Not what Jefferson envisioned

November 24, 2013 

In 1809, after leaving office, our third president, Thomas Jefferson, warned against, "the selfish spirit of commerce, which knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain."

Today's unlimited corporate power was exactly what he was warning against. Because of some Supreme Court decisions, corporations are considered to be people. Money is called free speech under the First Amendment, and politicians don't have to reveal who their big donors are. The result is that big corporate money basically controls Congress. Most lawmakers go to work for their big donors after they retire.

Today's anti-regulation Libertarian types like to point to Jefferson's belief that the best government governs least. This is extremely misleading, since in his day all governments except the new United States were absolute monarchies, which he detested. I doubt that he would express this idea today since most nations are at least somewhat democratic.

I don't pretend to speak for Jefferson, but considering his quote about unregulated commerce, I believe he would be appalled at the way big money runs our politics today. From his quote I'm certain he would want sensible government rules that would let commerce operate with common sense regulation as a check on destructive greed. I'm certain he would want to get big money out of politics. He was an intellectual pragmatist who wanted government to work for the good of all. I believe his quote makes that clear.

Larry L. Brown

Glen Carbon

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