"No government ought to exist
for the purpose of checking the prosperity of its people
or to allow such a principle in its policy."
by:
Edmund Burke
(1729-1797) Irish-born British statesman, parliamentary orator, and political thinker
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The precise purpose of socialist principles is to redistribute the wealth of the citizens to protect and enhance the wealth and power of the ruling class.
 -- E Archer, NYC     
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    ...and redistribute our wealth is exactly what our government does! It seems two groups of people get our money...welfare recipients, and the wealthy powerful. The poor use our money on big screen TVs or SUVs (nicer than my 8 year old car), while the rich wage immoral war on or provide aid to other countries. Personally I want the aid so I can afford a new car and TV.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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     -- David L Rosenthal      
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
    I'm with you Joe. I worked in a ministry of my church where we provided help to families in emergency need. Many of our calls came from a government housing project. We always investigated requests to make sure they were valid which took me over to the apartments every once in a while. The apartments were mostly rent free, and many had their utilities paid. It's pretty disheartening to go in these places and see the residents with big screen TVs, cable (which I can't afford), cell phones, etc. Their kids have new bikes and electric scooters and expensive name-brand clothes and shoes. Many of the things they have, I can't afford because we choose for my wife to stay at home with the kids. I don't expect them to be given to me by Uncle Sugar, but it's upsetting to see these people who live off of the fruits of MY labor having nicer things than I can afford for my family.
     -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC     
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    What is even sadder, Mike, I would say, is that the generation growing up in those circumstances believes it is normal, and are probably being told that the permanent subsidy is what they have coming to them based on someone's idea of justice for past social evils. Your kids can excel; many of theirs are doomed from the start.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
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    It may sound undemocratic, but I believe the purpose of government is exactly to check the prosperity of those who would ultimately control all property and power unfairly Humans are not born equal in ability or, sadly, in ethics, and if left unchecked, there are those, like Ken Lay, of Enron, who would grab it all. Nobody but government can stop them, and in Lay's case, the government failed. It is the mark of third world countries, with no governmental control, to have all power and wealth in an unethical elite. Give the Ken Lays a chance and that's exactly what they'd love to be. The ethics of the poor on welfare and public aid are less a threat than the likes of Lay. The abuses of the system are more grave in the unethical rich than the unethical poor.
     -- Jack, Green. OH     
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    Jack, do you think Ken Lay took more money out of the pockets of working Americans than the welfare program? I doubt it. Anyway, they are both wrong. The lawbreakers (Ken Lays) should be punished (and I don't mean sent to some country club prison), and the welfare abuses should be stopped. I think we as moral humans should help our fellow man in need, but it has to be VOLUNTARY. The purpose of government is not to take our money by FORCE to give it to who THEY deem needy.
     -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC     
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    Jack wrote: "It is the mark of third world countries, with no governmental control, to have all power and wealth in an unethical elite." And the United States is not far behind.
     -- David L Rosenthal      
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    It isn't just Ken Lay, Mike There's John Chambers of Cisco Systems, paying himself over $150 million while his company was losing $1 billion; Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco paying himself more than $400 million as his self-serving decisions were wiping out shareholders; Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom and the list goes on. I'll give you lots more if you want them. There are hundreds of examples of CEO greed -- at whose expense? -- The employees, shareholders etc. Where's the outrage? I'm tired of hearing only the poor are greedy. They are pikers. And it's only the government who can crack down on them, so the quote is dead wrong
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    The quote does not refer to the monopolization of power, wealth, land and capital on the part of those who do the monopolizing; it refers to the people in general, with respect to whom checking their legitimate prosperity is a method used by Soviets, Red Chinese, and other totalitarian regimes. The quote is right on target.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
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    II take the quote for what it says, David,"No government ought to exist for the purpose of checking the prosperity of its people" and I say that includes abuses such as I mentioned. Only the government can restrain that class of abusers, which class has the means to keep others in check ...no government help necessary. You interpret it however you wish, but remember; Burke was considered by most historians as the father of Anglo-American conservativism. Almost everything he wrote was what we call extremem right-wing now, so you can expect him to express the most anti-liberal view ...and I still say it is false
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    All people need prosperity. Not all people need or want to monopolize wealth. If you insist that government should have the authority to prevent people from enjoying prosperity, you are a self-defined son of a totalitarian. On your own head.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    Jack, you start out: "It may sound undemocratic", but, that's exactly how you sound (Democratic, not Guaranteed Constitutional Representative Republic). All the conclusions you've drawn are because you have no clue what individual freedom, liberty, or justice is/are or how they're applied. Government may disperse justice when an individual has been harmed. In all the examples you gave, if the CEO (or whom ever) causes harm by lies, theft, deception, unfair business practices, etc., they should be prosecuted (and not sent to country club jails) Monopolies were broken-up on those very principles. The government is not "checking the prosperity of its people" but rather representing the individual injured party's rights.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I never said it is the government's purpose to deny prosperity to anyone, but the quote says the government should not check, or oversee, the fair and ethical accumulation of wealth, or prosperity. Some readers seem to think it's okay for the most unscrupulous and unethical robber barons to claim it all, even by technically legal means, as they surely would, without government agencies like the SEC, FTC, FCC, FBI, and all the rest, to keep them in check. What bothered me most, besides the ideology of Burke in general, is how some readers immediately think government redistribution of wealth is what he was saying.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    Jack's got it right again. All people should be provided with a guarenteed minimum level of health care, food and housing. Beyond that it is best a capitalist environment, but one where the robber baron is guarded against. This is not socialism, but rather just pure simple human kindness and common sense. King George and his power brokers have failed on both of these points.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    To check, in the sense used in the quote, Jack, in the context of the quote, does not mean to supervise. It means to restrain or control. And Reston: What about those who WILL not work, who could but just won't? Should they also be given what others work to earn? And what about your co-workers, who want to do a third as much and get paid twice as much? Jack keeps voting with the thumb for the same quote, so I'll keep giving it stars.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
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     -- Anonymous      
    Anonymous from Reston sums up real briefly the difference between the neo-liberal of today and most everyone else. He would have a paternal government, aloof from individual influence (except his), steal all that it needs from the once sovereign to provide a guaranteed minimum level of health care, food and housing (again, he, and maybe Jack, is/are the omniscient illumination of minimum standards); while the castigated Christians are trying to do the same with honest assistance. (by way of example: see Mike from NC's comments above and know that I've been to the Gulf Port region multiple times helping in Katrina relief. "checking the prosperity of its people" does not relieve responsibility of sound fiscal policy, it simply means it shouldn't directly help or hinder the poor or the rich, that is not the role of government, It is the role for the individual and the church. (Unless of course, as an individual, the government is your church, then no theft allowed)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    oops, I meant: not hinder anyone, HELP the needy :-) Individuals, through their reps, define how best to protect their personal rights and any crimes against such. Can anyone show me the exact Constitutional citation that authorizes the Federal Government to check the prosperity of its sovereigns (or can we here claim the 9th and 10th Amendments officially dead to the de facto democracy in power - The U.S. no longer being a government of law but rather, mob rule)?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I don't care, David, if Burke didn't mean supervise by the word, check? I don't like the idea of anyone, supervising anyone else, unless that's his job and was hired as a supervisor. But I do think the gov't has to oversee - not supervise - what kind of deception is going on in public companies, to protect the innocents involved. And your concern, about shirkers is best exemplified by those same CEOs I spoke of who spend their time on their yavchts or the golf courses and then very conveniently don't know what malpractices are going on in their own companies. I have no co-workers, as I have been retired for many years, but I do own stock in lots of companies and I can't go into the boardrooms to see what's going on, so I expect the government to do that by making them report more fully - not supervising. It is still the duty of a government to make people at all levels play fair.
     -- Jack, Green. OH     
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    Jack, don't pass out if I agree with you some what but, let me put a legal spin on it. Legally, corporations image old business trusts with one very special adaptation; every corporation is an entity of the state with publicly held companies being especially existent on state rules. As extensions of the state, the state has the right to regulate, inspect, etc. any/all corporations according to its own (the state's) dictates. The 16th Amendment gave no new taxing powers to the Federal government. The only difference realized was that the Fed could now extract a tax from the state from whatever source derived (i.e. corporations). Corporations fulfilled Marx's most wild dream(s) about mingling business and government. AND that's why you won't see anymore publicly traded trusts, they can be set as private contracts and beyond the prevue of government authority (excepting criminal exploits).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I give up!
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    David, don't give up. Corporations were/are legalisms around the quote's absolute correct concept. Free individuals should have the right to finance commercial endeavors and avoid certain personal liabilities while not under the scrutiny (checking) of government. That liberty espoused by Burke is no longer available under the Marxist de facto mob rule in the U.S.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I give up on Jack, for my own good. I don't have enough of the qualities needed to either enlighten or tolerate him. Jack can be whatever he wants to be, and think whatever he wants to think, be it however mistaken.
     -- David L Rosenthal      
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    David, OIC, my comments about corporations was to show Jack that all the checks are in place in his democratic utopia to fulfill his desires. All he has to do now is convince the Rep in his area that is representing the democracy to implement his personal perceptions and prejudices (double speak, trying to have it both ways, represent the rights of the individual (when it benefits him) and at the same time the despotic totalitarianism of the democratic oligarchy.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    One more word and I give the quote a thumb. ;-)
     -- David L Rosenthal      
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    And I also quit ...repeating my original premise: .Burke is flat wrong. The purpose of government is indeed to check the prosperity of those who would, unfairly, I said, control all property and power if given the chance. You can argue semantics all you want, but I stick by my words. It's happened in countries such as Haiti, Somalia, Sierra Leone, or any other place lacking an effective government, with no agencies such as the FTC, the FDA, FBI, SEC, FCC, etc, to check them. What bothered me most, though, was the immediately reaction to blame the welfare recipients and "Socialists". They arent the ones who need checking, or restraining, or overseeing, or regulating (choose your own participle), as much as the big fish who absolutely need it. As for where I am coming from; I was a conservative Republican, first voting for Dewey in 1948, and losing - even for Nixon in 1960, and losing - also always making well above average salary income and not doing too badly in 20 yers of retirement either, so I would fit the mold of a solid Conservative, but I am a proud Liberal today and my sympathies are with those who are not so fortunate.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    Figures.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    The point is: exactky which 'people' was Burke referring to here?
     -- Anonymous     
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    Let's elevate personal greed and self-interest to the level of a religion: All power to the individual -- that is, ME.
     -- Anonymous     
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