Tag Archives: Founding Fathers

A Limited-Government Republic versus a National-Security State, by Jacob G. Hornberger

What we have now is the exact opposite of what the founders had in mind. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

The worst mistake that the American people have made in the entire history of the United States was to permit the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state. That conversion has played a major role in the destruction of our liberty, privacy, and economic well-being.

What is a national-security state? It is a totalitarian-like governmental structure that consists of an enormous military-intelligence establishment with extraordinary powers, such as indefinite detention, torture, secret surveillance, and even assassination of both citizens and foreigners.

To put the matter into a larger context, North Korea is a national-security state. So are Egypt, China, Cuba, and Russia. And the United States. All of the regimes in those countries wield totalitarian-like powers.

It wasn’t always that way in the United States. Our nation was founded as a limited-government republic and remained that way for nearly 150 years. No Pentagon, no CIA, and no NSA. There was an army but it was relatively small — big enough to win battles against Indian tribes or a neighboring weak and impoverished country such as Mexico, but nowhere big enough to engage in wars around the world.

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Deceived in Liberty: The Curse of American Nationalism, by Thomas DiLorenzo

The government started getting bigger and more intrusive almost from the moment it was birthed. From Thomas DiLorenzo at lewrockwell.com:

All governmental power is propped up by an avalanche of myths and superstitions about the alleged benevolence, omniscience, honesty, selflessness, and magnanimity of the state, coupled with critiques if not outright demonization of private property, free market voluntarism, private enterprise, limited government, the rule of law, the free society, and all those who educate about and advance such concepts.  Your author once co-authored a book entitled Official Lies: How Washington Misleads Us, about mountains of such myths and superstitions.  A case can be made that at the top of the list of statist myths and superstitions is the myth of American nationalism — about the supposed “superiority” of a virtually unlimited, centralized and consolidated government, coupled with the never-ending hatred and demonization of federalism, states’ rights, nullification and secession, and anything else that challenges the notion of the “supremacy” of the central government.

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The Second Amendment’s Authors Would Hate Today’s Military, by Ryan McMaken

That militia mentioned in the Second Amendment wasn’t meant to supplement the military. It refers to state militias, which were supposed to be the military. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

The phrase “pro-gun, pro-military” is used by some conservatives to describe themselves, as if the two go together seamlessly. For example, activist and political candidate Erin Cruz states she is both “Pro Second Amendment” and “Pro Military” in her promotional materials.

Another Republican candidate, Gregory Duckworth, advertises that he advances “pro-gun and pro-military initiatives.”

And last year, Donald Trump, Jr. — as part of a controversy over Keurig coffee pulling its advertising from Sean Hannity’s show — denounced Keurig and endorsed Black Rifle Coffee, which is advertised as a company with a “pro-gun and pro-military stance.”

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The Values Underlying Independence Day, by Andrew P. Napolitano

The founding values are more a historical curiosity than a living part of modern law and jurisprudence. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

The Declaration of Independence — which was signed on July 3, 1776, for public release on July 4 — was Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece. Jefferson himself wrote much about the declaration in the 50 years that followed.

Not the least of what he wrote offered his view that the declaration and the values that it articulated were truly radical — meaning they reflected 180-degree changes at the very core of societal attitudes in America. The idea that farmers and merchants and lawyers could secede from a kingdom and fight and win a war against the king’s army was the end result of the multigenerational movement that was articulated in the declaration.

The two central values of the declaration are the origins of human liberty and the legitimacy of popular government.

When Jefferson wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, he was referring to the natural law. The natural law teaches that right and wrong can be discerned and truth discovered by the exercise of human reason, independent of any commands from the government. The natural law also teaches that our rights come from our humanity — not from the government — and our humanity is a gift from our Creator.

Even those who question or reject the existence of the Creator — was Jefferson himself among them? — can embrace natural rights, because they can accept that our exercise of human reason leads us all to make similar claims. These claims — free speech, free association, free exercise or non-exercise of religion, self-defense, privacy, and fairness, to name a few — are rights that we all exercise without giving a second thought to the fact that they are natural and come from within us.

The view of the individual as the repository of natural rights was not accepted by any governments in 1776. In fact, all rejected it and used violence to suppress it. To the minds of those in government in the mid-18th century, the king was divine and could do no wrong, and parliament existed not as the people’s representatives but to help the king raise money and to give him a read on the pulse of landowners and nobility.

To continue reading: The Values Underlying Independence Day

Would the Founding Fathers Recognize Modern America? by Bill Bonner

Every year on Independence Day SLL tries to post at least one article pointing out that Americans are hardly independent, and the government we’ve got is light years from what the founders envisioned. This year Bill Bonner saves us the trouble of writing that article. From Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is one of the most remarkable things in nature. The animal apparently digests itself, using enzymes triggered by hormones. Then, from the pupa, a whole new animal develops – one with wings.

Time and growth produce changes in institutions, too. Sometimes, they merely get bigger and older. Sometimes, they go through a metamorphosis and change into something very different.

We recently moved back to France for the summer. We lived here for nearly 20 years… and still have a house in the country, to which we retire every summer.

Here, we find our old friends and acquaintances… our old clothes and shoes… our tools and workshop… our tractor… and our favorite office.

And what a pleasure… there, on the table next to the bed, was a copy of Michel De Jaeghere’s great book, Les Derniers Jours: La Fin de l’Empire Romain d’Occident (The Last Days: The End of the Roman Empire in the West).

We picked it up and found where we left off a year ago… page 321.

Roman Example

Many of the founders of the American Republic were readers and scholars. “I can’t live without books,” said Jefferson.

He, Monroe, Madison, Adams, and others were much more aware of Roman history than our leaders today. Most had studied Latin and/or Greek.

They had read Plutarch, Seneca, Sallust, Suetonius, and Cicero.

Much was known about the Roman era… and much was discussed. People believed they could learn from it and do better.

In the same year that the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Edward Gibbon published the first volume of his masterpiece, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

The Founding Fathers were well aware of the transition – natural, and perhaps inevitable – from republic to empire. They had studied it in the Roman example. They had seen how it drew power into a few hands… and corrupted them.

They tried to prevent it from happening in the New World, putting in place limits… circuit breakers… and checks and balances… to keep the government from becoming too big, too ambitious, or too powerful.

Even then, they were doubtful that it would stick. “We give you a republic…” Franklin wrote to posterity, “if you can keep it.”

America did keep it… for nearly 100 years. Maybe a few more. Then, the metamorphosis occurred. And, like Rome, it was not very pretty.

To continue reading: Would the Founding Fathers Recognize Modern America?