Date: 19/08/2019
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Four Branches of Government?

Those of us embroiled in a sea of regulation may take little comfort from the fact that the Founding Fathers intended only three branches of government.

In Article 1 of the US Constitution, the separation of powers is clearly delineated into the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government with the power held by each branch carefully identified. In particular, in Section 8, when identifying the powers of Congress, the Constitution says that among other things, Congress shall have the power, "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." It does not say anyone else has the power to make laws and it does not say Congress has the power to hand law-making responsibility over to others, but after about 100 years, that is exactly what they figured out how to do.

In 1887, Congress created the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroads and ensure "fair" rates. This was the first commission ever created and thus began the Fourth Branch of the US government. Today, there are thousands of agencies and commissions that don't answer to the people and don't answer to Congress. They only answer to the statute that created them. The direct result is the bloated and overreaching Federal government we have today.

The Founding Fathers never suspected Congress would abdicate its responsibility under the vesting clause and create any entity accountable to no one. If they (or maybe we) got the chance to do it over, the Constitution's vesting clause would have to be reinforced to avoid this shameful shirking of duty. The "Fourth Branch" of government has allowed Congress to avert responsibility, place blame elsewhere, avoid work and expand government at the alarming pace at which it proceeds today. Imagine if Congress had to make every law and rule themselves and would have to answer to the people as they do now for doing so. We would have many fewer laws on the books and those we had would be much more sensible.