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Why I'm 'wasting' my vote
Posted By Larry Elder On 11/02/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
“With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded
them as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in the
Constitution) connected with them. To take them in a literal and
unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a
character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its
James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, said this to
explain the so-called “general welfare” clause of the Constitution.
Today both parties ignore the original intention of the general welfare
clause. And this is precisely why I cannot vote for either party.
Madison and the Founding Fathers envisioned a limited government,
along the lines of Henry David Thoreau, who said, “That government is
best which governs least.”
Think about it. If the general welfare clause of the Constitution
allowed unlimited federal powers, why bother with Article I, Section 8,
which sets forth the specific powers and duties of the federal
government? The Founding Fathers left to the states all responsibilities
not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
This means the Supreme Court correctly interpreted the Constitution
when it initially rejected much of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s so-called
“New Deal.” This means the Supreme Court correctly rejected Congress’
first attempt to pass an income tax, ruling that this, too, violated the
Think about the concept of Social Security. The government,
determining its citizens too irresponsible to plan for the future, takes
part of a worker’s paycheck. Then, when that worker retires, the
government “returns” the money, but at a paltry rate of interest.
Remember when President Clinton said of the budget “surplus,” “We
could give it all back to you and hope you spend it right. But … if
you don’t spend it right, here’s what’s going to happen.”
In Philadelphia at the Republican National Convention, Republican
candidate George W. Bush declared that the federal government should
take no more than a third of one’s income. A third! How about zero? Read
the Constitution. The Founding Fathers allowed duties and tariffs to
fund the limited obligations of the federal government.
The Soviet Union collapsed under 100 percent socialism. But, through
Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs, government pays
roughly 50 percent of our health-care tab. In 1965, Congress passed the
Medicare Act. In the 20 years before the Act, a one-day stay in the
hospital increased threefold. In the 20 years following the passage of
the Medicare Act, a one-day stay in a hospital increased eightfold. Full
socialism doesn’t work, nor does semi-socialism. Government involvement
in health care increases the prices, decreases innovation, and
What about government welfare for the poor and the needy? Economist
Thomas Sowell estimates that bureaucratic red tape and costs burn up 70
cents for every dollar intended for the poor and needy. Contrast this
with organizations like the United Way and the Salvation Army, where
over 85 percent of the donated dollar gets down to the intended
Did the Founding Fathers envision an intrusive, heavy-handed Internal
Revenue Service that collects a disproportionate percentage of taxes
from “the wealthy,” often the hardest-working and most innovative of
Did the Founding Fathers envision a Congress that pays farmers not to
Did the Founding Fathers envision a government-operated Amtrak, run
less efficiently than private sector rail companies?
Did the Founding Fathers envision taxpayer funding of sports stadiums
Did the Founding Fathers envision Congress, through the use of the
interstate commerce laws, deciding to pass laws mandating minimum wages,
or dictating work rules from the Potomac?
Did the Founding Fathers envision a Department of Education attaching
strings to federal funds earmarked for education, a function that should
be local in nature?
Did the Founding Fathers envision the federal erosion of the Second
Amendment, a provision providing a right to keep and bear arms?
Did the Founding Fathers envision a federal government that hires
teachers and police officers, a function the Founding Fathers expected
local authorities to handle?
Did the Founding Fathers envision the federal government to answer
questions such as abortion or school prayer, given Thomas Jefferson’s
declaration of a wall separating church and state?
Richard Nixon said that, to capture the presidency, a Republican
candidate runs to the right in the primaries, and then to the center in
a general election. But “the center,” misled by a
“distribute-the-wealth” media, misunderstands Economics 101 and the
intentions of the Founding Fathers.
I intend to vote for Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry
Browne. Many say I waste my vote. You’ve heard the argument — vote the
lesser of two evils. But at his brother Robert’s funeral, Ted Kennedy
quoted his late brother: “Some men see things as they are and say ‘why.’
I dream things that never were, and say ‘why not.’”
I say “why not.”
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