Monday, June 22, 2009

Words of Wisdom from George Washington

I'm reading "The Real George Washington" at the moment, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the founding of the U.S.

What is striking to me is that many of the situations that bothered him have parallels today, and many of his statements about them are similarly applicable.

"At a time when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprication [sic] of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke and maintain the liberty which we have derived from our ancestors; but the manner of doing it to answer the purpose effectually is the point in question.
"That no man should scruple or hesitate a moment to use arms in defense of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of life life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource." (George Washington to George Mason, April 5, 1769)

It is notable that Mr. Washington considered liberty an heritage from his ancestors, not a privilege granted by government.

With regard to the unreasonable taxation Great Britain was heaping upon the unwilling colonists at the time, he wrote:

"...the Parliament of Great Britain have no more right to put their hands into my pocket, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours for money." (George Washington to Bryan Fairfax, July 20, 1774).

This is a concept that is central to the original Constitution of the United States. That is, the government only exists and functions at the sufferance of the citizenry, and that its officers have no more power to do anything a citizen than does his neighbor or any other citizen. Thus, taxation can only be effected if the citizenry agrees to it, and it must be put to uses agreed upon by them. This is a deeply different idea from the current view of most of the U.S. and local governments, who see citizens only as a source of "revenue."

It would be well to politely remind your representative that you're more than a cash cow.

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