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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Legitimate Functions of Government
    #1524438 - 05/06/03 02:03 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

There has been a lot of talk about this lately, so rather than give my opinion, here's what the Constitution has to say:

Article I, Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.


Article II, Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.


Article III, Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.



It seems that the framers of the Constitution considered the legitimate functions to go quite a bit further than just providing for the common defense.


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"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


Edited by silversoul7 (05/06/03 02:08 PM)


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524449 - 05/06/03 02:09 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

the great bulk of that has to do with the courts and military.

the rest of it, i disagree with.

and it doesn't say anything about education, welfare programs, or scientific research.


Edited by Anonymous (05/06/03 02:20 PM)


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524461 - 05/06/03 02:14 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

It does have some vague, open-ended parts, open to interpretation, such as:

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States"

They made intentionally vague statements like this so that it could be interpreted and applied as necessary. Providing for the general welfare could be any number of things.


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524470 - 05/06/03 02:19 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

it could mean anything. drug prohibition is justified as 'protecting the general welfare'. so was the imprisonment of japanese americans during world war two. so is the patriot act.


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524479 - 05/06/03 02:23 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

it could mean anything. drug prohibition is justified as 'protecting the general welfare'. so was the imprisonment of japanese americans during world war two. so is the patriot act.



Yes. I'm not saying those things were the right thing to do, but they could be considered to be within the enumerated powers. However, some, if not all of those things, violate other sections or ammendments of the Constitution.


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524511 - 05/06/03 02:38 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

"Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524515 - 05/06/03 02:40 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

See, the problem is that the powers delegated to the United States are in many cases, rather vague. Regulating insterstate commerce, for example, has been interpreted to mean plenty of different things(for example, John Ashcroft's recent raids on online headshops).


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524521 - 05/06/03 02:42 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

i think this thread will be a better discussion if we keep it as "Legitimate Functions of Government" and not "Legitimate Functions of the U.S. Government as defined by the Constitution".

you know what i mean? a more... theoretical approach, where we can talk about what we think the purpose of government is, not fall into a debate over what the constitution means.


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524529 - 05/06/03 02:44 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

Fair enough. Although I think a discussion of the meaning of the Constitution would also be quite interesting.


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524539 - 05/06/03 02:49 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

well, on that subject, i would say that the constitution does give the government a wider body of reasons to initiate force than i would give it.


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524548 - 05/06/03 02:53 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

I believe that the Constitution, while not perfect, was well thought-out, and is America's greatest achievement.


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524554 - 05/06/03 02:55 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

agreed.


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524561 - 05/06/03 03:00 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

how i feel about the use of force is that the only time force is justified is in response to force, and it must be fair and consistant.

if people didn't initiate force upon eachother, we wouldn't need government at all. if that were the case, any government (use of force) would be unjust.


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524574 - 05/06/03 03:05 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

And if we still lived in an agricultural society, where people grew their own food rather than buying it, there would be no reason for social programs. Unfortunately, we don't live in such a world anymore.


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


Edited by silversoul7 (05/06/03 03:05 PM)


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524590 - 05/06/03 03:11 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

there have been people growing food, and selling their surplus to people that don't, for as long as there has been agriculture.

enlisting the government to regulate the production and distribution of food was a pretty new development. it also resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of chinese and russians over the past century.


Edited by Anonymous (05/06/03 03:30 PM)


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Anonymous

Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524665 - 05/06/03 03:45 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

government = force.

force should only be be used in defense of people's rights.

the only time someone's rights should be violated is when they are in the process of, or already have, violated someone else's rights.

unless you violate someone else's rights, i believe these rights are innate:

1. you have a right to be free from physical attacks on your body or on the property you own.

2. you have a right to live on a planet with clean air and water.

3. you have a right to not be scammed.

4. you have a right to defend yourself against infringements of your rights.

unless you violate someone else's rights, you should be allowed to act as you wish. this means being allowed to use your time, energy, skills, labor, money, body, and any other resources you have in whichever way you see fit.

i do not think that you have an innate right to be fed, clothed, sheltered, educated, and cared for in times of sickness. enlisting the government (force) to violate the rights of some in order to further the non-rights of others is terribly unnatural.


Edited by Anonymous (05/06/03 04:59 PM)


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: ]
    #1524737 - 05/06/03 04:11 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

I do not believe in such a thing as innate rights in the sense of objective rights which exist in nature. We have innate freedom, but not rights. In nature, there is no right or wrong, only survival of the fittest. Rights are what we are allowed to do within society, and should be such that they allow for a society to function. I believe that the right to be fed, clothed, sheltered, educated, and cared for in times of sickness is perfectly compatible with a functional society.


--------------------


"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524745 - 05/06/03 04:16 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

The Constitution, marvelous an achievement as it was, is a flawed document. This has been pointed out many times in the past. With over two centuries of hindsight in our pockets, it is much easier to identify where the Founding Fathers slipped up. However, for a group of people putting together something that had never ever been done before in the history of mankind, they did a tremendous job -- better than anyone else has done since.

The two fatal flaws in the Constitution (the chinks in the armor, so to speak) that more than any others allowed the US federal government to become the nightmare it is today were:

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states...

As P.J. O'Rourke so elegantly states, "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first to be bought and sold are legislators." It was a gigantic mistake to give the government any power over the economy whatsoever. I doubt the Founding Fathers envisioned what it would eventually come to, but I am still baffled they found it necessary to have given even that much control to the federal government.

and

To coin money, regulate the value thereof...

I understand the motives for this -- to try to provide a defense against counterfeit coin -- and again I doubt they had any way of foretelling what the power to issue fiat paper currency unbacked by gold would do to the economy. Still, it was a mistake.

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States"

They made intentionally vague statements like this so that it could be interpreted and applied as necessary. Providing for the general welfare could be any number of things.


There is a difference between "vague" and "broad". One must always remember that the Constitution must be read in its entirety, and things interpreted contextually. For example, there is an enormous difference between general welfare of "the United States" and general welfare of "the people". It has been conclusively settled by generations of Constitutional experts and many Supreme Court rulings that this clause refers to the political entity known as the United States of America (i.e. "defending the Union"), rather than to individuals. The consistency of language of the Founding Fathers throughout the entire document (as well as its companion, the Declaration of Independence) makes it quite clear that when they use the phrase "the people", they refer to all American individuals, when they use the phrase "the various states" they refer to all state governments, and when they use the phrase "the United States of America" they refer to the Republic qua Republic.

I agree with mushmaster that if topic of the thread is "Legitimate Functions of Government", it is unnecessarily limiting (not to mention more than a bit a bit chauvinistic) to presume that the US Constitution is the perfect embodiment of same.

pinky


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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524753 - 05/06/03 04:19 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

silversoul7 writes:

Rights are what we are allowed to do within society, and should be such that they allow for a society to function.

If you haven't yet grasped the nature of rights, then it is no wonder you are a socialist.

pinky



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OfflineI_Fart_Blue
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Re: Legitimate Functions of Government [Re: silversoul7]
    #1524867 - 05/06/03 04:56 PM (14 years, 2 months ago)

Two Treatises of Government by John Locke. A good read on the subject at hand. And highly recomended for those who have never read it.


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"A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind. I do not know which makes a man more conservative-to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past." -John Maynard Keynes


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