But if the fatal principle should come to be introduced, that, under pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law may take from one party in order to give to another, help itself to the wealth acquired by all the classes that it may increase that of one class, whether that of the agriculturists, the manufacturers, the ship owners, or artists and comedians; then certainly, in this case, there is no class which may not try, and with reason, to place its hand upon the law, that would not demand with fury its right of election and eligibility, and that would overturn society rather than not obtain it.
Even beggars and vagabonds will prove to you that they have an incontestable title to it. They will say:
We never buy wine, tobacco, or salt, without paying the tax, and a part of this tax is given by law in perquisites and gratuities to men who are richer than we are. Others make use of the law to create an artificial rise in the price of bread, meat, iron, or cloth.
Since everybody traffics in law for his own profit, we should like to do the same. We should like to make it produce the right to assistance, which is the poor man’s plunder. To effect this, we ought to be electors and legislators, that we may organize, on a large scale, alms for our own class, as you have organized, on a large scale, protection for yours. Don’t tell us that you will take our cause upon yourselves, and throw to us 600,000 francs to keep us quiet, like giving us a bone to pick. We have other claims, and, at any rate, we wish to stipulate for ourselves, as other classes have stipulated for themselves!
How is this argument to be answered? Yes, as long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true mission, that it may violate property instead of securing it, everybody will be wanting to manufacture law, either to defend himself against plunder, or to organize it for his own profit. The political question will always be prejudicial, predominant, and absorbing; in a word, there will be fighting around the door of the Legislative Palace. The struggle will be no less furious within it. To be convinced of this, it is hardly necessary to look at what passes in the Chambers in France and in England; it is enough to know how the question stands. Is there any need to prove that this odious perversion of law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord, that it even tends to social disorganization?
The preceding excerpt was first published in 1850, from a classic essay entitled “The Law” written by Frédéric Bastiat, a great French economist and journalist. Bastiat heralded the United States as the best governmental system in existence but foretold the problems that would eventually arise due to the perversions of the law that existed then and the apparent evolution of perverted law as history unfolded. He found this very alarming.
Bastiat even highlighted Class Warfare, which has cyclically reared its ugly head throughout history by those that dared wage it. Our current day President of the United States has ventured into this divisive arena as simply a vehicle on which to win the next election. Predicting, since there are more middle class and poor than that of wealthy, the numbers look to be in his favor.
What the President failed to recognize is the increasingly difficult task of persuasion as the electorate wakes up to the truth – the basis of justice is that which is fair and impartial, justice is righteousness. It is widely understood that equally opportunity does not guarantee an equal outcome. Fair reasons for an unequal outcome are generally accepted. A perversion of the law using legal plunder is not.
I cannot imagine that a majority of the poor and middle class would rather strip a rich man of his wealth, thereby trading his opportunity to gain more wealth for himself. Rather than envy the man with the limousine and want to take it from him, most welcome the freedom to work towards earning his own limousine. Is that not the American Dream? Have millions not emigrated from countries all over the world to partake in a system where your pursuits are only hindered by your own limitations?
The real solution is not a part-time congress as proposed by Presidential Candidate Rick Perry. No, I believe it would take a full-time congress to re-evaluate every piece of legislation for constitutional consistency.
Thomas Jefferson was right about Strict Constructionists, arguing that “that government is best which governs least,” they desired a small federal government, one that would leave most power to the states and to the people. Thus, they argued Congress should only be allowed to exercise those expressed powers specifically listed in the Constitution, recognizing few or any other implied powers as legitimate. Jefferson wanted to ensure that government would charge few or no taxes, mostly leaving the people at liberty to pursue their own objectives free from government interference. Only a very strict reading of the Necessary and Proper Clause, he thought, would prevent the government from giving itself more and more unnecessary power over citizens’ lives.
And, here we are…
The Broad Contructionists have certainly capitalized on power and the fear of the people, whom in times of turmoil gladly cashed in their liberty for a bit of security. That was the power of persuasion. Enough liberties of the people have been handed over to up-end the whole premise of a Republic. Citizens of the states provide enough wealth to the federal government to economically compromise the states and local governments. Both of which are now at the mercy of what the federal government is willing to give back. All of which over extend their power and consume more wealth than any of us can afford.