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Opinion Letters Founders of our nation worth ‘listening’ to

It has been said, “We have no way of judging the future except by the past.” That is not just a cliché it’s sage advice.

To understand and dispel the confusion as to why our country’s in such a mess and our government so dysfunctional we need only to eavesdrop on the founders of our nation. Remember, what they believed, and their wisdom, is no longer taught in our schools and is something our present leaders would rather you not know.

The founders, for example, had a far better grasp of debts and deficits than we do today. Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson (among others) clearly understood the dangers of indebtedness. Jefferson (known for penning the words of our Declaration of Independence) wrote in a letter in 1816, “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling the future on a large scale.” We now borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend.

Jefferson understood government all too well. In 1824, he said, “I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” John Adams, too, understood the inherent dangers of what his generation was attempting. He warned his Confederates in 1814, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” James Madison had come to that conclusion three decades earlier.

The insight of the founders is nothing short of incredible. They were known as statesmen, something we haven’t had in America for a long, long time. In his autobiography, written five years before his death in 1826, Thomas Jefferson theorized, “If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together aught not to be expected.” If my count is accurate, we have 148 lawyers in the House, about half the Senate (50) are lawyers, the president and the vice president are both lawyers, and of course the third branch of our government (The Supreme Court) are all lawyers. Enough said.

James Madison (known as the “Father of our Constitution”) states in Federalist #10 (1n 1787), “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

We should all refresh our memories from time to time by reading the words of the founding fathers.

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” is found in the Declaration of Independence. One would hardly believe this true considering our government(s) today; corrupt, selfserving, gluttonous and unprincipled.

The founders fully realized that an elected legislature can trample a man’s rights as easily as a king. James Madison had as clear a view of the foibles of government of anyone of his time. In a speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787, he said, “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” Then, 42 years later, at the Virginia Constitutional Convention, Dec. 2, 1829, said, “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” The founders seemed to understand it all so well, even to a belief in this newspaper. “No government ought to be without censors: and where the press is free, no one ever will,” Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to George Washington, Sept. 9, 1792.

David L. Snell — Dillsboro, N.C.


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