Conservatives are getting into a big huff about Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein telling the truth about the United States Constitution. For all the talk about the constitution clearly setting forth limited, enumerated powers for the central government, that is hardly the case.
As some people would like to think the framers of the constitution favored smaller government, their actions say otherwise. Legal tender laws, the granting of patents and infrastructure subsidies were all part of the original deal. After all, the reason for abandoning the Articles of Confederation was because they did not think the government was powerful enough. They were traitors to the Revolution.
Now I do happen to believe that some the Federalists (like John Adams) intended to delegate only select powers, but intent is not good enough. There are all sorts of loopholes, from the Commerce Clause, the General Welfare Clause and even the taxing power. The fact remains that there was never a consistent interpretation even among the Federalists as to what the centrals government’s powers would entail.
It would not have mattered if there was a consensus then or now. Laws and constitutions do not enforce themselves. Once approved, they fall under the domain of those who enforce it, and they are going to enforce laws in a manner that serves their ends. Laws and constitutions also do not interpret themselves, so the same problem ensues.
When it comes down to it, Kevin Carson said, “Law isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”