Why? The reason given is that it is the compassionate thing to do. Is that true? Is it compassionate to give the Federal Government that kind of power?

What Once Made America Different?

What once distinguished America? The wisest of the Founding Fathers knew men are sinners, not to be trusted too much, but we have been changed. America has seen its transformation. Think about the sheer hypocrisy of the guy who said this.

We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only “what’s in it for me,” a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism is unworthy of our founding ideals and those who died in their defense. — President Barack Obama (from here)

Obama tells us “we have responsibilities as well as rights,” but the words are empty, said only to assuage the consciences of those not truly interested in taking responsibility for their own thievery, immorality and bigotry. Unfortunately, because we no longer understand and accept our responsibilities, we have elected too many who spout such empty rhetoric.

Consider a still popular quote from a more honest, wiser man.

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. — James Madison from The Federalist No. 51

What is the great difficulty? Don’t we each have personal responsibilities we must fulfill? Don’t we each have personal rights that need protection? When we shirk our responsibilities — when we demand that our government fulfill our responsibilities for us — we cannot trust that same government to protect our rights. For example, how can we trust the same people we have given the power to “redistribute the wealth” (stealing from one person and giving to another) to protect our property rights? Where can we find leaders with the moral integrity to resist such a conflict of interest?

What Defines Compassion?

In theory we could make the same government that protects our rights also responsible for giving us our “rights,” but we are morally incapable of making any such thing work. Let’s consider why.

compassion noun
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Is compassion something we expect from politicians and the bureaucracies they create, or is it something we expect from individual human beings? The answer is obvious, but politicians are good at showing us how much they “care.” They and the news media show us suffering people. Then they offer us grand, “compassionate” solutions. Spend money on a great bureaucracies. Thus, we have education for the masses, housing for the homeless, guaranteed retirement incomes for the aged,” free” medical care for the needy, and so forth. Add it all up, and it is a “war on poverty,” a war that greatly profits the people who run that war.

For whom do we have the greatest compassion? Supposedly, we expect our children to be the greatest beneficiaries of this “war on poverty.” After all, who can list all the things that politicians have told us are “for the children”? In fact, us old people have buried our children in debt. Because us old people vote, we have voted to devote most of the Federal Budget to Social Security and Medicare programs. Those old people programs are not for our children, but those old people programs are most definitely the third rail of politics, untouchable.

What is going on? Perhaps this odd quote explains it best.

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. — Unknown

There are great many quotes such as the one above floating about on the Internet.  Instead of observing the obvious truth of the statement, the big spending activists waste their time attacking the authenticity of the quotes. Yet when we are robbing generations yet unborn, what difference does it make who said it? Are we suppose to ignore the fact the public treasury is being robbed, that we are the ones robbing it?

Is it compassionate to bankrupt our children?

Reverence For The Law

A couple of hundred years ago a group of men met in Philadelphia. They spent most of a summer trying to solve a riddle. How could we receive the benefits of a national government without that government becoming a threat to our rights? They offered up the Constitution as their solution, and a dubious and distrustful People accepted it, quickly adding a Bill of Rights.

What is the key to making the Constitution work? What did Benjamin Franklin say in its support?

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. — Benjamin Franklin, speech in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 17, 1787); reported in James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott (1893), p. 742 (from here)

Franklin and the other framers had no delusions that they had written something perfect or that mere men could make it work forever. They just hoped they could avoid corruption and make their Constitution work for awhile.

How do we avoid corruption? There is no simple way.

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. — Abraham Lincoln (from here)

Now put that quote in context.

I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists, because the Constitution forbids it, and the general welfare does not require us to do so. We must not withhold an efficient Fugitive Slave law, because the Constitution requires us, as I understand it, not to withhold such a law. But we must prevent the outspreading of the institution, because neither the Constitution nor general welfare requires us to extend it. We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade, and the enacting by Congress of a Territorial slave code. We must prevent each of these things being done by either Congresses or courts. The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln included those words in a speech just before the start of the American Civil War. He knew slavery was wrong; most of the men who wrote the Constitution knew slavery was wrong. Yet without the compromise that allowed state governments to define black men as slaves, there would have been no Constitution. Hence, the Constitution’s framers had settled on a compromise that they hoped would limit slavery and allow it to wither away.

Because we cannot do it, government does not exist to right every wrong. It exists to maintain order, that we might have some rights rather than none at all. We do not honor the laws of men because they are perfect; they are not. We honor the rule of law because the alternative, the rule of man, is a far greater wrong, a despotism that enslaves all wholly and completely to the caprice of a tyrant.

Is despotism compassionate?


We can call anything compassionate. With portraits of suffering victims and showers of lovely words, we can even justify taking money from hardworking people and giving it to people who are not working.  In time, the people who are not working will learn to vote themselves more money. Will their thievery make them more compassionate?

As the old saying goes, we cannot have our cake and eat it too. We can either have a government that protects our rights, or we have a government led by people who make lovely promises that they cannot and will not keep. Isn’t the correct choice obvious? Apparently, the answer is no longer obvious. We have been transformed.

When politicians make outrageous promises, some people are gullible enough to believe them.  Ironically, those people like to call themselves “Progressives.”

39 thoughts on “THE ETHICS OF TYRANNY

  1. The first Progressives, Woodrow Wilson, Frank Goodnow and John Dewey drove their ideas into the heart and soul of American government and culture.

    Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to understand that Progressivism is about much, much more than mere compassion, which is a magnificent way of marking Progressivism to a Christian culture.

    Wilson, Goodnow and Dewey understand (wrongly of course) that the Founding Fathers’ political philosophy of constitutionally limited government was outdated and grossly ineffective in dealing with “modern” problems.

    They imagined our entire American culture justly ruled by experts, free from political interest, who had been granted the total power to write, administer and adjudicate all law.

    Progressivism is, in reality, raw tyranny disguised as a political philosophy whose aim is universal justice.

    At this link is an article on the nature, purpose and history of Progressivism written by Hillsdale College Professor, Dr. Ronald J. Pestritto for the Heritage Foundation:


  2. This is a really well worded post. I especially liked what you said about compassion. I live among some serious bleeding hearts and I’ve been able to observe some of the harm that can be done under the guise of compassion, especially forced compassion that has almost nothing to do with actually helping the person they are allegedly targeting. It’s like watching national politics come to their logical conclusion in a tiny laboratory and it’s not pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lincoln’s very meticulous, lawyer-like view of slavery as it related to the Constitution is well worth multiple reads and deep study. He and his countrymen of the time were faced with a great evil, but had to deal with it within the boundaries of the Constitutional document, a document that had made compromises in the interest of Union in the immediate, post-Revolution period. Lincoln, a man of limited formal education, threaded his way through the labyrinth with consummate skill and intellectual acuity, all the while keeping a grip on morally defensible principles. His contemporaries, by contrast, (and here I think particularly of Stephen Douglas), tried to find a politically expedient way of addressing the issue. They prevailed in the short term, of course, but lost the longer term battle/war.



    1. The Democratic Party is much the same today as it was then, and the Republican Party does not offer any better solution than did the Whigs before they were dumped.


      1. Actually, Tom, I think the Democratic Party is almost unrecognizably different from the Democratic Party of the 1850s. Ditto the Republican Party, although my family history of having been in on the ground floor with the Republican Party is one of the reasons I still cling to my hope that the GOP is the Party of Lincoln, of sound judgment, of defending civil liberties of all citizens, of clear-eyed thinking on foreign policy and economics, and just general, pragmatic good sense, competence and fair impulses in matters of governance.

        I do agree, however, with your point that the Republican Party is facing a “Whig Moment” in terms of its more visible candidates and office holders embracing irrelevancies. If the Party cannot do better, it will, as you suggest (I think) disappear.



  4. Loved how you discussed “compassion” and its subjective forms. Of course anyone can label what they do is compassionate but the real definition is what results from the action? Getting large groups of people so addicted to govt services that they have no idea how to fend for themselves is about as opposite of compassion I can think of.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as ‘caring’ and ‘sensitive’ because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money—if a gun is held to his head.” —P. J. O’Rourke

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    If you desire there be no more social programs, then you must remove their justification. As someone who needed social programs to get by for a while, I can say from experience that unless you provide a replacement, you are literally taking bread out of people’s mouths.

    From matter of law, the Legislature is given full power to law and impose taxes for the general welfare in Section 8. Seeing as Framer’s Intent is not a source of American jurisprudence, it must be rejected. Therefore, since the interpretation of “general welfare” has been taken to mean social programs, it cannot be said that those programs are in violation of anything except, perhaps, what the Framers wanted in their government. Their intent is irrelevant in light of the creation of Article 5 and the other amendment provisions. The US Constitution could be dissolved tomorrow if a convention of the states or a constitutional convention decided on a new constitution. In short, the Framers equally intended that the government be changed where it was desired by future generations.

    That said, America doesn’t have the temperament for German socialism–arguably the most successful of the European models–and would have to create its own socialist philosophy consistent with its values. If we are going to import European ideas, we need to adopt their sentiments as well. Look what happened when we adopted classical liberalism? Socialism cannot work here not because socialism cannot work–economists project that the German mark, were the Euro Zone to collapse, would be stronger than the US Dollar or at least its rival much like the British pound–but because it doesn’t work for us.


  6. @mastersamwise

    I think you are a bit confused about Matthew 25:31-46 (=> At the time Jesus spoke those words, Socialism did not exist. Jesus was certainly not attempting to start Socialism. Even with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have the capacity to make it work. Consider the Fate of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-16 => Even when filled with the Holy Spirit and surrounded by miracles, people lie. We can lie even to the Holy Spirit.

    So yes. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does refer to nations, but He separates individual people, goats on the left and sheep on the right. Jesus is not concerned about the nature of our government, whether some of the taxes we pay are “redistributed.” He is concerned about whether we love our neighbor. Therefore, it is ridiculous to think that just because we have adopted Socialism, that means everyone in America is going to heaven. In fact, it may mean at a few of us will go to hell because of it. Or maybe it won’t make any difference at all. Shrug.

    When we interpret scripture, to avoid confusion, it is best to consider multiple passages.
    1. Consider The Parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31 =. Why was the rich man consigned to Hell? Was it about Socialism or the rich man’s personal generosity? Was not the rich man’s failing the fact he would not even give Lazarus the crumbs off of his table?
    2. Imagine the desperate thief who seeks to redistribute the wealth to himself.

    Proverbs 6:30-31 English Standard Version (ESV)

    30 People do not despise a thief if he steals
    to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry,
    31 but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold;
    he will give all the goods of his house.

    Even in want, stealing is wrong.
    3. Christians don’t have the option of stealing.

    Ephesians 4:28 Amplified Bible (AMP)

    28 The thief [who has become a believer] must no longer steal, but instead he must work hard [making an honest living], producing that which is good with his own hands, so that he will have something to share with those in need.

    Personal charity? What an odd concept for a Christian?
    4. Of course, sin is difficult to avoid. So we pray.

    Proverbs 30:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

    9 Lest I be full and deny You,
    And say, “Who is the Lord?”
    Or lest I be poor and steal,
    And profane the name of my God.

    Anyway, in practice Socialism is just plain, ordinary stealing legalized by our government. You want to believe otherwise? I cannot stop you. All I can do is point to the fact that when our government taxes us, our elected officials don’t give us the choice of not paying. Therefore, as voters we have to have a good reason for threatening our neighbors when they refuse to pay. Voting to receive the goods of our neighbors as government charity just doesn’t cut the mustard (=> Thus, we should limit the size of our government and the motivation of people to vote for their own self interests at the expense of the welfare of their neighbors.

    I think you are even more seriously deluded about Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The purpose of the Constitution is to limit the powers of the Federal Government. The Constitution accomplishes its purpose by plainly stating what the Federal Government is allowed to do. So yes, Congress is suppose to provided for the welfare of the United States, and the remainder of Section 8 explains exactly what that means. Your more expansive interpretation of Section 8 renders the Constitution useless and pointless. Don’ think so? Well, I could use a chuckle. Why do you think the framers bothered to write a Constitution?

    Finally, I suppose I should deal with this statement.

    If you desire there be no more social programs, then you must remove their justification.

    We cannot find an example of where Socialism has worked. Because the whole concept is based upon stealing, Socialism has corrupted every society that attempted it and did not immediately get rid of it. Why do you think we are going bankrupt?


    1. “At the time Jesus spoke those words, Socialism did not exist.” In Jesus’ time, there was the Tzedakah, the religious duty of all Jews to financially support those who cannot until they are able. It is not like modern ideas of “charity” which now is more akin to philanthropy than the actual theological virtue.

      “We can lie even to the Holy Spirit.” That implies that something could be concealed from that which knows all. A tenuous position to be sure.

      “He is concerned about whether we love our neighbor.” You seem to be under the impression that love of neighbor is a principle that must be restricted to the individual level. If so, why did Paul write to communities? If the Divine Law is not intended to permeate and enlighten each and every aspect of human life–including even politics–then it has no worth or purpose besides self-aggrandizement, puffing up the few “righteous” ones.

      Socialism is also a much larger concept than I think you are doing justice. In its most general sense, it is the collective control of the means of production. Now, that collective may vary. Cole and his Guild Socialists would see factories run by “guilds” of workers much like the Medieval models for stone cutters, architects, and other artisan labor. Then there is decentralized planing socialism where the local board of workers control the means of production in their specific area and make decisions based on it. Much like capitalism, there are several theories and thoughts on the matter. Yet, you seem to be focusing on the mechanism of distributing the means of production and material goods found in Marxist socialism and then applying it to all socialism. Compare it to the socialism of the Polish Solidarity movement–a group instrumental in taking down the Soviet Union–and you find a stark contrast. The Marxist/Leninist socialism of Soviets relies upon the total common holding through government of the means of production. The Polish Solidarity movement focused on the association of workers for the common good of the joined workers by owning the means of production. Both held the means of production in common but the latter held private property in common for the common.

      Regarding Section 8, there is a catch-all clause. “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Furthermore, it is incorrect, based on the grammar, to assume that everything proceeding from “…throughout the United States” relates back to the quote I provided. The document reads that “The Congress shall have Power” and then lists the individual powers. The concept of a dash was not prevalent which is why we get the parenthetical statement of “but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States” between two semicolons. As a former historical interpreter who spent years studying the various and absurd ways our forefathers wrote things, you can take my word for it. In any case, the existence of the catch all clause allows for the Congress to create whatever agency they desire through legislative act and Article V could implode the whole constitution.

      “Socialism has corrupted every society that attempted it and did not immediately get rid of it.” Which is why the proposed German mark would be the new competitor of the dollar? David Brat, that odious man currently disgracing the Commonwealth, would disagree and would assert that it is the Protestant ethic that sustains economic well-being. Note that I consider him odious because he, like so many “Christian” capitalists, find their strength not in the will of God but in market forces and often conflate the two. I do not say that capitalism is not compatible with Christianity; I say that Brat is of the mindset of Weber and seeks a strange syncretism of the two.

      As for myself, I eschew from the promises of both systems. I do not believe money can solve our problems, nor the collective ownership of property. So long as there is this overbearing materialism pervading society, no social program will work without serious abuse and no market will be truly free. Have you considered that Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates could, without much cost to themselves, provide incalculable aid to the poor near their own communities but do not do so and instead rely on social programs to do the work?

      The Rich Man was condemned because he stole from Lazarus by withholding the surplus of his wealth. The fruits of the earth were given to all men, not single men. When a poor man starves, it is not a condemnation upon him for being poor as Brat would suppose with the Protestant ethic, but upon the rich man that had no concern for the poor in his midst and withheld the goods God intended he distribute for His glory.


      1. @mastersamwise

        What is the point of nitpicking?

        1. The Tzedakah is voluntary. Socialism is not.
        2. Did Peter accuse Ananias of being wise?

        Acts 5:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

        3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

        3. Are politics related to religion? Is love of neighbor a principle that must be restricted to the individual level?

        Have you noticed I combine religion and politics in this blog? I also agree Paul wrote to communities, but the last time I checked communities are made up of individuals. I think Paul did what all of us do. He loved one person at a time.
        4. Have I been unjust to Socialism? No. Socialism is an unjust system.

        When people work together voluntarily, they are more productive and more happy with the results. Poland rebelled against the USSR because they realized that what the USSR had established was more tyrannical than whatever they might impose upon themselves.
        5. Regarding Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

        I don’t have to take your word about the Constitution. I can read. I have also read The Federalist Papers. Would you be offended if I consider the men who wrote The Federalist Papers more authoritative than yourself? In addition, I have read The Bill of Rights. The Tenth Amendment is quite specific.

        Amendment X

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

        When it is so blatantly obvious our leaders would like to ignore the Tenth Amendment, you should be ashamed of yourself. You have no business lending power hungry men and women any material support for their power grabs. If you have half the expertise you claim, then you know full well the consequences of tyranny.
        6. I am not going to get sidetracked into a debate on Representative David Brat. If you want to pillory the man, use your own blog. Why is Germany relatively strong? Have you been paying attention? What do you think President Obama and Congress have been doing to our economy? Go back to that Bailout of the banks. That started because the government insisted the banks give loans to people who could not be trusted to pay them back. Then move forward. Consider all the major legislation, obama’s phone and pen, and reams of regulations. The only reason the unemployment rate has gone down is because so many people have given up looking for work. If Germany is relatively strong at the moment, it is because of our Socialist leadership.
        7. What about Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates money?

        What Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates do with their money is their decision. It is none of my business or your business. I don’t even want the responsibility. I am not a fan of either of them, but both have helped to create useful work (especially Bill Gates) for a great many people. So they have money mostly because they have done something useful with their money and talents.

        Materialism is evil, but even as we condemn it we can still envy the rich and covet their wealth. Such is a foolish trap. Don’t you remember the ruler who loved and trusted his wealth too much (Luke 18:18-30 => Do you want to be tested as Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates have been tested? Are you certain you would pass that test?

        Money is useful only because of what can be done with it. It has no intrinsic value, and it is silly to preoccupy ourselves with someone else’s money. We each should be pursuing happiness in our own way. Obsessing over someone else’s money is not going to make us happy. We can’t even do anything with it. We can only envy and covet what we don’t have.

        As Christians we have an obligation to spread the Gospel and to live as Jesus taught. We should pray for each other, even for the rich, but God saves souls. It is through Him that each of us can be born again.


        1. 1. You could not be considered a Jew if you did not offer it. It was a societal and legal imperative.

          2. Ananais is a good example. He was free to give what he desired, but he had no reason to lie that he gave the full value of the property. In that exchange, however, neither party doubted the moral necessity to aid the poor.

          3. Indeed, Paul spoke to the parts of the body, but not in the sense you seem to be taking it. He did not address them each by name, but by the commonality between them that made them all one body. Thus, he calls them brothers and sisters in Christ because in Christ they are one and the oneness is to be desired though there are many parts.

          4. It is good to give the devil his due for, when he turns around upon you, then you cannot be of reproach. The Solidarity Movement in Poland WAS socialist. It based itself on the shared ownership of factories by an association of trade unions. It differed from the Soviets in the respect that the unions were not formed by the state. Again, socialism is a broad beast; you cannot strike at its tail and expect it conquered. I am not saying that your critique is not true of some socialist systems, but to say they are indicative of all socialism is incorrect.

          5. You were the one that inadvertently raised the grammatical point which, as far as my study of the Fed papers goes, is not touched upon in them. Yet, if we pursue the grammatical point, my statement must be correct and a literal interpretation of the constitution as written would yield the persistent fact that Congress basically has the power to legislate new offices and empower those offices as they will. Amendment X causes the document to be even more unstable. If the powers not enumerated are vested in the states and people, then it resides in the states and people the power to abolish the government entirely. I do not need to lend any power, therefore, to anyone. It is there already for one with the wit and the popular sentiment to wield it.

          6. I mentioned Brat because he is the only academic of a prevailing strain of thought that seems to be invading what was once considered conservatism, namely that the measure of a nation is in it’s GDP. Consider your own rhetoric. You talk about how socialism is stealing but I do not think that accurately approaches the real danger of socialism. In short, the majority of your critique is that money that you would rather have for yourself and others is being reallocated elsewhere. I oppose socialism in its present form because it denies man his personal dignity in the society by placing his worth only in relation to his contribution to the collective.
          I use the example of Germany because Brat contends, along with a considerable portion of Americans, that if one merely apply themselves, then they can become affluent. He further contends that this, the Protestant Ethic, contributes to the prosperity of a nation and any nation that has this ethic–like Germany–is destined for prosperity. And yet, Germany is socialist. They have entirely different philosophy in Europe and in Germany in particular. Germany also voluntarily adopted socialism and it fits their temperament and philosophy. And so Germany prospers, basing its decisions on an entirely different body of philosophy and value system. But the issue in America is that we are not disposed to socialism and so any socialist programs adopted typically go wrong. Take unemployment assistance. For a German, being on government assistance is not taboo and it is not permanent. A German doesn’t believe it is his right to receive benefits but that it is his benefice from his fellow Germans who feel it is their responsibility to care for their fellow Germans. In America, we take a different approach. The welfare system has too many varied opinions about it that determining and sticking to its intended purpose is nearly impossible since no one can agree what that purpose is.

          7. Yet, by American standards, they are good for their wallets are full and want for nothing. They built what they have one their own and by their own devices. They are the epitome of the American dream, so to speak. But they should be the most despicable and loathsome people for hoarding such great wealth and spending it on such largess and decadence that we should heap every shame and ridicule on them. I find it the height of their indulgent and dissolute arrogance that they believe that merely raising taxes on their income will fulfill their moral obligations and right the natural evil of poverty at their very doorposts. I do not advocate expanding social programs beyond what we already have. Instead, I advocate the unilateral and constant disparagement of wealth and decadence. It creates nothing but poverty and envy. If this moral imperative is not obvious to all, then I believe that it should be made obvious. Thus, let us shame the rich for their dissipation as they deserve.

          Indeed, looking over my first comment, I have been speaking about the necessity for the community to support the poor in it. This is, as I have pointed out, a natural and divine mandate. Debating the validity of social programs is somewhat related, but not exactly my point. I merely contend that, if you were to remove the existing programs without replacing the good services that ARE provided, it would be an injustice to the people using them for legitimate ends like myself. I needed health insurance but could not afford it because I was unemployed. I went on Medicad. I needed money to pay the rent. I received unemployment assistance. I got a job, got my own health insurance, and now pay for some other joe who needs some help. With greater leisure from added income, I am able to volunteer in the community and my taxes, hopefully, go to someone deserving. If those programs had not been there, I honestly don’t know where I would be as there was nothing that was comparable.


        2. @mastersamwise

          Wednesday is my busy day. So I will have to be brief.

          What you are clearly advocating is some form of Socialism. However, instead of providing a rational justification for Socialism, you spend most of your efforts condemning those who oppose Socialism, even going so far as to condemn any who do not use their wealth the way you think they should.

          One tactic you have used is to equate being against Socialism as equal to being against charity. That is simply wrong. At best Socialism is just another option for providing charity, but it is most certainly not the only option. Private, personal charity predates it. If our Socialist programs just withered away, there is no reason not to believe more efficient private charities would replace them.

          What I have done is argued that Socialism looks like, operates like, and sounds like stealing. That is, government takes some people’s wealth by force, gives it to favored interest groups, and threatens those who object with character assassination and jail time. Over time, even where Socialists have begun their little wealth transfer projects with the best of intentions, Socialism has corrupted or begun to corrupt all the nations who have attempted it. Why? Think about your charges of selfishness. Don’t we all have that inclination. When people have the option of voting themselves what rightly belongs to others, too many will.

          Finally, I would have you observe that Socialism is a scheme designed by unrelenting busybodies. God gave us each a free will. Unless He allowed us the choice to choose wrongly, we would not have a free will. Instead of criticizing and trying to control the choices of others, we each need to more concerned about our own choices.

          Consider this verse.

          Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

          Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

          If you like, consider that verse in context. =>

          I do not think we can use the Bible as an excuse for Christian Socialism. If even a minority wants to keep their money and use it to provide charity as they see fit, we cannot find cause in the Bible to throw our Christian brothers and sisters in jail. Our mission is to bring sinners to Christ, not to throw people in jail for not giving away their money.

          You disagree? Okay. Then stop diverting to side issues and get to the point. Make your best case.


        3. “What you are clearly advocating is some form of Socialism.” On the contrary, I advocate the accurate treatment of Socialism, ascribing each school of socialist thought the ideas proper to it. If anything, I advocate the proper ordering of things according to the objective principles to which they belong. Thus, it is not proper to lump the Polish Solidarity movement with Soviet Leninism even though both are socialist.

          Solidarity had no thought of the redistribution of property and the means of production according to a predetermined plan from the government but rather the collective ownership of factories by the workers. If we were to accurately categorize Socialism, the one and only thing common to all socialist thought is the social ownership of the means of production. Solidarity had no intention of imposing taxes on the wealthy classes in order to support the poor, but only for the workers to control the factories not unlike the holding of company stock. The difference between Solidarity controlled factories and a US capitalistic factory would be the ownership with the former being owned completely by the workers and the latter by the public shareholders. This is in stark contrast to Soviet Leninism which advocated the government control–and by extension popular control–of factories and even the early Socialist thinkers.
          Take Thomas Paine in his tract “Agrarian Justice” in which he argues for an estate tax for the indemnification of the poor. “I have already established the principle, namely, that the earth, in
          its natural uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to
          be, the common property of the human race, that in that state, every
          person would have been born to property; and that the system of
          landed property, by its inseparable connection with cultivation, and
          with what is called civilized life, has absorbed the property of all
          those whom it dispossessed, without providing, as ought to have
          been done, an indemnification for that loss.”While I agree somewhat with the first principle, I think Paine is wrong to contend that the rich owe an indemnity. There is a moral imperative, to be sure. But an indemnity implies that the wrong was done by the wealthy upon the poor and not the consequence of natural evil. To charges against him on the grounds of charity, Paine writes, “But it is justice, and not charity, that is the principle of the plan.
          In all great cases it is necessary to have a principle more universally
          active than charity; and, with respect to justice, it ought not to be left
          to the choice of detached individuals whether they will do justice or
          not. Considering then, the plan on the ground of justice, it ought to
          be the act of the whole, growing spontaneously out of the principles
          of the revolution, and the reputation of it ought to be national and not
          individual.” While I, again, agree it is a matter of justice for the rich man to do whatever possible to right the natural evil of poverty in his midst, I do not think it is necessarily a matter of positive law. Just as the Jews did not cut off the hand of one who did not perform Tzedakah, they didn’t idolize them as we do our wealthy in America. What I propose is not a legislative solution as such a solution is intolerable to the American mind and toxic to the American spirit, even though it may work out for Germans.

          That said, I advocate the support of the poor by the best means for the poor, taking into account that they are human persons with inherent dignity and worth and not as mere numbers on a chart for political gain. Whatever that means of support is, it must be a) consistent with the dignity of man, b) consistent with American philosophy and spirit, and c) practically achievable. I short, I don’t concern myself with method insofar as the method is consistent with these operating principles. That is not to say I believe the end justifies the means; far from it. I have enumerated first principles by which various methods are to be tested, not goals that are to be met by any means. This is, incidentally, where I believe most people, with the firm intention of helping society trip up. By focusing on the end, I am reminded of a maxim enshrined in a certain American icon. ” All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was…What he was doing.”

          What you ascribe, therefore, to Socialism in general can only rightly be applied to certain bodies, though in the majority, of Socialist thought.

          We can use the Bible as a guide to condemn the wealth for the luxurious dissipation and neglect of their moral duty to the poor while advocating the free association of vulnerable and exploited persons into communities governed by themselves to hold the means of production in common among them. The Apostolic community found in Acts is one such community. It was freely enjoined though the rules were enforced not through legal penalties but through moral imperative. Thus, Ananias was struck down not by Peter, but by God.

          I can find no reason why, in our society, we do not heap shame upon the lazy and wealthy who would attempt to outsource their duties to government authorities through methods not unlike Thomas Paine’s. Sure, it satisfies justice but only accidentally. True justice mandates, as you have said, the personal dispensation of wealth. Alienated oneself from the poor is acting in the same manner as the rich man to Lazarus where not even the accidental leavings go those in need, but only those who, inspired by our arrogant notion of being masters of our wealth, we believe are truly worthy.

          My whole point thus far has been that there exist the moral imperative to help the poor, that this moral imperative is bound to our very salvation, and that we scorn the Gospel by not preaching it to the shame of the dissolute and not practicing it in our daily life. This moral imperative transcends all particular societal obligations and cannot be accurately and sufficiently accomplished without personal effort. While government programs may help to the limited extent they are able, they do not exonerate or replace the obligation to this imperative. As a nation we have a duty to the common good and I have given three principles–a) consistent with the dignity of man, b) consistent with American philosophy and spirit, and c) practically achievable– by which Americans can determine how best to accomplish their national duty to the common good with respect to the poor. But even the accomplishment of national obligations does not discharge us from feeding the hungry, slaking the thirsty, and so on.

          If what I propose is Socialism then it must be concluded that the Apostles favored Socialism. But, if the Apostles did not favor Socialism, then the free association of persons in communal ownership of material goods and the means of production is not Socialism and therefore neither am I a socialist nor is Socialism based on the common ownership of the means of production. If that is true, then every socialist I have ever read, from Paine and Fourier to Marx and Lenin, have been entirely wrong about their first principle.


        4. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

          Thus, it is not proper to lump the Polish Solidarity movement with Soviet Leninism even though both are socialist.v … Solidarity had no thought of the redistribution of property and the means of production according to a predetermined plan from the government but rather the collective ownership of factories by the workers. … The difference between Solidarity controlled factories and a US capitalistic factory would be the ownership with the former being owned completely by the workers and the latter by the public shareholders.

          So, what percentage of the Vladimir Lenin Shipyard was owned by workers in the Solidarity union? How did that title transfer?

          As Solidarity has dwindled to less than 5% of its membership, does that mean that the remaining individual workers are 20 times as wealthy?

          How was the ownership taken from individuals who left the union?

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


        5. @mastersamwise

          When people debate, for their debate to make any sense, they have to define the terms of the debate. I call Socialism any system the government uses to “redistribute the wealth.” I condemn such systems because are essentially based upon stealing.

          How do you define Socialism? You won’t accept my definition, and you refuse to provide your own. All we get is vague notions of government interference based upon your personal Christian notion of an obligation to help the poor.

          Some years back I wrote a series of posts about Christianity and Socialism (first post => The last post in that series deal with the supposed example of Socialism by the early church immediately following the Day of Pentecost.


        6. Jut as one does not define a bird by the fact it chirps, so also I do not define Socialism, as I mentioned before, by what proceeds from the general principle thereof. Thus, neither is a bird defined by chirping–for some birds squawk and others warble–or Socialism by redistributing material goods. For if so, then the Early Christians, because they used a governmental–i.e. the government of the Apostles–system to redistribute wealth. The analogy of robbing Peter to pay Paul, taken from its historical context, is an apt one to delineate the Early Christians from Socialists like Paine and Marx. The paying of the Petrine pence was often neglected by local churches in order to maintain their own works if there was a lack of funds. Peter was frequently robbed and happily in order for Paul to have his daily bread. That is the point. There was no need for Peter to enjoin upon Paul a reprieve of the pence, but Paul, understanding the duty he has, robbed Peter for Peter’s own good. For if the whole body shrivels with the head engorged, how healthy is the body? Each was given according to their need because each member, each community knew they had a duty to provide for the poor according to their ability. You may say that it differs because the action of providing for the poor is voluntary. I counter that this caveat was not part of your definition. Thus, if we focus on a method used by Socialists to define Socialists, then Peter and Paul are no better than Paine and Marx, the difference being that those who countermand the moral imperative to share in common are struck down by God in the former’s community.

          Socialism, in its most general sense, is an ordering of a given people to have the means of production be shared in common. The Apostolic Community fails at this because Paul’s tent making business is only own by him. The property was held in common but that could mean several things. In monasteries, the gardening tools are held in common but no one owns them in the proper, legal sense. Each member of the community would have to have an equal share in Paul’s tent making in the form of real ownership, not this lack of ownership found in monasteries. Nor can it be like the common pastures of the New Englanders which were used by all, owned by all, but not in the sense of each individual have a real share of it.

          Socialism seeks to have the property be, in a legal sense, be owned directly in common. This is present in Paine, Marx, and every Socialist. Not all Socialists believe, like Marx, that workers should have direct control of the factories but own them through unions. Not all socialists believe like Paine that there should be a tax on land owners for a social safety net. All socialists, however, believe the means of production–however they define them–are held in common.

          I propose humanism. Pure, unadulterated and unfiltered Christian Humanism. Socialism places the focus of the community on the societas or the society and bastardizes the Pauline teaching of the body and seeks to substitutes authentic community around common moral principles through propagating collective individualism. Capitalism places the focus on the creation and collection of capital. It reduces all things, including basic human rights–hence the vehement defense of big gulps while the poor starve–to mere money relations. All things, even human dignity itself–see Roe v. Wade–is bound to capital like a sacrifice at the altar to Mammon.

          I propose that we orient ourselves toward humanity and its God given goodness. It rejects blanket collectivism that dilutes the human person into the blend of “society” and “demographics.” It rejects the valuing of things based solely on their economic effects.


        7. Buried in all of that, mastersamwise reveals that he considers the essential difference Citizen Tom and I have been writing about — that government redistribution is done by force — to be a trivial consideration,. The taking of liberty is not a concern, if mankind can be forced to live they way mastersamwise thinks they should be forced to.

          The doctrines he champions have produced, the world over, more than a hundred million peacetime deaths and billions in poverty, but these “equal misery” social experiments are still worthwhile to him, and he here advocates to do it again.

          The free market has reduced the extreme poverty rate from 75% to less than 10% while tripling lifespans — but mastersamwise still prattles on about “big gulps” as he tries to pretend that government coercion is the virtuous and moral equivalent of charity.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        8. “Buried in all of that…” Why you look for secret meanings and subtext when my words mean what they mean and nothing more? Again, it is as if you work to find an offense. If you think I am ultimately concerned about the erosion of American civil liberties, it is not out of a dislike of them but a hope in something greater. Their loss will make life hard to be sure, but their loss will never take with them my liberty as it is found in something else far more permanent and far more desirable.

          The doctrines I champion have produced Pascal, Pasteur, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Lemaitre, Mother Theresa, Benedict of Nurcia, Thomas More, and others who believed that man was meant for more than degrading social blending or capital reduction.

          There is one poverty the free market has yet to abolish and that is the poverty in men’s souls. It is for this reason that I eschew from trusting in man made systems that do nothing to address the true ills of society. I am not content with protesting the prohibition of big gulps or any other transaction. I am not content with protesting the disparity between rich and poor. The plague on both your houses–the one you belong and the one you so desperately want to shove me in–is that the actual conditions man lives in have little to do with modern ideas of social justice or fidelity to any economic system. The true erosion of human rights comes first from within man.

          Be honest with yourself Keith. You entire reply has not addressed anything I have actually said. Instead, you have admitted that you are looking for subtext in order to place me into the box that makes sense for you. You have not demonstrated that you have any idea what I am talking about and appear to make your replies your own personal soapbox to prattle about the evils of socialism. In me, it seems, you have found a strawman to punch and feel good about yourself.

          If I am wrong, then prove it. Address my actual words instead of inventing an opponent. It wastes both our energies and time.


        9. In short, MacIntyre sums up my position quite nicely.

          “Modern systematic politics, whether liberal, conservative, radical or socialist, simply has to be rejected from a standpoint that owes genuine allegiance to the tradition of the virtues; for modern politics itself expresses in its institutional forms a systematic rejection of that tradition.”


        10. @mastersamwise

          Might doesn’t make right, and good intentions are not enough to make anything work properly. Yet people have justified over and over again their abuses of power with good intentions.

          So it is that what you propose has been done before. It didn’t work out well. Usually results in lots of dead people.

          Anyway, Keith’s remarks cover anything else I might say..


        11. I never said it did. In fact, I advocate that the right should have the might. Such an idea as objective moral truth having the force of law is, of course, toxic to Keith’s stated idea of liberty because it means people can’t do whatever they want. People SHOULDN’T do whatever they want and if I am the one who has to tell people why that is, then their parent’s failed them.

          You say that what I propose has been done before and it didn’t work out well. Can you please tell me where a Christian humanist society has resulted in the deaths of several people? You may be falling into Keith’s train of thought i.e. placing an unfamiliar idea into a box it does not belong simply because it doesn’t mesh with your own view.

          Humanism isn’t socialism. It doesn’t seek to create a community for the sake of the community. Rather, it bases itself on the fact that man is a political animal, that he thrives in community, and that communities of persons must be oriented towards becoming man qua man rather than simply pursuing exterior shows of solidarity or wealth. Is it not written that it profit a man nothing if he lose his soul for the whole world? How much more does a man damn himself when he orients an entire community towards worldly things? And yet this is what I am to rejoice in? I am either to rejoice that my identity as a human person is diluted into the common society for the ever shifting “good” of society or rejoice in the vapidity of purchased goods. What is so inspiring about either of those things?


        12. To identify a Christian humanist society and demonstrate it’s failure, I would have to be able to read your mind. Your words may be plentiful, but you spend as much time denying what you seemed to say as you do seeming to say anything.

          If our values and beliefs are to mean anything, then we must seek to base them on a sound foundation, something we can actually explain to another person. We must begin with the knowledge of what we know to be absolutely true. Otherwise, we will chase the Will-o’-the-wisp. Thinking our moral relativism wise, we will follow the light of our own wisdom into a bog.


        13. You said “So it is that what you propose has been done before.” Where has it been done before? “It didn’t work out well.” Why? “Usually results in lots of dead people.” Who? If you are going to make claims, back them up or retract them. Don’t try to blame me for being obtuse.

          “… you spend as much time denying what you seemed to say as you do seeming to say anything.” Is that my fault or am I constantly having to address beliefs that are ascribed to me out of a quest for subtext?

          “If our values and beliefs are to mean anything, then we must seek to base them on a sound foundation, something we can actually explain to another person.” That is exactly what I have been saying this entire time. If our civil liberties, as I said sooo long ago, are based on meaningless transactions like buying big gulps, then what does that say about our civil liberties? I do not base my critique of Socialism on the ease of monetary transactions because, to put it frankly, that is exactly what the socialists want.

          To go back to what I actually said way before at the beginning, I quoted the Gospel to underscore the fact that there exists, in the person and through the person every level of human society, a moral imperative to help the poor.

          I then argued the practical point that, if you want to rid the government of social programs, you will need to fill the hole they leave unless you want people to literally starve. I also showed where the law supports the congressional power to create such programs.

          I followed up with a hypothetical about America socialism and how it needs to come from American ideals, not European ones if it were to be successful. You will notice, there were many ifs. I was arguing from the academic definition of socialism i.e. a system whereby the means of production are in common.


  7. The purpose of the Constitution, Tom, was to empower the federal government, not to limit it. The national government under the preceding Articles of Confederation simply was not delivering the governance product that the Founders thought necessary for the newly independent nation.

    To be sure, the document does place limits on the powers of the federal government. In granting it authorities, particularly authorities much broader than had previously been entrusted to the national government under the Articles, one had to draw clear lines.



    1. “… not to limit it.”

      And you follow this by describing how they limited it.

      The Articles of Confederation were deficient in certain key areas, but a tremendous portion of the discussions, the framing convention, the Federalist and anti-Federalist papers, and the ratifying conventions were taken up with the limits and whether or not they were adequate. The result was a widespread and accepted conclusion that they were not, resulting in the Bill of Rights.

      So this assertion of yours, that “[t]he purpose of the Constitution, Tom, was to empower the federal government, not to limit it,” is astoundingly wrong. The Constitution did a little empowering, and a whole lot of limiting — because they were afraid of the progressive creep of government power into tyranny. As generations of subsequent progressive creeps have indeed been effecting.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


  8. I think we are overlapping quite a bit, Keith. I was addressing Tom’s statement that “the purpose of the Constitution was to limit the federal government.” That statement, standing alone, lacks the kind of balance that you and I just brought to the discussion.

    BTW, I don’t think the Founders were against progress or had any particular fear of “progressives” as a political movement. That is a rather recent term, at least in its current usage. (It had another day in the sun in the early 20th century, but it meant different things then. Today it seems to be another way of saying “Democrat”, although, like almost all political labels, I find it misleading). Perhaps you mean “progressive” in the sense of small changes over time – as in progressive pneumonia.


    1. If you don’t want complaints from me, don’t make flat assertions that are simply wrong. Your opening sentence was such an assertion. Citizen Tom’s statement did not exclude additional or ancillary purposes. Yours did.

      The progressive movement came into being in the US most of a century after the founding. But the framers of the Constitution were indeed worried about progressive increases in government power, and used that word.

      The progressive creep toward tyranny began at the very first Congress after the ratification. It has been traditionally in small increments. An early example was the involvement of the federal government in navigable waters within states. Now the jumps are larger, and among the most recent again is definition and control of navigable waters within states. The Commerce Clause interpretation has provided open water and smooth sailing toward a loss of liberty, by defining a ditch on private property as open water under federal control.

      Another phrase that has been much-employed in the progressive constriction of liberty is “compelling government interest.” It is clear that the Constitution’s noble attempt to limit government power did not go far enough.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, if you read my comment, you will see that I said fairly specifically that limits were necessary, given the powers granted.

        By the way, I am fond of your complaints, and would want them to keep coming. I also enjoy the nautical analogy in the last comment, as well as the occasional turn of phrase (e.g., from “progressive creep” to “progressive creeps” – that brought a smile to my weary visage).

        I disagree with you on navigable waters. I don’t think America could have survived as a Nation, particularly as a strong nation into the 20th century had there not been federal control over navigable waters, free of individual state variations. Where the abuse has occurred, I think, is in modern reaching by elements of the federal government to extend the concept of “navigable” into physical situations where a waterway is clearly not navigable.



        1. @ *scout, who wrote:

          I disagree with you on navigable waters. I don’t think America could have survived as a Nation, particularly as a strong nation into the 20th century had there not been federal control over navigable waters, free of individual state variations. Where the abuse has occurred, I think, is in modern reaching by elements of the federal government to extend the concept of “navigable” into physical situations where a waterway is clearly not navigable.

          My reference to navigable waters within states was in reference to one of the earliest significant expansions of the Commerce Clause. In Gibbons v Ogden, the court wrote: “[P]ower to regulate navigation is as expressly granted, as if that term had been added to the word ‘commerce’ [in the Constitution].” This allowed the Supreme Court to override a state’s license to a passenger boat service despite the fact that the service operated entirely within the state. SCOTUS didn’t like the service, so the Commerce Clause was reinterpreted to fit.

          I have no problem with the federal military (here, the Coast Guard) defending navigable waters. My problem is the US Supreme Court deciding it could set fees that businesses could charge within a state, simply because they used boats. The Commerce Clause was stretched to this end, and has been more and more reinterpreted to fit ever sense.

          The rule about not being able to carry a gun within a certain distance from a school was justified based upon the Commerce Clause, reasoning that scary schools might affect tourism and interstate moves, and therefore had some sort of effect upon commerce. SCOTUS turned this down at first, then Congress modified it with language that tied it to “commerce.” The government argues that:

          … the presence of firearms within a school would be seen as dangerous, resulting in students’ being scared and disturbed; this would, in turn, inhibit learning; and this, in turn, would lead to a weaker national economy since education is clearly a crucial element of the nation’s financial health.


          The Commerce Clause was earlier used to justify FDR’s laws limiting the amounts a farmer could grow on his own private property for his own consumption. This was when the federal government decided it could fix the economy by burning millions of bushels of crops and slaughtering millions of head of livestock to drive prices up. That law is still valid.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the saddest days in church history I believe is when the government decided it was better suited to take care of the needy and those out of work by instituting the welfare system. Until that time, the local churches took care of the needs in their neighborhoods. It’s no wonder that today we have a generation of people who expect free handouts without contributing back for the blessings they receive and in turn, the brick and mortar churches have become lazy in their willingness to help alleviate the needs of those who only desire some short-time help.
    Whenever we as a people decide that it is better if the government takes care of us, it should serve as no surprise when that same government wants more and more power and authority to lord it over more and more people.
    Don’t get me wrong; I believe in compassion and I believe in the Scriptures when it speaks of Love in an ACTIVE way. If you have two coats and your neighbor has none, give him one! If your neighbor is hungry, give him bread (food) don’t let him and his family go hungry. That is love in action, but what the government has done is taken the free-will-choice of expressing genuine unselfish love out of your hands and in turn created the monster we live in today!
    Great article Tom! I don’t get into politics much in blogging because of my ministry, but if you live in this world, you can’t escape politics sway over us all! God bless what you do, sir, we need reminders and we need to be continually educated in ALL forms of TRUTH! Only then can we truly be free!

    Liked by 1 person

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