“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys. … The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife. … We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. … The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale. … If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. … I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. … The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. … [A] wise and frugal government…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. … Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents… If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. … The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. … There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” – James Madison
“I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe … Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. — From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy.” – U.S. Senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
“A Republic, if you can keep it.” – Benjamin Franklin
These words are as relevant today as when they were authored. The issues regarding the relation of people and their governments have not changed and have been debated at least from the time of Plato. The ideals of the Enlightenment were subsequently incorporated into the U.S. Constitution and establish the correct balance. To posit that somehow the issues of today are unprecedented displays a profound ignorance of history to the contrary.