Limited Government

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution specifically lists or enumerates the powers of the federal government (specifically given to the Congress, who writes the laws). They include a military, federal courts, etc.  States are sovereign entities and that list of items were the only powers they ceded to the new federal government under the Constitution.  The word federal comes from the Latin foedus which refers to covenant, league, treaty, or alliance.  The 10th Amendment clearly says that unless a function is specifically listed in the Constitution, it is left to the states or the people.    There is competition among the states for the best ideas. On any given topic, some states would perform well, some would pass imprudent laws, and some would stay out of it completely (the best!). But there was competition, and competition breeds excellence. Yes, you would have a couple bad apples, but these would soon reform under the pressure of that competition. It is far better than focusing all of the power in Washington and having one huge rotten apple. The top-down, centralized government model is a failure, just like it was in the former Soviet Union.

Sadly, the 10th Amendment has been brushed aside. The federal government has slowly over the years become involved in education, finance, retirement savings, crime control, transportation, health care, manufacturing, banking, tanning, pollution, housing, art, energy, communication, safety, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, agriculture, food, drugs, nutrition, technology, employment.; the list goes on and on (and on). In fact it is difficult to name one aspect of our lives the tentacles of the national bureaucracy do not now reach. Because government possesses the unique characteristic of the “Reverse Midas Touch”, most of that intervention has resulted in making things worse and/or creating new unforeseen negative side effects.

So what happened? On one hand we have a well written Constitution that wisely limits the powers of the federal government, and here in reality we have the exact opposite. The erosion has mainly been predicated on 1) the power of the Congress to regulate interstate commerce, which was given to the Congress so that one state could not impose taxes on another state, and 2) the “general welfare clause”.  Using the latter was a dirty, underhanded trick, employing contorted logic to open the floodgates and say, “Anything goes.”  We reject Supreme Court rulings that have upheld this baloney and believe they should be overturned.

Even if someone could find a topic and make a convincing argument that it should involve the national government, the onus is still on them to amend the Constitution. The founders supplied that function to us for a reason. Over the past hundred years, supporters of big government knew they could not muster the political strength necessary to get their agenda through the amendment process, so they found another way. They appointed and approved justices to the courts who would simply distort the interpretation of the Constitution in their favor. We’ve all heard, “The Constitution is a living document”. Well, that is pure nonsense. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are written in plain English; we know exactly what the founders meant. It is unacceptable that we have allowed big government proponents to take the easy way out, bypassing the legitimate hurdles of the amendment process, and simply purport the Constitution means something other than what it clearly says.