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The Tenth Amendment; Forgotten, But Not Gone
The founding fathers of our country believed in a small federal government with limited powers. So, accordingly, they wrote a constitution that is short, sweet and to the point. In it, they enumerated the powers and the duties of each branch of the federal government. Then, in an attempt to ensure that the federal government would remain small and unobtrusive, they added the Bill of Rights. It's hard to read the news without seeing something mentioned about one of these rights. One that's never mentioned though, is the tenth amendment.
Since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the tenth amendment has been completely ignored. As a result, the federal government is now doing all kinds of things that the constitution does not authorize it to do. Let's look at some of these things.
There are many more examples of the unauthorized, unconstitutional things that the federal government is involved in. For now though, these will suffice. If all of these unconstitutional activities were eliminated, federal taxes could be drastically cut. This would enable either the individual citizens, or their state and local governments to be able to afford to perform these functions in a much more efficient manner. Yeah, I know. Proponents of Big Government use the Constitution's "general welfare" clause to justify federal involvement in the above matters. But, if that interpretation of the "general welfare" clause were correct, then the tenth amendment would be rendered completely meaningless.
It seems that I've stirred up a bit of controversy since I wrote the above article. I've received several responses about it on the newsgroups where I advertise. I'll share some of these responses with you.
There were some typical liberal responses, of course. Here's one:
I guess by your opinion we should go back and prevent Hispanics, blacks and women from voting.
Or, forget about devastated economies and it is okay to wreck the stock markets, banking systems, and investigate presidents with no proof."
This is from someone named Dan. He was responding to a fellow conservative who had also commented on my article. Now, we'll ignore the fact that Dan isn't an English major. I just want to know, what did I say to give him these crazy ideas? If he were to visit the home page of this web site, he would see that some of my favorite conservative writers are folks like Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, Ann Coulter and Linda Chavez. All of these writers are either black, women, and/or Hispanic. They also happen to be brilliant thinkers. And, as for the latter accusation--Look what's been happening to the stock market since the Microsoft judgement. That wasn't brought about by conservatives. But, this is just a typical liberal. The facts aren't on his side, so he resorts to hurling insults.
Another liberal responded as well. This person though, actually tried to use the Constitution to prove his point.
SECTION 8. 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 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.
and the 16th Amendment:
AMENDMENT XVI The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
"General Welfare" and the power to levy income taxes pretty much covers everything you complain about in your article (education, medicare, art endowments)
The Constitution was also written in rather broad language to prevent precisely the kind of general nitpicking evidenced on your web site.
Also worth noting is that the Constitution and Amendments also serve to limit the power of *State* governments."
Yeah, this "General Welfare" clause is a bit problematic. It is the clause that most liberals fall back on to justify big government. But, let's put this in context. If the "General Welfare" clause really justified everything that the Federal government now does, then the Tenth Amendment would be rendered completely meaningless.
The writer then cites the Sixteenth Amendment as further justification. There are two problems with that. First, the Sixteenth Amendment itself is controversial. Second, where does the Sixteenth Amendment say anything about how the government is to spend that money?
Then, skip down to his argument about how the Constitution was written in "rather broad language" in order to prevent "nitpicking". This is tantamount to the "living, evolving Constitution" argument that prominent liberals now use. In other words, anything is justified, if only we say the the Constitution is a "living" document. But, if the Constitution can be used in this manner, then why have it at all? Listen to the words of Thomas Jefferson:
Besides all of this, how can any thinking person really justify the Gargantuan Federal government that we now have? Just look at how inefficient these programs are. The high taxes Americans have to pay to support these programs have sapped a lot of strength from the national economy. Welfare programs have increased poverty, because people have less incentive to work. Unwed motherhood has gone up because the welfare system has encouraged it. And, there are always strings attached. With every new big Federal program, some liberty is lost. The Founding Fathers had good reason to pen the Tenth Amendment.
Some quotes on the matter:
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