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But let's also be clear that the framers of the Constitution had no intention for the government to "manage the economy" in such breadth and depth as it does today. That a willing Supreme Court has at times expanded the scope of the powers of Congress to "provide for...the general welfare of the United States" does not mean its interpretation has been correct. You could use that clause to justify any intervention whatsoever you wanted; at least modern-day theorists could.

Rather, the framers, by and large, felt the "general welfare" meant the government's role in society was limited. Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations," delineated those areas appropriate for governmental action: "...the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings...:" providing for the common defense of the country, the administration of a judicial system, and the maintenance of certain public works systems, such as roads. Beyond that was an unseemly intrusion into private affairs.

Surely they are not so "plain and intelligble" to today's activist legislators, but it was so at the time of the writing of the Constitution. I doubt very much whether the framers would recognize their document today.

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