Scheels and the Blood of Tyrants

Scheels and the Blood of Tyrants
by
David Schlecht

I was saddened when I opened my local newspaper on Independence Day and found a half page ad quoting and taking Thomas Jefferson quotes out of context. I’ll run through the list of quotes they have poisoned our newspaper with and give you the context so you can know what is really being said. One must ask, why would Scheels spend money on such a deceptive ad. To come up with a list of quotes, they must have spent the time to actually read the context, right? Right?

I just can’t believe that Scheels intended to disrespect the readers and America by publishing a biased political screed, but it’s hard to believe they didn’t research the quotes before publishing them. Shame on you, Scheels.

Here are the quotes and the context is described below.

  1. My reading of history convinces me that most bad governments result from too much government.
  2. I predict future happiness for Americans if they prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
  3. The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
  4. It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle if acted on would save on-half the wars of the world.
  5. To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
  6. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
  7. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.

Let’s start with the list as a whole. One would think from this list that these are the only things that Jefferson believed and never expressed views contrary to these. Obviously he has. No one is that one sided. Hence, just the fact that Scheels decided to only print quotes that are biased proves they have an agenda and are deceiving us.

Let’s take these quotes and look at them in debth:

  1. My reading of history convinces me that most bad governments result from too much government.
    This sounds simple and true on the surface but as we’ve discussed in a previous post, we need to know the right size of a government and not just strive for smaller and smaller government. Only the rich, greedy, and unethical benefit from too small a government. Worse, still, this is the dog-whistle call to the unthinking tea baggers who chant all government is bad. Believe me, Jefferson didn’t think “We The People” was bad or too big.
  2. I predict future happiness for Americans if they prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
    This is a misquote and in the context means something quite different than is implied in the context of the Scheels’ ad. Here is the real quote:

    As men become better informed, their rulers must respect them the more. I think you will be sensible that our citizens are fast returning, from the panic into which they were artfully thrown to the dictates of their own reason; and I believe the delusions they have seen themselves hurried into will be useful as a lesson under similar attempts on them in future. The good effects of our late fiscal arrangements will certainly tend to unite them in opinion, and in a confidence as to the views of their public functionaries, legislative & executive. The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing scarcely to propose to our Legislature. A noiseless course, not meddling with the affairs of others, unattractive of notice, is a mark that society is going on in happiness. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.

    You can read the entire text of the letter. As you can see here, Jefferson is talking about the country’s citizens becoming smarter and not feeling they need the government to make decision on their behalf. And, yes, we are happier when we don’t rely on the government to make our decisions, hence, “taking care of us”. This has nothing to do with taking care of our poor and mis fortunate. It has nothing to do with “We The People” uniting to fix the broken health care system.

  3. The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
    Sorry folks. This is just a lie. Jefferson never said any such thing.
  4. It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle if acted on would save on-half the wars of the world.
    Wonderful statement. Too bad republicans didn’t complain when the republicans were building up this debt, but only now find it appropriate to complain about it. Those who complain about the debt when the democrats are in power but are silent when the republicans are building up the debt are not just fools but are harmful to America.
  5. To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
    This is a misquote as well. The real text says:
  6. That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.

    This is a quote from his rant on freedom from religion. This quote has nothing to do with taxes. In fact, the idea of taxes to pay for what the majority votes is the founding principle of a democracy. To refuse to be part of a system because you can claim you don’t agree with how part if of it works is foolishness. If that were the case, no one would pay taxes and America would cease to exist. Not too bright, but it plays straight into the hands of the rich who don’t want to pay their fair share.

  7. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    This is one of the most over-quoted and deceptive quotes one hears from Jefferson. Jefferson was not condoning violent revolution as a way to fix problems in a democracy. In fact, later in life wrote to say that a democracy does not need such forms of correction since we have elections. There is a good comment on this at Huffington Post.
  8. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
    As sad as this comment is, we have become much more corrupt than Europe. Few nations have allowed corporations to take control of their governments. Big business has corrupted our country. Still, I agree. It’s time to reverse our over-population problem.

In conclusion, many these comments are wrong, fabrications, and mis conceptions. Why would a major corporation like Scheels feel the need to publish such a biased advertisement?