OVER A BEER the other day I was having a discussion with someone about the US Constitution.
All we need for freedom, said my drinking companion, is to introduce the American Constitution to New Zealand, and we’d be sweet.
Not so fast, I responded. Great as it still is (even when reinterpreted by activist judges through the drivel of a “living constitution”) there were gaping holes in the original constitution that allowed big governments to drive a fleet of coaches and whole stables full of horse through what were supposed to be constitutional restraints on the growth of big government.
“Like what?” asked my companion. “What sort of loopholes?”
Well . . . in Article 1, Section 8 there are these sundry invitations to abuse which have received an enthusiastic RSVP from statists ever since:
- There’s the “general welfare” clause (“The Congress shall have the power to … provide for the common Defense and general welfare of the United States”), which has been used to grant to the Federal Government virtually all powers by the simple redefinition of the concept “welfare.”
- The “interstate commerce clause” (“The Congress shall have the power to … regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States”) which has been transformed from granting the government the simple power to “regulate” foreign and interstate trade (i.e., to help it work like clockwork by administering weights and measures and the like), and instead to dictate what and when trade may happen. The explosion of the “ABC” regulatory agencies constructed by Franklin Roosevelt during his “constitution revolution” of the 1930s showed just how easy it was to ride a truckload of bureaucrats through this one.
- The “post office and the roads” clause (“The Congress shall have the power to … establish Post Offices and post roads”) which insanity surely speaks for itself.
- The “whatever you feel like” clause (“The Congress shall have the power to … make all laws which shall be necessary for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers …) which has, let’s face it, been liberally reinterpreted to mean “Congress shall have the power to … make all laws which they feel should be necessary.”
Better to remove these invitations to abuse altogether, and to make things clear add a new clause making things crystal clear:
“Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade.”
Even that on its own would help.
AND THEN THERE is the “States Rights” amendment in the Bill of Rights (Amendment X: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”), which on its own is both wrong and downright nasty.
- there is no such thing as “collectivized ‘rights’” that are anything other than “the rights of its individual members”—and
- the failure to limit the powers opened the door to suggesting “implied powers” that might be delegated to the Feds.
And nasty because the inclusion of so-called “states’ rights” was simply a compromise made by the writers of the constitution to allow slave-holding states to continue this barbarity in a nation otherwise devoted to liberty. “The elevation of so-called states’ rights [was] in practise the right to keep slaves.’
Doing some deletion and adding the word “expressly” would improve things, making it read:
“Powers not expressly delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution are reserved to individual citizens.”
And here are two other additions that should be considered.
- A Term Limits rule. which gives self-important blowhard politicians something to do all day (i.e., arguing that this or that law should not expire at midnight next Friday), and stop them doing it by buying taxpayers’ votes with their own money.
- A “Single-Subject” rule, restricting bills to one subject each, prohibiting so-called “omnibus” bills which slip in all sorts of off-piste chicanery.
NOW, NATURALLY I’D prefer we go the whole hog and institute a completely rewritten constitution, complete with a new Bill of Rights’ and a ‘Bill of Due Process’—along with some ‘Notes on the Bills of Rights and Due Process’ to avoid wilful misinterpretation of the declared intentions of each of these--but until we approach a culture that understands that manufacturing new “pseudo-rights” (such as so-called rights to a job, to health care, to housing, to a “fair” wage, etc.) only steals genuine rights, that’s far too dangerous a place to even tread.