Friday, November 26, 2010

Quotation for the Day: Rose Wilder Lane

Originally, the use of majority-vote in American government was only as a check on Government. Constitutional law gave a majority of tax-payers a quick recall of the men who assessed and spent their taxes.

This principle is worth thinking about.

Using this principle today would alter the structure of State governments, for the people of each State determine the qualifications of voters. But the unique characteristic of American Government is its flexibility. Americans are always adapting the structure of their Government to the new conditions that American energy constantly creates. A State legislature or a convention of delegates can always make a new Constitution.

Apply the principle of using the vote, not as an imaginary and impossible control of men in office, but realistically in the American revolutionary way, as a check on men in office. The effects today would be innumerable.

For example: No one but automobile owners would vote for members of Highway Commissions or pay for highways. They would elect the Commissioners by direct vote, pay taxes directly to them for building and maintaining highways, and re-elect (or not re-elect) the Commissioners frequently. (Of course, American Government never should have interfered with highways. Americans had created a free, mutual association, the American Automobile Association, which was dealing competently with all the new questions arising from the invention of automobiles. Private enterprise originated and built the first trans-Continental American highway; free manufacturers and car-owners would have covered this country with highways, as free Americans covered it with wagonroads. Americans wanted cars and highways; no police force was needed to take their money from them and spend it for highways. And it is injustice to the Americans who do not own cars, to compel them to pay for highways.)
Rose Wilder Lane, The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority (New York: The John Day Company, 1943) 213.  Digital edition here, courtesy of the Mises Institute.

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