The writings of Franklin, Paine, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Jay and Jefferson all deal with the fear of excessive government power and all of our Founding Fathers, with no exception, were solidly and unequivocally in favor of limited government. Having fought a war with England , the country whoe abused the colonist's rights and liberties are well-documented in the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers were keen to avoid infringements to Freedom and Liberty by an overly-powerful central government. The Constitution ultimately was written to give specific (enumerated) powers to the Federal branch and "The powers not delegated to the United States [Federal Gov't] by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"
The Bill of Rights was added for emphasis of inalienable rights of the citizens to be protected by any government.
For example, here's a quote from Thomas Paine:
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer!
[Commenting that if we were all perfectly responsible and considerate, there would be no need for laws or a government at all] Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property [taxation] to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.
Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others. [He's saying the only real purpose of government funded by taxation is security]– Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)The quote above is interesting because it exposes the trade-off between citizen's good sense of responsibility and the need for government or "lawgiver". Taken to it's extreme, perfect individual behavior and responsibility would require no laws or government at all! Therefore, it means that limited government requires a high degree of "conscience" and responsibility. If personal responsibility declines in a society, which it most certainly is in the Western world, then limited government becomes impossible.
It's telling that much political activity, especially the Democratic party, is increasingly about the relief of individual responsibility and replacing it with bigger government. Oh, you can't pay your mortgage? No problem, we (the taxpayers) will absorb the loss or you can break your contract! Contracts aren't really contracts are they?? You're in the US illegally? No problem, we'll turn our heads! And if The States take action on illegal immigration where the Federal government has abdicated it's responsibility, then the Feds will sue you! You don't have enough money to pay the rent? Surely you'll qualify for housing subsidies! Not enough to eat? Apply for Food Stamps! You get pregnant, no problem, you can get an abortion! It doesn't matter if it's morally repugnant, as long as you're relieved of your own responsibility in this matter! You didn't have the discipline to stay in school? No problem, we have plenty of government training programs. You don't have a job? No problem, we'll give you extended unemployment! (Never mind the government CAUSED the unemployment!)
I don't mind temporary safety nets, but you understand my point? The problem is multi-fold: the cost of government itself and the moral problem with an impersonal bureaucracy supposedly "taking care of you." Family and community are the first and ultimate Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The "government" is undermining all of this in the name of "nice-sounding" Leftism. People dependent on government will find out that the government is broke when they need them the most. There is no substitute for self-reliance, hard work and self-sufficiency.
Unfortunately, the US is in one of the last legs of a "cycle of civilizations" and this loss of "discipline" is accelerating our decline. A writer has written a relevant cycle that Western civilizations progress:
From bondage to spiritual faith
From spiritual faith to great courage
From courage to liberty
From liberty to abundance
From abundance to complacency
From complacency to apathy
From apathy to dependence
From dependence back into bondage
I'd say that America and Western Civilization is in the "dependence back into bondage" stage. Any comments?