Did you know this? Do you believe it? You should. Ever since the outrageously unconstitutional ruling in 1942 by the Supreme Court in Wickard v. Filburn. And from this point on, the power of Congress to interfere with the economy was effectively unlimited. Any action, including growing a crop for your own use, was classed as ‘Interstate Commerce’, and thus subject to Federal Regulation under Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution (the ‘Interstate Commerce Clause’). The goal of Congress had been to create price stability in grain (via the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938). The end result, when combined the ruling in West Coast Hotel v. Parish (see my previous post), was a complete loss of economic freedom.
Combining the logic of these two rulings, not only could the national government regulate salaries and working conditions, it could also regulate crop production, prices or any other thing that even indirectly might touch on ‘interstate’ commerce, up to and including production for personal consumption. A whole series of dreadful rulings have followed—and the worst my be yet to come with The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ‘Obamacare’). If the Supreme Court upholds Congress’ power to regulate inactivity, then nothing is beyond the reach of the national government. This stands the entire premise of the Constitution of the United States on its head.
The US Constitution, as envisioned and drafted by the Framers was for a limited national government with specific delegated powers, where the states remained sovereign except in very specific, designated areas (national defense, foreign policy, trade). What he have now is a national government with plenipotentiary power that turns governors and governors into satraps and state legislatures into tax collectors (e.g. via unfunded mandates). This is not the United States as defined by the US Constitution.
Where did it go wrong? There are many places to look, including the Civil War, the 16th Amendment, the 17th Amendment, Progressivism, the Great Depression, the Social Gospel, World War I, Word War II, Industrialization and a host of other potential causes and contributors. It will take a series of posts (and then some) to address these fully, and that will take some time. I’ll be addressing this in two ways-via my constitutional analysis documents (see the articles on the US Constitution and my annotations) and via blog posts filed under ‘Federalism‘.