Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
“In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson
The Constitution is premised on the fact that humans are flawed, that leaders lust for power and that power corrupts. Rather than hoping those in government exercise restraint, the Constitution counts on the self-interest of different sovereigns and divisions within government to obstruct the general government. For this reason, the general government was separated into three branches of government. Congress was subdivided into two houses (the House representing the sovereign people, the Senate representing the sovereign States). And the social contract granted only limited powers to the general government.
But the Constitution contained one last, infallible, “chain” to bind politicians from the mischief of ambition and lust for power. This “chain” was found in Article I, Section 2(3), and Article I, Section 9(4).
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were in agreement that the general government needed the power to tax. But there were two problems. First, the delegates knew that the power to tax was the power to enslave the People and lead to a ruling political class. So, if the general government was going to be given the power to tax, it needed to be done in a way least likely to enslave. Second, there needed to be a method of taxing that was more just than the system under the Article of Confederation. The Constitution solved both problems.
For example, under the Articles of Confederation, each State had one vote in Congress. To protect the people from the general government, Congress could not tax the people directly. Instead, each State was taxed based on the value of land in each respective State. As a result, larger states paid more in taxes to the general government than did smaller states. This aspect seemed patently unfair to the States paying more since they still only had one vote in Congress.
Just like the Articles of Confederation, the original Constitution only allowed the general government to tax the States, and not the people. Thus it preserved the function of the States as a wall of protection from enslavement by the general government. But it changed the way it taxed the States that was not only more just, but also built in another layer of protection from the growth of, and concentration of power in, the general government.
Instead of taxing the States based on the State’s land value, the Constitution, as originally adopted, taxed each State based on how many seats each State held in the House of Representatives. This was genius. For every spending bill Congress passed, the States knew they would get the bill. And the States with more votes in Congress knew their State would get a larger tax bill. And since the State legislatures would have to figure out how to tax the residents of their respective states to raise the taxes to cover Congressional spending, those legislatures would make certain the U.S. Senator they appointed was keenly aware of the dilemma.
The Constitutional wall that protected the People from direct taxation, and thus prevented the growth and concentration of power in Washington, was destroyed in 1913 by the adoption of the 16th Amendment.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
|Terry E. Branstad|
1st Congressional District
Iowa Secretary of State
|Paul D. Pate|
Iowa Auditor of State
State Representative District 71
|Jane A. Jech|
State Representative District 72
Monday, October 27, 2014
During an election candidates tend to stretch the truth, run loose with the facts or even lie to get elected or reelected. This casual application to integrity, honesty and human ethics makes it hard for some voters to stay the coarse through an entire election. Though it creates a challenge, it is our responsibility to wade through the misdirecting garbage and come up with the answer because the election is going to occur whether we like the process or not.
But that is also our advantage. Because when candidates lie they reveal to us a true self. We are able to learn about them more than they probably had hoped we would. It tells us their motive, their level of confidence, their level of desperation. It opens a door for us as to how they will represent "us" if elected. It decides for us the question as to their deserving our vote and our trust.
So as nasty as campaigns can be turn those lemons into lemonade. Learn the truth and the character of those who ask for your vote. And then vote.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The Constitution is a contract between the People, the States, and the general (Federal) government. Abiding by the Constitution, like abiding with any contract, requires knowing the intent of the original parties.
The provisions of the Constitution clearly show the intent was to restrict the jurisdiction and obstruct the exercise of powers delegated to the general government. Through careful design, the Constitution provided for separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and ingenious restraints on taxation.
But the principle parties to this social contract still wanted more protections against the general government. Thus, they granted to it only specific and limited powers.
Under Article I, Section 8, Congress was granted only power to make all laws reasonable and necessary to:
levy uniform taxes; borrow money; regulate trade with foreign nations and Indian Tribes; regulate interstate commerce, immigration, bankruptcies; coin money and regulate its value; fix standard weights and measures; punish counterfeiters; establish Post Offices and post roads; protect inventors; create courts inferior to the supreme Court; punish piracy; declare war, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; raise, support and make the rules for military forces; call forth and employing the Militia; legislating over D.C.
Regardless of these powers, Article I, Section 9, states the government could not:
stop importation of slaves until 1808; enact laws aimed at individuals; apply laws retroactively; tax the people directly; tax exports from States; pass commerce laws preferring one State over another; draw money from the Treasury without authority of law; grant title of nobility.
Under Article II, the President is the Commander in Chief, and signs Treaties; nominates judges, ambassadors and other public officers; fills vacancies; informs Congress of the State of the Union; and faithfully executes the law.
Under Article III, the Supreme Court had power to adjudicate cases involving Ambassadors, the Constitution, federal statutes, Treaties, disputes where the general government is a party, disputes between States, disputes between citizens of different States, disputes between a State and a citizen of another State.
The intent to limit the power of the general government was also made clear during passage of the Constitution. To win approval of the People and the States, promoters of the Constitution explained its meaning through a series of published papers known as the Federalist Papers.
According to Federalist Paper No. 45 -
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, such as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce . . . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
According to Federalist Paper No. 78 –
“The Judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power . . . the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter.”
These promises of limited government were later crystalized by the 10th Amendment –
“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.”