Monday, February 18, 2013

0 Celebrating Liberty on this President's Day

On this Presidents' Day (it's a pity that what once was two days recognizing two American Presidents for their unique contributions to our nation's history is now watered down - together as a mash-up with all the abysmal presidents we've had - into a single day) it is helpful, I think, to celebrate the ideas of liberty that our founders and this nation once held dear.   To wit, I've included a couple of quotes here from important thinkers in political economy... for your rumination and mine.

"Those that cling to the oligarchy's structure are in fact being duped — their sustenance is extracted from those that the oligarchy has bound. When that tribute stops, the dependents will either take responsibility for themselves or perish."

"Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism... A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."

"The immense power centralized into the oligarchy's hands has never been greater — entire nations can be laid waste in an instant, and it can only be assumed that we the people are merely living but at their pleasure and profit. The real question is why do we put up with it? Why do not the slaves who are the majority revolt?"

"I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves."

"For the true lover of Liberty, it must seem insurmountable these days to actually live free while the ever-expanding police state continues its perpetual push into every corner of our lives. Can any other conclusion be reached than the state and its ever-increasing legions of bureaucrats (who are now paid more than those working in the private sector) have every intent to place themselves between every human transaction of every kind? Can it be denied that every sale, every transfer of property, every shipment, every receipt, every message is to be tracked, logged, and taxed by government agencies? And isn't it considered criminal to avoid such interference?"

"After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."

Alexis de Tocqueville

"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men."



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