A former Cache Valley native, Ezra Taft Benson, wrote a timeless treatise on the proper role of government. Here are my favorite passages and the principles I adhere to:
“If we permit government to manufacture its own authority out of thin air, and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. Beyond that point, where shall the line be drawn?”
“it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less, than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it.”
“When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it, without his consent and without compensation, whether by force or by fraud to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated.”
“Each class or special interest group competes with others to throw the lever of governmental power in their favor. Labor gets a minimum wage, agriculture seeks support, consumers demand price controls, and industry gets protective tariffs. In the end, no one is much further ahead, and everyone suffers the burdens of a gigantic bureaucracy and a loss of personal freedom. With each group out to get its share of the spoils, such governments historically have mushroomed into total welfare states. Once the process begins, once the protective function of government gives way to the redistribute function, then forces are set in motion that drive the nation toward totalitarianism. It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this, the conversion of law into an instrument of plunder.”
“The basic concept of socialism is that the government has full responsibility for the welfare of the people and in order to discharge that responsibility, must assume control of all their activities.”
“Material gain and economic security simply cannot be guaranteed by any government. They are the result and reward of hard work and the industry of the individual.”
Why do Americans bake more bread, manufacture more shoes and assemble more TV sets than Russians do? They do so precisely because our government does NOT guarantee these things. They are obtained only through personal industry. Without such industry, they don’t exist, and that is why they don’t exist in socialist countries.”
"This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, THE CHARACTER INHERENT IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAS DONE ALL THAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. When you take the products of industry, you take the incentive for such industry.”
In 1801 Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, said: "With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens - 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 had earned."
"England was killed by an idea: the idea that the weak, indolent and profligate must be supported by the strong, industrious, and frugal - to the degree that tax-consumers will have a living standard comparable to that of taxpayers; the idea that government exists for the purpose of plundering those who work to give the product of their labor to those who do not work. The economic and social cannibalism produced by this communist-socialist idea will destroy any society which adopts it and clings to it as a basic principle - ANY society.”
“History proves that the growth of the welfare state is difficult to check before it comes to its full flower of dictatorship.”
“Those who have should help those who don’t but in a voluntary, altruistic way. Never by force. Trying to force the equality of outcomes by the redistribution of wealth, strips from the industrious the very motivation that creates the wealth government seeks to redistribute.”
“The idea that the end justifies the means, should first consider if the end will ultimately destroy the means. The killing of the means then will eliminate the end altogether, proving this philosophy antithetical.”
“No government in the history of mankind has ever created wealth. People who work create wealth. It is the role of government to protect that wealth, as the rightful personal property of the individual. What government may require of its citizens is only what is necessary to provide for its minimal maintenance, nothing more.”
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