In Europe, during the days of the Founders, it was very popular to proclaim that the role of government was to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots” so that all might be truly “equal.” However, the American Founders perceived that this proposition contained a huge fallacy.
The Founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves. For example, every person is entitled to the protection of his life and property. Therefore, it is perfectly legitimate to delegate to the government the task of setting up a police force to protect the lives and property of all the people. But suppose a kind-hearted man saw that one of his neighbors had two cars while another neighbor had none. What would happen if, in a spirit of benevolence, the kind man went over and took one of the cars from his prosperous neighbor and generously gave it to the neighbor in need? Obviously, he would be arrested for car theft. No matter how kind his intentions, he is guilty of flagrantly violating the natural rights of his prosperous neighbor, who is entitled to be protected in his property. Of course, the two-car neighbor could donate a car to his poor neighbor if he liked, but that is his decision and not the prerogative of the kind-hearted neighbor who wants to play Robin Hood.
How Governments Sometimes Commit “Legal” Crimes
But suppose the kind-hearted man decided to ask the mayor and city council to force the man with two cars to give one to his pedestrian neighbor. Does that make it any more legitimate? Obviously, this makes it even worse because if the mayor and city council do it in the name of the law, the man who has lost his car has not only lost the rights to his property, but (since it is the “law”) he has lost all right to appeal for help in protecting his property. The American Founders recognized that the moment the government is authorized to start leveling the material possessions of the rich in order to have an “equal distribution of goods,” the government thereafter has the power to deprive any of the people of their “equal” rights to enjoy their lives, liberties, and property.
Those on the receiving end of the program may think this is very “just” to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” They may say, “This is the way the government provides equal justice for all.”
But what happens when the government comes around and starts taking from those who count themselves “poor”? They immediately declare with indignation that they have “rights” in the property the government gave them. The government replies, “We decide who has rights in things.” The power given to the government to take from the rich automatically canceled out the principle of “guaranteed equal rights.” It opened the floodgate for the government to meddle with everybody’s rights, particularly property rights.
The American Founders took a different approach. Their policy was to guarantee the equal protection of all the people’s rights and thus insure that all would have the freedom to prosper. There was to be no special penalty for getting rich. The French philosophers cried out in protest, “But then some of the people will become very rich!”
“Indeed they will,” the Founders might have responded—“the more the better.” In fact, it was soon discovered that the new industrial age required large quantities of private funds in order to build factories and purchase complicated machinery to lead the world to the highest level of prosperity it had ever seen.
Skousen, W. Cleon (2013-09-09). The Five Thousand Year Leap (Kindle Locations 370-372). Verity Publishing. Kindle Edition.
His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.
He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.
He has published several books about his adventures.
For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.
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