The General Welfare Clause and Stoned Teenagers

The General Welfare Clause and Stoned Teenagers

Here’s the best way to understand Art. 1, Sec. 8, the “general welfare clause” and its abuses.

Imagine that the parents of a 17 year old boy go out of town for a week, and they entrust him to take care of himself for that week. Before heading to the airport the parents leave car keys, a debit card and a note.

The note reads:


You may use this card to withdraw money from the ATM, or use as a check card, to buy food, beverages and gas, but only use our bank’s ATM to avoid any fees;

you may have bread;

you may have milk;

you may have fresh veggies;

you may have fresh fruit;

you may have lean meat;

you may have fruit juice;

you may fill the car’s tank once;

you may use the car when it is necessary to get the things on this list.

P.S. You may not use the car or card for any purpose other than the purposes that we have stated.”

When the parents get home they find the place wrecked. Empty pizza boxes, fast food containers, cigarette butts and beer bottles are all over the place. They also discover half a dozen passed out teenagers, and the whole place smells of marijuana. The parents find Billy and demand an explanation.

Billy pulls out the note and says, “You wrote that I could buy food. Well, pizza, burritos and cheeseburgers are all foods. You wrote that I could buy beverages. Beer and whiskey are beverages. ‘Gas’ could be open to any interpretation. Cigarettes and pot give off a ‘gas.’ You didn’t write that I couldn’t use the card to ‘buy food, beverages and gas’ for all my friends as well. Don’t worry, I only used the card and car when I deemed it necessary, like when I took a bunch of my friends to buy candy and popcorn at the movie theater every night, and hot dogs at yesterday’s Yankees game.”

That’s the exact same reasoning and honesty that the federal government uses when it uses “general welfare” or “necessary and proper” as excuses to commit unconstitutional acts.

The General Welfare Clause and Stoned Teenagers

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