"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from
injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to
regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and
shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has
earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is
necessary to close the circle of our felicity."
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, Wednesday, March 4, 1801
This is a passage Jefferson included in his "Legal Commonplace Book"
from Cesare Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments:
"A principal source of errors and injustice are false ideas of
utility. For example: that legislator has false ideas of
utility who considers particular more than general
conveniencies, who had rather command the sentiments of
mankind than excite them, who dares say to reason, 'Be thou a
slave;' who would sacrifice a thousand real advantages to the
fear of an imaginary or trifling inconvenience; who would
deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt,
and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who knows of
no means of preventing evil but by destroying it.
The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms,
disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime
which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those
who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of
humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the
less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of
which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance?
Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that
personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise
legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the
disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the
guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted
worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages
than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack
unarmed than armed persons."
545 People, by Charley Reese
Politicians, as I have often said, are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Everything on the Republican contract is a problem created by Congress. Too much bureaucracy? Blame Congress. Too many rules?
Blame Congress. Unjust tax laws? Congress wrote them.
Out-of-control bureaucracy? Congress authorizes everything bureaucracies do. Americans dying in Third World rat holes on stupid U.N. missions? Congress allows it. The annual deficits?
Congress votes for them. The $4 trillion plus debt? Congress created it.
To put it into perspective just remember that 100 percent of the power of the federal government comes from the U.S. Constitution. If it's not in the Constitution, it's not authorized.
Then read your Constitution. All 100 percent of the power of the federal government is invested solely in 545 individual human beings. That's all. Of 260 million Americans, only 545 of them wield 100 percent of the power of the federal government.
That's 435 members of the U.S. House, 100 senators, one president and nine Supreme Court justices. Anything involving government that is wrong is 100 percent their fault.
I exclude the vice president because constitutionally he has no power except to preside over the Senate and to vote only in the case of a tie. I exclude the Federal Reserve because Congress created it and all its power is power Congress delegated to it and could withdraw anytime it chooses to do so. In fact, all the power exercised by the 3 million or so other federal employees is power delegated from the 545.
All bureaucracies are created by Congress or by executive order of the president. All are financed and staffed by Congress. All enforce laws passed by Congress.
All operate under procedures authorized by Congress. That's why all complaints and protests should be properly directed at Congress, not at the individual agencies.
You don't like the IRS? Go see Congress. You think the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agency is running amok? Go see Congress.
Congress is the originator of all government problems and is also the only remedy available. That's why, of course, politicians go to such extraordinary lengths and employ world-class sophistry to make you think they are not responsible. Anytime a congressman pretends to be outraged by something a federal bureaucrat does, he is in fact engaging in one big massive con job. No federal employee can act at all except to enforce laws passed by Congress and to employ procedures authorized by Congress either explicitly or implicitly.
Partisans on both sides like to blame presidents for deficits, but all deficits are congressional deficits. The president may, by custom, recommend a budget, but it carries no legal weight. Only Congress is authorized by the Constitution to authorize and appropriate and to levy taxes. That's what the federal budget consists of: expenditures authorized, funds appropriated and taxes levied.
Both Democrats and Republicans mislead the public. For 40 years Democrats had majorities and could have at any time balanced the budget if they had chosen to do so. Republicans now have majorities and could, if they choose, pass a balanced budget this year. Every president, Democrat or Republican, could have vetoed appropriations bills that did not make up a balanced budget. Every president could have recommended a balanced budget. None has done either.
We have annual deficits and a huge federal debt because that's what majorities in Congress and presidents in the White House wanted. We have troops in various Third World rat holes because Congress and the president want them there.
Don't be conned. Don't let them escape responsibility. We simply have to sort through 260 million people until we find 545 who will act responsibly.
Journalist Charley Reese (now retired) was part of the Orlando Sentinel's staff for three decades between 1971-2001, during which time he (among other duties) penned a thrice-weekly column which was distributed to other newspapers nationwide by King Features Syndicate.