Suggested Amendments   Leave a comment

This is out of sequence, but I like what I wrote, so I’m running it anyway.

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French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America about soft tyranny –

“It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Do we not live in that definition?

The United States of America were conceived under a concept of self-governance. People were to be informed and passionate about government, to direct their representatives in the paths chosen by the people, and to remove them from office when they failed to represent their “sovereign” (the people) as authorized. And, today, Congress has a less than 10% favorability rating and a 90% incumbency.

How does that happen?

Beats me, but we should do something about it. But Tocqueville pointed out 200 year ago that people tend not resist soft tyranny because it sneaks up on us, giving the tyrants time to convince us that the world we live in is a normal world that we should accept. Pay no attention to the concertina wire topping the societal bounce house. Have fun! Enjoy! There’s nothing to concern your little heads over.

Except the looming $17 trillion national debt and the unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs that now exceeds $90 trillion, which is growing at about $5 trillion a year. Add to that an imperial presidency, Congress that has ceded most of its authority either to the president or to the administrative state, and a judiciary that apparently mislaid the Constitution in 1934 and we should be terrified about what is going on around us. Past generations historically grew a backbone during times of crisis. Most of us went shopping and the few of us that woke up and started complaining got our tax-exemptions stuck somewhere at the IRS and have apparently decided to wait until that is resolved before complaining some more.

Except … we’re one states’ applications away from an Article V convention on a balanced budget amendment. I’m not convinced this is going to solve anything, but it’s a step in the right direction. In 1980, the 32 applications asked to cap the debt at $1.4 trillion. Good times! We’re obviously in a great deal more trouble than we were then. We’re also as a people a great deal more informed (thank you, Internet) about our situation, which means there’s a far better chance of this amendment actually being ratified by the states. In 1985, Congress – recognizing that the people, through their state legislatures, were about to take the budget process out of their hands, “got serious” about debt and passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act and the applications quit coming in.

That was decades ago, but the applications are still there. The Constitution doesn’t sunset the applications. We only need one more state to apply and then we can have an Article V convention on this subject, which should probably set the debt limit at some percentage of GDP. Historically, the economy starts to suffer at around 18%, so maybe a little less than that.

But it won’t fix anything on its own because an amendments convention of this sort is subject-limited and the solution to balancing the budget is pretty obvious – just tax everybody at about 68% of our income and viola – the budget is balanced.

Wait! That won’t work! Government’s budget may be balanced, but how am I supposed to pay my mortgage on 32% of my paycheck? Yeah … it’s more complicated than that, which is why – should a convention actually be called, the delegates should address more than just a balanced budget amendment. This is why state legislators working through the organization Convention of the States are working toward a more general subject convention. Congress may insist that the amendment coming from a general subject convention are not eligible for ratification, but let’s face it … capping taxation rates is not just a good idea, it’s a necessary one.

In fact, the delegates should make recommendations (which are non-binding even if there are sufficient applications) for amendments on several issues – including repeal of the 16th and 17th amendments and:

  • An amendment that sunsets all federal regulations unless they are specifically approved by a Congressional committee
  • An amendment that provides for the repeal of future (I’d say all) federal regulations by a timely 3/4s vote of state legislatures
  • An amendment setting term limits for Congress
  • An amendment setting term limits and confidence votes for the Supreme Court
  • An amendment allowing a super-majority of Congress and/or state legislatures to set aside Presidential executive orders (or the converse, presidential executive orders must be ratified by a super-majority of Congress and/or the state legislatures before they can take effect).
  • An amendment making it easier for states to apply for an amendments convention while keeping the ratification threshold at 3/4s of the states.

And, no, I didn’t come up with most of these. I borrowed them from Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments.

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