15th Principle (Free Market Economics) talks about Adam Smith, whose theories on free markets can be reduced to:
1. The Freedom to try.
2. The Freedom to buy.
3. The Freedom to sell.
4. The Freedom to fail.
Unfortunately, we’ve largely removed that 4th freedom these days.
The Founding Fathers agreed with Adam Smith that the greatest threat to economic prosperity is the arbitrary intervention of the government into the economic affairs of private business and the buying public. Historically, this has usually involved fixing prices, fixing wages, controlling production, controlling distribution, granting monopolies, or subsidizing certain products.
ya think? It goes on to discuss how Adam Smith fell out of favor on college campuses in the 1900s, in favor of a new system promoted by the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which involved “extensive government regulation if not outright expropriation of major industries and natural resources.” Sigh.
The 17th Principle is Checks and Balances.
President Washington felt that the separation of powers with its accompanying checks and balances was the genius of the American system of government. The task was to maintain it. In his Farewell Address he stated “It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another.”
Yes, without diligence, the three branches of government will start to overstep their boundaries. As we can clearly see. The President thinks he can tell Congress what laws he expects them to pass. The Judiciary thinks they can legislate from the bench. Congress seems to think it can do whatever it wants, regardless of what the Constitution says. It’s all very maddening.
The 21st Principle is Strong Local Self Government is the Keystone to Preserving Human Freedom. The whole chapter is worth repeating, but obviously I cannot do that. “Political power automatically gravitates toward the center, and the purpose of the Constitution is to prevent that from happening. The centralization of political power always destroys liberty by removing the decision-making function from the people on the local level and transferring it to the officers of the central government.”
Thomas Jefferson said:
No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.
James Madison said:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.