Redistribution – understood as evil long before Obama or Marx

The following excerpts are from a book “Construction Construed, and Constitutions Vindicated”, by John Taylor, of Virginia, published in 1820.

This volume was written to critique then current expansionist interpretation of the Constitution in the Supreme Court decisions of the first three decades of our country.

I have selected a few snippets to share a sense of the passion and understanding of our early defenders of limited government.

SECTION 1. The Principles of Our Revolution

… freedom of property must be the only means also, for the establishment of civil liberty.

An adoration of military fame, specious projects and eminent individuals, has in all ages brought on mankind a multitude of evils; and a sound freedom of property is the only mode that I know of, able to destroy the worship of these idols, by removing beyond their reach the sacrifices upon which themselves, and their proselytes, subsist.

…an absolute power over property, though occasionally exercised for the attainment of praise-worthy ends is yet constantly attended by general evils, infinitely outweighing such particular benefits…

Where then is the wisdom of extending the power beyond the limits of social necessity, to the despotick principle of a gratuitous distribution of wealth and poverty by law; and of converting a small evil, abundantly counterbalanced by the blessings of government, into a calamity by which these blessings are diminished or destroyed?

… possessing an absolute power to distribute property, according to the pleasure, the pride, the interest, the ablution, and the avarice of its administrators; and consider whether such a government is the servant or the master of the nation.

…they very justly considered life and liberty as so intimately connected with property, that the rights of the latter could not be invaded, without invading the other rights also. They fought for a revolution, and established governments to secure all three of these natural rights, because a loss of one was equivalent to a loss of all…

I see no infallible criterion for defining the nature of a government, except its acts. If the acts of a monarchy, aristocracy and democracy are the same, these forms of government are to a nation essentially the same also. To contend for forms only, is to fight for shadows.

A government is substantially good or bad, in the degree that it produces the happiness or misery of a nation… If we can ascertain the quality in human nature, from which political evil has chiefly proceeded under every form of government, this quality is the cause which can corrupt any form…

Almost all governments have espoused and nourished the spirit of avarice, which they were instituted to discipline by justice; and have betrayed the weak, whom it was their duty to protect. In assuming a power of distributing property by law, they have reduced it in a great degree to a destiny, approximating to its savage destiny, when subjected to force.

Aristocracies and democracies, by usurping this despotick power, in imitation of monarchs, have driven nations into a circle of forms, through which they have perpetually returned to the oppression they intended to escape. Had the essentials, rather than the structure of governments, attracted the attention of mankind, they would not have trusted to any theory, however excellent, asserting it to be the duty of a government to protect rights, under a system of legislation, by which governments of the worst forms destroy them.

They would have discovered, that a power of distributing property, according to its pleasure, has made governments of the best forms bad; and that’s remedy for an evil, poisonous to the best theories, ought to awaken then solicitude and ingenuity.

For want of this remedy, republicks, of the finest theoretical structure, have universally died more prematurely, even than absolute monarchies; because, the more numerous the depositaries of an absolute power over property have become, the more widely has the spirit of avarice or monopoly been excited.

The encroachments upon property … once fixed by law, remained stationary; and each individual could calculate his fate with some certainty; but pecuniary combinations, once sanctioned as constitutional, will perpetually open new channels, and breed new invaders, whose whole business it will be, to make inroads upon the territories of industry.

Legislatures will become colleges for teaching the science of getting money by monopolies or favours; and the deluge of laws will become as great in the United States, as was once the deluge of papal indulgences in Europe for effecting the same object.

You might ask “what does this teach?” Well, it teaches me that very early in our history, men:

1. understood the evil of redistribution of property (wealth)

2. struggled to contain the encroachments deriving from government expansion

3. failed to provide effective safeguards for our three essential Rights (Life Liberty Property)

Think about this as you engage in endless debate on the topic of primary candidates for 2012.

Think about this and assess the likelihood that any future election might lead to a diminution of the Almighty State.

I ask only one question:

“What are you willing to do to restore our Right to Life, Liberty, and Property?”

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1 Response to Redistribution – understood as evil long before Obama or Marx

  1. admin says:

    “What are you willing to do to restore our Right to Life, Liberty, and Property?”

    Should be:

    “What are we willing to do to restore our Right to Life, Liberty, and Property?”


    “What are you willing to do to restore your Right to Life, Liberty, and Property?”

    What a difference in meaning each of these two questions now convey. The first is a question for the entire country. Unite or die under tyranny is the option we face but we are not uniting: we are actually arguing for our independent status as if it is our strength instead of our dividing weakness.

    The second question requires an individual to consider his or her very reason for living. Without freedom, life is an illusion with no purpose. Without a purpose, life if meaningless. The rights given to us under natural law are the basis of freedom. How did we lose our natural rights? Why do we have to consider how to restore what should never have been lost?

    Who among you will pledge your life, fortune and sacred honor to restore your freedom along with me?

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