Risk Services of Arkansas - September 2019

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Manufacturing The Genius of the United States Constitution Old Doesn’t Mean Outdated September 2019 Staffing Transportation Health Care Energy Construction Financial

T hese days, people are quick to say “Out with the old, in with the new!” We get rid of our old phones every time a new model comes out, even if the new phone isn’t necessarily better. Many people are convinced that new is always better, and they extend this ideology to every old institution, including our own government. There are those who are convinced we need to get rid of certain foundations of our government just because they’re “old” or “outdated.” They forget what these foundations were built to protect in the first place. One thing we need to remember is that after winning the Revolutionary War, the United States of America didn’t instantly appear as we know it today. In fact, initially, the government was made up of just the Congress of the Confederation. We didn’t have the judicial branch or even a president. After fighting a war to break away from a strong centralized government, the last thing the new nation wanted was a federal government with too much power. Our nation’s first constitution was called the Articles of Confederation, which left most power in the hands of the states to govern themselves. The Articles of Confederation gave Congress the responsibility to regulate currency, declare war, and handle foreign affairs, but no authority to enforce requests for money or troops from the states. This proved to be a big problem when Congress couldn’t handle an uprising of Massachusetts farmers who didn’t want to pay their debts. It was clear that if this new nation was to stand a chance of surviving, there needed to be a better balance of power. In 1787, four years after the end of the Revolutionary War, delegates from all 13 states were invited to the Constitutional Convention

in Philadelphia. Their goal was to create a more perfect union, but not everyone was thrilled. In fact, Rhode Island refused to send any delegates out of fear that a centralized government would interfere with the states’ economic business. The framers of the constitution had to create a brand- new system of government the world had never seen before, one that would make all the states happy and protect the rights of the people. During the convention, the framers unanimously voted George Washington as president of the convention, created a system of checks and balances with three branches of the government, figured out how to balance representation between large and small states by creating the House of Representatives and the Senate, and established the original electoral college. These ideas were all laid out in the Constitution. This document gave the states the power to govern themselves while making sure the national government could do what it was supposed to do: protect us from war. In retrospect, the creation of this document is nothing short of genius and in my opinion, was divinely inspired. Shortly after finishing the constitution, the framers created a series of amendments which would come to be called the Bill of Rights. These amendments protect the God-given rights of the people, including freedom of religion, speech, press and the right to bear arms, from government interference and overreach. The founders believed that individual liberty was so important that the 9th amendment protects individual rights not explicitly enumerated in the document, and the 10th amendment limits the federal government to only those powers explicitly granted to it in the Constitution. The founders believed that the states were much more closely aligned with the interests of its citizens.

The framers knew this system wasn’t perfect, but they also knew it was key to helping their new country survive. And what they created worked. The United States is still a relatively new country by world history standards, but by the end of World War II, less than 200 years since the country was founded, the U.S. had become the most powerful country in the world. Since then, the United States has used this incredible power to do a lot of good for a lot of people around the world. We’ve made some mistakes, but prior to the emergence of the U.S., history informs us that powerful countries typically used their power to conquer and dominate other countries. I think the most important thing to remember about the Constitutional Convention is how terrified these wise men were of creating a strong, centralized government. They knew firsthand how bad things could get for the people when the federal government has too much power. Unfortunately, over the last half century, we’ve forgotten this, and we’ve seen the federal government grow in power, scope, and sheer size. I believe we can trace a lot of our problems back to this idea that “one size fits all” and that Uncle Sam knows what’s best for us. Continued on Page 3 ...

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