James Madison on the “General Welfare”

I thought it would be good to bring James Madisons own words when describing how the General welfare clause in articleI section8 was to be construed, and dismissing fears of constructions such as we have today.


Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare.”


If not D.C. then WHO!?

cross-posted from the Oregon Tenth Amendment Center

I was talking to a friend of mine and we were discussing the recent Bond ruling that recognizes individual standing to claim Federal 10th Amendment violations when defending in Criminal Court. I referenced the fact that the Federal Govt. shouldn’t be allowed to try cases of constitutional law anyways (since they are, in effect, deciding their own case which any layman can tell you is inconsistent with justice). He promptly replied, “Yeah they should try it in State court” very sarcastically – as if that was unthinkable…… Is it?

Well, turns out this is a lot to think about. It makes no sense for either the state that is a party to the dispute, or the Feds, to be the court in which this case is heard, as they are both parties to the case. This brings us to the question, “If not the Feds, then who?” The other parties to the Constitution are the alleged victims. If the Feds believe a state has violated the Constitution, the appropriate remedy is a “Class Action” lawsuit with the other states, to decide if they want to pursue redress. The Feds (who, after all, are simply agents of the states) have no claim whatsoever. They have not been wronged.


Bad Boyz?

What have we allowed to happen in our country, when police can arrest you on your own property without warrant, or probable cause?… Police who take this sort of license disgust me.  I have followed up on the net You can find accounts of the story here, here, or here.  The underlying claim of the…


Think Federal Agencies are Interested in Success? Think Again

Today, an unprecedented amount of individual responsibilities have been delegated to the Federal govt.  This trend has been to the detriment of our society.  What is the goal of any human?  The goal of any person is to make their life better, whether through more money, more security or less work; everything we do is geared towards this goal. In Mises’s own words;

“Action based on reason, action therefore which is only to be understood by reason, knows only one end, the greatest pleasure of the acting individual.”

Therefore, we cannot expect the individuals who compose the public sector to act contrary to their own best wishes.  So to see what we should expect from our public employees, we should look at what actions they should take to advance their (and not ‘society at large’s) aims.  We will compare for each goal what the respective incentives for private vs. public individuals.

Job security:

One of the biggest goals of employees (especially ones with families) is job security.  What actions does a private employee have to take to ensure job security?  One of the best things a private sector employee can do to ensure he will come back tomorrow would be to Be as productive as possible, maximize profit, and ensure that customers have a nice experience while using whatever product or service is being produced.

How does a government employee stay employed?  Under no circumstances “should” a public employee accomplish anything if they want to keep their job. The fastest way to end a govt. program would be to solve the problem it was created to solve, right?  The employee should perform poorly, thus retaining a deficiency, causing lawmakers to throw more money at it…. in the hopes that voters will see how much they care. Under no circumstances would any lawmaker cut the headcount at a dept before the “problem” has been solved; coincidentally, few problems are ever actually solved.


Unconstitutional in so Many Ways

Most people who criticize the (Federal) healthcare overhaul do so with the main focus (understandably) being on the most in-your-face aspect of the bill.. namely, the personal mandate.  This is likely owing to the blatantly fascistic nature of requiring someone to purchase a private product from another person.  It could also be because of the clearly “paternalistic” nature of passing a law to make someone do something “for their own good,” as if a stern lecture or a spanking would be waiting for those who disobeyed.  Because of the magnitude of the overstep in this one aspect of the law, lots of other less obvious violations have been missed and ignored.  I would like to take a look at them in this article.  Upon research, I discovered several (major) different ways that Obamacare is not only unjust, but it violates the original intent of the Constitution.  I have categorized the examples by which part of the Constitution they violate.

The General Welfare Clause

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”

Clearly, by my reading of federalist 41, the General Welfare clause was simply intended to be a qualifier on the taxing powers of the Federal govt., saying in effect that everything the Federal govt did had to be attached to another enumerated authority granted within the Constitution.  The spending had to be beneficial to all within the Union; therefore, you could not give a benefit to one individual, class or state, that wasn’t given to all.  Or in other words, you cannot take from one, or some, to give to another or others!  Violations by Obamacare of this clause in the Constitution include, but are certainly not limited to:

- The outright bribe(s) given in the “Louisiana purchase,” and the “corn husker kickback.” By giving preferential treatment to 2 states over the others in order to bribe members of the Senate to vote against the interests of the rest of the country. This bill is not in the general welfare, but the specific welfare of the states that have been given preferential treatment.  The Nebraska deal was stripped out in the final bill but even more graft was added in, so all of this violates the General Welfare clause.


Ideology vs. The Constitution

I’d like to clarify our role here at the Tenth Amendment Center.  We are many times falsely referred to as a “Libertarian Think-Tank,” but this is a somewhat false assertion. The Tenth Amendment is a non-partisan rule of construction. It simply asserts what the Federal govt. is allowed to do, (and for the most part – what the statesare allowed to do).  Thus, it can just as easily be cited to justify a state’s desire to legislate auto emissions as it would be to assert 2nd Amendment rights amongst conservatives.  It can just as easily assert the right to death “with dignity,” or to recall the State National Guard as to assert healthcare freedom.

So, when we evaluate the “Tenth Amendment movement,” we need to keep in mind that what we think of the Tenth is by extension what we think of the Constitution.  If we are to disparage local control via the Tenth, we need to question our very charter as a nation. What the Tenth Amendment is essentially saying is that small communities across the nation have a right to govern themselves (or ourselves) in a manner that, to us, seems most likely to protect our inalienable rights, as are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.