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Will the United States Lose Legitimacy?


The porkulus bill is such an amazing over-reach of Federal power, I conclude that with its passage, the US Government will no longer be a legitimate authority. Adherence to US law will descend from being morally proper to being merely pragmatic or convenient. This need not be chaos; our conduct can still be guided by personal honor, social mores, and common-law tradition.

My conclusion has led me to wonder, exactly where is the line between legitimate and illegitimate government? When was, or when will be, that line crossed?

The $700 bank bailout, with its added $150B of graft, shook my confidence, but did not break it. It was not a direct intervention in the countless choices of the American people. I’m also sure that it was not within the Consitution’s enumerated powers. We had given up those limits long ago:

Until the 1930s, the Constitution served as a major constraint on federal economic interventionism. The government's powers were understood to be just as the framers intended: few and explicitly enumerated in our founding document and its amendments. Search the Constitution as long as you like, and you will find no specific authority conveyed for the government to spend money on global-warming research, urban mass transit, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, or countless other items in the stimulus package and, even without it, in the regular federal budget.

This Constitutional constraint still operated as late as the 1930s, when federal courts issued some 1,600 injunctions to restrain officials from carrying out acts of Congress, and the Supreme Court overturned the New Deal's centerpieces, the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and other statutes. This judicial action outraged President Roosevelt, who fumed that "we have been relegated to the horse-and-buggy definition of interstate commerce." Early in 1937, he responded with his court-packing plan.

Although Roosevelt lost this battle, he soon won the war. As the older, more conservative justices retired, the president replaced them with ardent New Dealers such as Hugo Black, Stanley Reed, Felix Frankfurter, and William O. Douglas. The newly constituted court proceeded between 1937 and 1941 to overturn its anti-New Deal rulings, abandoning its traditional, narrow view of interstate commerce and giving the federal government carte blanche to spend, tax, and regulate virtually without limit.

When Federal spending (and the behavioural control implicit in spending other people’s money) was 15–20% of the economy, I was upset, but willing to play along. 80% free was still pretty good. Now our degree of economic freedom is heading toward 70%. The annual deficit is heading up to 10% of all economic activity.

Congress is borrowing to enslave us. At 80%, one might say we were mostly free. At 70%, we are siginificantly unfree. The difference is the deficit. The “stimulus” bill doubles it.

But this is not meant to be a tight, logical argument. I’m trying to get a hold of the situation so I might begin to form a logical argument about when the people lost the country.

Perhaps it was in the 1930s, and the porkulus bill was only what led me to decide the usurpations had gone too far. It took several generations for the evils FDR unleashed to become fully manifest in our laws and legislation.

The quoted piece above reminds of something, possibly related to my current wonderings. During the campaigns last fall, I think I heard some forum somewhere inquiring of a candidate, “If you could change one Supreme Court decision, which one, and why?”

My answer was not voiced by the candidate(s). Before Roe v. Wade, Miranda v. Arizona, or any of the personal rights cases, I would overturn Wickard v. Filburn (emphasis added):

Roscoe Filburn, a farmer in Montgomery County, Ohio, planted 23 acres of wheat in fall 1940 and harvested 462 bushels in July 1941. He thereby exceeded his acreage allotment for that planting season under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. Acting under the 1938 Act, the agricultural conservation committee for Montgomery County assessed a penalty of $0.49 against each of Mr. Filburn's 239 excess bushels. Mr. Filburn challenged the penalty, and the entire Agricultural Adjustment Act, as a violation of the constitutional limits on Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce. 

In a landmark decision styled Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), the Supreme Court rejected Mr. Filburn's challenge and upheld the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Wheat grown on the Filburn farm, though consumed on the premises and never shipped out of state, sufficiently affected the national economy to permit federal regulation of Mr. Filburn's crop and that of millions of other similarly situated farmers.

It was this case that threw open door to Congress meddling in our economic lives. Because our labor might affect someone else by subsituting personal industry for purchased products, the fruits and method of our labor became no longer ours to control.

As ludicrous as that seems, we were still mostly free. In 1941, Federal spending was just over 11% of GDP. That was after eight years of unprecendented New Deal “stimuli”. Adhering to the Constitution’s enumerated powers would make it hard for the Congress to spend a much larger portion. Without a war, at least.

Also troublesome, and contributing to my conclusion that the United States is no longer legitimate, is the apparent unconcern by most of Congress and the President over the scale of their porkulus intervention. They’ve got no humility. The bill is seen by many, including the current President, as too small. Is there is no link in their minds between spending and social control?

If there is no link, Congress is either ignorant or foolish. Both can be corrected. And I am heartened ot learn that several States are working to take power back from our Congressional oligarchs:

So far, eight states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

Analysts expect that in addition, another 20 states may see similar measures introduced this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.

"What we are trying to do is to get the U.S. Congress out of the state's business," Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Randy Brogdon told WND.

The various sovereignty measures moving through state legislatures are designed to reassert state authority through a rollback of federal authority under the powers enumerated in the Constitution, with the states assuming the governance of the non-enumerated powers, as required by the Tenth Amendment.

If, however, Congress is aware of their over-step, they cannot be afforded the excuse of ignorance. They are working against the Constitution. If that’s not treason, it is cause for rebellion. Either Federal power is derived from the people, or it is imposed on the people.

The Consitution is unambiguous. We the People ordained the United States. The line defining legitimate government was drawn in 1787. It was smudged and redrawn over centuries. Should the porkuklus bill pass, the line will be erased. Government will be limited only be the people’s capacity to pay tax and tribute, or by the people’s will to resist.