“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Constitution, Federal Government & Individuals

Fox News' contributor and program host, former judge Andrew Napolitano, often repeats his contention that in the Constitution, the federal government doesn't have a direct relationship with the individual. Specifically, he advances the view that the Framers did not intend for the federal level of our government to intercede through or around the states to establish direct relationships with all individuals.

It took income tax to do that.

Now we have massive federal intervention in the lives of individuals, rather than the federal government perhaps legislating services to be furnished by individual states, along with the provision of funding. The obvious large programmatic examples are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and, at least in the past, ADC.

Why is this? And aren't these programs really radical departures from the limited federal government as much for their direct connection with individuals as their establishment of expectations by individuals of direct benefits from Washington?

Come to think of it, was the federal draft for military service in the 1860s also an instance of improper reach by the federal government through the states?

Whether one agrees with Napolitano, or not, it's refreshing to consider his contention, i.e., that somewhere in the history of the US from its early years to now, qualitatively different powers became part of the federal government. And one of the hallmarks of this qualitative change has been its construction of individual relationships with individuals which, prior to that, gave us a different type of government.

One wonders if so much of the Progressive movement depended upon this individual connection. Without it, the federal government is more sterile, less focused upon legislation that, as Napolitano often notes, is unconstitutional on its face, because it does not apply to all Americans.

It's probably wishful thinking to hope we can ever turn this clock back. But I suspect it would do a great deal to reduce federal power and spending if we could.

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