What’s really bad

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To the Editor:
On Sept. 14, the Bulletin ran a letter from Stuart R. Goldstein, which included a long quotation from Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson seems to be quoted quite a lot lately, usually to support viewpoints that government is bad, anything paid for by taxes is unwarranted and wasteful, and industries and corporations should be freed from regulatory oversight because they surely have only the interests of American citizens at heart and we’re just preventing them from fully showing that. I recently received a chain email along those lines that included a collection of Jefferson quotes.
At the very bottom of that long list was a quote I had never seen before and which I found to be quite different from most of the Jefferson quotes being bandied about today:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1802
We’ve all been hearing how distrustful Jefferson was of the power of government and its potential to do harm to the regular citizenry. No argument there.
But I thought your readers would be interested to know that Jefferson also reserved some of his distrust for financial institutions and corporations.
Recent history suggests he was right about this, as well.
Incidentally, the above quote came during the second year of Jefferson’s presidency, following some 30 years as an elected official at state and federal levels beginning at the age of 25 – what some might call a “career politician.”
Mr. Goldstein wrote that today’s career politician arrives in Washington and “learns where the money and power really are and determines how to get more of both.”
Mr. Goldstein didn’t say “where the money and power really are,” but one good guess would be with corporate/industry leaders and their lobbyists, all of whom would benefit by swaying legislation one way or another.
Unlike Mr. Goldstein, I don’t believe that either politicians or corporate leaders are “all bad” or “all good.” What’s really bad is when the worst members of those two powerful groups collude with each other for their own mutual benefit at the expense – in all senses of the word – of the rest of us.
– Judy Heinrich,
Green Creek

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