I watched the first hour of Tuesday night’s debate on TV and listened to the last half hour in my car. In doing so, I missed the visual of the only three-seconds of “straight talk” in the entire debate. That was when the moderator complained to someone who had evidently gotten between him and the teleprompter, “you’re blocking my script”. Since I was listening and not watching, I don’t know who he was talking to, but I thought it was a good metaphor for the whole performance.
Few things in life are more boring than watching two politicians who have perfected the skill of talking for hours without expressing a single original thought, while attempting to mislead their listeners into believing they have been enlightened. Several prominent words and phrases which I call “thought stoppers” were used during the debate. These are words intended to relieve the listener of the burden of having to think about the facts underlying them and are usually a sure sign of deception.
The two that stand out most for me in terms of their irritability factor are “regulation”, a favorite of Obama, and “bipartisan”, a favorite of McCain. These are only slightly less irritating than “eight years of failed Bush policies”, “let me be clear”, “my friends”, and “reaching across the aisle”.
Obama’s reference to McCain’s support of deregulation is outright subterfuge. Democrats are trying frantically to blame Republicans for the crash in the housing market that eventually led to a global economic meltdown in order to deflect scrutiny of their own actions in the matter. One way of doing this is to convince the American people that the economic crisis we are currently experiencing is due to deregulation of the financial markets. This approach works well with the Democratic agenda and hopefully, in their view, keep voters from understanding the truth.
In terms of political philosophy, Democrats are always in favor of more regulations and Republicans are always in favor of less. Neither approach would have prevented the financial collapse because the problem was not brought about by either too much or too little regulation. That does not mean that regulations are not important, just that they are not relevant to the problem at hand.
A degree of regulations is both necessary and constitutional. However, the courts and Congress have used the regulatory powers of Congress in ways that were never intended by the Constitution. Government regulations have been used by power hungry politicians to expand the control of government over individuals, businesses and states since the founding of our nation. Beginning with the Federalist Party of Adams and Hamilton and Continuing to the Democratic Party of Pelosi, Reid and Obama, there has been a continuous increase in the ability of government to regulate the economic prosperity of the country and the behavior of its citizens.
The constitutional basis offered by both Congress and the courts for this proliferation of government power and the corresponding decline in individual liberty is the “commerce clause” of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which grants to Congress the power…“to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
Since the introduction of the New Deal by Roosevelt, the application of the Commerce Clause has bee expanded to include any and all business activity. Its meaning has also been changed by liberal politicians to include a congressional authority to manage as well as regulate. Our current economic difficulties are not caused by over-regulation or under-regulation, but rather, by the attempts by Congress to manage the housing and financial markets to further a socialist agenda and the corruption that always follows in the wake of socialist actions.
The very nature of business makes the government intrinsically unqualified for its management. It is this reality that causes the ultimate failure of all socialist economic systems. The almost universal desire for power by most politicians makes them blind to this fact. Consequently, we now find ourselves faced with the illogical political decision that the only solution for the financial crisis we find ourselves in is to expand the management authority of government.
The myth of government’s ability to manage the economy has been cultivated by the liberal, socialist movement to the point that we are on the verge of turning over to government the management of our energy needs, healthcare, education, and automobile manufacturing. There is no reason to believe the results will be any different for these than it has been for the housing markets.
If we are to prevent the same fate befalling America that has befallen other socialist and communist nations, we need major reform of Congress and a return to constitutional government. This will not be an easy task. As Judge Robert Bork observed in a paper titled “The Scope of Congress’s Power to Regulate Commerce”;
“There is no possibility, today, of adhering completely to the original constitutional design. Such a daring plan would require overturning the New Deal, the Great Society, and almost all of the vast network of federal legislation and regulation put in place in the last two-thirds of the twentieth century. It appears that the American people would be overwhelmingly against such a change and no court would attempt to force it upon them.”
The word commerce, as defined by Webster and used by the founders referred only to the transporting, buying and selling of goods. It certainly did not extend to the manufacturing or product design and marketing of manufactured items. Furthermore, the power to regulate only applied to goods actually sold or intended for sale in interstate commerce. It did not apply to goods or commercial activity that “might” find its way into interstate commerce.
Jon Roland of the Constitution Society in his treatise “Original Understanding of the Commerce Clause” wrote:
“As originally understood, interstate “commerce” did not include primary production, such as farming, hunting, fishing, or mining. It did not include services, securities, or communication. Nor did it include manufacturing, transport, retail sales, possession, use, or disposal of anything. It did not include anything that might have a “substantial effect” on commerce, or the operations of parties not directly related to the actual transfers of ownership and possession.”
Much has been written and said about the proper functions of government in regulating commerce. None has been more concise than the principle expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his first Inaugural Address of 1801. In his definition of good government, he listed a government,
“…which shall restrain men from injuring one another, [but] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”
The only legitimate regulation of commerce is that which is designed to protect the public from the avarice of greedy and unscrupulous men or from the intentional sale of hazardous products.
We got where we are today through the deliberate incrementalism of the socialist movement in America over the past century. If we are to survive as a free nation, we must incrementally roll back the progress of socialism in our economy and in our society. The best place to start is by the reform of Congress which has become the focal point of the socialist movement. This cannot happen until voters break themselves of the custom of returning the same representatives to Congress each election, for selfish and unpatriotic reasons.
In my next post, I will share some thoughts on bi-partisanship.