I am a BIG fan of the Preamble to the US Constitution. It is a MODEL of terse concision. It is one of the most rational paragraphs ever committed to vellum, yet it has no legal weight. And it is ALSO an interesting case of how textual authority is distributed.
Though I am NOT a lawyer/constitutional scholar, even the most cursory little google search yields copious authorities stating that there is no legal precedent in which the "Preamble" has been determinative. So it retains no power in law; yet it's rhetorical power is considerable:
We the People of the United States, in Order to (1) form a more perfect Union, (2) establish Justice, (3)insure domestic Tranquility, (4) provide for the common defence, (5) promote the general Welfare, and (6) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.This short paragraph contains, in outline, ALL the proximate causes and the purposes, and the rationale of "Government" of ANY damn kind! What ELSE would you want it to do?
In just about 50 words, it articulates EVERY possible reason to create a government, a "State." The part I wanna focus on is that whole "to promote the general welfare"-thing? 5th out of six, yes, but still and ahead of the progeny? Significant!
What that meant, THEN, in a still agrarian, still frontier, still imperiled, still unsettled land is not what we might expect it to betoken for us today. Yet the Founders were practical fellows. Their ideas of "general Welfare" as a social good would not differ far from our own.
So, in a predominantly "urban" civilization, where the overwhelming majority of citizens are prohibited by location, situation and especially EXPERIENCE--how many of us have slaughtered an animal or ground wheat for bread?--from eking out a subsistence "living" from their surroundings...
In an economy wholly sustained bymoney, a guaranteed annual "subsistence" income--say, for the sake of agrument, equal to the minimum wage, perhaps--should be a civil right, and an exemplary case of 'promoting the general welfare." If you have no "money," you basically do not exist in the social calculus of this culture.
Put another way, (And if that isn't the longest sentence you read today, I'll eat a hat...W):
Under conditions of late-industrial/mature financial Capitalism, when the State has vouchsafed such Commons as have thus far survived appropriation from private property accumulation by the wealthy,
and when there is no longer any (legal) way to provide a dignified life, or even sustainable subsistence (hence, beggars), without "money,"
I regard there to be no other way to interpret that clause in the Preamble to the Constitution, to "promote the public welfare"--one of the ONLY six designated purposes of/for a/the State-- except that the provision of a guaranteed annual base-line income--along with free health care, the provision for free elections, and the maintenance of borders--are just about the ONLY legitimate expenses the State can incur.
And it's far better for them to be spent that way than to be squandered in ruinous international military adventures which function only to support the enrichment of the corpoRats or the to fool the people that it is NOT desperate grasp of a falling empire to obtain impossible immortality.
All Empires fall, hippies, no matter the efforts to sustain them. So screw it, let's go surfing...