Franklin had given another address at the Constitutional Convention on
June 2, 1787, titled Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy:
are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of
men...ambition and avarice - the love of power and the love of money...
When united...they have...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...
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..."
Franklin explained further:
"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.
All history informs us, there has been...a kind of warfare between the governing and the governed;
the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less...
Generally, indeed, the ruling power carries...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 partisans, 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.
will be said that we do not propose to establish kings...but there is a
natural inclination in mankind to kingly government...
would rather have one tyrant than five hundred. It gives more of the
appearance of equality among citizens; and that they like.
am apprehensive, therefore - perhaps too apprehensive - that the
government of the States may, in future times, end in a monarchy... and a
king will the sooner be set over us."
Plato wrote of this in The Republic, 380 BC, that government would transition from being ruled by lovers of virtue, to lovers of honor, to lovers of money:
what man answers to this form of government... He is a...lover of
honor; claiming to be a ruler... Busy-bodies are honored and
"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..."
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':
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."
The Law of Moses admonished in Exodus 18:21 on how to choose leaders:
"Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness."
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.
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."
President Jackson warned December 5, 1836:
"There is no such provision as would authorize Congress to collect together the property of the country, under the name of revenue, for the purpose of dividing it equally or unequally among the States or the people...
The practical effect of such an attempt must ever be to burden the people with taxes, not for the purposes beneficial to them, but to...support a band of useless public officers...
All would be merged in a practical consolidation, cemented by widespread corruption, which could only be eradicated by one of those bloody revolutions which occasionally overthrow the despotic systems of the Old World." America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations