By Tim Mayfield Updated December 10,
In Medinah, the Prophet provided that, in the just society every man has a right to capital without interest. Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. As self-government was secured through a struggle for mastery over the public purse, so must it be maintained through the exercise by the people of complete control over public expenditure.
Money is the vital principle of the body politic; the public treasury is the heart of the state; control over public supplies means control over public affairs. Any method of procedure, therefore, by which a public servant can veil the true meaning of his acts, or which allows the government to enter upon any great enterprise without bringing the fact fairly to the knowledge of the public, must work against the realization of the constitutional idea.
This is exactly the state of affairs introduced by a free use of public credit. Under ordinary circumstances, popular attention can not be drawn to public acts, except they touch the pocket of the voters through an increase in taxes; and it follows that a government whose expenditures are met by resort to loans may, for a time, administer affairs independently of those who must finally settle the account.
Appleton and Company,pp. The broad theory of constitutional liberty is that the people have the right to govern themselves; but the historical fact is that, in the attempt to realize this theory, the actual control of public affairs has fallen into the hands of those who possess property.
Appleton and Company,p. The facts disclosed permit one to understand how deficit financiering, carried so far as to result in an interchange of capital and credit between peoples of varying grades of political advancement, must endanger the autonomy of weaker states unable to meet their debt-payments.
Provided only that the interests involved are of sufficient importance to make diplomatic interference worth the while, the claims allowed by international law will certainly be urged against the delinquent states, and the citizens of such states may regard themselves fortunate if they succeed in maintaining their political integrity.
The great danger to self-government in the United States lies in municipal corruption, and municipal corruption is in large measure traceable to the manner in which cities have used their credit.
For American readers, this reference to local government is a pertinent illustration of a most dangerous political tendency of deficit financiering. The tendency of foreign borrowing is in the same direction as that of domestic borrowing.
As the latter obstructs the efficiency of constitutional methods, so the former tends to destroy the full autonomy of weak states. The granting of foreign credit is a first step toward the establishment of an aggressive foreign policy, and, under certain conditions, leads inevitably to conquest and occupation.
All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
Liberal Arts Press,p. Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors.
Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them.
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. Books for Libraries Press, pp. Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables.
Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have?
Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted.
Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. But if unlimited or unbalanced power of disposing property, be put into the hands of those who have no property, France will find, as we have found, the lamb committed to the custody of the world.
In such a case, all the pathetic exhortations and addresses of the national assembly to the people, to respect property, will be regarded no more than the warbles of the songsters of the forest.
The great art of lawgiving consists in balancing the poor against the rich in the legislature, and in constituting the legislative a perfect balance against the executive power, at the same time that no individual or party can become its rival.
The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries. 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.
Little, Brown and Company,6: We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. The only possible way, then, of preserving the balance of power on the side of liberty and public virtue is to make the acquisition of land easy to every member of society; to make a division of the land into small quantities, so that the multitude may be possessed of landed estates.
If the multitude is possessed of the balance of real estate, the multitude will have the balance of power, and in that case the multitude will take care of the liberty, virtue, and interest of the multitude in all acts of government.
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