Left uncontaminated by despotism, constitutional law embodies a set of principles designed to guarantee the liberty and rights of every individual. These privileges are not government gifts but are the blessings of God and existed prior to the establishment of governments. Our government was established to ensure their protection and continuation. “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom.” [i] The road to tyranny is constructed by unscrupulous politicians and judges who relentlessly fail to acknowledge the source of our liberties. By design, they have mandated a public absence of God for the rest of us – their employers. Conceivably the regime’s regulation of public behavior will ultimately also affect the regulation of our private beliefs.
Essentially, government officials are employees of the people. Elected officials are hired by the voters to represent their best interests and the constitution is our contract. Our federal representatives swear an oath to uphold Constitutional law and should be held accountable. They are subject to replacement if they fail to abide by the conditions under which they were hired.
All individuals are entitled to defend themselves, their liberty and their property with force, if necessary. In addition, citizens, otherwise occupied, have the collective prerogative to hire others who will defend their liberties, their lives and their properties. The citizens authorize appropriate compensation to these employees through reasonable taxation.
“In general terms, therefore, the proper role of government includes such defensive activities as maintaining national military and local police forces for protection against loss of life, loss of property, and loss of liberty at the hands of either foreign despots or domestic criminals.” [ii]
In conjunction with the responsibility of protecting the citizenry, courts were established where suspected criminals are assumed innocent unless they are proven guilty by a completely unbiased judge or a jury of their peers. If the suspect is found guilty, then the convicted criminal receives a suitable penalty and the victims obtain a measure of justice. Overall, courts should function for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty.
In this very rational process, the citizens cannot transfer to the employees any privilege that each citizen does not have individually. Since the people are the primary source of the government’s power and authority – “the important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form?” [iii]
“There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.” [iv] Using the levelheaded approach noted above, apply it to abortion, confiscating private property or guns, welfare, nation building as in Iraq, giving money to other nations such as Africa, paying a tax to the U.N., farm subsidies – feel free to add your own items to this list.
Initially, government was established on the local levels such as in the town, city, county and state. Government was deliberately divided and jurisdiction given to many so that one entity could not exercise too much power. The states purposely created a restricted federal government designed to function in particular areas like national defense. Over time the states have bargained away their power and responsibility little by little to a steadily growing federal giant.
To regain our constitutional standards, it is imperative that we elect principled individuals – we need true statesmen. Unlike some political opportunists, a genuine statesman supports principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just. [v] Unfortunately, some politicians focus on maintaining a lifestyle motivated by ego and power, often at the expense of integrity and the implementation of the ideals they are supposed to uphold. If a segment of the voters have a specific, often self-serving agenda then they will applaud any politician who favors that particular interest.
Elected officials have an ethical responsibility to administer taxpayer dollars with frugality and restraint. Families and businesses have that same accountability in order to remain fiscally solvent. All must operate in the black, spending only what they have in order to be financially sound. It is even more critical that government be monetarily responsible to the citizens for the disbursements of their money.
The constitution does not authorize a federal welfare program or any other plan that alters our society or culture. [vi] A government welfare program confiscates money from some citizens and redistributes that money to other citizens who qualify in some arbitrary manner. Government employees, as Davy Crockett so concisely stated, redistribute resources that are not theirs to give. [vii] This is legal plunder, not genuine charity. Governments are not supposed to function as philanthropic entities. The Christian appeal to feed the hungry and cloth the naked is an individual plea. This country is filled with individuals who willingly give to others – we do not need to have the government seize our funds and make disbursement decisions.
Welfare perpetuates poverty and reduces self esteem and determination. To borrow from an old Chinese proverb – it is giving a fish rather than teaching a person how to fish. Work enables individuals to develop self reliance, dignity and character. Rather than rely on themselves and the God that bestowed liberty, welfare recipients frequently look to the government, often with an attitude of entitlement, for the solution to every problem. Essentially, they relinquish their God-given privileges which results in weakness and dependency on others.
Dispensing taxpayer dollars, without compunction, often serves as a political ploy for securing popularity for less creative candidates who might otherwise actually serve the majority of their constituents instead of the most vocal and demanding. It is also useful for officials who are losing popularity in the polls. A special interest group may use a self-serving spokesman who always manages to acquire a forum in the consistently accommodating media. Or they may have a well paid lobby or highly visible non government organization sponsored by some tax free foundation with a covert agenda.
Personal equality and freedom quickly disappear as huge resource sucking bureaucracies are created to accommodate those special interest groups who demand exclusive treatment or government favors. “With each group out to get its share of the spoils, such governments historically have mushroomed into total welfare states. Once the process begins, once the principle of the protective function of government gives way to the aggressive or redistribution function, then forces are set in motion that drive the nation toward totalitarianism.” [viii]
According to the constitution, the government may establish a monetary system and levy taxes. Our congress, who instituted the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, unconstitutionally delegated the job of printing money to the banking cabal known as the Federal Reserve. There is nothing federal about it – it is privately owned by the big banks. They print the fiat money [ix] and then charge us interest for its use which accounts, in part, for the high federal deficit. These are the same big banks that send high interest credit cards to any warm body, with or without a job.
Our president has just proposed another $500 million dollars “to help displaced private school students” in the gulf area. [x] That particular district already receives $14 million a year in school vouchers from the federal government. Bush just approved a $300 billion highway bill (packed with pork). [xi] We are sending billions of dollars for flood relief. We sent millions for the Asian tsunami and just agreed to send more to the government of Africa. There is no requirement in the constitution that establishes the U.S. as the world’s benefactor. Instead of maintaining our infrastructure, we are spending billions in a war thousands of miles away while our southern borders are unprotected. And those who enter sap more of our resources, including American jobs – jobs our recently displaced hurricane victims could use. Excuse me for sounding uncharitable but we have an out of control federal deficit.
Despite the fact that we have a huge deficit which requires loans and printing more Federal Reserve fiat money, our congress refuses to compromise on the prolific popularity producing pork spending for their local communities. The number of outrageous, expensive projects that are being funded by taxpayer dollars is not only unconstitutional but unscrupulous. [xii]
When our president stepped into his job in 2001 his yearly wages were $400,000 a year – double what the previous president received – thanks to congress who voted a presidential pay hike. This salary was about 300% over his previous salary as governor of Texas. The president also gets an annual expense account of $50,000 plus housing – the White House and Camp David. He also has access to a fleet of planes, helicopters and armored limousines. In the same bill, congress set an annual budget for the Executive Office of the President of $52,135,000. There are other presidential expenses that are charged to the Pentagon and other federal agencies. [xiii] I know there are a lot of CEO’s who make more – I do not begrudge a person their salary. The issue is the president’s constitutional oath. Raises should be merited by outstanding service.
Big business has outsourced many of their jobs and/or moved out of the country. America’s tax base is shrinking. Our big bankrupt government is still spending. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve presses are running 24/7 producing money that continues to lose value as it increases in quantity. This is particularly devastating to the poor. [xiv] We each get less for our money. At some point in time, there must be an accounting – the piper must be paid. Which group will be sacrificed? Who will lose their savings, their social security, their pensions – the trusting citizens or the self-serving government elitists?
Unlike normal employees who obtain a merit pay raise from their employer, congress voted themselves a $4,000 pay raise for 2005 which is about $330 more each month. “In passing the 2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, members of Congress gave themselves a $4,000 raise for an annual salary of $162,000. Congress continues to accept raises without having approved any for minimum-wage workers since 1997.” [xv] This legislation was carefully shielded in another bill. They get raises yet the citizen receives little, if any, accountability from our run away spendthrift government.
A man or woman is worthy of their hire but when hundreds of restrictive government regulations are created that devastate private enterprise, it is totally outrageous for congress to be hiking up their pay while trashing their constitutional oath. The Congress approved NAFTA caused the loss of thousands of American jobs. Newly approved CAFTA will do the same. Congress is looking out for their welfare but apparently not the American workers. Under these current circumstances, we don’t need foreign enemies.
I am certain that the president needs a lot of assistance. However, he has numerous high salaried assistants, some of which also received $4,000 raises starting in 2005. You may see the complete nauseating list here.
If a private citizen embezzled employer’s money and was convicted and served time, would he/she still get a pension from that company? Chances are very unlikely in the real world but not in congress. Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski was convicted of stealing taxpayer funds but still enjoys a taxpayer funded pension of over $100,000 a year. Former Congressman John Dowdy went to jail for perjury over a $25,000 bribe (collateral income). Since leaving the House in 1970, he has received a million dollars in a taxpayer funded pension. Former Congressman Gary Condit, not re-elected after his public scandal over his affair with a young Washington intern, could get as much as $761,603 from his taxpayer funded pension. [xvi]
Former Senator Tom Daschle who failed to get re-elected in 2004 will collect $96,000 a year in taxpayer pension funds. He repeatedly fought to overspend the federal budget but continually blocked all efforts to protect our social security funds. He is now a lobbyist – he obviously knows how to manipulate the system.
As part of the congressional pension package – they may retire with full, guaranteed retirement pensions at age fifty after twenty years of service. Unlike ordinary pensions, congressional pensions have a very healthy cost of living adjustment. So much for our congressmen being public servants! Most retired individuals live on a fixed pension or social security and Medicare. Congressmen enjoy the very best healthcare benefits after their retirement.
Unfortunately, government abuses and corruption increase in relation to the citizen’s ignorance and attention to constitutional principles. Our government is also a reflection of our nation’s moral character. Do we get the government we merit?
The Proper Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson
© Deanna Spingola 2005 - All rights reserved
Deanna Spingola's articles
are copyrighted but may be republished, reposted, or emailed. However, the
person or organization must not
charge for subscriptions or advertising. The article must be copied intact and
full credit given. Deanna's web site address must also be included.