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The U.S. Constitution & Economic Freedom
Restoring America’s founding principles through fiscal sanity.
236 years ago today, our nation's forefathers signed one of the most crucial documents in human history: the U.S. Constitution.
This monumental event in 1787 marked the birth of a government built on principles aimed to secure liberty in America. But it’s hard to reflect on this momentous anniversary without noting how the principles outlined therein are not currently upheld as faithfully as they should be.
Our founding fathers were visionaries who drew from the lessons of history to create a blueprint for a virtuous and prosperous society. They understood the perils of unchecked government power and sought to protect individual liberties and secure private property rights.
If only the governing activity in recent decades reflected the same sobriety when it comes to not repeating historical mistakes. Instead, the departure from many of the Constitutional principles established 236 years ago has landed America in economic turmoil today.
The Constitution was designed to limit the federal government's powers, intending to prevent reckless spending and unsustainable debt. In modern times, we have witnessed an alarming trend of government spending beyond its means, racking up massive deficits and debt, thereby jeopardizing our nation's economic stability.
Our creditworthiness is waning, our dollar is devaluing, and Americans are pessimistic about the economy. Much of this is thanks to excessive deficit-spending in recent years under both major politicial parties that has reduced our reliability to make good on our debts.
What won’t be felt by today’s Americans will be the burden of future generations. By Congress not balancing its budget and the Federal Reserve monetizing much of the debt with a bloated balance sheet, the government is expanding its scope by spending more, often on wasteful programs, contrary to the contained government our founders foresaw.
Furthermore, excessive money creation by the Fed has become a troubling issue, diverting us from the pillars that made America the wealthiest and most generous country in human history.
Our Constitution, inspired by principles of capitalism and private property rights, aimed to foster an environment where individuals could pursue their dreams, innovate, and create prosperity for themselves and their communities.
However, the fiscal policies of Congress, the regulatory policies of the Executive Branch, and the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve have led to an unprecedented situation in recent years. While a supposed goal has been to “stimulate” economic growth, it has come at a huge cost.
The excessive spending, regulations, and taxes have distorted prices, leading to asset bubbles. It has also created an environment where wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation, home ownership is a far-off dream for many, and individual debt remains high, notwithstanding the national debt.
On this Constitution Day, our nation’s leaders would do well to reflect on our founding fathers' wisdom and the principles enshrined in this historic document to restore America to its intended limited government.
One major step to restoring constitutional principles would be pursuing responsible fiscal policy that prioritizes the long-term financial health of our nation. This means making the difficult decisions to curb wasteful government programs and live within our means.
One promising approach to addressing deficit spending is implementing a spending limit like most states have across the country. This would require Congress to pass a budget that does not exceed a maximum rate of population growth plus inflation, thereby growing government by less than the economy. This fiscal rule represents what the average taxpayer can afford to pay for spending and would be more than enough to fund limited gvoernment.
We must also embrace the spirit of capitalism and protect private property rights, which the founding fathers recognized as an essential component of freedom. Addressing government spending and reducing taxes would help give people across the income spectrum more opportunities to own more things that will help them prosper. This should also be combined with a monetary rule that gets the Fed back to only stabilizing prices rather than the discretionary policies that have led to terrible outcomes.
The Constitution is not a historical artifact but a testament to the enduring values and principles that can guide our nation toward a brighter future. It's time to rekindle the spirit of the Constitution for the sake of our prosperity, liberty, and people.
Restoring the principles of the Constitution is not a partisan issue; it's an American imperative. It requires a commitment to fiscal responsibility, economic freedom, and individual liberty. It requires us to hold our elected officials accountable and demand that they prioritize the principles that have made America exceptional.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D., is president of Ginn Economic Consulting, chief economist or senior fellow at multiple state thinks across the country, host of the Let People Prosper Show, and previously the associate director for economic policy of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, 2019-20. Follow him on Twitter @VanceGinn.