The constitutional  design is one which recognizes that government, by its nature, will always expand and that as it expands, it crowds out individual liberty.  The Constitution wisely expresses a preference for the individual over government by enumerating — and thereby limiting –  the powers of the latter in favor of the former.  Thus, every expansion of government no matter how lofty its ambition, intrudes and burdens its citizenry through taxation or regulation.

The solution to those issues properly within the government’s province are already solved to the extent they can be by the Constitution.  Any desired improvement should not be enacted simply because we have yet to achieve perfection in society.  It is important to recognize that the Constitution is not intended to be a starting place.  Rather, it is a document which, although subject to amendment, is the completed recipe for liberty through limited government.  Each new government “solution” to each newly perceived social ill is an assault on the Constitution’s limitation on government.  The limitation on government is specifically designed to foster individual liberty because the two are unavoidably competing interests.

Our Founders observed that government will always seek to expand.  Our history has demonstrated absolutely that even a constitutionally limited government will expand until it can no longer sustain itself.  A government’s life cycle is akin to those seen in our natural world in that sense.  For example, certain organisms exhibit a fairly predictable life cycle.  A tree for example, struggles at first, but then gains a foothold.  Thereafter, it grows taller and larger.  Eventually, it is overcome by the weight of its own branches and they begin to crack and fall off.

That is the way of our government.  Although it is expressly limited by Article I, section VIII of the U.S. Constitution, its limbs have grown so far and wide that it has endangered its own survival.  The purpose for peoples organizing into societies is for protection.  That is the fundamental purpose of our government, but now our crippled economy and super-leveraged debt generated through secondary and tertiary government functions has jeopardized even that most critical function.

Thus, we have expanded the government’s functions from its proper purposes into a cradle-to-grave entitlement society.  And now we begin to see the other side of the equation which has been ignored or completely absent from the equation for decades while government has become the first solution to every problem.  The very purpose of limiting government is to preserve individual freedom and liberty.  If you fail to restrain it, it expands in a way which is frighteningly obvious today.  It will never restrain itself. 

This reality does not require evil dictators, or bloody revolutions.  It requires only two things:  1) a society that has steeped so long in liberty it fails to recognize that America’s arch nemesis is the same one it’s always been; unrestrained government and 2)  a social ill that appeals to our sense of compassion.  These two elements are all that is necessary to create the next governmental agency . . . ObamaCare, Cap & Tax, Welfare, SSDI, etc.

Ironically, those two things are only ever present in a society which has evolved to a point where daily survival is no longer an overriding concern.  For example, only a society whose standard of living is high can create an expectation mentality which believes that our way of life is magically permanent and not owing to anything; least of all the Constitution’s limitation on government expansion. 

Similarly, we can concern ourselves with seeking to cure every social ill only because we are so prosperous that we are able to afford the luxury of goodwill to others.  The further man evolves away from the jeopardy of daily survival, the more he toils in that which would otherwise be too extravagant.  Man, left to his own devices and unrestricted by government, will thrive.  He will do so because he is free to provide for himself, his family, and eventually, his fellow man.  Conversely, where he is weighted down by excessive taxation and governmental restraint, he is less free to control his own destiny.   Currently, federal social programs account for approximately $0.70 out of every tax dollar we pay.  These programs are borne out of perceived compassion, but are forced upon tax payers.  Thus, compassion forms the basis for confiscation of tax money from tax payers.  This forced confiscation of your money for a non-essential government function deprives you of your property (money).  In theory, the recipient receives some government benefit, but only after it is taken from you.  Moreover, statistics demonstrate that for every tax dollar that is extracted from the tax payer to fund a social program approximately 65% of it is absorbed by the administrative costs of the government.  So, the governmental delivery of social services is also extremely inefficient (but that shall be the subject of a future Post).

The nations which enjoy the greatest prosperity are the ones that have the resources to assist with tragedies such as the recent earthquakes in Haiti.  Individual prosperity is the product of individual liberty.  The former cannot exist without the latter.  Americans are not genetically different from other people.  Only our constitutional system of government distinguishes us.  It enables us to not merely survive, but to thrive.  It is impossible to compare our compassion to the compassion of other countries because their lower standard of living makes compassion a luxury which they can neither consider nor afford.  We are compassionate because we can afford to be.  This is the effect of liberty which is present not because of luck, but because of our Constitution which prefers liberty over governmental control by expressly limiting the powers of the government.

The ultimate irony is that our own success is the mechanism by which we may destroy our nation.  All great empires crumble from within.  Our liberty permits us to thrive.  Our thriving permits us to express our compassion through cradle-to-grave government programs which seek to help others.  Our government’s social programs expand to a point at which we can no longer afford them.  Then, we are taxed to a point that is prohibitively high to pay for our out-of-control programs.  Extreme taxation reduces our disposable income which curtails our voluntary charitable giving in favor of the government-mandated programs despite their ever-worsening efficiency.  Ultimately, we collapse into financial ruination and all who depend upon us suffer because we have regressed to survival mode which, as described above, does not afford us the luxury of compassion. 

The Constitution memorializes God-given freedoms.  That freedom permits man to make his own way, which produces prosperity, which produces an ability to provide for others, which permits pecuniary compassion, which expands government as the vehicle for compassion, which enslaves its payors, and ultimately takes them down along with those who have become dependent upon their money.  Thus, our liberty is both the vehicle to our unparalleled prosperity and our self-imposed destruction of it.  That is why our Constitution must take be honored no matter haw appealing the temptation to ignore it.

Like the once-great oak tree, we began with the strength of liberty.  Then, we added statism, the misguided belief that government can and should endeavor beyond its constitutional restraint to be all things to all people and to be that which it should never be; a societal helper.  When statism is added to liberty, it yields the same smothering result from which all statist societies suffer; a collapse due to its inability to sustain its own weight.  Liberty merely prolongs the inevitable.

When Benjamin Franklin entered the Continental Congress with the final version of the U.S. Constitution, he was asked what he had wrought.  He responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  That has proven to be a big “if” because we are constantly lured farther down the path of government “solutions” under the guise that our Founders must have forgotten  — or been too ignorant — to include them in the Constitution.  In fact, calls for government expansion are the nation’s siren song; attractive to the constitutionally ignorant who would steer us all to our own nation’s destruction.

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