Taming the Beast

It’s pretty clear by now that the federal government is completely out of control.  I’m in agreement with Yoseminite Sam about the new Con & Trade scheme recently passed by the House:

To say that I am angry is an understatement. One of the more outrageous parts of this outrageous bill is a requirement for a home energy audit upon selling a home. If your home fails this audit then the seller would have to pay to fix the problems outlined in the audit. So if you have an older home(like me) that has older appliances(like me), you will have to pay thousands of dollars to get new appliances, air conditioners or water heaters even if those appliances are in perfect working order. So much for the reduce, reuse, recycle encomium that the environmentalists keep prating on about. The landfills will be full of these still functioning appliances.

I’m probably a little less angry at the Amerian people though, because polls show that Obama’s policies are unpopular.  I don’t think it’ll be very long until that causes his approval ratings to take a hit.  I think that most people really had no idea what they were getting with Obama, as much as many of us tried to warn them.

But it’s not just Obama.  It’s pretty clear the federal bureaucracy is completely out of control as well.  Just yesterday, for instance, comes this story about the need to further regulate Tylenol.  And this is just the latest in a long line of insults.  It’s like, with the cat out of the White House, the mice now feel like they have free reign over the place.

What’s even more depressing is I don’t see the Republicans in a position to be able to capitalize on the unpopularity of Obama’s policies.  I don’t think we’re going to see a resurgent 1994 “Contract with America.”   Besides, we’ve been through the Republican Revolution once already, and I don’t know if liberty could afford another.

The only way I think we’re going to fix things is to build a movement to amend the Constitution.  If Republicans are smart, I would capitolize on this by calling for a Constitutional amendment.  First things first, we need a balanced budget amendment.  Second I think Republicans really ought to consider pushing Randy Barnett’s Federalism Amendment.  I think it needs some work to make it feasible, but if we can get a handful of states to pass laws opting out of the federal gun control regime, we ought to be able to get them to pass an amendment that limits the power of the national government.

The best part is, we don’t even need the Federal Government to do it.  We’ve been frightened of the idea of a Constitutional Convention, because it would likely be hijacked by the left, but why do we fear that?  Red states, even in the era of Obama, still greatly outnumber blue states.  I don’t think there’s much danger the country is going to adopt a new socialist constitution.

Given the nature of political life in this country, I don’t think there’s going to be any way to get the federal government under control unless we tie it down through constitutional amendment.  The progressives managed to greatly expeand the power of government through this method in the early part of the 20th century.  Why couldn’t we?

12 thoughts on “Taming the Beast”

  1. I agree with the need for the amendments but I fear once State government realize the impact of a “balanced budget” requirement for the Fed, they’ll realize the ripple effect that would have on them and back out. Such an amendment would force the State’s to come clean about how much they depend on Federal transfer payments to provide services and forcing the Fed to balance its budget would likely see those greatly reduced.

    I seriously doubt State politicians will have the honor and courage to do that and get the liberty train back on the tracks.

    I think the Federalism amendment they would likely get behind as in battles over power, the States will always side with themselves if they can get away with grabbing it away from the Fed.

  2. I agree with much of your discussion, the Federal Government is clearly out of control and running rampant over the intent and letter of the Constitution. And I think many citizens are comming to grips with this disaster.

    However, I also do not think enough citizens understand the meaning of rights and we would end up with things like a right to healthcare, etc if we haver a second convention.

    Part of the probem is one of size. The nation has been on this roller coaster for several generations beginning with the New Deal and the establishment of Social Security (a ponzi scheme Mr. Madoff would be proud of!). I am not convinced we can turn this ship of state fast enough to undo the damage before several generations pass, and get lost.

    I would rather see the states begin to leave the Union and become indepedent again. States like Vermont, Texas, and Alaska seem to have parties supportting that. With the Union disolved, we can decide to have a second convention or not. But from a very different position of power.

    Short of any of that, we first need to identify statesmen we can trust and that is no small job it and of itself.

  3. One of the things that needs to be addressed if there were such Constitutional Amendments would be enforcement. We already have a Second Amendment that the government ignores. What good would a balanced budget amendment do if there is no punishment for the politicians that violate it? I don’t think any politicians would ever be willing to accept personal responsibility for their actions on such a level.

    Leave the Union? And what of their share of the Federal debt? What of those new roads, bridges, and schools that the Feds just built? Do the states have to pay the Feds back for them now? What about the “obligations” for Social Security to the people in those states?

    There would be some very “interesting” questions come up with such action. Perhaps as interesting as when the issue came up in the early 1860s.

    I’m not saying the problems for either approach are insolvable or the proposals should be dropped. Just that it will be far, far, from simple to implement either one.

  4. Joe, thanks, I would agree that there are a host of issues to resolve…regardless of the road we chose to travel. I do think the road we are on will bankrupt us and lead to some serious civil unrest in any event, also not a simple plan!

    In reference to not following the Constitution, that seems to be the very issue behind the mess in Hondurus this week. The President down there decided to ignore the Constitution and got tangled up with the courts and armed forces…….Sometimes rules just dont seem to mean a lot!

  5. I don’t think you’ll get a secessionist movement going on an issue like federalism, for a lot of reasons. Presumably the balanced budget amendment would be enforced by the courts, who would presumably declare any budget not in balance to be unconstitutional, and thus not law. Without a balanced budget, the government would not legally have authority to spend money.

    Enforcement is always going to be a problem. One thing I would suggest is that we abolish this notion of sovereign immunity, and all that derives from it. If the people are the sovereigns, then how can the government claim immunity from the people? It’s a legacy if English Common Law, but I don’t think there’s any basis in terms of legal theory for a system that’s supposed to be based on popular sovereignty.

  6. Sebastion, the problem with the courts enforcing a balanced budget amendment would be the standing requirement; taxpayers don’t have a general right to challenge government action. I suppose you could use the amendment itself to create a cause of action, which would also get around sovereign immunity.

  7. Sebastian, I had not considered the impact of sovereign immunity, and I would agree with you that we need to change that foundation stone in our system. Although having the government agree give up a source of power in this climate is as Joe said, not a simple plan.

    Enforcement is a key to a number of things. But I dont put a lot of trust in the courts doing a lot of enforcing of unconstitutuional issues. Washington DC has been working to circumvent Heller for the last two years. I would have thought the secured investors would have won the legal case in the recent car company (Chrysler I believe) reorganization done by the feds.

  8. …we ought to be able to get them to pass an amendment that limits the power of the national government.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to limit the power of the federal government by passing an amendment to a document limiting the power of the federal government.


  9. Wyatt, good plan except that there are too many for all for us to agree to do that (at least so far). For example, just yesterday we all got stuck with the clown from Minn. as the 60th Senator. Like Rome (and most every other empire in history) in the end, it seems we shall simply implode, when is the only question. I wonder what the Romans thought as Rome burned.

  10. Nex ut Tyrannus!

    The hogs are hungry!

    All freedom loving Americans should read, “Unintended Consequences” by John Ross.

    No need for firefights in the streets. Just cut off the 9 heads of the serpent.

    “And how we burned in the ….”

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