Thomas Jefferson on “You Didn’t Build That”

8 Sep 2012 /
Thomas Jefferson

Almost everything appertaining to the circumstances of a nation, has been absorbed and confounded under the general and mysterious word government. Though it avoids taking to its account the errors it commits, and the mischiefs it occasions, it fails not to arrogate to itself whatever has the appearance of prosperity. It robs industry of its honours, by pedantically making itself the cause of its effects; and purloins from the general character of man, the merits that appertain to him as a social being.

— Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1792)

My fellow Americans —

You see how my friend Tom Paine, 220 years ago, perfectly anticipated — and rejected — your President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” quote.

Oh yes, we were aware of the “progressive” philosophy — that everything good comes from government — even then and we wanted no part of it.

By the way, I notice that liberals are now calling themselves “progressives.”

That’s good. The word “liberal” has lost its true meaning. Classical liberalism was based on “liberty” — from kings, churches and aristocracies.

Did you know that the great economist Milton Friedman did not call himself a conservative or a libertarian? He called himself a liberal, in the original sense of that word.

Progressives don’t believe in liberty. They believe in government as the new church and politicians as the new aristocracy.


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