Two aspects of Liberty intertwine in a Darwinian crucible of creative destruction to create the "general welfare":
- Tolerance of Disruptive Minorities offering choices. There are few Disruptive Minorities as tiny and disruptive as inventors. Often a single individual creates and destroys entire industries.
- Tolerance of the Wisdom of the Many sorting choices via free markets and free speech. Adam Smith's "invisible hand" is not invisible, just tiny. It is the vast accumulation of tiny acts of liberty by each of us as we choose between choices. The aggregated wisdom of all of us, with each of us acting in our own self-interest, is wiser than the wisest of us at choosing between choices.
The "general welfare" is not known to Congress. Congress' approval rating bounces around 20%. With one representative per 700,000 people, Congressmen can only afford to spend time with those who finance their reelection, that is not the people. RepresentUS put together an excellent video on how little the people matter to the Federal Government.
The US Government was created in war to wage war on the King. When the Articles of Confederation proved incompetent in waging war and securing the peace after the Revolution, The Articles were replaced by the Constitution to empower Congress to directly tax we the people to accomplish its mission. The Preamble, the Federal mission statement, is vividly clear in mandating the Federal government "provide" for defense and the prohibition to only "promote the general welfare".
The Framers' understanding of the role of government was well stated by Thomas Paine in Common Sense:
"SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher."
Who eats lunch and who is lunch illustrates the violent nature of life. We grant governments sovereignty, a monopoly of violence, so they will minimize the violence of war and crimes by coercing compliance with law, punishing offenders and regulating behaviors that lead to crimes.
The "general welfare" is created by our collaboration and requires limiting government from regulating behaviors that do not lead to crimes. The citizens retain sovereignty over our labor and property as clearly stated in both the Declaration of Liberty and the Constitution.
The Framers were forced by experience to see the need for Divided Sovereignty, two types of governments to suppress two types of violence. The Federal government was granted a monopoly of violence over issues of war. The State governments retained their monopoly of violence over crimes and commerce
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."
.We the People have found it necessary in the Revolution, Civil War, and Civil Rights Movement to use the military forces of these two different types of governments against the misconduct of the other type of government as noted in:
Federalist #28 (Hamilton):
“Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves an advantage which can never be too highly prized!”
"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
It is the nature and purpose of governments to punish. To try to give them the role of a parent, a provider, is to sacrifice the general welfare to coercion.
As a specific example, since we started allowing the Federal government to provide welfare in the form of transportation with The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1916, Americans have been coerced to pay for:
- Buying twice as much energy as people in other developed economies.
- Perpetual Oil-wars since 1991.
- Oil-dollars funded terrorist attacks on America.
- Climate Change that is destabilizing the Liberty of Posterity.
- The Federal government mortgaging the future labor of every child for $69,807 to buy foreign oil and fight oil-wars.
- $1.7 trillion/year to sit in traffic jams.
Liberty is the source of the "general welfare".
After nearly a century of rotary telephones under Federal Socialism, in 1982 the courts declared the Federal communications monopoly unconstitutional. With the liberty to offer choices and sort choices in free markets restored millions of jobs were created building better services at lower cost. Liberty provides the "general welfare".
As soon as the Constitution's "post Roads" restriction is enforced to break Federal Socialism in transportation and power millions of jobs will be created replacing a century of the 25 mpg efficiency of the Model-T with a physical version of the Internet. Digitizing mobility will combine the 400+ ton-mpg efficiency of freight railroads with the on-demand service of the Internet. Hyperloops, JPods, self-driving cars, drones, rideshare, scooters, etc.... will change economic lifeblood from oil to ingenuity.
Congress is limited to only "promote the general welfare". Liberty provides the "general welfare".