Mr. Wolf asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 1 decade ago

Can anybody explain what the "general welfare" is without saying what it is not?


We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article 1-

Section 8

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

welfare: exemption from any unusual evil or calamity; the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government; applied to states.

Promote: To forward; to advance; to contribute to the growth, enlargement or excellence of any thing valuable.

(I got the definitions from the 1828 Webster’s dictionary because I did not want the modern definition of welfare and it is the one I found that's closest to the time the U.S. Constitution was written.)

14 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Right off the bat at a glance, I would say you answered your own question. It seems logical... and to go back and get an old definition is noteworthy. I think the SCOTUS should have the old dictionary around for their use.


  • 1 decade ago

    The problem being is that "society" use to be full of ethics, morals, a more complete understanding of what is right and wrong..........all those things that made a good old society with general rules to keep us all within the boundaries of not violating each others rights.

    As time has progressed, we got the selfish hippie generation whom pushed alot of outer barriers, where some might not have been considered all that bad, but along with the good, we got the Natural foods industry, ever expanding universe of person style choices, alternative medical and spiritual practices, along with the womens (abortion) and gay liberation movements owe a debt to the hippie movement.

    But by lifting the lid of oppression and conformity, the hippies opened up a pandora's box full of bad behaviours. Adding to an increased divorce rate, increased drug usage and the questioning of authority (which isn't always bad, but hippies and those radicals that followed them never learned when it was time to STFU).

    The left wing liberalism gained more control as they infiltrated government, found a home in the Democrat party to take over along with influencing schools, politics and many aspects of common sense and society.

    With society "altered", society has been less likely to stand up for good ethics, values and what is right. We've even gotten to the point we tolerate the Unpatriotic and UnAmerican.

    So back when we could rely on society to self govern what is good for itself, now we have the corrupt, the unethical, the selfish, and down right stupid trying to control and manipulate our communities and country.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The founders were explicitly clear before, during, and after the Constitutional Convention that the term "General Welfare" specifically reiterated the enumerated powers given to the federal government by the people without relisting them. The founders saw the general welfare of the nation best served by maintaining the small scope afforded to the federal government because increasing the size and scope of the federal government necessarily limits the freedom of the people and the states.

    Unfortunately, few seem to really understand the origins of their freedom, the limitations placed on government in the Constitution, and the long run consequences of perpetual expansion of federal authority. They will resort to Progressive Era interpretations of the General Welfare, Interstate Commerce, and Necessary and Proper Clauses that flatly disagree with every founding document and every record associated with the formation of the US. To them, the 9th and 10th amendments are meaningless statements, not definitive limits as stated by both Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Their interpretation recognizes no limit to the power of the federal government. Such an interpretation ultimately voids the Constitution.

  • 1 decade ago

    So forward the freedom from evil or calamity and the enjoyment of peace and prosperity for all citizens.

    But why did you answer your own question?

    Would not some here have benefitted from the mental exercise? Would not honestly trying to answer your question have promoted their general welfare?

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  • 4 years ago

    Answers in genesis does not reflect mainstream Christianity in their radically literal translation of Genesis. The refuse to see that the Big Bang can easily explain how God made the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    "Promote", not provide. Also, general means most/everybody NOT just those who don't have jobs or don't make a lot or whatever. The overall good. Such as protection of the community with law enforcement, firefighters, community cleanup kind of stuff. Things that benefit the whole.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Do your own homework, Just Kidding. It means unless everyone of the United States would benefit from the tax, the government should not promote it.

  • 1 decade ago

    We can argue about what it means all day. But ultimately it can be used by unscrupulous politicians to mean whatever they want.

    Serious limits need to be placed on the interpretation of this term before lunatic left wing socialists turn us into a nation of servants.

  • 1 decade ago

    You have hit upon the exact passage in the Constitution that food stamp-providing, entitlement program-growing liberals have completely misunderstood and bastardized since the days of FDR. Congratulations.

  • 1 decade ago

    Clearly you haven't taken an American government course.

    The powers of Congress are very clearly laid out after your excerpt.

    Check out what our founders thought about 'general welfare' since they're the ones that wrote it.

    Taking it out of context leads to tyranny

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