John Adams warned of this

To the editor:

In 1787 John Adams, one of our country’s founding fathers, wrote a treatise called “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States.” In it he explained that private property rights are critically important to maintaining a truly free society. I find his words particularly apropos in view of the redistribution of wealth that seems to be favored by the current administration in Washington.

John Adams wrote: “Suppose a nation rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together. Not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property.

“If we take into account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes and a few trifles of other movables.

“If all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have. Property is surely a right of mankind, as really as liberty.

“Perhaps at first, prejudice, habit, shame, or fear, principle or religion would restrain the poor from attacking the rich and the idle from usurping on the industrious.

“But the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretext be invented by degrees to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first, taxes laid heavy on the rich and not at all on the others. And at last a downright equal division of everything be demanded and voted.

“What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them.

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred of the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”

What Mr. Adams feared is happening in our country today. Please, use your vote to protect the property rights of all both rich and poor. Tax the rich may sound good at first, but in the end it is an attack on everyone’s freedom.

Michael A. Thom

New Ulm

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