Thursday, August 16, 2007


"That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate: Let those flatter who fear; it is not an American art. To give praise which is not due might be well from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting the rights of human nature. They know, and will therefore say, that kings are the servants: not the proprietors of the people. Open your breast, sire, to liberal and expanded thought.” —Thomas Jefferson in a Summary View of the Rights of British America

First, note Jefferson says that our human rights come from “the laws of nature”. I don’t see any appeal to a higher power here. And you know why he doesn’t appeal to god, don’t you—because to appeal to a god would put his claim to our freedoms on an equal footing with the king’s claim by divine right to his authority. To believe in god is to more or less admit that one is a monarchist. How many American Christians are truly monarchists at heart?

I don’t know how many times I come across a positive attitude toward liberalism in Jefferson’s writings. Why, do you think, conservatives so hate liberals when such fine men as Jefferson and others say they are also liberals? If these founders of our liberties were liberals, what scheme do conservatives have against our liberties, do you think?

Also, for those who hope to end forever inheritance taxes, we can peek into how Thomas Jefferson might want that tax to continue. In his autobiography he reports that while in the legislature of Virginia, he hoped that the “repeal of the laws of entail would prevent the accumulation and perpetuation of wealth in select families and preserve the soil of the country from being daily more and more absorbed in mortmain.” He saw that wealth might create an aristocracy in America just as birth had created an aristocracy in Europe. Thus, I suspicion he might be all for a steep inheritance tax if he saw how wealth has completely corrupted the political system which he and others like him created.

Photo is of condos along my walk on Officer's Row in Vancouver.

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