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The Biggest Threat to Our Freedom and Well-Being


The last thing statists want people to be doing is studying the Constitution. Because if people are studying the Constitution, there is a good possibility that they’ll discover what the Framers considered to be the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people. That would be, of course, the federal government.

The federal government? That’s just not possible, say the statists. The federal government is our caretaker, our provider, our friend, our parent, our god. After all, doesn’t it provide our retirement, health care, children’s education, housing, loans, food, and other essentials of life? Doesn’t it protect us from the drug dealers, illegal aliens, terrorists, communists, profiteers, speculators, greedy people, oil producers, and other scary people in the world?

How in the world could Americans possibly consider this grand provider and protector to be the biggest threat to their freedom and well-being? ask the statists.

The Constitution actually had a dual purpose. One purpose was to call into existence a federal government. But the Americans living during that time were reticent about doing that. They knew that historically people’s very own government had been the destroyer of their freedom and well-being.

So, early Americans were faced with a dilemma. They believed that a federal government was necessary, but they also believed that it would pose the biggest danger to their freedom and well-being.

What to do?

Their solution was to use the Constitution not only to bring into existence the federal government but simultaneously to use the Constitution to restrict the powers of the federal government.

Thus, the original Constitution — that is, the part that didn’t include the Bill of Rights — essentially said the following: This document calls into existence a federal government but one whose powers will be limited to the few powers that are enumerated in the Constitution because we don’t want this government to have very many powers.

So, why was a Bill of Rights necessary? Why not simply rely on the enumerated-powers doctrine?

Because our American ancestors believed that certain rights were so vitally important that they didn’t want to rely on the enumerated-powers doctrine for their protection. They feared that federal officials would begin violating the enumerated-powers doctrine and wanted to make sure that if they did so, they could not run roughshod over the rights that they considered so fundamental and important, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and right to keep and bear arms.

Knowing that historically governments had arbitrarily punished people who were critical of government, they wanted to ensure that the federal government couldn’t arbitrarily arrest, jail, and execute people. That’s what the guarantee of rights in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments are all about.

Is the mindset that guided the Framers outmoded? Are the statists right in suggesting that the federal government should now be looked upon as people’s parent, friend, or deity rather than the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being?

Well, ask yourself: What has the welfare state and the warfare state brought us?

Out-of-control federal spending, taxes, borrowing, inflation, assaults on income and capital, not to mention the damage that the welfare state has done to people’s sense of self-reliance, independence, charity, moral values, and family values.

On top of that are the kidnappings, renditions, torture, indefinite detentions, kangaroo tribunals, militarism, empire, denial of due process and trial by jury, suspension of habeas corpus, assassinations, and other infringements on civil liberties that the warfare state has brought us.

What better evidence of the threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people than all that?

The Framers were right: The federal government, owing both to its welfare state and its warfare state, still constitutes the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people. The statists are hoping that those Americans who are now studying the Constitution won’t discover that.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.