Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Not Yours To Give

When I mentioned the account of Ron Paul's response to the proposed Commemorative Gold Medal for Ronald & Nancy Reagan, all I could think about was this story that floated just out of reach. I have researched the story, called Not Yours To Give which was originally published in "The Life of Colonel David Crockett," by Edward Sylvester Ellis. I will summarize it for you here.

In the 1820's & 30's Colonel Davy Crockett was, like Ron Paul, a congressman for Texas. He was one day standing on the steps of the capitol when a fire broke out in Georgetown. After he and several other members of congress offered aid and surveyed the damage, Congress easily voted for $20,000 in relief efforts, which sounds quite laudable on the surface.

Later on, as Davy Crockett was surveying his district and preparing for an election, he happened upon a farmer who told him flat out that he shouldn't waste his time - he wouldn't vote for Davy Crockett, due to the $20,000 of relief Congress had awarded. The full story lays out in detail the farmer's response to Congressman Crockett. The gist of it is this: the Constitution does not give Congress the right to use the people's money for charity. Here are portions of the farmer's response,

"It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means...."

"...If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give at all; and as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. 'No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity....'"

"'...So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people [emphasis mine]. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.'"

Davy Crockett humbly received this farmer's correction, and learned that this farmer was none other than Horatio Bunce, a man well-known for his great intelligence, kindness and benevolence. He told Davy that he would vote for him, on the condition that he would acknowledge his error before the people. Horatio organized a barbeque for him, and Davy delivered what he says was his best speech ever, and gives credit to Horatio in his story. Horatio endorsed Davy Crockett to the people, and Davy writes,

"there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before. I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress."

As Davy tells this story in its entirety, he opens with a situation in Congress, where a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. The bill had already been supported heartily in Congress and moving speeches made. Davy Crockett then opposes this bill, and is successful in shooting it down. Here is a quote from his address:

"We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money."

The story of his encounter with Horatio is in response to an inquiry of a friend as to why he had opposed the bill. The whole story is definitely worth reading. This particular link is found at Love to Learn and is part of a lesson plan for children, replete with vocabulary, geography & comprehension questions for homeschoolers.

I'm sure it's obvious why I think of Ron Paul when I read this! Ron Paul seems to be the only one on capitol hill right now who recognizes that the American people are being robbed to finance a myriad of unauthorized things. Consider the following:

"Foreign aid is a system by which the American taxpayers are forced, in the name of national security or defense of the “free world,” or charity, or whatever the politicians tell us, to subsidize US export companies and prop up client states that are often ruled by dictators.

Constitutionally, of course, none of this spending is authorized. The US Constitution was written under what is referred to as “positive grant.” In short, what this means is that the federal government is authorized to engage in only those activities specifically authorized by the Constitution. Positive = authorized activities. Grant = specifically listed.

Just to make sure this principle was legally codified, the Tenth Amendment was included:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

There is no authorization to pay for spying in Mexico. There is no authorization to prop up dictators in places like Pakistan with your money. There is no authorization to spend your money on “military assistance” for other countries. There is no authorization to funnel money through the CIA to support regime changes. The Constitution was written in plain English – there is nothing there which authorizes the federal government to take your money and give it to foreign governments. For any reason."

If we desire to reign in the government that we have allowed to run amok, then we have the responsibility as Americans to educate our children about the Constitution, and vote for Ron Paul and others who advocate limited government and walk with integrity in regard to our Constitution. In closing, here is a quote from The Wall Street Journal:

"Ron Paul has a record of philosophical consistency unmatched in recent congressional history. He seeks to limit government at practically every turn. His refusal to compromise is legendary."

1 comment:

  1. Wow - this drew me in so quickly. What a vivid piece!
    I remember the story of Davy Crocket and Horatio Bunce, but I hadn't drawn any correlations between then and now.
    I enjoy hearing from you about Ron Paul - I don't watch the news, although I should since I will be voting - and I appreciate the qualities of his character that you have brought to light.