by State Sen. Mike Folmer (PA-48)

Our nation has certainly changed in the 234 years since a group of brave citizens stood on the greens of Lexington and Concord to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property.

Back then, Americans objected to taxes on stamps and tea; today we accept taxes and fees placed on almost every basic human need and want – estate and realty, personal income, earned income, emergency services, Medicare,  amusements, cigarettes, cell phones, libraries, social security, marriage…the list goes on and on.

The state and federal government tax citizens to fish, boat, hunt, drive, own a dog, own a house, get married, and die.  Proponents argue these taxes cost only a “few” more cents each day.

However, these pennies add up, to the tune of trillions of dollars a week – money that is being foolishly and irresponsibly spent by those who took an oath to the Constitution.

The federal stimulus package is a perfect example of disregard for our constitution.  Passed in early 2009, many in congress still cannot justify their vote for the bill or clarify what is contained in the bill. The majority of the explanations we have received come from Washington bureaucrats – many of whom none of us in Pennsylvania voted for.

One thing for certain with the stimulus bill is there are serious strings attached – strings that will require changes in procedures and liberalization of laws and bigger government.

Patrick Henry once said:  “In my weak judgment, a government is strong when it applies to the most important end of all governments – the rights and privileges of the people.”

Pennsylvania Senate Resolution 51, which I sponsored, reminds state and federal elected leaders of powers given to the States under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Our federal and state constitutions begin with the same three words “We the people.”  With all the money being thrown around in Washington and in Harrisburg, the people are being forgotten.  This applies to both current generations and to future generations.

This needs to change.

An important first step will be remembering that the Constitution is more than just words.  It is the document that has separated us from other countries and it is the document that makes us great.

Mike Folmer [send him email] of Lebanon, Pennsylvania is a Pennsylvania State Senator who represents the 48th Senate district, which includes all of Lebanon County and portions of Berks, Chester, Dauphin and Lancaster Counties.