The Role of the Federal Government

It is commendable to have compassion for the poor and to want to help them, but this is not the role of the U.S. government.

We are often lectured that a major difference between liberals and conservatives is that the former “care” about the common people, while the latter are concerned only for themselves and their own. Many believe that it was this sentiment that doomed Mitt Romney’s presidential chances when a video surfaced where he said: 

[T]here are 47 percent…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. 

Now the way this statement played out in the media did indeed contribute to Romney’s defeat, but was he wrong? Are conservatives really deaf to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged? Is it true that they actually ignore the fact that there are many in this country who, through physical or mental disabilities, are unable to provide for themselves and their families? Naturally, the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘of course not’! But can it be that conservatives believe that the responsibility of caring for these unfortunates lies not with the federal government, but elsewhere? In a word, yes. 

It is commendable to have compassion for the poor and to want to help them, but this is not the role of the U.S. government. It would be wonderful if everyone in this country enjoyed the high level of healthcare afforded to the likes of unions and other groups, but it is not the role of government to provide it. I’d like to see each American child educated to his fullest capacity, but this again, is not the role of the federal government. In fact, all these are worthy and vital goals but they do not fall under the authority granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution, under which auspices we allegedly continue to operate. 

If this is true, how then to help the poor and needy? How to educate our children? Well, we might look to the first 150 years of our nation’s history, before the New Deal, the Great Society and the Welfare State became part of our national lexicon. Caring for the poor, the widowed, the sick and the orphaned was carried out at the state and local levels through municipal and religious organizations. Likewise, public as well as parochial education came under the purview of local authorities and churches. And, if the great chunk of American income used for federal entitlements was returned to its citizens, the same could be done again. 

Because all people, especially those with strong Judeo-Christian convictions, know that it is their duty to care for the poor, the sick and the less fortunate. Liberals are fond of quoting Bible snippets in attempts to shame us into doing what they feel is our patriotic duty. “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar” they proclaim, in an effort to coax us into paying our taxes cheerfully. Of course they conveniently leave out the rest of that verse, “and unto God the things that are God’s,” lest they might give credence to the frightful notion that we owe our true allegiance to a higher power than government. 

No, it is not the image of Caesar on American tax dollars, but George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson; to whom we owe our national debt. And all of our Founding Fathers knew and feared the tyranny of an all-powerful central government. Hamilton said, “The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will for ever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political calculation.” 

 

They knew that as the role of a centralized government expands, the rights of its citizens contract. If it is the role of the federal government not only to promote the general welfare, but to directly pay for it, then its power to define and control that welfare becomes unlimited. We have been warned ad nauseam for decades, that the threats to our liberty would come from the accumulation of federal power by ‘fascists’ on the right, but history has proved the reverse it true. Don’t believe me? Just open a newspaper.

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