If we were to go “Jay-Walking” across America, randomly asking people about the US Constitution’s general welfare clause, we might get the question in return, “who?” Yet, general welfare is a ‘what’ not a ‘who’ and scholarly left-leaning individuals would quickly define the clause by linking it to social justice; a concept completely at odds with America’s founding principles and the clause’s original intent.
Social justice, which is based on equality of outcome, is a euphemism for social in-justice, because as socialism and communalism’s founding principle it violates God given rights to achieve social equality. These utopian ideas may sound good to the uninformed ear, but in order to achieve outcome equality government or some other authority within society must take property and possessions from those who have more than others and redistribute it to those who do not. Redistribution of wealth is a Marxist idea that should not have any place in American society!
When properly understood, the general welfare clause does not have anything to do with social justice or redistribution of wealth. General welfare appears two times in the Constitution, once in the pre-amble and the other in Article I Section 8. The pre-amble states, among other things, the Constitution was established to promote the general welfare and in Article I section 8 the first power delegated to Congress is, “To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to … provide for the … general welfare of the United States.”
To understand the general welfare clauses, a person must first understand the founding era definition of promote, provide for, general, and welfare. In the lexicon of the founding era and within its constitutional context ‘promote’ meant, “To encourage, advance, or help move forward.” ‘Provide for’ meant, “To make plans, preparations, or arrangements for in advance.” ‘General’ meant, “Common to all; pertaining to the entire nation,” and ‘welfare’ meant, “Happiness; prosperity; well-being.”
Putting these definitions together, the two general welfare clauses mean to encourage and make plans for the happiness, prosperity and well being of the entire nation. This limits the scope of the national government to only spend taxpayer money on things that will be common to all in which all citizens derive an equal benefit, like a common defense. General welfare is also limited by the specific powers delegated to the national government in the Constitution; if it is not expressly written then the national government does not have the authority to do it. Neither the original definition of this clause nor any other constitutionally delegated power gives the national government authority to redistribute income, possessions or anything else to States, special interest groups, or individual citizens.
In response to this logical and legal argument, many people say it is not charitable for a nation that has so much to not provide for the poor and that the plight of the poor in America is too large of a problem for private charity to handle. Advocates of this view do not understand there is nothing charitable about giving someone else’s money away, welfare is out of the government’s biblical jurisdiction, and government sponsored welfare is not effective in helping people in need.
Charity is when a person, out of the kindness of their heart, donates their personal time, money, or other assets to those in need. Politicians giving public money away are not being charitable, because their donations do not come out of their personal possessions and they receive political support in return. This is like someone coming to your door asking for a donation and you give them permission to take your neighbor’s possessions and they give you a tax exemption receipt in return. The donation may be for a worthy cause, but you have no legal authority to give your neighbor’s property away and neither do politicians. Without question, taking money from one person and giving it to another is called theft not charity, no matter who does it, and a worthy outcome never justifies the methods used to achieve it.
Government welfare is unbiblical when understood through the principle of biblical jurisdiction. The Bible has three major spheres of jurisdiction: family, church, and state. God has given each one of these entities specific instructions as to their area of responsibility and it is unbiblical for any one of these entities to either abdicate their responsibility or assume responsibilities from another jurisdiction. The family’s jurisdiction is found in Genesis 1:26-28, Proverbs 22:6 and includes: procreation, economics (business), education, tithing, social welfare, hospitality, model of union with Christ. The church’s jurisdiction is found in Genesis 12:3, Ephesians 4 and includes: training the saints, reflecting God’s unity, corporate worship, discipline, caring for widows and orphans, and preparing the body for spiritual warfare. The state or government’s jurisdiction is found in Genesis 9, Romans 13 and includes: punishing lawbreakers, protecting the righteous and freeing them for good works. The government taking responsibility for welfare is like a private citizen setting up a court to punish lawbreakers, which is an obvious transgression of biblical responsibility.
Government welfare has also been counterproductive; instead of helping those in need, America has now enslaved many generations on a welfare system. Welfare recipients have lost their freedom and their dignity, because in order to receive welfare they must do what their master, the government, demands of them. In spite of this, welfare has worked for the politicians who have endorsed it; people are still impoverished and they are still voting for incumbents and candidates who promise to give them more benefits.
In America’s system of government, in which all powers are derived from the people, if the people do not possess a power then they cannot delegate that power to anyone or anything else, including government. No one in America has the lawful authority to demand others give them money so they can donate it to a charity of their choice: therefore, neither do they have the authority to delegate that power. Based on this principle, redistribution of wealth by government at any level is not only a violation of America’s form of government, it is a violation of individual property rights which government was instituted to protect and at the national level it is unconstitutional.
If these reasons are not enough for someone to logically understand why special welfare, tax subsides, and many other programs for which the national government unlawfully squanders American tax payer money is wrong then here are two more reasons. 1. Redistribution of wealth by politicians is another name for buying votes with tax payer money and 2. It does not make any financial sense to give money to the national government so they can dole it back down to States, special interest groups, or private citizens.
When politicians give grants, subsidies, welfare checks or use other methods to transfer taxpayer money from one group of people to another they are buying votes with public money. If candidates promise to give individuals things they are not authorized by the Constitution to give and they receive political support in return, this is a form of election fraud that happens in plain view with tacit consent of the governed. This form of election fraud is just as wrong as suppressing the vote or registering dead people to vote, but the American people allow it to happen.
Giving money to the national government to redistribute to States, groups, or individuals does not make any financial sense, because the national government always redistributes less than what they receive. Governments cost money to operate, so a portion of the money the national government collects will always go towards running their operation, and in this way they will never be able to give back as much as they take. It makes no sense, therefore, to give the national government money, so they can give back less and then tell us how we must spend it. It makes far more sense to resolve issues at the lowest level of government where a larger percentage of the tax revenue can be applied to authorized services. Additionally, if the national government is allowed to continue this practice they may take money from you and give it to another State. In this case, you will receive less of a percentage of your tax dollar than if the government only took their cut and gave it back to you. Even if you live in a State that receives more money than it paid in, you should understand that this system is not equitable for those who pay for what they do not receive and some day it might be you on the wrong end of that equation.
For all these reasons, America should honor the Constitution’s original intent and not spend tax payer money on things not authorized by the Constitution. If each citizen upheld this principle, America’s financial problems would go away after we finished paying for previous unconstitutional expenditures.