The Servant Referee

We have always had a free market system and recognition of the right of private property.   You only have to look at the 5th amendment to confirm this.  It is the one that provides that no private property may be taken for a public use without just compensation.    Likewise the power of Congress to regulate commerce implies that there will be private property and business dealings between people and companies affecting that private property, or else what would be the point of the power to regulate commerce.   There is nothing in the Constitution about the government being the owner of property of being involved in the commerce other than the reference in Article 1 about the Government owning land for forts, arsenals ….and other “needful” buildings.   Please read Article 1.  It lays out the powers of Congress and it also provides some prohibitions on the government and the respective states.   The only business as such the Government has the right to be in is the issuance of money, if you consider that a business.

The idea in the Constituion and from our history is that the Government is meant to be the referee, if you will, of our market system.  We do need a referee to assure that everyone plays the game fairly and under the same rules.   Any human endeavor needs some refereeing.   What we see now in Washington is the Government stepping out of that role and assuming the role of competitor and participant and not a referee anymore.    The Government through its laws, regulations and power of the purse will be deciding which industries will thrive and which will whither.   Within each industrial group the Government will be picking the winners and the losers.   Those companies with Government backing will survive regardless of their merit or product or service simply due to the subsidizing with Government money.   That is an attack on our history and our system of Government.   Do you really want the Government to be your partner?  I can assure you it will not be an equal partnership.  You will always be the junior partner.   Our judicial system historically has been the branch of Government that existed to be the ultimate referee.  It does that pretty well and has all along.   Our common law heritage is one of our most prized possessions that we so often treat with contempt.   Liars, cheaters and frauds have been subject to the rule of law and made to pay for their wrong doing by the law.   Over the last decades the Government has created many agencies that have become involved in the game  too much.  Those agencies intervene before the judiciary can act.   I am not opposed to all regulations.  But they should be simple and aid the flow of commerce.  I don’t like the Government creating before the fact “victims” that it believes need redress.   That is what got us into the current housing mess–Congress decreeing that certain loans had to be made to “victims” of an alleged discriminatory lending system.   The only thing the lending system discriminates against is bad loans when it is left alone.  That is a good thing not a bad thing.

The stimulus bill and the ongoing rescue efforts of the Government will further erode our free market system.   We do need a fair and impartial referee for sure at this time but that is all we need.  We don’t need a nanny, bureaucrat, dictating what is best for our economy.   That is not the referee’s job.   He shouldn’t be playing the game but monitoring its fairness.   The referee will soon be affecting the outcome of the game, not fulfilling the role of making sure it is played on the up and up.   I don’t want to play in a rigged game; one dependent on the bias or cronyism of the Ref.

There is a small group of representatives that each new session of Congress introduce legislation that would require for all new bills to have a preamble that would specify the exact power granted to Congress in Article 1 that authorizes the proposed bill and its content.  It never gets any attention.   It should.   I mean what is wrong with Congress having to tell us which power in the Constitution they believe gives them the power to pass new laws.  If the power is in the Constituion what is the big deal?   Point it out and move on.   Ah, there’s the rub.   Much of what they pass takes a Tarot card reading of the Constitution to legitimate new laws.   I wish this concept was applicable to the TARP and stimulus plan.   Some matters proposed would be authorized and some would be found wanting Constitutionally.   I have no particular sympathy for the shareholders of Bank of America, in fact I have had some bad dealings as a lawyer with them in the past, but I am appalled that the rights of the shareholders/owners of the Bank are about to be trampled by the Government.  You and I may be next in their bullseye.   The Referee is about to destroy our free market system and take us to a centrally controlled market.  If you can even call that result a market at all.   It will be us doing the bidding of the Government, period.   It won’t be a market which implies prices and products and services controlled by supply and demand; and the “market” dictated by the Government certainly won’t be free.  It will be with our money and there will be no freed of choice about your industry, career or opportunity.   I mean if you want to start a factory to build buggy whips, I think that is a dumb idea but if you disagree then  I think you should have the right to try it.   If it does fail I don’t think anyone owes it to you to bail out your venture.

Sully is my kind of guy.  Decisive and calm under pressure.   Maybe those passengers didn’t walk away but they got boated away.   So a good landing all round.

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Filed under Culture, Economics, government

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