Sunday, November 04, 2007

Un-Original Intent

America’s Founders lived in a world of abundance, a world where civilization was finally gaining ground in what had been a millenia-long struggle to tame nature, where labor was mostly accomplished by human sweat, and where having children was a dangerous undertaking.

It would never have occurred to them that we’d face an overpopulation problem, a shortage of resources or wilderness, or business atmosphere where entrepreneurs could be locked out of an industry by huge established firms, or that firms or individuals could hoard all the resources in existence. There was always more wilderness to tame, more adventure to seek, and more markets to discover, or to grow.

If you had a business, store or service with a thriving trade in 18th century America, chances are, you’d only succeeded after apprenticing at your trade or profession, and being admitted to a guild, much like your relatives and ancestors back in Europe.

I mention all this because, it’s exhausting to hear complaints that compare the United States government of the 21st Century with the “original intent” of our “Founding Fathers.”

Madison didn’t call for a Federal Trade Commission, but he’d be shocked to learn how many fraudulent, and semi-fraudulent schemes were perpetrated and how many substandard products were foisted upon the public.

Jefferson was more suspicious of Big Government than any of his colleagues, but that cuts many ways; sure, he’d be disappointed that our government is so weighted down with bureaucracy, but he’d also wonder why we give so much money to large corporations, without any process to determine if those contributions do the public any good.
Most importantly, let’s remember: for all their noble and inspirational beliefs and actions, these leaders, patriots and pioneers who cobbled together America’s beginnings never even attempted to apply our rights, laws or social theories toward everyone. They were for people of certain classes, one gender, one skin color, and in general, one similar background. We have dared to make progress to make these principles universal for all Americans.

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