Was Edison Right (Most People Would Rather Die Than Think)

I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that any system of government that relies upon the integrity and intelligence of the voters is doomed for failure; our system of government is a perfect example.

Now I don’t know if Thomas Edison ever actually said this, but according to some sources he is attributed with saying, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” I pretty much have found out that the overall sentiments expressed in that quote are true; I just disagree with the percentages, for I think the percentage of people who actually think is lower than 5%.

Let me ask you something. If I were to suggest that a law be passed which required people to pass a thorough and comprehensive civics/U.S. history test BEFORE being allowed to vote, and then pay an annual fee to obtain a valid voter ID card which must be presented at the voting booth, how well do you think that would go over when people started being denied the right to vote because they could not pass the test?

But, but, but it’s my right to vote they would complain. Is it? It is also my right to move about this country freely and to keep and bear firearms, yet I don’t see people complaining when I am required to take a written and practical test to obtain a drivers license, or when I am required to pay a $35 fee every so often just to be allowed to purchase a gun, then pay another fee to attend a class so that ‘government’ can issue me a permit to carry that gun on my person for my own personal defense.

But voting doesn’t kill people you say. No, not directly it doesn’t. But when the voters elect war mongering politicians who send our military off to foreign lands to obtain the use of their natural resources, to guard opium poppy fields, or to clear the way so that US business interests can have US friendly governments ready to receive them with open arms, ask yourself how many people were killed by those you voted for just to obtain these things.

Oh, but our government wouldn’t do that. Is that so? If you believe that you really ought to read more; especially about how many times the US has toppled dictators who were anti US, or who got in the way of US business interests. Case in point, the 1953 coup d’état which was orchestrated by the CIA and British Intelligence that ousted the democratically elected leader of Iran and replaced him with the Shah; who was responsible for brutalizing his own people, while allowing US and British oil companies to profit off his country’s oil reserves.

Then of course there is this, from decorated US Marine General Smedley Butler, “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

But I begin to stray off my intended course, and this is one time I do not want to do that.

The point I was trying to make is that it is acceptable for society to support laws that restrict my right to freely travel without some form of permit or license, and it is acceptable for society to support laws that require me to pass a test and obtain a permit to exercise my constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, but to expect that people be knowledgeable about their system of government or the history of their country before they be allowed to vote and you have crossed the line.

In 1787, before the Constitution was presented to the public for its consideration, a speech was read to the delegates of the Philadelphia Convention, prepared by Ben Franklin and read to the attendees by James Wilson, which stated, “… there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

The sentiments expressed by that statement give credence to the fact that after the convention adjourned and when Franklin was leaving, he was asked by a woman, “Well Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” To which Franklin is quoted as saying, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

It was supposed to be our responsibility as voters to elect only those candidates who we feel will uphold their oaths of office to support and defend the Constitution. How can we do that if we as voters don’t even know what the Constitution says, or why it says the things it does?

Noah Webster, father of the American dictionary, once said, ” 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.’ The preservation of [our] government depends on the faithful discharge of this Duty; 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 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 citizen will be violated or disregarded. If [our] 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.”

I think that pretty aptly sums up exactly what we have done; ‘…elect bad men to make and administer the laws.’ We have those on the political left who believe government should be the remedy for all our social injustices, and we have those on the right who profess to be conservatives yet support the use of our government to benefit and even bail out business that are, as George Bush said, too big to fail.

I don’t see a thing in the Constitution that says it is authorized to support, subsidize, or represent corporations or special interests of any kind. Our Congress, which is the lawmaking body, was established to represent two great political bodies; the people and the States. In both instances the political parties of America care nothing about the actual limits imposed upon government by the Constitution – you know; those specifically enumerated powers that James Madison so often talked about.

We can thank Alexander Hamilton for all that, for it was he who opened the Pandora’s Box of implied powers. Had our government adhered to a strict interpretation of the powers given government by the Constitution we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today. But it was the people who voted for these candidates who, in turn, violated their oaths of office and put government on the pathway to this monstrosity that it is today. Had the people voted for strict constitutionalists these traitors would not have been able to do a damned thing.

It has gotten so bad in America that a true constitutionalist is laughed at and ridiculed by the overall voting public. It’s just as Dresden James said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

In an 1821 letter to Spencer Roane, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible.”

Once again we find the reference to the DUTY of good citizens to preserve our system of government as one based upon certain principles. When Franklin said our system of government would probably be administered well for a course of years, but would only end in despotism when the people became so corrupted as to need despotic government, it was those principles he was referring to.

Had the American voters, and this goes back to the earliest years of our country under its current system of government, adhered to a strict interpretation of the constitutional authority of their government, we would not have the bloated bureaucracies we do today which micromanage every aspect of our lives; we wouldn’t be involved in all these wars of foreign intrigue; and we wouldn’t see a government that seeks to destroy the liberty it was created to secure.

Today the American voters only care about whether their party wins, not whether the Constitution is upheld. The Democrats almost openly admit this in their party platform, while the Republicans hide behind the illusion of conservatism, while they are equally guilty of passing laws the Constitution simply does not authorize government them to.

To the America voters it is not the direction the bus called the US government is going; it is who gets to drive the bus. They could care less that the bus is heading towards tyranny and despotism, only that their candidates are behind the wheel. There is no adherence to the principles which caused our Founders to fight a war against their own government to obtain, (liberty); it is only whether their government does the things they believe are in the best interests of the country, or the people.

If you truly believe the patriots of 1776 were true American heroes, that they fought a just war for the principles that established America as an independent country, then how can you turn around and vote for any candidate who does not pledge their life and their sacred honor to uphold those same principles?

What does it say about you, as a voter, when you vote for the lesser of two evils; to cast your vote for an unworthy candidate just to prevent someone who is worse from getting elected? What does it say about your character and integrity when you vote for candidates who seek to use government to oppress one segment of society to benefit another? What does it say about your concern for liberty when you support measures which sacrifice our most basic rights; all for a little safety and security?

Thomas Jefferson, who we honor by proxy every July 4 on Independence Day, once said that “God who gave us life gave us liberty.” Therefore any candidate who seeks to restrict the liberty of the American people, regardless of their justification for doing so, must be going against the very will of God for man to enjoy the precious gift of liberty that He has bestowed upon them. That makes any who would do that evil; and no evil will go unpunished.

In previous commentaries I mentioned the quote by Martin Niemöller that says, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Niemöller was a pastor in Nazi Germany who opposed the injustices he saw under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Well Niemöller wasn’t the only religious leader who spoke out against the things he saw; there was also Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another German theologian, who said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

If you don’t care that those you elect are committing evil acts with your support, then you are just as guilty as are those who actually commit those acts. If you care more about football, facebook, video games, or other forms of entertainment than you do learning the truth about the crimes your government is guilty of committing, your ignorance will not save you from whatever punishment God metes out to those who let evil men deprive them of their liberty without trying to defend that liberty.

It’s funny that both sides of the political spectrum claim that government is corrupt; the only difference between them and people like me being that they see the ‘other party’ as the corrupting influence, while I see political partisanship as the corrupting influence. People, and this is true for those who support either party, seek to use government to push forward an agenda; and if that agenda IS NOT the preservation of our liberty it is an unjust agenda; and probably unconstitutional.

After all, James Wilson did say, “Government … should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government which has not this in view as its principal object is not a government of the legitimate kind.”

Patrick Henry did say, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”

Is that what you vote for, the preservation of your liberty; or is it something else? If it is anything else, then you are not voting for the principles this country was founded upon; and you are just as much a part of the problem as is the government itself.

Science fiction author Robert Heinlein did an outstanding job of describing American politics today when he said, “The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”

That is why I agree with the quote attributed to Edison; people simply don’t want to think. To think would require that they face some uncomfortable truths; such as the fact that they have been voting for criminals and liars most of their adult life. Accepting the truth would mean that they would have to accept a part of the responsibility for all the problems this country faces; instead of just passing the blame onto the ‘other’ party as is their custom.

In any case, the corruption that both Franklin and Jefferson spoke of permeates American politics and is on full display when they flock to the polls and vote for people who are more fit for a jail cell than they are political office.

And that is why I say that any system that relies upon the integrity and intelligence of the voters is doomed to fail; because I see very little of either in the typical American voter. If our system is truly one which derives its powers by consent of the governed, then by your participating in choosing who will sit in the various seats of power you are consenting to each and every act of that government. I have simply withdrawn my consent, I will not participate in choosing who will be my master. I am a free man, and although I obey the laws to a certain extent, I do so under duress, and I will continue to speak out in opposition to the laws themselves, against those who enact the laws which restrict my liberty, and against the stupid voters who put these criminals in office.

There I’ve said it; I’ve called you stupid. Prove me wrong…but do it with facts and a constitutionally based argument, or shut the hell up and accept the title. Or was Edison right; you would rather die than think?

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