Thursday, November 29, 2007

Williams' "The Greatest Generation"

Walter E. Williams is quickly becoming one of my favorite syndicated columnists. His articles frequently appear in The Oakland Press. The first to catch my attention was Congressional Constitutional Contempt, promoting Arizona Congressman John Shadegg's Enumerated Powers Act (HR 1359).
"Simply put, if enacted, the Enumerated Powers Act would require Congress to specify the basis of authority in the U.S. Constitution for the enactment of laws and other congressional actions."
Williams is concerned the federal government is taking more and more power from the states--in terms of both legislation and taxes. He writes:
Just a few of the numerous statements by our founders demonstrate that their vision and the vision of Shadegg's Enumerated Powers Act are one and the same. James Madison, in explaining the Constitution in Federalist Paper No. 45, said, "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, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce."

Regarding the "general welfare" clause so often used as a justification for bigger government, Thomas Jefferson said, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." James Madison said, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions."
Basically, he's saying the amount of money that can be spent to "promote the general welfare" is unlimited. Anything can be justified under broad definitions of promoting "the general welfare." The Enumerated Powers Act would require each act of Congress (both houses) to justify their constitutional authority to grow federal government beyond its limited powers defined by The Constitution.

Continuing the theme of limited federal government Williams' latest article,
The Greatest Generation, discusses how much our federal government has grown just since WWII.
Let's look at what else that generation contributed that might qualify them for the generation that laid the foundation for the greatest betrayal of our nation's core founding principle: limited federal government exercising only constitutionally enumerated powers.

When the greatest generation was born, federal spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) was 2.5 percent. As they are now dying off, federal spending is 20 percent of GDP and that doesn't include government meddling. If the grandparents of the greatest generation were asked to describe their contacts or relationship with the federal government, after a puzzled look, straining their recollection faculties, they might answer, "I used to chat with the mailman once in a while."

Today, there is little any American can do without some form of federal control, whether it's how much water we can use to flush a toilet, what kind of car we drive or how we prepare for retirement. Congress manages our lives in ways unimaginable to our ancestors through agencies created by the greatest generation, such as Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Social Security Administration and a host of alphabet agencies such as EPA, DOL, BLM, CDC and DOT.
In short, our federal government's spending is eight times (8x) what it was when our grand parents were born. The federal government has not grown proportional to its population, its population's income, its imports or its exports. And most of that growth and intrusion comes in the name of "promoting the general welfare."

Williams is asking how can a government's power remain limited if they're using an unlimited definition to justify greater taxing, spending, and dilution of state's powers?

I think that's an important question worth asking and if passed, HR1539 might begin answering it.

Both articles are linked to on the right-hand side of this page under "Recommended Reading." Other of his articles are available at Creator's Syndicate,


  1. Walt Williams for President.


  2. In some respects he reminds me of Alan Keyes (who's announcing his candidacy for President), not for religious reasons but for intellectual similarities. Both are able to expose what we've missed and should be obvious in a way that makes their points familiar.

  3. Walter Williams has sat in for Rush Limbaugh many times and has always been a protector of liberty. He's right on here and not the only one speaking out publicly on this issue. Dennis Prager brings the subject up regularly and wonders how the "greatest generation" allowed it's children to become so misguided. This generations has forsaken it's values for a feel good world of phony compassion. The hard choices are not being made and our children will hold us responsible!