Thoughts from Maharrey Head #48: The Constitution & General Welfare

“10 Minutes Closer to Freedom”


In this episode of Thoughts from Maharrey Head, I explain the original meaning of the General Welfare Clause.

The federal government involves itself in nearly every aspect of American life. Government officials and apologists for governopoly often point the the Constitution’s General Welfare Clause for its justification. They argue that the clause empowers the general government to do absolutely anything that promotes the “general welfare.” And of course, that can include almost any imaginable action.

But this notion runs completely counter to the idea of a limited federal government with powers that are “few and defined.” If we take the general welfare clause as a sweeping grant of power, it would transform the nature of the Constitution and make the powers of the federal government virtually unlimited.

In this episode of Thoughts from Maharrey Head, I explore the meaning of the General Welfare Clause through the eyes of James Madison, considered by many “The Father of the Constitution,” and others in the founding generation. I explain the roots of the clause, the legal framework one must understand to put it into proper context and exactly how supporters of the Constitution explained the words “general welfare.”

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SHOW NOTES AND LINKS

Constitution 101: The General Welfare Clause

Federalist #83

Letter from James Madison to James Robertson

Federalist #41

Letter from Madison to Edmund Pendleton, Jan. 21, 1792

 

Photo by Valerie Vealach (Flickr.com)

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