What can we learn from allegations against a half-dozen supervisors in the Government Services Administration for wasting, and perhaps stealing, taxpayer dollars on foolishness in Las Vegas, and against a dozen Secret Service agents for dangerously procuring prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, while there to prepare for a visit by the president?
If the allegations are true -- and they seem to be -- the behavior of these government workers reflects a view of government hardly consistent with the idea of limited government and public trust. The United States is the only nation in history founded on the principle that people voluntarily gave up some personal freedom in order to form a central government of limited powers and for limited purposes. Those purposes, according to the Constitution, consist primarily of the maintenance of personal freedom, natural rights and property rights, civil liberties and commercial liberties.
In all other nations where there is some freedom, government power begrudgingly permitted limited freedoms. In the U.S., personal freedom has permitted the government to have limited powers.
Those powers were intended to be used in a stingy way, to maximize freedom and to minimize government. There is no other intellectually honest reading of the Constitution in the era of its creation than this. Even the Big Government folks present at the nation's creation, such as John Adams, who would one day prosecute people for speech critical of him, and Alexander Hamilton, who began our nefarious infatuation with government debt, agreed that the federal government was limited to the powers articulated in and delegated to it by the Constitution, and to those tools necessary and proper to execute the delegated powers.
But 230 years later, when governmental power is used for personal gain that is obviously nowhere countenanced in the Constitution, that use perverts the structure that established the government. It also tells us that those in government who have done this do not comport themselves as if they work for us. Rather, they use the power we gave them and the taxes they took from us for silly and tawdry behavior that in no way protects our freedom.
Unfortunately for the national discourse, politicians will seek to make political gains over this. These GSA and Secret Service scandals were not caused by one political party. They were caused by the Big Government attitude that those in government can do as they please with the public trust and the public purse so long as they can get away with it.
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