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Forum Post: "Those who own the country ought to govern it."

Posted 9 years ago on Oct. 17, 2011, 4:07 p.m. EST by tympan55 (124)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

“Those who own the country ought to govern it.” These words were spoken by John Jay, at the Constitutional convention in Philadelphia. It expresses the sentiments of many Americans, both then and now. It expresses a sentiment that grows virulent in an environment where human worth is reduced to a numerical coefficient enabling some to amass an advantage at the expense of others. Let's not forget that the same men who wrote about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were reconciled to owning slaves. They belonged to a class society where it was a foregone conclusion that power and wealth were the property of an established oligarchy. That the Jeffersonian vision of democracy was an agrarian based affair intended more as a consolidation of power than an egalitarian reform. The Constitution is a cleverly crafted instrument of control created to insure that power remained in the hands of a certain segment of society. What appears on the surface as safeguards for our liberty are manacles shackling our freedom more securely than any totalitarian regime. We act as if our founding fathers were infallible when they were acting with the same self-interest at heart as today's investment bankers and insurance companies.

25 Comments

25 Comments


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[-] 1 points by ttoombs (2) from Boston, MA 9 years ago

What a great post - what you discuss is precisely what is overlooked when we blindly pledge allegiance to our system of rule. The reason we engage in war to spread democracy is because it allows us to purchase the sovereignty of independent nations and extract their resources. The beauty of this system to those who own it, is that it quells the masses with the illusion that they have a voice. Let's stop pretending that our problems are caused by Democrats or Republicans and place the blame where it lies: with the ruling elites that employ them!

[-] 1 points by TarigAnter (33) from Khartoum, Khartoum 9 years ago

From my long experience in dealing with governments in more than a dozen of them I assure you that if you slash more than half of government officials or the so-called public dis-service and throw them to the streets you will definitely get better, effective and efficient administrations.

I am sure they are the source of corruption and corporate greed support. I have never seen in my long life any government department or an office functioning properly. They are excesses, idles, and the antithesis of innovation, ethics and productivity.

People must have regular and uninterrupted access to monitor what are going on in any government office, low or high, including the judiciary, the police, the security, and the military.

When you deal personally with a successful private business you feel your power as a valued customer even if it was unethical business. But when I personally deal with any government office I feel their arrogance and wickedness; I wish I could spit on their faces.

The public service anywhere in the world is ten times it’s optimal size, and they are very good in employing the failures and the dishonest for life.

To Occupy Wall Street and bring social, political, and economic justice people must axe useless officials first.

[-] 1 points by eric1 (152) from Corona, CA 9 years ago

Well put. The problem is that huge financial interests have hijaced our government. The remedy is below:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NationalConstitutionalConvention06

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

Our politicians have become too comfortable with the status quo to rely on them to make any meaningful changes. They are relentless in their attacks upon each other because therein resides their bread and butter. Given the opportunity to make real change they would become stupefied because it is not within their ability to recognize that they themselves are the problem.

[-] 1 points by anotherone773 (734) from Carlyle, IL 9 years ago

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it. " - John Adams.

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

Yes! Adams was the only one who did not equate liberty with property. "We are a nation of laws, not men," and he was committed to insuring that all were treated equally before the law. How sad that the spirit of John Adams is but a shade in Washington. Maybe that's why there is no memorial in his honor.

[-] 1 points by awesomeness (3) 9 years ago

heyyyyyy

[-] 1 points by awesomeness (3) 9 years ago

heyyyyyy

[-] 1 points by DrJohn (2) 9 years ago

What keeps those who own the country from governing it? With today's technology do we still need elected representatives to vote on laws and policies on our behalf. Do we still need a system that puts so much power into the hands of so few. What if we the people could vote directly, electronically on bills and legislation.

[-] 1 points by littrellb (199) from Hillsboro, OR 9 years ago

Powerful words. I think what this country really needs is a 'constitution' written by all the people, not just a handful of rich people. It served its purpose in freeing us from the British but now I would argue that most Americans feel just as unrepresented in our federal government as those colonists did to the king.

[-] 0 points by justhefacts (1275) 9 years ago

The problem is not the Constitution, it is the people. If the people were actually being represented in the manner outlined by the Constitution, we wouldn't be in this mess.

That you think the constitution was "written" and ratified by a "handful of rich people" indicates you don't have the slightest idea about what transpired bringing that document into existence. It is a lack of that knowledge that will condemn us in the end.

[-] 1 points by littrellb (199) from Hillsboro, OR 9 years ago

I can see how my comment sounded that way, but that is not at all what I meant. The government today serves a handful of rich people in comparison to the 99%. I know that our forefathers bore a lot of risk in signing the constitution and it was an amazing thing for that time. And though it is still a powerful document, I believe that it can be improved to meet the needs of American citizens today. I feel like the constitution does not address many things that have come into play since 1776. But I humbly take your correction and agree that I should have thought more about how I was writing what I was trying to say.

[-] 1 points by justhefacts (1275) 9 years ago

No problem.

The Constitution has been amended many times since 1776 to address specific, important, socially efficient issues. Some people want to get rid of it and promote the idea that it is outdated and a thing of the past only.If the US cannot make this system work, then nothing will, because nothing else ever has.

[-] 1 points by littrellb (199) from Hillsboro, OR 9 years ago

I agree. The Constitution has to remain our foundation. And I would agree that Freedom and Liberty are never outdated.

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

Yes, freedom and liberty exist in a timeless state. They are transcendent ideals; goals to motivate, signposts in the night. They are destinations for which we are always en route. Once we convince ourselves that we have arrived at that destination we have unmasked liberty of it protean disguise to discovery an idol.

[-] 1 points by littrellb (199) from Hillsboro, OR 9 years ago

So you are saying that true liberty and freedom is the relentless pursuit of said ideals?

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

Freedom is an occurrence that objectifies itself in the world as choice; it is the act of choosing among alternatives with the expectation of return. When the act of choosing is among objective relativities, what is gained is something measurable, a simple preponderance of this over that. When the act of choosing is based on the individual's subjective motives in the form of either compliance or non-compliance to a substantive norm, what is gained is the immeasurability of self-becoming, immeasurable because it is always en route. In the first case the act is conditional upon arrival at the relative alternative. In the latter, the choice is unconditional in that the object of our choice is the transcendent selves with which we are always at a distance. Freedom is in constant peril from the restrictions imposed by authority. The danger lies in an authority that tends to become objective and absolute in itself. Whether the result of the powerful will of a leader, or a rationally determined dialectic, the authority that aspires to be an absolute end will view all activity, even the subjective acts of individuals, as being directed toward the perpetuation of that end. Subjective beings are turned into objects at the cost of their unconditional freedom. What results is a stagnant collectivity where the human transcendent self becomes subservient to the collectivity. In this situation any free choice is strictly conditional.

[-] 1 points by littrellb (199) from Hillsboro, OR 9 years ago

That being said, I feel very unfree. I would say that tthis government seeks absolute authority. We are free to the thing that are accepted as normal but as soon as we step out of those bounds it becomes very clear just how unfree we are.

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

That's the way I see it. The types of choices we are given are strictly conditional. When the subjective act of the individual is in non-compliance with an authority, unconditionality is achieved in exile or revolt. Compliance with an authority can achieve unconditionality when the absolute authority is also given ethical authority, when through the subjective acts individuals see in compliance the redemption of their future selves in an ethical community. It is a giving of themselves in return for security. Both conditional and unconditional freedom require the presence of authority: in the first instance, for the objective ends and alternatives, in the latter, as the resistance against which we project our future selves in becoming. Without authority there is no freedom, conditional or otherwise- only anarchy.

[-] 1 points by littrellb (199) from Hillsboro, OR 9 years ago

I don't understand what you mean by there is no freedom without authority. Explain this if you don't mind.

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

Freedom involves a choice. Not just a random choice, but a choice between one thing or another. If I say, “you may have potatoes or rice,” I have given you a choice and you are at liberty to have one or the other, as conditional as that freedom may be. If I hand you a plate of gruel and say, “eat it!” I have denied you liberty, or one could say that your freedom exists in a negative state and only your own actions can reverse that. You exercise choice against authority and freedom is engendered. “No damn it, I want pasta!” So what are you going to do to become that person who is eating pasta?

Artistic freedom can provide another example. Some say that submission to the authority of an artistic convention is an impediment to creative freedom. This is to misunderstand the, “liberating,” effect that the convention can have on the artist. The convention is the authority against which the artist can assert his or her individuality. Michelangelo exercised the greatest act of freedom against the conventions of his time and they are the greatest because the conventions he transformed were ironclad. Only when there is a convention to which new (artistic) ideas can be link can we arrive at a value judgment- this is, “good,” or this is, “better.”

[-] 0 points by arjang1a (54) 9 years ago

um.... the whole idea of ownership is asinine, and that is the reason we have all of these problems.

I already know, go ahead and call me a communist. But no, this idea is much much higher than communism.

If you've never heard of a resource based economy i suggest you look it up

[-] 1 points by tympan55 (124) 9 years ago

I wouldn't make the judgment that ownership is asinine but rather say that ownership is a component of our existential being that finds its origin in our deep rooted instincts to appropriate and control. "Doing," and, "having," are the existential building blocks of, "becoming." We ultimately become what we have. But you are right about one thing- ownership is the reason we have all these problems, and the way things are I don't see how to do anything about it.