Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pork spending and the US Constitution

I’ve been reading about several groups that are concerned over “pork spending” by Congress. In order to get to what is truly pork versus that which these groups suppose is pork, the limits on Congressional power to spend money must be understood.

One need look at Article I, Section 8 for the spending authorization of Congress. Also one needs to fully grasp the extent of the delegation of powers from the State to the federal government. Article I, section 8, paragraph 1 states:

“The Congress shall have the 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;”

Let’s take the center clause and examine it. That clause is: “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;” Within this clause are three enumerated objects of the power to spend. These are not grants of power in and of themselves. These are restrictions on the power of Congress to spend whilly-nilly. Thus any and all expenditures made by Congress must fall into one of three categories, 1) debts, 2) common Defence, or 3) general Welfare. Now at this, one might exclaim well that proves it, Congress can spend on the general Welfare and on debts and on common Defence so Congress can virtually spend on whatever they choose. One would be wrong because these three limiting enumerations of expenditures are themselves limited by the prepositional phrase at the end of the clause that states “of the United States;”

Throughout the Constitution, the Framers separated several bodies-politic. These are primarily the States, the People, and the United States. In places where the federal powers were to overshadow those of the States, the Constitution explicitly said so. One must note the conspicuous absence of any enumeration of power to spend on the “debts, common Defence, and general Welfare of the States” nor is there any delegation of authority to spend on the “debts, common Defence, and general Welfare of the People.” The federal government was created by the People through their agents, the States, and provided explicit delegations of authority to the federal government. The federal government, and the public servants, We the People send there are to concern themselves solely with the “debts, common Defence, and general Welfare of the United States;” Local issues and personal issues are not within the purview of the federal government. Thus any expenditure no matter how minor is a violation of the trust placed in the public servants. Congresspersons are sent to Washington to bring the will of the People sending them to bear upon the direction of the country as a whole. Expenditures are restricted solely to those that are beneficial to the Union as a whole. No “bringing home the bacon” is authorized. Yet most if not all Congresspersons have no idea nor do the People. Why? Greed! We all want our share, ignoring those from whom our share is taken. Yes, the government must take monies from one to give to the other, even when it is spend Constitutionally but even more so when monies are spend in an unconstitutional manner.

What are some other unconstitutional expenditures? How about disaster aid! Farm aid! Welfare! Medicaid ! Medicare! Local projects to develop locally needed development. Many of these fit into the category of actions prohibited by the Fifth Amendment, i.e. the taking of private property for private use (regardless of the bullshit spouted out the mouths of the SC justices) but that will wait for another day of discussion.

For instance, let’s look are federal funds to build local schools. How can dollars spent in one State, in one district have a direct connection to the “general Welfare.” Some would claim that the Welfare of each of us is inextricably linked to the welfare of all others. Others would simply say that the federal government could spend similarly in many other States. The question would then arise, “How many non-Union wide expenditures does it take to produce “general Welfare”? One? a hundred? a million? The answer of course will depend on each person’s perspective and will not be agreed upon by the whole. Thus the system of our federal government is such that it and the public servants that perform the necessary duties of managing the government must hold tight to the bound placed on the government by the US Constitution. The limits are explicitly stated and those limits restrict expenditures to the needs of the Union as a whole. No piece is to receive support unless so authorized in the US Constitution. Local and State support are the purview of the local and State authorities, to be managed by those closer to home.

Thus all expenditures that are not Union-wide are pork.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the federal government was authorized to spend for your debts or your general welfare but of course that would bankrupt the government so that can’t be within the authorization of the Constitution? However, we can split hairs and pick and choose for whom we pay debts and provide welfare. If it ain’t all of us, it must be none of us. To be otherwise is to be merely a system of wealth redistribution and what follows is the destruction of personal ambition, hard work, and personal gain.



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