The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So, Bob Ellis, let's cut to the chase...

With his usual tact and aplomb, Bob Ellis jumps on a Newsweek writer for having the effrontery to suggest that Health Care Legislation was within the powers granted to congress by the US Constitution, Article 1 Section 8. This, no doubt, in Ellis's mind leads to a challenge as to the meaning of the phrase "General Welfare."

So let me suggest, Bob, as you and your friends so often do, that the term General Welfare points to another set of rights that are also not specifically enumerated in the Constitution because they are held to be "self-evident" and "unalienable."

These include "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Especially that last one, Bob. So you know what? Lighten up. You seem sort of unhappy. And that's just not right, right?

(Strange, isn't it? Having to teach the fundamentals to the Fundamentalists?)


Bob Ellis said...

An assault on the U.S. Constitution causes the same damage whether it is performed out of ignorance or malevolence. An American who "lightens up" in the face of an assault on his country and his Constitution is a pathetic excuse for an American.

Again I find myself unable to decide: are liberals really that ignorant, or do they intentionally try to mislead?

After all, the evidence that the "General Welfare" clause is not a liberal Christmas-wish-list of federal powers is so strong one could practically stumble over it in the dark.

But since you still manage to miss it (I'm giving you credit for ignorance here, rather than deducing you are trying to deceive)...

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. - Tenth Amendment

The Constitution says, “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, &c., provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States”. I suppose the meaning of this clause to be, that Congress may collect taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare, in those cases wherein the Constitution empowers them to act for the general welfare. To suppose that it was meant to give them a distinct substantive power, to do any act which might tend to the general welfare, is to render all the enumerations useless, and to make their powers unlimited. - Thomas Jefferson

Our tenet ever was…that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. - Thomas Jefferson

They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please…Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. - Thomas Jefferson

Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. – Thomas Jefferson

[Congressional jurisdiction of power] is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison

Your comments system limits me to 4096 characters, and your education
would be incomplete without the remainder of the material you need to know, so stand by for Part 2.

Bob Ellis said...

Part 2

If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one,possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. - James Madison

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined . . . to be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” – James Madison

With respect to the two words ‘ general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison

Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. … Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America. - James Madison

And since I'm already giving you credit for ignorance here, I'll inform you that James Madison was the chief author of the Constitution, so much so that he was known as the "Father of the Constitution." If anyone would know what is and what is NOT permissible under our form of government, it would be Madison)

When we ignore the enumerated powers of the Constitution, we essentially have no Constitution. Rather, we have "whim of the day" as our highest law, as codified by an oligarchy in Washington. That's similar to any number of the mediocre socialist countries you see around the world, but that's not America.

So please, do the American people and our republic a favor and get a clue. If you live in America, you do not live in a country where unlimited government is legal; our founders were wise enough to understand that unlimited government was a grave threat to freedom (as current events are already proving). The United States is NOT a socialist dive; we are a constitutional republic. Treat our great country accordingly and respect our Constitution.

Bill Fleming said...

So Bob, what makes you more of a Constitutional scholar than Barack Obama, or even me for that matter?

Bill Fleming said...

Is it because you know how to cut and paste selected things from various websites?

Bill Fleming said...

I notice Ellis didn't choose to speak to the real question I raised regarding the DOI.

I'm thinking that's because he can't find any cut and paste references that support his argument. Only ones — many of which he himself has no doubt written — that support mine.

He also fails to mention that the very Amendment he cites (#10) actually contains those self-same rights.

In other words, We the People can imbue any power to congress we so choose, since we retain them all.

Michael Sanborn said...

I'll carefully add the caveat that while we may imbue congress with powers as we choose, it has been show that it is very difficult to take back powers they abuse.

I don't necessarily want to jump on board with Bob, here, but I think congress has enough power. And, while we have the ability to imbue them with more, I'd be reluctant to imbue them with the power to decide one more thing that is supposedly for my own good and costs my grandchildren trillions.

Bill Fleming said...

Michael, it's going to cost them trillions anyway. It's just a matter of who they send the checks to.

Steve Sibson said...

"pursuit of happiness"

You have the right to pursue, you don't have the right to take happiness away from somebody else via the force of government, so you don't have to go through the trouble of pursuing. That is Marxist redistribution and is unconstitutional. The unconstitutional welfare state was created in 1937 thanks to FDR's second wave of New Deal programs that the reconstructed Supreme Court allowed to stand. And we have been going down hill ever since.

Anonymous said...

How can anybody take Bob seriously as long as he clings to the absurd notion that the earth is 6ooo years old? That taints any attempt of his to discuss the Constitution or any other issue.

Bill Fleming said...

Interesting point, Anonymous. As for me, I never take Ellis very seriously. He's doing enough of that for both of us. A legend in his own mind.

Anonymous said...

We'll begin, only begin to take Ellis seriously when he foregoes Medicare, Social Security, etc. He can't walk his talk.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the high school constitutional scholar Ellis has never read the Commerce Clause, or the plethora of Commerce Clause cases. Insurance, and hence it's medical care is an interstate commerce so "we the people" are justified to federally regulate medical insurance and medical care.

Ellis & his pointy hats can't have it both ways - medical insurance is in the stream of interstate commerce (and they argue to keep it there) - so the feds can regulate it.