Thomas Jefferson Explains The Principles of Limited Government, Part Two: Today we are doing a special program from David Barton on The Principles of Limited Government. We are going to be answering your most pressing questions such as, “What does it mean to have a limited government? Is that just money or is that also jurisdiction? How do you get a limited government? How do you reign in an out of control government? And what would it look like if we did things the way that our Founding Fathers envisioned that it would be done?” We’re answering all these questions and more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date: 06/22/2017
Guests: David Barton and Rick Green.
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and politics, this is WallBuilders Live! With David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually faith in the culture, we kind of say politics and culture interchangeably. It’s every single area of the culture though, not just politics. That’s why often we have folks on talking about everything from being an influence in the media, to journalism, and and entertainment, making movies, education, sports, all of those things we need to be willing to recognize that Psalms 24:1 is right, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Therefore it all belongs to him.
That means Hollywood belongs to him, that means Washington D.C. and everything in between. We just need to take God’s principles in those arenas if we want to see them represented well there. So it’s up to us to go and be his hands and his feet, folks.
One of the areas we do that is in the area of government. We’re sort of in the middle of a program here by David Barton called, “Principles of Limited Government.” Yesterday was the beginning of the presentation. If you missed yesterday you can visit our website at WallBuilders.com or WallBuildersLive.com.
Now, if you go to WallBuildersLive.com click on the archive section. There is a little button on the right-hand side of the page. Click on archives, it’ll pull up our programs so you can enjoy our previous programs.
Especially encourage you to watch- listen to, it’s kind of how to watch a radio program. Listen to those Friday programs, that’s good news Friday. It will be very encouraging for you. We bring you great victories from across the nation in all kinds of areas of the culture.
But for this particular presentation you want to click on archives and then you can download yesterday’s program and today’s program and you’ll be able to get caught up. Tomorrow will be the conclusion so today we’re going to get as much as we can and tomorrow we’ll get the conclusion. Let’s pick up right where we left off yesterday here’s David Barton on the Principles of Limited Government.
How To Choose Your Representatives
The riots I’ve talked about, whether it be that the life issues, the abortion issue, or a religious expression, or the right to keep and bear arms, or marriage, or even private property. Those are all issues that people say, “Well, those are social issues. I’m really concerned about economic, about what the government does with spending. And I want someone in Congress, or someone in the state legislature, or someone in city hall that’s not going to take and spend all the money like crazy and get us in debt.”
So they’re concerned about economic issues, “I don’t like those abortion issues, that’s a divisive issue, I don’t about it. I don’t care about school prayer, I don’t care about the other stuff, what I want is someone who’s really sound on economic issues.”
It’s really interesting that when you look at those that are considered to be “sound” on economic issues, and by the way, there are a number of groups in Congress that monitor all sorts of votes of congressmen.
For example, on the life issue, groups like National Right to Life and the Right to Life groups will score all the votes of every congressman and senator and tell you, “Yeah, this guy really is right to life.” Or, “He’s not very much.” Or, “This one is absolutely not right to life.”
Well, you’ve got that on agricultural issues and you’ve got that on military issues. But if you want to take a look at economic issues, where a lot of people say they’re very concerned, one of the scorecards that keeps track of economic issues is the Americans for Tax Reform.
You take the Americans for Tax Reform and look at the people that they list and they rank all the form 135 members of the house and you look at the 100 members of the Senate. They rank them all from the best on economic issues to the worst, from top to bottom.
So, when you go down the list and you look at the representatives at the top- take that list and if you will superimpose on it the right to life list is pretty interesting. You’ll find that if someone, for example, is 100% as a good economic representative they’re also 100% as a right to life person.
And conversely, when you take and look at the worst economic represented, those score 0%, they’re willing to spend everybody else’s money and take more money from everybody else, and they’re willing to run us into debt. You’ll find that they have a zero percent voting record on the tax issues and on economic issues.
Strange thing, they also have a zero percent voting record on right to life issues. You’ll find that if you take the right to life voting record and put it side by side with the economic voting record it’s almost identically superimposed.
What you find is when someone understands the limitations on government on social issues they also understand the limitations of government on economic issues. Money does not belong to the government it belongs to individuals and to steal money from individuals through whatever government spending program is taking private property and you’re not supposed to do that.
How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything
So, there are those people who say, “Well, I’m not a social conservative, I’m an economic conservative.” And yet when you check the economic records usually they’re not conservative. They usually are in the middle of the pack. They’re not very good on social issues and they’re not very good on economic issues, despite what they say about themselves.
Interestingly enough, when you take that first issue, the right to life issue, you can just about peg where that person is on every other issue. That’s why people in city council say, “Why are you asking me about abortion issues? There’s nothing I can do about abortions, that’s a city council thing, talk to the Supreme Court, don’t ask me about abortion.” No, I asked you about abortion because that tells me where you are on every other issue.
When I find out where you are, I know how much money you’re going to be spending and what you can do with taxes. I know what you’re going to do with debt in the city, or as I mentioned, even a dog dogcatcher. I know what you’re going to do with spending in your dog catching department. It all goes back to the right to life.
So the Founding Fathers were right about that. Statistically, it bears out, and by the way, you can look at second groups as well. Because not only does that economic record reflect in the Senate, you’ll find that if you take groups beyond Americans for Tax Reform and take someone like the National Taxpayers Union, or the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, that also ranks economic scores. It’s the same thing, you bump up against right to life scores and if you’re good on the abortion issue you’re going to be good on the economic issues, if you’re bad on the abortion issue, you’re going to be bad on economic issues.
Moments From America’s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Today, numerous court decisions demonstrate that there’s often a conflict between the courts, the law, and religion. Has this conflict always existed?
Not according to James Wilson. James Wilson was a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was a law professor as well as an original justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. James Wilson saw no conflict between religion and the law. In fact, just the contrary.
He declared, “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. Far from being rivals or enemies religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistance. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.”
In the views of Founding Father James Wilson religion and good civil law were inseparable. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.
It’s Not About The Size Of Government
American government, our whole philosophy that created American exceptionalism is, “There is a God. God gives inalienable rights to man, and government exists to secure those rights to man.” That’s the whole philosophy of government. That’s what makes America exceptional.
Now, you can say, “that’s limited government” because again, limited government doesn’t have anything to do with the size of the bureaucracy or the size of the spending, it has to do with the limitations on the jurisdiction of government.
We’re not going to let government be the parents, God raised up parents. We’re not going to let government usurp the church. The church has to take care of the poor. We’re not going to let government become the individual everything. People are responsible for their behavior. So limited government is not the size of government, it’s the scope and the intrusion of government.
Now, probably one of the best presentations of the core principles of limited government, the core principles of good government, came from President Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address.
Let me just quote to you what Jefferson said in that first inaugural address, and in this inaugural address, he gives five simple principles that help us know what it is that makes good government.
Here’s what he said, “After acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
Now, in that short statement, that short little paragraph, he laid out five principles that lead to the nation’s prosperity and happiness. He said, “This is a sum of good government.”
Jefferson’s First Principle For Government
So, let me just take each of those five points and go through them. Again, it was Jefferson who was the principal author of the Declaration, who helped frame that philosophy that produced American exceptionalism. He certainly knows it and understands it. In his inaugural address as president, his first address, he sets forth those same principles of government.
He said, “Number one, acknowledge and adore God.” He said, “Acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence.” The first thing you start with is you need to acknowledge and adore God.
Now, in doing that, there are two verbs in that little statement. There is the acknowledgment of God. There is acknowledge God, and there there’s adore God. Now, let’s take “Acknowledge God.”
George Washington really has some great statements on how important it is for a nation and for the people to acknowledge God. As a matter of fact, if you look at the very first federal Thanksgiving prayer proclamation issued by the federal government it was under George Washington 1789, October 1789.
Here’s the very first religious proclamation given by the federal government. Listen to the sentence that George Washington uses to start this. Why did George Washington do a religious proclamation? What was the purpose? He tells us right here.
He said, “It is the duty.” And that’s a pretty strong word, he said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God.” Now, you’re going to hear some verbs. Listen to what Washington said was the duty.
“The duty of Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” He said, “It’s a duty to acknowledge God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and to implore his protection and favor.” And that’s a duty, of whose duty is it? He said, “That is the duty of nations.”
The Importance Of God Consciousness
That’s not just something you do in private, this is something you do in public, because remaining God conscious reminds you that the rights come from God. If you lose that God Consciousness, “Well, the government gave the right to life so it can take it away. The government gave the right to property it can take it away. The government can set my wages.” If you lose the God consciousness you lose the concept of limited government.
So Jefferson begins with that. He says, “Acknowledge God.” And by the way, when you look at the word “acknowledge” in America’s first dictionary, the dictionary done by Noah Webster, Founding Father himself. Noah Webster is actually responsible for Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 8 of the US Constitution.
Here’s what he said about acknowledge in the first dictionary, “Acknowledge means to admit to be true.” So we start by saying, “Ok, I admit there’s a God. I acknowledge that God. I know that it’s true.” So from that, I’m going to acknowledge him. I’m going to obey him and go through the verbs that George Washington used. But that’s the first thing Jefferson says is, “Acknowledge God.”
Now, within that same first sentence, he says, “Acknowledge and adore God.”Adore is the second verb that he uses there. So when you look at “adore God,” the definition changes there.
Noah Webster says, “Adore means to love and to regard with the utmost regard and affection.” Now, I acknowledge means intellectually, “Alright. I believe and admit that there is a God.” But to adore means to make Him personal, to love and regard the utmost regard and affection.
Now, you’re personalizing the belief in God. It’s just not simply saying, “Yeah, there’s a God out there somewhere.” It’s you saying, “There’s a God out there, and I love him, and I recognize him, and I believe him to be personal.”
And by the way, Jefferson was really strong on that. As matter of fact, his belief in a personal God- if you’ll go to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. you’ll find inside the memorial that there are four tablets of stone that are engraved with famous Jefferson quotes. Around the ring of the inside of that dome is another quote, a fifth quote that you’ll find there.
As you look at those four stone tablets on the wall, those marble tablets and the engraved quote around the dome, out of the five quotes you find that four of the five directly acknowledge God.
Our Least Religious Founding Father
Now, Jefferson, I admit to be one of the least religious Founding Fathers. We have a couple of Founding Fathers that weren’t all that particularly religious compared to the others. But your least religious Founding Father has 80 percent of his political rhetoric that we’ve selected being the best quotes of Jefferson are God-centered. Well, one of those tablets the Stone talks about the conviction that you have to have love and adore a personal God.
Listen to what Jefferson said, “Can liberties of a nation be thought secure when we’ve removed their only firm basis?” Here’s the newsflash, Thomas Jefferson our “least religious” Founding Father is going to tell us the only firm basis of national liberties. Again, he says, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we’ve removed their only firm basis which is a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God. That they are not to be violated but with his wrath-” He said that the basis of national liberties is a conviction in the minds of the people that the liberties come from God, you can’t violate them but with His wrath and a close by saying, “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
Very simply, “Hey, there’s a God. God gives specific rights. If we violate those rights we’re going to get God angry at us. And man, am I scared for my country if God gets angry.
See, that is acknowledging and adoring God. That is making the feelings personal, the love and the regard and the high esteem. Jefferson said, “That’s a starting place of government.” And it is, because if you don’t start with the acknowledgment of God you’ll never understand inalienable rights, you will never protect those rights, and you’ll never have limited Government. So it has to start with acknowledging God and adoring God.
Hi, friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders.This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, often times as parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I wanted to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, “The Courageous Leaders Collection” and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
There’s a second collection called, “Heroes of History” in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.
Jefferson’s Second Principle For Government
The second thing he says is, “What more is necessary? A wise and frugal Government. Number two, you need to exercise frugality. Now, frugality, thriftiness if you will, there were three areas who were they pointed to where government needed to be frugal. The first was in power.
We had to realize that government was a steward of delegated authority. Government didn’t have power. Power came to it from the people. There’s only one constitution in the world that is older than the US Constitution. And that constitution is the Massachusetts constitution.
Massachusetts Constitution was written largely by John Adams, and Sam Adams, and John Hancock, it was done in 1780. The U.S. Constitution was done in 1787, ratified in 1789. The Massachusetts Constitution is the original Constitution seven years older than the US Constitution is still in place today in Massachusetts.
It’s kind of unfortunate they don’t read their own constitution because it did have much to say about judges and marriage and the whole same sex marriage thing came out of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Constitution actually deals with what to do with judges who did what was done there. But I guess nobody reads the Constitution, nonetheless, it is the oldest constitution. It is a successful document when used and read. And the Founders who wrote that that helped with the U.S. Constitution, this is what they said, great statement, “All power residing originally in the people and being derived from the people, the magistrates and offices of government vested with authority, whether they are legislative, executive, or judicial, those officers are the people substitutes and agents and are at all times accountable to them.”
Americans Are The Masters Over Our Government
They said, “Hey, principle government is that all three branches are accountable to the people. Authority comes from the people. It does not come from government. The people give government certain authority and government can only exercise the authority the people give it, and the people can discipline any of the three branches.” All of those branches have to answer to the people.
See, that is being a steward of power. They say, “Hey, the power doesn’t belong to me. I may be president, or senator, or rep, or whatever, but the power belongs to the people. I’m a steward of it. I can’t take that power and abuse the people with it.”
James Wilson, we talked about him already. I love the way he summed it up. He said, here in America the people are masters of government. Elsewhere the government is the master of the people.” That was the difference.
We believe that here the people are more important than the government. That the government was to serve the people. Elsewhere they believed the people were to serve the government. If you lose that philosophy, if that gets away from you, you’re no longer being frugal with the power of government.
Now, the second frugality they talked about was that of spending. In other words, what you do with the money and the holdings that come into government. There’s a great quote by Benjamin Franklin. You may recall that Benjamin Franklin was really good with pithy little statements, Poor Richard’s Almanac and the pithy statements that he used there, a little Proverbs if you will, just kind of a homespun wisdom.
This is what he said, “When you’re inclined to have new clothes, look first well over the old clothes and see if you cannot shift with them another year either by scouring, or mending, or even patching those clothes if necessary. Remember, a patch in your coat and money in your pocket is better and more credible than a writ on your back and no money to take it off.”
In other words, it’s better to have some older clothes maybe with a patch or two here and there than it is to have something brand new but you can pay for it. You’d have a writ against you, you have a lien against you, because you haven’t been able to pay for it.
Well, that’s the way government is supposed to operate.
Now, most of us when we get in tight economic situations, our family will keep the car an extra two or three years, we’ll kind of hold off on doing extravagant things, government should be doing that as well.
But no matter what the debt is, no matter what the economic crisis is, they’ve always got brand new little cars that they need to pull into the fleet every year. They’re always building brand new buildings and adding wings and extensions. And they’re not being frugal with money.
That axiom from Ben Franklin, a patch on your coat and money in your pocket is better and more credible than a writ on your back and no money to take it off. It’s a good deal to have a savings account. The new government evidently doesn’t believe that. But that’s not a good government that doesn’t believe that it should be saving money not spending money.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the QuickStart Guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution. You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive
with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.
Bring A Speaker To Your Area
Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional. And you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”
Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and Bring a speaker to your area.
Public Debt Is The Greatest Danger
There is a great statement from Thomas Jefferson who said, “I place the economy as the first and most important Republican virtues and public debt is the greatest of dangers to be feared.”
What is the first virtue for government? It is economy frugality. And what’s the greatest danger? Public debt, running up a debt. Now, when you run up a debt the Bible then tells us very clearly that at that point when you owe someone money the borrower is servant to the lender.
When owing someone money they get the say over what you can do with your items and goods and they can put a lien on you. Same thing with government. When the government has a debt someone owns that debt. And right now of the debt that America has the largest owner of American debt is the Chinese. That’s a whole different culture and system and belief structure than what America has.
But when the Chinese say, “Oh, we want these debts to be paid, oh and by the way, we need some trade markets open, we need this kind of technology shared with us.” We are in a position that where we’re no longer independent as we had been. That puts you under a type of servitude to those who own the debt. So that’s why Jefferson said, “Public debt is the greatest of dangers to be feared.”
Government Spending Is Rising At A Rapid Rate
Now, unfortunately, you look at the federal government, over the last decade, the population has increased 10 percent. So with 10% more of the population, it would make sense that government spending would go up 10 percent as well because there are more people and 10 percent more people 10 percent more spending, that’s doing the same thing.
But that’s not what happened over the last decade. Populations increase but 10 percent but spending by the government has increased 50 percent. We’re spending money five times more rapid and there is a need by the population to spend the money when you look at earmarks.
Earmarks have been a huge topic of debate over the last 15 to 20 years. You go back to 1996 when we didn’t believe that earmarks were a good thing in government. So out of the thousands of bills that were introduced, out of the hundreds of bills that were passed, in 1996 were 958 earmarks.
Now, that’s still too many earmarks. But compared to where it was even a decade later, a decade later it was up to sixteen thousand earmarks. That’s an increase of fifteen hundred and fifty-seven percent. Now even after that point in time earmarks have continued to expand and burgeoning.
So we’re taking money to pay for all these little pet projects. And Congressman comes home and say, “Hey, I brought 43 million dollars home to the district in earmarks.” Well, if you think about that for a moment, no bill gets passed through Congress through the House of Representatives without 218 members of Congress voting for it, that’s a majority of the House of Representatives.
So, if I’m going to have an earmark and I want to bring $15 billion home to my district and I happen to live in Texas, my district in Texas, I’ve got to convince 217 other members of Congress to vote for that 15 million dollars for my district.
And they’ll do that if I’ll vote for their projects as well. So what happens is for every dollar that I bring home I’ve had to agree to spend money for 217 other folks in their districts. In other words, for every dollar I get as a congressman I’ve spent two hundred and seventeen dollars to get that dollar. That’s the problem with earmarks.
“Oh, look what he brought home to the district.” No, look how much he spent to get this money home to the district. When you’re out spending yourself 217 to 1 that’s not good economics. And that’s why earmarks and debt and other things have become such a focus in recent years, that’s a loss of limited government.
Out of time for today folks. That was David Barton on the Principles of Limited Government, part two of a three-part series. So if you tuned in halfway through today and picked up on part of the presentation and you’d like to get the whole thing you can go to WallBuildersLive.com and download today’s entire program and yesterday’s program. You’ll be caught up and then tomorrow we will have the conclusion of the Principles of Limited Government.
If you like the easy route go to WallBuilders.com there’s a CD there called the Principles of Limited Government and you can get the whole presentation all at once. It’s so important for us to recognize what limited government really means and then how do you get it? What are the things you’re looking for in your nation and in your government? Not only at the federal level but at state and local level as well.
So, really appreciate David putting this program together. The conclusion tomorrow with David Barton on the principles of limited government. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green.