Ben Franklin: “…There are Two Passions Which have a Powerful Influence in the Affairs of Men – the Love of Power and the Love of Money.”

Ben Franklin address at the Constitutional Convention titled “Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy,” June 2, 1787:

Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy

“It is with reluctance that I rise to express a disapprobation of any one article of the plan for which we are so much obliged to the honorable gentlemen who laid it before us. From its first reading I have borne a good will to it, and, in general, wished it success. In this particular of salaries to the executive branch, I happen to differ; and, as my opinion may appear new and chimerical, it is only from a persuasion that it is right, and from a sense of duty, that I hazard it. The committee will judge of my reasons when they have heard them, and their judgment may possibly change mine. I think I see inconveniences in the appointment of salaries; I see none in refusing them, but, on the contrary, great advantage.

Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice—the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall, at the same time, be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast number of such places it is that renders the British government so tempestuous. The struggles for them are the true source of all those factions which are perpetually dividing the nation, distracting its councils, hurrying it sometimes into fruitless and mischievous wars, and often compelling a submission to dishonorable terms of peace.

And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters? It will not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your government and be your rulers. And these, too, will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation, for their vanquished competitors, of the same spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be endeavoring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people.

Besides these evils, sir, tho we may set out in the beginning with moderate salaries, we shall find that such will not be of long continuance. Reasons will never be wanting for proposed augmentations; and there will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able, in return, to give more to them. Hence, as all history informs us, there has been in every state and kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing and the governed; the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the princes or enslaving of the people.

Generally, indeed, the ruling power carries its point, and we see the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes, the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partizans, and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharaoh—get first all the people’s money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever. It will be said that we do not propose to establish kings. I know it. But there is a natural inclination in mankind to kingly government. It sometimes relieves them from aristocratic domination. They would rather have one tyrant than five hundred. It gives more of the appearance of equality among citizens; and that they like.

I am apprehensive, therefore—perhaps too apprehensive—that the government of the States may, in future times, end in a monarchy. But this catastrophe, I think, may be long delayed, if in our proposed system we do not sow the seeds of contention, faction, and tumult, by making our posts of honor places of profit. If we do, I fear that, tho we employ at first a number and not a single person, the number will, in time, be set aside; it will only nourish the fetus of a king (as the honorable gentleman from Virginia very aptly expressed it), and a king will the sooner be set over us.

It may be imagined by some that this is a Utopian idea, and that we can never find men to serve us in the executive department without paying them well for their services. I conceive this to be a mistake. Some existing facts present themselves to me which incline me to a contrary opinion. The high sheriff of a county in England is an honorable office, but it is not a profitable one. It is rather expensive, and therefore not sought for. But yet it is executed, and well executed, and usually by some of the principal gentlemen of the county. In France the office of counselor, or member of their judiciary parliament, is more honorable. It is therefore purchased at a high price; there are, indeed, fees on the law proceedings, which are divided among them, but these fees do not amount to more than three per cent. on the sum paid for the place. Therefore, as legal interest is there at five per cent., they, in fact, pay two per cent. for being allowed to do the judiciary business of the nation, which is, at the same time, entirely exempt from the burden of paying them any salaries for their services.

I do not, however, mean to recommend this as an eligible mode for our judiciary department. I only bring the instance to show that the pleasure of doing good and serving their country, and the respect such conduct entitles them to, are sufficient motives with some minds to give up a great portion of their time to the public, without the mean inducement of pecuniary satisfaction.

Another instance is that of a respectable society who have made the experiment and practiced it with success now more than a hundred years. I mean the Quakers. It is an established rule with them that they are not to go to law, but in their controversies they must apply to their monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings. Committees of these sit with patience to hear the parties, and spend much time in composing their differences. In doing this they are supported by a sense of duty and the respect paid to usefulness. It is honorable to be so employed, but it was never made profitable by salaries, fees, or perquisites. And, indeed, in all cases of public service, the less the profit, the greater the honor.

To bring the matter nearer home, have we not seen the greatest and most important of our offices, that of general of our armies, executed for eight years together, without the smallest salary, by a patriot whom I will not now offend by any other praise; and this, through fatigues and distresses, in common with the other brave men, his military friends and companions, and the constant anxieties peculiar to his station? And shall we doubt finding three or four men in all the United States with public spirit enough to bear sitting in peaceful council, for, perhaps, an equal term, merely to preside over our civil concerns, and see that our laws are duly executed? Sir, I have a better opinion of our country. I think we shall never be without a sufficient number of wise and good men to undertake and execute well and faithfully the office in question.

Sir, the saving of the salaries, that may at first be proposed, is not an object with me. The subsequent mischiefs of proposing them are what I apprehend. And, therefore, it is that I move the amendment. If it be not seconded or accepted, I must be contented with the satisfaction of having delivered my opinion frankly and done my duty.

Stephanie Condon wrote in a CBS News article, March 27, 2012 (“Why is Congress a millionaires club?”): “The average Senate campaign in 2010 cost $8,002,726, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. … The average 2010 House campaign cost $1,163,231. … Congress, meanwhile, is a club that consists of 245 millionaires.”

Matthew Boyle wrote for Breitbart News, Feb. 6, 2017: Democratic Party mega-donor George Soros, donated tens of thousands of dollars to top Republicans who fought against President Donald Trump in 2016, donation records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show.”

The Greek philosopher Plato (428-347 BC) stated: “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

The Law of Moses admonished the children of Israel in Exodus 18:12 to choose leaders: “Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.”

Plato wrote of this in “The Republic,” 380 B.C., that government would transition from being ruled by lovers of virtue, to lovers of honor, to lovers of money:

  • “Now what man answers to this form of government. … He is a … lover of honor; claiming to be a ruler. … Busy-bodies are honored and applauded. …”
  • “Is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling … and getting fame?”
  • “Not originally of a bad nature, but having kept bad company … becomes arrogant and ambitious. …”
  • “Such an one will despise riches only when he is young; but as he gets older he will be more and more attracted to them, because he has a piece of the avaricious nature in him, and is not single-minded towards virtue. …”
  • “The love of honor turns to love of money; the conversion is instantaneous.”
  • Because they have no means of openly acquiring the money which they prize; they will spend that which is another man’s.”
  • “They invent illegal modes of expenditure; for what do they or their wives care about the law?”
  • “And so they grow richer and richer … the less they think of virtue … and the virtuous are dishonored. …”
  • “Insatiable avarice is the ruling passion of an oligarchy. …”

Jefferson wrote of danger of the Executive branch bribing Congressmen and Senators: “… as a machine for the corruption of the legislature; for he avowed the opinion that man could be governed by one of two motives only, force or interest … the interests therefore of the members must be laid hold of, to keep the legislature in unison with the Executive … some members were found sordid enough to bend their duty to their interests, and to look after personal, rather than public good. … Men thus enriched by the dexterity of a leader, would follow of course the chief who was leading them to fortune, and become the zealous instruments of all his enterprises.”

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1796: “Either force or corruption has been the principle of every modern government.”

Plato added of this politician:

  • “He has … allowed the blind god of riches to lead the dance within him. …”
  • “He will have many slavish desires, some beggarly, some knavish, breeding in his soul. …”
  • “If he … has the power to defraud, he will soon prove that he is not without the will, and that his passions are only restrained by fear and not by reason.”

Frederic Bastiat explained in “The Law,” 1850, how politicians are tempted toward “legal plunder”: “Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property. But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder. Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. …”

Frederic Bastiat continued: “It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. … But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. … This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.”

In “The Spirit of the Laws,” 1748, Montesquieu wrote: “In a popular state, one spring more is necessary, namely, virtue. … The politic Greeks, who lived under a popular government, knew no other support than virtue. … When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community. … When, in a popular government, there is a suspension of the laws, as this can proceed only from the corruption of the republic, the state is certainly undone.”

Harvard President Samuel Langdon stated in his address “Government Corrupted by Vice,” May 31, 1775: “They were a sinful nation … who had forsaken the Lord; and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. … Everyone loved gifts, and followed after rewards … more than the duties of their office; the general aim was at profitable places and pensions; they were influenced in everything by bribery; and their avarice and luxury were never satisfied, but hurried them on to all kinds of oppression and violence, so that they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power, and increase their wealth.”

Noah Webster wrote in his “History of the United States,” 1832: “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ … If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”

As recorded in his “Memoirs,” Charles Finney wrote: “The time has come for Christians to vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. …. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God. … God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”

Lord Acton wrote to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1881: “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Source: http://www.wnd.com/2018/06/why-politicians-arent-the-fittest-people-for-the-job/#wRj8GUMHIZqcyKx7.99

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