Does it ever change? A petition for redress of grievances.

January 21, 2006 · Posted in Inside the Beltway, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics 

I guess this is one of those days I get tired of the political scene. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the whole Abramoff scandal. The Democrats accuse the Republicans of being the culture of corruption, even though they got almost half the money themselves, not to mention the money they get that’s coerced from union workers who may not agree with their philosophies. The GOP says, all right, we’re going to introduce legislation to combat things like lobbying, then the Democrats pander and say that’s like the farmer closing the barn door after the horse has departed. And the Democrats were where on this issue 6 months ago?

Do you all understand what the REAL problem is? For every man, woman, and child in America, the federal government spends roughly $10,000. The budget is $2.6 trillion.

And there’s 535 people in control of all that money. And those 535 people have to face voters every 2 to 6 years. And the way they see in keeping people voting for them is to keep shoveling money at them.

I keep a pocket copy of the Constitution on my desk. Article 1, Section 8 lays out the duties of Congress. I’m not going to write them all out, I’ll try for a Cliffs Notes version:

Borrow money. They do this quite well.
Regulate commerce among the states and with foreign nations. This is for things like NAFTA.
Establish rules of naturalization. That evolved into the INS, which I think was folded into Homeland Security.
Establish bankruptcy laws. And they established a bankruptcy court too.
Coin money and regulate the value. Thus, a United States mint, and the Federal Reserve.
Establish Post Offices and post roads. Until 1971, the Post Office was a Cabinet-level office. I suppose establishing interstate highways could be construed for the post roads.
Patents and copyrights. Done, although they’ve talked about changing the periods of those.
Constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court. So they have a perfect right to break up the Ninth Circuit Court. Theoretically, they could scrap it all and start over, but I’m sure the next Democrat Congress would do the same.
Declare war, raise and support armies, and provide and maintain a navy. They do that, although I’m not sure the two year limit on appropriations for the Army is being followed.
Make rules for the government and regulation of the armed forces, also call forth and provide for the militia. Part of that is supressing insurrections. Is an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in this country an insurrection? But states appoint officers and train their own militias.

That’s pretty much it. But layer upon layer of law and government, fueled by the desire of bureaucrats to maintain their cushy positions, has added a whole lot of chaff to the wheat that was the Constitution as written.

It actually started fairly early. The only amendment to the Constitution that mentioned Congress until the Civil War was the First, which was a prohibition to Congress: they shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or abridging free speech or a free press, or of the right for people to assemble peacefully and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But from the 13th Amendment on, Constitutional amendments basically allowed Congress to see fit how each Amendment would be codified. Rather than prohibit Congress from establishing laws, these were encouraged and left vague and open-ended.

Worst among them was the Sixteenth Amendment, which let Congress tax the living crap out of us. Talk about a mistake! It was at that moment that the Congress became a monument to pork.

If I were to ask for a Constitutional convention (allowed under Article V of the Constitution) I would ask that the 16th and 17th Amendments be repealed, and the 28th Amendment be thus:

Congress shall make no law that codifies discrimination for or against any person based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This Amendment shall also be construed to include a prohibition on Congress enacting additional criminal code or punishment solely based on these factors.

The 29th Amendment would go something like this:

Section 1. With the exception of the powers reserved for Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of this document, and items outlined below; funds received by the federal government shall be disbursed to the States in accordance with their population in the latest Census figures. No restriction shall be placed on how the several States use these funds.

Section 2. Outlays for the operation of the offices of the President and other officers who shall be warranted by same shall be submitted by the office of the President to Congress, who shall, without amendment, vote up or down on the expenditures within ten days (excluding Sundays) of receiving this submittal.

Section 3. Outlays for the operation of the Supreme Court and tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court shall be submitted by the Attorney General to Congress, who shall, without amendment except in the case of convening a new tribunal inferior to the Supreme Court, vote up or down on the expenditures within ten days (excluding Sundays) of receiving this submittal.

Section 4. If Congress does not approve the submitted amount, both the President and Attorney General will have ten days (excluding Sundays) to resubmit a budget to Congress. In the event that either a new budget is not submitted by either or both parties, or if the resubmitted budget is not approved by Congress, the budget shall be determined by using the prior year’s figure and adding a sum equal to 3% of that figure.

Section 5. Congress shall not withhold funds from states based on existing state laws.

It’s a start. The key to solving a lot of our problems with ethics, in my opinion, is to take away from Congress the power of the purse as much as possible. More attention should be paid to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which places rights properly at the state level and among the people themselves.

 

Comments

7 Responses to “Does it ever change? A petition for redress of grievances.”

  1. Tidy Bowl on January 21st, 2006 2:26 pm

    I once read that, allowing for inflation, had there been a tax in 1776, it would have been approximately $20 per person. Today each person is taxed an average of $10,000.

    God bless America.

  2. dan on January 23rd, 2006 1:50 am

    So, did Rush tell you that he dems got half Abramoff’s money?

    Name some of these democrats and prove it. Abramoff gave all his money to Republicans and no spin will change that.

    God Bless America, eh Toilet Bowl?

    God Bless the whole world! No exceptions.

  3. Tidy Bowl on January 23rd, 2006 4:58 pm

    Dan,
    Apparently you didn’t see that I meant that in all facetiousness. Many people use those words (“God Bless America”) as a battle cry, believing that Americans are, for whatever reason, God’s chosen people. I have to disagree. I think that while, at one time, God blessed us greatly, I don’t think that time is now.

    At the same time, it seems to me we can use all the blessings we can get. God bless America, indeed. We need it.

  4. Jeff Richardson on January 23rd, 2006 10:12 pm

    Abramoff gave no money to Democrats, ever. But as you are a right-wing kool-aid drinker, you ignore the difficult challenges.

    Look, the problem with the Federal Government is that it is huge because it has had to be. Americans have bought into to the whole “War is good for the economy” line and figured that’s how we make a strong country. Instead of obsessing over strong leaders and tough-on-crime laws, let’s try being a more permissive, open, and honest society, that doesn’t need a whole bunch of guns to get its way. Maybe that will help us downsize. Do we really need the Satellite Defense Initiative? Why are we wasting our money fighting a war in space that’s never going to happen? Why, because some “terrorist” is gonna launch a Stinger missile at an F-16? In a vain attempt to control all the world’s poor from the moment they wake to the moment they pass out from hunger and exhaustion, we are turning the world into one ugly police state. Sure it’s cool for us here in the lap of luxury, but at what cost is that luzury reaching our shores?

  5. Michael on January 23rd, 2006 10:47 pm

    Dan and Jeff, here’s a list of who Abramoff and lobbyist clients gave to. Abramoff only gave $200,000 or so to Republicans BUT the other entities at his direction gave over $4 million to members of BOTH parties – whoever they thought could work best with them. I call it the Abramoff scandal as shorthand, and while the GOP is dirty in this, it’s not like the D’s are as pure as wind-driven snow either. Don’t start down that road, you and I both know there’s politicians on both sides that are crooked.

    The main point of this post was, in order to get rid of the “culture of corruption” that has plagued DC for decades (remember the House Bank check-kiting scandal and Abscam?), the best solution in my eyes is strip away all the extra-Constitutional power that Congress has had since February 3, 1913 (the date the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified.)

    In our form of government, the majority of power is properly vested at the state level. Hence, my suggestions for the 28th and 29th Amendments. Or, did you read that far before deciding to jump all over me because the party I generally support is being tarred by the partisan media as the sole source of the Abramoff scandal?

  6. […] Saying that, though, there are elements of the past that we want to keep. I still believe that the Constitution as written is the law of the land, and where it says something like, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, that means what it says. Just as importantly, where the terms “right to privacy” and “separation of church and state” are not included, the silence of the Constitution on these matters meant that they were supposed to be determined by the states and the people – not by judicial dictate. The Founding Fathers have placed within the Constitution a means to change it, but they made it difficult on purpose – thus it’s only been successfully done 17 times, and just once in the last 35 years. (Awhile back, I had some suggestions for new amendments as well.) […]

  7. A bright spot in a dismal vote : monoblogue on August 1st, 2011 10:36 pm

    […] Perhaps 2013 will begin a new series of Constitutional amendments, beginning with the passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment. But truly progressive reform would continue with the enactment of Congressional term limits (extending the 22nd Amendment enacting Presidential term limits to the legislative branch,) repealing the 16th Amendment to pave the way for a truly fair taxation system (one based on consumption,) and several other ideas I’ve had before. […]

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