As I have often pondered on the world stature, which the United States achieved in its relatively brief existence, I have sought to understand the causes that propelled it. My quest has led me to study the foundations of our republic, the people who founded it and the principles and people who inspired them.
I have read John Locke, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, De Tocqueville, Jefferson and Washington, the United States Constitution and its precursors: the Articles of Confederation, the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the Virginia Bill of Rights, the Albany Plan of Union, the Hartford Constitution, the Mayflower Compact, the Magna Carta, the Holy Bible, the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, the transcripts of the Constitutional Convention, etc, etc.
I have even studied the Constitution of the Confederate States of America and some of the pre- and post-Reconstruction constitutions of other individual states.
What has stood out in high relief in all this are the central core truths espoused in these documents and the writings of their authors. It all boils down to an unshakable belief that “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
It is axiomatic that America’s fortunes have waxed and waned as we as a nation have adhered to or strayed from the founding principles that propel us to greatness. So too Farragut’s founders got it right in setting up our little town on principles of sound finances, small, lean, unobtrusive government with very limited responsibilities.
Traveling as a representative of Farragut to other cities for the Congress of Cities I have been struck by our happy situation. On my last such trip I struck up a conversation with a councilwoman from a town about our size in Ohio who explained to me that they had an annual budget of around $54,000,000! I know also that the property taxes alone on a modest home in many such cities are greater than the gross annual wages of many full-time workers. Yet somehow Farragut has become consistently rated one of the most livable cities in the U.S. on an annual budget less than 1/5 of that amount.
How do we do that? For starters I believe that the people of Farragut recognize that government is typically a bad bargain and therefore the less the better. We have no Sanitation Department, no Fire Department, no Police Department, no Transit Department, no Water and Sewer or Electric Department. And yet somehow our garbage gets picked up, our fires are put out, our crime rate is low and the water, sewer and lights all work.
While other cities decline as they succumb to the siren song of socialist principles of bigger government and less individual responsibility, Farragut has stuck to the sound principles of its founding and continues to augment a superb quality of life.
It is a beacon of light to other cities in our great land. While we are not perfect, may we ever recognize the source of our enviable position and continue to confidently uphold those core principles at the County, State and National levels as well.