The United States Constitution has been under attack for decades, with the original intent of the Founders either forgotten or distorted beyond recognition. In response to my post relating to the Mulshine article, a correspondent made the following comments in advocating government intrusion into the healthcare market, beginning with these excerpts from the Constitution:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
(His bold added)
"We the people -- as free people," he said, "-- have the power to provide through our representatives in Congress for the general welfare of our nation aka ourselves. What is more basic to the general welfare than adequate health care? And who denies that millions of our citizens do not have adequate health care, affordable or not? Isn't then our responsibility through our elected representatives to at least address realistic solutions? Isn't that reasonable?"
In short, he is using the "general welfare" clause to justify socialism. This is a major long-term threat to our freedom, as lawsuits have been filed by George Soros, among others, to advance just this proposition. The following is my response to this insidious idea:
The fundamental founding principle of America is embodied in the Declaration's words:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...laying its Foundation on such Principles..."
The entire set of founding documents must be interpreted within the context of the principle of individual rights, possessed equally and at all times by all people, by virtue of the fact of birth. Yes, there are some contradictions in these documents. But these rights, including the right to one's property, are rights to freedom of action in a social context, but that pose no risk nor impose any unchosen obligation on one's fellow citizens. Every individual has the right to earn his own living, produce his own property, engage in trade with his fellow human beings, and pursue his own happiness by his own effort...but only on a voluntary basis. The only obligation he has to others, in this context, is to respect their rights to do the same. This means he has no right to force others to support him, to take their property, to impose coercive agreements and association on them. If he does, he has violated their rights, and is a criminal. He has only the right to voluntary associations with people who possess the same rights as he does. That is what equal means.
Physical force is the only means of violating individual rights. Government holds a monopoly on force. Therefore, the government's powers are limited, essentially, to protection of the Rights of Individuals. It has the purpose to protect the people against physical force by other men, which means to prosecute and punish people for murder, theft, infringement upon property rights such as fraud or trespass, etc. But it has no right or authority to engage in these activities against the citizens whose individual rights it was created to protect. The overriding principle of our founding is unalienable rights.
"We the People" means we as individuals, not as a disembodied collective with unlimited majoritarian powers. This principle is unequivocal. The key word here is unalienable. Self-government means the right of free individuals to elect the representatives who will discharge the enumerated responsibilities of government, within the context of the principles stated above. It does not mean the right to assemble a majority, voting bloc, or special interest lobby for the purpose of gaining, through the coercive power of the state, some economic advantage at the expense of others that it could not get by voluntary persuasion and association...i.e., by violating the rights of others, which are unalienable.
The "General Welfare" clause, likewise, does not mean the granting of special economic privileges, or advancing the welfare of particular groups, at the expense of others. It does not mean welfare statism. The term is General Welfare. Within the context of our founding principles, this means the use of the tax and spend powers of government for the limited purpose of establishing and promoting the conditions required for every individual to exercise his equal rights to Life, Liberty, Property, and the Pursuit of his own Welfare and Happiness...i.e., the protection of individual rights.
"We the people -- as free people -- have the power to provide through our representatives in Congress for the general welfare of our nation aka ourselves. What is more basic to the general welfare than adequate health care? And who denies that millions of our citizens do not have adequate health care, affordable or not? Isn't then our responsibility through our elected representatives to at least address realistic solutions? Isn't that reasonable?"
No! Not if it entails a forcible transfer of wealth., or the enslavement of the doctors and hospitals (EMTALA). This is "We the People" acting as a mob. The principle of rights protects the individual from the state, collective, or democratic majority. It places the individual outside of the electoral power of "We the People".
The power given to Congress to regulate interstate commerce is one of the loopholes in the constitution that, like a few malignant cancer cells, has metastasized into an explosion of statist controls over all aspects of our lives. But viewed within the crucial context of our founding Enlightenment principles, the Founders could not have envisioned any such thing. The main purpose of the commerce clause was to foster freedom of economic activity by barring trade barriers, such as tariffs, between the states. This is based on the right of individuals to exercise their rights to economic freedom of production and trade, which is derived from their Unalienable Rights.