The Ratchet Effect — The Slow But Steady Encroachment Of Government
Since its creation by the states, the Federal Government ("FedGov") has undergone a gradual but steady growth, exercising more and more power and encroaching into more and more of our working and private lives. Not coincidentally, the cost of running this ever-growing government has increased dramatically.
Each government expansion has typically been just a small increase. Each one seems reasonable and is but a small change from the then-current condition. The Supreme Court, assuming someone actually mounts a challenge that makes it to the Supreme Court, typically finds that the challenged power is constitutional. It is extremely rare for the court to overturn FedGov's power grabs.
It is quite easy to expand government power and nearly impossible to shrink it. The Legislative branch simply passes unconstitutional laws, knowing that there is little likelihood of a successful constitutional challenge. Likewise, the Executive branch regulates in areas not authorized by the Constitution, again, knowing full well it is practically impossible to mount successful constitutionality challenges.
The Legislative and Executive branches turn the handle on the ratchet and the Judicial branch is the pawl that prevents undoing FedGov's power grab. Thus, government size and power can only go one way — up.
After more than two centuries of increasingly expansive interpretations of the Constitution by the Supreme Court, FedGov has become something that would be unrecognizable by the founders who wrote the Constitution, delegating to FedGov limited powers.
The states need to exercise States' Review in place of Judicial Review.
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
"The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts. "
"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people, by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations."
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."