The Framers of the Constitution were great clockmakers in the science
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"The Framers of the Constitution were great clockmakers in the science of
statecraft, and they did, with admirable ingenuity, put together an intricate machine, which
promised to run indefinitely, and tell the time of the centuries." This statement, made by
James M. Beck , praises our founding fathers and their ideals. Today, however, Mr. Beck
and the authors of the Constitution would be outraged with the status of our government,
especially Congress. They would see how truly expanded our government has become
over the last 200 years.
Shortly after the Declaration of Independence had been adopted in 1776, the
Second Continental Congress created a plan of government for the new nation to live
under. This plan was known as the Articles of Confederation. This document would give
arisal to a new type of legislative body, but many problems would soon follow. This
Congress was too inefficient and clumsy to govern effectively. It had no independent
income and no authority to compel the states to accept its rulings. It couldn’t levy or
collect taxes. It could pass laws but could not enforce them. In short, this Congress was
nothing more than an unrespected child trying to get attention. On the contrary, the only
possible good thing that came out of Congress during this time was the Northeast
This accomplishment, seemingly insignificant, gave the nation a method by which
states could enter the union. This one success was not enough to save the Articles.
Another convention was called to correct the weaknesses but the decision was made to
prepare an entirely new document which is known as the Constitution.
The year was 1787, when a standstill was reached at the Constitutional Convention
on the idea of representation. Delegates from states with small populations favored equal
representation for every state. The larger populated states wanted representation
according to population. Arguments went off like fireworks and it became a mess because
no agreement was made. Finally, a solution, the Connecticut Compromise was set forth
and accepted. It called for a bicameral legislature. There was to be a senate, in which
every state would have two representatives. A House of Representatives, which was to be
based on population, was also created. The states were finally all in agreement with this
system of representation.
The Constitution provides a framework to show how the government is to be
limited. Within that framework the government possesses few powers and those powers
are specifically enumerated. The founders saw limited federal interference in the daily
lives of citizens. There was to be minimal government involvement in the domestic
economy. It is not that way today. These powers, in Article I, Sec. 8, include the right to
"establish Post Offices and post roads; raise and support Armies; provide and maintain a
Navy; declare War;" and other activities related mostly to defense. In addition the
authority of law making was given solely to Congress. How, then, are the many
government agencies like the EPA and ICC justified? Also, in Article I, Sec. 8 of the
Constitution, it states: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes; duties,
imports and excises to pay the debts, provide for common defense, and promote the
general welfare of the United States." The interpretation of this phrase by the judicial
system was simply that Congress may spend money for any purpose as long as it is for
"the general welfare of the United States." Why is this? These events were the exact
opposite of what was originally intended.
The Founders saw the general welfare clause to be a limiting provision on
government. They meant that the government spending and taxing powers could only be
used for purposes that were in the general welfare of the nation and its citizens, not any
particular group of citizens. To clarify its meaning, in 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote,
"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those
Nearly all of the civilian programs that Congress puts into the budget are
unconstitutional. There is no granting of authority for the federal government to pay
money to farms, run the health care industry, impose wage and price controls, or give
welfare to the poor and unemployed. The Founders did not create a Department of
Commerce, a Department of Education, or
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James Madison, Article One of the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Federal government of the United States, General welfare clause, United States Congress, United States Bill of Rights, Postal Clause, Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, Taxing and Spending Clause
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