The Next Constitution

John Derbyshire’s latest Taki column is on amendments he would like to make to the Constitution. It’s a take off on the book written by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens would like to repeal the Second Amendment. John would like to add a bunch of things to address the abuses that bug him the most. I don’t think his list is intended to be taken seriously. It’s just a handy list of grievances.

The “next constitution” is a topic I think about a lot, not because I am plotting a revolution or expect one. We do seem to be heading for an end of cycle moment, but how that plays out is a mystery to me. Maybe we are headed to World War III. Who knows? The way things end is almost always a surprise to everyone involved, even though the signs are all around them.

I don’t know, but what comes next will be a response to what went wrong. That’s always the way it goes. The Constitution was a reflection of the Founders reading of the recent history of Europe. Much of their concern was the abuses they knew first hand and that’s what they tried to address. Whoever is left after the great upheaval that ends this age will do the same and address the problems of this age.

With that in mind, here’s my list:

1) Clean Up Past Mistakes: The first change is to eliminate the amendments 13 through 27, except 25, which seems sensible. The Civil War Amendments have resulted in so much abuse they are not repairable. The 16th Amendment is another area of abuse. The 17th has been a disaster, knocking the pins from under the balance of powers. The rest are just reflections of silly fads, for the most part.

2) You Vote Where You Were Born: One of the great abuses in recent times has been people moving from one state that is dysfunctional to a well run state. Instead of learning from their new neighbors, the new comers start voting for the same degenerates that destroyed their home state. This amendment is aimed at fixing that problem. If someone from Massachusetts moves to New Hampshire, they still vote in their home state, if their home state will allow it.

The children of that person, assuming they were born in the new state, will vote in the new state. This also solves the problem of foreigners moving here and then voting for crazy people. I would also be amenable to a twenty year waiting period as well. You are on probation for 20 years then you get voting rights.

3) No Federal Debt: The systematic borrowing by the Federal government has led to a mountain of abuses. If taxes had to be raised to pay for government, we would have a lot less government. The last half century has seen the massive growth of the government at all levels fueled by debt. Government debt has also fueled the explosion of the financial sector and all of its abuses.

To address this problem, borrowing would only be permitted in times of war – declared wars against real countries. No more wars against concepts. The ban on debt would also extend to things like pensions. Any promise to pay beyond the term of the current Congress would be invalid. This means the government is a pay as you go enterprise, thus eliminating one route of subversion.

4) All Income Taxed At 12%: The last century has seen Congress auctioning off tax breaks for campaign cash to the point where the tax code is unintelligible. Government needs to be financed and the only source of revenue will be a fixed levy on all income to individuals. No business taxes. No tariffs. Nothing but the 12% tax, which will apply to all income regardless of source. The benefit is it limits the size of the state to the size of the economy. More important, it removes a source of corruption that is at the heart of all forms of socialism.

5) Term Limits: All citizens will be limited to ten years of Federal checks. One of the great abuses today is this army of people living off the tax payer. The government needs employees, but it should not be a career. Putting a ten year cap clears out the vast army of loafers, but it also clears out the political class. They have to get jobs in the dreaded private sector. I’d exempt the military and post office. In all likelihood the workaround would be a shift from a civilian workforce to contractors, but that’s OK. The point is to remove the government as an employer of first resort.

The language would be key, as the weasels that seek to live off the state are good at twisting the meaning of words. Inevitably, they would find new ways to abuse the system. No set of arrangements will outlast the endurance of the parasite class. Like the poor, they will always be with us. But, the Founders created a system that served us pretty well for 100 years. Lincoln drove a stake through it and subsequent generations finished it off, but it staggered on for another 75 years after Lincoln.

The Founders addressed what they knew. The French Revolution had yet to reveal the frightening new danger facing civilization. They can be excused for thinking the excesses of the French Revolution were temporary. The republic they created was designed to arrest the abuses of the past. They simply had no way of anticipating the tidal wave of sewage that was about to wash over Western Civilization. This virulent suicide cult we call Liberalism in America was unimaginable in the 18th century. The constitutions of the 21st century will have to deal with it.

4 thoughts on “The Next Constitution

  1. “4) All Income Taxed At 12%”

    Sales not income? The fed can’t tax income without the 16th.

  2. Neither the 13th (abolition of slavery) nor the 15th Amendment (suffrage for freedmen) have proved problematic. It’s a few phrases in the 14th Amendment which are the problem, and mostly because of the intellectual and moral fraud abroad in the appellate judiciary and legal professoriate.

    It’s fashionable to attribute all sorts of trouble to the 17th Amendment, but that complaint is nonsense. The effect of that amendment in the contemporary context is to alter the balance of skill sets in Congress. Absent the amendment, you would get more people adept at building relationships in state legislatures and fewer at running fund-raising and publicity campaigns. Sen. Dede Scozzafava would have her seat for life. Public policy would be little improved.

    As for the 16th Amendment, the trouble is that legislature have discretion to determine the dimensions of the tax base, and that discretion is used to confer bon bons on clientele like the oil and real estate industry.

    I will wager the schemes in the 25th Amendment will prove unworkable in a true crisis.

    The 26th, 24th, and 23d Amendments consisted of some modest adjustments to the suffrage. Not sure why you’re hostile to that. I am not sure why the 19th Amendment (women’s suffrage) counts as a ‘silly fad’. The 20th Amendment was a housekeeping measure. Not sure why that bothers you either.

    You want term limits, but the 22d amendment is a ‘silly fad’. You did not give much clear thought to this before you posted, I take it.

  3. My preference would be to return to the Articles of Confederation. That would essentially eliminate the federal government, and most especially the Supreme Court, which is unredeemably evil.

    The President would preside over a unicameral legislature in which each state had one vote. The President would also have at his disposal a small navy/coast guard, custom houses and a small army. The state militias would be the bulk of the military forces. The whole military would of necessity be defensive.

    Such a structure would keep us out of foreign wars, which is manifestly desirable. No war since the Revolutionary War, none, has advanced the lives of Americans.

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