Saturday, February 4, 2012

Letter to WashingtonPoston minimum wage indexing

Chicago Saturday AM 4 February 2012

Editors, The Washington Post


The Washington Post editorial “[Mitt] Romney]'s timely proposal to raise and index the minimum wage” (Thursday 2 February) says“the only way to raise or lower the minimum wage is through an act of Congress.” The United States Constitution cannot be clearer in defining things Congress is allowed to do in Article 1 Section 8, and it says nothing about telling citizens how much to pay for help.

Some think the General Welfare clause is justification in extreme situations, But James Madison foresaw that possibility 222 years ago and explained what the founders meant by the clause, clearly, thoroly, and I'm sure he felt finally, when in Federalist Number 41 he wrote :

“Some [Constitution doubters]... have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power " provide for the general welfare of the United States" amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the... general welfare....

“Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expression just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it. But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon?”

And following that semicolon is a list of 17 Congressional powers, from 'borrow money on the credit of the United States' thru 'make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers'... but not a sign of dictating what one citizen must pay another for services rendered.

Unfortunately, the Father of the Constitution did not anticipate future misunderstanding of the Commerce clause.

Arnold H Nelson

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