While I was visiting Yamhill GOP—God bless you all—there is great hope for our beloved State of Oregon, I was asked about the “general welfare” clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The phrase “general welfare” is used twice in the U.S. Constitution (emphasis added):
…and again within Article I:
Take for example:
This “general welfare” phrase has been used to expand the federal government into areas it was never supposed to go—i.e.: education, health care, wages, etc.
Some Founding Fathers warned this would happen:
Today, this sounds prophetic. So, how does The Federalist Papers explain the meaning of “general welfare”?
The Federalist Papers are especially clear on this subject:
“The ‘necessary and proper’ clause of the Constitution is the last clause of Article 1, Section 8.
It…only declares a truth. The act of creating a federal government and giving it specific powers implies this clause. The constitutional operation of the proposed government would be precisely the same if the clause was removed or if it was repeated in every article.
The Federalist Papers discuss the “necessary and proper” clause in several more places. But I think the above quotes explain the basic idea behind the clause.
I think that the Founding Fathers expected that U.S. citizens would study the Constitution as part of their education. And they left the Federalist Papers as a tool to be used in that pursuit. And we, the citizens, are responsible for demanding that the government stay within its limited powers.
* Excerpts fromThe Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two, Webster, 2008 (see on sidebar)