Commentary This page is brought to you as a reminder that the powers of the federal government are supposed to be limited to those granted by the people via the Constitution. In my opinion, the federal government has long been acting unconstitutionally. I may be wrong, or simply misinformed. For example, I can't figure out what part of the Constitution grants the federal government the power to:
take money from successful businesses and give it to their failing competitors to "bail" them out,
take money from one family to subsidize another family for things like health care and housing,
tax one family at a different percentage rate than another,
tell a mortgage company to loan money to people that can't really afford a house,
regulate the spending that is necessary to disseminate political speech via the press,
tell a State how to draft its traffic laws (seat belts, for example),
regulate commerce that occurs within a state, and
delegate power to a city (Washington) to infringe rights that the federal government itself has no constitutional power to infringe (keeping and bearing of arms).
In the distant past, I can remember our congress discussing the constitutionality of proposed laws before voting on them. I don't think that acting within the bounds of the Constitution much concerns congress anymore, despite the oath they take. If anyone has a solution to this mess, I haven't heard it. We citizens simply don't have the money to take every unconstitutional thing that the federal government does to court, and if we did, there wouldn't be enough courts to handle the cases anyway.
It's easy to gripe, but what is needed are workable ideas
It is easy to complain about the government, but what is needed are ideas for making it better. Here are a few such ideas, to stimulate thought. Each would require a constitutional amendment:
Down here in Texas, we only let our legislature meet every other year because they can't cause nearly as much trouble that way. Maybe we need to do that with the national congress too.
Since the advent of income tax, the national congress gets around the constitution by taking money from the citizens of a state, then returning money to the state to finance state-run projects that the fed has no constitutional power to do as federal projects, but the money comes with fed-mandated conditions. Maybe we need to limit the federal government's spending to only those projects that it is constitutionally empowered to run itself. In other words, no more federal funding of state-run projects.
Increase the size of the Supreme Court so that there is one serving Justice that appointed by each State, using a selection process that is determined by each State. States are the entities that ratified the Constitution. Right now, Justices are appointed by the President, and his election is severely biased in favor of the States with the largest populations. A larger Supreme Court would better represent the intent of the States that form the Union, by distributing the power of appointment across all of the States.
Right now, only the well off pay attention to wasteful government spending. Many people's incomes are not taxed at all, or are taxed at very low percentage rates, and as a result, such people have no interest in how the federal government spends money. The federal government gets a lot of support at the polls from such people. More citizens would be interested in the efficiency of government spending if we taxed everyone's income at the same percentage rate, with no exceptions. Less well-off people would pay an insignificant amount in income taxes under this plan because their income is low, but they would feel the weight of taxation just as much as well-off people do, and would be more interested in government as a result.