In his letter (Mailbag, Dec 21), John Goodwin denies my assertion (Mailbag, Dec 18) that his remarks in an earlier letter were anti-capitalist, insisting that he wants to “improve” capitalism. His “improvement” consists of robbing capitalists so he can give people “free” stuff so there won’t be an “uprising.”
If a government had yet to form, and if JG were to approach capitalists and demand that they turn over money for his “improvement,” they would laugh. They might explain that he has no rightful authority over them, and that they are competent to make their own decisions, including charitable decisions.
JG might then form a government with expansive powers, including the power to take capitalists’ money and redistribute it to others. He might excuse this thievery by including a General Welfare clause in his Constitution. However, he would need to formulate it differently than the one in the U.S. Constitution, because that General Welfare clause excuses no such thing. James Madison argued that this clause granted Congress no additional powers other than those enumerated. A government of unlimited powers needs no Constitution.
In my earlier letter, I provided supporting logic and concluded that “the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect liberty.” It’s telling that JG has not confronted my logic. He has merely insisted that government should be able to abridge liberty to achieve certain goals that he happens to like. He cannot explain why fellow citizens should be required to pursue his goals rather than their own.
Albany (Dec. 21)