Founding Principles

North Carolina is blessed with great beauty, a congenial climate, and rich traditions. One such tradition is a commitment to honesty over pretense and a stubborn insistence on what is right instead of what is popular or expedient.

In the 1700s, North Carolina was called a “vale of humility between two mountains of conceit.” It often charted its own course. North Carolina patriots were the first in America to call for independence. The state refused to ratify the U.S. Constitution without a Bill of Rights. And its state motto, Esse Quam Videri, translates as “To Be Rather Than To Seem.” Honoring this tradition, a group of North Carolinians in 1990 created the John Locke Foundation as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.”

To some people, the term “think tank” conjures up images of eggheads floating around in a daze, oblivious to the world around them. In reality, the John Locke Foundation has long been a bustling hub of activity — publishing studies and periodicals, hosting events, and making media and public appearances to promote innovative solutions to the problems North Carolinians worry about most:

  • Government corruption and wasteful spending.
  • Providing a sound, basic education to every child.
  • Crushing tax burdens on families and businesses.
  • Crime and the demise of safe, civil communities.
  • The costly, immoral, and destructive welfare state.
  • Oppressive rules and regulations on business.
  • Traffic congestion and transportation safety.
  • Lack of economic opportunities for all citizens.
  • A decline of individual freedom and self-reliance.

To address these and other challenging issues, the John Locke Foundation believes that our society must return to our founding principles:

We are a land of liberty where natural rights of individuals precede and supersede the power of the state.

We are a constitutional republic in which government power is limited and employed for the purpose of providing legitimate public goods rather than for the benefit of insiders and narrow interest groups.

We are a free market in which persons, individually or collectively, have the natural right to sell goods and services to willing buyers, and in which the individual pursuit of economic opportunity benefits all.

And we are a free society where citizens solve social problems not only through government but also by working together in families, neighborhoods, churches, charities, and other private, voluntary organizations.

 

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