from my column Friday July 25, 2008
Katy Grimes, Sacramento Union Columnist -
Published: July 23, 2008
I strongly urge each member of the Sacramento City Council to read “The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson.” The wisdom and foresight in Jefferson’s writings should be mandatory training material for ambitious local politicians. Jefferson correctly declared, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
Sacramento’s elected officials spend most of their time worrying about getting re-elected and keeping power, making them the best example of power perverted into tyranny. Their focus is personal, and not for the good of the public they serve.
Members of the City Council have been recently quoted saying that our city budget deficit is the result of “the downturn in the economy.” Hogwash. The city of Sacramento has a spending problem, starting with Mayor Heather Fargo and the City Council. They long ago tossed out the books about citizen representation, and penned their own: “The Joy of Political Power and The Pleasures of Ambition and Omnipotence.” They are currently working on “Dodging Accountability in Ten Easy Steps.”
Custodian of Public Trust Thomas Jefferson believed that “Democracy would cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work, and give to those who would not.”
Today’s “leaders” see themselves as God-like, selflessly giving to the masses. What they are really “giving” is not of themselves but an endless supply of costly freebies, welfare and entitlements—food stamps, free rent, bus passes, “job training,” daycare, education, houses, medical care, don’t forget citizenship, rights, power, privilege, benefits and favors. With the numerous giveaways under the auspices of devotion to the welfare of others, our politicians are only plumping up their own ambitions and circumstances. By creating the dependence of citizens, politicians get subservience and submissiveness in return, but it completely kills morality and ethical conduct.
Jefferson predicted “future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
The allure of power to those who seek it is intoxicating. However, it is best to remember that it is not power that is alluring to pure minds. The idea of serving the people is lost on those who seek power such as our City Council and Mayor Fargo.
Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct. Thomas Jefferson knew men who abused their political positions; he did not know that it would become a way of political life in America. The Sacramento City Council members are such an example: They use politics as a vocation, living off and profiting from politics, rather than being genuinely politically active—they are the very definition of weak people who abuse trust and power and cannot stand on their own.
Only with the silence of good people will tyranny and corruption continue. Jefferson’s wisdom rings true even today: When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Katy Grimes is a longtime political analyst and Sacramento native. Read her blog at katygrimes.blogtownhall.com.