The greatest threat to the original American Dream is government.
According to the Library of Congress, George Washington’s favorite Bible verses were those that spoke of every man dwelling safely under his own “vine and fig tree.”
After the Revolution, when he had returned to Mount Vernon, he wrote the Marquis de Lafayette on Feb. 1, 1784: “At length my Dear Marquis I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, & under the shadow of my own Vine & my own Fig-tree.” This phrase occurs at least 11 times in Washington’s letters. “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree” (2 Kings 18:31).
This was the original “American Dream.” The phrase was also quoted by Madison, Paine, Patrick Henry, and several subsequent Presidents.
A New Jersey town wants more tax revenue, so the City Fathers have decided to bulldoze everyone’s house and have more expensive ones built. Current lifelong residents have been offered half of what it would cost them to find similar homes just a few blocks away.
In Deuteronomy 19:14 we read, “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set.”
Again in Deuteronomy 27:17 we read, “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark.” We read again in Job 24:2, “Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.”
Proverbs 22:28 says, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” Proverbs 23:10 says again, “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless.” Verse 11 continues, “For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.”
Don’t forget the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15)
But Liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court have approved this tactic known as “eminent domain.” It allows politicians to confiscate private property and transfer it to campaign contributors to build strip malls, or nothing at all.
The Institute for Justice is defending homeowners in the Gardens Township of Mount Holly, New Jersey, against government officials who care little about the decades that residents have lived in these homes and seen their families grow up. This is one of many similar cases.
Ironically, the Institute’s most visible case, Kelo v. New London (2005), was a loss. Susette Kelo and other homeowners in New London, Conn., had resisted the use of the government’s eminent domain powers to take their homes and give the property to a development corporation for condos and other private development adjacent to a new Pfizer plant. The Supreme Court ruled against them. The proposed development never took place, even after homes were destroyed.
The Kelo decision created a national backlash, and 44 states have strengthened their laws protecting property rights from eminent domain. Kelo has become shorthand for insensitive, overreaching government not respecting the rights of ordinary people.
Right now the Grand Theft scheme in New Jersey is on hold, but the Institute’s website (www.ij.org) asks folks to read the story and then call the Mount Holly Township Council at 609-845-1100 and tell them to let the Gardens homeowners stay in their community.
This new video tells the Mount Holly story: