The Proper and Improper Role of Government – Part 2

QuestionThe following is the second part of the series on the proper and improper role of government. First, imperative to the discussion is a quick recap on the purpose of a government, and then we will discuss the actual role of government.  Second, the following cannot be stressed enough, America was founded upon a Judeo-Christian understanding and philosophy.  Other representative governments have removed the influence of religion globally, but America, thankfully, continues to keep it around.  Third, nothing herein is to be misconstrued as supporting any single religion, including atheism and agnostics.  My religious beliefs are not your business, just as your religious beliefs are not my business; we are not here to debate theology, philosophy, or anything but the government’s proper and improper role.

What is the purpose of government?

The second sentence of The Declaration of Independence is long but powerful:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The purpose of government is to “secure these rights… deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  The rights the government is to secure are “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  When talking about securing, we are not inferring that those rights come from the government, are tools of government, or can be dispersed by the government.  When discussing securing, we are talking about the government protecting against threats to, harm from, or the need to make safe from those who would do the collective body of citizens harm.  The government securing rights does not mean affixing those rights to an individual, as the individual already owns these rights.  The government’s purpose is to protect the body of citizens by making the body of citizens safe.quote-mans-inhumanity

The etymology of secure is vital to understanding the purpose and proper role of government. “Mid 16th century (in a sense ‘feeling no apprehension’): from Latin Securus, from Ee- ‘without’ + Cura ‘care.’”  Hence, without care for an individual, the government secures, protects, and defends the individual’s inalienable rights.  Not deciding what is good for the masses, not selecting winners and losers based upon the whims and wishes of a bureaucrat, but considering the entire mass of citizens without preference and defending their inalienable rights is the purpose of government.

What is the proper role of government?

Government LargessFrom many Judaic and Christian sources, one can find various systems of government in place throughout history.  From despots of the most vile to the judges of Israel, which brought liberty and freedom instead of kings, one can find just about any form of government represented in historical texts of ancient date.  More specifically, one can find the proper role of government, which is stated most simply in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, specifically Section 134:2.

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

Is the proper role of government clearer? For example, suppose the government is only focused upon securing the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of [private] property, and the protection of life. In that case, that government is fulfilling its proper role.  Did you notice what is missing from the strict interpretation of the proper role of government?  Social services, arbitration, buying support through forced taxation, and much more.  Except, America was established as a Constitutional Republic with democratically elected representatives.  Thus, does America’s government have a different interpretation of the proper role of government?

Ziggy - IRS AuditThe founding fathers, and several of the first presidents in America, were considered statesmen. However, statesmen are not merely politicians, and politicians are never statesmen!  A statesman is a person who is well versed in the principles or art of government, actively engaged in conducting the business of government or in shaping its policies.  The statesmen are respected for their skill, diplomacy, power to communicate ideas, and being principled.  Thus, the statesmen are morally upright and can be trusted to understand why they are morally principled and why the law should be morally centered.  It cannot be stressed enough. The true statesmen values principles over popularity and works to create popularity for political principles in government operations that are morally sound and bring the most freedom to the most people.

Consider the following from Albert E. Bowen:

Right and wrong as moral principles do not change.  They are applicable and reliable determinants whether the situations with which we deal are simple or complex.  There is always a right and wrong to every question which requires a solution.”

The Duty of AmericansNow, returning to the proper role of government, any form of government instituted by man, we find the following as guidance in measuring said governmental role.  From D&C 134;1-2, 5:

1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.”

From the US Constitution’s Preamble, a person will find why the government was instituted.  “… in order to form a more perfect Union (government), establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  Between the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the offered verses, we find similar language discussing the purpose and role of government.

Thus, the proper role of government remains simple and easy to understand.  The proper role of government is to secure man’s inalienable rights, protect private property, and ensure each citizen may pursue their path of happiness.  A citizen’s path of happiness cannot infringe upon another citizen’s pursuit of happiness, steal their property, damage their property, or destroy public property.  Hence, the government must balance the inalienable rights of a person to commit crimes against the acceptable restriction to hold people accountable to socially acceptable laws while never infringing upon an individual’s conscience.  Therein lay the seeds of the improper role of government.Apathy

What is the improper role of government?

Ziggy - NSAThe improper role of government begins with refusing to accept that government power is limited to only those powers the citizens grant the government.  Thankfully, there is a simple test for understanding what powers the government has or does not have.  The test: Can you order your neighbor to pay for welfare for another person?  If not, the government does not have this right or power.  Can your neighbor call you to pay subsidies to them for keeping their lawn and home maintained?  If not, the government does not have the right to spend taxpayer money to subsidize another person’s housing.  This simple test relates the power of government, the government’s improper role, and reasonable government restrictions.

The line between the proper and improper role of government is thin but very distinguishable using the simple test described above.  Claude-Frédéric Bastiat was a French economist, writer, and prominent member of the French Liberal School. A member of the French National Assembly, Bastiat developed the economic concept of opportunity cost and introduced the parable of the broken window.  We present Bastiat as providing the logic behind the simple test.  “Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in.”  Hence, the simple test regarding a neighbor forcing you or forcing your neighbor is justified as the test for the proper or improper role of government.Patriotism

Forced taxation is a form of legal plunder, and since payment is the test for which powers are proper or improper for government, we must return to Bastiat for a delineation of legal plunder.

When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it – without his consent and without [just] compensation, whether by force or by fraud – to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property was violated; that an act of plunder is committed. … How is legal plunder to be identified?  Quite simply.  See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.  See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

Government Largess 3Legal plunder is theft through the misuse of the power of government.  Consider the following example, your paycheck.  On that paycheck, the Federal and State governments demand money from you, not earned but forced through jurisprudence and legislative fiat, and those funds are given to another person.  As a private citizen, if I took your wallet and removed money from it, I would be guilty of theft and liable to the penalties of criminal and civil law, even if I did not keep your cash but donated it to a charitable organization.  Remember, the simple test that details the difference between the proper and improper role of government.

One additional piece of knowledge where the improper role of government is described and dictates that government cannot create wealth.  No government, at any time throughout history, has produced wealth.  The government takes from the citizens to survive, and the proper role of government would see every cent of forced taxation as a precious resource, needing to be accounted to the citizens forced to pay.  People create wealth, and if you desire a full explanation of how money is created, please see the following link.

Plato 2Why does it matter?

The government cannot exist without the consent of the governed.  Your inalienable rights should be the only concern of any government form, type, or methodology.  Yet, what do we find; legal plunder to buy other citizens’ support.  We find legalized plunder without transparency, without accountability, and without regard for those struggling to pay the forced taxation (legalized plunder).  We find Trillions in missing money in every government, where the representatives are not concerned, or even aware, of the money lost.  We see government spending above and beyond its intake, creating debt penalties for many future generations to pay for the benefits of the current generation, all because the government refuses to live on a budget.  We find bureaucrats treating citizens as property and abusing that property worse than any corporate polluter of the 1970s.

Knowledge Check!Look carefully, dear citizen; government only exists by the will of the governed.  Do you think it is time for a change in government?  Do you feel your government is fulfilling its purpose and proper role or is your government abusing its rights and powers as granted through the consent of the governed?  You must answer these questions and then decide where you stand.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

The Proper and Improper Role of Government – Part 1

Several years ago, I tripped across a paperback book and felt to read the book.  It was written by Ezra Taft Benson, who was the 15th US Secretary of Agriculture, whom I respected for his keen mind; I felt compelled to read his book.  Mr. Benson, writing about the proper role of government, providing a running commentary about the founding of the United States of America, is worthy of study by every student as a part of social studies.  Before reading this book, I had not thought about the role of government, proper or improper. However, after reading this book, I came to understand why America is in such trouble and how the government is the perpetrator of the crimes against the citizen of America.

If they were missed, I have written articles about the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights, the role of the “Rule of Law,” and other founding documents.  All these and more are essential or fundamental principles of understanding for discussing the government’s proper and improper role.  Please note, when talking about the proper and improper role of the government, I am not explicitly discussing The United States of America; but all non-Communist governments and many of the principles should be applied to communist governments to improve the situation for the citizens.

Private Property Produces Liberty and Freedom

Unfortunately, to fully appreciate all Mr. Benson is discussing, one must first understand the role of private property.  Charles Reich, an American legal and social scholar and an author while also a Professor at Yale Law School, wrote a paper every American citizen needs to read and be concerned over.  With the US Government changing the definition of private property and selecting winners and losers for government investment, the US Government radically changed and fundamentally destroyed the basic fabric of American law!  “Property is not a natural right but a deliberate construction by society. Like the Bill of Rights, property represents general, long-range protection of individual and private interests, created by the majority for the ultimate good of all” (Reich, 1964, p. 771-772)

Starting in the 1930s, during the “Great Depression,” changes were made to America’s methods of governance by the President, a willing media, including sycophants in the Senate and House, continuing a trend that began under President Woodrow Wilson (D).  Thus, establishing the Federal and State Government’s ability to rule by largess, picking winners and losers based upon obeisance to a bureaucrat’s whims, wishes, and will.  Reich lays out this history, walks the reader through the laws, and makes the case that because of democratic rule, America’s Republic has been reduced to a feudal system where the government decides who gets the largess and who does not.  With the Federal and State Governments making these decisions, businesses do not compete fairly upon their own merits but upon how much taxpayer money they can bamboozle from Uncle Sam.  Unfortunately, the entire system hinges upon reducing private property ownership and the freedoms private property allows feeding the ever-hungry beast of Government consumption.

The United States of America and every representative government can only provide freedom to their citizens if that country allows ownership of private property.  From private property principles comes every freedom and liberty enjoyed, as even the government must bow to the will of the people owning private property. So how did the government hijack your personal liberties and freedoms; well, there are a couple of wrongheaded Supreme Court cases, several Federal Court Cases, a complicit Congress with supermajorities, and a couple of presidents who were forward-looking and planning on stealing for personal gain.  The judicial interpretations opened judicial activism, released judicial restraint, and Congress stepped into the vacuum to protect itself from the people’s will.

One of the scariest ways personal freedoms have been stolen has been through owning a home but not owning the property under that home.  Homeowner’s Associations and the United Nations Agenda 21 actions have stripped personal property and made the homeowner pay ever-increasing homeowners association fees for the privilege of losing liberty and freedom.  All these actions, and many more, originated in the government actions under President Woodrow Wilson and were compounded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Many will try and claim WWI and the Great Depression, and WWII triggered taking “bold action” through the legislative process.  What they mean was the Legislative Branch kowtowed to the Executive Branch, while the Judicial Branch twiddled their collective thumbs and began to legislate from the bench.  Never forget, the two presidents with the most executive orders are Wilson and Roosevelt, and this was even with a complicit media and friendly legislative branch.

Reich (1964, p. 773) implicitly details that the power to change the culture and definitions of private property and liberty started with judicial activism that led to government intrusion.  “During the first half of the twentieth century, the reformers enacted into law their conviction that private power was a chief enemy of society and individual liberty. Property was subjected to “reasonable [emphasis in original] limitations in the interests of society. The regulatory agencies, federal and state, were born of the reform. In sustaining these major inroads on private property, the Supreme Court rejected the older idea that property and liberty were one and wrote a series of classic opinions upholding the power of the people to regulate and limit private rights.”  Continuing, Reich (1964) detailed relevance and the conflict of having government contractors and bureaucrats inventing the rules to provide services or grant largess.  Concluding that “many agencies take action which is penal in all but name,” and how these penal actions are punishing the citizen through adjudication without a judge, jury, or trial.

To review, the US Government stole private property, abused the US Constitution and US Bill of Rights, and fundamentally changed America.  Private property is the source of freedom and liberty in a representative government.  By choosing to limit private property, many have never been able to possess the most basic of human rights and liberties.  Worse, the deck has been stacked to keep the average citizen from owning private property.  When the US Government used statehood to strip constitutional authority from the states to own their own land, America started a decline where private property produced liberty and freedoms.  These are crucial steps in the journey to understanding the proper and delineating the improper role of government.

Finally, Reich brings us to the summum bonum of the problem where the government, Federal and State, have been leading the citizen, the “Welfare State” as a “Right.”  Consider, “It is time to recognize that “the public interest” [emphasis in original] is all too often a reassuring platitude that covers up sharp clashes of conflicting values and hides fundamental choices. It is time to see that the “privilege” or “gratuity” concept, as applied to wealth dispensed by government, is not much different from the absolute right of ownership that private capital once invoked to justify arbitrary power over employees and the public”  (Reich, 1964, p. 787).  Who is smart enough to “know” “the public interest?”  Honestly, which political party, politician, business leader, or influencer would you select, always to know the “public interest” and work for the “common good?”

Without private property, the citizen will not find a secure place to consider how to vote and who to vote for properly. This has been designed into government to facilitate single-party rule.  I agree with Reich (1964, p. 787), “Above all, the time has come for us to remember what the framers of the Constitution knew so well-that “a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.” We cannot safely entrust our livelihoods and our rights to the discretion of authorities, examiners, boards of control, character committees, regents, or license commissioners. We cannot permit any official or agency to pretend to sole knowledge of the public good.”  Hence, before we can understand the government’s proper and improper roles, we must have liberty derived from private property!

References

Benson, E. T. (1995). The proper role of government: The Improper Role of Government. H. V. Andersen (Ed.). Heber City, UT: Archive Publishers.

Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 Yale L.J. (1964). Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylj/vol73/iss5/1

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.