State Gov’t Assault On Honda Center, Enterprise Zones Nothing New

Ben FranklinThe constitutional order of limited government established by the Founders was so enduring in large part because it was grounded in an unsparing, unromantic understanding of human nature and a realization that it doesn’t change with the passage of time (in stark contrast to the dangerous progressive belief that humanity is malleable). That is why their insights remain just as applicable and relevant more than two centuries later.

This truth is vividly illustrated in a speech given in 1787 by Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention. it is truly prophetic and dwells on the same human passions animating the state government’s frightening coercion of  Anaheim Arena Management and its gutting of the Enterprise Zones in Anaheim and 39 other California cities:

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.

The specific issue of Franklin’s concern at the time was creating a salaried bureaucracy, but the human passions he referred drive the grasping government actions against the Honda Center and the Anaheim Enterprise Zone.

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  1. Anaheim Avenger

    Wow – what an enlightening commentary on the fight going on today. I would put to you as well that if this type of action were pulled by Republicans the outrage against what is essentially GRAFT would be deafening. Great analysis Matt!

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