There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.
Have you ever wondered what is meant by the term ‘public servants?’ I suppose these days it depends on who is either using or misusing the term. If you look at any of the signers of the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution, you will see men who believed in public service. And I will show you examples of this. I have absolutely no doubt the founding fathers of this nation knew what the term meant: to serve the public for the greater good; public servants. But what is today’s meaning? As I have shown in other treatises about the Legislative and Executive Branches, our politicians are extremely self-serving. They concern themselves with the aggrandizement of their bank accounts by trading stocks using classified information, they take money from lobbyists, they believe in nepotism even though House Ethics Rules forbid the practice and there have been earmarks where Congressmen have made vast sums of money at our expense. There have been incidents such as Watergate and Iran/Contra, plus there have been organizations like the Suite 8F Group. All of these examples have been of our present day public servants, but they only served themselves. I believe our illustrious, or should I say lusterless politicians believe public servant means something altogether different, such as the public as servants; public servants. The term public servants isn’t really a double entendre, but it has been perverted into just that; a term with a double meaning, which when used by our smiling two-faced professional prevaricators, has rendered us all into nothing more than offal on the slaughterhouse floor, to be devoured as carrion by our vulture-like politicians. I suggest we take a look at some of our forefathers and find out just what it means to be a public servant.
I found something interesting on a blog called Dover Beach. John Adams wrote, “Public business…must always be done by somebody…If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it; others will not…Integrity should be preserved in all events…through every stage of his existence. His first maxim should be to place his honor out of reach of all men[ii].” John Adams does make me ask a few questions. Do our elected leaders today have this same belief? Are our leaders in any way wise or honest? Do they have integrity or honor? One might think that as the most powerful nation on the planet, the answer to these questions would be an unequivocal yes. Unfortunately, just the opposite would appear to be true. Our elected leaders are only wise in their deception to the public and their honesty is always a matter for debate. As far as integrity and honor, I seriously doubt you can have either if you aren’t wise and honest, but I would state our politicians possess neither. But there isn’t a reason to go over the dirty-laundry list of our politicians again; I would simply direct you to read some of my other treatises or read whatever you can find on our leaders of today, then you can answer the question yourself. This is more about the founding fathers of this nation and their beliefs with regard to public service, so we will know exactly what it is to serve the public. We can easily look back at history and state with certainty, the founders were an extremely wise and honorable group of men, who possessed a great deal of integrity and honor. All one really needs to do in order to know this is read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and they will come to that conclusion. John Adams finished his thoughts for the most part with these words, “In order to do this he must make it a rule never to become dependent on public employments for subsistence. Let him have a trade, a profession, a farm, a shop, something where he can honestly live, and then he may engage in public affairs, if invited, upon independent principles.” I cannot fathom in this day and age, a politician who isn’t a career politician; much less one who has undertook public affairs upon independent principles. Certainly some have been quite successful before they entered public office, but we see these people feeding from the public trough for twenty, thirty years at a time, while gorging themselves at the cost of our nation’s wealth and well being. And they consider themselves to be righteous! No matter how much they have, they want more and actually increase their net worth while in office at an astronomical rate. This isn’t public service, it’s gluttony and avarice.
Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it is obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
As I was reading George Washington’s first inaugural address, it made me think about what was just written about John Adams and his beliefs regarding public service. While it may seem as though I am actually going backwards, from the 2nd U.S. President to the 1st U.S. President, I believe what George Washington said in his first address simply underscores what John Adams averred. George Washington stated, “Since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained[iv].” Washington’s ardent belief that man is perpetually bound by his association to the truth through the immutable bond between his virtue and his happiness, his moral obligation and his circumstance, his generous course of action and the blissful rewards of his office, reminds me of Adams when he spoke of wisdom, honesty, integrity and honor; without these four maxims which Adams spoke of so fervently, there can be no truth which Washington spoke of so eloquently. As our first President, Washington knew this new nation would rely on his wisdom, honesty, integrity and honor, and his duty as our first President relied on truth to the people. His reward was not only his happiness but the divine advantage given to him by the people and by God. Washington was happy to serve, he sought nothing more than the opportunity to be a public servant in a prosperous nation of people, “When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country…the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation…I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments…and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station which I am placed…be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.” I cannot say it enough times; George Washington’s only desire was to serve the public. His reward was the honor of the office itself; he eschewed any monetary compensation other than the expenses which were appropriate in relation to the Office or greater good of the nation. I realize there are politicians in this day and age who receive no more than $1 for their service, which is admirable. I can only believe they are not only fans, but followers of our forefathers. Men like Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison truly believed leadership was best accomplished by being a public servant, and by being a public servant they were able to lead by example.
I would like to take a moment and speak about the 5th President of the United States, a man who is considered to be the last founding father of this nation who was President, James Monroe[v]. Monroe had a long history of public service to this nation; his final service was obviously as the President. Just prior to Monroe’s departure for Europe after being appointed as Minister to France in 1794, he gave his nephew some advice which gives us some insight into Monroe himself, “You may by your industry, prudence, and studious attention to your business…advance your fortune and reputation in the world, whereby alone your happiness or even tranquility can be secured[vi].” I believe Monroe was telling his nephew that only through the careful and diligent application of his endeavors would he truly be able to increase his wealth and his repute or good name. And from those endeavors alone would he find happiness and the inner-peace of an honest businessman. How many men these days tell their own sons such things? Monroe then said, “Solid merit and virtue alone will support and carry you with credit through the world.” Once again, here is a man who espouses good, hard, work not only done honestly but done with a good moral center or righteousness as a mantra for a way to live a good life. But if you look at Monroe’s reasoning for telling his nephew this, you can see where public service comes into play. “The principle danger…if he errs, he inflicts the most incurable wound on his reputation, is the abuse of pecuniary confidence. Let me, therefore, warn you never to use your client’s money…for the protection of virtue, it should never be commenced.” This was really just the beginning of Monroe’s cautionary advice to his nephew with regard to vice and virtue. Monroe, like the rest of the founders, believed that virtues were Heavenly as vices were not. The belief that a man’s reputation was his name meant everything. If one was to get caught with their hand in the so-called cookie jar the lack of confidence in the man and his name would simply be irreconcilable. This all goes right back to George Washington and trust, John Adams and wisdom, honesty, integrity and honor. Without any of those five traits, there is no virtue, no good reputation and certainly no happiness or tranquility would or could follow a man throughout his life. Monroe further stated to his nephew, “I would make it one of those sacred rules of my life which should not be violated.” There can be no doubt James Monroe knew any type of service to others, especially public service, cannot be done without a virtuous reputation which fosters trust. Are we able to say this of our present day politicians? Think about the seven deadly sins and the seven Heavenly virtues for a moment. Most people could name the sins, but not the virtues. Which seven do our politicians follow?
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
I have been asked why I write these papers. My only response can be that I find what the founders said and wrote to be extremely enthralling. That being said, and with regard to this paper, in no way do I claim these treatises are a public service of any kind. If anything, I believe they are simply a vehicle for me to express what infuriates me with regard to our government today and if these treatises actually possess anyone to think about the state of the union, if I am allowed to make that pun, I believe it is a good thing. But I cannot help but to compare our modern times and political leaders of the day with that time of our past political leaders which we call our forefathers and recognize the predominant chasm which exists between them. Truly, I believe if our politicians carried themselves in a manner akin to the forefathers of this nation, with the same passion for our Constitution and showed the wisdom and an honorable determination to lead by virtue rather than vice; perhaps I could and would be content. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
I was asked by a friend, “Why do you put your own name on these treatises rather than using a pen name? Don’t you think if they ever read this stuff you will get into trouble?” My response was actually quite simple. I told him, “Do you really think the shameless lot of bottom-feeders who are running this nation into the ground care about what I think or say? After all, I really have nothing to lose.” Certainly, any fraudulent charge could be trumped-up against anyone, but that’s nothing more than an exercise in futility. I say this because it would only tend to confirm what I write and what I claim to believe. Of course, the point is moot. After all, today’s politicians habitually speak out publicly against each other without a modicum of truth to what they say and in as harmful a manner as possible. I at least give honest examples of what I believe. Their sole purpose is to publically malign and destroy their political rival for personal and political gain. As I have previously stated, I only want people to think. But privately, I would bet they [these political rivals] are friendly sipping Dom Perignon, eating fillet mignon and lobster while washing it down with a bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild together, and on our dime. I simply can’t imagine the founding fathers of this nation carrying on in such a dishonorable manner. What we witness is nothing more than a public dog and pony show which is meant to appease us, as well as divide us in a partisan manner, while they privately scratch each other’s backs and reap the abundant rewards of the dishonest lawmaker. Besides, if you look at the bigger picture, such as the way our infant-like politicians constantly bicker with each other and the odious nature of their discourse (especially during an election year), I would have to say that I’m really being quite generous.
Think about John Hancock for a minute. This man didn’t just sign the declaration of Independence, his signature was so large compared to the rest of the signers, he may as well have had a neon-sign with arrows pointing directly at him. John Hancock had his wealth, property, position, family and his life to lose. Of course, in no way am I or would I compare myself with John Hancock who I consider to be a great man and leader. So that comparison just isn’t possible. I am only trying to point out a man, a leader, who really had something to lose, but did the honorable thing despite the overwhelming risk. The vast majority of us today are a mere fraction of what any of our founding fathers were, and we should all be extremely grateful for their sacrifice, intelligence, courage, selflessness, honor, integrity and public service. We should also remember to view them as true role models.
Stop and think about what it is to really put yourself in jeopardy. Look to our troops throughout the history of this great nation who courageously put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis, that’s public service. Or look at the fire departments throughout the nation, while people are running out of burning buildings, who risks their lives by running inside to save people and property? The firemen do and that’s public service. When there is an armed robbery or a kidnapping or any number of other violent crimes being committed, who wades in while putting themselves in danger? Someone in law enforcement does. These people have families and they have something to lose, yet they still come to the aid of others, that’s public service. And there is a seemingly endless list of other professions which also provide a public service to our nation. Are any of these people our servants? No, of course they are not. However, they are all public servants and they all do their duty which serves the public interest. How can it be that the leaders of a nation are not held in such high esteem? Personally, if I was a politician, I believe I would be offended. Yet the ordinary people of America who are in these various professions, don’t stand there telling you how great they are, they stand there and tell you how great America is. Yet our politician can’t wait to have a press conference and tell you about their exploits and accomplishments, which are nothing more than mere fantasies! So I would have to ask you, who really are our leaders?
So, after all of this has been said. Who are our leaders and public servants? Is it our forefathers, our elected and appointed politicians, or those Americans who daily risk their lives for us? The easy answer is our forefathers, there can be no doubt they knew what public service was all about; George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Hancock as well as every other founder who was an honest and honorable upstanding man. Then there are the regular Americans who work within the vast variety of professions who daily risk their lives or who work under conditions so deplorable that most of us would not wish it on an enemy, these people are certainly our leaders. Perhaps they aren’t elected, but they are leaders nonetheless and they certainly know what public service is. And lastly, we come to our elected and appointed politicians. What can I say? If these people had the wisdom, honor, integrity, honesty or sense of duty the size of a mustard seed I would undoubtedly fall over dead. But it would appear as though all they desire from public office is to find the lamp which holds their Djinn, so they may rub it and be granted whatever they wish. Sadly, what they wish for is the public to be their servants.
An avaricious man, who might happen to fill the office, looking forward to a time when he must at all events yield up the emoluments he enjoyed, would feel a propensity…to make the best use of the opportunity he enjoyed while it lasted, and might not scruple to have recourse to the most corrupt expedients to make the harvest as abundant as it was transitory.
God Bless this Great Republic, the United States of America.
Brett L. Baker
[i] Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government; Duties of Citizens, http://www.famguardian.org/Subjects/Politics/ThomasJefferson/jeff1700.htm
[ii] Dover Beach; John Adams on the obligation of honest people to engage in public service, http://lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/john-adams-on-the-obligation-of-honest-people-to-engage-in-public-service/
[iii] Founding Fathers Info; Federalist No. 51, James Madison. http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fedindex.htm
[iv] American Presidents Life Portraits; First Inaugural Address, George Washington, Thursday, April 30, 1789: New York City. http://www.americanpresidents.org/inaugural/01a.asp
[vi] American Statesman James Monroe; In his Relations To The Public Service During Half A Century, 1776-1826, pp 179-180. http://archive.org/stream/jamesmonroeinhis00gilmuoft#page/n7/mode/2up
[vii] Good Reads; George Washington Quotes, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6401-if-freedom-of-speech-is-taken-away-then-dumb-and
[viii] Founding Fathers Info; Federalist No. 72, Alexander Hamilton. http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fedindex.htm