Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On the powers of government

As any decent coach will tell you, the fundamentals are the most important parts of an athlete's game, for they are the building-blocks on which everything else in the athlete's career rests for success.

I've often said that the principle applies as well in politics (and religion). Whenever our 'game' begins to suffer, at the individual, and/or the team level, it's probably time to put considerable time and effort into revisiting and re-establishing the fundamentals. Successful coaches spend a great deal of time on the fundamentals during the "off season." No; it isn't particularly fun or interesting, but it is necessary.

One of the main problems with politics (and religion) in America, as I see it, is that we have long-since abandoned any pretense of establishing and securing a good foundation in the fundamental principles of legitimate government. Interesting that we should neglect this duty when it has been made so easy for us to cheerfully abide in it. America's Schoolmaster, Noah Webster once said of this government that it "presents the first example in modern times of a government founded on its legitimate principles." Well, that was then and this is now, but how did he mean?

When we boil it all down to the fundamentals, there are but three powers of government: The legislative, or the planning/decision-making power; the executive, or the power to put the plan to execution; and the judicial power, or the power to judge the effectiveness and efficiency of the plan, and to advise alterations when determined necessary.

Now, I'm not talking about the separation of powers, or the so-called branches of government, both of which are integral parts of our constitutional form of government. Remember, I said the fundamentals. Those aspects of government are not the fundamentals, they are merely built upon the foundation of the fundamentals, or, they are logical extensions from the fundamentals, which are the powers of government.

I said above that it seems odd to me that we should neglect to attend to something made so easy for us. What do I mean by that statement? Well, if we'll take the time to actually read the Constitution once in a while, we'll find that in the opening sentences of Articles I, II, and III the powers of government are laid down in their simplest form. Everything following those first sentences in each article respectively, is built upon the foundation, recognition and establishment of that specific power of government, to wit:

Article I, section 1, U.S. Constitution:

"All legislative Powers herein granted..."

Article II, section 1, U.S. Constitution:

"The executive Power shall be vested in..."

Article III, section 1, U.S. Constitution:

"The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in..."

And there's no way of getting around it. Those are the fundamentals of government, those are the powers of government. Each individual is a complete 'government' in himself, for he (generally unknowingly but nonetheless) exercises these powers of government on a daily and a continual basis. He may not be very good or efficient at it due to any number of factors, but he does so nonetheless. Anything he does outside himelf, or outide his immediate family interests, however, requires that others be involved acting in capacities built upon the foundation of one or other of the powers of government depending on the nature of his relationship to the others. I could give innumerable examples of the way this works, but I don't really think I need to. The main point here is to get us thinking in terms of the importance of the fundamentals to good government.

Once again, if government is failing or breaking down, then it's probably high time we spent a good deal of time and effort on re-establishing the fundamentals. And that all starts with the individual, for as they say "the whole is exactly equal to the sum of its parts."