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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amendment 28

Following last week's suggestion, today I make a feeble first attempt to formulate an amendment to the Constitution, which simultaneously legalizes our current Social Security laws and reins in the federal government.

Proposed Amendment 28:

Section 1. In defining the powers of the Congress, the phrase 'general Welfare of the United States' in Article 1 Section 8 will be understood to grant no additional powers beyond those specifically enumerated either subsequently in Article 1 Section 8 or elsewhere in the Constitution. Instead, this phrase will be understood to prohibit the Congress from authorizing funds for purposes not benefitting all of the states.

Section 2. The Congress is authorized, but not required, to provide funds for the support of the aged.

Section 3. The Congress is authorized to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.

The second sentence of Section 1 returns 'general Welfare of the United States' to its original Madisonian meaning, and incidentally clarifies the unconstitutional nature of most earmarks. Last week I discussed the motivation for Section 2 of the amendment. Weaker, strictly political arguments might suggest changing 'the aged' to 'aged and the indigent' or 'aged and the infirm.' I added Section 3 in honor of the Tevatron and NASA. Such endeavors clearly do not lie in the domains of the individual states. I am sure the number of such (self serving) sections will grow rapidly if people seriously consider how much retrenchment of the federal government they truly desire. Ultimately, Article 1 Section 8 should probably be rewritten in its entirety. The primary goal of this exercise is to make constitutional those unconstitutional laws already enacted which neither party has the political will to repeal. Although this entrenches laws repugnant to most libertarians and many conservatives, the degradation of constitutional governance resulting from systematically ignoring constitutional violations (has been and) will be more detrimental to the long term health of our republic than any legitimization of the currently constituted welfare state.

I include below the text of Article 1 Section 8 for the convenience of the reader.

Article 1 Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads ;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal , and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

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