Walter Williams on a Constitutional Spending Amendment


Monday January 24th, 2011   •   Posted by Emily Skarbek at 11:09am PST   •  

In a characteristically informed and appropriately scathing attack on the welfare state, Walter Williams asserts a cautiously optimistic view of the recent trend in political discourse as it has become more popular to call for limits on the arbitrary powers of the state.

“For the first time in my lifetime—and I’m approaching 75 years old—you hear Americans debating about the U.S. Constitution,” he says. “You hear them saying ‘This is unconstitutional’ or ‘We need limits on government’—things that I haven’t heard before. I’ve been arguing them for years, but now there’s widespread acceptance of the idea that we need to limit the government.”

Williams recommends a constitutional amendment limiting what government can spend by pegging total spending caps to GDP. “The benefit of a spending limitation amendment is that you’re going to force Congress to trade off against the various spending constituencies.”

On the other hand, Williams is careful to note that the Founding Fathers’ experiment in liberty and limited government was a historical outlier that devolved into the bloated state we have today.

“A historian writing 100 or 200 years from now might well say, ‘You know, there was this little historical curiosity that existed for maybe 200 years, where people were free from arbitrary abuse and control by government and where there was a large measure of respect for private property rights. But then it went back to the normal state of affairs.’”




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