Friday, March 26, 2010

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not," warned Thomas Jefferson.


Brandon1988 said...

Jefferson, his deistic proclivities aside, was one of the most brilliant of this nation's forefathers. If only we as a people could of heeded this quote as well as his distrust of bankers and belief in agrarian community as the backbone of liberty.

Rudolf van der Berg said...

Funny quote, you can go any way with that one. Did the man mean that we shouldn't set up a collective health insurance system... You seem to imply so. Or did the man mean that we shouldn't have elites who are living off the work of others ... the paupers. Now as the quote doesn't actually belong to Jefferson and can only be found in literature as early as 1986 we will never know.

There is a treatise by Jefferson that goes into equal taxation. But you can't derive from it a rule on medicine. All it says that everyone should pay an equal share. What is included in that share isn't said anything about. It does mention inheritances and inheritance tax and it says to leave it to equal inheritance to all to diminish the fortune.

Oh well... It is easy to quote dead people. They have no opinion on today. It is much harder to address today's problems.

and as an aside... Just because you don't have socialized medicine yet, doesn't mean that the USA is a more democratic country than any of the other OECD 30. Philosophy on that ;-)

jeffdod said...

Jefferson commented, in a prospectus for his translation of Destutt de Tracy's Treatise on Political Economy: "To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, 'the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, & the fruits acquired by it.'"

jeffdod said...

Hello Rudolf,

The US Department of the Treasury sees fit to quote Jefferson (yes, the dead man). Their point is that Jefferson (and by implication, the founding fathers) did not believe the US Constitution supported taxation for the purpose of redistributing income or wealth. In fact, they back this up by using the same Jefferson quote I gave in my post above. You can find this at in their History of the US Tax System faq sheet.

It is not unreasonable for Americans to see this new health care law as an unconstitutional redistribution of wealth, and a threat to the republic. It violates our rule of law (at least according to Jefferson), and if our central government can get away with it, what else might they try? Who put the crazy idea into our heads that this is really about redistribution of wealth? The Senators and Congressmen who passed the bill. For example, Senator Max Baucus (D-Montanta) described the bill as "an income shift...a shift, a leveling...the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy...this legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America." Sen. Baucus' speech on C-SPAN is readily available if you wish to watch it.

The root issue is not health care. I'd love to see every last person in America have health care, if it were done legally and without taking someone else's property at gunpoint. The issue is a central government which has forgotten its limits and how to abide by our constitution.

oofda said...

I don't think Jefferson ever made that statement. I live in Charlottesville, VA, and am familiar with much of his work. I checked The Jefferson Encyclopedia, and it indicated that there is no record of the statement. What is the provenance of the statement.

Clint said...

The problem with this statement is that it is over-simplistic and falsely assumes that those on the receiving end are merely free-floating individuals that refuse to apply themselves. As you know in dealing w/ people from the Well, there is almost always more to the story than laziness.