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!
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.