More from The 5000 Year Leap…
Redistribution of the Wealth Unconstitutional
In earlier years the American courts held that the expropriating of property to transfer to other citizens was unlawful, being completely outside the constitutional power delegated to the government. It was not until after 1936 (the Butler case) that the Supreme Court began arbitrarily distorting the meaning of the “general welfare” clause to permit the distribution of federal bounties as a demonstration of “concern” for the poor and the needy. Before that time, this practice was prohibited. The Supreme Court had declared:
No man would become a member of a community in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property, then, is a primary object of the social compact…The legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold, and vesting it in another, without a just compensation. It is inconsistent with the principles of reason, justice, and moral rectitude; it is incompatible with the comfort, peace and happiness of mankind; it is contrary to the principles of social alliance in every free government; and lastly, IT IS CONTRARY TO THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF THE CONSTITUTION. (2 Dall 304, 310 [Pa. 1795]; emphasis added.)
Caring for the Poor Without Violating Property Rights
But, of course, the nagging question still remains. If it corrupts a society for the government to take care of the poor by violating the principle of property rights, who will take care of the poor? The answer of those who built America seems to be: “Anybody BUT the federal government.”
Americans have never tolerated the suffering and starvation which have plagued the rest of the world, but until the present generation help was given almost exclusively by the private sector or on the community or state level. President Grover Cleveland vetoed legislation in his day designed to spend federal taxes for private welfare problems. He wrote:
I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people.
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood. (“Why the President Said No,” in Essays on Liberty, 12 vols. [Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: The Foundation for Economics Education, INc., 1952-65], 3:255; emphasis added.)
I think the Founders were very smart…would that our leaders of today were.