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.
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.”