Many protesters will be out today, Tax Day, for the so-called "Tea Parties." Some will present a consistent moral case against the income tax and other government abuses of individual rights, but most will be lacking in that department. Jeff Scialabba at Voices for Reason said, "What unites the protesters is not a consistent intellectual outlook–they appear to hold a hodgepodge of viewpoints–but rather their anger at the alarming expansion of our government. To have real impact, they’ll need a consistent intellectual framework."
In the blog post quoted above was a link to a speech titled, “Atlas Shrugged: America’s Second Declaration of Independence,” given in March of 2007 by Onkar Ghate. At roughly the 9-minute mark, Ghate asks some hypothetical questions that really bring all of these issues into focus.
I call it the "What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?" argument. What follows is a brief transcription of a minute or so of Ghate's talk:
The Founding Fathers’ achievement is eroding. They would be shocked by the power that is now concentrated in the hands of the American government at the expense of the individual.In the video, when Ghate asked whether Jefferson would submit to building inspectors at Monticello, he got a good laugh from the crowd. But as the examples continued, examples of outrages that we allow daily in our lives, the contrast between Jefferson's time and ours became more serious.
Can you imagine [Thomas] Jefferson submitting to building inspectors who would decide if Monticello is up to code? Or pleading with FDA officials to take an experimental drug that, according to his scientific judgment, is beneficial? Or allowing Social Security administrators to dictate how much he has to save for his retirement and where he has to invest it? Or, patiently watching the tax collector as he takes his money away and pours it down the aid drains of Africa?
Can you imagine him prostrating himself before the FCC who would determine if his broadcast content is obscene? Can you imagine Thomas Jefferson seeking government’s permission to smoke a cigarette in a restaurant, eat irradiated spinach, screw in an incandescent light bulb, or buy a trans-fatty french fry?
It is obvious that Jefferson would rage against such injustices because they are as wrong and as evil now as the tyranny he knew so well and fought so bravely against.