Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States reads, “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient”. This duty of the president came to be instituted as the annual State of the Union address.
George Washington gave the first State of the Union address. It is about the length of Jefferson’s March 1789 letter to Madison on the Bill of Rights. What does that mean, you ask? Washington could have written it and sent it to the newspapers for the next day’s paper*. Jefferson simply wrote his speech and sent it to Congress, on account of ” the pompous cavalcade to the state house on the meeting of Congress, the formal speech from the throne, the procession of Congress in a body to re-echo the speech in an answer, &c., &c.”.
Then came the modern presidencies. Now the State of the Union is more pomp-and-circumstance than it is fulfilling the purpose of Article II, Section 3.
Don’t believe me? Let me “guess” what the president talked about. He mentioned the minimum wage, and how we must raise it to help the least among us. Anyone who has read Economics in One Lesson or understands the causal-realist relationships among economic phenomena know that raising the minimum wage will only drive low-skilled workers out of the labor market. Want to really help the least among us? Make the laws friendly toward entrepreneurs, so that they can use their creativity and capital to create jobs for others.
I’m also “guessing” that he commented on the economy. What annoys me about most politicians is that they talk about the economy as this grand machine with big levers; increase government spending, something is bound to happen. Of course, economies aren’t machines. They are the result of the millions of choices as humans manage their resources to reach certain goals. Any talk of the economy being a machine is utter non-sense**.
If the president wishes to be taken seriously next year, I suggest he send out a mass e-mail to everyone in Congress. Bullet point, short hand.
*Granted, Article II, Section 3 does state that the President will give the message “to the Congress”. But common sense does not prohibit sending it to the printer for the public.
**Also, it does not glorify God, since we are not describing the reality he created.