The Constitution and the early organization of the federal executive branch properly limited the scope of government activities to a few areas. Education was left to the states or to individual Americans. The Northwest Ordinances, originally adopted under the Articles of Confederation, did set aside some land for the support of education, but that was minimal and that was all. Energy, which then meant wood, coal, and water power, was entirely in the hands of private citizens and companies. No funds were used to fight a “war on terror” or to spy on other nations or to try to bribe other nations with foreign aid. America participated in no international organizations at all.
Welfare did exist, but not public welfare, and what public help for the poor government gave came from state, county, or city governments. There was no such thing as drug enforcement (although taxes were imposed on alcohol) and no warning labels required on tobacco. Public health, like public welfare, existed at the local level and it was typically confined to matters such as quarantine of infectious diseases.
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