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January 16, 2009

An Ironic Abomination

Joe Charlebois

George Mason, the "father" of our Bill of Rights, was instrumental in securing our rights by refusing to sign on to the Constitution without the protections for the individual citizen.


Mr. Mason was an anti-Federalist, which means that he, along with fellow patriots, felt that the Constitution without a bill of rights would not provide protection from a strong centralized government.


He fought for and won the addition of 10 of his 12 proposals. His concerns for individual liberties made him one of the most important figures in early America.


Of the first 10 amendments, Mr. Mason wanted to assure that this bold new country would be free of governmental oppression. His legacy to us is listed in the following way.


A citizen of the United States is free to speak out politically. He is free to worship at a place of his choosing. He can write without government censorship. He can bear arms. A citizen is protected from unwarranted searches. He cannot be incarcerated without cause, deprived of property or life without the due process of law. He cannot be held indefinitely in the case of criminal proceedings. A citizen cannot be subject to cruel or unusual punishment.


The Tenth Amendment – more than being specific to the individual right – is rather a broader attempt to curb the centralization of power within the federal government. It reads:


Amendment X


The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


What is ironic about this statement is that it largely does not exist in the modern day United States.


On January 8, President-elect Barack Obama gave a speech at George Mason University. He, as many of his predecessors, believed that only through a strong centralized government can the problems of society be solved. That is not what George Mason, Patrick Henry and other Founding Fathers fought for when they originally refused to sign onto the Constitution as it was first written. They knew that the sure downfall of this fledgling country would be to create one with a majority of the power in too few hands.


Mr. Obama in his recent speech at GMU stated:


"It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe. Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy – where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to less spending; where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit."


First of all, government has never, ever created a job! The federal government is not a revenue producing entity. It receives its income from The People! This exercise is simply moving revenues from those that produce to those that don't.


What made America the most prosperous country in the world in such a short amount of time wasn't the government controlling an ever increasing ratio of the economy; rather it was the fact that our Founders recognized that through freedom a capitalistic economy would allow for men of industry to succeed no matter their station in life.


The fact that Mr. Obama does not favor a true free-market economy to pull us out of this downturn is disturbing. One must only look at history to see how a Keynesian economy only delays the turn-around.


Mr. Obama, we need to re-establish a free-market economy. We need to put money back into the hands of the taxpayers by making permanent the Bush tax cuts. We cannot continue to confiscate earnings from the job producers at an ever increasing rate and expect them to provide more job opportunities, replace aging equipment or invest in better processes to improve output.


The federal government has to get out of the way if it wants to see true recovery.


The Tenth Amendment states that the individual states and the people control the United States government, not the other way around. What business does the federal government have in controlling such a large portion of the economy? Why should the federal government be the only sector of our economy that grows? We want to control our own destiny.


I realize that this will fall on deaf ears in the administration, the majority party and a percentage of those on the right as well – for power is an intoxicating mistress.


But we must be aware that the further we move toward a fully centralized government, the rights that George Mason, Patrick Henry and others fought so hard for will be of little meaning.


The irony that Mr. Obama delivered this speech at a university that is named after the "Father of the Bill of Rights" is an abomination.


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