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The story of the Day | 28 Principal Series with Paul Skousen: Principles 11-15 explained (3:13)
Principle 11) The majority of the people may alter or abolish a government which has become tyrannical.
W.C. Skousen adds in his book that…
“ The Founders were well acquainted with the vexations resulting from an abusive, autocratic government which had imposed injuries on the American colonists for thirteen years in violation of the English constitution.”
Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence therefore emphasized the feelings of the American people when he wrote:
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. “But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
(Annals of America, 2:447-48.)
Principle 12) The United States of America shall be a Republic.
W. C. Skousen indicates why a Republic is better for us then a democracy…he says
“There are many reasons why the Founders wanted a republican form of government rather than a democracy. Theoretically, democracy requires the full participation of the masses of the people in the legislative or decision-making processes of government. This has never worked because the people become so occupied with their daily tasks that they will not properly study the issues, nor will they take the time to participate in extensive hearings before the vote is taken.
The Greeks tried to use democratic mass participation in the government of their city-states, and each time it ended in tyranny.
A democracy becomes increasingly unwieldy and inefficient as the population grows. A republic, on the other hand, governs through elected representatives and can be expanded indefinitely.”
James Madison contrasted these two systems when he wrote:
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths….
“A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
(The Federalist Papers, No. 10, p. 81)
Principle 13) A constitution should be structured to permanently protect the people from the human frailties of their rulers.
W.C. Skousen explains this in his book as…
“The Founders had more confidence in the people than they did in the leaders of the people, especially trusted leaders, even themselves. They felt the greatest danger arises when a leader is so completely trusted that the people feel no anxiety to watch him.”
Alexander Hamilton wrote:
“For it is a truth, which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those [toward] whom they entertain the least suspicion.”
(The Federalist Papers, No. 25, p. 164.)
Principle 14) Life and liberty are secure only so long as the right to property is secure.
W.C.Skousen also wrote about property ownership as….
“Under English common law, a most unique significance was attached to the unalienable right of possessing, developing, and disposing of property. Land and the products of the earth were considered a gift of God which were to be cultivated, beautified, and brought under dominion. As the Psalmist had written: “… even the heavens are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16.)”
John Locke pointed out that the human family originally received the planet earth as a common gift and that mankind was given the capacity and responsibility to improve it. Said he: “God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience.”
(John Locke, Second Essay Concerning Civil Government, p. 30, par. 25.)”
“Note that if property rights did not exist, four things would occur which would completely frustrate the Creator’s command to multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and bring it under dominion:
- One experience like the above would tend to completely destroy the incentive of an industrious person to develop and improve any more property.
- The industrious individual would also be deprived of the fruits of his labor.
- Marauding bands would even be tempted to go about the country confiscating by force and violence the good things which others had frugally and painstakingly provided.
- Mankind would be impelled to remain on a bare subsistence level of hand-to-mouth survival because the accumulation of anything would invite attack.”
“In this same spirit Abraham Lincoln once said:
“Property is the fruit of labor. Property is desirable, is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently to build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence… I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good.”
Quoted in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, May 1955, p. 7.)”
Principle 15) The highest level of prosperity occurs when there is a free-market economy and a minimum of government regulations.
In the book, W.C.Skousen goes on to say…
“The Founders were fascinated with the possibility of setting up a political and social structure based on natural law, but what about economics? Were there natural laws for the marketplace? A tome of five books on the subject was published just in the nick of time which gave them the answer. It came out in 1776 and was called The Wealth of Nations. It was written by a college professor in Scotland named Adam Smith. This brilliant work is not easy reading, but it became the watershed between mercantilism and the doctrines of free market economics. It fitted into the thinking and experiences of the Founders like a hand in a glove.
Thomas Jefferson wrote: “In political economy, I think Smith’s Wealth of Nations the best book extant.” (Bergh, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 8:31.)
Adam Smith’s Free-enterprise Economics was Tried First in America “
Therefore, the United States was the first people to undertake the structuring of a whole national economy on the basis of natural law and the free-market concept described by Adam Smith.
Among other things, this formula called for the following:
- Specialized production — let each person or corporation of persons do what they do best.
- Exchange of goods takes place in a free-market environment
- The free market provides the needs of the people on the basis of supply and demand, with no government-imposed monopolies.
- Prices are regulated by competition on the basis of supply and demand.
- Profits are looked upon as the means by which the production of goods and services is made worthwhile.
- Competition is looked upon as the means by which quality is improved, quantity is increased, and prices are reduced.
The Four Laws of Economic Freedom Prosperity also depends on a climate of wholesome stimulation protected by law. Reduced to its simplest formula, there are four laws of economic freedom which a nation must maintain if its people are to prosper at the maximum level.
- The Freedom to try.
- The Freedom to buy.
- The Freedom to sell.
- The Freedom to fail.
By 1905 the United States had become the richest industrial nation in the world. With only five percent of the earth’s continental land area and merely six percent of the world’s population, the American people were producing over half of almost everything — clothes, food, houses, transportation, communications, even luxuries. It was a great tribute to Adam Smith”
More on Paul Skousen: https://www.paulskousen.com/books/
THIS WORK IS DEDICATED TO that generation of resolute Americans whom we call the Founding Fathers. They created the first free people to survive as a nation in modern times. They wrote a new kind of Constitution which is now the oldest in existence. They built a new kind of commonwealth designed as a model for the whole human race. They believed it was thoroughly possible to create a new kind of civilization, giving freedom, equality, and justice to all.
Their first design for a free-people nation was to encompass all of North America, accommodating, as John Adams said, two to three hundred million freemen. They created a new cultural climate that gave wings to the human spirit. They encouraged exploration to reveal the scientific secrets of the universe. They built a free- enterprise culture to encourage industry and prosperity. They gave humanity the needed ingredients for a gigantic 5,000-year leap!
– W. Cleon Skousen