Sunday, December 27, 2009
Promote the General Welfare
The sixth principle of the Constitution of the United States is found in the Preamble - "Promote the General Welfare." This principle tells us that the Constitution is "designed to promote those practices and policies which shall be for the general welfare of the whole nation" (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p 244). It also tells us that the citizens of the United States have the Right to expect their government to meet the needs of Americans as a group. It says "general welfare," not individual or personal welfare. It is interesting to me that the Founders used the word "provide" in the previous principle, as in "provide for the common defense," but they used the word "promote" in this principle. Provide means to furnish, give, or supply what is needed. Promote means to help something to advance, develop or grow. The fact that they used the two different words as they did tells me that they wanted the Federal Government to treat "defense" differently than "welfare." The Federal Government is responsible to provide the common defense but simply to promote the general welfare. The words "common" and "general" mean that these principles apply to all Americans as a whole but not as individuals, favored groups, or states, as some citizens assume that this principle means. "General welfare" means the care of the people as a whole. This principle is there to insure that "the national government administers its power without prejudice, discrimination, or favoritism. Furthermore, the Founders did not want the power and resources of the federal government to be used for the special benefit of any one region or any one state. Nor were the resources of the people to be expended for the benefit of any particular group or any special class of citizens" (The Making of America, p 244). A suggestion for teaching this principle to your family is to "pay" each member of your family a "salary" with play money. Collect "taxes" from each family member and then hand out other money to those that you feel "need" the extra money. A replay situation would be to have each family member pay a certain amount towards the house payment, food, and other family needs.