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The source of progressives' power grab:
the Commerce Clause

The progressives have spent decades usurping power from individuals and the states and placing it under the control of the federal government. They've done it incrementally so most people haven't felt much of an impact in their day to day lives. Consequently, millions of Americans didn't realize how badly their rights had been eroded until President Obama came into office and tossed incrementalism out the window.  With the president's health care and financial reforms alone, the federal government helped itself to a controlling interest of everyday American life.

How did progressives usurp so much control? Through the judicial system and the progressive judges' Grand Canyon-esque interpretation of the Commerce Clause. Reason TV produced an educational video that explains in plain language the legal decisions that put our country on its current trajectory of government control of the US economy. It also lays out clearly the two diametrically opposed interpretations of the Commerce Clause that have been slugging it out in court for decades. One interpretation says it was never meant to be used to regulate the economy inside the individual states, but was meant to ensure the free flow of products through the states. The other interpretation says the commerce clause gives the federal government broad authority "to regulate all aspect of the economy."

Let me repeat that. According to progressives, the commerce clause says the federal government has the authority to regulate, another word for control, all aspects of the economy. Watch:

The people who believe the commerce clause gives the federal government broad powers to regulate all aspects of America's economy are the same people who believe government can and should control all aspects of  American life as well. They are America's ruling elites, the progressives whose belief system is entrenched in a collectivist ideology.

The collectivism that drives the progressives' philosophy that government has the right to regulate, or control, all aspects of the economy is a very short walk to the kind of ideology that allowed for the control that communist countries such as the former Soviet Union exercised over their economies. The Soviet Union controlled all aspects of its nations' economy via bureaucratic fiat. Life was not very pleasant for those on the receiving end of this control.

My kids' babysitter and good friend came to America several years ago from Belarus, a former Soviet satellite state.  We spent many afternoons when her babysitter duties were done talking about what her life was like growing up in Russia. I am fascinated by the stories she tells because the contrasts between her life then and her life now are so significant. On one occasion she told me about a day when she, her sisters, and their mother went to the grocery store. Remember, products and food weren't produced and shipped by privately owned companies incentivized to be as efficient and reliable as possible in order to earn a profit, as is the case in free market economies; rather, production and distribution of absolutely everything, i.e. all aspects of the economy, were dictated solely by the Kremlin.

So when my friend and her family walked into the store, they stopped dead in their tracks and stared. There  was nothing to buy but rows and rows of... canned seaweed.

You read that right. There was nothing but canned seaweed.  The memory of those days back in Soviet Russia must have still been painful for her because she choked up a bit in the retelling of the story, but we both laughed when she talked about how creative her mom and her friends' mothers had to be trying to come up with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for weeks using only seaweed as their main dish.

The Los Angeles Times published this November 30, 1990 article in which it detailed the impact that the break down of the Soviet Union's government-controlled food production and distribution systems had on its citizens. It even included a story about stores carrying nothing but canned seaweed.

Jeff L writes in the comments:

and? Who cares what happened in the USSR in the 80's?

Kim is insinuating that what happened in the USSR is going to happen here.
That is truly glorious bullshit indeed.

I have no idea if this will happen here; I pray to God it doesn't. But I'd like to know what Jeff thinks "regulate all aspects of the economy" means. The issue could be that he doesn't know what it means. Perhaps this will help:

Regulate: control something by rules or laws: to organize and control an activity or process by making it subject to rules or laws

All: used to indicate that the whole of an amount, area, quantity, or thing is involved or affected

Aspects: one side or part: a facet, phase, or part of a whole

Economy: financial affairs: the production and consumption of goods and services of a community regarded as a whole

So, put that together and this is what you've got. When the gentleman wearing the glasses in the video said the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the authority to "regulate all aspects of the economy," this is what he means: the federal government has the authority to organize and control by rules or laws every facet, phase, or part of the production and consumption of goods and services in the United States.

If this does not scare you, then you are either stupid or lying.


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Comments (15)

I've always thought that th... (Below threshold)
Roy:

I've always thought that those who worry about new SCOTUS justices and their view on Roe v. Wade, should be much more concerned about their interpretation of the Commerce clause.

If all of our jurists began... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

If all of our jurists began their deliberations on matters of the Constitution with the understanding that it was designed to limit the powers of federal government in the lives of the individual citizens, I feel more consistent interpretations of this document would have been much easier to come by. Today it has become a game for many of our judges to see how creative they can be in subtlely circumventing this fundamental tenet in order to subordinate original intent to their own arbitrary world views. Government as a servant of the common man is so yesterday in the minds of our elites.

I have it on good authority... (Below threshold)

I have it on good authority that the founding fathers added the commerce clause and the words "general welfare" so that the federal government could take over every aspect of the lives of private citizens - their goal in breaking from England all along. They just didn't want to do it all at once and knew it would take a couple of hundred years, but believe you me, that's what they were going for. Their own statements at the time were nothing more than red herrings meant to deter future generations from discerning their true intent until the day arrived that we, as Americans, would finally become the ones we have been waiting for. True, it involves dunking some of the founders' undergarments in a solution of vinegar and cauliflower extract, then air drying them exactly 4 nautical miles from the north pole over an open flame, then coating them with ashes from a barbecued toucan...but Obama and Nicholas Cage are working on it and we're sure to get an Oval Office update when the results are in.

But..but...but...the 'rulin... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

But..but...but...the 'ruling elites' KNOW EVERYTHING! Why just look at the wonders produced by Obamanomics so far. We're spending our way to prosperity!

I love this new found relig... (Below threshold)
Dane:

I love this new found religion on the part of the right. President Bush flexed the Constituional powers of the Presidency a great deal, and not one peep from the right.

And although Priestap's taken great care to invoke Obama's name she hasn't suggested that Obama has done anything differently compared to Bush. Because he hasn't.

It was the Supreme court decades ago that decided the Constitution was a living document and not one carved into stone.

And it was the SCOTUS that decided that the term "necessary and proper" gives Congress great latitude **in the method** by which they legislate within Constitutional boundaries:

Article 1, Section 8

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.

"Necessary and Proper"is what the discussion hinges on, and it's the Supreme Court interpretation of what is "necessary and proper" which gives Congress broad powers to regulate commmerce.

Because as anyone with a brain knows, it's not the Executive branch but Congress that writes laws and its the Supreme Court that limits Congress' powers.

And since we have a SCOTUS that leans conservative - the whole notion that this is a problem that "progressives" brought on is just plain bullshit. It's the federal courts that determine the Constitutionality of laws. It's the SCOTUS that will decide the Constitutionality of health care reform mandates, for example - and the overturning of Prop 8 - to give two very current examples.

The Conservative Supreme Court.

Priestap drags "Progressives" into the fray claiming that the opposing views of the Constitution (literal originalism vs the "living document" view) are somehow a new invention of the Obama administration.

Priestap then spends several paragraphs attempting to fear monger the rubes into believing they'll be eating seaweed only in a another year or two.

It's laughable to anyone who knows the Constitution and knows what a pathetic example of partisan fear mongering Preistaps' entire article is, not just the obvious, blatant paragraphs at the end.

But the low IQ, poorly educated idiots won't know the difference - and since they are largely conservatives who respond to fear mongering no one's minds are really changed by this.

Nicely done. Canned seaweed. Lol... What glorious bullshit.

The source is a need to fan... (Below threshold)
Nine Fourteen:

The source is a need to fantasize you are Hugo Chavez or itsy bitsy lil' kim and then live it out.

Proof is in the unicorned won.

"Nicely done. Canned seawee... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Nicely done. Canned seaweed. Lol... What glorious bullshit."

Dane - you REALLY need to take a look at the history of the economics of the USSR. Their stores were bizarre - IF they had what you wanted (and you had to stand in line to find out) you then went to PAY for what you wanted, and then stand in line again to receive it - IF they weren't sold out.

THE WORLD - THE WORLD - In the U.S.S.R., Just Getting Food to the Table Is a Struggle - NYTimes.com

MOSCOW-- The state meat store on Malaya Kolkhoznaya Ploshchad offered a typical selection the other day - baloney, salami and baloney. In the fish store a few doors down a sales clerk was pounding a block of frozen ocean perch with a sledgehammer to break off pieces for a long line of impatient customers. At the fresh produce shop next door, beets, cabbage and a mound of soggy squash were the vegetables of the day.

Russians call it ''the food problem.'' Mikhail S. Gorbachev, in his keynote address to the recent Communist Party conference, called it ''probably the most painful and the most acute problem in the life of our society.'' Soviet and Western economists say rejuvenating the economy will be doubly hard without first showing people that the availability of food can be improved.

The simple truth - that the Soviet Union cannot feed itself - barely does justice to the staggering mess that collectivization, excessive central management and inadequate incentives have made of agriculture and the handling, processing and distribution of food. Among the many hardships of Soviet life, perhaps the most degrading is the constant search for decent food and the hours lost waiting in unruly lines to buy it.

The Soviet press, no longer squeamish about chronicling the country's failures, has reported bits and pieces of the problem: more than 40 percent of the potato crop rotted last year before reaching consumers, hundreds of boxcars of fresh vegetables spoil before they arrive at distribution centers, cattle are transported for days from farms to slaughterhouses, losing more than 10 percent of their weight on the way.

''Where are the 64 kilograms [ about 141 pounds ] of meat I'm theoretically supposed to get every year?'' a retired worker in Kirov, a city east of Moscow, complained to Pravda last week, adding that he was able to buy only about two pounds of sausage a month, and that ''sometimes I'm lucky enough to find some bones for soup.''
NY Times - back in '88 they actually understood what news was...

#7and? Who cares... (Below threshold)
Jeff L:

#7

and? Who cares what happened in the USSR in the 80's?

Kim is insinuating that what happened in the USSR is going to happen here.
That is truly glorious bullshit indeed.

Dane:But... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Dane:

But the low IQ, poorly educated idiots won't know the difference - and since they are largely conservatives

Actually from the data, those with low IQ and poorly educated are more likely to vote Democrat. So odds are anyone with which you interact here is smarter and better educated than you... but that's already obvious to the rest of us.

Nicely done. Canne... (Below threshold)
Nicely done. Canned seaweed. Lol... What glorious bullshit.

That story is absolutely true, Dane. My friend told all about it while in my living room just a few months ago.

Kim, where's the like butto... (Below threshold)
G.:

Kim, where's the like button on here?

I have always wondered how ... (Below threshold)
Hawk:

I have always wondered how a liberal can believe that the commerce clause gives the government the authority to "to regulate all aspect of the economy.". When the text says:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes

So if it granted the government the power to regulate the economy of the states. Then it follows that it grants the government the power to regulate the economies of foreign nations and Indian tribes as well.

"Kim is insinuating that... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Kim is insinuating that what happened in the USSR is going to happen here.
That is truly glorious bullshit indeed."

At one time, Jeff, I would have believed it impossible. Now it's gone from 'impossible' to 'rather unlikely' - and I don't like seeing that happen.

To go categorically "It can't happen here" you'd have to ignore a lot of what's happened the last couple of years re Obamacare and the like, when the 'elite' decide for the rest of us what we're going to get instead of allowing us to choose for ourselves.

You're seeing it in salt restrictions, and fat restrictions - all for our own good, of course. You're seeing it in the refusal of 'progressives' to allow power plants while touting green energy schemes... which are in turn shot down by environmentalists because they spoil the view (in the case of Mojave solar plants or off-coast wind farms) or harm the local environment (wind farms killing birds, solar plants providing too much shade) and the 'Cap & Tax" program to limit CO2 - while AGW is now being recognized as an artifact of both faulty data collection and bogus 'adjustments' to said data.

The thrust is always to find a way to control what people do. And there's limits to what the people will stand.

"If this does not scare you... (Below threshold)
zaugg:

"If this does not scare you, then you are either stupid or lying."
Jeff and Dane have the stupid part down pat.

And if the last paragraph o... (Below threshold)
BlueNight:

And if the last paragraph of the post didn't scare you, think about this: what happens when the Republicans regains power at some point? The only ways to prevent it are 1) to convince those who would vote R to vote D instead, or 2) to change the rules of voting in some way (or disallow it altogether) in order for the Democrats to remain in power.




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