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August 2, 2021

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DARREL SMITH: Founders built power limits into government

2 min read

Published Mobridge Tribune 

The people that started this country believed in human sin. They believed that power corrupts.

To reduce the corruption of power they limited governments with federal and state constitutions. Federal enumerated powers were separated between congress, the executive and the judicial branches of government. What wasn’t enumerated in the federal Constitution was left to the states with their own separated branches and their local governments and to the people. They hoped that the constitutions, the competing separated branches, the divided federal and state governments and the people themselves would counter unauthorized extensions of governmental power.

Departments and agencies of the government were formed to carry out governmental functions. These departments and agencies have grown in numbers, size and authority. The agencies now violate the very fundamental division of powers of our governmental system. They have a process for making regulations, they also execute the regulations they create. The agencies likewise have police, prosecutorial and judicial authority. If you are penalized by them and have extensive resources, you can still refer their judicial decisions to the federal courts.

Agencies have been creating regulations for some time. In 2012 there were roughly 3,700 regulations created, while congress and the president established 127 laws. In 2013 agencies issued over 3,650 regulations, while congress and the president established 65 new laws. There are more than one million regulations in more than 174,545 pages in 238 volumes. The cost of these regulations is not available from government sources but the Competitive Enterprise Institute thinks it is in the neighborhood of $1.8 trillion annually or about $14,768 per household. You pay a little of this cost when you pay taxes, but mostly it is included in the cost of things you purchase. Regulations and their costs destroy our liberty, reduce our purchasing power, depress business, especially small business, slow our economic growth and damage our international competiveness.
How is it possible for our government of divided legislative, executive and judicial powers to create agencies that unify these powers in a single agency? Where is the authority for the power of these agencies in the Constitution? Not only are these actions of the agencies themselves a Constitutional question, what they are doing is also difficult to find explicitly explained in the Constitution’s enumerated powers. For example, where in the Constitution’s enumerated powers do you find the federal government’s role and limitations in education, the environment or healthcare? Without guidance from the Constitution what are the limits on the agencies’ powers?

You don’t elect directors to these agencies. Their directors are appointed and the agencies are primarily run by lifetime protected bureaucrats. When did you give your consent to these agencies’ powers and even as much as one of their million regulations?