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What the founders understood

Posted By Russ Roberts On July 9, 2007 @ 11:51 am In History | Comments Disabled

Here [1] is some wisdom from John Baden occasioned by the 4th of July. Here’s my favorite part:

The American Constitution fostered a productive, progressive society
unburdened by an official, governmentally sanctioned religion. While
some believe our Founders were divinely inspired, there is no test for
this claim. However, were I to attribute one secular document with a
divine source, it would be the Constitution with our Bill of Rights.
Somehow, our Founders got design right.

Their work exemplified Enlightenment thinking and displayed heavy
emphasis on reason and science. Our Founders well understood the
potential for plunder and worked to minimize it. Their task was to
create institutions strong enough to protect citizens in their person
and property, while constraining politicians and special interests from
exploiting and controlling others.

While perfection eluded our Founders due to the compromises necessary
for ratification (consider neglect of women, slaves, and Indians), it
was a marvelous beginning. They limited government’s ability to
transfer wealth and opportunities; otherwise, as is Europe, benefits
would flow to the powerful and well connected. Here, individuals had
incentives to improve their lot by being productive rather than
predatory. Americans’ surest path to self-improvement came from moving
human and natural resources to ever-higher values. As a result of our
focus on productivity not plunder, we became rich beyond belief.

Today, our challenge is not wealth creation, but rather living well,
ethically, and with sensitivity to others and our environment. This is
a great accomplishment, one really quite amazing—and under appreciated.

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