This morning while waiting in line, a news network reminded its viewers of the March 4, 1933 inaugural address of Franklin D. Roosevelt. To hear the reverence in the voices of those on the air, one would think any history worth remembering began with that infamously famous Presider over Depression, New Deal and World War. The thirty-six March 4th inaugurations before that time — 144 years of history — simply aren’t worth mentioning. One of those neglected thirty-six deserves mention here. In fact, it deserves our attention and study. It was March 4, 1925, the occasion of President Coolidge’s first formal inauguration after a resounding electoral victory in his own right the previous November. It is on this day, eighty-eight years ago, that he declared,
If extravagance were not reflected in taxation, and through taxation both directly and indirectly injuriously affecting the people, it would not be of so much consequence. The wisest and soundest method of solving our tax problem is through economy. Fortunately, of all the great nations this country is best in a position to adopt that simple remedy. We do not any longer need war-time revenues. The collection of any taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. Under this Republic the rewards of industry belong to those who earn them. The only constitutional tax is the tax which ministers to public necessity. The property of the country belongs to the people of the country. Their title is absolute. They do not support any privileged class; they do not need to maintain great military forces; they ought not to be burdened with a great array of public employees. They are not required to make any contribution to Government expenditures except that which they voluntarily assess upon themselves through the action of their representatives. Whenever taxes become burdensome a remedy can be applied by the people; but if they do not act for themselves, no one can be very successful in acting for them.
Those are words worth remembering today. When self-government is responsibly exercised in this way, we have no reason to fear for the continuance of liberty under law.