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Thomas Jefferson Quote

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.

ideas > When Your Representative Does Not Love the Constitution

When Your Representative Does Not Love the Constitution
Today I had a lengthy conversation with one of Representative Neil Abercrombie’s aides. It is currently the 2007 summer recess in Congress. My question to the aide was what was Representative Abercrombie doing to lower my tax burden? The answer was he is working to reduce or get rid of the alternative income tax or something to that effect. The conversation then turned in to one of arguments over what was a fair tax burden, the current level of government spending, the role of government, and many other related topics. The aide is of the camp that believes the government is the solution and that we should be grateful to pay taxes because we get so many wonderful services. I am of the camp that the tax burden is too great, that the government does very few things well, and that the private citizens ought to be allowed to have their money back. It was a rather stimulating conversation at times. What this conversation represented was the divide that currently exists in America between people who believe the government is too powerful and should be curbed and those who believe the government needs to be more powerful.

I reminded the aide that this country was founded by men who knew intimately of the dangers of centralized power of any form. They understood that man, by nature, cannot be trusted with power and so they set up a system of government in the Constitution that separated power to many different areas. The federal powers were limited and described. The states were allowed to exercise powers that the federal government could not. The federal government was split up into 3 separate arms of government with explicitly defined roles. It is clear to me that the founding fathers understood the problems of centralized power, having lived under the tyranny of the King of England.

Representative Abercrombie’s aide asked me if I thought the problems that people faced in the past were different than today. I told her that I did not think that was the case. All people from every generation deal with the same problems. What changes is the backdrop of those problems. Generations ago people dealt with the problems of greed, selfishness, contempt, dishonesty, avarice, lust, etc. Today we deal with these same problems. We might have the ability to travel around the world in a day, when in the past it might take several months, but the problems we face are the same. Representative Abercrombie’s aide then suggested that the Constitution didn’t apply to today’s problems. I found that rather startling, but it is a typical justification for someone who wants an expansive federal government, for it is clear that Constitution strictly forbids an expansive centralized federal government, so to get around this; one must argue that the Constitution is irrelevant.

I also expressed my outrage at having to pay so much federal tax, as well as the amount of regulation that exists in my life. She said that she was grateful to pay her taxes and that if she was required she would gladly pay more. She then insinuated that those who didn’t gratefully pay their taxes did not love America and they wanted to live alone, away from society. I was offended slightly, but because I love America. That is why I am fighting to keep taxes low, so that I do not have to experience increased tyranny at the hands of the federal government, because as they take more money, they centralize more power. Money is power and as the federal government takes more and more of it to pay for more and more services, that means you and I have less and less freedom. To me, it is so obvious. The government can do many things, but the question that we should really be asking is “Should the government do this? Is it Constitutional?”

Representative Abercrombie’s aide believes that government is the solution, not the problem. But I ask you, after 40 plus years of large federal government, are you more secure? Are you wealthier? Are you freer? Do you feel like the government is going in the right direction? I would submit that we have had enough of big, federal government because it doesn’t work. It has made America poorer because it has introduced inefficiency into our economy. We cannot compete with the rest of the world because of the size of the federal government. Any business owner will tell you this. Why do you think manufacturing jobs are leaving this country? It’s too difficult to do business here. And why is it too difficult to do business here? It is simply because the government is too oppressive. The aide told me the solution to these problems was universal health care. In other words, to solve the problem of America getting poorer, we need more government programs, more government benefits, etc. I reminded her that the government produces nothing. The money that the government uses to pay the great benefits that governmental employee have comes from the private sector and by taking money from the private sector, which would invest it into productive things, you have effectively lowered the economic output of this nation. It’s that simple. Government should play a role in the economy, but to actively play a role is economic suicide, because what you are saying is that a small group of bureaucrats, often with limited business experience, no better how to spend money than do the American people and those business owners who make a living out of understanding what the American people want and need. For anyone to honestly believe that central planning by bureaucrats works better than individual choices hasn’t studied the last quarter century worth of history. Centrally planned economy after centrally planned economy has crumbled under the weight of waste and inefficiency. For one to continually argue that central planning should be used is both intellectually dishonest, it is crazy.

The aide had an abundance of sincerity in her arguments, but a lack of understanding of history, even modern history. If there is one thing that I have learned in the past few years, it is that strong, centralized government power always leads to lack of freedom and great governmental tyranny. It is always the case. The regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, and others more recent all have taught me that when the government is too strong and the power too concentrated, that the people suffer horrible, horrible things. I expressed this to the aide. She was silent. There really is no argument with history. There is no dismissing it.

I know that this aide to Neil Abercrombie expressed her own opinions, but if these opinions represent the same opinions that Neil Abercrombie has, then I am afraid. Because this would mean that Neil Abercrombie believes in a larger federal government, that he thinks that those who believe in lower taxes do not love America, and that the Constitution (which he swore an oath to defend) is not pertinent to our day and that we should just ignore the parts that don’t apply. The Constitution is timeless. It was created to deal with the imperfection of man and power. It will only work if the people are actively involved in government. Does Representative Abercrombie represent me? No, he doesn’t. We share completely different views on the role of government and freedom. Freedom is never an issue for those who determine the freedoms that others experience. They are above the issues that you are I must face. I appreciate the aide’s willingness to talk with me at length about the issues, but I submit that she is wrong on most of them, because she fails to understand history and instead lives in a world of ideals that denies history by not seeing over and over the a centralization of governmental power is the greatest threat to the safety and security of any people in any age. Hence, the Constitution was created to solve these problems, but must be safeguarded by those who have sworn an oath to defend it for it to work.
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