Editorial: Americans should take heed of Franklin’s fundamental philosophy of “doubt[ing] my own judgment as to what would mend” the world

Editorial: Americans should take heed of Franklin’s fundamental philosophy of “doubt[ing] my own judgment as to what would mend” the world

Kelli Ann Cox, Publisher, The Golden Hammer

The “first great American,” Benjamin Franklin, wrote to his sister in 1771:

“Upon the whole, I am much disposed to like the world as I find it, and to doubt my own judgment as to what would mend it.”

With that philosophy, Franklin abhorred tyranny, invented the lightning rod and smokeless stove, was instrumental in the creation of the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, America’s treaties with France and Great Britain, founded private borrowing libraries, and was one of the first great publishers in North America. Franklin was entirely self-educated. French economist Turgot described Franklin with the Latin maxim, “eripuit coelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis,” meaning “he snatched lighting from the sky and the scepter from tyrants.”

If there is any philosophy, which embodies this newspaper, The Golden Hammer, the name of which playfully refers to the hammer of government through spending tax dollars snatched away from working Americans, it is Franklin’s. Unfortunately, most Americans alive today have failed to take heed of Franklin’s observation that we should like the world as we find it.

Even more unfortunate, however, is our unwillingness to doubt our own judgment as to what would mend it, even though history has repeatedly proved all of us wrong. Every time we take collectivist actions, through the creation of more government functions and institutions, history proves us wrong. More collectivist action doesn’t mend the world. It makes the world worse.

Government delivered slavery, the civil rights violations against African-Americans, the reluctance to enter World War II to end the Holocaust and Japanese horrors perpetrated through their imperialism, and the playing upon our newly-found fears of a virus. At every turn, government works to enhance its own power while making our lives less and less likable.

Just look at the impact of American environmentalism. Beginning in 1969, Americans began to overregulate domestic industries, especially energy producers, in the mistaken belief that we could make our world a better place. Instead we overregulated ourselves, made domestic oil production non-competitive, destroyed American jobs and opportunities, created an artificial dependence upon foreign oil, boosted Saudi Arabia and Iran (through direct foreign aid from our government and through cutting off their competition from American oil producers), forced ourselves into suffering national security interests in the land of the Middle East, and thereby creating Middle Eastern extremists who hate America for invading their sacred lands. Government fails, because collective action fails. We should have doubted our own judgment as to what would mend perceived environmental problems. And we’re about to embark on the same failures in the guise of fighting against “climate change.”

Regardless of historical facts (“How’d that Soviet Union work out for ya?”), our egos continue to fool us into believing that collectivist solutions will yield positive outcomes.

They don’t.

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