The Constitution of the United States provides the basis for the relationship between the citizens and the government. Because the founders believed in the concept of inalienable rights, or those that could not be taken away by government, they framed the Constitution as the powers granted to the government by the ‘consent of the governed.’ The founders of our country believed in freedom and the power of free markets to provide the basis for prosperity. Their intent was to empower the government with the minimum set of powers necessary to govern the interactions between citizens, while providing for the common defense and general welfare of all. They believed that individuals and the free market would most effectively develop goods and services that the country needed.
They also created a federal form of government to allow individual states to have freedom of action to meet the needs of their citizens more effectively, because they would be more accountable to the public. They created a federal system that was meant to move slowly and deliberately, with the exception of national defense (even then requiring the consent of Congress for action).
In stark contrast to the original vision, the Obama Administration has been moving at blinding speed to insert goverment control over virtually the entire American economy. Government control is nothing new to the current generations of citizens, having begun in the early 1900s with the Progressives, accelerating through Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society. President Obama is striving to complete the takeover, and he has been incredibly swift and effective.
The banking crisis in late 2008 provided the first opportunity, followed by the auto industry problems and the real estate sector crash. The President has insisted on adding health care and now, even education and student loans are being swallowed by the federal government.
None of these actions are provided for in our Constitution. The founders of our government knew that freedom and liberty would encourage individual action. The founders clearly believed that when these myriad actions are coupled with the responsible and restrained use of the rule of law, prosperity for all who worked for it would result. They also believed that the free market would move faster to meet needs than government could (or should).
There is no doubt that the size of government has grown well beyond that envisioned in our Constitution. Statistics show that all levels of government now employ about one seventh of the total workforce in the country. The federal government alone employs 3 Million workers to expend about $3.8T annually, which works out to about $1.3M per employee. With a total government workforce of over 20 Million adults who are also voters, how likely is it for that workforce to want less government spending? fewer programs?
The takeover of financial institutions, mortgage lenders and student loans by the federal government is another area of concern. Financial services companies employ over 5 Million workers, now under increasing levels of federal control and intervention. Where will their independence be when the government bureaucrats threaten them, as Secretary Paulson so famously did during the fall of 2008?
The influence of the government on other sectors of the economy have been a concern for at least 50 years. President Eisenhower, in his farewell address is well known for cautioning against the influence of the ‘military-industrial complex,’ a phrase that anti-war and peace activists have hurled at the Pentagon since the Viet Nam war. Less well known is Eisenhower’s warning about technology in general, from the same speech:
…The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
The nation has a workforce of 7.5 Million professionals who are the legal, consulting, scientific and engineering community which has become increasingly dependent on Federal funding for their work — or at least the policy which enables that work to be done. Does the phrase “green jobs” ring a bell? How independent will this community be in the face of government dictates?
The proposed health care reform acts before Congress will directly influence the healthcare workforce, which the government lists as having about 16 Million workers. This represents over 10 per cent of the national workforce, and goes a long way toward explaining why health care costs are high and why it represents about one sixth of our total GDP. With the government exerting now almost total control over this sector, how independent do you think the workforce will be politically?
The Obama administration is working feverishly to exert more control over primary and secondary education in this country. Again, from government statistics, there are over 4 Million in the primary and secondary education workforce. With increasing levels of federal intervention in local education, what is the likelihood that these workers will be independent politically?
Vice President Biden let another truth slip from his lips last week when he said ‘We are going to control the insurance companies’ as a result of the current health care reform. Recent statistics show that the entire insurance industry employs about 2.3 million people. The top 10 Health Insurance companies collect about $300 Billion each year. If we assume that about half the employees are involved with health insurance, this means that VP Biden wants to extend control over a workforce that is about one third the size of the current federal workforce. Again, how independent will these people be in terms of wanting to limit the power of government?
The media and the left have been demonizing ‘big corporations’ for decades, and have successfully convinced a large portion of the public that corporate fat cats and their lobbyists are the main cause of problems in the country.
So now, they have nearly succeeded in gaining effective control over the livelihoods of well over 35 milllion American workers (I’ve just listed the major areas here). Add to that the over 40 million that receive some sort of government payment (social security, disability pensions, welfare), and it is easy to see the scope of control that federal government has.
The government, instead of arising from the ‘consent of the governed’ now controls a huge portion of the electorate through benefits and employment. Rather than ‘big corporations’ being the main source of problems, it is easy to see how Ronald Reagan could conclude that ‘government is the problem.’
We now have a system where the Senate and Congress, directing action through the Executive branch of government, control huge amounts of the total economy. This centralized, elitist form of control makes the free market disfunctional, and constrains the freedoms of individuals and individual states. In short, it is ‘too big to succeed’ and will inevitably fail, as it has in the Soviet Union, European Union and China.
The only hope for future prosperity is in restoring the government to its proper Constitutional role. This is going to be a massively difficult thing, given the influence that government has over individual lives. But there really is no choice. As Margaret Thatcher has said, “The trouble with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Our mounting deficits are testimony to that truth.
This struggle must be waged, and we must never give up. To do so will rob our children and grandchildren of their future, and end the ‘last best hope for mankind.’