I heartily accept the motto,—”That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.
~Henry David Thoreau~
I get the impression that people think that if government isn’t passing new laws all the time it isn’t doing its job. It’s almost like they think government is like some assembly line that churns out new laws every week, and if it doesn’t then something is wrong with it or they’re not getting their money’s worth from it.
While government does imply the power of making laws, those laws have to be in accordance with the purpose for which government was instituted for them to be just and lawful. Our government, or at least your government, for I no longer support it in any fashion, did not up and create itself, it was created by an act of men writing a constitution, and then the people of the States choosing to accept that form of government…AND ALL THE LIMITATIONS IMPOSED UPON IT!
The Constitution, as ratified in 1789, was not a document that laid out suggestions for how our government should function, it was a written law that dictated how our government should be formed and what powers it should exercise on our behalf. I find it the epitome of hypocrisy and irony that people take pride in calling themselves law abiding citizens, then turn around and vote for candidates who campaign on issues that clearly violate the Supreme Law of the Land.
Therefore, for any law passed by our federal government to be just and lawful it must be in accordance to both the purpose for which government was instituted and the specific powers granted it by the Constitution. Let’s begin by discussing the purpose for which your government was established.
Whether they were right or wrong, there were those living in 1787 who felt that our young nation would not survive under the government established by the Articles of Confederation; that a much stronger system of government was necessary if America was to survive as a Union. During the debates that eventually produced your system of government various plans were introduced with different ideas regarding both the shape this government might take and the powers which it would be allowed to exercise.
The thing about it though is that no matter how they shaped this system of government they were proposing they had to convince the States and the people to accept it before it could go into operation. So the true nature and purpose of your government should not be based upon what powers YOU think it should exercise, but upon the powers the various ratifying assemblies were told it would exercise.
There were many men, in prominent positions, who opposed this proposed system of government, and those who supported it faced stiff opposition from them. Therefore they undertook, what could only be called, a serious ad campaign to convince the people that the proposed constitution posed no threat to their liberty nor to the sovereignty of the States.
One of the key battleground States was New York, where 3 of the most fervent supporters of the constitution wrote a series of essays which have come to be known as the Federalist Papers. Whether they were truthful in what they wrote, or whether they simply wrote a cleverly designed marketing campaign to convince the people of New York to adopt their proposed system of government is irrelevant. What is important is that the things they said are what they told the people would be the powers given to this government, its relationship to the States, and the purposes for which it was to serve.
With that in mind, let us look at what James Madison had to say about what powers this proposed system of government was supposed to exercise. Madison begins by saying, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.”
When someone says something is defined it typically means that they are specifically listed in no uncertain terms. Therefore, let’s look at what powers the Constitution actually grants your system of government. So without further ado here are the powers the Constitution says your government SHOULD be exercising:
-The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
-To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
-To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
-To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
-To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
-To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
-To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
-To 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;
-To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
-To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
-To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
-To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
-To provide and maintain a Navy;
-To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
-To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
-To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to 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; — And
-To 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.
Therefore, if as Madison says, the powers delegated to the federal government are few, AND DEFINED, then THOSE are the ONLY powers our government should exercise. But Madison didn’t stop there, he also said, “Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.
The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
You can call me obtuse if you want, but that sure sounds to me like it was the job of the State governments to pass whatever laws were needed to benefit the people of this country directly; not the power of the federal government. So why is it that your federal government continues to pass laws which directly affect the lives and liberties and property of the people?
Can you explain or justify that for me? If our government truly does exist by consent of the governed, why is it that people consent to a government that exercises powers it was never given? Is it ignorance on the part of the people; they simply don’t know what powers their government is supposed to be exercising? Is it apathy; they simply don’t care that their government is exercising unconstitutional powers as long as they somehow benefit from it?
Whichever the case may be, the truth is that their government IS exercising powers that are not among those specifically enumerated within the Constitution; which brings us to the question of why laws should be written. The way I see it, laws can be written for but one of two reasons. First laws can be written to support and expand the liberty of those the government represents, or they can be written to limit the liberty of those governed and subjugate them; essentially becoming their master, not their servant. I suppose it is up to you to decide which one is the case in regards to our current system of government.
But before I close I want to leave you with a few other things to consider. First off, the Preamble to our Constitution is a declaration of intent, stating the purpose for which the document that follows should serve. The Preamble to our Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (My emphasis)
Although I am not a huge fan of James Wilson, (a lesser known Founding Father), I do believe he got it right when he said, “Government … should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government which has not this in view as its principal object is not a government of the legitimate kind.”
You may be saying, “There Neal goes again, talking about liberty and rights.” Well why not? After all, isn’t that one of the stated purposes for which this government was supposedly established; to secure the Blessings of Liberty to those who established it and to their posterity?
People may talk about liberty, about freedom, but I don’t think they really understand what it means to have either; otherwise they would not tolerate the laws being passed by their government. Freedom is defined as, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Liberty is defined as “the state of being free within a society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” Thomas Jefferson defined liberty as follows, “…unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”
Did you get that, unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others? Therefore for a crime to be committed, for a law to be passed restricting certain actions, the lives, liberty, or property of another must be threatened by that action. How many laws do we have which punish people for doing things where there is no victim? Who do I harm if I ride a motorcycle without a helmet or drive my car without a seat belt? Whose life, liberty or property am I threatening if I smoke marijuana inside the confines of my home?
Another thing, how am I fully enjoying the fruits of my labors when a portion of my earnings are being taken from me and given to others who did not sweat or bleed for it? If I were to come to your home at gunpoint and demand that you give me a portion of your paycheck so that I could play Robin Hood and give it to the poor, it would be considered theft. Yet our government does the same thing under the guise of tax funded programs which subsidize those in need. If you refuse to pay your taxes because you disapprove of the ways in which your tax dollars are spent, your government can, and will, come after you. If you resist they can and will arrest you, and if you resist that they can and will kill you.
Do all these things sound like this is the land of the free to you?
Sometimes I think I can almost read people’s minds when I ask them why they continue to support these laws being passed which deprive us of our liberty, and support those who actually go about enforcing those laws. People get this look in their eyes like they are talking to a madman; someone to be wary of or someone who needs to be turned into the authorities because they pose a threat to national security.
How is standing up for ones liberty or demanding that their government adhere to the limits imposed upon it considered a threat to national security?
Have you ever stopped to think about those you call our Founding Fathers; what were they in the eyes of their government? What do you think would happen if the Son’s of Liberty were alive in 2018 and they went about committing acts of destruction like they did in the Boston Tea Party? What do you think the media, or you yourselves would say if they ransacked the homes of government officials or tarred and feathered IRS agents? How would you view them if they resisted agents of the BATF by showing up fully armed, even going so far as opening fire upon them…just as they did at Lexington and Concord?
Those we call our Founding Fathers did not quietly bow down and submit to the laws being imposed upon them which violated their rights. They did not simply follow the orders of those charged with enforcing those laws upon them. They resisted them, and it is because of their spirit of resistance that America became an independent nation.
What has happened to that spirit of resistance; where has it gone? Now I’m not saying that I am openly resisting every law I deem to be unconstitutional, or a violation of my rights. But at least I am aware of the tyranny I am being subjected to, and I am trying to awaken others to it. I am not a mindless zombie that supports this government simply because it promises to keep me safe, or provide me with benefits if I should ever need them.
If you truly loved this country, and the principles it was founded upon, you would take the time, or make it if necessary, to study the period which saw America gain its independence and establish its system of government. You would learn everything you could about why this system of government was originally established, and the powers those who created it promised the people it would exercise. You would learn how, over time, this government began to exercise implied powers, expanding its control over the States and the people far beyond what was originally promised.
But what do I hear people talking about; football, Facebook, some new movie…anything but the fact that their government has become this tyrannical monster that is slowly devouring the liberty it was established to secure. When they do talk of politics it is from the perspective of the two party paradigm; either the Republican view as to what government should be doing, or the Democratic view as to what it should be doing. It is NEVER from the perspective of what the Constitution actually AUTHORIZES government to do.
It you want to be a slave, fine, be a slave; just don’t pretend like you have any idea of what you’re talking about when it comes to the legitimate powers of your government; your ignorance proves otherwise. You know, James Madison once said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” Thomas Jefferson also said, “…if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be.”
Above all else, our Founders valued knowledge and they cherished their liberty. Most of the people I see today could care less about either, and that is why our country is so screwed up. You can put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, by placing your all your hopes upon one individual who you elect as president to fix America to your vision of what it should be, but if you don’t adhere to the principles this country was founded upon, America will only continue to sink further into the sinkhole of tyranny. Soon it will become so obvious that even the most ignorant of you won’t be able to hide from it. Just do me a favor when that day comes, don’t ask me why nobody tried to warn you.
As Judge Learned Hand once said, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
If you truly loved your liberty to the extent our Founders did you would NOT elect those who sought to do things which undermine it; and if they did happen to do those things you would rise up in unanimous opposition to them.
That is the spirit that made America great, and America will never be great again until that spirit returns to the hearts and minds of the people who occupy it. As Patrick Henry said, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.” Until that becomes your primary concern in life, America will continue to be governed by tyrants and populated by slaves.
And that’s all I have to say about that.