January 27, 2005 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Welcome to the Blog portion of the Publius’ Forum. From time to time I will interject these sort of quick takes on the world in which we live between the contributions of our writers. I will call them QUICK TAKES, curiously enough.

An acquaintance of mine recently went to buy a car and wanted to pay with $29,000 cash. It made the Car Dealer go nuts. He said that he had all kinds of forms to fill out for the IRS and FBI for such a large cash payment, and that he also need the buyer to go to a bank and convert the cash into a Cashier’s Check before he would take it.

This business caused the guy to get all bristly over his “loss of rights” in being able to buy a car with cash without molestation by the government. He felt the government had no right to force all these rules upon him and I have a tendency to agree with him. He also wondered why his “property rights” (in the form of the money) was being violated.

However, he suffered under some misconceptions about the Founders as well as current government I thought would be instructive here.

Property had two distinct meanings in the Founder’s day
1- From root Latin proprius- meaning proper, particular to, appropriate to an individual (giving a moral meaning).
2- From root Latin domus- House, coupled to lordship which was bestowed by the King (a government meaning).

Notice property did not mean YOUR property alone, but it was linked to propriety (morals) and grants from the King (government).

Private Property:
Privately owned but governed by the law of the land. Therefore not entirely free of government control.

Even John Locke’s (English Philosopher that many Founders referred to for his theories on Natural Rights and government) ideas of what government was for centered on three ideas, none of which gave the citizen total license.
1-The duty of every man to praise, honor and glory God does not enter directly into man’s social relations.
2-Mankind must be preserved (the word “ought” treated as a command) “Man has not the liberty to destroy himself… for Men being all the workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker.. made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure.”
3-Being obliged by nature to live in society he has no right to destroy it. Hence the need for law and government.

What I am saying here is that even from day one, we have had government involvement in private property that has ebbed and flowed from over involvement to less. We are at an over time, I fear.

However, history has also shown that our government HAS curtailed over reach as time goes on. We have had MUCH worse violations of freedom and liberty in the USA in times past and wars past. The Civil War, WWI and WWII had FAR worse violations. (see my longer OP ED on this subjectBush, Destroyer of Civil Liberties?)

So, while I also worry about this business I do not necessarily feel it is the end of the world. We are right to keep pressure on to stop such over reach, though.

Lastly, he equated the rule where a business being given a $10,000 and over cash outlay is required to alert the IRS as something connected to the war on terror, but it was actually connected to the “war” on drugs to stop drug dealers from buying big ticket items for cash to clean their ill gotten cash.

(For info on the ideas of the Founders and what their definitions and influences were I reccomend the book “Novus Ordo Seclorum”, by Forrest McDonald, U. of Kansas Press, 1985)

-Warner Todd Huston



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