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View Diary: Thank You for Smoking?: The President's Pre-K Plan (114 comments)

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  •  Jefferson didn't really LIKE "government" (0+ / 0-)

    We can't blame him.  He had never seen a good one.

    As far as HE knew the last GOOD government had been under one of the pre-Christian Roman Emperors  (Gibbons had said so in his Decline and Fall) ... since which time, the plebeian class had never been so well governed nor so well washed -- and their governments had been merely  a succession of tyrannical monarchies and the occasional plutocratic "republic".

    Like most landed Virginians of the day, TJ had ENORMOUS respect for the legendary patrician Cincinnatus and the mythical  plebeian archetype "fabianus rusticus"  

    In this quote I particularly like the way he conflates what free laborers (a class about which he knew almost nothing) must pay to Government for their taxes, and what they must pay Merchants and Landlords for their food, clothing and shelter.  These days we tend to do the same:  excoriate Government for levying taxes, while extolling  Capital for earning profits.

     Nothwithstanding ... TJ felt that the common sort of person was well off if he had food sufficient to his daily hunger, clothing adequate to the climate and "more than required by mere decency," and some form of shelter.  If he could gain all of these things by farming his own little plot of land ... so much the better -- morally if not economically

    Again: to his credit TJ had seen, or at least read about, simple folk in Europe and Russia who had much LESS of these things than even his unambitious standard for the lesser members of the commonwealth.

    Of course from TJ's point of view  (and this was a man who really like his Plantation lifestyle) the taxation of Tobacco must have seemed  a tyrannical overreach of the first order, by an illegitimate government.

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