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Is it permissible?

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  • wayne
    Is it permissible? By Walter E. Williams Sep 21, 2005 Professor, George Mason University and syndicated columnist. Last week, President Bush promised the
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 3, 2005
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      Is it permissible?
      By Walter E. Williams
      Sep 21, 2005

      Professor, George Mason University and syndicated columnist.

      Last week, President Bush promised the nation that the federal
      government will pay for most of the costs of repairing hurricane-ravaged
      New Orleans, adding, "There is no way to imagine America without New
      Orleans, and this great city will rise again." There's no question that
      New Orleans and her sister Gulf Coast cities have been struck with a
      major disaster, but should our constitution become a part of the
      disaster? You say, "What do you mean, Williams?" Let's look at it.

      In February 1887, President Grover Cleveland, upon vetoing a bill
      appropriating money to aid drought-stricken farmers in Texas, said, "I
      find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do
      not believe that the power and the duty of the General Government ought
      to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no
      manner properly related to the public service or benefit."

      President Cleveland added, "The friendliness and charity of our
      countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in
      misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated.
      Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on
      the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national
      character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that
      kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common
      brotherhood."

      President Cleveland vetoed hundreds of congressional spending measures
      during his two-term presidency, often saying, "I can find no warrant for
      such an appropriation in the Constitution." But Cleveland wasn't the
      only president who failed to see charity as a function of the federal
      government. In 1854, after vetoing a popular appropriation to assist the
      mentally ill, President Franklin Pierce said, "I cannot find any
      authority in the Constitution for public charity." To approve such
      spending, argued Pierce, "would be contrary to the letter and the spirit
      of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the
      Union of these States is founded."

      In 1796, Rep. William Giles of Virginia condemned a relief measure for
      fire victims, saying that Congress didn't have a right to "attend to
      what generosity and humanity require, but to what the Constitution and
      their duty require." A couple of years earlier, James Madison, the
      father of our constitution, irate over a $15,000 congressional
      appropriation to assist some French refugees, said, "I cannot undertake
      to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a
      right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of
      their constituents."

      Here's my question: Were the nation's founders, and some of their
      successors, callous and indifferent to human tragedy? Or, were they
      stupid and couldn't find the passages in the Constitution that
      authorized spending "on the objects of benevolence"?

      Some people might say, "Aha! They forgot about the Constitution's
      general welfare clause!" Here's what _* James Madison said: *_ _* "With
      respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them
      as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them
      in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the
      Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was NOT
      contemplated by its creators." *_

      _* Thomas Jefferson explained *_, _* "Congress has not unlimited powers
      to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically
      enumerated." *_ _* In 1828, South Carolina Sen. William Drayton said*_,
      _* "If Congress can determine what constitutes the general welfare and
      can appropriate money for its advancement, where is the limitation to
      carrying into execution whatever can be effected by money?" *_

      Don't get me wrong about this. I'm not being too critical of President
      Bush or any other politician. There's such a _* broad ignorance or
      contempt for constitutional principles among the American people *_ that
      _* any politician who bore truth faith and allegiance to the
      Constitution would commit political suicide. *_
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Find this story at:
      http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/walterwilliams/2005/09/21/155654.html
    • vivus_spartacus
      The Federal Government Has Never had any Authority (Morally or Constitutionally) to engage in Charity. Private Citizens have never failed to answer the call
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 5, 2005
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        The Federal Government Has Never had any Authority (Morally or
        Constitutionally) to engage in Charity. Private Citizens have
        never failed to answer the call to aid victims of disasters. I am
        suprised in all of the instances cited by Mr. Williams (Is it
        permissible?) regarding the Government's rightful Non Responsibility
        for such Matters, he failed to mention probably the Best description
        provided by another Famous early American, a frontiersman & Congressman
        named Davey Crockett, in an essay titled: "Not Mine To Give".
        Am curious why?---
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