Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dissecting the Constitution: The Preamble


So much of what I post and write about is all the evil that has come as a result of the perversion of the powers of government.   The brilliance of the constitution is how it leaves so little up to interpretation when it comes to the powers of the federal government.   We all know that left to ourselves, we can rationalize anything.  A group left to its own devices will do the same.  Christ was God’s perfect answer to salvation, leaving no room for guessing.  The constitution was Man’s attempt at creating a government that removed the interpretation of man in its day to day governance.   It begins with the preamble, which lets you know what the intention of the document to follow is. 
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” 
 The preamble is intent, what follows are the instructions for carrying out the intent.  The opening sentence lets you know that the intent of the founding document is to allow for a government of the people.  Not a certain type of people, but people of the United States.  What about slaves and discrimination?  Had the constitution been carried out literally, there would be no room for slavery and no room for discrimination.   The next phrase elaborates in saying that the goal is to form a “more” perfect union, not perfect.  This is an admission that since the government is of the people and that people are flawed, there will be mistakes.     
To make this more perfect Union, it is necessary to establish justice, which defined in the rest of the constitution, is a procedural form of justice, meaning that so long as the process is followed, justice is served, as opposed to the admiralty courts that preceded the nation’s founding.   
Domestic tranquility is not a reference to making sure things go well in your home, but rather than conflict within the union is dealt with at the federal level.  
Providing for the common defense is simple and very telling.  By forming a Union, the essential sovereignty of the states is recognized.  A small central government is to be laid out in the articles of the constitution with one of the central roles of the federal government to be providing for the common defense.  This would let foreign intruders know that an attack on one was an attack on the other.  That all states of the Union would contribute to the defense of the states.   
Promoting the general welfare, meaning prosperity, is not the welfare of today.  The limitation of the government was to accomplish this goal.   Prosperity, as believed by our founders, was through the efforts of the individual.  It was a rebellion against a government that was believed to be too intrusive, yet had a fraction of the power our current government has, that was fought to promote prosperity. 
Securing the blessings of liberty is also a telling phrase of our founders.  The use of the word “blessings” implies the grace of a divine power, that has endowed the people with liberty, and that government should not infringe, but protect this divine gift.  It acknowledges that our government is a partnership with God and not apart from God, to secure God’s blessing of liberty.  
From the preamble, our founders then set out to define the actual codification of these principles.   Each article explicitly lays out what the federal can do.  The first 10 amendments then go on to say what no government has the power to do and what powers are left to the states.    At the founding, the balance of power rested with the people, followed by the states and then the fed.  221 years after the ratification of the constitution, we have flipped the balance of power upside down, yet little has changed in the constitution. 

12 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

I wonder if the founders thought that charitable institutions such as the church would rise to the challenges of helping the poor? The culture and environment was different back then for sure and the wisdom of the amendment process was very evident in the granting rights, such as voting, to the most powerless amongst us.

In truth though all of us benefit from the sacrifices of those who gave all for our freedoms. Some may disagree but I believe that there is no such thing as self-made wealth. In a sense all of opportunities in our country has come by the sacrifices and wisdom of our forefathers. Most of the wealthy amongst us are those that have learned to work the system for their benefit. Sadly some of these disdain the poor and those less fortunate. Of course many like Gates and Buffet understand that wealth comes with an obligation to give back.

jrchaard said...

I often wonder what would be better, giving back, or spending/investing back. In down times, I would rather earn than receive.

Kansas Bob said...

I used to be but I am now not much of a believer in trickle down economics. And if anything has trickled down it has been to workers in other countries. The divide between the wealthy and the poor in our country is greater now than it ever has been.

jrchaard said...

But, let's be real here in what the divide is. Our poor have multiple televisions, cell phones, and other amenities as a result of our system. Compare that to the rich/poor contrast in life in other countries. To take your point to its logical conclusion, few should work hard and have their fruits given to non-workers so as to decrease the divide between rich and poor. We always talk about fairness in terms of what people have and never in terms of effort.

Kansas Bob said...

Maybe a better delimiter than multiple televisions, and cell phones is fair wages, good schools, food and health care for their children?

And I am not opposed to fairness with regard to our system of taxes. It just depends what one means when they say "fair". Parts of life are not really "fair" unless you are wealthy enough to make it that way by way of lawyers and politicians.

Consider the whole idea of westward expansion and how Native Americans were evicted because wealthy folks grabbed their land. The wealthy amongst us have always felt entitled to what didn't belong to them. And don't ask me about the whole idea on imminent domain and how governments still feel entitled to evict people in support of wealthy entrepreneurs.

And all of this has very little to do with the founders or the constitution. It is more about greed than rights. Just my two cents.

jrchaard said...

So should a store owner only set prices at a level that will allow him to cover his current expenses and allow for a modest living. anything beyond that would be taking advantage of the consumer because the store owner doesn't really need that much money. Fair in economics is determined by what a person is willing to pay for an item or service. Fair is determined by what a person is willing to accept for compensation for a service or task. That's it. Fairness outside of that is different, such as the land grab in the US. But even with that, how do we define original land. At what point do we say this group of people or that group of people originated from point A, and any expansion beyond that is unfair. Didn't we all start at the same point. The native Americans only got they land they had because they beat out the competition they had faced.

Kansas Bob said...

So should the wealthy owners of insurance companies be able to influence congress to exempt certain expensive treatments from being covered (like dialysis) and no longer cover the people they insure simply because they got sick? These are the people who force their insured clients to go on Medicare because of greed? It is one of the reasons the govt is involved in healthcare.

Should the wealthy leaders of industry be able to buy legislation that benefits them and not their workers or their clients? Fairness has little to do with the ways that business is done in the US and the ways that lobbyists influence politicians.

So it may not be fair to require more from the wealthy but life is certainly not fair. I will not cry if wealthy folks are taxed higher in the years ahead. Folks like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates will not cry either because they understand that responsibility comes with wealth. And lets face it - wealthy people are holding on to their money and are doing little for the economy and the unemployed (in this country anyways) these days.

Of course there will always be wealthy Scrooges who think that people less fortunate belong in poor houses and debtor prisons. Glad that Scrooge saw the light and I am glad that we do not live in that era.

jrchaard said...

government shouldn't be involved in healthcare is the answer to #1. The true scope of government would disallow for influence by industry leaders. courting favor usually means favorable taxes or regulations, of which there should be no income tax (which makes things fair), and government should have the power of punitive regulation.

Bob, ultimately, I want you to tell me what it is that bill gates and warren buffet are to do with their taxes that will truly help the unemployed, aside from subsidizing their lack of employment. Taxes create no jobs. So please tell me what higher taxes will do and how it is fair for workers that those that don't work get paid.

Kansas Bob said...

So where do sick people go when the insurance companies kick them out of the street because they have an expensive treatments? Where do people who retire go when they cannot get health insurance? Debtor's prison when they cannot pay the medical bills? What is your alternative to Medicare and Medicaid?

I doubt that I can even convince you that the graduated income tax system we currently have is relatively fair. Maybe the whole idea of tax brackets seem unfair to you?

But really, the bigger issue that we are faced with is globalization. Maybe we should eliminate all corporate (not personal income) taxes and try to lure companies back to the States. Or maybe Corporate America should freeze salaries of all of their employees? Maybe all companies should remove healthcare benefits from employee compensation packages? Maybe we should bring back the 6 day work week? Maybe no one should get more than two weeks of vacation? Maybe (you will like this) we should not have a minimum wage? Maybe everyone should take the same % cut that we impose on the minimum wagers?

Yeah, I know, some of those ideas are ludicrous but I do wonder what it will take to get some of our jobs back from other countries. Any ideas?

jrchaard said...

What a fun debate.
#1 eliminate minimum wage, no string attached.
#2 close the borders
#3 instate a flat tax or national consumption tax (with an amendment that says you can't have both)
#4 eliminate any regulation that allows favor to unions or any business, which will be real easy since you won't have the tax code any more.
#5 eliminate government as much as possible and give people as much of their OWN money as possible to allow Americans to do what they have been the best at in the world, creating prosperity and being charitable through choice, not through mandates. I see nothing compassion through compulsory government action.

Kansas Bob said...

You forgot about 12 hour shifts, six day work weeks, no company sponsored health insurance, debtor's prisons and the sanitariums for sick people. All fruits of a corporation-oriented culture where workers have no voice. :)

Kansas Bob said...

LOL, Here is some advice for Obama from conservative Joe Scarborough:

"If I were a Democrat running the White House all I'd be saying everyday is 'Republicans want to cut of unemployment benefits for the neediest Americans-- working class Americans-- while giving tax cuts to millionaires.' That one is so easy."