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THE Principal Principle

Here’s a letter that I sent to the Washington Post:

E.J. Dionne correctly notes that much of today’s opposition to President Obama’s agenda (and to the expansion of government under Pres. Bush) “is a matter of principle” (“What fuels the grass-roots rage,” Feb. 11) – a principle that, to Mr. Dionne’s bewilderment, some Americans cling to even if doing so means preventing the government from intervening in ways that allegedly will improve the economy.

This principle, however, is no bizarre obsession of semi-literate Bubbas and Bobbi-Joes who poisoned their brains by inhaling too many NASCAR fumes but, rather, is the foundation of Anglo-American freedom.  As Samuel Adams proclaimed in Philadelphia in August 1776, “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom – go home from us in peace.  We ask not your counsels or your arms.  Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.  May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

Or to quote Lord Acton, “Liberty is not a means to a higher political end.  It is the highest political end.”

The Tea-Partiers, whatever their faults, do us a favor by reminding us that liberty is worth defending as an end it itself.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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