Government Charity: Unconstitutional & Unlawful, Part 1

Americans watch our federal government spend and spend and spend.  Not only paying out tax dollar funded charity to Americans, US corporations, and foreign countries, but now even so-called conservative politicians are claiming “we have an obligation” to give taxpayer dollars to non-citizens here in the United States and even in Mexico. This is out of control, forced charity. Government agents giving money taken from Americans by the force of government is the very epitome of over-grown, uncontrollable, bloated government.

Maintaining the limited form of government our Constitution demands is vital to the preservation of our nation. If we fail, the unfortunate reality will be that we will have failed to maintain the gift of the Republic that was bought for us by the sacrifice of ease, estate, pleasure, and blood of our forefathers.

Frederic Bastiat is absolutely the most eloquent, both in understanding, and in teaching the principles of forced charity.

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In Bastiat’s book, The Law, he explains:

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“The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder.”

Bastiat defines legal plunder “…if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong…if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

So, now that we understand that government charity is really legalized plunder in disguise, we can do something about it. The first step to correcting a problem is understanding that you have one. Those we elect to represent us, on the other hand, seems completely clueless.

  • Federal Government Out of Control

Presidents sign outrageous spending bills, making themselves participants in this plunder. Congress is engaging in every mode of spending that can be conceived, legalizing plunder.

Both “sides” argue over how much to tax, while no one discusses the profligate spending, claiming the premise of a false philanthropy. Our founders, and even their immediate successors, warned that this perspective in government would subvert the very foundations and transmute the essential nature of the limited government established by the people of America.

It will take character and resolve to make the painful and difficult decisions to preserve the Republic so that future generations will have an opportunity to enjoy the Liberty that has been purchased for us. As usual, the oracles of history have some lessons if we would simply listen.

Apparently, things began to go awry for the federal government rather early on. An expansion of Congressional power through the forced construction of the General Welfare clause is one of the chief culprits. A great example of this can be found in the Congressional arguments surrounding the Cod Fishery Bill of 1792, a bill to subsidize the Cod Fishing industry. In this, James Madison, the Father of our Constitution & 4th President, defines the proper nature of government to a House wanting to unconstitutionally expand its power and reach.

  • Not an Indefinite Government but a Limited Government

James Madison said, “I, sir, have always conceived – I believe those who proposed the Constitution conceived – it is still more fully known, and more material to observe, that those who ratified the Constitution conceived – that this is not an indefinite government, deriving its powers from the general terms prefixed to the specified powers – but a limited government, tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms.”

  • General Welfare Does Not Mean Generally Everything

Yes, we are supposed to have a limited and defined federal government. Madison was very simply explaining that the clause “common defense and general welfare” was not meant to expand the power of the government beyond its limitations, but to describe the purpose of the power delegated within strict confinement of those boundaries. In other words, this clause does not name a power; it simply describes the purpose for the powers named.

Then with amazing foresight, Madison explains the consequence of allowing the federal government to turn these “clauses” into defined powers:

“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their Own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.” 

KrisAnne Hall is an attorney, former prosecutor, a disabled Army veteran, a Russian linguist, a mother, a pastor’s wife and a patriot. Hall hosts weekly radio and TV programs and teaches an average of 265 classes each year on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Learn more at

The Language of Liberty series is an outreach project of the Center for Self Governance, a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in principles of liberty. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG.

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