[ExI] constitution amendments

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 15 13:45:49 UTC 2009

--- On Tue, 7/14/09, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>>> But I don't see why it should be considered a
>>> good thing 
>>> per se that 
>>> changing laws should be very difficult. What if
>>> they're bad laws? It's 
>>> like being subject to the edicts of an ancient 
>>> dictatorship; fine if 
>>> you agree with the edicts, not so good if you
>>> don't...  Stathis
> Ja, agree.  Fortunately for me, I see little in the US
> constitution with
> which I disagree, very little.  On the contrary, I
> find that a most
> remarkably well-designed document.  We should study
> that, early and often.  

It'd be a study in failure: the various limits were mostly set aside immediately after it was ratified. For instance, the creation of the Bank of US seems utterly unconstitutional -- by reading the document, there is no power to create a national bank listed. However, supporters of this bank were able to argue it was implied in the document. Maybe it was, but then you see the problem: if that's implied, where are the actual limits? What's not implied, since the document could then be used to support lots of other things.

> The most egregious laws in the US are not in the
> constitution, such as the
> body of drug laws for instance.

I'm not so sure. The "commerce clause" and the "welfare clauses" have probably been used to justify more egregious laws. In fact, many classical liberal and libertarian legal scholars trace the growth of the federal government to these two clauses -- and they were baked into the document from the start.

Some might argue that there's always going to be a loophole for interpretive distortion, but these seems to play against constitutionalism and in favor of something like Bruno Leoni's hard line against legislative law (and constitutionalism is a species of legislative law).  (Cf. Leoni's _Freedom and the Law_* and Stephen Kinsella's essays on this topic at: http://www.kinsellalaw.com/publications/ )

>> Agreed, though I thought Spike's view here was in the
>> context 
>> of a smaller initial government... Regards, Dan
> Exactly.  I note that every political leader who tried
> to reduce the size of
> the US government has failed.  Watch California in the
> next few weeks.
> There you will see a state government which is brutally
> forced to reduce in
> size, not by the Taahx Tuuurminator (as much as we like
> that guy) but more
> fundamentally by stark lack of funds.

I think the problem is we're no longer in that position -- the position of a tiny government. Even if we were, I think some of the checks discussed here would, at best, only delay things. The real problem, to me, is cultural -- viz., enough people accept or don't get in an uproar about using coercion -- and structural -- viz., once you have a centralized state, no matter how small it is, it's going to grow. (This doesn't mean, absent a central government, one won't form. Elsewhere I've addressed this concern. I think, all else being equal, it's better to start with none. Starting with one makes it much easier to grow it from a small one into a larger, more oppressive one. This is, of course, my armchair speculation.)



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