On the Bill of Federalism

Randy Barnett’s Federalism Bill has been making the rounds on the web.  Rather than try to summarize, I’ll let the loyal reader (yeah, that’s pretty close to singular) go look for themselves.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

<crickets chirping>

Welcome back.

I have to agree with his proposal for Constitutional amendments to reform a federal government that has lost its bloom’n mind because of course, I was there months ago.  The difference of course being 1) he’s a lawyer and wrote better amendments and, 2) people actually read his articles. <sigh>

So being reduced pretty much to the status of gawker on the sidelines, I thought I would do what any good gawker does and decide how much better his amendments would be if I had come up with them.

Here’s my great, learned analysis of the Federalism Act.  Keep in mind that my reviewing anything legalese is kind of like the cargo cultists of New Guinea analyzing aeronautical engineering.  Here goes.

Article of Amendment 1)  Let’s start with just repealing the 16th Amendment.  Income taxes are hugely corrupting because of the money it provided to the government.  Eliminating the income tax will greatly pair back the corruption of the federal government caused by the power to tax and the ability to spend almost without limit.  Other clauses within this act will provide addition limitations on the power of the government.  This may be sufficient.  Let’s give it a try because it’s simple.

The supermajority requirement to pass taxes does not work.  It gives a minority veto power over necessary legisltation.  This has been seen in the senatorial fillibuster and the California legislature.

Article of Amendment 2)  I understand the intent, but the execution seems clunky and excessively specific.  The goal of this amendment may in fact be superceded by ratification of the 10th article of amendment.  If the Commerce Clause is enforced according to its original intent, is this amendment necessary?

Article of Amendment 3)  What about unfunded mandates on private entities?  What good it getting rid of income taxes if the government can force people to spend their money according to government mandates?

Article of Amendment 4)  No abuse of the Treaty Clause.  I like.  Keep it.

Article of Amendment 5)  This amendment is redundant.  It satisfies some deep felt need in people to respond to a law being violated with passing another law so that two laws can be violated next time.  But there is already a clause in the constitution protecting free speech, and it was not intended to protect pornography.  If Amendment 10 of the Act is ratified and enforced, the First Amendment will cover everything duplicated in the Article of Amendment 5 of the Act.

Article of Amendment 6)  Too complicated, and never tried before.  A simpler approach would be to repeal the 17th Amendment and have the senators answerable to the state legislators again.  The 17th Amendment was enacted to address rampant corruption in the senatorial selection process.  The process was described as the senatorial candidates showing up at the state house with bags of money and the senate seat going to the highest bidder.  If the purpose of the 17th Amendment was to prevent corruption, it failed.  An since it failed, repeal it and go back to the original intent of the Senate representing the states rather than enacting a new, untried form of governance.  There are other ways to deal with corruption.  Just ask Rod Blagojovich.

Article of Amendment 7)  He got the term limits exactly right.  That is, he used the same numbers I did but by a different approach.

We should term limit Supreme Court justices, too.  I suggested 18 years.  A new justice every two years.  That way, even a two term president can’t plan on being able to stuff the court.

Article of Amendment 8)  The balanced budget amendment must have accounting standards to keep Congress from shuffling $Trillions “off budget”.  In any private entity, that’s called cooking the books…and it’s a crime.  Congress should be held  to the same accounting standards it imposes on private entities.

Article of Amendment 9)  If I read this right, Section 1 will repeal all the apartheid laws that segregate the population into mutual hate groups.  So called ‘Affirmative Action’, preferential treatment, quotas, hate laws, would all go away.  Cool.  The country can actually try working towards equality under the law.

Article of Amendment 10)  Would eliminate any ambiguity about how the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted.  Keep it.

So I end up with 1) and 6) repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments.  Proposed Amendments 2 and 5 go away as redundant.  That leave 6 amendments, some slightly altered.

The government is seriously broken.  Both major parties to greater or lessor degrees are drunk with power when in power, drowning in their sense of entitlement and privilege and almost oblivious to the harm they do trying to live up to their own sense of self-righteousness.  Throwing the rascals out will only temporarily delay the March of the Statists.  Major reforms are called for and they are going to have to fundamentally change the organization of government if they are going to have a lasting effect.  It will require amending the Constitution and this Federalism Bill is as good a place to start as any.


1 comment so far

  1. euandus on

    I think he should consider that big bus would be very much against it. I suspect that the latest compromise regarding state banking regulation in the midst of pressure for financial reform in Washington points to the influence of large corporations on the Congress as a culprit in the on-going eclipse of federalism. Pls see my blog if interested. Thanks.

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