Hamilton on “Necessary and Proper” and “Supremacy”

A couple of the commonly misunderstood parts of the Constitution are the Necessary and Proper clause, and the Supremacy clause. I thought I would publish what Alexander Hamilton wrote on the subjects from the Federalist #33. Remember that these papers where written during the debate over ratification, and widely circulated. They informed the ratifiers to the understanding of the document they where about to sign, and as such they are similar to writing in the borders of a written contract, they are legally relevant, and enforcable.

By way of a general explaination or summation of Hamiltons sentiments I offer this short summary. The Necessary and proper clause is simply declaring that the way the legislature would carry out their enumerated powers would be to pass laws that are incidental to their powers, and the Supremacy clause simply stated the obvious that in powers pursuant to the Constitution the laws of the union would be supreme.  In areas not pursuant to the Constitution however the laws of the states would still be supreme… DUHHH.

Without further hesitation, here is Hamiltons paper on the 2 clauses:


Just Stand There and do One Thing Right!

cross-posted from the Oregon Tenth Amendment Center So, the time has come. The “super-committee”is about to fail and “draconian cuts” (read reductions in the rate of increase over the next 10 years) are on the way. As I said when the stupid idea was passed to defer decisions to an unconstitutional body’s decision making prowess,…


Arbitrary and Void for Vagueness

We as Americans have become much too accepting of the practice in D.C. of writing laws that are so long and complicated that no citizen could possibly be fully informed of their scope and effect. Surely a prime example of this would be “Obamacare,” however, this practice is older than that. For instance, the Patriot Act was 1500 pages (written before 9/11/2001 by the way) and was passed with no debate. In the last 10 years, 10 laws were >225,000 words in length. I know I for one simply do not have the time to keep up with that level of law making. James Madison famously wrote (in Federalist 62):

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

Laws that are this lengthy are by their very nature “arbitrary” and of a tyrannical nature. Consider Senator Conyers’ comments regarding Obamacare. WATCH IT:


Whatever they can do for us, They can do TO us!

cross-posted from the Oregon Tenth Amendment Center

Many of us in the Libertarian movement mistakenly view the Federal government as a stick with which to hit the State government like a pinata.  I believe this view stems from the faulty belief that the Federal govt. can be limited by a simple piece of paper as if that paper somehow had a magical property that would prevent its own violation, that somehow the three branches of the Federal govt. are set inexorably against each other.  Of course, a honest look through history would convince any but the most naive, that this is not the case.  Branches routinely collude to eliminate any and all limits upon their power. The only realistic limiter of the powers of the three branches of the Feds is/are the State govt(s).  Consider the frailty of any other checks:


Otherwise known as “throwing the bums out,” elections have amounted to no check at all, every since I can remember .  In 1994, we had a big change in the composition of Congress (from Dem to Rep).  Most people said this was in direct response to the attempt by the Democrat-dominated Congress to pass “Hillarycare.”  Republicans were swept into office with the promise of smaller govt., eliminating the abuse that had been taking place within the welfare system, and of balancing the budget.  Oddly enough, govt. did not shrink at any time during the subsequent years of Republican control.  After six years of Republican domination in Legislature, what did we have?  A LARGER govt. than we had started with.

In 2000, we were promised that if we would just elect GWB we would finally have all the power in govt. that was needed to shrink it… and yet, in 2008, the size of govt. was much larger after 8 years of Bush, than before.  Out of the promises to shrink govt. and limit our involvement in foreign affairs, we got….wait for it….. MASSIVE DEFICITS, MEDICARE PARTD, TARP (WHICH AMOUNTED TO A FORCED CARTELIZATION OF BANKS A’LA MUSSOLINI), FIRST STIMULUS, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, THE CLASSIFICATION OF CO2 AS A POLLUTANT, ETC…… Surprised? Or NOT?


Tea Party downgrade? Delusions from the Ruling Class

cross-posted from the Oregon Tenth Amendment Center

Did we just have a Tea Party downgrade?

Of course the Mainstream Media (who like to call upon the government in general, and the Federal govt specifically, to solve every issue in Society) will tell you that the Tea party, with their intransigence towards any sort of tax increase, have caused the debt of the United States to be downgraded. I would ask any person who buys that mantra over to my personal bridge in New York (I’ll make you a great deal, and you can charge tolls to people who cross to pay for it). Seriously though, I have one thing to say… 16.7 trillion. That number does not even include unfunded liabilities! Some countries have been called basket cases for much less in debt relative to revenue.


The thread of truth behind the ridiculous assertion…

S&P (the ratings agency that downgraded us) specifically mentioned the debt debate and the reluctance/refusal to entertain any tax increases as a part of the solution – with this quote:
“Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act. Key macroeconomic assumptions in the base case scenario include trend real GDP growth of 3% and consumer price inflation near 2% annually over the decade.”

Given the association of the Tea party with the Republican party ( clearly, with the recent deal in D.C. this is a false impression), some may say that this is a Tea party downgrade; but if you read the whole story it becomes clear that we have simply been so profligate as to make ourselves unable to merit an AAA rating.

The truth of why we are going to continue to get worse:

We have been living in a Keynesian fantasy world for the last 50-60 years. Anyone who looks at America’s spending vs. revenue for the last 100 years will see a change that has occurred. We spend until we reach the debt ceiling, then we raise the debt limit. Any serious look at our treatment of the debt ceiling harkens to the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs draws a line in the sand… it gets stepped over… and then another line… followed by walking past it. Our debt limit has been and still is today no limit at all. It is simply an exercise in parliamentary procedure, to give the impression that our political “servants” are really minding the store (while they clearly are not)!


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.


George Washington on avoiding the 2 party system

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissensions, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute…