George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

JMI EMAIL May 17, 2013: If men were angels…

By: The James Madison Institute / 2013


Exposure of the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service, which targeted conservative groups, is a reminder of how America’s distrust of granting too much power to the government is deeply rooted in our national ethos and goes back to our nation’s founding.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans were restless. The new nation’s first attempt at a governing charter – the Articles of Confederation — was inadequate for the needs of a new nation. James Madison and other leaders knew that something more comprehensive was needed. They drafted a new Constitution granting more power to the central government, but it was initially met with skepticism.

People were fearful — fearful of seeing their newfound freedom fade away. All they dreamed for in this new country, the dreams of a better life for their children and grandchildren, the blood shed and tears wept would all be in vain if they signed off on a system that could become as tyrannical as the one they fled.

Fortunately, the authors of The Federalist Papers were able to persuade Americans of the need for a Constitution strong enough to unify the young nation against foreign threats but with enough checks and balances to keep any single branch from wielding too much power.

It was in the Federalist Paper that Madison wrote these now famous lines: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary…In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

There’s a reason The James Madison Institute (JMI), and many Floridians across the state, make it a priority to teach our youth about America’s founding principles and the importance of upholding the U.S. Constitution. It has nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with power to the people, equal opportunities for all, and a government poised to protect our freedoms, not take them away.

Our Founding Fathers intended such a government. They saw that the opposite could have a very negative effect on the lives of those they cared for and future generations. But we are far from that vision today.

Fast-forward to the present: Is our government still adhering to Madison’s advice to control itself? The IRS scandal and other events cause Americans to wonder.

Three years ago Nina Olson, who served the IRS as “National Taxpayer Advocate,” foresaw that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was going to be “the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.”

Now, the same government agency that specifically targeted certain “political groups,” including some that were formed to “educate on the Constitution,” will play a critical role in implementing many of the PPACA’s key provisions, including the individual mandate and the business penalties for not offering federally-approved coverage to employees. Monitoring compliance with the thousands of pages of new rules and regulations will be the job of the IRS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They will be building the Federal Data Services Hub, the largest personal information database the government has ever attempted. Given the revelations that the IRS is not above using information about taxpayers’ political leanings to harass them with audits and delays, the existence of such a database is not comforting. Read more from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Examiner.

JMI stood against Florida implementing provisions of the PPACA from the start. Today’s headlines should bring us all – no matter your political leaning – right back to the time when our country was young, a time when a majority of Americans questioned whether a government with overarching powers was to be feared.

JMI has put forth policy solutions that promote a free economy, limited government, and personal responsibility. We work to foster transparency in government and encourage people to demand more of themselves and the leaders in our state and nation — and less from a government system that has grown out of control. Thank you to the thousands of JMI members across the state who allow us to keep up the good fight every day. If you are not yet a member of JMI, join today!