Editor’s note: This is one in a series examining the Constitution and Federalist Papers in today’s America. Click HERE to read the series.
In the Federalist No. 13, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “When the dimensions of a State attain to a certain magnitude, it requires the same energy of government and the same forms of administration which are requisite in one of much greater extent.” His point is that the government of any nation needs to be a certain minimum size, but once it reaches that size, it is sufficient.
Or, more simply, a nation can expand in size and population while the size and scope of its government remains the same.
It is an argument for smaller government.
Consequently, it no surprise that when our nation’s Founders established the principles upon which America was built, they placed an emphasis on self-reliance and self-determination, believing that citizens would be more important to a thriving society than an expanded and overgrown government.
Ever since, Americans in pursuit of the American dream have helped create a global superpower, and in turn, a more prosperous future for themselves and their families. The dignity of work is an essential part of our American way of life. The American work ethic has long been revered globally, and many of our forefathers crossed oceans to take part in this proud tradition.
Our first secretary of the Treasury predicted this. In Federalist No. 12, Hamilton offered this: “Could that which procures a freer vent for the products of the earth, which furnishes new incitements to the cultivation of land, which is the most powerful instrument in increasing the quantity of money in a state could that … which is the faithful handmaid of labor and industry, in every shape, fail to augment that article, which is the prolific parent of far the greatest part of the objects upon which they are exerted?”
While not immediately clear to our 21st-century eyes, this is a remarkably emphatic expression of the benefits provided by the free and fair market of American resources and goods. The ability to cultivate and derive goods from our bountiful land and create wealth and prosperity has encouraged the American people to work hard, to invent and to innovate.
The economy has grown, and the world has become a materially richer and better place as a result of this American experiment.
These are the healthy, good and natural results of a free society.
Unfortunately, in the weeks since President Biden swore his oath of office, this path to dignity and prosperity has eroded. The president’s misguided policies have crushed opportunities for our most vulnerable workers, stifled American ingenuity and left us more reliant on hostile nations.
One of the president’s first actions in office was to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project, resulting in the loss of 11,000 union jobs. He placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, a move that could cost up to 1 million jobs if made permanent. Later on, the president rejoined the inequitable Paris climate agreement, which, if fully implemented, would lead to the destruction of 400,000 more American jobs.
He also has appointed Cabinet members who have well-documented track records of supporting the job-killing regulations that stamp out opportunities for the American worker. His interior secretary, Deb Haaland, opposes hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public lands and joined Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at Standing Rock. During her time in the House, she co-sponsored the Green New Deal, radical legislation that would eliminate millions of jobs in a wide range of industries.
To make matters worse, the president and the Democratic majority in Congress recently pushed forward a stimulus package that serves as a large expansion of the welfare state, offering broad benefits to individuals regardless of whether they are employed or not. So not only has this administration made it a priority to eliminate jobs, but it also is actively removing incentives for Americans to return to the workforce.
The biggest winner in all of this is China. As Mr. Biden continues to eliminate American jobs with the stroke of a pen, Chinese workers are happily filling that void and strengthening their chokehold over critical supply chains.
This past year has been hard on many, and the federal government has a responsibility to help get Americans back on their feet by implementing policies that restore the dignity of work and, subsequently, American dominance.
How do we do that? We begin by embracing the responsible development of our natural resources.
Not coincidentally, again in Federalist No. 12, Hamilton wrote: “By multiplying the means of gratification, by promoting the introduction and circulation of the precious metals … it serves to vivify and invigorate the channels of industry, and to make them flow with greater activity and copiousness.”
I agree. My district in Northern Minnesota, for example, is home to the Duluth Complex, the continent’s largest undeveloped deposit of copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum and other critical minerals that are necessary for our modern way of life. Even though we have the best labor and environmental standards in the world, good mining projects that can put thousands to work and provide hundreds of millions of dollars to our local economies continue to get caught up in permitting battles, duplicative red tape and the weaponization of the court system.
Northern Minnesota is no stranger to mining. We’ve been doing it safely for more than 135 years, and our Mesabi Range provides 85% of the United States’ domestic iron. Minnesota’s skilled workforce is willing and able to expand upon this proud mining tradition through the responsible development of our abundance of critical minerals.
Mining is a path to a brighter future, and I hope to see Minnesota’s miners hard at work very soon.
The Duluth Complex is just one of the many examples of untapped domestic resources waiting to be developed by American workers. In Arizona, we have large and rich uranium deposits. The North Slope of Alaska can provide us with a stable and secure source of domestic energy.
Hamilton understood. He wrote (again in Federalist No. 12): “The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth.”
Compare that sentiment with those underlying the past few months of policymaking by the Biden administration.
It is imperative that America’s leaders embody the spirit of our Founding Fathers and restore the dignity of work. We have the raw materials and world-class workers who stand ready to bring our resources to hungry markets. If we empower them, then the 21st century — as the 19th and the 20th were before it — will be an American century.
⦁ Rep. Pete Stauber is a retired law enforcement officer serving his second term as a Republican representing Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. He is the ranking member of the energy and mineral resources subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources.