25 July 2008

Founded on problems that good intentions harm

The following is a white paper of The Jacksonian Party.

The ways are numerous, but the salient ones for today have been clearly stated. The clearest overview is given in the Yates and Lansing letter to the New York Governor, 21 DEC 1787, in this paragraph:

Exclusive of our objections originating from the want of power, we entertained an opinion that a general government, however guarded by declarations of rights, or cautionary provisions, must unavoidably, in a short time, be productive of the destruction of the civil liberty of such citizens who could be effectually coerced by it, by reason of the extensive territory of the United States, the dispersed situation of its inhabitants, and the insuperable difficulty of controlling or counteracting the views of a set of men (however unconstitutional and oppressive their acts might be) possessed of all the powers of government, and who, from their remoteness from their constituents, and necessary permanency of office, could not be supposed to be uniformly actuated by an attention to their welfare and happiness; that, however wise and energetic the principles of the general government might be, the extremities of the United States could not be kept in due submission and obedience to its laws, at the distance of many hundred miles from the seat of government; that, if the general legislature was composed of so numerous a body of men as to represent the interests of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the usual and true ideas of representation, the expense of supporting it would become intolerably burdensome; and that, if a few only were vested with a power of legislation, the interests of a great majority of the inhabitants of the United States must necessarily be unknown; or, if known, even in the first stages of the operations of the new government, unattended to.

In large territories the ability to govern becomes a difficulty as the lengthy of distance between individuals and their representative leads not only to problems of government, itself, extending across such areas with the burden of government overhead, but also via the perceived distance between such representatives and the people they are representing. The extreme portions of the Nation would no longer be governable. Further, the problem is two-fold as those doing the governing, no matter how poorly, can seek to sinecure their offices by the means of government. And as the number of people to be represented increases and the number of representatives remains static, the power vested in each representative grows even as their ability to *be* representative of that population declines.

Federalist formulations of government put local government in control of local concerns: they generally do not create law. Laws from higher levels that get passed down to lower levels in a federal schema, increases the burden and overhead of those lower forms of government, slowly marginalizing their ability to be responsive to local concerns. This then winds up with few people making burdensome laws that clog up the entire set of governments starting at the national end. The more 'pass-through' there is to local levels for enforcement and accountability, the worse the overall system becomes.

Others had, of course, seen that problem as Centinel I did on 05 OCT 1787, in this passage amidst a much larger set of problems with the Constitution:

If one general government could be instituted and maintained on principles of freedom, it would not be so competent to attend to the various local concerns and wants, of every particular district, as well as the peculiar governments, who are nearer the scene, and possessed of superior means of information, besides, if the business of the whole union is to be managed by one government, there would not be time. Do we not already see, that the inhabitants in a number of larger states, who are remote from the seat of government, are loudly complaining of the inconveniencies and disadvantages they are subjected to on this account, and that, to enjoy the comforts of local government, they are separating into smaller divisions.

From the highest end, then, government needs to be limited in scope and size as it is the least able to understand local concerns. The closer government is to the action, the better it is able to adjust to the day-to-day affairs of people. While Centinel would go far afield from this outlook, that single statement of general rule of government size and distance is one that exists to this day for all governments in large geographic areas. Even the 'shortening of distance' via modern telecom systems have not mitigated the personal contact necessary for personally understanding the needs of limited populations in large geographic areas.

John DeWitt III by John DeWitt on 05 NOV 1787 would see a long series of problems with the House of Representatives, but a telling couple are these, after leading in with a transition passage from the Senate and the Executive, but it is also pertinent to the House:

Very possible also in a country where they are total strangers.—But, my fellow—citizens, the important question here arises, who are this House of Representatives? "A representative Assembly, says the celebrated Mr. Adams, is the sense of the people, and the perfection of the portrait, consists in the likeness."Can this Assembly be said to contain the sense of the people?—Do they resemble the people in any one single feature?—Do you represent your wants, your grievances, your wishes, in person? If that is impracticable, have you a right to send one of your townsmen for that purpose?—Have you a right to send one from your county? Have you a right to send more than one for every thirty thousand of you? Can he be presumed knowing to your different, peculiar situations —your abilities to pay public taxes, when they ought to be abated, and when increased? Or is there any possibility of giving him information? All these questions must be answered in the negative. But how are these men to be chosen? Is there any other way than by dividing the Senate into districts? May not you as well at once invest your annual Assemblies with the power of choosing them—where is the essential difference? The nature of the thing will admit of none. Nay, you give them the power to prescribe the mode. They may invest it in themselves.—If you choose them yourselves, you must take them upon credit, and elect those persons you know only by common fame. Even this privilege is denied you annually, through fear that you might withhold the shadow of control over them. In this view of the System, let me sincerely ask you, where is the people in this House of Representatives?

That tradition of choosing an annual set of representatives dates back far into Norse tradition with the Thing, and the annual selection of the lawgiver who then represents up at the next level of government from which is chosen one to go to an Althing or more national assembly. Two years was chosen for the size of the young Nation and the impossibility of having elections that often and still having time to get anything done... which is a very salient feature *for* annual elections, really. Be that as it may, the ability of the House to actually represent the common man or those that have 'common fame'. That is a wonderful position to describe, those who have common fame locally and are trusted as representatives. Something we lack in the modern position of wide-ranging fame is that of common fame.

Several States did have 'at-large' districts for Representatives, but that did not obviate the problem of the House being able to set its own rules for election proportions then passed into public law.

George Mason's Objections to the Proposed Federal Constitution, on 18-19 JUN 1788, examines numerous faults with it and gives a short passage in that laundry list of problems to this issue and then the specific powers granted to Congress:

In the House of Representatives, there is not the Substance, but the Shadow only of Representation; which can never produce proper Information in the Legislature, or inspire Confidence in the People; the Laws will therefore be generally made by men little concern’d in, and unacquainted with their Effects and Consequences.


By requiring a Majority to make all commercial & Navigation Laws, the five Southern States (whose Produce & Circumstances are totally different from that of the eight Northern & Eastern States) may be ruined; for such rigid & premature Regulations may be made, as will enable the Merchants of the Northern & Eastern States not only to demand an exorbitant Freight, but to monopolize the Purchase of the Commodities at their own Price, for many Years; to the great Injury of the landed Interest, & Impoverishment of the People; and the Danger is the greater, as the Gain on one Side will be in Proportion to the Loss on the other. Whereas requiring two thirds of the Members present in both Houses wou’d have produced mutual moderation, promoted the general Interest, and removed an insuperable Objection to the adoption of this Government.

Under their own Construction of the general Clause, at the End of the enumerated Powers, the Congress may grant Monopolies in Trade & Commerce, constitute new Crimes, inflict unusual and severe Punishments, & extend their Powers as far as they shall think proper; so that the state Legislatures have no Security for their Powers now presumed to remain to them, or the People for their Rights.

Now comes the warning signs of what happens when you give such power to a body that is ill-representative, sets its own size and begins to become an Aristocracy in and of itself.

While the objections raised were somewhat addressed in the Bill of Rights, the overall general view still stands as one in which a distant legislature makes laws that it cannot know the effects of when implemented. By regulating to ensure one way of trade or to implement a system that is not adaptable to circumstances, those laws will distort the marketplace and impoverish many to the benefit of the few. Beyond that the ability of the government to set its own borders on those things it is given to do then allows for those seeking to invent new problems to expand government into the leeway to do so once in the majority.

Amendments IX and X would ameliorate some of that very last by establishing that everything not given to the federal government is retained by the States and the People. Under that restricted view any expansion requires justification, and that has always been the outlook of those seeking fewer limitations on government, not more.

The corrosive powers in government and even the basis for representation are seen by Brutus III on 15 NOV 1787 and would also house a strong logical denunciation of something then going on:

The words are "representatives and direct taxes, shall be apportioned among the several states, which may be included in this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons." — What a strange and unnecessary accumulation of words are here used to conceal from the public eye. what might have been expressed in the following concise manner. Representatives are to be proportioned among the states respectively, according to the number of freemen and slaves inhabiting them, counting five slaves for three free men.

"In a free state." says the celebrated Montesquieu, "every man. who is supposed to be a free agent, ought to be concerned in his own government. therefore the legislature should reside in the whole body of the people, or their representatives." But it has never been alledged that those who are not free agents, can, upon any rational principle, have any thing to do in government, either by themselves or others. If they have no share in government. why is the number of members in the assembly, to be increased on their account? Is it because in some of the states, a considerable part of the property of the inhabitants consists in a number of their fellow men, who are held in bondage, in defiance of every idea of benevolence, justice, and religion, and contrary to all the principles of liberty, which have been publickly avowed in the late glorious revolution? If this be a just ground for representation, the horses in some of the states, and the oxen in others, ought to be represented — for a great share of property in some of them. consists in these animals; and they have as much controul over their own actions, as these poor unhappy creatures, who are intended to be described in the above recited clause, by the words, "all other persons." By this mode of apportionment, the representatives of the different pans of the union, will be extremely unequal: in some of the southern states, the slaves are nearly equal in number to the free men; and for all these slaves, they will be entitled to a proportionate share in the legislature — this will give them an unreasonable weight in the government, which can derive no additional strength, protection, nor defence from the slaves, but the contrary. Why then should they be represented? What adds to the evil is, that these states are to be permitted to continue the inhuman traffic of importing slaves, until the year 1808 — and for every cargo of these unhappy people, which unfeeling. unprincipled, barbarous, and avaricious wretches, may tear from their country, friends and tender connections, and bring into those states, they are to be rewarded by having an increase of members in the general assembly.

That is a thoroughly consistent view of the slave trade and the rationale behind it and putting forth that to admit to some sort of proportional representation to slaves is to admit their commonality of being human. Once done what separates free men from slaves is diluted and, even worse, some States are allowed continue bringing in non-voting individuals to gain disproportionate representation. The drafters of the Constitution faced the dilemma of the principles of liberty, freedom and equality for men, and the absolutely inhuman conditions of the slave trade. When there is any proportional representation given, the power wielded by those States having slaves dilutes the power of free men to actually do anything about their condition via legislation.

This is why, as free agents, people are to keep tabs on their government: it is for their own interest. When those who have no ability to vote are given representation, then those who *do* vote wield disproportionate power at the ballot box. When done by *choice* the decision to not vote is one that is based on what that individual sees as their own best interest and that of their fellow man. The concentration of voting weight of those left does increase, but not by law, but by choice to make the conscious decision to not vote weigh upon the greater society at large.

Balancing off the North and South, in general, was a hard thing to accomplish in 1787. By adding in the idea that there should be *some* representation for slaves the idea was to compromise between NO representation and FULL representation by ending the institution of slavery. If the former was unthinkable to abolitionists the latter was a deadly blow aimed at the most prosperous part of the US economy: the agricultural south. Within a few decades that basis of formulation would change, and starkly, until the shifting point of industrial output of the north became the predominant part of the US economy. At that point in time the idea of a 'Gentleman Farmer' of the Jeffersonian mode was one that saw industry and self-support via farming as an ideal and was amenable to slave holding and pure freeman work.

If this most noxious compromise sits in one of the most revered documents of the US and, indeed, becomes the basis for government of the Nation, then we must recognize that the system of amendments put into the document would allow later generations to undo things that would not work out. Amendments XIII and XIV would end personal holding slavery and recognize that those freed from its bondage are, indeed, men and due the rights and full protection of the Constitution. Even that would be only a partial ending of slavery, however, as Amendment XIII gives a singular condition for its actual use:


Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

That underlined section is important as it moves the racial basis of slavery out of the acceptable, and yet retains slavery as the most extreme punishment allowable in the US. If a crime is so heinous that even death is not a just punishment, then the removal of ALL rights and liberties of an individual and placing them in perpetual servitude is still allowed. It is a 'poison pill' to the States that were once slave States as any punishment would need to be meted out equally, regardless of skin color.

It is in those sections regarding slavery that would then lead to the question of: how is the general citizenry being treated? In Brutus III the transition is made between that compromise and the nature of government amongst free agents, and that there is a direct correlation between having unequal weight for slave holding States and those composed of free agents:

It has been observed, that the happiness of society is the end of government — that every free government is founded in compact: and that, because it is impracticable for the whole community to assemble, or when assembled, to deliberate with wisdom, and decide with dispatch, the mode of legislating by representation was devised.

The very term, representative, implies, that the person or body chosen for this purpose, should resemble those who appoint them — a representation of the people of America, if it be a true one, must be like the people. It ought to be so constituted, that a person, who is a stranger to the country, might be able to form a just idea of their character, by knowing that of their representatives. They are the sign — the people are the thing signified. It is absurd to speak of one thing being the representative of another, upon any other principle. The ground and reason of representation, in a free government, implies the same thing. Society instituted government to promote the happiness of the whole, and this is the great end always in view in the delegation of powers. It must then have been intended, that those who are placed instead of the people, should possess their sentiments and feelings, and be governed by their interests, or, in other words, should bear the strongest resemblance of those in whose room they are substituted. It is obvious, that for an assembly to be a true likeness of the people of any country, they must be considerably numerous. — One man. or a few men, cannot possibly represent the feelings, opinions, and characters of a great multitude. In this respect, the new constitution is radically defective. — The house of assembly, which is intended as a representation of the people of America, will not, nor cannot, in the nature of things, be a proper one — sixty-five men cannot be found in the United States, who hold the sentiments, possess the feelings, or are acqainted with the wants and interests of this vast country. This extensive continent is made up of a number of different classes of people; and to have a proper representation of them. each class ought to have an opportunity of choosing their best informed men for the purpose; but this cannot possibly be the case in so small a number.

Even at the early date of the founding, the concept of 'class consciousness' was present, but here presented in a formulation different from later political thinkers. Brutus is not calling for a class based representation concept, but for having representatives so numerous that all classes gain a say across the entire population. Adding in representational allotment to those who have no vested interest in society, being slaves, then creates an absolute problem of 'who represents them?' When applied to the larger society as a whole, the question of 'who represents the people?' becomes one that cannot be lightly shrugged off. If the Constitution creates an unrepresented class of people while addressing them as a class, which it does, then exactly what is going on with the rest of the outline of government?

This is a remarkably subtle examination of representative government and the ends to which it will be put by those inside of it. Later Brutus looks at what he expects to have happen with such government:

I cannot conceive that any six men in this state can be found properly qualified in these respects to discharge such important duties: but supposing it possible to find them, is there the least degree of probability that the choice of the people will fall upon such men? According to the common course of human affairs, the natural aristocracy of the country will be elected. Wealth always creates influence, and this is generally much increased by large family connections: this class in society will for ever have a great number of dependents; besides, they will always favour each other — it is their interest to combine — they will therefore constantly unite their efforts to procure men of their own rank to be elected — they will concenter all their force in every part of the state into one point, and by acting together, will most generally carry their election. It is probable, that but few of the merchants, and those the most opulent and ambitious, will have a representation from their body — few of them are characters sufficiently conspicuous to attract the notice of the electors of the state in so limited a representation. The great body of the yeomen of the country cannot expect any of their order in this assembly — the station will be too elevated for them to aspire to — the distance between the people and their representatives, will be so very great, that there is no probability that a farmer, however respectable, will be chosen — the mechanicks of every branch, must expect to be excluded from a seat in this Body — It will and must be esteemed a station too high and exalted to be filled by any but the first men in the state, in point of fortune; so that in reality there will be no part of the people represented, but the rich, even in that branch of the legislature, which is called the democratic. — The well born, and highest orders in life, as they term themselves, will be ignorant of the sentiments of the midling class of citizens, strangers to their ability, wants, and difficulties, and void of sympathy, and fellow feeling.

And will still need the votes to get into office from those not well born, not connected, and generally middle class and poor. The inherent wealth necessary to run for office, hold office, retain office, is one not readily available to the common man. While a man of 'common fame' can get to such offices, that is because of that fame allowing them to be more widely known and to seek the modest donations of their fellow man to run for office. The influence of wealth and power in US politics is not a modern artifact, but one dating back before the Constitution, and how to address it is given as a major problem for the idea of representative democracy.

Getting to the center of this nexus, Brutus adds this, and it becomes a major sign-post for representative democracy going wrong:

It will consist at first, of sixty-five, and can never exceed one for every thirty thousand inhabitants; a majority of these, that is, thirty—three, are a quorum, and a majority of which, or seventeen, may pass any law — so that twenty—five men, will have the power to give away all the property of the citizens of these stateswhat security therefore can there be for the people, where their liberties and property are at the disposal of so few men? It will literally be a government in the hands of the few to oppress and plunder the many.

And others have already started to point out the tools of that source exploitation by government for those in power: taxation, regulation, duties. Another is the military power granted Congress, but before stepping to that, it is important to realize that these three powers over a nation, as a whole and in part, are sufficient in and of themselves to set up a system of unequal government to assure the prestige of those in office and to gain a perpetuity of representation.

That looks something like this, in modern terms:

Courtesy: thirty-thousand.org

With the fixing of the size of the House of Representatives comes the era of the incumbent: the utilization of government power and the restriction of democracy so as to ensure that only a set number of individuals rule in near perpetuity over time. Gaining a seat in the House of Representatives is a near guarantee of lifetime employment in that body. That is, by definition, not representational democracy, due to changing demographics *alone*.

The actual point of this, and a sideswipe at other writers, was done by Roger Sherman in A Countryman II on 22 NOV 1787, and the point of it is stark and even while being dismissive, it brings it into clear focus:

The only real security that you can have for all your important rights must be in the nature of your government. IF you suffer any man to govern you who is not strongly interested in supporting your privileges, you will certainly lose them. If you are about to trust your liberties with people whom it is necessary to bind by stipulation that they shall not keep a standing army, your stipulation is not worth even the trouble of writing. No bill of rights ever yet bound the supreme power longer than the honeymoon of a new married couple, unless the rulers were interested in preserving the rights; and in that case they have always been ready enough to declare the rights and to preserve them when they were declared. The famous English Magna Charta is but an act of Parliament, which every subsequent Parliament has had just as much constitutional power to repeal and annul as the Parliament which made it had to pass it at first. But the security of the nation has always been that their government was so formed that at least one branch of their legislature must be strongly interested to preserve the rights of the nation.


If you cannot prove by the best of all evidence, viz., by the interest of the rulers, that this authority will not be abused or, at least, that those powers are not more likely to be abused by the Congress than by those who now have the same powers, you must by no means adopt the Constitution. No, not with all the bills of rights and all the stipulations in favor of the people that can be made.

But if the members of Congress are to be interested just as you and I are, and just as the members of our present legislatures are interested, we shall be just as safe with even supreme power (if that were granted) in Congress, as in the General Assembly. If the members of Congress can take no improper step which will not affect them as much as it does us, we need not apprehend that they will usurp authorities not given them to injure that society of which they are a part.

The sole question (so far as any apprehension of tyranny and oppression is concerned) ought to be, how are Congress formed? How far are them members interested to preserve your rights? How far have you a control over them? Decide this, and then all the questions about their power may be dismissed for the amusement of those politicians whose business it is to catch flies, or may occasionally furnish subjects for George Bryan’s POMPOSITY, or the declamations of cato, An Old Whig, Son of Liberty, Brutus, Brutus Junior, An Officer of the Continental Army, the more contemptible Timoleon, and the residue of that rabble of writers.

That, while being a bit condescending and provocative towards other writers, does make the point of deciding how the Congress is chosen as an absolute safeguard to liberty and freedom. We have, since that era, seen politicians and 'activists' seek to expand the definitions of the Constitution as enacted and put in place, so as to greatly expand and abuse the power available to the federal government. Amendment XIV was put in to address those who had been slaves in the Nation and to ensure that equality was provided to them, not as a super-set of rights to be applied across all time to 'empower' those who are not even citizens. By establishing that the freed slaves *are* citizens, the Constitution is amended to provide equal protection of the law to them *as* fellow citizens.

Today we find that Congress is seeking to protect a 'right of communication' outside of the borders of the Nation and that is not covered by their powers, save on the domestic side of things. As part of the Executive power, communications outside the Nation are not sacrosanct, save between citizens, which Congress can duly cover under its laws of the high seas power. While ship passage is protected by the Constitution, communication out of the Nation via other means is not: that traditional intercept capability of any Nation to spy upon other Nations utilizing whatever comes their way in the sea far from National borders and protection, is then an Executive power as part of defending the Nation by the army and the navy, and for intercourse with foreign governments. That is why the Executive is separate from the Legislative, as the dealings with foreign Nations, proper execution of the Admiralty power and gathering information about foreign Nations is handed to one individual chose by the people via the Electoral College. That route is a completely separate set of safeguards to choose an Executive for those powers.

When Roger Sherman addresses this question and tries to negate the other questions that arise from the Constitution, he is attempting to not only concentrate the discussion, but also to put aside the repercussions if Congress can NOT be chosen well and securely. His basic answer is the common one of many writers: choose by means of the most populous representational system of the States and put that in place for the House of Representatives. it is the methodology that other writers address, however, as they examine the formulation of government and seek to find what may be mitigated at the start, so as to properly address those concerns for future generations. Far too many take the dismissive tone, to this day, and believe that it was all properly hashed out, while the opposite is true: the safeguards that Roger Sherman called for were not properly addressed by those who proposed the Constitution as seen in the examples and arguments brought up by many on the Anti-Federalist side. Many, such as Mr. Sherman, were not out to thwart the Constitution, but to refine it and ensure that the safeguards against particular and well known forms of failure were put in place.

Looking at one of those examinations in A Federal Republican: A Review of the Constitution on 28 NOV 1787, there is a hard examination of the problems that are seen with the structure of the Congress and its powers, and part of that lengthy review looks at where a National government moves with such powers:

What does all this amount to, but an oblique confession, that Congress may, if they please, load us with many needless expences?

The taxation of the particular states for their own support will be over-ruled by Congress, or else it will be obliged to embrace a measure perhaps the most odious in the world, viz. excessive taxation. This would be widely different from the opinion of the ablest politicians. I am persuaded that if this constitution were to be adopted, Congress would be reduced to this alternative, either to oppress the people in the manner just hinted, or commit upon them a violent injury by depriving them of their rights.

Congress will be the judges of what is necessary for the general welfare of the United States, and this will open the door to any extravagant expence which they shall be pleased to incur. For this reason their power should have been accurately defined. Baron Montesquieu (B. 13, C. I) observes that "the real wants of the people ought never to give way to the imaginary wants of the state. Imaginary wants are those which flow from passion, and from the weakness of the governors, from the charms of an extraordinary project, from a distempered desire of vain glory, and from a certain impotency of mind that renders it incapable of with-standing the attacks of fancy. Often times has it happened, that ministers of restless dispositions have imagined that the wants of the state were those of their own little and ignoble souls." That this may happen here, we have a right, and indeed ought to suppose. Any man who carefully attends to the constitution(n) quoted above, must judge that the powers granted by it, are too indifinite. Indeed as it stands there expressed, it includes every other power afterwards mentioned.

This is the exact, same problem that modern Conservative writers have with the utilization of powers by Congress to this very day. We hear of the imaginary wants of the Nation invented by politicians: Social Security, Health Care, backing governmental mortgage companies, and even ideas that government at the federal level has anything to do with local education. These and a raft of other 'programs' are the imaginary wants of the federal government at the National level: they have no basis beyond the 'general welfare' part of the Constitution. That is the Art. I, Sec. 8 power at the very top of that Section:

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;

Federal Republican is examining these clauses and having dealt with the first part of this clause then moves on to the second part, and correctly deduces that unrestricted language given to Congress is not a boon but a bane: in giving it such wide discretionary powers for taxation, Congress may declare anything it wants as for the 'general Welfare of the United States'. If the large scale re-ordering of society to the outlook of Congress were not bad enough, the citation of Montesquieu also examines those things that flow from passion, weakness, attempts for personal glory or just seeing a 'neat idea' that should, in theory, help the Nation while, instead, only serves the personal outlook of those in Congress. When this is added to the regulatory power further down in Sec. 8, Congress is then granted a full suite of tools for dealing with things beyond just the 'general Welfare' but delves directly into the personal and particular outlooks of those humans sitting in Congress. We call that 'pork barrel spending' and it goes far beyond anything envisioned for the 'general Welfare of the United States' and yet by the power of Congress it may indulge itself in anything it can get passed... or slips through due to the size of the budget.

Indefinite powers, granted over long periods, are problematical: by trying to ensure that they are not abused via the electorate, the very means of abusing them via a system of factionalization within the electorate allows for majorities to press home views which are not shared by a substantive minority. And when that majority gives verbiage that it is for the betterment of all, the attempt is made to mask the problem of expanding federal power in, and of, itself. Congress, as Federal Republican examines, has great power to enact petty legislation to meet whims of that body of governors. Even when the 'general Welfare' part is cited, it is used to cover purely local affairs instituted from Congress or, even worse, intrude upon the areas of Amendment IX and X which are all other rights retained by the States and the people. Thus removing a right via the 'general Welfare' outlook becomes condoned by law.

Federal Farmer VIII on 03 JAN 1788 looks at this further problem of indefinite power:

We may amuse ourselves with names; but the fact is, men will be governed by the motives and temptations that surround their situation. Political evils to be guarded against are in the human character, and not in the name of patrician or plebian. Had the people of Italy, in the early period of the republic, selected yearly, or biennially, four or five hundred of their best informed men, emphatically from among themselves, these representatives would have formed an honest respectable assembly, capable of combining in them the views and exertions of the people, and their respectability would have procured them honest and able leaders, and we should have seen equal liberty established. True liberty stands in need of a fostering hand; from the days of Adam she has found but one temple to dwell in securely; she has laid the foundation of one, perhaps her last, in America; whether this is to be compleated and have duration, is yet a question. Equal liberty never yet found many advocates among the great: it is a disagreeable truth, that power perverts mens views in a greater degree, than public employments inform their understandings — they become hardened in certain maxims, and more lost to fellow feelings. Men may always be too cautious to commit alarming and glaring iniquities: but they, as well as systems, are liable to be corrupted by slow degrees. Junius well observes, we are not only to guard against what men will do, but even against what they may do. Men in high public offices are in stations where they gradually lose sight of the people, and do not often think of attending to them, except when necessary to answer private purposes.

Those that govern will lose attachment with the people if allowed to do so - they will do that because of their station in government, not from outright malice. When you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail, thusly those in government start to see government as the solution to anything and everything. Even if it is to just meet their own highly biased needs that are personal and private. Congress has seen fit to exempt itself from many workplace regulation laws on hours, payment, and even workplace safety. That does not serve the Union but does serve *them*. That is a vice of office that creates laws: those making such laws can exempt themselves from the law and thus shield themselves from that which is placed upon the common man. Whenever we hear of 'Congressional Staffers' having problems, it is Congress that sets its own size, gives itself its own staff, exempts itself from the general laws regulating such staff and, more generally, utilizes such staff in whatever way personal members see fit. Is it any wonder that they grow distant having their own personal servants on the public's payroll? If the work is too onerous, then make Congress bigger to divide up the duties and eliminate the staff. Of course that brings more eyes to legislation and makes getting things done for individual members harder by diluting their power...

This then brings us to the central point of Congressional power, as seen in Cato No. 6 by Cato on 13 DEC 1787:

In what manner then will you be eased, if the expences of government are to be raised solely out of the commerce of this country; do you not readily apprehend the fallacy of this argument. But government will find, that to press so heavily on commerce will not do, and therefore must have recourse to other objects; these will be a capitation or poll-tax, window lights, &c. &c. And a long train of impositions which their ingenuity will suggest; but will you submit to be numbered like the slaves of an arbitrary despot; and what will be your reflections when the tax-master thunders at your door for the duty on that light which is the bounty of heaven. It will be the policy of the great landholders who will chiefly compose this senate, and perhaps a majority of this house of representatives, to keep their lands free from taxes; and this is confirmed by the failure of every attempt to lay a land-tax in this state; hence recourse must and will be had to the sources I mentioned before. The burdens on you will be insupportable—your complaints will be inefficacious—this will beget public disturbances, and I will venture to predict, without the spirit of prophecy, that you and the government, if it is adopted, will one day be at issue on this point. The force of government will be exerted, this will call for an increase of revenue, and will add fuel to the fire. The result will be, that either you will revolve to some other form, or that government will give peace to the country, by destroying the opposition. If government therefore can, notwithstanding every opposition, raise a revenue on such things as are odious and burdensome to you, they can do any thing.

By having such an ability to tax for anything it wants, Congress may justify what it wants under 'general Welfare' and get it. We already have the lovely ideas that were put in place during the 1930's heading the Nation to bankruptcy because of the cost of social security, and now others wish to dispense other goodies from government... which is already going bankrupt. The upshot of that is seen by Centinal No. 8 by Centinel on 29 DEC 1787:

But as it is by comparison only that men estimate the value of any good, they are not sensible of the worth of those blessings they enjoy, until they are deprived of them; hence from ignorance of the horrors of slavery, nations, that have been in possession of that rarest of blessings, liberty, have so easily parted with it: when groaning under the yoke of tyranny what perils would they not encounter, what consideration would they not give to regain the inestimable jewel they had lost; but the jealousy of despotism guards every avenue to freedom, and confirms its empire at the expence of the devoted people, whose property is made instrumental to their misery, for the rapacious hand of power seizes upon every thing; dispair presently succeeds, and every noble faculty of the mind being depressed, and all motive to industry and exertion being removed, the people are adapted to the nature of government, and drag out a listless existence.

If ever America should be enslaved it will be from this cause, that they are not sensible of their peculiar felicity, that they are not aware of the value of the heavenly boon, committed to their care and protection, and if the present conspiracy fails, as I have no doubt will be the case, it will be the triumph of reason and philosophy, as these United States have never felt the iron hand of power, or experienced the wretchedness of slavery.

Again, while inflammatory, the point of Centinal and the others who have looked at this is that Congress, given this over-arching and unlimited power being unchecked can and does start to change the course of society to its own ends, instead of the other way around. Granted that many of the laws are good, such as ones encouraging trade and limiting monopolies and removing onerous child labor, but others that attempt to reward a portion of the people or offer things to some and not others falls more harshly into the divisive powers use to oppress some and uplift others. If the rich have no need of social security or medical insurance, then why force them to pay for something they will not use? And if it is something that only the rich can get, then spreading it out to the general population is costly and done via the inefficient means of government. If home ownership is so good, then why back up those Americans that cannot even figure out their budget to get such things? These are rewards we are, as a whole, asked to pay for while it is only the few or even a majority that benefits from it, while a substantial minority not only do not benefit but have to pay for these luxuries.

By creating that rift and exploiting it, and by not having sufficient representation to allow for a thorough discussion and review of these things, government then represses the minority by removing those views from the public dialogue in the seat of power. Dividing up the population into factions and then subdividing those factions to smaller groups, allows for factional politics to be created in which a 'majority' is a bare interest of self-enrichment that is then leveraged upon the minority as a 'common good'. If we can stand up for the rights of one person to speak out against things done to protect the Nation from abuse, then why are these voices attacked as seeking to hurt those sub-groups? By changing that focus from the entirety of the people to those sub-groups, the dialogue is stifled and ended. Speak up and you are *against* this or that group instead of seeking for common law and application across all of the people for equal protection and letting each benefit from their liberty to prosper or not as the case may be.

In closing, there is a Federalist perspective on what to do if this sort of thing arises, but I am pretty sure that it is just as unpalatable as the vices of Congress foisted upon the people and then supported by a vocal minority to give more power to government... that minority allied here and there to get a majority when it can, that is. Alexander Hamilton wrote this in Federalist No. 26 on 22 DEC 1787:

"The legislature of the United States will be obliged by this provision, once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon the propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter by a formal vote in the face of their constituents. They are not at liberty to vest in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence. As the spirit of party in different degrees must be expected to infect all political bodies there will be, no doubt, persons in the national legislature willing enough to arraign the measures and criminate the views of the majority. The provision for the support of a military force will always be a favorable topic for declamation. As often as the question comes forward, the public attention will be roused and attracted to the subject by the party in opposition; and if the majority should be really disposed to exceed the proper limits, the community will be warned of the danger, and will have an opportunity of taking measures to guard against it. Independent of parties in the national legislature itself, as often as the period of discussion arrived, the State legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if any thing improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but, if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.

Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community require time to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time. Is it probable that such a combination would exist at all? Is it probable that it would be persevered in, and transmitted along through all the successive variations in a representative body, which biennial elections would naturally produce in both houses? Is it presumable that every man the instant he took his seat in the national Senate or House of Representatives would commence a traitor to his constituents and to his country? Can it be supposed that there would not be found one man discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold or honest enough to apprise his constituents of their danger? If such presumptions can fairly be made, there ought at once to be an end of all delegated authority. The people should resolve to recall all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as there are counties in order that they may be able to manage their own concerns in person."

The man was a revolutionary, after all, and his prescription goes beyond just the armed forces and Congress seeking to undermine the country by rough take-over. In fact when it is Congress that is the *source* of the problems, then his solution *must* devolve down to its basics.

One man speaking up to decry the problems and cite that the removal of rights is tyrannical, no matter how *good* the things provided are. And as the people are the source of legitimate government, when government acts to expand its powers at the expense of the people, then the final check and balance rests not in government, but with the people.

If you like social security and decry narcotics laws, realize they are *both* part and parcel of this. We pay for both directly and indirectly, not only in money but in the imprisonment of many who have sought to do no harm to others. The narcotics are addictive, but they, at least, are amenable to an individual mending his ways... the handouts by government are far more addictive to the body politic. Both of these, and many other things done for the 'general Welfare' have their supporters, and yet neither of them is given to government to look after as we are supposed to look after ourselves. Charity from government is servitude to bureaucrats and the wardens, and neither is a good place for a free people to be under in a subservient condition. The cost of having poor is the necessity of charity and good will towards our fellow citizens, the price of handing those to government is eroded liberty and freedom.

No comments: