Friday, September 16, 2011

U.S. Constitution is the only thing standing between freedom, tyranny

U.S. Constitution is the only thing standing between freedom, tyranny; by Ed Riffle; San Jose Mercury News

From a local letter to the editor:

If the United States of America had stayed with the original intent of our founding documents, what would our country look like today? My guess is that we would look quite different than we do. We have strayed a long way from the republic envisioned by our founders and have ignored their warnings about a federal government powerful enough to restrict the freedom its citizens or more correctly, the citizens of each of its states. Which brings me to the biggest of the differences between what we have today and what our founders intended; our founders saw the individual states as having the governments that would interact with the citizens, not the federal government.

If we had stayed with our founders' vision, each state would be almost like a country unto itself, with its own citizens and its own laws that governed those citizens. A typical citizen of any state might never in his or her lifetime have any interaction with the federal government save one ... to post a letter. The post office was the one federal entity authorized by the Constitution with which most Americans might interact.

Instead of states looking to the federal government for bailouts, the federal government would always be looking to the states for funding. You see, the founders did not envision a federal income tax. That came with the 16th Amendment. The founders believed that the legitimate purposes of the federal government would be handled by Congress' then-limited ability to levy taxes and, when
the need arose due to war, the federal government had go to each of the states for help.

Each state government would be important to the average citizen since it would be each of the states' legislatures deciding on what activities would be illegal. Under the original intent of the Constitution, there would be no federal standards for vehicle fuel economy and no banning of incandescent light bulbs or national standards on toilets or food labeling or sleeping accommodations for professional goat herders (yes, there are federal regulations on that). All of those issues would be decided by each of the individual states ... or by we the people. Sometimes we forget that our founders believed in individual responsibility.

Because of their limited ability to levy taxes, the federal government would be relatively poor in relationship to the states and would have to justify to the states' legislatures any foreign involvements that cost a lot of money ... like wars and foreign aid.

Congresspersons and presidents would not be arrogant as they would be answerable to the states' legislatures as well as ultimately to the people. The state legislatures' power, however, was eliminated with the passage of the 17th Amendment. Incidentally, the 18th Amendment prohibited the sale of liquor so it seems that we passed three bad amendments (16, 17 and 18) in a row and only had the good sense to repeal one of them.

The U.S. Constitution may be the most important document ever created by man. It is worth reading as it is the only thing standing between the freedom we love and the tyranny that most of the world experiences. Constitution Day is Sept. 17. Our Constitution is available online, as a smart phone app and in a pocket sized pamphlet from a variety of sources.

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