Saturday, October 03, 2009

That's What I've Been Sayin'


Emmerich De Vattel's "The Law of Nations" is the only book referenced in the U.S. Constitution. I was struck by this passage, which says so well many of the things that I have been thinking when I consider the direction of social and fiscal policy in this nation over the last five or six decades...

ยง 116. The nation may hence discover the intention of its rulers.

It is an incontestable truth, that the virtues of the citizens constitute the most happy dispositions that can be desired by a just and wise government. Here then is an infallible criterion, by which the nation may judge of the intentions of those who govern it. If they endeavour to render the great and the common people virtuous, their views are pure and upright; and you may rest assured that they solely aim at the great end of government โ€” the happiness and glory of the nation. But if they corrupt the morals of the people, spread a taste for luxury, effeminacy, a rage for licentious pleasures โ€” if they stimulate the higher orders to a ruinous pomp and extravagance โ€” beware, citizens! beware of those corruptors! they only aim at purchasing slaves in order to exercise over them an arbitrary sway.

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