"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. "
-- Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States 1791
"Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do."
-- Pope Pius XI (1857 - 1939)
"If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist."
-- Bernie Sanders, United States Senator (1941 - )
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
-- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) German-American Nobel Laureate Physicist
-- The Principles of the Free Market
Lord Acton once said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Acton Institute, created in his honor, today reports: "This tenet [subsidiarity] holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State." Some believe the principle of subsidiarity should be applied generally as a good business practice, not just as a principle to be applied only to government.
The principle of subsidiarity was alluded to by Aristotle. In Politics Book I he enumerated various responsibilities for the family, household, village and the city-state. Raising children was deemed the responsibility of families, not of villages, at least in Aristotle's time. Thomas Aquinas expounded on the writings of Aristotle in the 12th century and formed the foundations for the principle of subsidiarity as advocated today by the Catholic church.