WWW Opinion Times

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Role of Government : The Emerging Campaign

I receive regularly by email, the "Founders' Quote Daily" from The Federalist Patriot. I find it a great tool for stirring up my strict constructionist tendencies. Today's quote brought a thought to mind:
"One government.... In the formation of treaties...will regard the interest of the whole, and the particular interests of the parts as connected with that of the whole." --John Jay, Federalist No. 4

We find here a reminder that the arguments for the role of government were quite different then than now. The whole mindset of what government does was radically different than that which shows itself in current political debate.

The founders had a very simple role for government which can be enumerated thus:
1) Provide for the common defense of all the states.

2) Negotiate treaties on behalf of the states with other countries.

3) Provide for infrastructure improvements which would not be possible to complete at a local level (at that time this included canals and various national roads designed to enhance the flow of commerce).

4) Regulate commerce between the states and make sure no state has an inherent advantage over the others.

This was all formed using a federal system of separated powers headed by the Legislative branch and supported by the Executive and Judicial branches.

I know, I am boring you with basic Government 101 stuff. But isn't that tendency to turn the brain toward "more relevant problems" the problem itself in our current political discussion? "It's just too boring and confusing to have to deal with it all." "Politicians lie anyway and I just don't want to deal with them." Well, we had better deal with them in our election process because the debate has shifted so far from the Constitution and so much into "pocketbook issues" that we have lost sight of the purpose of our freedoms.

Let's be honest and ask a few questions:
--In the early part of our country's history, did poor people in need really fall through the cracks any more than they do now?

--Do you remember Doc on Gunsmoke? I think I have seen half of the episodes in re-run, and I remember numerous times when he provided medical service with a winking request for pay. How did our country survive back then without health insurance?

--Didn't social security used to mean that families took care of grandparents?

--Would the Cotton Gin have been invented and used under Occupational Health and safety standards as they exist today?

--Did the 16th Amendment really make us a more prosperous nation, or did it just expand government?

--Is disposable income enhanced since we instituted a minimum wage, or does everything else keep getting more expensive?

--Has no-fault divorce enhanced relationships? (OK. I know this is not a federal issue, but it really irks me!)

--Has our educational system done better or worse since we took prayer and Bible reading out of schools?

--Has murder increased or decreased since Roe v. Wade?

Once Bush is elected--and I think that is clearly the result--it's time to address the role of government once again like we did after 1994. This time around it must be more substantive and seek much more fundamental change. I believe this discussion should begin with the 16th Amendment and the implementation of a Fair Tax But we need a spokesman to emerge and lead the charge.

But, alas, no Newt Gingrich has yet appeared. Hopefully Denny Hastert is of a mind to bring someone to the top

Links to discussion of the Fair Tax:

Americans for Fair Taxation
Alan Keyes show, October 1, 1997
Discussion on Free Republic

Other Links