"The sum of good government," said Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address, is "A wise and frugal government, which 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 (emphasis mine)."
The hundreds of thousands of Americans who took part in the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) parties across the United States on Wednesday could not agree more.
"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one," said Thomas Paine. Those of us participating in the April 15 TEA parties fast see our government becoming "intolerable."
The current levels of government spending and taxation, and the ever-present threat by the Obama administration (along with many state and local governments) for even more spending and taxation, have more and more Americans saying, "Enough!"
As I wrote at the beginning of February, arguing against continuing the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, overspending by our government almost always results in more and more government, which then requires even more spending. This requires more tax revenue, which means more and larger taxes.
It is truly a maddening and seemingly endless cycle. This financial absurdity is the major reason why there were approximately 1,000 TEA parties across America on tax day.
Sadly, many Americans these last few years have had to learn the hard financial lessons that resulted from excessive levels of personal indebtedness. The spending sprees that have gone on at every level of government these last several years are, for the most part, simply a reflection of our culture in general.
I hope that most Americans - individuals, families, businesses, and government - are now waking up to the fact that we cannot spend our way out of debt and into prosperity. The TEA parties were a good indication that many Americans are indeed getting this message.
Jeff Jones, organizer of the Gainesville TEA party, in his speech at the protest, declared, "We have come here today to make our voices heard in defense of our Liberty. To declare our love for the United States of America and our love for the freedom that our limited government once afforded each of us ... and we have come here today to tell a bloated, heavy-handed, socialist government that we have had ENOUGH."
He continued, "This government pats us on the head and whispers in our ears, ‘we will be your Big Brother, and protect you from the unfairness in the world. We'll provide your house, your retirement, your car, your health care, and your job....in return for your allegiance to our socialist system.'"
An American Socialist named Norman Thomas once said: ‘The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.'"
Americans cannot afford to sit back and do and say nothing while the financial follies continue in Washington, and in state and local governments all over the country. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called states "the laboratories of democracy."
In other words, if you want a picture of what is going to happen with the federal government, take a look at the states. Given the make-up of the current administration, with liberals in almost complete control, the best state at which to take a gander would be California.
In June 2002, the liberal magazine American Prospect hailed California as a "laboratory" for Democratic policies. The author of the story, Harold Meyerson, boasted that "with its Democratic governor, U.S. senators, state legislature and congressional delegation, California is the only one of the nation's 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control."
In California, Meyerson said, "the next New Deal is in tryouts."
In the few years since Meyerson's bold declaration, California has 11.2 percent unemployment, a $41 billion deficit, and a credit rating that was slashed to the lowest of all 50 U.S. states (approaching junk bond status). It turns out that their "New Deal" was no deal at all.
This, and worse, I'm afraid, is the destination of the U.S. government if we don't stop the fiscal insanity. Hopefully the TEA parties were the beginning of the "change" this country really needs.
Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and frequent columnist; Web site. His columns appear frequently.