Terry Paulson

The separation of church and state in our Constitution is not there to protect Americans from religion but to protect Americans from the government. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The intent was established in the U.S. Congressional Records in the summer of 1789 where it was stated that no one denomination of the Christian faith was to have precedence. “In God we trust,” but we want no one denomination defining who God is. Instead of zoning God out of our public life, our Founding Fathers celebrated faith’s value. They wanted freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

Benjamin Franklin criticized England’s welfare entitlements of his time, “There is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent…. 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."

The American 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. America did this by guaranteeing its citizens the freedom to acquire property without being hindered by excessive regulations or redistribution policies. American “caring” shouldn’t be defined by the number of people “helped” by government but by how many no longer need it. Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.

No government check can match being touched and helped by local charities staffed by volunteers who care. When good works cease to be voluntary and “giving” through taxes becomes compulsory, charity gives way to confiscation and freedom to servitude.

Finally, George Washington reminded all in his first address to Congress, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” America, in order to defend its freedom and way of life, must continue to invest adequate resource to remain strong, progressive, and technologically sophisticated to match the enemies of our age. When politicians suggested limiting our standing army to 5,000 by law, Washington asked for an amendment to limit the size of the enemy to 3,000 troops.

Property rights, earned reward, individual responsibility, religious freedom, limited government, a strong military, and “we the people” empowered to turn liberty into our own version of the American Dream are what our Founding Fathers left as a legacy. In November, you’ll have the opportunity to define true north for the future of this great country. Pick your values compass wisely. Our future depends on it.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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