Government Bloat – A History Lesson

Posted By on December 16, 2010

As a student of history I am continually amazed at the lessons available to us, and just how history is replete with quotations, statements and the like which we would do well to consider applying to our daily lives. I know I’ve quoted him before, but George Santayana’s words are very applicable to today, and to our elected officials, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Sometimes by reading, and re-reading historical sources we find things often overlooked.

Just this morning I was re-reading The Federalist #62 by James Madison and this was brought to my attention:

The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed. (Emphases added) 1

Additionally, a simple reading of Federalist #46 reveals that our founders could not even imagine how the people and the states would subject themselves to the current tyranny spewing from Washington. Join the above quote with these from #46:

The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter. (Emphases added) 2

The same combinations, in short, would result from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced by the dread of a foreign, yoke; and unless the projected innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a trial of force would be made in the one case as was made in the other. But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity? (Emphases added) 3

What “degree of madness” indeed! Is it the insistence of one party to maintain its grip on power? Is it their insistence to continue in the direction which has been so soundly rejected, and opposed by the body of the people in general? Is it their continued demand to ignore the Constitution, along with the will of the people? Is it their insistence to change our governmental forms to that which is foreign to this country?

I would really like to see some comments on this.


1 The Federalist, Hamilton/Madison/Jay, Barnes & Noble Books, 2006, p. 346

2 Ibid, pp 264-265

3 Ibid, p 265

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