By nature, Man is born free and independent. But to live in a state of nature alone is not safe and offers no security. Hence, Man created government for his or her protection and to achieve maximum happiness. Under a constitutional republican form of government, Man delegates to that government limited powers to best achieve that protection. What rights and powers Man does not delegate to that government are his or her to exercise to his or her best advantage in the pursuit of his or her happiness. Let us examine the liberties which the People have retained and enjoyed since the Founding of the Constitutional Republic.
“Does not every man sit under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, having none to make him afraid? Does not every one follow his calling without impediments and receive the reward of his well-earned industry? The farmer cultivates his land, and reaps the fruit which the bounty of heaven bestows on his honest toil. The mechanic is exercised in his art, and receives the reward of his labour. The merchant drives his commerce, and none can deprive him of the gain he honestly acquires; all classes and callings of men amongst us are protected in their various pursuits, and secured by the laws in the possession and enjoyment of the property obtained in those pursuits. The laws are as well executed as they ever were, in this or any other country. Neither the hand of private violence, nor the more to be dreaded hand of legal oppression, are [sic] reached out to distress us.”
Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, Published During Its Discussion by the People 1787-1788, Address By Melancthon Smith p. 94 (Paul Leicester Ford ed. 1888). Melancthon Smith of New York, was a member of the Continental Congress, (1785–88), and of the New York State Convention, in which he opposed, but ultimately voted for the ratification of the new Constitution. He helped reconcile Federalists and anti-Federalists, enabling New York state to ratify the US Constitution in the Dutchess County Courthouse in Poughkeepsie on July 26, 1788.
It cannot be denied that today our nation is experiencing economic hardship. But so have we throughout our history. Let us examine the economic times that prevailed during the Founding:
“It is true, many individuals labour under embarrassments, but these are to be imputed to the unavoidable circumstances of things, rather than to any defect in our governments. We have just emerged from a long and expensive war. During its existence few people were in a situation to increase their fortunes, but many to diminish them. Debts contracted before the war were left unpaid  while it existed, and these were left a burden too heavy to be borne at the commencement of peace. Add to these, that when the war was over, too many of us, instead of reassuming our old habits of frugality, and industry, by which alone every country must be placed in a prosperous condition, took up the profuse use of foreign commodities. The couutry [sic] was deluged with articles imported from abroad, and the cash of the country has been sent to pay for them, and still left us labouring under the weight of a huge debt to persons abroad. These are the true sources to which we are to trace all the private difficulties of individuals: But will a new government relieve you from these? The advocates for it have not yet told you how it will do it—And I will venture to pronounce, that there is but one way in which it can be effected, and that is by industry and economy; limit your expences within your earnings; sell more than you buy, and everything will be well on this score. Your present condition is such as is common to take place after the conclusion of a war. Those who can remember our situation after the termination of the war preceding the last, will recollect that our condition was similar to the present, but time and industry soon recovered us from it. Money was scare [sic], the produce of the country much lower than it has been since the peace, and many individuals were extremely embarrassed with debts; and this happened although we did not experience the ravages, desolations, and loss of property, that were suffered during the late war.” Melancthon Smith at 95.
Our current economic woes have not been caused by war but rather from bad economic decisions made by government, industry, and individuals. But we have seen the same in our history and as a nation we always overcame those times and eventually prevailed. Regardless of the cause of economic problems, what is important is that there is a remedy for curing them which is the same remedy offered by Melancthon Smith with reference to any post-war period. That remedy is “frugality,” “industry and economy; limit your expences within your earnings; sell more than you buy…”
Indeed, if health care shall be the social problem upon which we are obliged to act, then let us act upon that problem alone and not allow the central government under the guise of curing that “evil” to intrude upon so many cherished liberties of the people. Why are we to give to the central government so much power and control over our private lives and industry in the name of health care? Can the central government not offer a more limited and balanced plan which would address the very concerns it expresses without intruding so much upon our liberties? We Americans are a wise and practical people. I cannot imagine that we cannot put together a plan that would address our current health care problems without the need of the central government taking over so much of our private lives and industry and forcing employers and individuals to purchase health insurance under circumstances dictated by the central government or face various forms of punishments. The danger with such government encroachment upon our individual liberties is that “history affords us no examples of persons once possessed of power resigning it willingly.” Melancthon Smith at 100. That Obama has not even tried to develop a much more limited and reasonable approach to the health care problem should tell a cautious and prudent person that his plan is not one of only solving the problem of health care, but rather one of taking advantage of a moment in history to gain power and control over private lives and industry and thereby achieve his grand plan of “redistribution of wealth” and slowly but eventually transform our free enterprise system into a government-controlled socialist/communist/Marxist way of life.
Mario Apuzzo, Esq.
March 28, 2010