Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Who Watches the Watchmen?

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated." 
 --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Hammond, 1821
If I were influential enough to amend the US Constitution, it would be to establish additional checks and balances to prevent the Federal government from encroaching on the powers of the individual states. As it stands the 10th Amendment reserves to the States those powers that are not enumerated in the Constitution, but there is no mechanism for enforcement. As a result, the Constitution, while it has "checks and balances" to correct abuses committed by any particular branch ... Executive, Legslative, Judicial... it does not prevent collusion between those branches.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act is one such collusion, where the Supreme Court re-interpreted the plain language of the law specifically to save it from being struck down under the Commerce Clause. Other examples include the education, energy, and housing. The Constitution grants the Federal government dominion over none of those things. It is only through ignoring the 10th Amendment that they exist at all. Their functions are properly left to to the States, and to the People.

It really doesn't matter how "nice" something would be to have, nor whether I would personally agree with it, nor whether I would personally profit from it, nor whether it would be more efficiently run by a central "authority"; if it is not an enumerated power of the Federal Government, then we should provide it by other means or amend the Constitution to provide it. Having two perfectly reasonable courses of action, there's no amenable justification to ignore the Constitution. This simply leads to further usurpation. Yes, it's a slippery slope argument, but a valid one, as we have actually seen it at work. Once we allow that the Constitution may be ignored, then it is ignored on more and more issues, and the law becomes subject to whim and abuse.

However, the only redress of Federal abuses come within Federal courts, which don't exactly have a spotless track record.
Neither the Constitution, nor the rule of law can long endure the blight of a misinformed public. As friends of liberty, our eternally vigilant task must be an educational one. The people must ever remember the words of the founders, the wisdom of economists, and the lessons of history. Let us endeavor to turn back the regulatory lords in Washington, the twentieth-century pretenders to our property.

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