The China Syndrome – Part I

No, I’m not referring to the movie from 1979, but the theme of the movie about the coverup of a nuclear meltdown at a nuclear power plant is much like the real China coverup over the COVID-19 plague that is causing such catastrophic damage to the entire world.  You have undoubtably heard that more and more evidence is coming to light that the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, and that the communist government of China deliberately hid critical information about it from the rest of the world.  As a result, there are cries from those in Congress and many among our citizenry for the US to take retaliatory action against China and understandably so.  There are several proposals as to what the US should do, and although I would like to see these actions taken, we need to hit the “pause” button and carefully and soberly consider their ramifications and not take actions in a “knee-jerk” fashion and later suffer damaging unintended consequences (which often happens with such hasty government actions, e.g., the invasion of Iraq).

Perhaps, in my humble opinion, the most dangerous action being floated by several is the cancellation of the US debt held by China.  At first, I also promoted this idea as China has inflicted trillions of dollars of damage on our economy and the lives of millions and millions of our citizens.  It made perfect sense as the estimated value of the damaged caused by China’s deliberate actions is far greater than the amount of our debt they hold.  Consider, however, these untended consequences that are far-reaching in scope both in time and outside of China:

  • The US has never – never – defaulted on its debt; it has always been considered a “safe haven” for investors around the world looking for someplace to “park” their money when threatening economic times come. If we default on paying our debt to China to retaliate against actions we consider egregious to our welfare, then other individuals and especially foreign governments and companies may hesitate to loan us money and prop up our proliferate spending as they may fear we could default on their loans if they ever got cross-ways with the US.  Without other nations willing to buy our debt, then we would have economic devastation.
  • Without this debt purchasing by others, with our bloated deficits, inflation would soar to levels unimaginable (think the Weimer Republic in pre-Nazi Germany). This would be further exacerbated if the leading world economies pushed even harder to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency (such as what BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India, China – have been pushing for some time now).
  • With such weakened currency, our entire economy with all of our “safety net” programs that so many of us depend on would implode and the human misery would be catastrophic. With this would come total societal anarchy.

Now you may think after a two-year hiatus from writing my essays I’ve gone completely bonkers, but the laws of economics and geo-political high-level finances are as certain as any other laws of science.  The only good thing that could come of such a scenario as I’ve warned about above would be it would sure stop a lot of the unconstitutional spending that has been going on by the federal government for well over a century; problem is, it would probably be too late to stave off the destruction that would come about.

So, do we just give China a pass on their duplicity?  Is the communist government of China going to be allowed to skate by on their actions?  Hardly; there are things that could be done, but I’ll discuss them in a subsequent essay – hopefully sooner than two years from now!

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The Real Problem with Our Government

We hear today a litany of things cited as the problems with the federal government that need to be addressed, and most – if not all – are problems that need to be corrected.  But, what is the real, basic, fundamental, underlying problem with our government?

Most Constitutionalists like myself would most likely argue that the underlying problem with the federal government is that it has become unshackled (to use Thomas Jefferson’s phrase) from the Constitution, and there is much truth to that argument.  Indeed, much, if not all, of our woes vis-à-vis the national government can be traced back to its exceeding its limited powers under the Constitution.

Others might point to how the judiciary has unconstitutionally increased its powers to the point where one judge can issue a ruling that holds the remaining 300+ million Americans hostage, destroying the concept of limited, representative government.  Again, there is something to be said for this argument

We could also point to the so-called “deep state” that is in so much of the news lately – those un-elected and unaccountable bureaucracies that operate contrary to the Constitution, the rule of law and the will of the people.

Then there’s the issue of professional, career politicians who are more interested in maintaining their hold on power than they are in doing what is best for the country, or in using their positions to enrich themselves (I highly encourage you to read Peter Schweizer’s book, Secret Empires – How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends).

All of these (and more) are legitimate faults that could claim the title of this essay, but I would sumit that none of them are the Real problem with our national government.

The Real problem was highlighted in a recent primary election in Georgia where a woman named Sandra Bullock (her real name, and no, not the actress by the same name) won the election.  The problem is, she put her name on the ballot as a lark – she ran no advertisements, didn’t knock on a single door, sent out no mailers, etc., such as is done in a legitimate campaign.  Yet, despite this lack of effort, she won the election solely because her name was the same as a Hollywood celebrity!  This tells us that the voters in that district had absolutely zero knowledge of who they were voting for – they voted blindly and ignorantly!

Sadly, this voting disease of ignorance is more widespread at all levels of government.  Consider the low voter turnout in many elections, and we wonder why those who are elected to office stay so long in office!  As the old adage goes, “we get the government we deserve.”  The Real problem with all of our governments is “We the People” and our lack of engagement in the political process.  Or, as that sage Pogo has said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

-June 15, 2018

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Check and Balance or Checkmate? – Part II

One obscure judge can issue a ruling that denies a President his duly authorized constitutional obligation to “faithfully” execute the laws passed by Congress in regards to illegal immigration.  One judge on the Supreme Court can re-define a term in a statute contrary to what its authors said it was and thereby foist upon the entire nation the catastrophe laughably known as the Affordable Care Act.  On, and on and on it goes, yet without any restraint being exercised by the Congress as a check against the overreach of judicial authority.  As pointed out in the previous essay (Check and Balance or Checkmate? – Part I) Congress has both the authority and the responsibility to impeach judges who refuse to abide within the Constitutional confines of their office, but they have seldom done so and even our founders such as Thomas Jefferson scoffed at impeachment as a reliable check against judicial overreach.

Robert Yates, a judge from New York and a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, became so upset with the deliberations of the other delegates that he left before the draft of the Constitution was completed and became an ardent opponent to the ratification of the Constitution.  Writing under the pseudonym “Brutus”, he authored one scathing essay after another on how abusive the judicial branch of the new government would become if the Constitution was ratified.  Herewith are just a few (and he wrote many more along the same line) of his warnings:

“They” [i.e., justices of the Supreme Court] “will give the sense of every article of the constitution, that may from time to time come before them.  And in their decisions they will not confine themselves to any fixed or established rules, but will determine, according to what appears to them, the reason and spirit of the constitution.  The opinions of the supreme court, whatever they may be, will have the force of law; because there is no power provided in the constitution, that can correct their errors, or control their adjudications.  From this court there is no appeal….

From these considerations the judges will be interested to extend the powers of the courts, and to construe the constitution as much as possible, in such a way as to favour it; and that they will do it, appears probable….

When the courts will have a precedent before them of a court which extended its jurisdiction in opposition to an act of the legislature, is it not to be expected that they will extend theirs, especially when there is nothing in the constitution expressly against it?  And they are authorized to construe its meaning, and are not under any control?

This power in the judicial, will enable them to mould the government, into almost any shape they please.”  (January 31, 1788)

I ask you – if I had not identified who authored these words and when, would you not have thought they were written by someone today for this is exactly what the judicial branch has done over and over again?  Truly, Yates – “Brutus” – was prophetic.  So, if impeachment is a “paper tiger” vis-à-vis judicial overreach, what can be done when such overreach occurs?  This will be our next matter to address.

-April 24, 2018

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Check and Balance or Checkmate? – Part I

Our system of constitutional government boasts having a division of power among the three areas of governmental power (i.e., legislative, executive and judicial) and infusing them with power in such a way as to cause them to serve as a check against each other from increasing its power at the expense of the freedom and liberties of the citizens, thus creating a “balance of power.”

It is easy to see how the first two segments of our government serve to check the power of the other.  The Executive (President) checks the power of the legislature primarily through the means of the veto.  The Legislature (Congress) can override the veto by the high bar of 2/3 vote of both houses, and they also have the power of impeachment of members of the executive branch.

Yet it must be asked, “How and who places a check against the power of the Judiciary?”  It is argued that the control is from both of the other branches, namely, judges must be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.  However, once appointed to the federal bench, then what?  The answer, according to Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 81 is impeachment:

“This is alone a complete security.  There never can be danger that the judges, by a series of deliberate usurpations on the authority of the legislature, would hazard the united resentment of the body intrusted with it, while this body was possessed of the means of punishing their presumption by degrading them from their stations.”

It was for this reason that in The Federalist No 78 he had proclaimed that the judiciary was the weakest of the three branches of the federal government.  Oh how wrong Mr. Hamilton was!  Our Republic was not even fifty years old when Thomas Jefferson made this observation regarding the judiciary in his letter to Thomas Ritchie on December 25, 1820:

“But it is not from this branch of government [i.e., the legislature] we have most to fear.  Taxes and short elections will keep them right.  The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.  They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.  This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, ‘boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem’ (i.e., ‘good justice is broad jurisdiction’, which means the duty of a good judge is to enlarge the jurisdiction of his court);….Having found, from experience, that impeachment is an impracticable thing, a mere scare-crow, they consider themselves secure for life;….A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.”

 So, who was right – Jefferson, or his arch-nemesis, Hamilton?  What did those who saw a danger in Article III of the Constitution when it was drafted, have to say on this topic, and what remedy can be had, if impeachment is, as Jefferson stated and has been proven to be true over the centuries, “a mere scare-crow” and “an impracticable thing” when it came to reining in a runaway judiciary?  I’ll address this in the next essay as we examine this very real threat to our liberties by an unaccountable judiciary.

-April 13, 2018

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AR-15s and the Second Amendment

There is a clamor among some today that the so-called “assault rifle” known as the AR-15 should be outlawed from private ownership as it is a “military-style” weapon and is not protected under the second amendment.  Is this argument constitutional?

To begin with, the AR-15 is a single-shot rifle and is not a “military-style” weapon simply because cosmetically it resembles our military’s M-16 or fully automatic AK-47.  But, that’s not the issue, constitutionally speaking.

To answer this question requires an understanding as to why the second amendment was added.  Today’s anti-AR-15 gun-grabbers have absolutely no knowledge of the history of the second amendment or of the reason for which it was added.

Although having the right to be armed for self-protection was a consideration by the founders, a greater reason was for the protection of liberty from the rise of tyranny within the central government.  Consider the words of two of our greatest founding fathers – James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, wrote that “[Tyranny cannot be safe] without a standing army,…and a disarmed populace.”   Jefferson concurred in a letter to Madison:  “The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

 The reason then, for the second amendment, is primarily to serve as a deterrent against the rise of tyranny within the federal government.  Clearly, an AR-15 is not on the same level as an M-16 as a deterrent, but it is a sure better one than a bolt-action hunting rifle.  As for the retort that such a position as this would allow for citizens to own bazookas, 50 caliber machine guns, flame throwers, etc., it is simply a reductio ad absurdum  in an attempt to avoid giving a sound argument against the reason intended by our founders, namely, that we, as free citizens, have sufficient means to deter our government from usurping our liberties.

“Those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it” – so goes the old adage.  Read the history of just the past century – Nazi Germany, Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin, China under Mao zedung, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia’s “killing fields”, and many other murderous tyrannies, and you will find they all had one thing in common:  they disarmed the populace as quickly and completely as possible.

After the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, leftist Governor Cuomo of New York proclaimed “No one hunts with an assault rifle; no one needs ten bullets to kill a deer.”  He’s right – no one does; but we do if we wish to deter anyone or group bent on using force to take away our unalienable rights and their attending liberties.

As Ayn Rand opined, “A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights:  it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.”  This is right on the mark as such was precisely the thinking of the founders behind the amendment.

-March 16, 2018

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DACA – “The fathers eat sour grapes…

And the children’s teeth are set on edge.”  So went a proverb among the ancient Israelites who had been deported from their homeland of Judah to Babylon.  Their lament was that God was punishing them for the sins of their fathers, but God replied “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel” (Ezekiel 18:2-3).  However, God did not specify when they would no longer have reason to quote that proverb.

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, carried out three deportations of the Israelites in the kingdom of Judah, and at the time of Ezekiel the first two had taken place – the third and final one was yet to come when the Babylonians utterly destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 587 BC.  Obviously, the teeth of those in captivity were to continue to be set on edge for a while longer.  It was necessary for them to be deported because of their having broken God’s law, but in time, they would be restored to their home and this proverb would no longer be used.

So what has this to do with DACA?  We hear the same proverb used as justification for granting these individuals – also referred to as “Dreamers” – legal status and ultimately citizenship.  It wasn’t their fault; their parents brought them here, so why should they be punished with deportation?  It is very unfortunate, but sometimes in order to stress the value of something it must be taken away for a time just as God had to do with the Israelites.

We are a nation of laws.  The law – as Thomas Paine put it – is king in America.  Why should anyone here in our country illegally, regardless of how they got here, have any respect or adherence to any of our laws if they broke the very law governing entrance into our country?  The answer is there is no reason to and many times they do not.

If we want to stop people of other nations from coming into our country illegally, then one sure way is to deport those already here illegally regardless of the circumstances of their arrival.  This would send a clear message that others should not waste their time trying to cross our borders as they will not be given any opportunity to stay, but instead will be sent back to their country of origin immediately.

The United States is a sovereign country, founded on the principle of adherence to law and the expectation that those who are in the United States are here because they followed our law for admittance.  Does this mean I think our laws regarding immigration are perfect?  No, there are changes that need to be made, but without the enforcement of our existing laws we become a lawless society, for why should any of us obey any other law if those who have no stake in our society refuse to obey from their very first act of coming onto our soil?  If the “Dreamers” want someone to blame for their “teeth being set on edge”, they need look no farther than their parents, not the citizens nor government of the United States.

-February 26, 2018

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America – Your Republic Lies in Ruins!

In Federalist 51, James Madison stated “Justice is the end [i.e., goal or purpose] of government.  It is the end of civil society.  It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.”  As we see the abuse of power wielded by the FBI, the Department of Justice, and perhaps others in the Obama administration over the fourth amendment rights of those involved in the Trump presidential campaign, we must demand that justice against those who mishandled their public trust be brought to justice, else, as Madison warns, liberty for all of us will be lost.

However, in trying to bring justice back to being the foundation of our government and our society, we must look deeper into how it was that justice came to be lost.  Baron Charles de Montesquieu began the opening of Part I, Book 8 in his monumental work, The Spirit of the Laws (published 1748), with these words:  “The corruption of each government almost always begins with that of its principles.” 

This then leads us to ask what principles within our government have been corrupted that led to its current state of corruption?  To answer this question we must return to the principle that motivated our founders to take that step for freedom and independence, namely that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  The import of this phrase is that all men are therefore to be treated equally, which is the essence of the concept of justice.

How then is justice for all to be achieved (as we say in the closing of our pledge of allegiance)?  This question was answered by Frederic Bastiat in his treatise The Law in 1850.  He posits the question repeatedly “What is the law?”, to which he consistently gave a one word answer:  “justice.”  Putting this all together we have the principle that justice can exist only when all men are treated as they were created, namely, equal under the law.  When those of a supposed “higher class” are given a pass for violations of law that others would suffer severe punishment, then the principle of justice has died and along with it the principle of a representative government.

Returning to Montesquieu, he went on to give this analysis of how to reverse this situation when it occurs within a republic:  “When a republic has been corrupted, none of the ills that arise can be remedied except by removing the corruption and recalling the principles; every other correction is either useless or a new ill” (Part I, Book 8, chapter 12).

How then are we to remove this corruption and return to our principle of justice?  To answer this question we must look at who has brought about this corruption.  In chapter 5 Montesquieu gave the answer:  “Aristocracy is corrupted when the power of the nobles becomes arbitrary; there can no longer be virtue either in those who govern or in those who are governed.”  Indeed, do not most of those in Congress, and especially in the higher levels of bureaucratic power, act aristocratically as though they are nobility?  This is what happens when those who are given the reins of power refuse to relent them to others and remain in office year after year.  Montesquieu continued, “Extreme corruption occurs when nobility becomes hereditary; the nobles can scarcely remain moderate.”  We claim that we do not have nobles and hereditary claims to the right of power and position, but when incumbency is the rule rather than the exception, and those serving in departments of the government make a career of it, then most certainly we do have a class of “nobility” that has become for all intents and purposes “hereditary”, and as a result, extreme corruption sets in.  Once this occurs Montesquieu states that “Corruption will increase among those who corrupt, and it will increase among those who are already corrupted.”

 If ever there was a time, then, to “drain the swamp” that has become our national government, it is now.  We as voters can do our part by voting our “nobles” and “aristocrats” out of their positions of power and encouraging their replacements to alter the laws so that those in these myriads of unconstitutional bureaucracies can be removed as well and their power over us be diminished.  The ruins of our republic can be rebuilt and rise like a phoenix out of the ashes, but the time is getting very, very short.

-February 9, 2018

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The Preamble VIII – “secure the blessings of liberty”

Of all the great quotes of our founding fathers, my favorite comes from Patrick Henry’s speech on June 5, 1788 during the debates in the Virginia Constitutional Ratification Convention.  In his speech he made the following comments:

“…for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government…Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings – give us that precious jewel, and you may take everything else…Guard with jealous attention the public liberty.  Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.”

 Indeed liberty, the second of our unalienable rights immediately after that of life, is the greatest of all earthly blessings for without it individuals cannot have much of a life; they cannot pursue happiness or realize their dreams or potential.  So it is, then, that individuals form governments to achieve order and protection of their rights within their societies.  Liberty, then, ought to be the starting and ending point of government.

Yet how was government to achieve this goal of securing the blessings of liberty for Americans in 1787 and for us today, their posterity?  The answer is in the clause that follows – “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  Our Constitution was designed to achieve precisely what Patrick Henry stated was the purpose of government.  Interestingly, though, when he gave that speech, he was speaking against the ratification of the Constitution as he feared it gave too much power to the central government and thus posed a direct threat to that precious jewel of liberty.

Yet how, exactly, is the Constitution to accomplish this goal?  The answer lies in the clauses that precede this one – by establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare.  When our national government limits itself to the specifics of these broad goals as developed in the articles and sections of the Constitution that follow the Preamble, it realizes this lofty goal envisioned by Patrick Henry; when it exceeds its limited, enumerated powers as delineated in the body of the Constitution, it not only threatens our liberty, it chips away at it.

I can think of no better way to wrap up this series on the Preamble than to reiterate those eloquent words above:

“…for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government…Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings – give us that precious jewel, and you may take everything else…Guard with jealous attention the public liberty.  Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.”

 As the election season approaches, may we all go into the voting booth with an eye of jealous attention and suspicion towards those in whom we are trusting to guard our liberties.

-January 26, 2018

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The Preamble VII – “provide for the general welfare” (Part II)

As I commented last week (The Preamble VII – “provice for the general welfare” (Part I)), the phrase “provide for the general welfare” has wrecked more havoc upon our country and put more of our liberties and freedom in jeopardy than perhaps any other clause in the Constitution (other than perhaps the “necessary and proper” clause).  As I shared then, those who opposed the ratification of the Constitution back in 1787-1788 argued that this clause would be ripe for abuse by future politicians to put in place anything and everything they deemed to be good for “the general welfare,” and that is exactly what has happened.

So how do we convince members of Congress today that they are way out of their constitutional bounds with much, if not indeed most, of what they have done in inserting the government into our lives?  The answer does not come from some lowly constitutional blogger such as myself – us “mere citizens” have no standing in the eyes of these scoffers at constitutional restraints.  No, I have a better witness to rebut them – James Madison, commonly referred to as “the father of the Constitution.”

As one of the three authors of The Federalist Papers, he countered the arguments of the Anti-Federalists regarding their alarms over this phrase in essay number 41.  In addressing the use of this phrase in the opening of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which contains the “enumerated powers” of Congress, he clearly defined the role of the phrase:

“But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars.”

In other words, Madison is stating that the particular, itemized powers that follow in Section 8 of Article I are meant to define, clarify and limit the extent of the general phrase “to provide for the general welfare.”  So when the question is posited as to what and how is the general welfare to be provided for via the general government, the answer is to read the list of limited powers that follow that were granted to the Congress.  Anything therefore outside of that list that Congress involves itself in is instead of providing for the general welfare is destroying the general welfare.  When excessive debt is accumulated to fund the myriad programs that are outside the purview of Congress’ authority, when programs rob individuals of their sense of personal responsibility and steal the personal property (of any kind) of citizens, that is not promoting the general welfare of the country but rather destroying that which made the early Americans unique, special and prosperous at its founding.

So then, just as we learned in our high school English classes in regards to writing a composition, you begin with a thematic statement that is broad and general that paints the full picture of what the paper is to be about, and then the rest of the following paragraphs develop, define and specify what is intended by that thematic statement.  Such then is the meaning, and proper use and application of the phrase “provide for the general welfare.” Or as James Madison might say – “General Welfare does not mean ‘Anything you want!’”

-January 19, 2018

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The Preamble VII – “provide for the general welfare” (Part I)

Perhaps no more abused clause in all of the Constitution is this one regarding the “general welfare.”  It has been the excuse for the national government to get involved in forcing citizens to save for retirement via the social security tax, to health care, to you name it.  The clause is repeated in the opening of Article I, Section 8, which is important as I shall point out in Part II on this topic.  Interestingly, when the southern states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America, their constitution mirrored the US Constitution in many ways, but glaringly omitted any reference to providing for the “general welfare.”

To ascertain the meaning of this clause I will spend this and the next (or possibly two) essay(s) taking a look at how the founders viewed this clause and how they explained it’s meaning.   As I have pointed out in the beginning of this series on the Preamble, merely including this clause in it does not give any authority to Congress to do as they please in matters they determine to be for the “general welfare” as a preamble in not part of the Constitution as far as granting authority, but merely an introduction as to the purpose for those things enumerated within the Constitution.

This general welfare clause and the fear of its potential for abuse was one of the reasons those known as the “Anti-Federalists” opposed the ratification of the Constitution.  The first witness I set before you is the author known by the pseudonym “Centinel”, who wrote the following on October 5, 1787:

“The Congress may construe every purpose for which the state legislatures now lay taxes, to be for the general welfare, and thereby seize upon every object of revenue.”

Consider our situation today – how much of our income does Congress “seize upon” in taxes to provide for all of the programs it deems to be for the “general welfare” yet not authorized in the Constitution?  Does not Centinel’s warning ring true?

The next witness to warn about this phrase was the outstanding Anti-Federalist known by the pseudonym “Brutus.”  He had much to say about the potential for abuse of all three branches of government, and he has pretty much proved to be a prophet with unerring accuracy.  Herewith is some of what he had to say about this clause in his essay number VI, written on December 27, 1787:

“It will then be matter of opinion, what tends to the general welfare; and the Congress will be the only judges in the matter. To provide for the general welfare, is an abstract proposition, which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do on any political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most opposite measures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess, that they have in view the general welfare; and both sides may be honest in their professions, or both may have sinister views…

It is as absurd to say, that the power of Congress is limited by these general expressions, “to provide for the common safety, and general welfare,” as it would be to say, that it would be limited, had the constitution said they should have power to lay taxes, etc. at will and pleasure. Were this authority given, it might be said, that under it the legislature could not do injustice, or pursue any measures, but such as were calculated to promote the public good, and happiness. For every man, rulers as well as others, are bound by the immutable laws of God and reason, always to will what is right. It is certainly right and fit, that the governors of every people should provide for the common defence and general welfare; every government, therefore, in the world, even the greatest despot, is limited in the exercise of his power. But however just this reasoning may be, it would be found, in practice, a most pitiful restriction. The government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves.”

 It is very apparent, is it not, that the fears of these two founders regarding the abuse of this clause by those who were to come after them to justify the expansion of the power of government and the diminishment of individual liberties has indeed come to fruition?  So, what was the response by those who argued in favor of the adoption of the Constitution?  We will examine James Madison’ response in the next essay.

-January 12, 2018

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