How Essential is the Federal Government?

My friend Darren Doane, creator of the film Collision and producer of many of my videos on eschatology, posted the following on Facebook:

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Here was my response:

The fact that the Federal Government has not been able to stop the spread of a virus means it’s not essential.

My comment seems to have hit a nerve. Someone made a meme out of it:

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Defining someone’s job as “non-essential” is the epitome of political messianism. There are many things the Federal Government does that are not only not essential; they are downright destructive.

Can you imagine what shape we would be in if the Federal Government had overseen our nation’s food supply during this virus lockdown? It would have been a disaster. Governments are not essential to keep store shelves stocked. The shortages that we experienced were the result of the government’s stay-at-home mandate. Billions of economic decisions are made by hundreds of millions of people every day. It works outside the direction of government edicts. See my article “The Economics of Toilet Paper Shortages.”

Governments can’t cure poverty or income inequality, but they can make them worse.

It’s legitimate to ask how essential the Federal Government is in particular areas. The constitutional framers thought it was essential for only some governing areas. They were so clear on this point that they listed them. If a power is not listed, the Federal government doesn’t have it.

The states were insistent on further limiting the power of the national government by adding a Bill of Rights. Note the Ninth and Tenth Amendments:

Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

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.

The Founders did not believe control of education was an essential national government power. The word is not found in the Constitution, and yet we have a Federal Department of Education. The people are taxed at the state level. The money is sent to the Federal Government. The Department of Education is given some of that money. They money is then sent back to the states only if they follow federally mandated educational laws:

There is no authority/power given to the Federal Government for Social Security, Medicare, wealth redistribution, a Department of Energy, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack, the Federal Reserve, foreign aid, or wars against non-aggressive nations.

Consider the Federal Reserve. Although an instrument of the US Government, the Federal Reserve System considers itself “an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by Congress, and the terms of the members of the board of governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.”

When the national government assumes powers by legislative fiat, like redefining marriage and designating unborn children as non-persons, it is defying the constitution, and those who take an oath to uphold it violate that oath every time they pass a law or fund a program that does not line up with the Constitution’s enumerated powers.

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