• Tag Archives government
  • John Adams on the Purpose of Government

    John Adams, who has become “virtually an asterisk in history books today,” in one writer’s words, is inadequately celebrated. He played a leading role in our revolution and the beginnings of constitutional government. He wrote a Stamp Act protest that became a model for other protests. He outlined principles of liberty for Americans on the cusp of independence.

    He helped write the resolutions of May 10, 1776, declaring America independent, and defended the Declaration of Independence before Congress. He composed most of the Massachusetts Constitution (the oldest still in use in the world), acclaimed for its bill of rights. His A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States was often cited in the Constitutional Convention.

    Given Adams’s importance in establishing our country on the basis of liberty, we should remember his advocacy of the rights, or property, that is the content of our liberty and whose defense is the central reason our government was instituted.

    • “Liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments.”
    • “[People have] rights…antecedent to all earthly governments—rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws.”
    • “Each individual of the society has a right to be protected…in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property…no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent.”
    • “In a free state, every man…ought to be his own governor.”
    • “To be commanded we do not consent.”
    • “Liberty is [government’s] end.”
    • “In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted… that one citizen need not be afraid of another citizen.”
    • “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”
    • “The end of…government is…the power of enjoying, in safety and tranquility, [individuals’] natural rights and the blessings of life.”
    • “[Government]…should be…for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as the defense of their lives, liberties, and properties.”
    • “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”
    • “Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”
    • “Trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”
    • “Liberty must at all hazards be supported.”
    • “A free constitution of civil government cannot be purchased at too dear a rate, as there is nothing on this side of Jerusalem of equal importance to mankind.”
    • “Be not…wheedled out of your liberty by…hypocrisy, chicanery, and cowardice.”

    John Adams, because he recognized “an enemy to liberty [as] an enemy to human nature” and that “nothing is so terrible as the loss of their liberties,” wrote that “It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty.”

    Reflecting the central importance of liberty, Adams called the debate over the Declaration of Independence “the greatest question…which ever was debated in America.” Thomas Jefferson described his defense as having “a power of thought and expression that moved us from our seats.” Delegate Richard Stockton called him “the man to whom the country is most indebted…who…by the force of his reasoning demonstrated not only the justice, but the expediency of the measure.”

    Adams also saw the importance of America’s revolution for the world:

    Objects of the most stupendous magnitude and measure in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are intimately interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of a revolution the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations.

    And he made it clear why founding America on liberty was monumental: “Her cause is that of all nations and all men, and it needs nothing but to be explained and approved.” At a time when we often forget that liberty is both America’s rationale and its greatness, Americans would profit from Adams’s wisdom.

    Gary M. Galles

    Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. His recent books include Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014) and Apostle of Peace (2013). He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

  • Tucker Carlson Says Corporations Are Now the Biggest Threat to Your Freedom. He’s Wrong


    Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey, and Mark Zuckerberg have no prisons. They’ve never run an internment camp or seized anyone’s home for failure to mow their lawn. Their body counts are a combined zero. Yet in a recent keynote address at the National Conservatism conference, Tucker Carlson suggested that big corporations—like Google, Twitter, and Facebook—are a greater threat to your freedom than the government.

    “The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government anymore, but it comes from the private sector,” the Fox News host said.

    Echoing recent praise for Senator Elizabeth Warren and her brand of economic nationalism, Carlson declared that her book on the two-income trap is “one of the best books on economics he’s ever read.” (Might we recommend a bit of Sowell, Hayek, or Smith?)

    Is Carlson’s claim defensible? Not by a long shot.

    The genius of the Constitution is a result of the American Founders’ understanding that our freedoms and rights precede government and that an unrestrained government is the biggest threat to those freedoms. The Founders limited the power of the government through an intricate system of enumerated powers, separation of powers, explicit rights, and rights retained by the people to impede the abuse of governmental power.

    Limiting the potential for governmental abuse was fundamental to the design of our constitutional order and remains an abiding concern. No such concern existed for “big corporations” because businesses do not wield the power to promulgate civil and criminal laws and exact punishment for violations of them. The state, not business, has a monopoly on compelled coercion.

    While laws and law enforcement are essential in a free and orderly society, government abuse at all levels has riddled our history (from FDR’s internment camps to Jim Crow laws in the South) and is the stuff of daily headlines.

    Government has the legal authority to incarcerate you, allocate your tax dollars how it sees fit, and foreclose on your home if you fail to mow the lawn.

    You may recall the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission involving Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Phillips was asked by a same-sex couple to create a wedding cake for their upcoming ceremony. Jack politely refused. A complaint was filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which led to a years-long struggle for Jack as he sought to protect his business, his brand, and his reputation. Even though the Supreme Court ultimately sided with Jack, the state of Colorado sought to punish him for exercising his freedom of speech and association.

    Much of the nationalist right’s recent lambasting of big business seems focused on social media. A few media personalities like Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan, Laura Loomer, and Milo Yiannopoulos have been de-platformed for violating terms of service or community standards, but where is the widescale conservative or nationalist purge? Even when users from the right have been suspended “permanently,” social media has reversed course and reinstated their accounts, sometimes within 48 hours. (Ask your attorney if you can appeal a conviction or civil judgment brought by the government within 48 hours.)

    The reality is that no person has a constitutional or natural right to a social media account. A user must agree to the terms of service and comply with community standards to enjoy the services offered by these platforms. No user can compel Facebook or Twitter to tolerate what it deems hateful or offensive language any more than they can compel Fox News to give airtime to pro-Antifa screeds.

    Where else is big business threatening conservatives’ freedom? Are banks refusing mortgages to conservatives? Are hospitals refusing to treat them? Are auto dealers refusing to sell F150s to boomers because of MAGA memes? Certainly, there are unfortunate stories of well-known conservatives being refused service at local restaurants, but the multi-year investigation into the IRS’s unfair treatment of conservative groups reveals where the greater threat lies.

    Carlson’s speech at the conference was titled “Big Business Hates Your Family.” While Carlson has railed against American companies for any number of reasons in recent years, his latest bête noire is Oreo. Nabisco, a parent company of Oreo, was in Carlson’s crosshairs for advertising that suggests kids “choose their pronoun” with their Pride Month “pronoun pack” cookie