Given that citizens of lesser means always outnumber the rich, the classic political philosophers held that government based on majority rule was untenable. They were of the view that it would lead to organized theft from the wealthy by the democratic masses. Thus Aristotle observed in The Politics, for example: “If the majority distributes among itself the things of a minority, it is evident that it will destroy the city.”
The Founders of the United States were deep students of politics and history, and they shared Aristotle’s concern. Up through their time, history had shown all known democracies to be “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” James Madison and others held that the “first object of government” was to protect the rights of property.
They understood the protection of property rights to be bound up with freedom itself. “In a word,” Madison explained, “as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights….” The Founders thus incorporated numerous provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to protect the property rights of citizens from the power of the government.
Whatever else might be said about him, President Obama operates on a different philosophy of government from that of the Founders. His credo is reflected in the proposition: “I think at some point you have made enough money.”
The Founders thought that at some point the government had enough power. Obama, however, is a devout believer in unlimited government. The common denominator among so-called health care reform and financial regulatory reform as well as Obama’s other big proposals is the augmented power they confer on the government in general and the executive branch in particular.
Obama appointed Elizabeth Warren to wield substantial power in his administration. Warren thought up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and was to be the agency’s first director. Republicans in the Senate kept her from assuming the position, but Obama appointed her a czar and made her the agency’s de facto head. Warren left the administration last month to return to Harvard Law School, where she was to step back into her position as the the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law.
The nature of the CFPB is problematic, to say the least. As Professor Todd Zywicki has explained, it is one of the most powerful bureaucratic organizations ever created in the American political system: “It can regulate or ban almost every consumer credit product in the country, yet it is beyond Congress’s power of the purse because its budget is guaranteed as a percentage of the Fed’s annual revenues.”
Senate Republicans did the right thing in keeping Warren from taking over the CFPB. She is a piece of work. See, for example, my post “Mrs. Warren’s profession.”
Warren has now declared herself a candidate to take on Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in the 2012 elections. She recently undertook a “talking tour” to explain her views to Massachusetts voters. Contrary to the views of the Founders, Warren’s views are of the “progressive” (i.e., left-wing nutjob) variety. Moreover, Warren’s views faithfully mirror those of her patron in the White House, but they are stated somewhat more frankly than Obama’s usually are. Let’s go to the tape.
Via Ace of Spades.