In Order to Promote the General Welfare

Posted: 12/30/2009 by Lynn Dartez in 2011
AIPNEWS.com
“In Order to . . . promote the general Welfare” is one of the six purposes stated in the first paragraph of the Constitution, placed before its first Article in what we call its Preamble. The following are the specific provisions that are for the welfare of all, not just some and are genuinely general.

What are called “welfare programs” cannot be justified as for all, rather than just some, hence cannot be justified under “general welfare.” In fact, the “General Welfare Clause” in the body of the Constitution, much less in its Preamble, does not in fact expand Constitutional powers of the United States at all, since it is put in the context of very general categories for which “taxes, duties, imposts and excises” may be laid [legally imposed] and collected.

The first sentence of the Article One, Section which is the primary place where legislative powers are defined, lists three categories of expenditures which are the only legitimate reasons for collecting “taxes, duties, imposts and excises.” They are the following:

  1. “to pay the debts” [… of the United States];
  2. [to …] “provide for the common defence” [… of the United States];
  3. [to … provide for …] “general welfare of the United States;”

All the places where you read “provide,” you might as well as well put “pay.”

The sentence in Section 8 or Article I that refers to the general welfare is given in its entirety below:

Article I, Section 8.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States;

The harmony secured by a more perfect union, a common defence adequately provided for, the establishment of justice, the insurance of domestic tranquillity, securing liberty—all certainly conduce to the general welfare. I have decided to exclude from the list all these plus provisions relating to international and Indian relations, relations between the United States and the States already existing, relations between the Branches of the United States government, election provisions and other organizational rules, and of course the above already cited portion of Art. I, Sec. 8. Every attempt has been made to make the Preamble goal lists non-overlapping.

Any parts of the Constitution not listed under any of the Preamble goals will be listed separately. By looking at this remaining list of provisions, you will be able to decide, how well those six general purposes listed in the Preamble serve to subsume all the power or how well I have done in discerning their application.

Article I

Section 8.

… To borrow money on the credit of the United States; To regulate commerce … among the several States, … To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, … To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

… To establish post-offices and post-roads; To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries; …

.. To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Article IV

Section 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; …

Amendment 14

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. …

Posted 2009-12-27 12:53 AM (#31108) By: BraveLad
Here’s the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, with the six (6) purposes numbered, just before Article 1, Section 1

We the People of the United States, in Order to

  1. form a more perfect Union,
  2. establish Justice,
  3. insure domestic Tranquility,
  4. provide for the common defence,
  5. promote the general Welfare, and
  6. secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and
    our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.

Article 1

Section 1

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Link to the transcript of the original U.S. Constitution:
http://archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

Posted 2009-12-27 3:26 AM (#31110 – in reply to #31108) By: Savvy
Let’s see if I have understood.  Is this correct?

The preamble to the constitution states the six (6) purposes for which the constitution was written.

You have analyzed the U.S. Constitution and assigned each element to one of the six (6) purposes it was designed to fulfill.

Since everything in any of the other five (5) categories also contributes to the General Welfare, you’ve assigned elements of the constitution to that category ONLY if they contribute to none of the other purposes of the constitution.

Excluded from consideration were matters related to ” … international and Indian relations, relations between the United States and the States already existing, relations between the Branches of the United States government, election provisions and other organizational rules, and of course the above already cited portion of Art. I, Sec. 8.”

After completing all the categorizing, the only elements of the constitution left for the category of General Welfare were the ones listed in your post:

Article I

Section 8.

… To borrow money on the credit of the United States; To regulate commerce … among the several States, … To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, … To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

… To establish post-offices and post-roads; To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries; …

.. To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Article IV

Section 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; …

Amendment 14

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. …

I’d be really interested to see how each element of the constitution was categorized in your analysis.  Do you plan to post the elements that were assigned to each of the other five (5) purposes, as well?

I think that would provide a great framework for those of us not all that familiar with the constitution to begin to understand its components … that is, assuming my understanding of the project you’ve completed was correct.

Posted 2009-12-27 4:47 AM (#31111 – in reply to #31110) By: Savvy
So then when you say the General Welfare Clause

does not in fact expand Constitutional powers of the United States at all,

is that b/c General Welfare is a super-category primarily composed of elements from the other five (5) categories … with very few components unique to General Welfare, alone?

Posted 2009-12-27 4:58 AM (#31112 – in reply to #31111) By: Savvy
(It appears there were prior posts in this series I missed reading the last few days.)
Posted 2009-12-27 5:18 AM (#31113 – in reply to #31112) By: Savvy
Savvy,

I have already posted “a more pefect union,” “common defense,” “domestic tranquillity,” and of course “general welfare.” I have a start on “establish justice”  and “secure the blessings of liberty” which I hope to post shortly. Then I need to post the other categories not covered.

Then I will go over a copy of the Constitution plus amendments and color highlight all the mutually exclusive categories. At that point I will see how well I have kept them non-overlapping and how complete they are. I may even come up with general phraseology for the categories not included in the six Preamble goals which the framers could as well have included at the outset.

I listed no provisions under “more perfect union” because anything which makes our second Constitution better than the first, which was the Articles of Confederation could have been included. Too long, too controversial to be of much use.

Markham (BraveLad)

Posted 2009-12-28 12:59 PM (#31153 – in reply to #31111) By: BraveLad
Savvy,

Essentially yes. The Preamble “general welfare” clause describes a very general category, that is general enough to include some or some aspects of the other Preamble goals. Of course any mere goal does not expand power at all. So I conclude that no Preamble goal does either. If I understand Tom correctly, he does not agree with this, although I would like to see him come forward with a particular instance that does not open the door to all sorts of abuses.

But the second “general welfare” phrase in the body of the Constitution, is only one of the categories for which tax-raised funds may be Constitutionally expended. Since only enumerated powers or those necessary and proper to them in the case of legislative powers are Constitutional powers, we must find a debt, a defense or a general welfare justification for it. Hence if it is not debt repayment or defence realted, it must be something for the “general welfare.” So this category is a limit (although not a very strong one), and not, repeat not, a grant of power!

BraveLad (Markham Robinson, Vice Chairman)

Posted 2009-12-28 1:10 PM (#31155 – in reply to #31112) By: BraveLad
It is a Good thing the founders didn’t say ,.. Establish the General Welfare?

Imagine the mess we would be in,…

Posted 2009-12-28 2:00 PM (#31157 – in reply to #31155) By: gcsteven
Guy,

If they had used the most forceful possible verbs it would have made no difference. All the Preamble goals are the objects of the prepositional phrase “in Order to.”  That makes them purposes. Purposes can’t be used to grant powers. General purposes can’t be used practically, either because we can’t tell what they mean clearly enough, or they grant sweeping powers dangerous to free men—another sort of “practicality.” At any rate, I will go over the verbs used and see after I have completed the lot and how appropriate each verb was to what was actually ordained and established or in other words implemented by the Constitution.

However, the Founders could have said “in order to arbitrarily and forecfully impose mandatory morning callisthenics on the entire population” and if there was nothing about that in the document, especially in the presence of the Tenth Amendment, there would be no power delegated to the United States corresponding to it. In that case the purpose would have been so specific, that we would be in little doubt whether the rest of the document (which was all and only what was being ordained and established) succeeded in its stated purpose, but the stated purpose would still not have granted any power to realize that purpose. Do you agree?

BraveLad


Posted 2009-12-28 11:52 PM (#31185 – in reply to #31157) By: BraveLad
Maybe this is not the proper thread, but it would be like sending troops to take over a state, under a specious “in order to from a more perfect union” reasoning.
Posted 2009-12-29 12:16 AM (#31186 – in reply to #31185) By: FreeByrd
FreeByrd,

In certain circumstances the United States is obligated and enabled by specific provisions to intervene at the State level, but only in certain circumstances and by certain means. I listed relevant specific provisions under “In Order to insure domestic tranquillity” thread. These are the actual grants to the United States of power (as the purpose to insure domestic tranquilly in the Preamble is not) and in one case of responsibility. See these provisions below:

Article I, Section 8:

The Congress shall have power …

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Article II, Section 2:

The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States;

Article IV, Section 4:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

Second Amendment: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. So the Congress may make legislation to to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” The language of Section 8 of Article I only says “provide,” but Congress has only legislative power beyond a very few items, where it exercises very severely circumscribed judicial power (impeachments and issues related to qualifications of members to name two), and virtually non-existent executive power. So its “provisions” are legislative here.

If an insurrection was successful, then the militia of a State could be called forth to overthrow that regime, that is if the insurrection was against a non-republican form of government. The United States has an actual duty, not just a power or equivalently a right, to guarantee a republican form of government. So it follows that if the militia act on their own to guarantee such a republican form of government for themselves, the United States by opposing that would be violating that responsibility. It takes time to recognize the situation where a non-republican form of government has arisen in a State and react to that. The militia of a State is not obliged to wait for the United States to fulfill that responsibility, before acting.

But what is the militia? It is the entire armed body of the citizenry, whose right to “keep and bear arms” shall not be infringed according to the Second Amendment. (There will be a separate thread on the militia.) Infringed by whom? The United States, the State government, both? Foreign nations? The United Nations? By a fellow citizen? Good question. A separate thread will address the issue of scope of application of various sections of the Constitution.

The power of Congress in regard to the militia is enormous and largely unexercised. Note that Congress may “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States.

So if it would do so, Congress could provide for (make a law) to appropriate funds for arming the militia. It could make a law to “organize” the militia, i.e. make rank structures, specify tables of organization and equipment, reporting and command responsibilities of elements of such structures, etc. It could do these things for not just the National Guards as I presume it has done, but for the entire body of able-bodied citizens, arming and organizing them. It could insist as the Second Amendment does that all eligible members of the able-bodied citizens, have not only a right, but a duty “to keep and bear arms!” Such a well-organized body is according to the Second Amendment “necessary to the security of a free State”—not a meaning familiar to fans of the Second Amendment!

What I am saying here is that the United States can Constitutionally and should (although it is not Constitutionally obligated to do so) make us like Switzerland, where participation in defence of the State, Nation and locality is not voluntary, but mandatory.

But once you realize this, you can understand the threat posed by Obama’s goal of creating a militia is as well-armed and trained as the regular Army. The trouble with that is not that it is un-Constitutional, but that nothing that an un-Constitutional regime does is Constitutional!

If the office of President is vacant for instance, no law creating such a “well regulated militia” is a law at all, much less an un-Constitutional one! If such a militia is in the service of a national regime that is not a republic anymore, for it habitually ignores that which makes it a republic, its Constitution, then it is anti-Constitutional. It is a domestic enemy of the Constitution, which the expanded Presidential oath asserts is a duty of the President to oppose, but no duty of one who is not President, because unqualified to hold that office.

We live in perilous times my fellow-citizens, when to speak the truth and to uphold the Constitution may shortly be treated as treason. Let us then resolve to work while it is yet day!

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Comments
  1. longknife21 says:

    The “War on Poverty”, or welfare-state is a farce – Poverty will always win because the socialist criminal-conspiracy in the Federal gov’t has designed it that way. The true aim and result of Welfare is to creat dependance on the Gov’t’s socialist programs. To create, build, and enslave a political under-class that will vote the socialist party ticket, no matter what the true aims of the criminal-conspirator/leadership may be. A few people may break the chains of welfare/poverty, but they are successful in spite of the gov’t, not because of the gov’t.
    This places a wasteful tax burden on productive citizens and discourages productivity and thrift among the young. Why should they work hard, risk their time and capital to be successful, when they can get a gov’t job. Or get on the dole.
    Now the criminal leadership vote themselves huge amounts of tax money, and programs that are used to reward co-conspirators, expand and consoladate their power, and further enslave the tax-payers. The true danger of a “democracy” is demonstrated. With selfish, greedy, ignorant voters with no investment in the Nation able to vote greedy criminal power-mongers, you get what we have in the District of Corruption today. A quasi-socialism for the parasites, a Neo-Aristocracy of the gov’t “public servants”, all supported by tax-payers. What is worse, the Neo-Aristocracy have succeeded in selling the ‘indentured servant’ taxpayers into a century of debt slavery to support their personal greed and unLawful unConstitutional policies.
    Seccession is rapidly becoming the only practical alternative to socialist slavery to an International Shadow gov’t administrated by their Neo-Aristocrat co-conspirators. The Constitution has been ignored, folded, spindled, and mutilated.
    What are YOU going to do?

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