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  • The Founders and Redistribution of Wealth


    We’ve heard a lot lately about “redistribution of wealth.” What would the American Founders think?

    Property rights provide the foundation of prosperity. As Americans, we’re accustomed to a revolutionary guarantee that we may labor, earn wages and acquire property — and rest assured that what we earn and acquire will be secure.

    It’s a simple promise that survives despite the income tax system: Americans get to keep what we earn.

    The right to enjoy the rewards of your labor is a powerful incentive to work hard and pursue opportunity — to pursue happiness. The principal reason to protect property and the right of all persons to acquire, use and part with their own property is a matter of justice and fairness.

    Thomas Jefferson, writing on taxation in a letter in April 1816, put it this way:

    To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association — the guarantee to every one of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

    Unlike the liberalism that was to come later (think of the modern welfare state), redistribution of wealth was not an objective of the American Revolution.

    Jefferson and the other Founders opposed the taking of wealth and reallocating of property by government. They favored measures to encourage a free-market distribution of property, rather than government interference.

    In the long run, the Founders reasoned, markets would do a better job at spreading wealth.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to The Founders and Redistribution of Wealth

    1. Pingback: The Founders and Redistribution of Wealth - Jason’s Blog

    2. Pingback: Jefferson on Obama’s tax plan : Post-Ed Notes

    3. Pingback: ChooseTheHero.com » Blog Archive » Thomas Jefferson On Wealth Redistribution

    4. Dennis Aderholt says:

      We are going to a socialist government. Look at Cuba and see if this is what we need. I do not like the idea of spreding the wealth to all. It has been said that 20% of the people controll 80% of the money in the world, if all the money was divided up equal among all the people in the world, it will be only a short time before 20% of the people controll 80% of the money. Most people cna not and will not manage their money in a manner that will be benefical to them.

    5. Pingback: Wealth Redistribution: Legal Plunder Or Just California Dreamin? «

    6. Pingback: The Economics of Mere Conservatism: Part II « A Voice in the Wilderness

    7. Erik Nielsen says:

      That is all true. But before you think the Founders The Founders also were practitioners of one of the most brutal and oppressive social systems in human history–slavery.

    8. William Bryan says:

      Most of the founders were opposed to slavery. There was a long debate about slavery during the writing of the Constitution. All but three of the states wanted to abolish slavery. The other three refused to sign if slavery was abolished. Those three states also wanted their slaves to count toward the number of congressmen they could have. The anti-slavery states were of course opposed to this too, and even said they should be able to count their property (animals, etc) if those three states could count their property (the slaves). As a compromise the practice of slavery was not banned outright. The southern states were allowed to count their slaves for the purpose of how many congressmen they could have, but they were limited to just over 1/2.

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