Dennis Prager has recently added a pearl of wisdom to his repertoire of truths—“The larger the government, the smaller the individual.” The biggest danger from President Obama’s march to bigger government rests in what this means to the grounding principles that have made America great. Will America renew its commitment to individual liberty and personal responsibility or give in to government dependence and control?
As current Tea Party demonstrators would agree, Benjamin Franklin criticized King George’s high taxes to pay for the welfare entitlements of his time, “I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act (taxes for welfare), you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on someone else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.”
Franklin preferred “responsible” caring, "I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it…. Repeal that law (taxes), and you will soon see a change in their manners. Labor…will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them."
Thomas Jefferson concurred, "A wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, 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." Abraham Lincoln stressed common sense, “The worst thing you can do for those you love is the thing they could and should do for themselves.”
Our free-enterprise economy has served for over 200 years as the greatest anti-poverty program in human history because it encouraged work, and discouraged idleness, more than any other. Citizens have been free to pursue their American Dream based on the principle that men are created equal in their rights and their responsibilities.