William Hamilton – The Constitution: Is it lost in history?
October 28, 2009
Readers of a certain age might remember Sam Cook’s song: “Wonderful World.” Here’s the opening verse:
“Don’t know much about history.
“Don’t know much biology.
“Don’t know much about a science book.
“Don’t know much about the French I took.”
It is probably safe to say that most of us don’t know much about economics either. But not so the late President Ronald W. Reagan, who studied a number of dead, white-guy economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayak, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. President Reagan also studied a couple of live, black-guy economists: Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams.
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Drs. Sowell and Williams are severe critics of the economic policies of Barack Hussein Obama (who happens to be half African-American). By citing the writings of Professors Sowell and Williams, one hopes to avoid the typical race card inevitably thrown at those who criticize the Obama White House.
Over the next decade, the House version of ObamaCare is going to cost taxpayers over $1 trillion. So, the question arises, where is all that money going to come from?
Professor Williams says there is no way for any government to create wealth, no way for any government to create capital. To have any money to work with, governments must take the money from the people in the form of taxes. To have a government program that confers a benefit on one group of people, the government must take the money for that benefit from another group of people.
Readers of a certain age might remember the U.S. Constitution, the document written by a bunch of dead, white guys. The Constitution says the first duty of government is to keep us safe in our persons and our property. In other words, the Constitution makes a big deal of national defense and police protection. As a social compact, we taxpayers have agreed to take some of the wealth that only we can create and give some of it to the federal government for national defense and to state and local governments to provide police protection.
But the choices get more difficult when the government-in-power wants to collect taxpayer dollars for programs that are not enumerated by the Constitution in Article I, Section 8. A reading of Section 8 reveals that the federal government is only authorized to do 21 things. Yet, as Dr. Williams says, “As much as three-quarters of what Congress taxes us and spends our money for is nowhere to be found on that list. To cite just a few examples, there is no constitutional authority for Congress to subsidize farms, bail out banks, or manage car companies.”
Meanwhile, the list of 21 authorized activities gives the federal government plenty to do. Unfortunately it does some of the things it is authorized to do very poorly. Here are six examples: run a postal service, prevent counterfeiting, handle immigration, tax, borrow money and spend it.
As compared to private companies such as: FedEx and UPS, our government-run postal service runs a very poor third. Computer and printer technology is way ahead of the federal government on counterfeiting. Our government has let immigration get out of control to the point that the southern one-third of the states bordering Mexico are, de facto, part of Mexico.
The tax code is so complicated that only highly paid lawyers and CPAs can understand it. Government spending is so out of control that the government is hard-pressed to find enough foreigners or foreign governments to buy our debt to fund the federal budget deficit.
For sure, government-run health care is not one of powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8. Given the fact that the federal government cannot do properly many of the things the Constitution says it is supposed to do, the odds are that federal bureaucrats would FUBAR ObamaCare as well.
– Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a former assistant professor of history and political science at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
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