Congress Has Gone Mad

This letter was published in the Gwinnett Daily Post on June 26, 2001 concerning unbridled congressional power.  This was when I used to believe our federal government could be fixed.  Too late. 

Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

— 06/27/01


Dear Gwinnett Daily Post Editor:

The 107th U.S. Congress has gone mad and I’m getting that way. The Tower of Babel is being built and fortified in the halls of Congress. Consider the topics they’re debating.

Using the FDR era Supreme Court interpretation of the “general welfare” clause, Congress has expanded its unconstitutional power to unbelievable heights. They now debate and legislate on everything from flight delays to collegiate gambling. The 107th Congress has taken up Boy Scouts, television ad rates, foster care, pipeline awareness, Asian elephant conservation, ergonomics, and organ donation. The volume of demand for more favoritism and protective relief combined with the associated minutia is overwhelming. Congress ignores their constitutionally authorized duties and spends all their time taking and filling orders for special interests like short order cooks. I apologize to overtaxed hard working short order cooks. You, I trust.

Article I section 8 of the Constitution lists the powers Congress is limited to. Take my word for it; none of these topics are on the list. The Constitution’s “general welfare” clause was meant to serve as a brake on Congressional power. Congressional spending could not be used to favor one state or commercial interest over another. Congress could only exercise the limited powers on behalf of all states equally. The powers were limited to everybody’s general welfare. To apply the words “general welfare” globally, the authors could have listed it with the other powers. This of course would have made the other powers superfluous and is not what the Founding Fathers intended. My interpretation matches that of James Madison, who wrote the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and others. Why do we need state governments if Congress is in charge of everything?

Power and rights can reside at many levels. Common sense tells us that dispersing rights and power, along with maximum debate and freedom to choose unlimited options is more efficient. We know that pushing decision-making, execution, and reward for any function to its lowest level tends to produce the best result. This is called freedom and it made us prosperous.

What is occurring in U.S. government today is exactly the opposite. Power and rights are moving from lower levels of ownership to higher levels. What is occurring in Washington would be humorous if it wasn’t so pathetically ignorant of free market solutions and our God given rights.

Wes Alexander