Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Questions to Ask of Our Government

This is not necessarily Maryland focused, but the thoughts apply.  


Karl Uppiano, writing at the American Thinker presents "The Top Three Tea Party Questions" that he contends should be asked. Those questions are: 
1. Which article of the Constitution gives government the authority to do this?

2. How does this help reduce the deficit and balance the budget?

3. Why does this have to be mandatory and not voluntary?

These are good questions, but these are not just Tea Party questions, they should be questions every American asks of their government a little more. The Framers were suspicous of the accumulation of power, hence the structure of the national government, but also the reliance on the state governments as bodies of power. But there are two questions that Uppiano doesn't ask, and I would name these as 1.5 and 2.5, that should be asked as well.  

1.5.  Is there a provision in the Constitution that limits or prohibits the government from taking this action?  The Constitution is not just a document that grants certain enumerated powers to Congress, it also contains express limitations on the government's power.  The difficulty that we as a nation face is that the Framers were not stupid, they realized that Congress would need to have a certain amount of flexibility to legislate their enumerated powers.  Thus, the Necessary and Proper Clause.  The problem of course is that Congress and the Courts have allowed the Necessary part to go forward, but everyone has forgotten about the Proper part of that clause.  Just because an action may be necessary to effect, for example, a regulation of interstate commerce, doesn't mean that it is actually Proper for the federal government to exercise that power.  We have to look elsewhere in the Constitution and in the Bill of Rights to make sure that what Congress is doing is not just permitted, but also not prohibited.     

2.5.  If this action is necessary, what level of government should be doing what ever is being proposed?  America is a nation governed by multiple levels of government, from the national government to state government and multiple levels of local government.  But more and more, we are asking the federal government or we are allowing the federal government to do more and more and more.  What is the point of having state government or local government if we are asking the national government to do all of these tasks we want government to do.  

We as a nation are not doing enough to ask ourselves "should government be doing this thing?"   The loss of liberty is not a jarring thing, not like an invasion by a foreign power.  The loss of liberty in America has happened because we don't ask ourselves and our politicians these questions? 

1 comment:

Mike McDermott said...

Matt, I agree that these are not simply "Tea Party" questions. We fail to ask them at our own peril. Just as every bill must have a fiscal note attached, they should also be qualified along these lines.

Thanks for asking the right questions,
Delegate-Elect Mike McDermott, 38-B

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