Monday, March 16, 2009

The Era of Big Government is Back: Constitution Beware

What follows is a recent article for my column in the Sewanee Purple (school newspaper for the University of the South). Due to length restrictions, I was not able to lay out my argument fully. However, I believe I was still able to voice my major concerns.

Throughout the ages there has been a continued battle over the proper size, scope, and role of government. Not even our Founders were immune to the debate. Nonetheless, the limited government Madisonian view was to prove the victor, giving us a constitution which we have regrettably continued to deviate from ever since. This deviation has been one I have lamented ever since I first fell in love with our founding document. Sadly, I fear the recent actions of the new administration are pointing to a new age of an even more drastic violation of the Constitution. In last week’s speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama claimed that he does not “believe in big government.” Well, Mr. President, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

In his first State of the Union, Thomas Jefferson asserted that the pillars of American prosperity are “most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.” In this respect nothing has changed since 1801. Still, though our society has vastly been altered, individual enterprise and individual liberty must be left free of government intrusion in order to prosper—something proponents of bigger government still do not comprehend. They see no connection between freedom in both the economic and social arenas. However, the two are not only linked: they are inseparable. As our government grows on one front, so it does on another. Through its new agenda for our nation the Obama administration is providing a prime example of an assault on all fronts of liberty.

In order to have the greatest amount of individual liberty, we must have the greatest amount of individual autonomy—both economically and socially. Of course, there are limits on this autonomy, which is why our Constitution provides for the protection of life, liberty and property for each individual. Our government is set up to protect our individual, God-given liberty, but this is where the role of government must stop. The federal government’s sole permissible field of activity is outlined in our Constitution. As for the remainder of the powers and responsibilities, the 10th Amendment guarantees, “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.” This administration’s actions seem to further usurp the power constitutionally guaranteed to the people and absorb it further into the scope of the federal government.

What I am referring to is the massive spending and government expansion President Obama has outlined in his recent $3.6 trillion budget proposal as well as his willingness to engage in massive government spending in general. This program is not only not job-friendly, it is not Constitution-friendly. This proposal makes the deplorable growth under the past administration look like a minor earmark. The president’s plan would raise taxes on small business owners—or as he likes to call them: “the rich.” This will cause businesses to have less money to spend on employment, leading to firings and loss of new jobs. Moreover, his program expands or creates a number of government programs, which will only add to the national debt and become permanent expenditures. Remember: objects the government puts into motion tend to stay in motion. Moreover, the Obama plan will continue adding to our national debt at a time when we can least afford it. Most importantly, however, is the Constitutional and social concerns the plan raises. The plan will have the effect of overturning the welfare reform of the nineties and of expanding dependence. This is something that a society based on individual reliance and personal responsibility cannot long endure. As Mitt Romney said at last year’s CPAC, “Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug.” President Obama’s plan is a death to many things: “among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” We must realize we cannot spend ourselves to prosperity, and we must return to our Constitution. If we do not, big centralized government will continue to rise and individual liberty will continue to diminish.

In defense of the Constitution,

Daryl Luna

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