The View From 1776

Liberalism is Unmitigated Greed

Liberalism’s fundamental nature necessitates relentless, class-centered greed.  Congressional or regulatory action truly for the general welfare is almost impossible.

The essential nature of liberalism forces people to think only of themselves and to place never-ending demands on the public treasury.  When government becomes both the tax-collector of a huge portion of people’s income and a mechanism for redistributing that income, people have no choice but to scramble for whatever they can get. 

There is no point in altruistically holding back.  If your special-interest group doesn’t grab the money, some other group will greedily snatch it.

The concept of the general welfare, which the Constitution’s preamble says the Constitution was ordained and established to promote, changes dramatically.  Instead of the original design of balancing competing sectional economic and other interests to do what would be in the best interests of the nation as a whole, the Federal government under liberalism becomes merely a marketplace for the purchase of votes. 

The general welfare becomes nothing more than the arithmetic sum of all demands by special interest groups for funds and privileges.  And, there no longer being a unifying concept of the national interest and the general welfare, Congress has no way to reconcile the inevitable conflicting and counter-productive purposes of the multitudinous special-interest programs.

Once the process of funding special interests becomes the accepted mode of government, there can be no restraints upon it.  Every special interest group can legitimately demand, why not us, if you gave to them?  There being no criterion of a unified national interest and general welfare, Congress has no answer to the greed of special interests.

This is the real root of our preoccupation today with election campaign reforms.  All of the McCain-Feingold bills in the world, with whatever number of amendments may be affixed, will be of no use, so long as the Federal government is the universe’s largest fountain of inflated money.  As bank robber Willie Sutton explained, he robbed banks, because that’s where the money is.

Under what was called pluralistic democracy during the New Deal in the 1930s, the Federal government shifted from individualism to collectivism, in two respects: power was unconstitutionally stripped from states and local government, concentrating it in Washington, DC, and the unit of popular sovereignty was changed from the individual voter to special-interest classes of voters. 

Governing via coalitions of special-interest voters was a fundamental implication of Karl Marx’s socialistic economics, which held that class conflict is the essential motivating force of political society.

Along with that collectivization of power in Washington came an astronomical expansion of the Federal income tax.  When President Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1932, the top bracket Federal income tax rate was 25 percent.  That top rate was immediately raised by the New Deal, reaching 80 percent in 1939, well before the onset of World War II, when the top rate went to 95 percent. 

When Mr. Roosevelt took office, more than 70 percent of all taxes were raised by state and local governments.  By 1939, that ratio had been reversed, with the Federal government confiscating the revenues that historically had enabled state and local governments to handle all of their everyday functions of government.

Unconstitutionally arrogating to the Federal government all of the revenues and, ipso facto, powers and functions of state and local governments was essential to implementing President Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign promise to impose Soviet and Fascist-style state planning in the United States.  So radical and far-reaching was New Deal planning that its centerpiece, the National Recovery Administration modeled on Fascist State Corporatism, was declared by Italian leader Benito Mussolini to be much too harsh compared to Fascism.

The contrast between liberalism and the founding ethos of the United States is stark.

Statesmen who wrote the Constitution structured a government whose functions and powers were enumerated in the Constitution, among them national defense, diplomacy, regulation of interstate commerce, maintaining a postal service, and providing and regulating a national money. Fearing a repetition of the high-handed and arbitrary exercise of power by Parliament and George III that led to the War of 1776, they deliberately left nearly all powers of everyday government in the hands of the states and local communities.

Additionally, it was explicitly and repeatedly affirmed by all statesmen that such a government of limited powers required a populace that would be self-restrained by its commitment to Judeo-Christian morality.  One had to balance the other.

Liberal-socialist measures like Social Security that we take for granted today would have been unthinkable under the ethos prevailing throughout the 18th and 19th centuries in North America.  Not because people were indifferent to hardships of their fellow citizens, but because such people were to be helped by individuals, synagogues, and churches, guided by the Bible’s great commandments to both Jews and Christians: Love the Lord God above all others, and love your neighbor as you would want him to love you.

Walter E. Williams, a Professor at George Mason University and a syndicated columnist, in a recent article provided some specific instances of this understanding:

“....Some people might say, “Aha! They forgot about the Constitution’s general welfare clause!” Here’s what James Madison [a principal architect of the Constitution] said: “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Madison’s understanding was the accepted one, with the exception of Progressive [liberal] Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, as late as the presidency of William Howard Taft, from 1908 until 1912.

Giving additional examples, Professor Williams also noted that, “?In February 1887, President Grover Cleveland, upon vetoing a bill appropriating money to aid drought-stricken farmers in Texas, said, ‘I find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and the duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.’

“President Cleveland added, ‘The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.’”

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