Partial Report of Hearing on Johnston Sunday Bill, S. 404


What Is the Equivalent?

But now for the sake of the argument of those who favor this, I am going to accept, for the moment, their plea that it is altogether economic, nothing religious about it, and they do not intend anything religious about it, and see where we are forced, not only by the principle, but by their own advocacy; and this shall be by their own words. RJSB 15.1

Upon Anglo-Saxon principles of government, and unquestionably the perfect governmental principle of justice, no citizen can be required to surrender the personal exercise of any of his natural rights without an equivalent. By this principle in this government of the people, even in the case of war, when “the people” would be fighting in plain self-defense, no man is ever required to leave his home and his personal affairs of natural right without receiving a defi- nite and regular recompense. By this principle under the exercise of the governmental right of eminent domain, the state can not take the property of any citizen without the recompense of a fair valuation. RJSB 15.2

By this bill it is proposed that through enforced rest the government shall deprive each citizen of one seventh of his time and effort. The right to acquire and to enjoy property, in itself, includes the right to the means and to the use of the means to acquire property. Time and effort, therefore, are property. By this bill, and with no other process of law, the government through enforced rest one whole day in seven, deprives each citizen of one seventh of his time and effort. and thus, in effect, of one seventh of his property. RJSB 16.1

And what is the equivalent?—just nothing at all—or worse. For a day of enforced rest is nothing but a day of enforced idleness. What this law will do, therefore, is by governmental force to deprive every citizen for one whole day in each week, of his natural right of honest occupation; and the only shadow of equivalent given in return for this is the consequent enforced idleness. RJSB 16.2

But idleness is no equivalent at all for the time and effort of honest occupation. General idleness voluntary, is only mischievous; general idleness enforced, is far worse. Industry, industry, honest occupation, not idleness, is the life of the state. And to put upon idleness the enormous premium of making honest industry a crime to be punished by fine and imprisonment, is nothing less than governmentally suicidal. RJSB 16.3