Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Occasionally, I will hear about a well-intentioned effort to fix to the numerous problems brought about by the fact that our government is attempting to run our lives, rather than fulfilling its proper purpose, which is to protect our individual rights so that we are free to exercise our own best judgment in the pursuit of our own selfish interests.
Usually, these fixes are of a legal nature, such as enacting term limits for elected officials, relying on "states' rights" to head off federal tyranny, and even repealing the seventeenth amendment (to prevent the proliferation of unfunded mandates). Notice that these proposals, in turn, ignore such questions as: why corrupt officials get elected in the first place, whether an individual state might become a tyranny, and what unpleasant fact unfunded mandates (and other sleights-of-hand, like printing money) are hiding.
The latest such scheme is to enact the following as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or [sic] Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or [sic] Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.I find it both ironic and highly instructive that 28 is twice 14, the number of the Amendment containing the Equal Protection Clause, which was added after Emancipation to ensure that that the rights of former slaves were not abridged by levels of government below the federal.
"[N]o state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."In one sense, then, this proposed amendment is redundant. Our government is already supposed to protect the rights of all citizens equally. The Clause above reaffirms this principle by explicitly making it apply throughout our government.
Unfortunately, this isn't the whole problem. To fully appreciate that, let's look at the rationale for adding something to the Constitution that is, at best, redundant.
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that was passed. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.The problem with ObamaCare is that violates the individual rights of patients and physicians alike, not that Congress knows better than to subject itself to the snake oil it hopes to force down everyone else's throats. It should be repealed (and not replaced!) at once, and the rest of the welfare state should be dismantled afterwards.
Sadly, this effort not only fails to condemn ObamaCare, it would condone it at the constitutional level by excusing tyranny so long as it applied to all men equally. (It also naively assumes that Congress wouldn't find some de facto way to exempt itself anyway.)
I don't give a hoot in hell that a bunch of jackasses have exempted themselves from ObamaCare or will exempt themselves from something else monstrous in the future. I want to be free from all of this. Making Congress think harder about how to avoid the yoke it's making for the hoi polloi isn't going to work, as the existence of the 14th Amendment and other parts of the law that are already being ignored attest. The real solution is to find a way not to have a gang of thieves making our laws in the first place. Read on.
As I noted above, efforts like this often ignore glaring facts, and this one is no different. On what basis have advocates of ObamaCare justified themselves? Basically, that we all supposedly have a "right" to medical care -- a good that someone must work to provide. Taking something forcibly from someone else is not a right, however, but a violation of that other person's rights. It is stealing, and that is what this proposal is turning a blind eye towards.
This analogy isn't perfect, but If I lived in a slum and saw that only the people living nearby behind glass-topped walls were free from burglaries, I wouldn't demand that the walls be torn down. I'd try to stop the thieves.
So even if we explicitly forbade ObamaCare from the Constitution, the underlying disease of the body politic would remain: That too many people accept (or leave unchallenged) the premise that it's okay to steal from other people so long as the government does it, and passes out the loot equally.
So long as this idea retains its undeserved respect in our culture, we will elect bandits to office, our state and federal governments will compete in a race to be the main gang in our neighborhoods, our wealth will be sapped in one way or another (since loot has to come from somewhere), and everyone will be looking for a way to make sure everyone else is equally screwed.
Making a new law will not act like a magical incantation to restore our liberty. Only a populace that understands and respects the nature of individual rights (starting with their moral basis) and the need for a proper government to protect them can elect leaders who will understand and uphold the principles already written into our Constitution.
The email I received reads in part:
This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.I wish things were this simple, but this isn't the real solution. The real way out of our predicament comes from understanding the nature and value of individual rights for ourselves and helping others begin doing the same. This is a long road that each of us must travel and it will take years, if not decades, to bear fruit.
Have each person contact a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.
But it can be done.