Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A More Perfect Constitution

The United States Constitution is a wonderful thing.  It represents the best attempt in history to limit the power of the government.  The limits to government power codified in the Constitution are a huge part of why the United States of America has been very prosperous during its history.  History and economic studies have shown a negative correlation between state (government) power and prosperity.  I'm sure you can think of countries that show evidence of this correlation but here are just two examples.  A generic graph would look something like this:




Knowing this relationship, it is easy to decide that the ultimate goal, politically speaking, should be to limit the power of the government as much as possible.  In my mind, the best way to limit the government is to have no government at all.  A government that doesn't exist has absolutely no power, and therefore, prosperity would be potentially limitless.  How can a people arrive at such a situation?  The people, or their representatives, could meet together to ratify a "constitution" declaring their intent to not have a government.  The simplest form this could take would be as follows:


We the people of [insert political subdivision here], in order to establish a free and voluntary society, do hereby abolish every form of government, including any organization that claims coercive or monopolistic privileges to collect revenue, provide law enforcement, arbitrate disputes, or regulate actions.  Wherever any self-proclaimed government exists, the people have a right to resist all aggressive acts of that government, and to destroy it.

Now that's my kind of constitution!  The only other consideration required of a people determined to be completely free would be to decide upon a method to apportion government assets to the private sector, because the public sector will cease to exist.  Such government assets include roads, courthouses, parks, police cars, and many other things.  This distribution process would be very difficult to decide upon since, after so much government intervention and aggression, there could be countless "fair" ways of doing it.  But I'm confident that workable solutions could be found.

Many of you probably agree that government power must be severely limited but some of you might hesitate in abolishing the government altogether.  You  might think, "Well, that's anarchy!  And anarchy is bad because bad people will dominate the rest of us!"  Yes, what I'm talking about is, in fact, anarchy (or more specifically, anarcho-capitalism) but you need to know what the real definition of anarchy is.  Anarchy comes from the Greek anarkhos.  an- means "without" and arkhos means "ruler". So instead of "no rules", the literal definition of anarchy is "no ruler".  It's important to know that consistent adherence to anarchistic principles prevents bad people from dominating others.  The "anarchy" that everyone is afraid of, as most people have been taught by government schools and pop culture, is usually a violent transition to a new form of coercive and centralized control (i.e. a new government) and that's not at all what I'm talking about.  Real anarchy, the anarchy I'm talking about, is quite peaceful because no one is in authority over anyone else.  [Edit:  I have made some consequentialist arguments on behalf of liberty but I must stress here that I advocate for these things not strictly because of the positive outcomes, but because I believe it is the only way to ensure that the initiation of force is not institutionalized in society.]

For those that are still unsure about anarcho-capitalism, please know that we can still be allies.  As far as you want to go in limiting state power, I will be right there with you.  To prove that I am actually an ally of constitutionalists and other not-quite-anarchists, I have been thinking about possible improvements to our current constitution in order to limit government in the way the Founding Fathers intended.  I will briefly describe each possible constitutional amendment. Any numerical values that appear in these proposed amendments can be altered if required by circumstances or preferences.  The exact wording of each proposal can and should be formed in a way to make it unmistakable in its intentions.  Keep in mind that all these amendments can also apply to state constitutions.

Congress and Legislation

The most important constitutional amendment I can think of is this:  "Any law, that does not exclusively limit the government in some way, shall expire after ten years."  History is filled with examples of laws that were enacted because of good intentions only to have endless unintended and negative consequences happen as a result.  The problem is that laws rarely, if ever, go away.  This constitutional amendment would essentially create an environment of natural selection in the legal realm where only the good laws survive.  Also, the wording in the amendment ensures that any laws that limit the government's power endure by default.

"Any member of the house or senate may schedule a vote to repeal any law that does not exclusively limit the government in some way."  This extends the previous idea by making it easy to repeal legislation.

"Any member of the house or senate may schedule a vote to repeal any regulation or rule that does not exclusively limit the government in some way."  This is another extension of the same idea.  The difference is that, with this amendment, it applies to regulations and rules that are written by bureaucratic agencies instead of lawmakers.

"When one house of Congress votes to repeal any law, regulation, or rule that does not exclusively limit the government in some way, that law, regulation, or rule is thereby repealed without requiring the approval of the other house or of the president."  Again, this just makes it extremely easy to get rid of bad laws and regulations.

"Each bill shall be no longer than ten pages, on 8.5 by 11 inch pages, and must be typed or written with a minimum font size of 10-point."  This should keep any legislative body from voting on extremely large pieces of legislation.  It is difficult to hide anything in ten pages and, with such restrictions, voting records of politicians would be easier to judge.

"Congress shall not vote upon any bill that has not been finalized in its wording for at least thirty days."  This should prevent the government from making laws quickly without debate or public comment.

"Congress shall make no law that in any way restricts the behavior of any individual or entity that has not already directly harmed another individual or entity.  Laws that exclusively put limits on the government are exempted from this amendment."  An amendment such as this should put a stop to legislation that tries to punish people for non-violent behavior.

"Congress shall make no law that requires future expenditures during future sessions of Congress.  Congress shall not oblige any expenditure requirements from laws passed during previous sessions of Congress."  My intention with this one is to get rid of nonsense like "non-discretionary spending".  It can probably be worded better.

Two words:  "Term limits".  Opinions vary but in my view, the lower the limit, the better.

Here's a new twist on term limits:  "Any lawmaker is eligible for reelection to their office until they have voted 'yea' on one hundred bills, at which point they become ineligible to seek reelection to any federal office.  However, a lawmaker may vote 'yea' on any number of laws that exclusively limit the government in some way, and still be eligible for reelection.  Also, a lawmaker may vote to repeal any number of laws, rules, or regulations that do not exclusively limit the government in some way, and still be eligible for reelection."  This amendment gives lawmakers the incentive to do nothing that would infringe upon our freedom.  It would make them think very carefully before voting on anything.

"Any legislative body must have, in at least one of its houses, at least one representative per 50,000 individuals within its jurisdiction".  This amendment should prevent our current situation where some representatives represent hundreds of thousands of individuals, ensuring that only the elite and politically well-connected can exert influence on the representatives.  It would be difficult for special interest groups to control several thousand representatives.

"A treaty may only be ratified by the Senate if the text of the treaty is consistent with what the Senate could legally vote on as if it were a bill."  This makes it so treaties aren't anything special.  That way foreign entanglements could not trample on our rights any more than any other piece of legislation.

Law Enforcement

"Any law that punishes criminals must, first and foremost, require restitution from the criminal to the victim before the government collects any fines from the criminal."  The purpose of an amendment like this is to rework the justice system so that victims are actually restored by the people that harmed them.  Currently the justice system punishes victims by refusing to require restitution in many instances.

"The federal government shall have no law enforcement entities.  The federal government must rely on state law enforcement entities if anything is to be enforced."  If anything is to be enforced, local enforcement is better than non-local enforcement.  Because local law enforcement must have the support of the community, local law enforcement has a more difficult time getting away with abuse.

Natural Rights

"Any state or any political subdivision reserves the right to secede from the nation or from its parent jurisdiction by a simple majority vote."  Any American who celebrates independence from Great Britain but refuses to recognize the right of secession is a complete hypocrite (i.e. independence=secession).

"No governmental entity shall claim a monopoly on any service.  No governmental entity shall grant a monopoly to any other entity."  For a government to claim a monopoly on a service (or to enforce another entity's monopoly), it must be willing to use violence on competitors to make them stop their activities.  This should put an end to some forms of government aggression.

"A jury trial shall always be an option for any person before any coercive action can be employed against that person."  This should get rid of any situation wherein the judge or police may act as judge, jury, and executioner.

"No person shall be compelled to be a witness."  This would correct the strange clause in the Sixth Amendment that allows defendants to compel witnesses to testify in their favor.  Contempt of court should not be a thing.

"Congress shall make no law that exclusively punishes, restricts, or regulates one individual or entity, or one type of individual or entity.  Laws that exclusively punish, restrict, or regulate the government in some manner are exempt from this amendment."  This is to avoid any situation of targeting against any person or business by the government.

"In any court dispute, the guilty party shall be liable for all costs incurred by the non-guilty party, or each party shall be liable for all costs proportionate to each party's guilt in the dispute."  Basically, the loser pays.  The wording can probably be improved.

Taxes and Money

"No taxes shall be compulsory but shall only be voluntary."  Obviously I'm no fan of taxes.

"The tax rate on any form of wealth or income, or on any economic transaction, shall not be in excess of ten percent".  If taxes are to be allowed, there needs to be an absolute limit that can never be crossed.

"The tax rate on any form of wealth or income, or on any economic transaction, must be the same for all individuals and entities, and the same for all types of transactions".  I want this worded so that if there is a sales tax, every single item is taxed exactly the same.  If there are tariffs, the tariffs should be equal regardless of what the item is or where it came from.  This essentially makes taxes "fair", if taxes can ever be called that.

"Congress shall not approve any expenditures that exceed the amount of money in the treasury".  The point of this is to end government borrowing and debt, which causes more pain and suffering than all other forms of taxes combined.  Specific wording should be added in order to prevent the existence of a central bank.

"Congress shall make no law respecting any currency over any other currency and shall not require any individual or entity to accept any specific currency."  This, in effect, gets rid of legal tender laws.  Without legal tender laws we can let people decide what they want to use as money.  The idea of private currencies is already ancient and private currencies are currently in existence.

War

"If the President deploys the armed forces of the United States without a formal declaration of war from Congress, the President shall be automatically impeached and go to trial in the Senate for the abuse of war powers".  This would hopefully prevent a president from sending the troops wherever he wants without a declaration of war.  In the case of an emergency, say an invasion occurs and the president uses the military to stop the invasion before congress can even convene, impeachment would still occur but the Senate may find him not guilty.

"Any declaration of war from Congress must expire after one year.  If the armed forces of the United States are deployed when a declaration of war expires, the President has one year to recall all forces.  If the President fails to recall all armed forces in under a year, he shall be automatically impeached and go to trial in the Senate for the abuse of war powers".  This amendment would ensure that any war that lacks popular support would have to end.  Any war without popular support would not merit a renewal of a declaration of war.

States' Rights

"A simple majority of state legislatures may vote to repeal any federal law."  If literally half of the states can find something wrong with a federal law, it must be a bad law, and should go.  Wording should be added to make sure there are no silly time requirements on how fast or how short a period of time the majority of states need to vote in order to repeal a law.


"The approval of Congress is not required in order for one state to divide itself into multiple states, or for multiple states to join together to form one state, or for any states to change their boundaries amicably in any way."  This simply exemplifies the right of self-determination.

"Senators shall be elected by the state legislatures."  I want to undo the damage done by the Seventeenth Amendment which made it so senators were elected directly by the people.  When that happened, the states completely lost their voice within the federal government.  The senate was supposed to serve as a check against federal power by letting the state legislatures decide who would represent each state.  Thus, senators should have an incentive to keep the federal government from trampling on states' rights.

Miscellaneous

"Any amendment to this constitution that empowers the government in any way requires the approval of 4/5 of the states in order to be ratified."  This would make it more difficult for any freedom-reducing amendments to be ratified.

"Any government agent or employee who, while carrying out his official duties, causes undue harm to any person or entity, shall be personally liable for damages."  With this amendment I want to get rid of the idea of sovereign immunity.  Governments need to be accountable to the people and the best way to do that is to hold individual agents accountable when they are in the wrong.  That is preferable to the current situation where, even when governments are ordered to pay damages, the funds come from taxing the very people they have just harmed.




I hope you have enjoyed these ideas.  I believe they can help the country or the states (or any government) because they all derive from the principles of liberty.  By increasing personal freedom and limiting the power and influence of government, prosperity can increase exponentially.  And remember, even if you are a little wary of my ideas about anarcho-capitalism, anyone who desires to limit government power, even just a little bit, is a friend of mine.

10 comments:

  1. Why aren't you writing legislation?

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  2. This reminds me of the New Zealand school that did away with rules on the playground and found that their were less bullies.

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    1. Sarah, thank you for letting me know about that school. I just read an article about it and it is so neat! For everyone else, here is the link: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/new-zealand-school-bans-playground-rules-and-sees-less-bullying-and-vandalism-9091186.html

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  3. To think you know better than men who were foreordained to establish a government for the people, by the people and of the people is the height of arrogance, in my book. God is the source of every good thing, and He most certainly has a government by which He orders and ministers to His children.Yes, anarchy, the absence of order, is born of evil. Even gods have laws by which they are governed; and when you have laws by which you are governed, there must be an order, an organization which exists that applies and administers those law. That is called government. Your thoughts are swinging too far the other direction from tyranny.

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    1. Anarchy is "absence of rulers" not "absence of order", unless you only believe in order through slavery.

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    2. Jeremy S. CowanMay 9, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Your argument here borders on blasphemy. If we accept all of your premises, then God, if he is subject to laws, MUST be governed by some order or organization. If that be the case, God ceases to be God, and your argument fails. However, if God is order, which I believe he is, then no organization needs exist. Would you rob God of His glory to defend the legitimacy of governments?

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    3. George, you are surrounded by anarchy every day and every good thing we have is the result of it. Anarchy is not chaos, although the two are often conflated. I believe that free people, left alone to pursue their own interests would create a system much more well-ordered and much more prosperous than any we have today. I also believe that taxation is morally indistinguishable from theft. If I don't have the right to take your money, and someone else doesn't have the right to take your money, then we don't magically get that right by joining forces to take your money or by asking someone else (e.g. a government) to do it on our behalf. If you're interested, there are well-thought out answers to many questions you probably have about how various services currently provided by government might be provided in a stateless society (and probably at lower cost and with much greater efficiency).

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    4. Actually, my good Brother Clark, the government of Heaven may only be referred to as such because we insist on understanding it in such a way. A case may be made that it is an anarchy itself.

      All "rule" is done by common consent, and the supreme punishment is nothing more than exclusion from the group, which must needs be an accepted course of action by the group. There is even room to argue that this punishment is self-imposed: it is a truth that God would let any come to Heaven if they could, but that we refuse because WE are ashamed to be there.

      What we call "the government of Heaven" is simply the system (accepted by common consent, I'll add again) by which things are carried out as effectively as possible. Angels minister not because they are forced to at gunpoint but because
      (1) There is ministering that needs doing
      (2) So-and-so angel is the best angel for the angel-ing job
      (3) Said angel is happy to help in the best way that xe can

      Also, God is hardly the source of all good. God is subject to the laws of Justice which exist apart from God, and it is only by strictly adhering to this moral system that is without beginning of days or end of years that God is able to maintain the common trust of the universe's intelligences (exalted and otherwise).

      Also also, the Founding Fathers were hardly perfect, and to suggest that they were able to set up a perfect government is to suggest that they were perfect, which invalidates the claim that Jesus was the only perfect human to walk the Earth. Moreover, if you argue that everything about the Constitution was perfect then this must include the provision, allowed in this Holy Constitution Scripture of which you speak, for amendments.

      This idea of perfection also ignores the fact that the Constitution was a massive compromise job between various parties.

      And who is to say that they were not given direction to set up a government because we weren't yet ready to set up a society without government. Speaking as an anarchist, I don't know if we're ready NOW. To make steps, sure, but not go all the way and flip the switch tonight.

      Remember, the ideal thing is, as Joseph Smith said, to "teach them the principles [so that] they govern themselves."

      THAT is the government of Heaven.

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    5. George, thank you for your comments. They are appreciated. I would like to respond.

      I don’t feel bad thinking that I know more than the Founding Fathers did for the same reason that physicists today don’t feel bad about thinking they know more than Einstein ever did. What the Founding Fathers did was very brave and very radical. But just like everything in life, we can improve upon past improvements. For another example, the Model-T was a great product and a marvelous achievement of human ingenuity, but I’m glad that people have made significant improvements upon cars since then. The current engineers at Ford shouldn’t feel bad about having more skills than Henry Ford.

      I, too, am religious and I believe in God and I believe that He gave us rights. But atheists, too, can conclude that rights exist just from nature itself. But let’s take the religious route for now. If God gave us rights then He certainly expects us to protect the rights of everyone. I have been pondering for months now about how to do that to the utmost degree. I now know that any type of government will always, without fail, violate the rights of individuals. It is guaranteed since governments must tax individuals for funding and governments must eliminate competition (any “government” that doesn’t do either of those things ceases to be a true government). Taxation is theft and the elimination of competition punishes individuals who have not harmed anyone. Therefore, the only political model that is completely consistent with my desire to protect the rights of everyone is the model of anarcho-capitalism. This idea becomes more and more palatable as one realizes that the free market can provide literally everything necessary to protect the rights of individuals. We already see numerous examples of this around us in private security firms, private arbitration, volunteer fire departments, and volunteer militias. The burden of proof lies on the state to prove that it is necessary for our well-being. And it can’t prove that without ceasing to exist, at which point I expect people to realize that government was always just getting in the way of liberty.

      It seems that you are insinuating that our current government is God’s government, administering His law. I absolutely will never believe this. I can’t believe it. The government is guilty of a massive number of evil things that God would never allow His government to do. Ultimately we are all individuals and God has given us agency. Anarcho-capitalism is simply the political manifestation of that agency. Any amount of government control simply denies the individual the agency his creator has given him. I refuse to be guilty of such a sin.

      I would like to include just a side note for any non-religious readers. Above, I briefly alluded to the fact that the anarcho-capitalist conclusion can be reached in a non-religious context. Perhaps I will discuss that in a different blog post.

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