ests. The clause was never meant to be an open invitation to e pand government far beyond its primary role of night watchman.
“With respect to the words ’general wel- fare,’” wrote Madison, “I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers con- nected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of
“When democracy ecomes unlimited, the power of government ecomes unlimited, and there is no end to the demands on the pu lic purse.”
the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
Yet, what Madison feared happened—as his vision of government was overtaken by the views of people who sought to use government, not to prevent harm, but to “do good” at the ta - payers’ e pense.
Modern Li eral Vision
The transformation of the Framers’ constitution- al vision began with the Progressive Era, acceler- ated with the New Deal, and mushroomed with the Great Society’s War on Poverty, which creat- ed new entitlements and enshrined welfare rights. Today, more than half the federal budget is spent on entitlements, and social welfare spending is 14 percent of GNP.
During the transition from limited govern- ment to the welfare state, freedom has come to mean freedom from responsibility. Such free- dom, however, is not true freedom but a form of tyranny, which creates moral and social chaos.
The modern liberal’s vision of government is based on a twisted understanding of rights and justice—an understanding that clashes with the principle of freedom inherent in the higher law of the Constitution. Welfare rights or entitle- ments are “imperfect rights” or pseudo-rights; they cannot be e ercised without violating what legal scholars call the “perfect right” to private