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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ben Franklin, Discovered by Dan Thomasson

Dear Mr. Thomasson:

Here’s a letter to the editor of the [name of paper inserted here -- it wasn't published], that probably won’t be published. I thought you’d like the background, however. Thanks for bringing up the subject!

Tim Kern
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Dan Thomasson got it right on October 15 (“US Needs a Good Dose of Civility”
http://polkonline.com/stories/101504/opi_civility.shtml). Ben Franklin predicted it in June of 1787 [during the deliberations that spawned our late lamented Constitution].

Franklin opposed paying salaries to elected federal officials. He warned those writing the Constitution that, “…a place of honour that shall be at the same time a place of profit” would attract a bad class of highly-motivated men. “And of what kind are the men that will strive for the profitable pre-eminence…?” Franklin pegged it: “It will not be the wise and moderate; the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activities in their selfish pursuits.”

Even when somebody wins, the wise man warned, the common good will take a back seat to these avaricious and power-hungry men: “For their vanquished competitors of the same spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be endeavouring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people.”

History – or prophesy?

Tim Kern

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