Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Five Point Test

I recently did an article for Carolina Journal on the major accomplishments of North Carolina's delegation in the 109th Congress; in short, there weren't many, at least not in terms of legislation authored. Of course, several offices told me there were many things that went on other than new bills written by their Representative “X” (either D or R,-NC). Okay, I'll grant it. Still, when half the bills authored by our Congressmen and -women involved tariff relief for unpronounceable imported chemicals, one has to ask the question.

As we go to the polls this week to select the 110th Congress (God bless the Republic), I am proposing a new feature for this column. Let's call this “The Five Point Test”. What I intend to do is simply look at the recent action on the House floor and subject it to the lens of the Constitution's purpose statement:

We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That's the goal of the whole American exercise in self-government, as the Founders defined it, and the Constitution is by application the blueprint for it. History doesn't confirm Jefferson's maxim about that government which governs best (i.e. least); rather, it says that government does best when it stays within its chartered purposes.

In our country, the founding document claims six purposes, the first of which was achieved by the passage of that document in 1789, replacing the fatally flawed Articles of Confederation. The remaining five purposes define a government which administers law and justice, protects the nation and its people from violence foreign and domestic, and stays out of the way of business and personal freedom as much as possible. When government expands beyond those bounds, someone or something is being encroached upon, and guaranteed, someone else is being taxed to pay for it, too.

Is this simplistic? Perhaps. If it's so simple, though, why do we seem to have such a problem applying it? When the new Congress raises its collective right hand in late January, let's start asking the question.



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