Is the EPA Really outside the original U.S. Federal Mandate?

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Is the EPA Really outside the original U.S. Federal Mandate?

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:08 pm

Is the EPA et. al. Really outside the original U.S. Federal Mandate?

No. Not really.

When we look at the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution we find the phrase “promote the general welfare” but when we look at the body of the whole text we cannot find any articles that directly address either health or “health and safety”. Yet, we know that in the late 1700's the word “welfare” meant “health and safety”, as opposed to its current seeming use as a derogatory for cash grants to the destitute.

So why might the framers have included this as one of the goals central to the overthrow of the Articles of Confederation (e.g. The Confederacy) in an attempt to create the “constitutional” United States?

Well when you look at everything that is enacted in the Constitution explicitly, each element is directly modeled on some form of governance or police powers that was existent at the time of the writing. The framers knew how each element of checks-and-balances, bicameral legislature, central military command (e.g. the presidency as a military office), and so on actually worked as practical institutions. That is, there was nothing codified into the constitution that wasn’t known to work and work well. Where there were known problems certain thing were “tweaked”. For instance the President was given the power to persecute (lead the fights of) war, but he was denied the power to declare war.

Thing is, no government nor agency of the state had ever been known to exist for the general welfare of the population. That space was, to that date, reserved for the church. Governments were more likely to support debtors prisons, indentured servitude, and work farms when they did anything but lament the plight of the destitute and starving.

So we have this phrase standing there as an ideal but lacking any information on how to address that ideal, the implementation of “the general welfare” is left blank, as it were.

The again, the constitution was envisioned as something that would evolve over time. The means of ammendment were written in as core structure. And given that the framers were trying to look forward as best they could, and many were for things like the abolition of slavery (Thomas Jefferson wrote against slavery in the framing of the Declaration of Independence, though it seemed to blame British greed for the necessity of the institution and so on) while never mentioning it in the original draft, and adding the infamous 3/5ths rule in the final version. It is not unreasonable to believe that the mention of “general welfare” was a means to reserve for the federal government, some stake in that general area.

It is particularly significant since the ratification of the constitution was provisional on the promise of the subsequent bill of rights, where what was not in the constitution was reserved for the states or the individual (amendment X). It was reasonably foreseeable by the authors that they might need to put their foot in this particular general welfare door from the get-go even if they didn’t have any good idea how such provisions might be implemented.

Roll forward to things like the clean air and clean water acts.

Understand that smog (and indeed “london fog”) from wood smoke and all and its effect were not unheard of, they were not really understood as a cause and effect thing. Nor was there any sort of connection to avoidable health issues. The first “smoke stacks” came to america when people down-wind took up the habbit of choking to death on heavy industry days when conditions were just right. Building taller chimnies was seen as financially more viable than paying death benefits and such.

Likewise, it is foreign to many people when we say that, to our parents or grand parents (depending on your age) it was a canonical fact that when they threw a bucket of whatnot into a river and couldn’t see it a mile down stream, they honestly and completely believed that nature had taken care of the substance utterly. [My father, born in the 1930's talked to me once about how shocked he was to learn that this belief wasn't true when the persistence of things like pesticides was finally proven in his youth. He didn't speak of this often and felt kind of guilty for some of his early industrial jobs. In his later years he became something of a denier because of this guilt.]

So while we know now that choking to death on pollution isn’t the only possible outcome of being exposed to pollution, the control of pollution is clearly now a known a “general welfare” issue.

If we worship on the alter of original constitutional intent, and we can believe, even momentarily, that the founding fathers were smart enough to claim a territory they didn’t immediately know how to redress; then we find that regulation in the name of that general welfare is definitely in-bounds for that constitutional intent.

Most of these sorts of “expansions” into things like environmental regulation, and the very existence of the secretary and departments of Health, Education, and Welfare were justified under the commerce clause and other legal shenanigans. These arguments are not invalid. But they don’t need to be stretched as far as they often seem to be.

The preamble isn’t often cited in law, but It should be. As a statement of intent it is rather direct and clear. Poignant even. It says we have an interest in the government putting its hands in several very definite things and chief among those is listed four major points, justice, domestic tranquility, the military, and health and safety.

source ... l-mandate/
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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