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July 05, 2010

The Declaration of Independence, Deconstructed

Grim links to a fisking of the Declaration of Independence and comments:

Who among us hasn't heard one or another on the Left say something like, "Well, this BP thing sure shows the case for Big Government, doesn't it?" The idea of Constitutionalism is ignored: that it is not a case of "big" versus "small" government, but of government restricted to its proper place and role. The seas have always been the Federal government's responsibility: they have the right to maintain a navy, and to set maritime rules, and rules governing letters of marque and reprisal, and so forth. It was clearly the Founder's intent that the deep waters should be a Federal concern.

The government has abandoned all traditional restraints and limits, and as a consequence it cannot, or will not, perform its actual duties.

The other day during a discussion about the proper functions of government, I argued precisely the same thing. I don't want the government to do things for me and my family that we are quite capable of doing for ourselves.

What I want government to do is provide things we - and no family - can do for ourselves: keep our borders secure, defend against attacks by other nations, coordinate (note the deliberate use of "coordinate" rather than "control") disaster relief efforts, provide the infrastructure that allows States to trade and citizens to travel freely. How did we get to the behemoth that is today's federal government from where we started in 1776?

Another interesting view of the Declaration is this "translation" into the vernacular:

WHEN things get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody.

All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better; second, nobody ain't got no right to take away none of our rights; third, every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don't interfere with nobody else. That any government that don't give a man them rights ain't worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any government don't do this, then the people have got a right to give it the bum's rush and put in one that will take care of their interests. Of course, that don't mean having a revolution every day like them South American yellowbellies, or every time some jobholder goes to work and does something he ain't got no business to do. It is better to stand a little graft, etc., than to have revolutions all the time, like them coons, and any man that wasn't a anarchist or one of them I.W.W.'s would say the same. But when things get so bad that a man ain't hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won't carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them. This is the proposition the people of these Colonies is up against, and they have got tired of it, and won't stand it no more. The administration of the present King, George III, has been rotten from the start, and when anybody kicked about it he always tried to get away with it by strong-arm work.

Revolutionary words, indeed.

CWCID: Metafilter

Update: if the Declaration were Tweeted.

Posted by Cassandra at July 5, 2010 09:51 AM

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I love the translation!

You're spot on about government not doing what families can. Among the thing government shouldn't do because families can: train our children in religion and morals; decide what's best for us to eat, drink, and otherwise ingest; control how much of our household budget should be allocated to food, shelter, clothing, and medical care before we indulge in luxuries; or determine how we shall invest our savings for emergencies and eventual retirement.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 5, 2010 01:48 PM

A nit (or maybe not a nit) to pick with the vernacular translation: That any government that don't give a man them rights ain't worth a damn....--the problem here is that these rights aren't a government's to give--they are inherent in the body of Man.

Anything a government has the authority--or raw power--to give, it has the authority--and raw power--to take away. And to take away even more. Just look at the Obama/King George governments.

Our Founders understood this quite clearly: ...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.... [Emphasis added]

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at July 6, 2010 07:44 AM


The FDA is a symbol of Big Government Tyranny?

Posted by: Craig at July 6, 2010 11:38 AM

Yup. I'm happy to hear their opinions, of course.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 6, 2010 12:55 PM

A nit (or maybe not a nit) to pick with the vernacular translation: That any government that don't give a man them rights ain't worth a damn....--the problem here is that these rights aren't a government's to give--they are inherent in the body of Man.

I agree, Eric. I think it was intended to be tongue in cheek but still it wasn't half bad!

Posted by: Cassandra at July 6, 2010 01:07 PM

I fear that tongue in cheek point is now lost on the multitudes who seem to be operating under the impression that their rights are derived from the gub'ment.

Posted by: bthun at July 6, 2010 01:14 PM

Of course their right of autonomous expression of free will comes from the government. No worker, soldier, or male bee would ever think it was working and thinking for itself.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 7, 2010 02:11 AM