There is a term that all of us have heard over and over in political speeches for at least the past 100 years. The politician stands behind a (usually bullet-proof) podium and tells us that the government is going to empower us.
A rather odd thing to say when you look at the Constitution. The government is empowered by us, not the other way around. The Preamble to the Constitution itself makes that concept very clear.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (Emphasis supplied.)
Note that we, the people, created the government. It didn't exist before this document was debated and approved by citizens and their representatives at the state level. Any power that the government has came by way of us giving it to them. Actually, I suppose the proper word should be loaning it to them. We could take it back if we chose to.
Any politician who uses the formulation that the government will "empower" us has no understanding of the foundational structure of American government and is under the misconception that the government has unlimited powers. He or she must also believe that the government holds those powers regardless of, or even in spite of, the wishes of the electorate.
As the preamble clearly indicates it is we, the citizens, who empower the government, not the other way around. The Constitution is effectively the job description for the government. It defines what the government is allowed to do, and within those limits of what we are allowing it to do, it also defines what it is supposed to accomplish.
In short, the government cannot "empower" us. They can, and frequently have, gotten in our way, but there is no way they can empower us.
The Constitution of the United States has been described as the law that regulates the government. Control of governmental behavior is the sole purpose of the Constitution, and a careful reading tends to bear this out. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is there any prohibition against private citizens doing nearly anything that they want to do. In fact, the only time citizens are mentioned is when the Constitution assures them of the protection of their rights from the machinations of the government, by expressly forbidding any of the three branches from doing anything that would diminish their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to arm and protect themselves, but there is not one word in the Constitution about what the Congress has the power to do to control the populace. The Tenth Amendment reinforces this concept when it states:
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. (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, the people gave the federal government a certain limited number of powers, and the people of each of the several states gave their own state governments a certain limited number of powers. So, once again, it is the people who have no limits on their rights and powers. So how can a politician of any persuasion think that he or she can empower us?
It might be a good idea for all of us to immediately question the intellectual endowment and educational credentials of any politician who speaks about empowering us. If they are so ignorant, willfully or otherwise, that they totally misunderstand the relationship of who holds power and who is subject to that power, perhaps they should be advised to seek a new form of employment outside of government service. McDonalds generally has openings. (Since McDonalds generally hires part-timers, they won't even have to put in too many more hours than they currently do in Congress.)
From this same "we can empower you" mindset also comes the fallacy that reducing taxes on anyone, for any purpose, is a "tax expenditure". The only way a reduction in taxes can be viewed as a government expenditure is if, and only if, the government owns all the money in the nation and that it generously allows you to keep some of it. Then, if it allows you to keep more than you kept last year, it is, in effect, giving some of the government's money to you.
One frequently hears talk coming out of Washington, usually in defense of not allowing us to keep our own money, couched in terms such as "Yes, we can cut taxes, but how are we to pay for them?"
Once again there is the subtle undertone of them (i.e., the government) giving us (i.e., the taxpayers) something. In the case of a tax cut, it means (to them) that they are "giving" us our own money back. The government minions who voice such remarks infer that those of us who'd like to keep more of what we earn are somehow heartless, thoughtless, and selfish and have no concern at all for the important work that is being done with the money that the government has already taken. How dare we think that our lives are as important as their re-election!
These same politicians constantly rail against "waste, fraud and abuse" as the reason we have to let them have ever increasing amounts of our money. Isn't that like someone asking you for more money so that they can go to Vegas to blow it on "wine, women and song", and then complaining when you say "No"? If they can't spend our money frugally, why in the world would we give them even more to waste? Yet to hear them tell it, we are, as mentioned before, heartless, thoughtless and selfish.
Keeping this in mind, can anyone think of a reason why any member of Congress or the Administration should have their temporary job renewed in November? Anyone?
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com/, or he can be contacted directly at email@example.com