Sunday, March 11, 2012

What are the limits on what the central government may do?

I estimate that approximately 90-95% of what the central government does is unconstitutional. Well-intended, perhaps, but unconstitutional nonetheless.

Depending on how one counts the different central government roles as given in the Constitution, there are less than three dozen functions the central government should be doing. Here is my list:
1 - Lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises...but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States (Article I, Section 8);
2 - Pay the [national] Debts (Article I, Section 8);
3 - Provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States (Article I, Section 8);
4 - Borrow money on the credit of the United States (Article I, Section 8);
5 - Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes (Article I, Section 8);
6 - Establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization (Article I, Section 8);
7 - Establish uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States (Article I, Section 8);
8 - Coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin (Article I, Section 8);
9 - Fix the Standard of Weights and Measures (Article I, Section 8);
10 - Provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States (Article I, Section 8);
11 - Establish Post Offices and Post Roads (Article I, Section 8);
12 - Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries (Article I, Section 8);
13 - Constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court (Article I, Section 8);
14 - Define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations (Article I, Section 8);
15 - Declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water (Article I, Section 8);
16 - Raise and support Armies (Article I, Section 8);
17 - Provide and maintain a Navy (Article I, Section 8);
18 - Make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces (Article I, Section 8);
19 - Provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions (Article I, Section 8);
20 - Provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia (Article I, Section 8);
21 - Exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over [the District of Columbia] (Article I, Section 8);
22 - Exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings (Article I, Section 8);
23 - Make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof (Article I, Section 8);
24 - Guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government (Article IV, Section 4);
25 - Protect each of them [the States] against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence (Article IV, Section 4);
26 - Enforce the prohibition of slavery (Amendment 13);
27 - Enforce 14th-Amendment citizenship rights (Amendment 14);
28 - Enforce the right of citizens of the United States to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude (Amendment 15);
29 - Lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration (Amendment 16);
30 - Enforce the right to vote regardless of sex (Amendment 19);
31 - Enforce the to vote regardless of any tax liability (Amendment 24);
32 - Enforce the right of persons older than 18 to vote (Amendment 26).
Amendment 10 clearly prohibits the central government from doing anything else. Any role or authority not specifically granted to the central government must done only by the States or by the People themselves.

So, how's that going? Do you see your favorite government programs in that limited list of central-government roles? No?
Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again? — Harry Browne
Just over one hundred years ago, when the central government was much more inline with its constitutional roles and limits, the central government only spent about 3-5 percent of what Americans produced. There was no personal tax of any kind imposed by the central government. No personal tax was necessary -- people got to keep everything they earned!

It was during those years up to about 1913 that the United States saw the greatest rate of growth in prosperity. Until the central government began imposing all its "social" programs, poverty was declining. With the advent of government attempts to help the poor, poverty stopped declining. (Amendments 16 and 17 and the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 were major factors in the rapid rise of the central government.)

Because we have allowed (and asked) the central accumulate unto itself unconstitutional powers, government now spends 46 percent of what we Americans produce! Forty percent of federal spending is funded by debt! And that debt-funded spending is growing exponentially! At our current rate of government growth, the Congressional Budget Office projects the federal debt to reach 90% of what we produce by 2020 and more than 200% in 2050! How much of your income will you let them take before you say, "Stop!"?
The primary reason for government growth (and the "incumbent advantage") is that we've yet to convince people to refuse to be bribed with their own money. — Boyd K.

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone. — Frederic Bastiat

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. — Thomas Jefferson

The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife. — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, 9 Mar 1821
We have our current bloated government because Americans are not studying the issues and vetting the candidates. Too many voters believe all of the half-true propaganda they get from politicians of their favored political party. They dismiss the true half of the half-truth coming from the other political party. And, those voters all think that they are 100% right and the rest of us are wrong. They refuse to listen to opposing views or to consider opposing candidates. They are willing to perpetually elect and re-elect some of the most corrupt members of our society only because of the "D" or the "R" next to their name or worse, because of the amount of pigment in their skin.

Americans need to get their faces away from the mindless drivel found on TV and the Internet and start paying attention to what's really going on, and listen to a variety of political opinions. Then compare everything with the Constitution. Following that document is all that's left to protect liberty in this nation. The way we've been voting up 'til now simply isn't getting us the government we need. Instead, we're getting the government we deserve.

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