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Today we celebrate the anniversary of the signing of our
Declaration of Independence from British rule.
Most of the Declaration is a justification for that separation, but the
second paragraph states the theory of government on which our Nation’s
Founders, men well schooled in history and reason, sought to build a new and
enlightened form of governance for our country, in clear and eloquent language
that has not been matched since:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That’s it. Governments are to be created by the governed,
for the purpose of securing their rights. No more, and no less.
Governments are not created to make us better people; to tell us what to
eat, what drugs our physicians may prescribe, how or whom we love, or what kind
of car we drive. Further, governments are not created to feed us, shelter us,
and solve our personal problems, to wipe our noses, or tuck us in at night.
Government exists only to secure our rights to make those
choices and do those things for ourselves. When government tries to do more, it
does so at the expense of our rights, destroying that which it is created to
protect. No better example can be offered than the recent decision by the
Supreme Court to allow governments to take property from one citizen to give it
to some more favored citizen in hopes of accomplishing some greater social good.
Most of today’s citizens are unaware that the phrase “the
pursuit of happiness” was, at the time of the Declaration, a euphemism for
the private ownership of property, and idea so radical at the time that liberal
thinkers dared not state it directly. In those days, ownership of property was
by grace of the King, who could revoke that ownership as he saw fit.
The recent decision by the Supreme Court on the use of eminent
domain strips us of that right of the pursuit of happiness and
returns us to the era where our ownership of property is only by grace of the
government. How much longer will it be before they go after life and liberty
What do we do? Read what follows in that paragraph.
whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the
Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,
as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
It is our duty, as free people, to set what has gone wrong
in our government right.